It opens with perfection. God gave Adam his every desire. The only thing he was lacking, companionship, has been provided. They live in a beautiful garden, abounding in food, astounding in beauty; God's perfect design is laid out before them. They walk and talk with God and experience the pleasure of fulfilling all they were destined for.
It ends with Adam and Eve homeless vagabonds, driven from the garden, seperated from God, accusing one another, and destined for a life of toil and trouble. The consequences are not theirs alone; all of God's creation suffers the results of their choice. Everything is broken, twisted, and damaged. A fading shadow of its former glory.
What happened to cause this change? It was all the result of a simple, seemingly innocent choice. They were not satisfied with knowing God personally, receiving His provision, and carrying out His perfect plan. They wanted his job. They don't want to be His beloved creation, they want to be the Creator.
Just as Satan had fallen because of his desire to take God's place, he led them to follow the same path. Since then, he's succeeded in leading every one of us down the same path. God gave one rule for life - don't eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He didn't leave the consequences unclear - if you do, you will die. This one command came in an environment of perfect freedom and abundant provision. There was only one condition.
But Satan twists the truth. He always has and always will. He takes a kernel of truth - God said don't eat. He twists it with a lie - you won't die. Then he adds a tantalizing temptation - you will be like God.
Before this, Adam and Eve had never known want. The tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, but so were all the other trees and fruit. But this one held another promise, it could make them wise, like God, knowing good and evil. So Eve took the fruit and bit into it. Adam didn't stop her. He was there. He never offered any resistance. He forfeited his place as her guide and protector.
Even as the juice ran down her chin she realized. She had known only good - God, His Creation, His plan. Now, for the first time she knew evil - not as the result of the "magic" of the fruit, but because her willful disregard for God's command ushered evil into the world for the first time. Sin, disobedience to God, had entered for the first time. Evil, never before known in the garden, was now known because of her act.
With sin came death and the curse. God had promised that death would follow. As Eve's teeth broke the skin of the fruit, she died. Not physically, that would come later. She died spiritually. She found herself seperated from God, running, hiding from Him. Ultimately, this would lead to being seperated forever from Him in Hell.
Not only was she separated from God, but she and Adam were separated from one another, blaming, accusing, and pointing fingers at one another. She listened as God told what would come - pain, difficulty, sweat, toil, unfulfilled longings, and even physical death. She watched as the first death took place and an animal gave his life to provide them with clothing to hide their shame. She would later watch as the sin she inaugurated was borne out in her son as Cain killed his brother Abel.
It is the same situation we find ourselves in thousands of years later. Eve took the first bite, but she was not alone in her guilt. In fact, Adam was held responsible for the act since he was given the command and responsibility to lead. He followed her and every man, woman, and child has done the same since. Maybe it didn't involve forbidden fruit, but it did involve ignoring God and taking control of our own lives, willfully disregarding Him. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Those sins earn us death - both physical and spiritual. All the pain, all the suffering, all the trouble, all the disease, all the tragedy . . . it can all be traced back to this point, this decision, this choice. The point where we decided we knew better; we should be in control. The point where we broke it all.
It's a sad chapter, but even in the middle of this hopelessness, God gives hope. Even as creation begins its sad descent into what we see today, God is at work to make it right. Eve, who brought it all crumbling down, will also give birth to the One who will make it all right again. Verse 15 says that the serpent will strike the heel of her offspring, but her offspring will crush the serpent's head. Her offspring will one day be Jesus Christ - the Son of God who came to set all things right. On the cross, Satan struck his heel and though the strike brought death, Jesus would rise from the dead, victorious over sin, death, Hell, and the grave. Jesus came to fix what we have broken, to save what has been lost, to restore what has fallen.
You see, God is still in control after all.