Seed of Doubt
The story of Genesis 3 begins with this line in Genesis 3:1
Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God said, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” M23
In reading this verse from Genesis, the first question that comes to my mind is, why did the Lord God make subtle beasts of the field?
In Merriam-Webster, the word subtle is defined as:
- hard to notice or see
- not obvious
- clever and indirect
- not showing your real purpose
- having or showing skill at recognizing and understanding things that are not obvious
- difficult to understand or perceive
- cunningly made
- highly skillful MW1
The serpent the Lord God made was cunning and highly skillful. His motive was difficult to understand and perceive. He showed skill at recognizing and understanding things that are not obvious. He was clever and indirect. The reason behind him asking the question was not obvious, which made it hard to notice and see.
Why did the Lord God (Jesus Christ) make such beasts of the field?
The answer to that can be found in Isaiah 46:9-11.
Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My good pleasure,” calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man who executes My counsel from a far country.
Indeed, I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass.
I have purposed it; I will also do it. M24
He made such beasts of the field because He is God; there is no other like Him. He declares the end from the beginning, and His counsel shall stand, and He will do according to what pleases Him. He has purposed it, and He will also do it.
Now that we understand that the Lord God made this subtle creature for a purpose, the question that needs to be asked is, what purpose did the serpent serve?
This is where it gets interesting and funny. The only purpose the serpent served was Gods. The serpent may have thought he was going to ruin God’s plan, but as we learned in Romans 8:28.
We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. M25
Who are those that are called according to His purpose?
It is those that are written about in Romans 8:29-30.
Whom He foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified; and those whom He justified, He also glorified. M26
One of the those that He foreknew that He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son is spoken about in Genesis 1:27.
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. M27
Then in Genesis 2:7, the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. M28
The Lord God (Jesus) formed man, whom He foreknew, who was predestined to be conformed to the image of Himself so that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.
If everything God created was for a purpose and that purpose was predestined, it also explains why in Genesis 2:9; out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, along with the tree of knowledge of good and evil. M29
The tree of knowledge of good and evil that was in the midst of the garden was also there for a purpose. But the use of that tree could not be fulfilled unless man ate of its fruit. Fruit from which man was commanded not to eat.
In Genesis 2:15-17, the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” M30
Now what’s interesting here is that at the time the Lord God commanded the man to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the woman was not taken out of the man yet.
It was after the command to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil did the Lord God say in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.” M31
Why was a helper required?
Because it was not good for man to be alone.
Why was it not good for man to be alone?
If the man was alone, we would not be where we are today. Don’t misunderstand me; we are precisely where God wants us to be. It is all part of God’s plan, part of God’s command.
In God’s plan as He created man, He created them male and female. It is after He created them that in Genesis 1:28, God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” M32
God gave them seven blessings, seven commands, seven prophecies, and all of these came with His authority.
- Be fruitful
- Replenish the earth
- Subdue the earth
- Rule over the fish of the sea
- Rule over the birds of the air
- Rule over every living thing that moves on the earth
The first blessing was to be fruitful. In Merriam-Webster, fruitful is defined as:
- producing a good result
- very productive
- yielding or producing fruit
- conducive to an abundant yield
- abundantly productive MW2
The first thing which God blessed them with was being fruitful, with producing a good result, being very productive, with yielding or producing fruit. The blessing was conducive to them having an abundant yield and being abundantly productive.
This blessing that God gave them would serve them well, and this is why in Genesis 2:15, the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and to keep it. M33
Since man was blessed by God, the result from his work would be fruitful. It would produce good fruit, and thus the fruit of his labor would be abundant.
The second thing God blessed them with is the ability to multiply. In Merriam-Webster, multiply has the following meanings:
- to increase greatly in number or amount
- to become much more numerous
- to cause (something) to increase greatly in number or amount
- to increase in number by reproducing MW3
God blessed them so they could increase greatly in number or amount, for them to become much more numerous by reproducing.
If we recall, this same blessing was made to Abraham in Genesis 22:15-18.
Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham out of heaven a second time, and said, “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you and I will indeed multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens and as the sand that is on the seashore. Your descendants will possess the gate of their enemies. Through your offspring all the nations of the earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” M34
We see the promise of God and fulfillment of His word spoken, come to pass with the descendants of Abraham.
The third blessing that God gave them is by far the most interesting to me because it is both a blessing and a prophecy. God said when He blessed them to replenish the earth.
Replenish is a very odd word to use as a blessing because of what it means. The word replenish is defined in Merriam-Webster as:
- to fill or build up (something) again
- to fill with persons or animals
- to become full MW4
God blessed them with the ability to fill and build up again to fill again with people so that it can become full again.
For this to happen, where the earth would need to be filled up again with persons or animals, the earth would first need to be emptied.
This brings us to Noah and the blessing that Noah was able to fulfill because, at that time, as we read in Genesis 6:1-8.
When men began to multiply on the face of the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair and took as wives any they chose. The Lord said, “My Spirit will not always strive with man, for he is flesh; yet his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was continually only evil. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—both man and beast, and the creeping things, and the birds of the sky, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. M35
Yes, Noah found grace, and with that grace fulfilled the blessing and prophecy that God had given them in the beginning.
At Noah’s time, as it states in Genesis 6:11.
The earth was corrupt before God and filled with violence. M36
Then in Genesis 6:12.
God looked on the earth and saw it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. M37
The blessing and prophecy of replenishing the earth with people and animals came to pass when God said to Noah in Genesis 3:13-22.
“The end of all flesh is come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. Now I will destroy them with the earth. Make an ark of cypress wood for yourself. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. And this is how you must make it: The length of the ark will be three hundred cubits, the width of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. Make an opening one cubit below the top of the ark all around; and you must set the door of the ark on the side. Make it with a lower, a second, and a third story. I will bring a flood of waters on the earth to destroy all flesh, wherever there is the breath of life under heaven, and everything that is on the earth will die. But I will establish My covenant with you; you must go into the ark—you, and your sons, and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. Bring every living thing of all flesh, two of every kind, into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal, and of every kind of creeping thing of the earth will come to you to be kept alive. Also, take with you of every kind of food that is eaten and gather it to yourself, and it will be for food for you and for them.”
Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him. M38
The fourth blessing and command is to subdue the earth. The word subdue in Merriam-Webster is defined as:
- to get control of (a violent or dangerous person or group) by using force, punishment
- to get control of (something, such as a strong emotion)
- to conquer and bring into subjection
- to bring under control especially by an exertion of the will
- to bring (land) under cultivation MW5
God told them to get control of the earth, to conquer it, and bring it into subjection. To bring the earth under control by will power so that the land can be cultivated for harvest.
In Deuteronomy 1:9-18, we begin to see how control was starting to take form.
I spoke to you at that time, saying, “I am not able to bear you by myself. The Lord your God has multiplied you, and surely you are this day as numerous as the stars of heaven. May the Lord, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times more numerous and bless you, just as He has promised you! How can I myself bear your load and your burden and your strife? Choose wise, discerning, and knowing men, among your tribes, and I will appoint them as leaders over you.”
You answered me, and said, “The thing which you have said is good for us to do.”
So I took the leaders of your tribes, wise and well-known men, and appointed them as leaders over you, leaders over thousands, and leaders over hundreds, and leaders over fifties, and leaders over tens, and officers among your tribes. I charged your judges at that time, saying, “Hear the issues between your countrymen, and judge righteously between every man and his fellow countryman, and the foreigner that is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment, but you shall hear the small as well as the great. You shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s. The case that is too hard for you, you shall bring it to me, and I will hear it.” At that time, I commanded you all the things you should do. M39
Later in Deuteronomy 3:1-7, we see how control was taken by force.
Then we turned and went up the way to Bashan, and Og, the king of Bashan, came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. Then the Lord said to me, “Do not fear him, for I will deliver him and all his people and his land into your hand; and you shall do to him as you did to Sihon, king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.”
So the Lord, our God, delivered Og, the king of Bashan, with all his people, into our hands also, and we struck him down until there was no survivor remaining. We took all his cities at that time. There was not a city which we did not take from them: sixty cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. All these cities were fortified with high walls, gates, and bars, besides a great many rural towns. We utterly destroyed them, as we did to Sihon, king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children of every city. But we took all the livestock and the spoil of the cities as plunder for ourselves. M40
It is in Deuteronomy 4:1-14 that we see how Moses advised them to control their emotions after their victories in war by remembering the commandments, statutes, and judgments that bring victories and defeat.
Now therefore, listen, O Israel, to the statutes and to the judgments which I am teaching you to do, so that you may live; and go in and possess the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor shall you take anything from it, so that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
Your eyes have seen what the Lord did at Baal Peor; for the Lord your God has destroyed from among you all the men who followed Baal of Peor. But you who held fast to the Lord your God are alive to this day, every one of you.
See, I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do so in the land where you are entering to possess it. Therefore, keep and do them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations which shall hear all these statutes, and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” For what nation is there so great, who has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is in all things whenever we call on Him? And what nation is there so great that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I am setting before you today?
Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; but teach them to your sons, and your grandsons. Especially concerning the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, “Gather the people together to Me, so that I will let them hear My words so that they may learn to fear Me all the days they shall live on the earth, and so that they may teach their children.” Then you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire up to the midst of heaven, with darkness, a cloud, a thick cloud. Then the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words but saw no form—only a voice was heard. He declared to you His covenant, which He commanded you to perform, even the Ten Commandments, and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. The Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, so that you might do them in the land which you are crossing over to possess. M41
Deuteronomy 7:1-14 summarizes the other aspects of conquering and bringing the land under cultivation when the laws and covenant which was established with their fathers.
When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you are entering to possess and has driven out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you, and when the Lord your God delivers them before you and you strike them down, then you must utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. What is more, you shall not intermarry with them. You shall not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord will be inflamed against you, and He will quickly destroy you. But this is how you shall deal with them: You shall destroy their altars and break down their images and cut down their Asherim and burn their graven images with fire. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be His special people, treasured above all peoples who are on the face of the earth.
The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all the peoples. But it is because the Lord loved you and because He kept the oath which He swore to your fathers. The Lord brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and mercy with them who love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations, yet He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him. He will repay him to his face. Therefore, keep the commandments and the statutes and the judgments which I command you today, by doing them.
If you listen to these judgments, keep them, and do them, then the Lord your God shall keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. He will love you and bless you and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain, and your wine, and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples. There will not be male or female barren among you or among your livestock. M42
When God created man in His own image, He blessed them and told them to rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
It is in James 3:7, where we learn that mankind has ruled over these things.
All kinds of beasts, and birds, and serpents, and things in the sea are tamed or have been tamed by mankind. M43
James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, shared great wisdom with us. In his writings recorded in James 3:8-12, he warns that no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the image of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring yield at the same opening sweet and bitter water? Can the fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a vine, figs? So no spring can yield both salt water and fresh water. M44
The tongue is where the word of God comes from, and that is why it is vital to control it. It is used to teach others and guide them, and to build each other up by edifying one another.
Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11.
Concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that I write to you. For you know perfectly that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape.
But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all the sons of light and the sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as others do. But let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we should live together with Him. So comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, just as you are doing. M45
In Merriam-Webster, the word edify is defined as:
- to teach (someone) in a way that improves the mind or character
- to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge
- inform MW6
We are asked to teach each other in a way that improves our mind and character. To instruct ourselves and improve in moral and religious knowledge. To build, establish, and uplift. We are also asked to enlighten and inform.
A caution to all that teach the word of God is recorded in James 3:1.
My brothers, not many of you should become teachers, knowing that we shall receive the greater judgment. M46
With that caution and warning, we also find words of advice and knowledge in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 written for those that listen to words of their teachers.
We ask you, brothers, to acknowledge those who labor among you, and are appointed over you in the Lord, and instruct you. Esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brothers, warn those who are unruly, comfort the faint-hearted, support the weak, and be patient toward everyone. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone. But always seek to do good to one another and to all.
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Examine all things. Firmly hold onto what is good. Abstain from all appearances of evil.
May the very God of peace sanctify you completely. And I pray to God that your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, who also will do it.
Brothers, pray for us. Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I command you by the Lord that this letter be read to all the holy brothers.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. M47
From our tongue should come words to edify, words of grace, words to build and lead us to peace. Words to preserve our spirit, soul, and body for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But the tongue also brings with it destruction and death. It has with it the ability to steer us in the wrong direction. We should be especially careful when we do not have control, and the fire of our emotions are kindled.
In James 3:2-6, we learn that we all err in many ways. But if any man does not err in word, he is a perfect man and able also to control the whole body.
See how we put bits in the mouths of horses that they may obey us, and we control their whole bodies. And observe ships. Though they are so great and are driven by fierce winds, yet they are directed with a very small rudder wherever the captain pleases. Even so, the tongue is a little part of the body and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles. The tongue is a fire, a world of evil. The tongue is among the parts of the body, defiling the whole body, and setting the course of nature on fire, and it is set on fire by hell. M48
THE TONGUE IS SET ON FIRE BY HELL
If we look back at Genesis 3:1.
Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God said, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” M49
What came from the tongue of the serpent?
Was it words to edify or destroy?
It was words of destruction that were so subtle that it came in the form of a question. A seed of doubt was planted in the woman’s mind, that was so subtle that it went unnoticed.
The serpent asks her if God said, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?”
Now, if the serpent would ask us the same question, we might also answer the same way the woman did in Genesis 3:2-3.
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the garden; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You will not eat of it, nor will you touch it, or else you will die.’” M50
Let’s look at what is recorded in Genesis 3:1.
Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God said, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” M51
What we will first notice is that it wasn’t God that said, “You shall not eat of any tree of the garden,” but it was the Lord God that said, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
The subtle difference is in who said it. By asking the question and using God instead of the Lord God, the woman was exposed to a subtle no. She was asked a trick question.
Merriam-Webster defines a trick question as:
- a deceptive question that is intended to make one give an answer that is not correct or that causes difficulty MW7
The question the serpent asked was designed to be deceptive and intended to make her give an incorrect answer because it was not possible to answer correctly.
If we look at what makes a trick question and understand the meaning of each of the words, we can begin to see how subtle the serpent was.
The word trick is defined in Merriam-Webster as:
- a crafty procedure or practice meant to deceive or defraud
- a mischievous act
- an action that is meant to deceive someone
- something done to surprise or confuse someone and to make other people laugh
- a clever and skillful action that someone performs to entertain or amuse people MW8
In addition, we also need to understand the meaning of the word question. Allowing us to grasp what was done. In Merriam-Webster, the word question is defined as:
- a sentence, phrase, or word that asks for information or is used to test someone’s knowledge
- a matter or problem that is being discussed
- doubt or uncertainty about something
- a subject or aspect in dispute or open for discussion
- the specific point at issue MW9
Here is where we see that the serpent asked for information that was used to test her knowledge in a crafty way. It was meant to deceive her. It was a mischievous act to deceive and confuse by making something a problem to be discussed. Through his question, the serpent brought about doubt and uncertainty about what the Lord God had said. It now became a topic open for discussion, and the specific point at issue. It became something that brought amusement and laughter.
The first subtle trick used in his question was if God had said it. The answer would be a no and then a yes. No, God did not say it, but yes technically He did say it as the Lord God is also God, just not God the Father.
Now the serpent wanted to introduce another subtle trick to the woman, and that’s why he asked if God had said it to “you.”
In Genesis 2:16, we know that.
The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” M52
The command was given to the man, although the woman was still in the man as she wasn’t taken out of him yet. The answer to that question would also be a no and then a yes.
For the mind to process this subtle trick question and come up with an answer, the thought process would be something like this.
No, God did not say it, but yes, the Lord God did say it. And although He did not say it to me directly, He actually said it to my husband, but I was not taken out of him yet, so technically the Lord God meant it to us. But not to me directly, He said it to him directly, as I was not who I am currently, and it wasn’t God exactly but the Lord God, which is the same thing only different. So in a way, it was God, and in a way, it was me, but it was the Lord God, and it was the man that the Lord God spoke to, not me.
As we can see, it is a question that cannot be answered with a generic yes or no. Because to say no would contradict who the Lord God is and to say yes, would contradict who God the Father is.
A question that lacks specificity lacks correctness in the answer.
A QUESTION THAT LACKS SPECIFICITY LACKS CORRECTNESS IN THE ANSWER
This was a mean and evil question that the serpent asked. It was unfair and caused the woman to stumble and, with it, all of mankind. Form the serpents tongue came poison that brought death to all mankind.
We should remember these words from Psalm 140:1-13.
Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; protect me from violent men, who plan evil deeds in their heart and continually gather together for conflicts.
They have tongues as sharp as a serpent; adders’ poison is with their lips. Selah
Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent men who have planned to overthrow me.
The proud have hid a snare for me, and with cords they have spread a net; they have set traps for me. Selah
I said to the Lord, “You are my God; hear the voice of my supplications, O Lord.”
O God my Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle.
Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked; do not allow his evil plot, lest he be raised up. Selah
As for the head of those who encompass me, let the mischief of their own lips overwhelm them; let burning coals fall upon them; let them be cast into the fire, into deep pits that they do not rise up again.
Let not an evil speaker be established in the land; let evil hunt the violent man to overthrow him!
I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted and will give justice to the poor.
Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto Your name; the upright shall dwell in Your presence. M53