I think that one of the most amazing examples of a forgiver in Scripture is Eve. We all know that Eve was the first to eat of the forbidden fruit (Gen 3:6), but Scripture holds Adam responsible for the entrance of sin into the world (Rom 5:12). Adam, was the head of Eve and the federal head of humanity. We do not know what would have happened to Eve had Adam refused to eat, but in the sovereign plan of God, he ate. Given the fact that God held Adam responsible (although He gave consequences to Eve and to all women as well [Gen 3:16]), think for a moment about all that Eve lost as a result of Adam’s willingness to sin.
- She lost a righteous husband. Adam allowed himself to be persuaded to sin and as a result of the curse, Eve would have a husband with a tendency to dominate and control her (Gen 3:16).
- She lost an attentive husband. Because of the curse, Adam would now toil in subsistence living, working to the point of exhaustion for every meal. Instead of the pleasant sin-free joy of keeping the Garden of Eden, Adam would sweat his way through life. She would have the leftovers of his energy.
- She lost her home. God drove them out of the Garden of Eden. While the earth still retained the glorious creative reflection of God even in a fallen state, the garden was her home. She had to leave that which she had most certainly grown to love.
- She lost direct access to God. Now her worship of God had to be mediated. It was only through shed blood that she could worship. The cherubim and flaming sword at the garden entrance (Gen 3:24) was a poignant reminder of the lost fellowship she had once enjoyed with her Creator.
- She lost her life. There would be a day when sin’s curse would complete what God had warned and she would suffer physical death.
I cannot begin to imagine loss of this magnitude, yet Eve continued on in faithfulness to the Lord and we can surmise that she forgave her husband. How do we know she forgave him? We gather clues from Genesis chapter 4. She gave birth to her firstborn son and immediately credits the Lord with this gift. She was in right relationship with the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty and care in her life. She also chose to stay with Adam even after their failure in the garden. At the end of Genesis chapter 4, we see their family continuing to grow and Eve glorifying God for the gift of their children.
But I think the most compelling evidence that Eve forgave Adam was the awareness of her own sin, a keen awareness perhaps unique to no one else in history. She not only gave birth in great physical pain (Gen 3:16), but she clearly saw the results of her own fall in her sinful children, one of whom would be a murderer. She and Adam stand alone as the only humans who became sinners and yet profoundly remembered what it was like to not sin. Eve could see her new desire was to resist and usurp her husband’s headship, precisely as God predicted she would– “Your desire shall be for your husband,”(3:16). She had sinned against God and yet in His mercy she still lived because God provided forgiveness through shed blood (Gen 3:21).
The lesson from Eve is clear: As she was, so too are we deeply aware of our own sin and the grace that God has shown to us. There is never an offense too great to forgive. In order to provide forgiveness, Christ lost His heavenly home for a time just as Eve lost her home. Just as Eve now experienced a distant relationship with God, Christ, for a time, lost direct access to His Father. And like Eve, He lost His life. Eve forgave Adam; Christ forgave Adam and Eve; Christ forgave you. How could we withhold forgiveness when we have been forgiven so fully for so much?