No, it’s not a slow writing day at RickThomas.Net. I have actually been pondering the fruit question for over a decade, though I have never written about it. I figured I needed to stop pondering and start writing. I’ll go ahead and give you my conclusion, and then followup with my reasoning.
Adam ate a fig
Yes, I know. This is an argument from the silence of Scripture. There is not one jot or tittle in the whole of God’s Word that says it was a fig. I say this to save you the time of writing to let me know I have no verbatim Scriptural proof to say Adam and Eve had a penchant for figs.
But I will quickly remind you that the word Trinity is not in the Bible either, although the truth of the Trinity is spread throughout the LORD’s holy writ.
Now that you have my caveat, and before you completely dismiss me, may I give you my reasoning for the fig theory? Let’s begin with a passage from Numbers.
And the LORD said to Moses, Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live. So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. – Numbers 21:8-9 (ESV)
This is the story of the fiery serpents that the LORD sent to bite and kill the complaining Hebrews. (I’m glad I don’t live in that day.) Upon realizing their sinful ways, they cried out to Moses to help them. God’s answer to Moses was to erect a bronze serpent on a pole, and for every Hebrew who looked at the bronze serpent, he/she would be given a new life.
The thing that was killing them–the fiery serpents–was lifted up on a pole, and if they looked at what was killing them on the pole, they would be saved from death. John connected this story of redemption to Christ.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. (ESV)
John made a direct and specific correlation between what Moses did in the wilderness and what God was about to do with His one and only Son on Adam’s tree.
The thing that was killing us, was put on Christ, and then Christ was put on a pole so we could look and live! You can read the specifics of this in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 5:21
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)
What Moses depicted and what John predicted was explained in full by Paul. In the Corinthian passage we see the heart of the Gospel–Christ died for our sins.
The thing that was killing us was sin. Your fiery serpent and my fiery serpent was sin. The result of our sin was certain death. (See Genesis 2:16-17; Romans 5:12, 6:23)
God’s answer was to take all of our sin and put it on Christ, the perfect Son of God. Jesus became our sin-bearer so His Father could judge Him instead of judging us.
Like the serpents, who were the problem, but became the solution, Christ became the problem by taking our sin. Then He was lifted up as the final and perfect answer.
The Father was satisfied with this Gospel arrangement, and from that point forward (John 19:30) we have been told that if anyone believes in this Gospel arrangement, then they will be saved from their sin.
- The Hebrews exercised faith in God’s redemptive plan in the wilderness.
- We exercise faith in the eternal redemptive plan in John 3:14-16.
Back to Adam
Adam sinned. He disbelieved God, choosing rather to take a bite of evil. His disobedience incurred the penalty the LORD told him about in Genesis 2:16-17.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. (ESV)
It was time for Adam to pay for his crime. The problem was that there was no redemptive plan to fix the mess he had made. That plan came a few verses later in Genesis 3:15. Without a Christ to redeem him, Adam enacted his own plan to cover his sins. You see this in Genesis 3:7.
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (ESV)
Now, this is where one must ask, Was this a coincidence? Why does this sound like a pre-echo of Numbers 21; John 3; and 2 Corinthians? Coincidence? Or did the LORD get an early start with His Gospel forecasting?
The fig leaves provided a temporary covering for their sin. The thing that caused the sin–the fig–became the thing that covered their sins–the fig leaves. I cannot help myself. I must drift out of the text for a bit in order to give some reflective moments to biblical speculation.
No matter where you land on this argument from silence, you must agree that it is something worth pondering. The Gospel is profound to me. The fact that God would take the very thing that was killing us–our sin–and place it on his Son–who became sin for us–and then give us the faith to look at our sin on His Son in order to be redeemed is stunning.
It would not surprise me when I get to heaven to find out that Adam chewed on a fig, and then covered himself with figs leaves because the Master Gospel Architect wanted to gives us an early primitive echo of His profound Gospel.
Don’t you think that makes more sense than an apple? Who made that one up anyway?