God gave mankind literally everything, except that one tree. God spoke truth when He told Adam that he would die if he ate of or touched it. The man and his wife had taken the whole world of blessing that God had given them freely, and exchanged it for one big fat lie. Not only did they not become like God when they obeyed His enemy, but they became broken images of their Father, suffering in ways they never had before under the Creator’s care.
Even considering this great betrayal, God showed them mercy. How? Before God pronounces the consequence of their sin to Adam and Eve, God addresses the Great Deceiver:
“The Lord God said to the serpent;
‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.’’ -Genesis 3:14
God shows mercy by making Satan the greater curse. Adam and Eve were still sentenced to expulsion from God’s garden and eventual death after great suffering, but he did not turn His full wrath against their full rebellion. He had mercy on them to give them time. Time for what? The same thing He still gives us time for today – repentance.