When Eve offered Adam that infamous piece of fruit, what should he have done? The obvious answer, of course, would be to refuse it. But what else?
What Adam should have done is found in part in an unusual High Day mentioned in Leviticus 23. "The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the LORD by fire. Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God. " (Leviticus 23:27-28 NIV)
The Day of Atonement is more commonly known by its Hebrew name Yom Kippur. In our English Bibles, the word kippur is translated "atonement", but a more precise translation would be "covering". The day is a day of covering, but a covering of what? We find a hint back in the book of Genesis.
We’re told in Genesis 3 that Adam and Eve both took of the fruit of the tree, and then "the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings." (Genesis 3:7 NKJV) The word here translated "coverings" is a different word thqn kippur, implying that the covering they made was not the same covering that God gives us on the Day of Atonement. In fact, later on, when God gave them a covering made of animal hides instead of fig leaves, that covering wasn’t quite good enough either, for neither was it the covering of a kippur.
The fact that God would use the skins of animals to cover the shame of Adam and Eve must mean that animals were sacrificed, foreshadowing both the sacrificial system that was later instituted, but more importantly, the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ some millennia later.
The book of Hebrews (chapters 9 & 10) specifically relates the Day of Atonement to the sacrifice of Jesus, showing that these imperfect sacrifices could not make a covering for sin, that they were just shadows of the perfect sacrifice that was to come.
So what does all this have to do with what Adam should have done? The answer is bound up in the old question, "What would Jesus do?" What would Jesus have done had his wife sinned so egregiously that she earned the penalty of death? We have no need to wonder about this question, for the answer is found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church . This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church. (verses 25-28, 32 NIV)
This tells us what Jesus did. He "loved the Church and gave himself up for her." This was the man who said, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." And Jesus did exactly that as an atonement, as a covering, for our sins, taking the penalty upon himself.
So what should Adam have done when she took the fruit and then offered some to him? First he should have refused. Then, if he truly loved his wife and was willing to give himself for her, he would have offered himself as a willing sacrifice for her sins. "I’ll take the penalty. She didn’t know better." That’s what Jesus would have done, for that is in fact what he did do.
I suspect, had Adam taken this course, God, who knew about the ultimate covering for sin that would one day be offered, would have said to Adam, "Don’t worry about it. I got you covered."