Then the Lord God said to the woman (Eve), “What is this that you have done?” Genesis 3:13
And the Lord said, “What have you done?”(Cain). Genesis 4:10
Many say that stories of Adam and Eve, Cain, and the entire Hebrew Scriptures have no relevance today. On the other hand, you can read these stories as the beginning of the New Testament and our first glimpse at the nature of God. In Genesis he is described after learning what has been done of cursing the Serpent, Eve, Adam and Cain, but a more careful reading shows that God is telling them there are consequences for their action. Because of what they have done, there is a result. There is no “do over, no going back, no more garden.”
But after God tells them of the consequences, he shows us his nature. Despite man’s disobedience, he responds with mercy. In Adam and Eve’s case, God with his own hands makes them garments and clothes. Adam and Eve, they can’t go back, but God sends them forward clothed in a new way. They are clothed with a new understanding of themselves and a new strength to draw on for what lies ahead.
In Cain’s case, God tells him there are consequences, the ground will no longer be fertile and he will become a wanderer, an outcast. Cain cries that he will not be able to bear the punishment. He believes that he will be separated from God and murdered by someone. God corrects him on both counts by saying, “Not so!” God then in an act of ultimate mercy blesses Cain by marking him “so that no one who came upon him, would kill him.” Genesis 4: 11-15.
Whatever you believe about literal translation, the origin of species, or relevance of the Hebrew Scriptures in modern times, we are introduced to God in these early passages. A God who does not take away the consequences, but tempers them with mercy, kindness, and sends us out into the world clothed and protected, no matter the answer is to “what have you done?”