Updated: Mar 23, 2019
by Dave Miller
It was a story made in heaven, just waiting to be written … but there was that “one” tree...
Satan, the forever enemy of God, shows up in the story. He was crafty. Taking the form of a snake and acting as part of the creation. He moves in close to Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden ?” he asked.
Eve tried not to fall for his trickeries, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die’” she responded.
Eve is listening to God’s word. Eve recognizes the authority of God’s word. But do we see a small addition? God said, “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.” But God did not say, “neither shall you touch it, lest you die.” The seed of doubt had already been planted and was beginning to take root in Eve’s heart.
The snake takes the conversation a bit further. “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” he declared.
This is the moment of truth.
Will Eve trust the authority and protection of God through his word or will she doubt God and trust her own judgment? Genesis tells us, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…”
If this moment were on the silver screen, we would shout to ourselves, “Eve! Why would you do that? Don’t you know he is lying to you?” After eating, Eve gives some to Adam, and like a big oaf he just eats it! Then the book of Genesis tells us they realized they were naked, sowed fig leaves together and made coverings.
God is no fool. He knew exactly what happened. In the cool of the day he comes looking for them. “Where are you?” God called out.
Adam replied, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
“Who told you that you were naked?” God asked. “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
“The woman whom you gave to be with me,” Adam accused. “She gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Now God is the bad guy? How do we go from God walking and talking with those created to bear his image in the cool of the day, surrounded by the magnificence and beauty of the creation he has freely given, to “It’s your fault God because you gave me this woman!” But Adam isn’t the only one.
“What is this that you have done?” God asked Eve.
“The serpent deceived me, and I ate” Eve retorted.
It’s not my fault it’s the woman you gave me! It’s not my fault, the serpent fooled me! It’s not my fault! It’s not my fault! IT IS YOUR FAULT GOD! If you hadn’t (fill in the blank) then I wouldn’t have (fill in the blank).
We keep telling ourselves we know better. Like Eve we add to God’s word thinking that somehow that may help. Or we, like Adam, blindly follow someone else and ignore the responsibility and authority that God has given according to his Word. Or maybe, we hold God in contempt because we think he is keeping from us something that is “rightfully” ours. But stop. Rethink the story and look at the tree from a totally different perspective.
God was keeping something from Adam and Eve, the knowledge of evil. In his matchless grace, God put the tree in the midst of the garden to remind Adam of God’s authority.
Think about how many rules you have to follow right now while you are reading. Do you have a place to be and time you must be there? Do you have traffic lights or a stop sign just outside? Did you park your car between white lines or drive next to a yellow one? Do you have bills to pay? Rules.
Rules are everywhere you turn. But for Adam there were only four rules.
Have kids with Eve and fill the earth.
Take care of my creation.
Enjoy my creation and the great food (including the tree of life).
Don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Think of it like this. There was a tree in the middle of the garden, Adam stands with his back to the tree and God says everything you see is yours, it’s fair game, now go have fun. Sounds like a pretty good rulebook to me. But don’t overlook one very important implied rule:
God’s Word is the ultimate authority.
God knows the best for Adam, the best for you and me, is the authority and direction of his word. His word tells us of his ways. His ways are gracious, loving, and perfect. The one tree off limits was Adam’s constant reminder that he was an ambassador not the king.
Our response in faith is obedience. Our response in doubt is disobedience. The story of Genesis tells the effects of their doubt leading to sin, or disobedience to God’s word. By Genesis chapter 6 “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Man was neither taking responsibility nor the blame; in fact mankind was filling the earth with disobedient rebels bent on glorying in their own image.
So you tell me, is God to blame for Adam and Eve’s sin because he planted that tree? I think not, if anything God was reminding Adam, who had authority over all creation (Gen. 1:28), that any delegated authority he was given was solely to fulfill the role of an image-bearing ambassador. He was a steward of God’s delegated authority for the purpose of God’s glory in all the earth.
Adam could only come in the name of the Lord, never his own.
That one tree was the gracious reminder of that reality. Adam failed. Since he failed, we have all followed in his footsteps of failure.
In comes a conflict of interest, my authority or God’s authority. One scholar wrote, “Man was created, as we've seen, in order to be properly directed towards God; he is inescapably related to God. But fallen man, instead of worshiping the true God, worships idols.” Who’s authority are you obeying?
Up Next: Take Responsibility
Until there's #NoPlaceLeft...
Sentergy: When Jesus, People, Practice and Theology Collide
Chapter 1: The Glory of God
Chapter 2: The Glory of God in Jesus
Chapter 3: The Glory of God in the Gospel
Chapter 4: The Glory of God in Disciple Making
Chapter 5: If You Love Me You Will Obey What I Command
Chapter 6: Monday Morning Disciple Making
Chapter 7: Monday Morning Disciple Making Part 2
Interlude: The Father's Heart
Conclusion: The Lump In Your Throat