Studies in Genesis 2
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.” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV)
Here is the first and only negative given to this point. Everything else God has said or done is positive. Even the tree, though named declared as “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” is not negative. It is pleasant to the sight and good for food. It is not ugly or evil in itself because nothing God creates is ugly or evil. It is probably not a unique tree, with different characteristics than any other tree. It is probably like every other tree, of a particular species bearing like fruit.
God does not tell us why He singles out this specific tree. It is not the tree that is special but the command given by God who created the tree and the Man He commands which carries weight. God gave man dominion over the world He created. However, Man is ultimately not in control. God is. Created by God and bearing His image, Man is under God’s authority as His representative over the created world.
God places only one prohibition upon the first man created. He commands the man, Adam, to not eat from that specific tree. To command means to give a charge or an appointment, laying the responsibility upon the shoulders of the person charged the absolute necessity of keeping and fulfilling the elements and particulars of the command. Adam will need to use all of himself, his intellect, emotions, moral understanding and will to complete the task given.
God never asks anyone to do anything. He commands with the full and reasonable expectation of obedience. Having the image of God Man is made for obedience. For Man to not obey would work against the divine principle found in the image of God. Nowhere in Scripture, that I can find, does God every ask people to do His will.
The silly Western suggestion Jesus asks to be let in as He stands knocking at the door of the Church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:20 is not true. We in the western world knock on doors when the house does not belong to us and we wish to speak to the owner. As an illustration of Jesus begging to save people it ignores the fact Jesus owns the door, the building, the people in the building, and everything in creation. He is sovereign. Besides, why would anyone knock on their own door unless someone on the inside locked the door to keep out the owner. Jesus is not asking to come in. He does not beg people to accept His gift. He demands they follow and obey Him. Those who obey show they love God and are loved by Him. Those who do not obey sin against God and are rejected by Him.
God did not ask Adam to refrain from eating the fruit. He commanded Adam to not eat the fruit of that particular tree with the full expectation of obedience.
Obedience is a means for Adam to show his love and devotion to God who created him in His image. God created people with His image so they might have an intimate relationship with Him. Adam will learn to worship God in a unlimited variety of ways as he grows and matures. Having His image gives Adam the freedom to act according to His will and design as a natural consequence of who he is built into the fiber of his being. Though loving God is integral to Adam’s being he must still learn to chose to love and obey God.