Monthly Archives: February 2017

Accurate Answer

Studies in Genesis 3

And the woman said to the serpent, “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.’” Genesis 3:2-3 ESV

We do not know how long Adam and Eve lived in the garden. Let us not make the assumption it is either a long or short period of time. But there was enough time for both to think through the prohibition of God.

When whatever squatted in the serpent asked the question “Did God actually say, ‘You   shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Eve initially responded correctly. Of course they could eat from the trees. There is only one tree’s fruit which they are prohibited from eating. There are several things wrong with her answer, though. Had her response been the actual words of God it would have stopped the lie completely. Although, most of her answer is true, part of it is not true and none of it is accurate.

God did say every fruit from every tree was good for food and could be eaten. “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food” (Genesis 1:29 ESV). This statement includes the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. There was nothing wrong with the fruit. It was not poisonous. Eating the fruit would not kill the body. Nothing God created was dangerous to Adam and Eve.

It is the act of disobedience that will bring the condemnation of God. They were designed for relationship and disobedience would break that relationship. They were given the image of God and disobedience would corrupt the vessel containing the image but could not corrupt the image itself. His image cannot be corrupted any more than He can be corrupted. However, the person with the image can become bent and broken, twisting their view of His image into something not true.

Yet, Eve twisted her view of God’s words when she didn’t identify the tree as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and then added they were not even supposed to touch the fruit of the tree. Adding the prohibition to not touch adds a false boundary to what God actually said. He did not say do not touch the fruit of the tree. He said do not eat it. They could place catch with the fruit if they wanted. Did Adam give her this extra boundary or did she come up with it herself. I’m not supposed to eat the fruit so I better not touch it to make sure I don’t eat it. We do not know who added the boundary. We do know it was either Adam ore Eve.

Yet, I think it more damaging that she did not identify the tree as that of the knowledge of good and evil. God was teaching them that there was good and there was evil and that they needed to know the difference. They needed to know what was good, obeying God, and what was evil, disobeying God. Had she identified the tree as that of the knowledge of good and evil she would have used that knowledge to counter the lie of the serpent. Removing the self-imposed boundary and identifying the actual tree would have placed her squarely within God’s known will.

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God Questioned

Studies in Genesis 3

Nowthe serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You   shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1 ESV)

The serpent asks a question which assumes God is not trustworthy, that Adam misheard or is willingly misrepresenting God, and that God does not mean what He says. The question is unreasonable. “Did God actually say, ‘You   shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” is a direct contradiction of God’s eternal being exhibited in all of creation, including the serpent and that which is inhabiting the serpent.

God created Man in His image, creating them male and female which suggests Eve may have known His words. In Genesis chapter 1 He gave them food. “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food’” (Genesis 1:29 ESV). God gave them a large variety of food. Then, in Genesis chapter 2, God placed them in a garden, their home, and gave a specific instruction. 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). He told them they could eat the fruit from all of the trees in the garden but one. He identified that one tree as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Whatever is inhabiting the serpent may have known what God actually said. This also is something we cannot know. We can assume some knowledge of God, how He works, and what He said. We also know whatever is inhabiting the serpent was initially created by God but was in active rebellion against Him. God did not just create the physical but also the spiritual. Of all the physical creatures created by God only Man has the image of God. Genesis covers the physical world not the spiritual. It is not unreasonable to suggest something created by God in the spiritual world was allowed into the physical by God.

Why would God allow this? We do not get to know why. We can know that He allowed it because it happened. This is a test to see whether or not the people He created in His image would obey Him. There is more to obedience than simply doing or not doing. Obedience and disobedience involves the thinking of the heart, the whole person. A person will do that which their head and heart tell them to do. The question of whatever was inhabiting the serpent was designed to confuse and bewilder the thinking of the heart of the woman. This is what lies are designed to do. Lying confuses the hearer and is meant to alter the thoughtful and emotional direction of the one hearing so they cannot draw a correct conclusion steering their actions in a wrong direction. The only way to counter a lie is to know, and correctly express, the truth.

We have already assumed God knows everything including what will happen in the history of the universe He created.  He knows what is inhabiting the serpent and the motivations behind the question. He also knows what Eve, and then Adam, will do. He cares because He values them but He will not direct them against their will in this matter. The test is designed to expose who they are in their innermost self.

Conversation

Studies in Genesis 3

Nowthe serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You   shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 ESV

Eve is asked a question from a creature not made in the image of God, who cannot have a personal relationship with Him and who is subject to both God and Man. “Did God actually say” suggests God may not have said what Adam heard from God and what he told Eve God said.

The serpent does not refer to God by the name He has been using for Himself, LORD God, the self-existing One who rules because He is God. The serpent simply calls Him “God,” even suggesting He could be one of possibly many gods. Whatever is speaking through the serpent does not hold God in the highest regard but lowers Him, making Him less than who He is. Here is the essence of rebellion, claiming God is less and therefore, does not have full authority or control.

By implication, the serpent is suggesting to Eve God made a mistake, is not perfect, does not have control, has not done what He said He has done, and does not love her.

We do not get to know why the serpent suggests God is not God, or where the serpent came by the thought. We can assume from Scripture that Lucifer, a fallen angel, inhabited the serpent to cause destruction to God’s creation, but there is no way for Eve to know this. Eve knows only what she has learned since her creation, from Adam and from God. Some may suggest she and Adam were created with extensive knowledge of all things. If they were, her response to the serpent would have been completely different. They were created perfect but not complete, with an innate knowledge of God because of His image in them, and with speech, the ability to reason and name. But they were also created with the ability to learn and grow in knowledge of God, of each other and of the world in which they lived. Eve was confronted by a creature of God that exhibited characteristics that fell outside of her experience.

Engaging in a conversation is not wrong. Conversation is one way to learn from another. Relationship requires communication. Adam talked to Eve just as Eve talked to Adam. Both talked with God just as God talked with them. How do we know this? God had already talked to Adam about his responsibilities and limitations. God listened to Adam as he named the creatures and approved the names. Eve was not startled when the serpent began speaking to her. Yet, healthy conversations do not try to deceive but acknowledge truth and seek to explore truth and its ramifications. To begin a conversation with an untrue statement or to lead to a conclusion not based upon truth is deceptive. There is no place in God’s presence for deception.

Questioned by a Serpent

Studies in Genesis 3

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You   shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 ESV

This is a test. God is testing Eve. This is also a test for Adam. God is in absolute control. He has shown His control in creating everything according to His divine will and judgment. Yet, He is allowing the serpent, or whatever is in the serpent, to test the obedience of the woman and then the man. Since Eve has no experience with rebellion or disobedience how could she know she was being tested? When does a test become temptation?

The word “temptation” (nâsâh) is not used in this verse. Temptation, or putting to the proof, was not always viewed in Scripture as a negative occurrence, but more neutral in concept. Such testing was used to discover the purity, validity or integrity of a thing or person, such as purity of a metal like gold, or the people of God when He led them out of Egypt. People were tested to discover what they knew, what they could do, but more to show what they did not know and needed to learn, or what they could not do so they could learn. That which is lesser cannot test that which is greater. It is the greater, the authority or owner, who tests those owned or under their authority. No man has the right to test God but God has full authority to test and prove man.

Under this circumstance, the serpent does not test Eve. God tests Eve. God uses the serpent, and whatever is in it, to show what is in Eve, and ultimately, in Adam. Did Eve truly understand the command of God to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Eve’s response to the serpent’s question begins to reveal her ability to reason, decide an action and draw a conclusion. However, it is the serpent’s question that reveals it, or what is in it, is not good but somehow corrupted.

“Did God actually say ‘You  shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

God created Eve from a piece of Adam. It was to Adam God spoke the command and prohibition. Adam would have to tell her what God said for her to know. Had the serpent spoken this question to Adam he could have given a definitive answer. Adam could have said “no, that is not what God said. He said ‘do not eat from the tree of the knowledge if good and evil. The tree in the middle of the garden next to the tree of life. We eat from every other tree there is.” But the serpent questioned Eve.

By implication the serpent was suggesting to Eve that since she was not around to actually hear God’s commands she could not know exactly what He said. Nor could she trust Adam to communicate accurately the words of God. Her authorities, God and the first man, were questioned over their position of authority and the intent of their relationship with her.