Tag Archives: Obedience

Testing

Studies in Genesis 3

Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13 ESV)

After questioning the man, who has blamed Him and the woman for his actions, God now turns His attention to the woman. His question is as direct as those asked of the man, but slightly different. He knows what she has done. She has listened to the Deceiver and worked out in her mind and heart the decision to rebel against God. She has plucked a fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil believing, against all evidence, that by eating it she will gain something God is withholding. She has eaten the fruit and then given it to the man for him to eat.

God’s question is all inclusive. He asks the woman what she did. What have you produced? What work did you do? What have you made? What is the effect of your work? You have done something. What is it? God asks the woman to account for her thoughts, the decision-making process, the reasons for her actions. He is demanding a full accounting for all which just occurred because of her actions.

God wants her, as He wanted the man, to take complete responsibility for herself. God asks the woman, as He did the man, as He does all who bear His image, to give an accounting for their thoughts, motivations, decisions and actions. He never asks anyone to do something for Him. He did not ask them to refrain from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He commanded they not eat from that tree.

God’s asking is a testing. Scripture is filled with God testing, or proving, every person. His tests are a teaching tool to discover what the person, or student, does not know, not what they do know. He knows the results of the testing. He wants those tested to know the results also. Yet, He demands a heart which seeks truth, so the testing becomes a tool used to purge the person of sin, as a furnace refines metal, removing the dross.

This is the uncomfortable reality of having the image of God while carrying the brokenness of sin. All are tested, put through the fire to burn away the impurities. Our responsibility, because of the image of God, is to acknowledge the testing is from God for our benefit, take responsibility for ourselves, and repent, turning away from that which breaks and cuts off any relationship with God.

Our actions carry no merit. God does not ask and then reward us for obedience. God commands with the expectation of obedience and blesses because it is His nature to do so out of love for those He created. Part of our responsibility is obedience and truthfulness.

Both the man and the woman disobeyed God. Neither the man or the woman answered God’s questions with complete truthfulness.

God’s Calling

Studies in Genesis 3

But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9 ESV)

God “called” to the first man, Adam, who is the representative of Man, all humans. To call means to summon, to invite, appoint, endow, and also to cry out, proclaim, to call by name. God did not ask where he was. He knew Adam was hiding among the trees. He also knew Adam had rebelled against Him by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God called to Adam to present himself before his Authority.

God does not ask anyone to do anything. Nowhere in Scripture will you find God asking for our obedience. Even in our rebellion God demands obedience. God does ask questions of those who are His. His questions are designed to teach us about Him and about ourselves before Him. While Adam was hiding from God, He began asking a series of questions designed to elicit specific answers.

“Where are you?”  This question is full of meaning and points to many other questions. Why are you hiding? Why aren’t you coming to greet me? What are you feeling? Are you afraid? How did you come to know fear?

Some have suggested God went in search of Adam after the rebellion. This is certainly possible. However, God knows everything and does not act quickly as we judge necessary timeliness. He stands outside of time while knowing all which occurs constrained by time. Nor, is God going to allow sin and rebellion to change Him or His actions. He knew before they sinned not only that they would rebel but what He was planning to do because of their disobedience. All God does is for His purpose, not ours. We are created to serve Him, yet His eternal nature is to serve without losing or compromising His authority and place.

God’s call to man, whether Adam or anyone else who has, does or will live, is a summons into His presence. It is not a request to come but a command to present oneself before God. Since God created Man for relationship, yet still has authority over Man, His call is to come and be with Him in a loving, intimate way. It is the nature of sin to be repulsed by God. With the act of rebellion by Man and the summons of God the war raging within Man because of sin is defined.

God’s image in Man is an irresistible striving to know and be with Him. Man’s now bent and corrupted nature is an overwhelming revulsion toward God and a terrifying desire to flee from Him. God’s image in Man is not corrupted because God cannot be corrupted. Yet, the vessel holding the image is broken and compromised and no longer wants that image. God’s image cannot be expunged from Man. It will always, forever in eternity, be there, driving Man toward his Maker. Unless Man is recreated, not fixed or patched but made new, the war between the corrupted flesh and the incorruptible nature of God, will rage out of control, even in eternity.

God Commands

Studies in Genesis 3

But the serpent said to the woman, “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. (Genesis 3:5 ESV)

The Deceiver is telling Eve, and Adam, that eating from this specific tree will give them knowledge they do not yet have. They will know good and evil. God called all He made “good.” He called nothing “evil” other than naming a tree. God named two trees. He called one the tree of life and the other the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9 ESV)

There was nothing magical about any of the trees. All of the trees that bore fruit were food for Man. Every tree was pleasing to the eye and the fruit of every tree was edible and would not damage or hurt anyone who ate the fruit. Yet, God forbade Man from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as part of His teaching them about obedience and disobedience, about good and evil.

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)

God does not have to explain to anyone why He gives a command. Remember, God commanded Man to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He did not ask. God never asks anyone to do or not do something. Man’s obedience to God’s command is expected. If I am correct in my thinking God would have eventually allowed Man to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Adam and Eve were in training. They were growing in the discipline of knowing and serving God. They were not told to refrain from eating from the tree of life. Once they were mature in the thinking of their hearts they would eat from both trees.

Knowing the difference between good and evil is intimately knowing the reason for obedience and the consequences of disobedience. Why would those created for service to God even think or feel they could, or should, not serve Him? Either the seed of disobedience and rebellion was already planted in Man by God or it was planted in Man by a force other than God. That force other than God need not be the Deceiver. It could be Man, themselves. Some will say that inherent in the image of God given is the possibility of rebellion. But is this true? None living now are perfect. We cannot know the state of being of Adam and Eve. We can know that they had the tools needed to make specific decisions and the freedom to carry out those decisions. They could choose to obey out of intimate love for their Creator or to rebel and begin hating Him by focusing upon themselves. Genesis is telling us they were influenced to think of rebellion by the Deceiver and they listened to him. Their actions will either finish his deception or show that it failed. We know what happens.

Touching and Eating

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

When Eve added her own words to God’s, “neither shall you touch it,” what was she saying? God said when you eat the fruit “dying you will die.”

To “touch” means to reach out and grasp to oneself. “Touch” can also mean to strike or to be defeated. For Eve, the word may mean either deliberate or accidental physical contact with the fruit of a tree. Eating the fruit would automatically demand touching the fruit. Yet God does not say “do not touch.” His command is, do not “eat.”

It would appear there was, within the makeup of Eve, a desire to eat that which was forbidden. She had the will to resist that desire, and the intellectual ability to reason why she should not eat. Instead, she built, in the thinking of her heart, a reasonable boundary to keep herself from doing that which was forbidden. Her thoughts may have been if I don’t touch it then I definitely will not eat it. She built her own tool to help her keep God’s command. This suggests her faith and confidence in God was wavering. There was an apparent weakness of which the serpent took advantage.

Did she understand what God meant by “die”? To “die” means to be separated from that which sustains life. Physical death is separation from that which sustains physical life. In the same sense, spiritual death is separation from that which sustains spiritual life. God sustains all life whether physical or spiritual.

Yet, God does not simply say “die.” He says “die, die.” “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 (dying you will die)” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV). The implication of this statement suggests there was already physical death, as a natural part of life, and that disobeying His command would bring a different kind of death. Eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and after you physically die you will experience another death. You will die spiritually.

Man was not created to rebel against God but for obedience and relationship. Given the image of God, Man was designed to learn over a period of time what it means to know each other and to know God. Part of the process of learning and maturing was to know the difference between good and evil as a natural, created part of His image. Obedience to God’s authority is part of that maturing process. Disobedience is in His face rebellion.

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.

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.

Adam’s Charge

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.