Tag Archives: tree of life

Judgment

Studies in Genesis 3

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. (Genesis 3:14 ESV)

God immediately pronounces judgment and sentence upon the serpent. Yet, the serpent is only an animal, a creature of the earth. We do not know what the serpent looked like before the rebellion of the man and woman. God’s sentence suggests the serpent changed, its appearance becoming different. Perhaps it had legs and God took away those legs as part of the sentence. Making such an assumption is beyond the truths taught in Scripture.

When God pronounced judgment and sentence without questioning the serpent, and the Deceiver inhabiting the serpent, the implication was He already knew the Deceiver’s motive and personality. The Deceiver was created by God a spiritual being and had already rebelled against Him. God allowed it to tempt the man and woman as a test. It, the Deceiver, did not have the image of God, and therefore, did not have an intimate relationship with God. Still, the actions of the Deceiver in lying to the woman suggest prior rebellion against and hatred of God.

Scripture is filled with “types” or physical representations of spiritual realities. One example is relationship between the man and woman, a husband and wife, showing the mystical intimacy of the relationship between people and God. Another example is the relationship between parents and children. Children are subject to their parents just as people are subject to God. In the middle of the garden was the tree of Life. Jesus Christ is viewed as the tree of Life. Eating His flesh and drinking His blood brings life to those condemned to death because of sin (see John 6:53-58). This last example fills libraries.

God pronounces judgment and sentence upon the serpent. The serpent is a physical representative of a spiritual being. There is no evidence to suggest God created the serpent one way and then changed its physical appearance. Because of God’s omniscience, He knew (we have no evidence to suggest otherwise) the created serpent, in its current physical appearance, would be used by the Deceiver and consequently judged and sentenced by Him.

God’s judgment and sentence is toward the Deceiver, who inhabited the serpent in its quest to subvert and compromise God’s creation. It was the intent of the Deceiver to corrupt those created in the image of God. The temptation of the Deceiver against those created in God’s image, was focused upon God, and was the first shot in a war of rebellion. The Deceiver is fighting against God and those who are His in an all-out effort to destroy whatever it can with no hope or expectation of winning the war.

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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.

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.

True Freedom

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)

God’s first recorded words to Adam were not those of a friend or acquaintance. Nor were they the words of a father to a child. His words were of a God, who owns all He has created, to a created being to whom He has giving authority over part of His creation. “Command” means to give a charge, or a commission, an assignment, a boundary. God spoke to “the man” (adam) setting the wide parameters of what he could eat, not where he could go or what he could do. Adam’s natural inclination is to work, taking care of the creation under his God ordained authority. Part of his work is to grow more fruit-bearing trees. He couldn’t possibly eat all of the food growing on these trees. Adam could eat anything he wanted from any tree except one tree.

God does not treat Adam like all of the other creatures He has created. He speaks to him face to face. “Saying”, in its various forms, means to speak one’s heart, to show intention and promise, to be told, to answer. This is not casual conversation. Yet, God’s words are not mysterious to Adam either. God spoke clearly. Adam understood completely.

God makes a promise in His command. We think of God’s promises as positive, yet He recognizes the propensity of the negative in those created in His image. His intent is to train those who are His to restrain and control the negative they will encounter in themselves, not to suppress the negative. Ultimately, He wants those who have an intimate relationship with Him to know the difference between good and evil and have the freedom to always choose the good. This is true freedom.

His words are not a threat but a statement of fact. This is not a covenant. A covenant is an agreement between two where the greater blesses the lesser, guaranteeing a promised outcome when certain criteria is met. God promises an outcome for disobedience but not for obedience. God’s expectation is for obedience from Adam, not disobedience. He did not create Adam for disobedience but for relationship. God’s omniscience gives Him the foreknowledge that Adam will disobey but this does not mean God created Adam for disobedience.

Adam, like everyone, must grow in his intimate knowledge and intellectual understanding of God. But he had an advantage we cannot ignore. He saw God. Before the fall, Adam was sinless and able to come into, or be in, God’s complete presence. God spoke to Adam face to face. God enjoyed His creation and was intimate with Adam, who was created in His image for relationship and intimacy. Adam enjoyed God. Growing and maturing is not limited to his natural surroundings but to the spiritual realm in which God dwelt. Adam could see there was more than the physical world every time he was in God’s presence. Thus to “eat, eat” shows more than physical food and nourishment just as “die, die” implies more than physical death. There is a spiritual second death just as there is a spiritual food, and by implication, life. Eating from the tree of life brought a second life just as eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as an act of outright rebellion brought spiritual death. God was training Adam to live.

More Than Food

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)

There is a tree of life. There is not a tree of death. Nor is there a tree of decision. God gave Adam the freedom to choose and permission to eat from any tree in the garden but one. God commanded Adam to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He did not say to Adam stay away from the tree. He didn’t say to Adam that he didn’t have to take care of the tree. The Garden was Adam’s home and he was responsible for everything in his home. His total responsibilities were given him by God. Adam was first and foremost responsible to God and under His authority.

God uses the word “eat” four times in these two verses. Most translations will show only three times. Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat (eat). But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou may not eat of it. For in the day that you eat you surely die (die)” (Gen 2:16-17 Authorized edited by gfw). To “eat” means to consume or devour for food, to cause to eat. God is telling Adam the fruit of every tree in the garden may be eaten or devoured to sustain his life. The trees are God’s, given to Adam to take care of and use for their intended purpose.

If we view “die die” as both natural death and then execution, or a second death, so we should view “eat, eat” as both natural consumption of necessary food and a second eating. God gave Adam food to consume beyond the physical. There is a second food for him to eat, implying there is life beyond the physical, just as there is a death beyond the physical.

Adam was supposed to eventually eat from the tree of life. He is already alive and he eats from the fruit of the trees to keep living. Just as there is a second death, a death other than physical, so there is life beyond physical life. Since every tree of the garden was beautiful to look at and good for food, I believe, without having absolute verifiable evidence, God would eventually give Adam permission to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If every tree is good for food, sustaining the body then there would come a time, at God’s discretion and according to His purpose, when Adam would be ready for such knowledge.

There was only good in the Garden. This does not mean there was no evil in creation. Creation is more than the earth in the physical universe. Adam needed preparation and training to face evil when it was time. His training begins with obedience to the command of God. Don’t eat was not a request.

Life and Death

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)

God uses the word “die” twice in this verse. Many have translated the verse “you shall surely die.” But God actually says “die die.” What does He mean?

“Die” means to have someone killed or executed, to intentionally take the life of another. But, it also means to simply die, or to cease living, because of natural causes. The former is a deliberate act of one person against another while the latter is a natural consequence of mortality. Thus, the phrase probably means that first is physical death followed by execution by God for rebellion. How can anyone die more than once?

From the study of the word “day” in Genesis 1 I have drawn the conclusion a “day” is not a 24 hour period of time. A “day” is a period of time determined by God with a specific beginning and ending time. God accomplishes specific acts of creation on each of the first six days. I also believe God, who exists outside of time, created life mortal, with a beginning and an ending. Birth is the beginning and death is the ending of physical life. He set in motion life according to specific and well defined laws. He is intentionally involved in creation and all created things exist according to His determination. He knows the beginnings and endings of every created thing.

Because the beginning of time suggests an end of time, so the beginning of life, physical life, suggests there is death, or an end of life. Plants, fish, birds and all land animals live, reproduce and die. There is no indication in Genesis 1 that either flora or fauna were created to live without dying.

There are two immediate implications to this line of thinking. First, Adam would know about death. Dying would not be foreign or unexpected but something he had seen firsthand. Death would not have startled him. Secondly, Adam knew he would eventually physically die. His body would live as long as God determined and then he would cease to physically live. He was not afraid of death because he knew death was not final but the beginning of a different life. How did he know this?

Of the uncounted trees in the Garden there were two trees named by God. Adam had permission to eat from every tree but one. Adam had the freedom to eat from the tree of life at any time. Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was prohibited. Disobedience to the single prohibition would bring, not physical death, because he will already die physically, but a different kind of death, an execution where God deliberately caused his further death.

There is a second death.

 

Two Trees

Studies in Genesis 2

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)

God made a paradise on Earth, an enclosed garden named Eden, in which He created and caused to grow trees from the smallest to the largest. These trees had one or both of two characteristics. First, they were “pleasant to the sight” and a delight to look at. The word “pleasant” means desirable. Many, if not all of the trees, bore fruit or food for Man. Every kind and type of food that was “good” or beneficial for Man’s well-being and growth. Eden was both beautiful and practical.

“Every” tree in the garden was “pleasant to the sight and good for food.” “Every” means the totality of and all. There was not a tree in the garden that was ugly, by God’s standard, or did not fulfill its God designed purpose of providing food.

Somewhere, deeply embedded in the Garden of Eden, were two trees given special purpose. We know the names of these trees and by their names the purpose of each. One is the “tree of life” and the other is the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” These, like all the other trees, were pleasant to gaze upon and their fruit was good for food. There is nothing in the Garden of Eden dangerous to Man, or poisonous to touch or consume.

“Life” is a noun and means that which is born, grows and is active in some way. Plants and trees have life because they begin life as a seed and grow and, by their nature, actively produce that for which they were created, fruit with seeds. Animals have life because they are born and grow and are active, naturally fulfilling their purpose. Yet, for person created in the image of God life carries the ability to consciously fulfill the purpose for which they are created. Man’s nature is found in the image of God. That the food of the trees of the garden of Eden were given to sustain life is part of their purpose just as it is part of the purpose and design of people to consume food designed specifically for them. All living things already have life. So, for Man, the fruit gives more than simple physical life but a life beyond life.

“Knowledge” can mean perception, skill, discernment, wisdom and understanding. “Good” carries the idea from pleasant to beneficial, excellent, appropriate, valuable or bounteous. Conversely, “evil” carries the exact opposite meaning of “good.” That which is evil is anything unpleasant, harmful, corrupted, inappropriate, worthless and unable to provide anything that is good. Thus, it is the intellectual and intimate understanding and wisdom that comes with knowing, in the fullest sense of the word, the applicable difference between that which is good and that which is evil.

Both trees were pleasant to look and good for food. Yet, these trees were given by God something eternally different than any other tree in the Garden. It is not that there was something magical about the fruit of these trees. It is, ultimately, the purpose and active will of God which imbues the fruit of these trees with qualities God placed on them.