This blog is the second in a series titled: “The Redemption of Life-Givers”
Why would God place a tree in the Garden of Eden if He didn’t want people to eat from it?
A legit question. But, how we ask and answer it will reveal our heart’s position towards God and whether or not we trust Him. An atheist asked me this question. It disclosed his lack of trust in a being who would do such a mean-spirited thing. This question’s essence is very similar to the question raised in Part 1: Why is it important to distinguish that the first command was actually to eat instead of not to eat? Because, the positive aspect of that very first command lays a foundation for our relationship with God. It tells us: He is for us. He wants what is best for us. He provides for us. The answer to why God would put a tree we couldn’t enjoy in the Garden is also positive in nature.
By not eating from God’s tree, Adam and Eve demonstrated that they recognized God as the Creator, Provider and Owner of the Garden, and that they were not. (1)
When God gave them the gifts of all the other trees, He was wanting the same response we want when we give gifts. Think about it, what do you want someone to do when you give them a gift? What is your motivation in giving it in the first place?
I remember finding an old window in an antique store that had been converted into a chalk board. It was exactly what my friend had been looking for. Though I knew she would like it, I didn’t anticipate her reaction.
She said it was the best present ever! She loved it! She couldn’t believe I had gotten it for her! Her reaction spoke to the two things God wants to see from us: 1) she throughly enjoyed it and 2) she understood it was a gift from me. I gave her the gift because I knew she’d like it, and I wanted her to know how special she was to me.
It gives God great pleasure to see us reach up, take what He gave us, enjoy it and then give it to the ones we love so that they can be satiated too. How often do we enjoy the gift of His Word, the gift of music, the gift of nature, the gift of our children, the gift of love? Could someone accuse us of constantly reaching for things that give life, things like forgiveness, kindness and peace? Or are we seen giving bad fruit to ourselves and those we love, things like bitterness, anger and frustration?
So, how exactly do we convey that we understand that the gifts “of the trees” are from God? That He is the Creator of the Garden? That we are His guests? That it is from His hand that we enjoy and are provided for? By honoring the prohibition of not taking from the one tree that is God’s.
My husband came up with this analogy to God’s tree. In our home, we have a separate, master bedroom from the children. It is our special place to relax and to discuss the day’s events. What would our children be telling us if all the sudden they decided to take over our bedroom? What if they walked in there with all their stuff and said, “This is mine!”?
It would be a sign to us that things were not right. That rebellion had taken over. That they no longer viewed us as the providers of the household. In essence, they would be declaring that they will now get to be the boss. That from now on they have the right to determine what is good and not good for themselves.
The master bedroom is not theirs, but there are many things they do get to enjoy in our home: clothing, food, comfy beds, entertainment, bikes, phones, computers…you get the idea. We want them to enjoy the things we’ve provided, and we want them to recognize where they are getting all of these things from. Saying, “Thank you!” certainly is one way that they can show respect and honor for our position, but so is not touching the things that are not theirs.
We have a bad habit of touching things that are not ours. When you have sex outside of a marriage covenant, you are taking that which is not yours. When you slander and gossip about another person, you are taking the dignity that rightfully belongs to him; you are literally standing in his life-blood. (2) When you harm your body, you forget that you are not your own, that you were bought at a price. (3)
Eve’s sin wasn’t in reaching out for fruit but in which fruit she reached for. Her failure was in turning her back on what God had given her to delight in and instead choosing to take something forbidden. It’s easy to blame Adam and Eve, but we are them when we reach for what is not ours.
When something belongs to someone else, we could refer to that thing as being holy. Because it is set apart, our master bedroom is, if you will, holy. There are certain items in my home that are holy, simply because they are only used for one, specific purpose. Marriage is holy. No one just gets to come into my house and receive the blessings, privileges and responsibilities that I enjoy from being Ron’s wife. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was holy as well. It was God’s tree.
We have to ask the question then, what exactly does eating from God’s tree do for you? Think about that for a moment. When you reach out for something that has not been given to you, what is the reward, the payoff?
It gives you the feeling (but not the reality) that you can see things as God does. That you actually own the garden. That you too can make judgements. That you have a say. The serpent told Eve, “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (4) What exactly was this mysterious godly knowledge of the tree that we desired? Why was is so tempting? (5)
God put the tree there as a means of worship. When we respect God’s boundaries, we worship. When we recognize Him as the Creator of the world, with a right to guide His creation, we worship. When we reach for what He has lovingly given us, we worship. When we give the life that has been given to us, we worship. We worship, and express our reverence, adoration and devotion for God when we let His tree be holy.
Questions for Reflection:
• What things do you reach for that are not yours to enjoy?
• How often do you enjoy God’s gifts to you?
• How do you convey your thanks to God?
• Do you trust God’s heart toward you?
4. See Genesis 3:5.
5. The subject of Part 3.