Choices have consequences. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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). A command is handed down by God to man (Hebrew root name for Adam) that if you do this one thing, “you shall surely die.” Adam was smart enough to understand that death was some kind of punishment for disobedience, even though he had not experienced it.
In Genesis 2:9 we are told about two specific trees: the “tree of life” that is only for those granted eternal life (Genesis 3:22; Revelation 2:7; 22:2, 14) and the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” that leads to death. God told Adam that he could freely eat from every tree, which included the “tree of life,” but do not eat from the “tree of death” (quotes added to point out the two options). Innocence and immortality would soon be shattered by one man. Additionally, all of creation was created through, for and by Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:16), and served as a backdrop for a bigger purpose – good versus evil. That purpose will be discussed later.
When God put Adam in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it along with instructions not to eat from the tree of knowledge, Eve did not exist. Remember the game where someone whispers in your ear what to say to the next person? The story gets twisted almost immediately. “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’” (Genesis 3:1)?
Who is speaking through the serpent to the woman? Revelation 12:9 gives us a big clue: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” We will discuss later more details about the origin and destiny of Satan, but for the purpose here, the speaking of the serpent was a diabolic miracle, just as the speaking of Balaam’s donkey was a divine miracle (Numbers 22:28).
Note how Satan twisted God’s word, casting doubt upon the woman. “When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). God said they could eat from every tree (with one exception). Satan said to the woman, in effect, “Since God said to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over every living thing, how come you can’t eat from any tree you want? Clearly you must have heard it wrong from your husband?” A marriage counselor Satan is not. Give him an inch in your life and he takes a foot. Now the woman starts to second-guess what her husband told her about the tree of knowledge.
The woman’s response to the serpent in Genesis 3:2-3: “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” The translation from God to Adam, then from Adam to the woman (she had no formal name yet) and then add in Satan’s distorted lies and you have a recipe for disaster.
Where did God say, “You shall not touch the fruit of knowledge?” Even more importantly, where did God say, “You shall die immediately if you touch or eat the fruit of knowledge?” The woman’s belief that if she even touched the tree’s fruit, death was imminent, inferred that the conversation with the serpent took place well away from “the tree which is in the midst of the garden.” In the original Hebrew language, the woman’s interpretation of “die” in Genesis 3:3 meant immediate death, whereas God said in Genesis 2:17 that “you shall surely die,” meaning the process of physically dying would begin, as witnessed in Adam’s life, dying at the ripe age of 930 (Genesis 5:5).
It gets even more twisted. “Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” (Genesis 3:4-5). Satan responded by telling the woman, “You will not surely die,” which was a lie but in her mind he meant she would not die immediately, which was cunningly true!
Is it possible that Adam embellished God’s instructions to the woman? Yes. He did have free will, but without the knowledge of good and evil. Is it possible that the woman misunderstood what Adam told her and/or added her own embellishments? Yes. She also had free will, but without the knowledge of good and evil. Again, I’m reminded of innocent children sitting in a circle of chairs whispering what has been said from one ear to the next. The story will not be the same come full circle. Whatever happened in the translation from God to the woman, it was done with innocence and without sin. But that strategic move by the serpent to tempt the woman first, thinking she was the weaker of the two, would ultimately be Satan’s downfall when God imposes a curse.
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NOTE: The preceding excerpt was taken from the book, “God on Climate Change: Worshipping creation instead of the Creator” by Jim Wear (the author of this blog)… available in paperback at Amazon.