Another look at Genesis 3. Part II
In the first part , I wanted to dispel the notion of the restriction regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil —by itself— being the source of sin. I suggested that the incitement to disobedience only arose when the Serpent was injected into the equation. I argued that the presence of the tree and the command pertaining to it should not be seen as bait. Even further, the perception of this tree as bait becomes less valid when we consider the fact that there were two special trees planted in the garden. There was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but there was also the tree of Life.
Interestingly it appears that both trees were planted in the center of the garden. They took center place and appear to have been the focal point of the garden. I would argue that this is so because they represent a choice that Adam and Eve faced right from the start. These trees merely represent a choice man was to make at some point, a choice he was constantly aware of but which came to a head when the serpent initiated that pivotal discussion.
Let us remember that Adam and Even had been made in the image of God. In what way was this true? Well, chapter 1 v 26 suggests that this related to man’s dominion over all of God’s creation. Man was master over his realm. I think the trees represented a moral choice man was to make. He could choose to remain under God’s authority and to receive the gift of eternal life—i.e. choose eternal life under God’s jurisdiction or choose to go his own way, guided by his intellect and his own judgment of right and wrong but in doing so forfeit eternal life.
In Genesis Chapter 3 v 22, after the fall, God makes this statement. “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever” (NIV) Hence, contrary to popular notion, man was not eternal at his creation. It suggests that he was to die at some point.
These choices between life and death appear to have been mutually exclusive. We know that to choose the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (the tree of death) was to reject the tree of life because when man chose this path, the tree of life was then made inaccessible to him. I want to suggest to you that if man had instead chosen to eat from the tree of life, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would immediately have become inaccessible to him. If man had chosen eternal life, I see no reason why God would have left the tree of knowledge in the garden, leaving open the possibility of the one thing He (God) most wanted to avoid—the confluence of domination, eternal life and knowledge.
In other words, what was not allowed was for man to have domination over God’s creation, eternal life and all knowledge, making him more or less another God. Although not explicitly mentioned, it seems logical and strongly suggested in Genesis 3 v 22 that if man acquired all three attributes—dominion over God’s creation, eternal life and the knowledge of good and evil—he would in essence become divine (even if merely a more limited kind of divinity).
So man had to choose between 2 positions: He could choose to be like God in his authority and in his possession of eternal life but remain subordinate to God in restrictions relating to knowledge and decision-making. Or he could retain his authority and choose to go his own way. If he did the latter, though, he forfeited his right to eternal life. God will not countenance another divine being besides himself. And as long as man had not made or had the opportunity to exercise this choice, both trees remained in the garden. Once he chose one tree, however, the other was removed. Seen this way, then, the tree of knowledge is not bait but represents a choice that man was called to make.
So, in summary, with respect to the two trees, I see them not as bait but as a choice that all human beings are still required to make today. A choice between Life under God’s government but with eternal life to boot or life (actually death) under our own government, forfeiting the gift of eternal life—which I interpret to be a life of continued uninterrupted communion with Him. Man in choosing one rejected the other and the death that was promised was immediate even though he continued to live physically. This suggests that the death being mentioned here is not a physical death and I will expand on this theme in my next post.
Incidentally, this choice between life and death is a pattern repeated over and over in the scriptures. It is reminiscent of old and new testament scriptures which implore man to choose between life—going it God’s way—and choosing death—choosing our own way. The two are mutually exclusive.
Finally, all of this forms a prototype that culminates in the choice all are asked to make in respect to our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord’s mission and ministry, is to restore all things to the right order; God over all, man with eternal life and dominion over God’s creation, but only in accordance to God’s written prescriptions. It is what we are called to do even as we wait for the Day of His coming. Die to self and to surrender our lives to his government. - Gaius Columbus