Gold Coast Bereans

Out of Ghana, West Africa; Christian hearts and critical minds seeking, speaking and writing the truth with love. This is a conversation of a group of friends, now living in the USA and the UK, who have known each other for more than 20 years.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Another look at Genesis 3

The deeper question for me and, I believe, the key to answering the questions posed in yesterday’s post is not why the tree was put in the garden but rather, why the Serpent had access to the couple?

Remember that the tree by itself posed no moral threat. By that I am suggesting that without the serpent, the tree was impotent with regard to inciting disobedience. For disobedience to occur, the instrument of disobedience, the Serpent, had to be present as the catalyst. The problem therefore lies with the serpent and not the tree.

Let us consider God’s instruction about the tree as a prohibitive law- a law intended to restrict a particular action. Let us not forget, however, that God gave other commands. In Chapter 1 verse 28, He told Adam and Eve to multiply and fill the earth and to subdue it. Let’s call these laws prescriptive laws because, in contrast to prohibitive laws which instructed Adam and Eve about what not to do, these laws emphasized what they were to do.

Seen this way, one immediately begins to realize that the tree is immaterial to this particular argument because as I stated above, the true source of sin in the Garden of Eden was not the commands, whether prohibitive or prescriptive, but instead, the whispers of the agent of disobedience. In that case, it is not inconceivable to imagine that the Serpent, in the absence of the tree, would have found other ways to tempt Adam and Eve to disobey God’s commands. This would have been so whether God’s instructions were of exclusively prescriptive or prohibitive bend. Incidentally, since the fall, our own flesh has joined Satan in inciting us to disobedience. The laws of God are good; unfortunately, we have internal and external enemies that constantly draw us to break these good laws. In the book of James, he writes we sin because of our own intrinsic propensity to sin following the fall. The parallel situation before the fall is that Adam and Eve sinned because Satan incited them to do so. The Law was not the problem; Satan was.

To ask why did God put the tree in the garden then is to ask the deeper question, is the God of order as Paul calls Him in Corinthians, entitled to make laws? To drive this home, let me consider a different scenario. If rather than the story we have recorded in Genesis, we were told that Adam and Eve fell from grace because, tempted by the Serpent, they refused to multiply, to fill the earth and to subdue it, would we then say God had baited them to acts of disobedience by giving them these particular laws?

All the above brings me to what I consider to be the more important question, why was the Serpent given access to the Garden of Eden? I believe this is best understood in terms of the cosmic struggle between God and Satan that preceded the creation. I have already rambled on quite a bit, so I will stop here. I will, in my next post, reflect on and attempt to answer this question. I will also attempt to expand on what I have shared so far. Stopping here also allows you to comment, to expand or disagree. I welcome your comments. - Gaius Columbus


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clarification: I may have inadvertently left the impression that the tree was wholly irrelevant to this story. I wish to clarify this "misimpression".

In this post, I was merely making the more limited argument that when considering specifically whether the tree was a bait planted to lure man to sin (or to act as a test of his obedience), one could argue that there were other laws and prescriptions that could also have been considered the same way. Indeed, with some work it is not inconceivable that a really crafty enemy--which is the description given to the serpent--may have found other ways to get man to break these other commands as well.

So in that very limited sense the tree was immaterial. This does not mean the tree was immaterial to the story in a more global sense, however. Clearly it was. Together with the tree of life, it represented a very serious moral choice for Adam and Eve in a way that these other commands don't. The singling out of these trees indicate strongly that they had special significance.

As I point out later, the tree of knowledge was the clear obvious target for the serpent because: (1) consequences associated with breaking this particular prohibition were expressly stated by God to be grave; (2) It was prominently displayed (with the tree of life) in the middle of the garden; (3) It had desirable features that made it particularly well suited to the serpent's purposes, which was to deceive man.

In contrast, to ask the man and woman, for example, not to procreate would have had much less appeal as a temptation (would have required a lot more ingenuity). It appears, therefore, that the tree of knowledge was the obvious target because the serpent knew that by getting Adam and Eve to break this particular law he (the serpent) would get the greatest return on his investments. Tragically he was right. Even more amazingly God, our all-loving Heavenly Father, already had a master plan for our redemption and restoration--Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!

G. Columbus

September 18, 2007 at 11:06 AM  

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