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.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Genesis 3, recap

I have a few more reflections on the Genesis 3. I think we suffer a little from the translation of words like "tree of knowledge". In our mind that implies a tree whose fruit would provide knowledge, and after all, why not? Knowledge is good. But it seems to me you could have called the tree anything at all, the major point being, as G. Columbus has suggested in his posts, that it was a prohibited tree, whereas the tree of life represented the prescribed tree. So Adam and Eve were perhaps as guilty for eating of the bad tree as they were for not eating the good one.

The two trees in the garden seem to represent choices that God gave Adam, similar to choices that He gave Israel through Moses, and then through Joshua, Samuel, etc. These are the same choices that John the Baptist indicated, and which Jesus preached "come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden...." and the same invitation that the Spirit and the Bride continue to issue. Every time we hear an invitation to respond to God, we are essentially being given a choice between the "tree of life" and the tree of knowledge- you could call the latter the "tree of death", as in the tree which eating it leads to death.

I see the contrasting choices as follows; the prescribed (tree of life; living water; bread of life; blood of Christ; eternal life) versus the proscribed, (tree of knowledge; guilt; death), the preferred versus the prohibited, the proffered versus the protected, the provided versus the prevented, the pull towards Him versus the push away from Him.

Now it was the serpent that drew Eve's attention to the tree of death, and sowed the doubt, but in Adam's part of the temptation the serpent doesn't even appear to have been there. Nor when Cain slew Abel, which is perhaps the next major sin recorded in that time frame. Perhaps, mere speculation here, even without the serpent, Adam or Eve would have wondered there and have to confront the same questions eventually. It seems to me that the role of the serpent in this play was as a spoiler of God's paradise, in the same way that he tempted Judas.

So yes, the serpent is the devil, Satan, the great tempter, but our own responsibility is tremendous. "Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by HIS OWN lusts, and lusts, when they have matured, ....bring death" How similar is that to Eve's own "and when she saw that the tree was delightful, attractive, and that eating it would give her something God had withheld (translated knowledge)...she took of the fruit, and ate."

To summarize, I agree that the devil is the one who brings temptation, especially when it involves deception (he is a good liar). But our moral responsibility is still 100%, because we are still the ones who make the choice between the prescribed and the proscribed. We have to remember there are some sins, (and they are among the worst, where there is no overt satanic deception involved; i.e., sins in which the perpetrator is very much aware of what they are doing and its consequences, but chooses to do them.

Incidentally, one take on why the word "knowledge" as applied to the tree could mean knowledge in the bad sense, is the way in which the desire for knowledge represents a decision for self determination. The "give me a conscience and I will decide in myself how to live". I think that is why statements like "each man did what was right in his own eyes" are really describing sinful states. I believe that is why Paul says that with knowledge (of the law) came consciousness of sin. It is not that when know the Ten Commandments then we become sinners, but rather the state in which he tried to know the Law and then decide things for himself was a sinful state.

One more thing, in popular drama, good and bad are presented like opposing FORCES. A good power and a bad power and that is the way Hollywood sees it in that genre of movies from the old Dracula series, the Exorcist, the Omen, and Matrix; even to some extent in the Lord of the Rings. However the real moral battle is not one of good force against bad; there is no comparison there, because God is infinitely more powerful than Satan, but rather between good choice and bad choice. I think the one story that comes closest to getting it is the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I meant this to be very short but I got carried away. - Calorius

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Anonymous Gaius Columbus said...

Very well put, Calorius. I am especially struck by the section about choices. Life for the Israelites was the natural consequence of choosing to obey, when God asked them to destroy specific enemies, even if we in retrospect are uncomfortable with the concept of total war. In contrast, death and problems followed when they chose to follow their own calculations. Proverbs 3:5-6.

Another example that drives the point home about choices is Israel's decision to have a king despite God's warnings. They were in a sense replaying the garden choices between self-determination and submission to divine governance. What strikes me again is that having made the wrong choice God did not abandon them completely but continued to guide them-yes they did suffer the consequences-but He muted these by His continued involvement in their lives.

Perhaps there is a lesson here for us. Have we retained our relationships with brothers who have fallen by the wayside? I can certainly remember the names of once faithful brothers who have made wrong choices and who having made these fateful choices have been chucked onto the garbage can of life rather than be restored in love. There is a lot in these passages that forms a motif for other large themes in Scripture, very worthy of sustained study.

October 18, 2007 at 2:10 PM  

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