Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
The other day I was reading the beginning of Genesis and though I’ve heard quite a few sermons on sin and the fall of man, the Holy Spirit showed me something I hadn’t noticed before.
Usually, we fixate on the fall itself, but often we lose sight of the big picture (oddly enough, this is Eve’s problem as well). In Genesis 2:16-17 we read,
And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Keep in mind, he said you may eat of ANY tree in the garden; just don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Before we go any further, we should consider the lay of the land. Genesis 2:8-9 explains,
Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground- trees that were pleasing to the eye and were good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
So, in the middle are two trees, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and that’s it- Wait, no! There’s a whole bunch of really tasty trees! When we look at sin, we see it as a 1 to 1 choice, either we sin, or we don’t. That’s giving our temptations a 50/50 chance. The truth is though, there are other options. It’s not sin vs. not sin; it is sin vs. pretty much anything else!
First though, I want to look at the most obvious choice Adam and Eve could have taken- The Tree of Life. Even as a kid I always though Adam and Eve were stupid, not because they listened to the snake and ate from the bad tree- they were naive and therefore more impressionable. Now, I thought they were stupid because they didn’t eat from the good tree first! And after they fall, God puts a guard on the tree of life to make sure that the now sin-tainted 1st couple couldn’t eat from it. We read about it in Genesis 3:22-24,
And the Lord God said, “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 life forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Not only that, but the way God says it and the urgency that accompanies employing a scary flaming sword suggests that they only needed to eat from the tree once to gain eternal life…but they didn’t do it! We have the tree of life still available, it’s Jesus. He sets himself up in this place in John 11:25-26;
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Whoever believes will never die? Never die? This sounds exactly like the tree of life. Now, for us, I can understand a little doubt, making Jesus not feel like our first priority, but Adam and Eve? What’s their excuse?
Now, I will say this, I don’t think the tree of life was the prettiest tree in the garden, as accepting Christ is not always the easiest choice- it may not have even tasted great, as being a Christian is not always comfortable. What did look best? What was probably very tasty? Well, Genesis 3:6 suggests that it might have been the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
I mean, consider this, you’re surrounded by delicious looking fruit and you say, “Oh, that looks tasty.” This means that this tree must have looked just a bit better than the others. Also, it must have been yummier, as Eve was able to convince Adam to also eat from it. Sin tastes good. I can write all day about how bad sin is, but at the end of the day, sin is fun, often times more fun than say…going to church, which is enjoying the fruit of the tree of life- even after being saved! Hebrews 11:24-25 even agrees that sin is fun;
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.
Even though the writer of Hebrews is focusing on Moses forsaking sin, he cannot help but admit that sin is pleasurable.
Now, we usually only consider these two trees. Sin or no sin, life or death- but there are other options! How many other options? Genesis 3:8 suggests that there were enough to hide in,
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
This is not to say that you can hide from God, which is a whole other lesson. But what we can see is that there were a lot of other options out there in terms of fruit trees. The same is true today. When we log on to the internet, we could look at porn or…we could watch a sermon online or something- OR we could watch a movie, look at pictures of kittens, play games, email our friends, play on a message board, read articles, almost anything else! Another example: you could cheat on your spouse or kill your neighbor…OR get a hobby, go for a walk, or about an infinite number of other things. But we get so focused on the sin that we can’t see the forest because we’re fixated on one tree.
For those of you who don’t have Christ yet; don’t be confident if you’re choosing not to sin. Remember, one tree is the tree of life, the other has the promise of death (Genesis 2:17). As for the other trees? Well, they might not kill you, but they surely won’t save you. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And Ezekiel 18:4 says, “For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son- both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.” So without Jesus, we’re all doomed to death. God cries out to his people in Ezekiel 33:11;
Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and life. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’
God is still crying out “Why will you die?” do us today. He even speaks to us today from way back in Deuteronomy 30:19;
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.
And how do we make that choice? By trusting in Jesus. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” Choose Jesus, choose life. Don’t make the same mistake Adam and Eve did, choose life while you still have the chance.