First came the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, then Evil in the person of the Serpent. Understand the significance behind these seemingly incomprehensive moves by God Himself.
Evil, by whatever definition, is a phenomenon from which most of us would shy away. While some might revel in its devastation, I believe we can safely say, most wish to avoid evil. Why God planted it in the Garden and then sent in the fallen Archangel to contend with humans is one of the big enigmas of God’s Plan.
(Origin of Humankind, chapter 6.2)
Let’s comprehend this ambiguous piece of the Bible puzzle. This potent mixture of good and evil.
And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant (H2530) to the sight, and good (H2896) for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
We witness a special planting, separate from the Day 5 creation of trees. Instant fully grown trees (I wonder about their dendrology) that appealed to the human senses of sight and taste. We have already seen the Biblical Hebrew good – tov – H2896. It was good concludes each day’s creation. Better translations rendered by the KJV translators are beautiful, precious, prosperity, ready, sweet, wealth, welfare. Both trees were magnificent.
Pleasant, the second descriptive, warrants deeper study.
חָמַד châmad khaw-mad’; a primitive root; to delight in:
KJV – beauty, greatly beloved, covet, delectable thing, ([idiom] great) delight, desire, goodly, lust, (be) pleasant (thing), precious (thing).
These trees evoked so much delight that they could lead to coveting. We see the second key to master Biblical Hebrew; words have opposing meanings. Delighting in an activity should not cross the line into covetousness. In Genesis 3, they crossed the line.
This garden has two centerpieces. The word midst is not chosen lightly because there are two outstanding trees in the very center of the estate. When you’re in this garden, everything seems to draw your attention, and your path leads inevitably to these marvels of nature. It’s not just their lusciousness; it’s also their eye-catching and thought-provoking labels: Tree of Life and Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. In the midst of the garden, there’s intrigue, what is life? What is good? What is evil? Why two trees?
Midst is significant. Let’s grasp additional nuances of this word. They are enlightening.
תָּוֶךְ tâvek taw’-vek; from an unused root meaning to sever; a bisection, i.e. (by implication) the centre:
KJV – among(-st), ⨯ between, half, ⨯ (there-, where-), in(-to), middle, mid(-night), midst (among), ⨯ out (of), ⨯ through, ⨯ with(-in).
These definitions remind me of dividing between night and day. There’s a sheer separation between the two. The midst of the Garden designates a parting of the ways; a severance takes place. It’s one way or the other. You can’t take both roads. Indeed, when Adam and Eve took of one tree, they were severed from the other. What’s pleasant to the sight and delectable to the taste (especially figuratively) is not necessarily the best path to take. It can sever a person from proper decision-making.
Do you see the story the Biblical Hebrew words are telling us? There’s a choice here, despite no specific mention of free will choice. Let’s focus on the two-tree-choice.
The Tree of Life (עֵ֤ץ הַֽחַיִּים֙ – aits hachayim) which should be translated Tree of Lives, in the plural. The Explanation discussed the nishmat chayim, the breath of lives (plural) God breathed into Adam. It is the physical AND mental AND potential spiritual AND potential eternal LIVES; this is the reality and potential of each human. I do not have the space to give a detailed explanation here but, in His conversation with Nicodemus, a religious leader who didn’t understand the Bible teachings, Christ said,
15 That whosoever believes in him (Christ) should not perish, but have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Christ sent Nicodemus back to the clear-cut two paths of Genesis 2:9 symbolized by the two trees: Perishment and Eternal Life. A more significant severance of results is not possible. These are diametrically opposite goals set for each human being, immediately at the creation of the first man. God states his plan and purpose for humans in clear terms. Nicodemus didn’t understand this, and I dare say, most people don’t understand this today.
Likewise, it is challenging, even impossible to understand what Eternal Life is. Unfortunately, religion throws these two words around without grasping their significance. How can I affirm this? If they did, they’d better understand the real path that leads to eternal life. Many walk around with signs and quote, “Believe in Christ and you’ll be saved” from John 3:15, which I quoted above. The fact is, demons believe and they will NOT be saved. James 2:19 states, “You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” Not only do demons BELIEVE, but they KNOW who Christ is.
28 And when he [Jesus] was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with you, Jesus, you Son of God? are you come here to torment us before the time?
They knew some main aspects of God’s plan. Indeed, belief and knowing who Christ is are the pathway to eternal life, but they don’t get you all the way there; otherwise, the demons would be partaking of the Tree of Life, which is not the case. There’s more to it that needs to be understood.
The more to it that is misunderstood involves the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil AND the Serpent being placed and allowed DIRECTLY in the Garden of Eden. We need to grasp WHY this seemingly counter-productive concept is a part of God’s plan; this is where coherent completeness plays a primordial role. Unless you can surmise a coherent answer to this question, you don’t understand what God’s plan is. The fact that evil was present in the Garden is a particular puzzle piece that must be turned right side up and perfectly assembled with all the other pieces.
Here’s the million dollar question: How can a loving God plant a Tree of Death in Paradise? The short answer is: To test human beings so each one makes a free will choice as to WHICH PATH they want to follow: Life or Death.
Let’s step back an instant and resume God’s plan – Why He created humankind. He created us in HIS IMAGE. Humans are of the GOD KIND. Of course, we’re on a much, much, much lower level but along with God, we humans alone have neshama. With our neshama, we can love, and we can hate. He plans to give us Eternal Life. We have a minimal realization of what Eternal Life is; we know that it’s going to last a long, long, long time.
BEFORE God gives us Eternal Life, He needs to know and be sure of ONE point; what we are going to do with our neshama, our consciousness, and mind for all of Eternity. Think of the person you least appreciate, someone who bothers you, maybe even drives you crazy. That’s your neshama reaction to said individual. Now imagine you had to spend all Eternity with that individual with that same attitude! You might renounce Eternal Life because it would be more like hell, this is a simplistic example, but it’s precisely what God wants to avoid among His kinship.
We have to believe God as we saw, but we have to sort out our relationships. Love God, love neighbor, love that bothersome person, love our enemies. God has no intention of allowing bickering people into the Garden of Eden. That’s part of the reason Adam and Eve were ousted (I’ll give you the surprising full idea later, and it’s not what you think it is). How can God know if we can straighten out our relationships and problems?
There’s only ONE WAY. PUT WRONG RELATIONSHIPS and PROBLEMS IN FRONT OF YOU and see how you’re going to react with your neshama. That’s why God put the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden.
We put tests in front of babies, children, adolescents, and adults throughout their lives. Whether it’s harder and harder games, homework exercises, exams, sports challenges, or business goals to reach, it’s all to see how you’re going to react and progress. The better you develop yourself, the harder the challenge.
The Bible refers to these challenges as, what I’d call, neshama resistance. In principle, the same Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is present today in the form of everything that can separate us from God. I can’t go into all the details here. Even the serpent is present to lead us astray.
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
9 Whom resist (G436) stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
There’s a New Testament verse that explains and corroborates Old Testament theology. We tend to use the word trials or temptations today, to refer to these afflictions. Eternal life is so mind-boggling in its vastness, not just time-wise but especially in what we’re going to do with all that time, how we are going to allow our neshama to react during all that time, God must know BEFORE He gives us Eternal Life. He has to know which path we’ve definitively decided to take. And which path we’ve severed.
Lukewarm is so abhorrent to God. One would think that God would approve an individual who walks down the median line between good and evil, leading a balanced spiritual life. But, look at what He says
15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would you were cold or hot.
16 So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue you out of my mouth.
This verse is the example of someone in the midst of the Garden of Eden looking at the two trees and NOT taking any action. Not deciding is a negative decision. Straddling two worlds is not what God has in mind for candidates for Eternal Life. He’s looking for commitment. And the only way to see if someone is committed is to see how they resist. Believing is necessary, but it is not the only needed quality.
The Bible indicates that God placed the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden and very soon afterward allowed the Serpent to enter the Garden. We all know the consequences. This same scenario is going to happen again in the future. Unfortunately, I cannot get into the prophetic details. What is clear, is that after one thousand years of Godly reign on planet Earth, in a paradisiac landscape and atmosphere of peace the Serpent will, for the last time, be permitted to stir up havoc. You should understand why God allows this.
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
At the end of this extended period of peace and prosperity established by God and His Kin, the Saints who have inherited Eternal Life, there will remain some humans on Earth that are lukewarm. At the end of the Millenium, the thousand years, some humans will take God for granted. They will NOT have made a clearcut decision about following the path to Eternal Life or its alternate. Seeing whether they will RESIST or ACCEPT Satan will cause them to be hot or cold. Each person makes their own decision about the path they follow, life or death.
The way to help people make a decision is to see if they will resist or not. Eternal life is a serious matter, far beyond simple belief; this answers the question of why God allows trials and calamities. Notice, I didn’t say causes trials and misfortunes. Yes, He can do that also, but most of that we bring upon ourselves. We shall discuss the nature of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in a future blog post.
This blog post is an excerpt from chapter 6.2 of the book Origin of Humankind.
I suggest you go over to UnlockBibleMeaning.com and do a study on the word resist (G436 – 1 Peter 5:9).
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