Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Covenant (5) Knowledge of Good and Evil

The other side of the choice faced by Adam and Eve was represented by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said,

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 from it you will certainly die (Gen 2:16-17).
These were staunch words, but not surprising. God had given them the world. If they rejected God, the cost would be huge. The Hebrew word “die” is repeated for emphasis. A more literal translation is “dying you will die”.

Every covenant contains a choice. God gave Adam and Eve enormous blessings. They did not have to do anything to earn those blessings, because God had already given them when he established a covenant with them. However, they had to remain loyal to God to retain the blessings. Their freedom to reject God, was symbolised by the second tree.

The tempter told Adam and Eve that if they ate from this tree, they would be like God (Gen 3:5). This was a lie. They had been created in the image of God, so they were already like God. They already knew about the potential for evil. God put the tree there to remind them of it.

The Hebrew word for “knowledge” is not limited to knowing about things, it is also used for sexual intimacy. The second tree represents intimacy with good an evil. Adam and Eve were surrounded by the good world that God had created, so they could not avoid goodness. They were already intimate with good, but they could choose evil. If they made that choice, they would be intimate with good and evil.

Adam and Eve were already intimate with the Holy Spirit. When Satan came into the garden, the Holy Spirit would have moved away from him, because he hates evil. They should have moved away with the Holy Spirit. He would have urged them to keep away from Satan. However, they chose to remain where they were, which allowed him to communicate with them. By meeting with Satan, they were choosing to be intimate with both good and evil. This was their sin, not eating the fruit.

Adam and Eve had already sinned, before they ate the fruit from the tree. Eating the fruit had no effect, because it was just a symbol of their choice. Their real sin was in meeting with Satan and allowing him to speak. By doing that, they were choosing to be intimate with evil, as well as with good. That was their sin. Eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a way of publicly confessing the choice they had made.

The fruit of the tree is not mentioned much again in the scriptures. The reason is that it was just a symbol of the choice they made. Their real sin was choosing to communicate with evil. They had already made that choice, before Satan suggested eating of the fruit. Even if they had chosen not to eat the fruit, they had still sinned, because they had chosen to be intimate of evil. They gained knowledge of good and evil before they tasted the fruit. Eating the fruit just confirmed their choice.

The fruit of the trees was good to eat, but they had limited significance. The trees represented a choice. Adam and Eve could not avoid God, because they were in the world he created, but they could choose to mix something else with their loyalty to him. The choice was stark.

  • Choose God alone and you will have life.
  • Choose involvement with evil, as well as with God, and you will die.
One choice led to life and the other led to death. The two trees symbolised the choice between life and death.

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