Thou mayest freely eat, but…
This one rule God passed along to Adam ends up being the demise of the entire human race… so far. God made all the earth… all the plants… all the animals… even all the atmosphere… “and saw that it was good”. That fateful Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil seems as though it was an unnecessary item to put on this planet.
God made man in His image, so it does seem quirkie that He would set a boundary for his living on this planet. Now… review back through all the creation God was making and recognize that NONE of the other items ‘were made from the dust of the earth’… man was the only thing that was made from the earth. All other items were made ‘from thin air’, as it were.
'And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. ' Genesis 2:7
That seems significant… and maybe insignificant. Sure, it cannot be both, but consider how all the things God made (besides man) behave in this world. None of them needed a rule to survive… none of them needed extra “or else you will die” guidance… they all seem to behave ‘naturally’.
Man needs boundaries, though… man needs to be reminded that his higher being (free will) includes a limitation, a restriction, some would say a confinement. Now… man has proven over and over again, we are not capable of self-guidance… of restraint… of behaving as God originally intended.
Still… of all the beauty in that garden or in the world as a whole, why God would also put ‘things that can destroy us’ here too is quite baffling. Well… on the surface it seems baffling. Sure, we must always face the choice to behave… we must always have that twinge of a challenge to obey, to follow God’s leading, to even surrender our will and our reasoning. These are things plants, trees, animals even the weather don’t have.
Sure… animals can come and go as they need… they ‘think’, they even make decisions. But, they don’t have this higher intelligence… this higher ‘world awareness’… this higher sense of life that man has. We are battling Wall Street, or other countries, or even natural disasters (floods, fire, drought, etc), but we have never battled for domination with anything else beside other humans.
We were given full reign of the world… we were even responsible for naming all the animals. This one rule is all we needed to obey. Left alone, we quite probably would have obeyed it, too. You may recall that it was a discussion with the beguiling serpent that even introduced and questioned the intent, purpose, and results of that infamous rule.
Please note… once we begin to ‘reason’ over God’s leading… once we begin to debate, rationalize, and even attempt to discover some underlying and hidden intent for God’s leading… we have begun the fall all over again. Trusting in His leading doesn’t include an “OK… but…” response. It doesn’t include any fact-checking research… any rationalization… even any checks-n-balances approach to making sense of it. Sure, we don’t blindly dive onto a path or ‘close our eyes and hope for the best’, as it were.
There is a delicate balance between faith/trust and hope/dreams… a little trait we need in our lives is the wisdom to know the difference. See… Proverbs 3:5 reminds us, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Trusting is not easy. One way to know the difference between trusting and understanding is this; “if you can touch it, you don’t need to trust it”. Here this… “Seeing” is not believing… it is understanding… and there is a big difference. The wisdom from the Lord is a fabulous guide for trusting His leading.
Limitations from God help establish the basic rules and guidelines for life itself. As humans, we enjoy the free-will aspect of our being and our world. The natural world has its own limitations, too. Consider how our bodies breath oxygen. It is a built-in and natural part of our lives… even for most of the animal kingdom, too. Our bodies just inhale/exhale without our intervention… without us being aware it is even occurring… even when we are deep in sleep, or in a coma. In fact, we can try not to breathe (holding our breath) until we pass out… and at that point, our bodies take back control and begin breathing, again. Without this ‘rule’ or limitation, we would surely spend a greater portion of our time and energy ‘catching our breath’, as it were.
We can even consider a football field and it’s limitations. The grid, the goal-line, the boundaries, even the yard-markers are all there to establish the rules of the game… to establish the area in which the players can freely move… to establish the limitations of success or failure. Those limitations help establish fairness, consistency, and especially help to ensure the players are following the originally intended purpose.
And… let’s circle back to that infamous Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that God put in the garden. Like so many things on this earth, in our world, and in our lives, there are items there that God has put there for a reason. Yes… at face-value, it does seem odd and rather “set us up to fail” that He would do this. Remember though, we tend to focus on the thing we cannot do, rather than the things we can do. I mean… God told Adam “thou shalt not…” AFTER He told him “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat“. (Gen 2:16)
We seem to fixate on what we can NOT do and skip right over God’s blessings on us with the things we CAN do. Notice in that passage though… God ‘commanded” the man that he could eat of every tree in the garden. In many ways, telling him how to live in that garden… how to survive (eat every tree), and how to die (except that one).
Almost too bad that God didn’t tell us things like;
- Thou shalt not give
- Thou shalt not pray
- Thou shalt not forgive
- Thou shalt not help the helpless
Too bad these are not part of the Ten Commandments, right!! Then, we’d be giving, praying, and forgiving others at every chance we had. But, the way God laid it out for us… the ‘grid for the football game’, as it were… is that we are simply to obey. To trust in His leading and resist the temptation to reason through it… to rationalize all the angles… to turn it inside and out with discussions, thoughts and debating, and even coming to a consensus.
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Romans 6:16 KJV
Choosing to obey and following through with it are two separate things. Together, they keep your heart and life tuned into the Lord. As with the incident in the Garden, once Adam and Eve had their “eyes opened” and they knew they were naked, it was embarrassing and they felt guilt and shame. so much so, that they covered themselves from each other… then later in the cool of the evening when God was coming back to visit with them, they heard Him coming and hid themselves from His sight.
If you take anything away from the “thou shalt not” part of eating that forbidden fruit, please let the ‘thou can’ part be your bigger picture… the things God does want you to do surpass the things He does not want you to do. The things that are edifying for you are so much more than those that destroy you. Work in your heart to grasp that the ‘limitations’ that God places in our lives are there to help ensure we yearn for the things we ‘can’ do through His leading.
No longer are we struggling with the sin in our lives, but looking to God we can learn to exercise our will with choices for His grace, mercy, and peace in our hearts. God made your garden abundant and plentiful… eat freely!