"And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." -- Genesis 2:9
"Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." Genesis 3:1-3
How often is it, when we see an artist's conception of Adam and Eve tempted to eat the fruit in the Garden of Eden, the image consists of the same few standard figures: Eve, of course, the serpent, Adam (perhaps in the background, but nearby) and THE TREE?
Sometimes, the artist will include TWO TREES, the second being "the Tree of Life."
Sorry, but I'm the same guy who tends to utterly ruin Christmas nativity scenes: not only was Santa NOT at the manger; the wise men never made it there, either (they actually brought their gifts to Jesus probably a full year or more after that "Silent, Holy Night," when He was a toddler, and living with His parents IN A HOUSE, not a stable (Compare Luke 2:1-18 with Matthew 2:1-11). And we won't even speak of the number of wise men being fixed by tradition at three.
Hate to say it (and, have to admit, I've done it myself, for simplicity's sake), but a depiction that shows only one, or even two trees in the temptation in the Garden is just downright misleading. And, yes, it DOES matter, because, besides doing a disservice to the accuracy of the Biblical record, it portrays our wonderful, benevolent Lord in a bad, miserly light!
There weren't only two trees for Adam and Eve to choose from that day.
"Out of the ground made the LORD God to grow EVERY TREE THAT IS PLEASANT TO THE SIGHT, AND GOOD FOR FOOD."
My mind's conception of the scene is THERE WERE SCADS OF TREES! SCADS, I tell ye!! An arboreal smorgasbord far beyond our richest experience, and probably beyond all our imagination, of the most luscious, appealing, gorgeous, glistening, non-vermin-infested, non-DDT poisoned, most truly organic, succulent fruit-bearing trees! Adam and his main (and ONLY) squeeze had a veritable gold mine from which to choose.
If God is going to do the garden thing, do you really see Him coming up with a sad little patch of grass with a paltry two trees?
Picturing only one or even two trees makes it appear that God was pretty much shoving the fall right in their faces, saying, "guys, it's inevitable. The choice is as good as made for you already. We all know you're going to eat this fruit; you might as well just get on with it. What other choice do you have, practically speaking?"
That portrays God as rigid and restrictive (not to mention entrapping), and makes it appear that He is really the one to blame, while making Eve's choice so very understandable that it's difficult to fault her at all.
Nope. Why are we, the children of God, so willing to put the least loving construct on the things our Heavenly Father does for us?
Our God is incredibly GENEROUS, and CREATIVE! He is infinitely and brilliantly IMAGINATIVE, and KIND, and LOVING and GRACIOUS and GIVING.
I look at the lush mountainside full of beautifully variegated trees along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and I say, I'd bet Eden would have knocked John James Audubon's argyle socks right off his nineteenth century naturalist toes and four counties over, into the next state!
The Bible indicates there was great, GREAT liberty in Eden. I believe the temptation was NOT smacking Eve square in the face as brutally and unavoidably as often depicted, but she had to intentionally seek out "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" in the midst of a bountiful cornucopia of choices.
And I believe that bounty transfers over into our Christian experience today.
As we saw in our last post (Our PRESENT Heavenly Residence --Part 11A), our one, true, grand purpose in life is to Glorify God. Exactly HOW we do that, what it "looks like" in practice, may involve a myriad of choices. God grants us an abundance of options.
It is certain that all options are NOT created equal. I'm convinced there is a gradient of "good, better, best" along the range of the choices God allows us; as there is certainly a division of "good" and "not so good" -- see Matthew 16:27; Mark 10:42-44; Luke 19:11-26; I Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 1:10; 2:1-30; 3:10-14; II Timothy 2:3-12.
But there is a garden out there for you and me to choose from; a wonderfully diverse, richly rewarding, multilayered and many-hued garden of viable alternatives.
May He help us to choose always that which is MOST pleasing TO HIM (John 8:29; Romans 12:1-2; Colossians 1:9-11).
More later, Lord willing