I am still reading Bill Weise’s book on “Hell”, and I’m in Part Two now. I’m in the first chapter, where he tries to give an overview of why God created the world, man and everything. He talked about God creating the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and then giving the command that they mustn’t eat of it. Immediately, I thought, WHY???
I mean, I’m a Christian. I know this theology. It is what I have believed. But it suddenly hit me – why?
I’ve defended and given explanations for why God forbade Adam and Eve from eating of that tree. That maybe He had plans for them to eat the fruit later, when they were matured, the same way, there are some food babies cannot digest until they get to a certain age. Or something children should not be allowed to partake in until they get to a certain age, e.g alcohol and sex. And even such restrictions build character, because the children must learn to TRUST and OBEY their parents, and so, their faith is proven.
So, I do understand that it could have been a test of faith (whether they would trust and obey God), which they failed…and which showed that they could not handle the real gift of ETERNAL LIFE, hence their banishment from the Garden. Even Jesus, when He came as a babe, had to learn obedience for a time…(Heb 5:8-9) And when He was preparing for ministry, He was also tempted by the Devil in the wilderness (Matt 4:1-11). We are told that He was obedient unto death, and so was given a Name above all names (Phil 2:8-11). When we consider Abraham as well, we begin to understand that righteousness cannot be accorded without the testing of our faith in God (Gal 3:6, Hebrews 11). And so God has decreed that “the righteous shall live by faith” (Heb 10:38, Rom 1:17, Gal 3:11).
We are told that without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6), and so it is needful for God to try or test the faith of His children, that they may be trained in righteousness. I can’t believe, right now, that God created the tree with plans to withhold its fruit from men forever. No… I believe there was either a maturity period or it was a test of their faith, and they failed.
However, something else came to mind when I read Bill’s take on it today. It has to do with the concept of ‘original sin’ and how, by their failure (or faithlessness), sin entered the world, and all of us are born, soiled in sin! This teaching has caused quite a bit of offence to unbelievers, who generally like to believe that we are all innocent (good and well meaning) until proven guilty (wrong or wicked). However, the theology behind ‘original sin’ is huge and pinnacle to Christianity, and Bill explained that by their obedience to Satan, rather than God, Adam and Eve forfeited their rule of the world to Satan, and so there was a need for a Redeemer, Jesus. Well since God is all knowing, one might ask: Did God intentionally create a situation that REQUIRED Him to come and save the day?
I remembered what Paul had said about the Law and its purpose; “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Rom 3:19). He also said that, apart from the Law, THERE IS NO SIN (Rom 4:15), but the introduction of the Law is what makes sin known, and make us guilty (Rom 5:13). I know he said this in relation to the Mosaic Law, but I certainly believe it applies to all God’s Laws, even the unwritten ones, for it is because of the unwritten Law, that we can say that sin existed before the Law of Moses.
So, I got to thinking…was it really necessary for God to give Adam and Eve such a commandment, which no doubt they would fail, seeing as the Law automatically makes EVERYONE guilty? I mean, God could have said to Adam and Eve that He didn’t think it would be a good idea for them to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil for a time, because He wanted them to mature first…but He would leave them to make their own choice. In this case, it is more like guidance or a suggestion, but not a commandment.
Or if God felt that they wouldn’t understand and may not make the right decision being presented with such a choice then, perhaps due to immaturity, He would have removed the TEMPTATION altogether (if the wrong decision of eating of the fruit of that tree was really too disastrous to risk), and not made the tree in the first place, or at least, not placed it right in their midst (if it was needed for another purpose). Maybe He should have surrounded it with molten lava and a flaming sword, so that they wouldn’t have had easy access to it. But He didn’t do this. He set it in their midst, a beautiful, deliciously tempting tree, and said “Don’t eat!”
It seems like a catch 22… A set up for failure. A temptation that was placed in their path…
But the Bible also tells us that God tempts no one (Jam 1:13). We also see that they were doing quite alright ignoring the tree and obeying God, until Satan came around in the form of a snake to tempt them. However, we need also ask, if the snake never contradicted God and tempted them to disobey, would Adam and Eve never have succumbed to their own HUMAN nature and thought pridefully that they could eat of the fruit, regardless of what God said? I mean, if an angel like Lucifer could fall, God had to know that Man would fall too…not simply that they could fall.
The snake didn’t even have to work hard to persuade Eve, and Eve didn’t have to appeal to Adam to eat of it. She simply offered the fruit to him (Gen 3:6)! So, really, there are a lot of different dynamics in play here. The first is the introduction of the forbidden (by God). Then the introduction of the Law (by God). Then the introduction of temptation (by Satan). And last but not least, the will of Man (Adam and Eve).
It begs the question. Since all this started with God creating the tree that led to the fall, does that mean that God was irresponsible? Why did God even give room for Satan to tempt Adam and Eve to disobey Him, through the proclamation of the Law? For without the Law, there would have been no disobedience.
Was the tree really necessary? Was the prohibition not to eat of it necessary? And was it worth what has happened to all the human race, which is attributed to that SINGULAR event in history? Why wasn’t Satan bound from entering the Garden of Eden anyway?! Especially since Hell was prepared for him and his angels from the FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD (Matt 25:41).
Now, I am reminded of Paul’s teaching in Romans 9. He said: “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid” (verse 14) when considering the fact that God chose Jacob and rejected Esau EVEN BEFORE THEY WERE BORN. Paul continued, after using Pharoah as another illustration of God creating men to enact His own purposes, “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” (verses 19-21). Paul goes on to speculate:
“What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Rom 9:22-24).
The fact that Paul dealt with this issue critically tells me that there is more to this issue of free will, God’s will and sovereignty than meets the eye. We can give all the explanations we like about why God did such and such as recorded in Genesis, why God allows evil, why God doesn’t show the same grace to all…and so on. But we are all really just speculating! We are limited in the confines of our small brains and cannot begin to fathom what God sees, and knows, and why He does what He does. We just cannot!
We will miss it in our explanations. We will fall short. And until we meet Him face to face, we will never truly know WHY. And I reckon He has no desire in letting us know the WHY!!! No, not at all. It is probably for the same reason He forbade Adam and Eve from eating of the tree of the KNOWLEDGE of GOOD AND EVIL in the first place. The simple fact is:
YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!
Adam and Eve couldn’t handle the truth! What did they do with all their knowledge of good and evil, which they gained from eating the fruit of the tree?! Were they made wise??? Like God? Or was their foolishness simply exposed? They ate the fruit without the empowerment to use it rightly, and so failure was immediate. Or rather, death!
To truly grasp our inability to fathom God’s ways, consider Job for instance. When he went through his trial of faith, he, his wife and his friends had a million questions to ask and a million things to say, as they speculated on the WHY. But God didn’t even honour their questions with answers. He simply showed them who they were next to Him… Like, seriously, get some perspective people!
“For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away…” (Jam 4:14).
God asked His own questions:
Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?
When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it,
And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors,
And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?
Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;
That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?
It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment.
And from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high arm shall be broken.
Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?
Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?
Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all.
Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof,
That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?
Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great?
Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,
Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?
By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?
Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder;
To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man;
To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth?
Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?
Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?
The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.
Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?
Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?
Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?
Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?
Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are?
Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?
Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven,
When the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together?
Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions,
When they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie in wait?
Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat.
Oh, it doesn’t end there… It continues in Chapter 39. You see, we can speculate all we want, but we really ought to just accept the limitations of our knowledge and understanding. When we try to give answers like we know it all, we only reveal our stupidity. At the end of the day, God stands alone when it comes to KNOWLEDGE, WISDOM and UNDERSTANDING.
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