Saturday, June 24, 2006

Let Us Do Good, That Evil May Abound (Genesis 2-3)

Now to the second creation story in Genesis. In this one, God makes the man first, then the plants and animals, and finally the woman.

The story is familiar – God tells the man not to eat from the tree of “knowledge of good and evil” on pain of death, but the serpent, being “crafty”, tells the woman that it will give her new wisdom and insight, and it won’t hurt her. She and the man eat, immediately realize their nakedness, and cover up. God shows up, curses everyone, and kicks them out.

There are a lot of interesting things about the story, but the thing that grabs me the most is this whole notion of the expulsion from the garden being caused by a desire to know “good and evil”. Isn’t this knowledge a good thing? Why would God forbid it? Why would such knowledge bring death?

I can’t help but think of this passage in Romans:
If it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.
Here is the irony: man eats the apple to obtain the knowledge of good and evil, yet upon eating it he suddenly becomes aware of his own shame. Man now knows good and evil, but only after choosing to disobey his creator – choosing evil.

But the choice didn’t cause the nakedness – a.k.a. shame. That was there all along. The man and the woman just didn’t know it was a problem to run around naked.

There are all sorts of behavior that is OK for animals, but is absolutely “beastly” and “brutal” for humans. It seems like unfallen man was a happy, but ignorant creature. The fruit brought him to a higher plane of potential, bringing with it a host of new responsibilities that he was nowhere near able to meet.

What an interesting thought: man became sinful by acquiring a good thing.

A lot of times people think of the fruit as some divine fruit that gave to the eater the gift of good and evil. I view it a little bit different. Adam and Eve were not necessarily ignorant before this, being "stupid" and "robotic" as some think. They were still made in the image of God, with free will, an intellect, and creative properties and tendencies. The only thing that they did not know was evil. They knew only good. So, when Adam ate the fruit he developed a knowledge of evil because he had actually done evil.
He had gone against the only commandment of the Lord Most High, "do not eat that fruit."

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