So Many Trees, But Only ONE Job: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

A Tale of Two Trees…

You Only Had ONE Job… and we all know how THAT usually goes. Is the same thing true about trees? You only had ONE tree…

“Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17 NKJV)

Actually, Way MORE than Two

When you first read the account of the fall, it’s easy to miss the significance of the trees. It’s easy to gloss over the ground rules, thinking yeah there was a test, and man failed. There were good trees and bad trees, and man ate from the bad one. But read the verses again. God told Adam, “You can eat of EVERY tree of the garden.” How many trees do you suppose that covered? How many good trees could there be? I can picture an apple tree (it never says the forbidden fruit was an apple, by the way), pear trees, macadamia trees, peach trees, banana trees, plum trees, and chestnut trees… and oh yeah, there would be fig, grapefruit, mango, cashew, orange, date, olive, cherry, lemon, lime, pecan, avocado, coconut, almond, etc., etc.

And if the trees weren’t sufficient, God also gave man “every herb bearing seed”, so you’d have melons, berries, wheat, sugar cane, corn, you name it. If you allow for milk and eggs (which might be stretching things a bit) you could have peach cobbler with ice cream, pecan pie with whipped cream, chocolate cake with milk, and all kinds of culinary delights. Sure, there would have had to have been some trial and error (since recipes, ovens and refrigerators weren’t created yet) but the list of appetizing sustenance available to Adam and Eve was almost limitless in possibility.

trees to choose

One Tree, Though…

On the other hand, how many trees did God make off-limits? Just the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Do you see the disparity? God permitted far more than He denied. Human nature always wants to build a case based on the one restrictive thing rather than being grateful for the many permissible things in life. Man could freely eat of many good things, but was forbidden only the… one… tree… If God were just a legalist, there would have been many rules to follow and many bad things with consequences. We see that kind of structure later as man struggled in a fallen world, but in the Garden there were LOTS of good choices, and only one illegal choice.

What outcome for man was the Lord trying to suggest? Did he want you and me to live in harmony with him, walking eternally through His creation, or did He want us to die? God stacked the deck. He weighted the scales of justice in man’s favor. If the Garden of Eden tells us anything about God’s character, it is that He loves to bless His children, He provides abundantly, and He prefers grace and security over disobedience and death. All of that is still true.

Some Things Never Change

Unfortunately, what we learn about man’s character is also still true. We are easily bored, prone to dissatisfaction, willful, subject to temptation, and usually disobedient. Like Adam and Eve, we are drawn to eat forbidden fruit while surrounded by a feast, tempted to partake of temporary tidbits while sitting at a table with eternal bread.

Interesting that temporary and tempt both start with the same 4 letters—the tidbits of temptation are always temporary—and trust me, the tidbits always leave a bitter taste. If you want to live a fruitful life, then focus today on all of the many good things God has provided, and walk with Him. There could be some peach cobbler and ice cream ahead.

All those Trees…

Is religion more than just a bunch of do’s and don’ts?
Is God only satisfied with way more wills than won’ts?
Are we just a bunch of fools for following a bunch of rules,
And is religion any more than God in heaven, keeping score?
Consider this: in Eden, for as far as he could see
Adam had the right to eat from every single tree.
There was no fruit or bounty God restricted or kept hidden;
One tree alone from hundreds had the fruit that was forbidden.
And so it is with God, who never wanted to distress us:
He offers countless choices for the ways He wants to bless us!
We can live apart from God, and chase our every whim;
Or we can do the simplest, smartest thing by choosing Him.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Temptation Offers Its Fruit in Many Forms. Beware!

Temptation comes in many forms, but nowhere has it been depicted any more accurately than in this Genesis account. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

temptation Eve

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (Genesis 3:1-6, NIV)

An Archetype Worth Remembering

The account of man’s temptation and fall in the garden packs an incredible amount of truth into a very few words. Here are a few quick observations:

1) “Did God really say?” Twisting the truth is a sure path to ruin. It almost always opens the door to doubt, rationalization, and denial.

2) God gave man hundreds of fruits to say “yes” to and only ONE “no.” Man still chose the one wrong thing. We still do that today, don’t we? In the face of any number of blessings, we will choose selfishness and rebellion over love and obedience.

3) The story doesn’t tell us WHO added “and you must not touch it”. Eve could have been repeating what Adam told her. Men have always added their own burdens and interpretations to God’s command, starting with the first one. But perhaps adding more restriction to God’s statement made it easier to rationalize and therefore easier to break.

Lack of Presence Presents Opportunities

4) Adam was apparently off working or playing golf long enough for Eve to have a lengthy conversation with the serpent. The crafty serpent may have been hanging around for a while, biding his time. We often flirt with temptation a bit before accepting its invitation to dance. People rarely fall headlong into grievous sin; they sneak into it one step at a time, and everyone else is surprised when the marriage suddenly breaks up or the bigger theft occurs. Usually the temptation and response to it have been quietly growing over time…and so has the magnitude of sin.

5) The serpent was smart, and he went after both Eve and Adam very strategically. He tempted Eve by questioning the truth; he also offered her something tasty and “pleasing to the eye”. He attracted Eve with a desirable THING. Kinda like shopping. Or Pinterest. Women rise up in arms if anyone suggests that shopping is a sin, trust me on that one. But it relates to covetousness, and desiring things. That’s what drew Eve into sin.

Who’s in Charge?

6) He not only offered her a pretty, tasty snack, he offered her the opportunity to supplant the authority in her life, promising “you will be like God.” No longer would she chafe under Adam’s (or even God’s) control, she could take this shortcut to moral independence. What a temptation! What woman could resist that? I’m sure her new knowledge and worldliness was appealing to Adam as well, since it offered him also the chance to “be like god”. This has been tempting to all men under anyone else’s control ever since.

7) Adam was tempted not by a thing, but by a now-knowledgeable, naked Eve who was now able to dangle her fruit in front of him in ways he’d never thought of… what man could resist that? (The biggest selling Sports Illustrated edition every year has nothing to do with sports. Just sayin’.).

temptation eyes

The writer of Genesis created a depiction of temptation and sin that has endured not just for centuries, but for millennia! Not only is the Genesis story mythological and archetypical, it is also still applicable. We still get messages that encourage our independence and selfishness more than ever. The next time the crafty old serpent tempts you to question what God has said, be reminded of John 8:32: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

Aren’t You Tempted to Read This?

Somewhere in the Garden, Eve was left alone to hear
The devious, crafty Serpent as he whispered in her ear:
“Has God been over-bearing? Has He said you must not eat
Of the Tree of Good and Evil? I have heard its fruit is sweet!”
Then Eve embraced temptation, and a tiny bite was taken;
Her heart and eyes were opened, but eternity was shaken.
The Garden trembled that the Word of God had been forsaken…
Then Eve combined the fruit with all the new things that she knew,
And Adam fell under her spell, and soon was eating, too!
They suddenly knew many things, and suddenly felt shame;
And after that, the world they knew would never be the same.
Temptation still appears today, and offers us its fruit–
That thing on Pinterest that we want, or a beautiful birthday suit–
So if temptation comes your way, and craftily deceives,
Hold fast to things that Jesus taught, and be one who believes.
Sin can change your world just like with Adam’s. And with Eve’s.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread