Wednesday, 12 December 2012


On CFRA radio recently, John Counsel received a question on Ask the Pastor that was honest and interesting. Why could God not get over the sin of Adam and Eve's eating of the apple in the Garden of Eden? Why was it so unforgivable? Was God's reaction not over the top? I like questions like this!

John Counsel's response was disappointing. He went into how the sin of Adam and Eve was one of freewill and not subject to interference from God. Thus without human beings endowed with freewill God cannot receive freewill love. Since the only love that leads to genuine authentic relationship is freewill love, God is willing to surrender His control and power to stop sin in order that true repentance and freely-given love will be possible.

Fine thought, but it does not answer the question that was asked. The sin in this chapter of Genesis looks quite trivial to modern and post-modern thinking society. Would you react to your children the way God did if they violated curfew? It is not so easy to tackle this part of the question.

To understand what Adam and Eve's action and why God reacts in such stern terms you have to see what God sees. First, there are two realms on the Earth. There is the heavenly realm of God, which was brought to Earth in the form of the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were given authority over it by God. The second realm was that of Satan, who had no authority to rule over the Earth. He was only a visitor.

God's realm is full of love, kindness, truth, mercy, abundance and justice. Satan's realm is full of hatred, lies, murder, fault-finding, shunning, bullying, fear, lack and injustice. So what should the choice of Adam and Eve be in regards to genuine love. Who proclaims it? Who actually demonstrates it? The answer is easy - God.

So God declares that one can eat of the fruit of the tree of life in the centre of the garden and may not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because in that day they will die! So a loving God tells them to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because bad things will happen. Thus when they meet the serpent in the Garden, he first asks, "Has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree in the Garden?'" Eve knows the answer. She can eat of any tree except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil nor is she to touch it lest she die.

Oh, oh. This is a half truth. God never said they would die for touching it! So what does Satan do? "See when you touch it you do not die. God is lying to you. Thus you cannot trust Him. If you eat it you will become wise like God knowing good from evil." Well he had her cornered. A demonstration of the touching the fruit proved God was lying. He was holding out on her! So she ate and having become wise like God she persuaded Adam to eat also.

But wait, what happens next? As Adam and Eve hear God walking in the Garden the next morning, they hide. Why? They have never hidden from God before. Yes, but before this they were friends with God and now they had disobeyed God. What would God do now that they had disobeyed him? They hid in fear of punishment. Punishment? Where did that idea come from? It came from having the knowledge of good and evil. This knowledge told them that if they violated the law they must die. So they hid from God expecting that if God found them they would have to die.

So did God take their life? Actually, the root word for die comes from the word for separation. Their hiding proved that in their hearts they had separated from God and thus were dead to God. So what was so bad about what Adam and Eve did? They judged that God was not telling them the truth based on  Satan's claim. But Satan was a liar. If they had believed God they would have reasoned that either (1) they misunderstood the command not to touch the fruit or (2) Satan was lying or (3) both 1 and 2.. But they did not. They traded a truth from God who had the character to prove his trustworthiness  for a lie from somebody whose character denied him any credibility. This is not a simple mistake. This is a violation of trust.

Furthermore, since they obeyed Satan, they became subjects to his nature. God had to provide a process to reverse that subjugation. This would mean the crucifixion of His Son. What would you do if somebody screwed up and it cost you your son's life? Would you have some severe words and consequences for this person. Would that be fair? What would your reaction be to somebody that said, "Chill out, it is only a mistake. Forgive and move on." Perhaps you might respond that you do not understand the betrayal of trust that this person has commited and to mind your own business!

So, was God's reaction "over the top"?

Alan Montgomery

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