The Footholds We Give When We Don't Know the Word
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” (Genesis 3: 1-7, NASB)
When it comes to the opening chapters of the Bible, Eve always gets a bad wrap. And no, I’m not looking to play a blame game today over who caused the fall of man, but this week, I re-read this story and a lotof things jumped out at me that I’d like to take some time to look at. I don’t necessarily want to call this whole thing a “series,” but I might possibly take more
than one week to unpack it.
This time, when I read through Genesis 1-3, I was taken aback at how wrong I’ve seen this story. It’s always been a tale about God’s creation, and man’s funny propensity to make a mess of a really good thing. I’ve always read this story under the impression that man screwed up and God got angry at man’s mistake.
This time, I’m not sure that was the case.
You see, our key verse picks up in the midst of things: God has already created the world. Man and woman have already been created, purposed, and given a command– to be fruitful and multiply. Adam and Eve have enjoyed an indeterminate amount of time in the Garden of Eden, enjoying intimate, frequent, and unadulterated time with God Himself. But at the start of the 3rd chapter, we see where the perfection of this place and the flaws of humanity start to converge. We see that not everything in the garden is perfect; there is an evil that was waiting just below the surface, waiting to exploit an innocent weakness in order to plant seeds of doubt against God.
Satan, choosing to indwell a serpent, comes upon the woman and they have a conversation. Now Satan knows that Adam and Eve are not yet exposed to pride or jealousy or insecurity. He can’t antagonize Eve with emotions that don’t exist for her yet. So instead, Satan calls into question a simple and innocent miscommunication. He says to Eve, “Did God really say you can’t eat of any tree in the garden?” To which Eve corrects him, “We can eat of any tree, except for the tree in the midst of the garden. We can’t eat it or touch it, or we’ll die” (verses 2-3).
What I find funny, is that’s not what God said to Adam in Genesis 2:16 and 17. It may be similar to what God said, but what Eve reiterates to the serpent is not God’s actual commandment: “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
First of all, God was specific. He didn’t say a tree in the midst of the garden wasn’t good to eat. He showed Adam the exact one he couldn’t eat from and named it. Second of all, Eve adds something to God’s command. You see, God told Adam he couldn’t eat of the tree. Eve says they weren’t allowed to eat from it and they weren’t even allowed to touch it.
Now the Bible doesn’t say this exactly, but to me, it sounds like the world’s first game of telephone is played in the opening verses of Genesis. God gives Adam a direct command in chapter 2 verses 16 and 17– a command that Eve wasn’t even created yet to receive. But the Bible never says that once Eve was created, she received the same command from God that Adam received. In fact, the only thing that scripture shows us about Eve prior to Genesis 3 is that the Lord brought her to Adam after creating her, and Adam’s meeting with her. We see that Adam was created to have dominion over God’s creation and subdue it and that Eve was created to be Adam’s helpmate in that calling.
So what could have happened? Adam could have relayed the part about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but slightly miscommunicated from God’s original plan. Sure, it’s also possible that Adam communicated fine, but Eve didn’t remember it word-for-word. So, what’s the issue? Why are we spending so much time on this minute detail?
However the miscommunication happened, it allowed Satan a foothold to plant doubt in Eve’s mind of God’s goodness. It allowed him to twist around God’s command and make it something negative. Because Eve didn’t know the pure word that God gave Adam, she couldn’t fight off the devil. If she knew the word of God, could she have fought off the temptation of the devil by quoting God the way Jesus does in Matthew 4 when he’s being tempted in the same way? Unfortunately, we’ll never know, but this, in and of itself, shows us how important it is to know God’s Word as purely as possible.
We have to dive in deep. We have to read and re-read and re-read again. Because this world is getting darker day by day. Our friends, family, and neighbors continue to fall farther and farther from God, being led away by social and political agendas that hide their darkness by hiding behind innocent messages of love and acceptance.
That’s why you need to know, guys. You need to know what God says, but even deeper than that, you need to know why and how He says it. He doesn’t give us commands with a harsh tone and a controlling hand. He gives us parameters to protect us. He tells us not to pull up a chair and eat of things that will lead us into eternal death. Instead, he urges us to take and eat of the one real thing that could ever save us: Jesus.
We need to know Him. We need to be sure of the things He’s said to us. We can’t rely on someone else– a parent, a partner, or a pastor– to relay to us what God wants for us. We have to know it for ourselves, exactly and purely. We cannot add one word to it and we can’t ignore the parts that make us uncomfortable. Read your Bible today, friends. Pick a book and start pulling it apart. Be brave enough to do it for yourself. Be humble enough to listen, and be obedient enough to correct the things you’ve misconceived in the past.