In the Garden
We all know the story which the theologians call “the fall of man” from the Bible. However have we ever really considered the actions and the consequences of this story. Most preachers in the post-modern church are so busy making a moral point (and that’s a good thing) that they never look at the remarkable details of the narrative, which are full of anomalous elements.
The story of the fall is true Bible history it isn’t a myth. Just the opposite, it is exceptionally true. At the same time it seems to be beyond our ability to comprehend exactly what happened.
In the Garden we were eternal beings who would never die. It seems that everything else in creation was also eternal. Because now all things groan for it to be put right.
19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; 21 because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; Rom. 8:19-22
After the fall we became finite beings with a life span that ends in death. The consequences of which we now can no longer perceive that which is eternal.
The story has come down to us as eating an apple in a garden. But the story is to simple for the consequences. It is like the way we explain something difficult to a small child in simple easy terms that so they can comprehend. So what happened in the Garden is a bit of a mystery. Because of our limitation we now have a story of simple disobedience. We were told not to eat the apple, we ate the apple. How did eating a piece of fruit do all this? We may never fully understand it this side of Glory.
The Impossible Garden
What ever the garden was, it doesn’t seem to have been strictly a garden, more of an orchard. This is because all that is mentioned as being in this garden are trees.
Two of the trees that are specifically mentioned were “marvelous” or “magical” for lack of better words, the tree of “the knowledge of good and evil” and “the tree of life.”
8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Gen. 2:8-9
This is one of the few times that something “magical” is in the Bible. Mostly there are miracles, moments in history where God directly intervenes and or interferes with the laws of nature.
10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12 and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which flows around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. Gen. 2:10-14
It had four rivers that flowed out of it? In any rational geological/ecological system, rivers come from mountain tops not garden. Gardens are not planted on top of cold snowy mountains but rather along and at the end of rivers, where the soils are alluvial. So the place for the fall of man is more extraordinary than the reality we are familiar with.
Some have tried to find this place, but honestly the Flood of Noah has erased all the natural features of the antediluvian world. Some of the names carried over, probably by Noah and his sons, but the places cannot be the same. So we are likely to never figure out how the rivers flowed out of this garden.
The Adam is placed in this garden to care of the TREES, not plants and animals as the paintings all have it. The one magic tree is especially mentioned again. If man eats of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he will in the Hebrew “die you die”. Both the words of “dies” are infinitive/imperfect meaning he will die forever.
FYI: In Hebrew emphasis of a word is done by doubling the word as we see here. In English we add the words very, surly, or much for this same emphasis. However some scholars believe that emphasis is not what is happening here. Rather man is being told that he will die physically as well as spiritually, a twice dead state, which since this is a very odd passage, makes its own logical sense.
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 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 die.” Gen. 2:15-17
When we compare this to the presiding chapter we realize that what is recorded here happen on the sixth day.
FYI: English is one of few languages that like Hebrew has the words for male and female root from the same word, e.g. man-woman, male-female, and in Hebrew ish-isha.
18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 So out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; 22 and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed. Gen. 2:18-25
Enter the serpent. We are not told how much time has elapsed since man and woman were created, it could have been days, months, years, decades we just don’t know, because it is not important to the story.
1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So 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 to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons. Gen. 3:1-7
Much has been made of the serpent being able to talk (because in child like innocence we think it is a snake) and much has been made of his twisting of God’s instructions, all that preaching is fine and good. However mostl overlook what Eve wanted, and that was to be wise. She wanted knowledge. Now ask yourself honestly what is wrong with wisdom or knowledge?
When this story is told in paganism, the gaining of wisdom is seen as good and the serpent or fiery serpent is the hero and celebrated as the bringer of light, where God is seen as stingy and selfish for wanting to keep man in the dark. The pagan stories often twist this story so it is not the fruit on a tree, but rather burning wood or fire, as in the story of Prometheus.
So what wrong with having Fire? We’re missing something.
FYI: In Western art and myth the fruit is an apple, in Middle Eastern art and myth it is a pomegranate.
8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.” 14 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” 16 To the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” 17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Gen. 3:8-19
Here everybody passes the buck. Adam says it’s Eve’s fault and blames God for even making her. Then Eve says it’s the Serpent’s fault, and the Serpent is left holding the bag, he’s got no one to blame.
The serpent must go along the ground. (See Also: Star Dust or Earth Dust)
The woman will have pain in childbearing, she will also desire power but always be ruled over by the men.
The man will have to toil to eat, and the field will now produce weeds with thorns and pokies.
Now the interesting bit. Before this they were eating tree fruit, now they are eating bread, which is made from gain. Somehow the story has moved from an orchard to a field with no explanation.
20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them.
22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever” — 23 therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
We are not to eat of the Tree of Life because the Lord doesn’t want us to live forever in our fallen state.
- The tree is mentioned at the end. [Rev. 22: 2,14,19]
- It is a forest. [Ezek. 47:7]
- The Tree is identified as the commandments of God.[Prov. 3:18]
FYI: “Like one of us” is the second reference to the trinity in the Bible, the first being Gen 1:26.
Die you Die
We now need to examine the pieces left after the fall. Something more than death and dying seems to have happened at the fall of man. We seem to have effected all of creation. What we did seems to have engaged the second law of thermodynamics simply put, everything is in a state of running down and dying.
It seems that before the fall there was no sin and nothing in creation died. Not the animals, not the stars, nothing was subject to death. All these groan for things to be put right. And the putting right it Messiah’s death on the cross. Which by inference is making a way for us to eat from the ‘tree of life.”
. . . because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. Rom. 8:21
Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned — Rom. 5:12
21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 1Cor. 15:21-22
45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50 I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable 1Cor. 15:45-50
Something happen to the way we perceive time. Before the fall, time had no effect, it was merely the speed of the celestial objects in relation to the earth, which was used to organize life and holy days, or appointed times a.k.a. Mo’adim. Now we think of time as our “life time.” It is a limit on us. A limit that deep inside our souls we know is wrong. There is nothing so wrong as a funeral. We know we are not supposed to die. We were not created to die. What we can’t really get our heads around is the why. We need this one story from the Bible more than any to explain our condition. For without understanding our condition as fallen or lost, we do not/cannot see the need for a Savior.
See Also: What Happens When We Die?