William J. Stewart
“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good…” The Creator had finished His creation, and it was a work of pure excellence. Everything gleamed with radiance. No doubt, as a painter having finished his work looks upon it with contentment, so God sat back and smiled in delight at His masterpiece. Millions upon millions of stars twinkled their praise to the Master. The beasts of the field, roared of their pleasure with the Almighty One. Birds sang songs exalting the most High God. And man, he walked and talked with his Maker.
God provided all things to meet man’s needs. In His boundless understanding, He knew man needed a companion and helper, thus, He took a rib out of Adam’s side, and from it formed woman. God said to Adam, “…I have given you every herb. . . . and every tree. . . . to you it shall be for food.” The Mighty One gave Adam a job, that of tending to the beautiful garden which He’d made. One thing He required of the man and woman. “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.”
What a life! No hard, backbreaking, strenuous work. No hassles or disputes in attempts to get to the top of the corporate ladder. No hunger or concern of where your next meal would come from. A life of tranquility and peace. Spending wonderful time with a God-given spouse, and of course, walking about with the Master of all things. Only one command to heed, “…Do not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
Have you ever noticed when you tell a young child not to touch something, sooner or later, usually sooner, their tiny hands end up all over it? The stove — “Now junior, don’t touch, it’s hot” Next thing you know, junior comes wailing in tears with a burnt hand. “Honey, don’t climb on the swing like that, you’ll hurt yourself!” And minutes later, you’re bandaging a scraped knee. “Look both ways before crossing the street.” “Never talk to strangers” And on and on…. It happens every day, children fail to heed the loving instruction of their parents, and consequently get hurt. Thus it is with all mankind. Our Father gave but one commandment to Adam and Eve, don’t eat the fruit. Yet, not long afterwards, as with children, the commandment had been disregarded, the fruit eaten, and mankind soiled.
“Where are you?” God asks Adam, though He already knew. Adam, with his wife Eve had hidden, for they feared. Then God asked, “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” Imagine how it hurt God to ask such a question, for He already knew the answer. It hurts to ask someone you dearly love if they disobeyed you. Imagine how Adam felt as he heard the Creator ask this question. He knew he’d done wrong. He’d been caught red handed. No doubt, shame had started to set in. What could be done now?
“The woman who You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” I remember as a child, this seemed to be the best answer one could give when suspected of doing wrong. “Well, it really wasn’t my fault, you see. My sister, she made me do it.” Countless times, I’m sure we’ve all employed such phrases to remove the blame from ourselves, and point it to where we think it ought to be. Adam, wanting to preserve his image and relationship with God bluntly said, “Don’t look at me, it was Eve.” God approached Eve concerning the deed. “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Again, loosely, “It wasn’t my fault, it was the serpent.” It’s not surprising that both Adam and Eve reacted in such a way. Self preservation. “I’m not the guilty party, I’m a victim.” “I’m not accountable, it was out of my control.”
Such a sad turn of events. Man, who had walked and talked with God. Man, who was untarnished, perfect, completely spotless. He became tarnished, imperfect, spotted by the stains of sin. Man no longer had the innocence to walk about in his nakedness, unashamed. For his eyes had been opened. He knew he was naked. He knew both good and evil. And he knew that he had done evil.
The voice of God rings forth through the apostle John, who being led by the Holy Spirit wrote, “Whoever commits sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law.” Adam and Eve’s disobedience couldn’t go unattended. As much as God would like to pretend nothing had happened, He couldn’t. For it did. He, being a just and righteous Judge could not ignore evil done in His sight. There was a law, and the law had been transgressed. Man had sinned. Thus, He pronounced punishment. First, upon the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life….” The serpent, for his trickery was punished, and all serpents afterwards would endure the consequences of his punishment.
Next, God proclaims to the woman: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children, your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Eve had charged the serpent with the error, and portrayed herself merely an innocent victim of circumstance. However, God did not see it that way. Eve gave in to temptation. She was a victim of her own desires and wishes. Thus, a punishment was brought against Eve, of which by way of consequence, women throughout history have been made subject to. Then God turned to Adam: “Because you have heed the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’; cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”
Life would not be so simple for man anymore. There would be toil, thorns, thistles, sweat! Not anyone’s cup of tea, but we can handle that. But, “…until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” Adam must have been beside himself. “But God…” he must have pleaded. Too harsh, much too harsh! It was only a piece of fruit. But notice the commandment God gave, “…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.” God said not to take of the tree, and He forewarned of the punishment for taking of it, “…you shall surely die.” Therefore, “…for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”
The apostle Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death…” The punishment for the sin of Adam was death, which consequently fell upon all mankind. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…” Seems pretty glum. Man sinned, thus bringing about death, not only physical, but more devastating, spiritual. Due to this sin and the resulting death, man no longer walked with God.
But God loves His creation. God loves mankind. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive…” He couldn’t let us die in our sins. He loved us so much “…that He gave His only begotten Son…” Again the words of the apostle Paul, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Praise unto God Almighty! Ever should we give glory to His name, for “…as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” Though we were dead in our trespasses and sins, He made us alive. He breathed His Spirit back into us, that we might not fall to the sting of death, but rather rise to the platform of eternal life. He made us to live eternally with Him, and when we couldn’t do it ourselves due to our sin, He did it for us by removing the sin, and bringing us back to life.