You may already be familiar with the story. Two trees stood in the Garden of Eden: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Fruit from the first tree would have allowed Adam and Eve the privilege of walking in the garden and with their Creator for eternity. But they just couldn’t resist sampling the second tree first.
What was so bad about eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?
One clue might be in part of its name: knowledge. In Hebrew, this term isn’t about being bookish — having an academic understanding of something. Its meaning is rooted in the same word used in Genesis 4:1 to describe Adam’s relationship with Eve. He “knew” her intimately enough that their liaison produced fruit. Feeding on the Tree of Knowledge was sure to beget something — but maybe not the crop Adam and Eve expected (see James 1:15).
“Thou shalt not”?
While the good this tree promised might not be a problem, there was another word in the tree’s name that spelled trouble.
The fruit of this tree tempted our forefathers with the idea they could feed on the good and still taste the forbidden.
Before we get all critical of Adam and Eve, let’s remember we’ve inherited the same deadly curiosity. We love experiencing good, but when God says, “Don’t touch,” we struggle to resist doing just that. Like children, we want to turn the thing over in our hands to discover why God considers it such a horrible, no good, very bad thing.
Paul describes the dilemma this way:
I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. . . . And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death (Romans 7:7, 8, 10).
Like Adam and Eve, we reach out for a bite — just a little taste, mind you — only to discover our momentary interest has morphed into a long-term commitment with evil that we can’t get out of. We’ve somehow “married” a behavior we only meant to “date,” and found ourselves locked into doing the very thing we’ve grown to hate (Romans 7:19, 20).
Eden and reality TV
It’s as though the Garden of Eden were the cosmic set for a match-making reality TV show that continues today. The two trees are two bridegroom contestants looking for a wife. Messiah is Bachelor Number One, the Tree of Life otherwise known as “the Branch.” Bachelor Number Two is the anti-Messiah, or Antichrist — a tree waving some tantalizing options for tasting both good and evil under the bachelorette’s nose.
We are the bride in the making, the target of the trees’ affections. And we, as our forefathers did before us, choose unwisely. We enter into an agreement with the wrong bridegroom — the wrong tree. As soon as we take the evil portion of his unclean fruit into us, we become unclean ourselves. And since no unclean thing can come into the presence of a holy God (Leviticus 22:3), we can no longer be up close and personal with the Creator of the garden.
This could be the end of the story, except that Bachelor Number One won’t let the show finish. He still hungers to win the heart of the love He lost. Except she (or should I say, we) are in covenant with a husband we wish we’d rejected. We cannot legally marry another because “the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives” (Romans 7:2).
Lover to the rescue
Bachelor Number One is not dissuaded from His quest by this technicality. He has found a loophole. Romans 7:2, 3 indicates death can break a marriage covenant: “But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.”
Her husband will certainly die one day, but love-struck Bachelor Number One cannot wait that long. He chooses another option. Messiah — the Branch, the Tree of Life — is nailed to the cross and hangs on a tree. Registering His beloved’s death with the ink of His own blood, He cancels the covenant that kept her bound and sets her free to marry Him.
Breaking the covenant
The Tree of Life still reaches out today. If you let your heart be won by this heavenly Bridegroom, He will break your covenant with death as well. Put your hand in His and let Him walk you down the aisle. Let him lead you deep into His beautiful garden.