WHAT IF GOD…
…had made the Tree of Knowledge inaccessible?
…had not cursed the ground?
…had destroyed all of humanity before the Flood?
…had not intervened during the construction of the Tower of Babel?
…had not made Abraham, and his wife wait a long time for a child?
…had allowed Jacob to marry a Canaanite?
ht to Egypt?
WHAT IF GOD HAD MADE THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE INACCESSIBLE?
The garden was beautiful beyond compare. Luscious vegetation abounded, and its hills and valleys teemed with vigorous animals. Every corner of the Garden of Eden reflected God’s creative greatness and, in this place of stunning beauty, He placed the first two humans. God’s only requirements for them were to look after the Garden (Genesis 2: 15), and, most of all, to never touch nor eat of the tree of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that was in the midst of the garden (V. 3:2). The penalty for doing so would have been certain death for both and for their descendents.
The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was, therefore, of great importance and eating of it would have led to disastrous consequences. Yet, the Tree had the kind of characteristics that, inevitably, would have led Adam and Eve to transgress. Genesis tells us that the tree “was good for food, …it was pleasant to the eyes and a tree desirable to make one wise”(3:6). To make matters worse, it was located “in the midst of the garden” (2:8), and, therefore, it was very easy to access.
But what if God had made the tree less accessible? What if it had been placed in a corner of the Garden rather than in the middle of it? What if God had placed guard dogs or lions around it to prevent Adam and Eve from approaching it? After all, the tree was potentially dangerous. Should not God have done His best to make it difficult to access?
No doubt, the above measures would have made the approaching of the tree very difficult, if not
impossible. But, if He had done so, His plan would have taken a totally different course. After all, Adam and
Eve would not have sinned, therefore the death penalty would not have followed and humanity would have
inherited eternal life without any intervening test.
By closely analyzing the Garden of Eden scenario, any perceptive mind can see that, when God created the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, He had something very profound in mind. The Tree of Knowledge was meant to represent sin and its magnetic power. Sin doesn’t lurk in the corner of life-- it is ever present; temptation is perennially before us. Sin is alluring, magnetic and potentially irresistible. Thus, a tree in the midst of a garden effectively captured the totality of sin.
The fact that the Tree was so alluring and accessible is not a coincidence. A master planner planned
every detail in the Garden. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was intentionally placed in the middle
of the Garden to be seen and to exert a strong pull on the human inhabitants. Without doubt they passed by it
several times and its fruit must have attracted their attention and they must have wondered how it must have
tasted. Yet, for a time they resisted.
Also very important is the fact that God allowed Satan to be in the Garden and deceive Adam and Eve without intervening. Eve was alone. She had no knowledge of Satan and what he stood for. Her mind had not been seasoned by experience and was therefore quite naïve and easily deceived. The arch-deceiver, who has one of the most brilliant minds in all creation would have had no problem convincing Eve that the Tree in the middle of the Garden was the way to greatness and glory.
Finally the Bibl tells us that Christ was preordained to be sacrificed before the foundation of the world (I Peter
18:20, Rev. 13:8). Why preordain a sacrifice for humanity if humanity had not yet been created. Clearly God
knew the consequences in advance. God knew not only because He can foresee the future, but also because He
would have orchestrated everything so that Adam and Eve would take of the Tree. If He did not want them to
take the fruit from the fateful Tree, He could have made the Tree less attractive, He could have made it less
approachable, He could have prevented Satan from entering the Garden, He could have given Adam and Eve
greater wisdom and self-control or He could have been present during Satan’s. But He did none of these things.
God could have placed the Tree in the midst of the Garden and allowed all the various events to happen because they all fit into His plan for humanity. According to God’s plan, Adam and Eve were going to transgress and they and their descendents were going to taste of the fruits of Satan’s ways for thousands of years. Millennia later, Christ would rescue them through His holy blood so as to make eternal life available to all of humanity once again.
WHAT IF GOD…
…had placed the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden?
…had encouraged Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree of Life?
…had not allowed Satan to be in the Garden?
WHAT IF GOD HAD NOT CURSED THE GROUND?
The taking of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil led to disastrous consequences for Adam and Eve and all of humanity. The penalty of death followed hundreds of years later, and it has been imposed on humanity ever since. Eve’s childbirth pain was to be multiplied, and the ground was to be cursed as well. Essentially, Life was to become a burdensome, grueling experience, until the establishment of God’s Millennial Kingdom on Earth.
God had promised Adam ad Eve that they would die, and He kept His promise. But he went a step further and punished Adam and Eve beyond simply dying of old age. The ground was cursed and their long life was to be filled with toil and sorrow until the end.
But what if God had not punished Adam and Eve as grievously as He did? What if He had only permitted the death penalty but had not cursed the ground and, by extension, human life?
Adam, we are told, lived to over 900 years. His descendents lived very long lives as well. Since death did not ensue immediately, if God had not added the extra life-long punishment, it would have been easy for humans to conclude that there would have been no consequences to sins, no matter how serious they might have been. Thus, God addressed this need by adding daily anguish to accompany the lives of humans.
God, in His wisdom, saw fit to make human life arduous and painful by cursing the ground. He clearly wanted mankind to be reminded, generation after generation, that sin invites curses and misery and anguish. Humans had to experience daily that independence from God leads to a struggle for existence and to an anxious life, and that following Satan results invariably in great stresses and sorrows.
Every nation and every generation since then has tasted of the curse. Humans know that the basics of life are rooted in the soil and its production. The soil’s production is unpredictable, even where the land is plenteous, and even abundant crops are always related to exhausting labor. Even nations that veer away from agriculture experience the “essence” of the curse by tasting exploitation and abuse in factories and offices where bosses are often demanding and unfair, where hours are long and exhausting and where remuneration is often incommensurate with the effort.
The curse was to last until Christ’s return when the times of refreshing will come. In those days “the desert shall rejoice and blossom as a rose” (Isaiah 35:1). During those awe-inspiring times “the parched ground shall become a pool and the thirsty land springs of water”(V. 7), and “sorrow and sighing shall flee away (V. 9). They will be days when “the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wines and all the hills shall flow with it”(Amos 9:13).
Since Adam and Eve partook of the Tree of Knowledge, the overall human experience has been and continues to be very painful. Humans taste daily the consequences of rebelling to God’s will and the curses that accompany sin. But, thankfully, God’s plan will soon proceed to the next stage when curses will be finally lifted, and blessings will abound throughout the earth.
WHAT IF GOD…
…had allowed Adam and Eve to stay in the Garden but had cursed it too?
…had immediately destroyed the garden of Eden?
…had not placed a Cherubim to protect the way to the Tree of Life?
The first shocking human murder is described in Genesis 4. The event is exceptionally tragic for various reasons. First of all, it is the first murder of a human being; secondly, it is a fratricide, that is a murder of a brother by a brother; thirdly, because it foreshadows a way of life that has characterized humanity ever since.
The event is also meaningful because, for the first time, God does not intervene in human affairs and allows the actual murder of an innocent person to take place, even though He clearly knew it was going to happen and witnessed its happening. God had warned Cain that sin lay at his door “and its desire is for you” (Genesis, 4:7). But God’s warning fell on deaf ears “…and it came to pass, when they rose in the field, that Cain rose against Abel his brother and killed him” (Genesis, 4:8).
But what if God had intervened and had prevented Abel’s death? What if God had simply warned Abel of Cain’s intent and had asked him to stay away?
If God had intervened, a different pattern would have been set for God’s relationship with humanity. To be consistent, God would have had to intervene every time a potential murder was on the way, or before any wars occurred. If God had chosen the path to intervention and prevention, it would have also made logical sense for Him to prevent thefts, lying, fornication, adultery, and so on.
Some might say that this approach would have been more reflective of a God who is supposed to be loving and just. After all, God’s consistent intervention in preventing evil would have brought about a decent, peaceful and safe world free from sin and suffering. This reasoning seems to be sound, but is it?
When Adam and Eve took of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they placed all of humanity on a path of independence from God and of slavery toward Satan. The Bible makes it plain that Satan, not Almighty God, is humanity’s chosen god (II Cor. 4:4, Eph. 2:2). From the start God has been set aside by a rebellious humanity, and He “gave them up to uncleanness…and a debased mind to do those things that are not fitting” (Romans 1: 24, 28). Adam and Eve, and their descendents, were going to be allowed to taste the horrors of sin in their entirety. Humanity would learn the hard way what it means to reject God and follow in Satan’s footsteps.
No doubt standing aside and watching untold evil and its tragic consequences from taking place must have been very painful for a God of love. Yet, in the long term, God is showing a kind of love we do not understand. We humans can only see the immediate. God sees the very long-term, eternal benefits. He sees that the learning of this eternal lesson will ultimately lead to eternal peace and joy. Thus, he is willing to suffer along with humanity as long as, in the end, humanity will inherit eternal blessings.
God, therefore, is allowing sin to be manifested for what it is: a destructive, pain-filled choice that hurts perpetrators and bystanders. God wants humans to see the horrors that Satan-inspired actions will bring upon humanity. The long-term lesson is that sin hurts and that righteousness is always the better way.
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© Copyright, Michael Caputo, 2004