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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Theocracy - Part 3 “The Perfect Gift From Above”

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
James 1:17

We've seen the introduction of man, as a being formed of that which was created, and containing something of the presence of God's Spirit with him. We've also been introduced to two trees, each serving as an alternative to the provision of God, as “Life-giver” and “Light-giver”.

Now we are shown man's duties, and obligations as we begin to ponder God's logic in His placement of the Trees in the middle of the garden.

And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Gen 2:15-17

“..God..put (man) into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it...”

Man's placement in the garden wasn't purely for the man's material benefit, but the garden gave man the opportunity to be obedient. Man was given the task of tending the garden. The task was twofold; he was to “dress” the garden and to “keep” it. Dressing carries with it the sense of bringing something under subjection. The garden wasn't to just do its own thing, but as man laboured over the trees, there was intention that they would yield food for the man to eat. Keeping, on the other hand, has implications of guarding and protecting. Man was to maintain the health of the garden, so that it could continue to thrive.

“..Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat..”

God's generosity is revealed in the multitude of trees that He allowed man to eat from.

“..the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat..”

Again, the issue of obedience is raised, only now it is a matter of a restriction. Earlier there was something that God would have man do, but now there was something to avoid. Of all the trees in the garden, there was one that was not to be eaten of. Of the two trees which were given prominence, one was to be specifically avoided, while no direction is given regarding the other.

Consider again the difference between the two trees. One offered “life” while the other offered “light”. As I mentioned earlier, it is of interest that, while the “light source” was not to be partaken of, no such direction was given regarding the “life source”.

It would seem that, although God had put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden Himself, He would have no other source of light but Himself. At first it appears to defy logic. Surely man could do his task of dressing and keeping the garden far better if he had access to the knowledge of the “good”, so he could utilise it, and the “evil” so he could avoid it. Isn't it cruel of God to withhold such information, leaving man to feel around to work it out on his own?

The thing is, God never intended for man to be “on his own”. The logic of man being left on his own to figure out life and fend for himself, should remind us of the testimony of the slothful servant in the parable of the talents, “Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.” (Mat 25:24-25) The servant displayed a distrust of his master, fearing punishment if he did something wrong with the wealth entrusted to him. This resulted in him living off of another's sustenance so that he could return his master's wealth, as received. How can I make such an assumption? The word which is translated as “servant” would be better translated “slave”, and slaves have no possessions of their own.

Just as God was able to breathe into man's nostrils the breath of life, causing to become a living soul, He is able to “breathe” light into his consciousness, causing him to become a “righteous soul”. Could it be that the reason that God never gave direction regarding the tree of life was that He had already given man His “life”, and so life from “the tree” would only fortify the life already given, where eating of the “other tree” would introduce a earthly logic, producing a carnal morality?

“ the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

With great sobriety we should read this. The fatality of choosing a “tree” to acquire the knowledge of good and evil rather than trusting God to provide the wisdom needed to obey, as required. The life freely given to man when He breathed into his nostrils would be revoked in the event of man's partaking of the forbidden tree. And yet the tree remained as an enduring reminder of the existence of a carnal light source, residing alongside the tree of life.

Next post : Theocracy - Part 4 “Finding the Good Thing”

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