The first question God asks in the Bible is not the first question asked. That dubious honor is reserved for the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan. “Did God indeed say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Love, real love, godly love, requires submission, my good subservient to your good. I lay down my life, my rights, my needs to meet yours. I freely lay down my glory, my body, like a cloak over the filth, for your glory, so your steps may remain spotless. Trust isn’t necessarily necessary for this…for God. Our puny, transactional, weak minds and hearts however, need to know our beloved will be faithful with the gift we are giving. God knows all this, which is why he set up the nursery of Eden.
Adam and Eve were children. They needed to be taught love the same as you or i. We start learning it at our mother’s breast, in our father’s arms as we finally drift off to sleep on that first, horrific day of life. ‘Fear not, little one. I will feed you. I will clothe you. I will keep you warm. I will keep you safe. You are not alone. Trust me.’ Or we know the pain of its absence if these people fail. God does not fail. These are the things God says to Adam and Eve in his provision, in his garden, in his creation of them for each other. I am your provider. I am your safety. I am your lover. I am good and want what’s best for you.
It’s called a test but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is really a symbol. Without it, without the opportunity to disobey, how would Adam and Eve know their own hearts? It’s not trust if you have no choice. It’s not love if there’s no other option. We have no idea how long they lived in the garden before the serpent whispered in their ear. It could have been centuries. It could have been minutes. Every moment they trusted God to be faithful and good they demonstrated by ignoring this tree. God said it, I believe it, that settles it. Submissive love, total openness, perfect communion.
All broken in a single question, “Did God indeed say…?” Doubt. Is God good? Is he holding out on us? Do we really need him? Notice that Satan doesn’t care if you believe IN God. He only cares if you BELIEVE God! God does nothing but prove he loves us, he is just, he is good, he is providing. He makes promise after promise to us, for our good. His track record is flawless, none can point a pointy finger at God and declare his wrongdoing and yet it is precisely this which Satan wants us to believe. Why? Because he believes it. Liars never trust anyone but themselves. They always think they are being lied to.
Without trust, communion is broken. Pride breeds doubt or doubt gives birth to pride, I know not which but the union of them creates desire. God cannot be trusted. It’s up to me. Why shouldn’t I get every advantage I can? Why shouldn’t I be like God? We don’t know how long a time passes between Eve’s conversation with the serpent and when she finally stretched out her hand and acted. It could have been minutes, it could have been centuries. I’m inclined to believe the shorter because sin had already given her something to hide. She had a secret. Communion has no secrets. It holds nothing good back. It has no reason to hide. It has nothing it fears from the other person, no judgment, no pain, no hurt. Her secret however had to be hidden from God.
Or did it? I wonder what would have happened if she had taken the serpent’s question to God? Lord, why? Why must we not eat? It is the innocent question of the two year old, which has just been told …pretty much anything. Why? God is not offended by humble questions seeking knowledge and wisdom from him, the source of all wisdom and knowledge. This is perfectly good and reasonable. In fact, it would show wisdom already!
She does not show wisdom. She shows independence. This babe in the woods has already decided for herself she knows good from evil. It is good, she reasons, to be like God. It is good for her to trust herself and her own reason. She does not even seek guidance from Adam. She has already isolated her self; she is well and truly alone. It is not good for the man to be alone God said and so it proves to be true. Communion dies in independence and individuality.
She plucks. She bites. She hands it to Adam. Was there a conversation? Did he fear she would excel beyond him? Was it self-preservation that led him to take it from her hand? Did he not want to risk losing her? He already doubted. He already feared. Trust was already gone. His outstretched hand was merely a symbol of the sin within.
He took. He ate.
Fear gripped. Love died. Communion died.
He ran. He hid. All was lost.