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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Two Trees in the Middle of the Garden

Genesis 2:8-9 (NIV)
8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground--trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Two trees stand in the middle of the Garden. Adam and Eve can eat freely of one and have life. The other has a warning. If you eat of this tree you will receive a sentence of death. Somehow death scared them even though they had never seen it. I guess the fear of death is embedded in them. It is something created to protect them.

I don't know how many times they went to eat of the tree of life but it seems reasonable that they passed by the other tree. It was called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. How could knowledge be bad? What was it that they would know if they ate? These had to be some of the questions in their minds before Satan arrived. I think we get the idea that Satan comes to us when we have had no thoughts of doing something evil, wrenches our will away from us and makes us do things we shouldn't but more often we find him arriving when we have already started down the wrong path.

Innocence brings life and knowledge brings death in this case. This knowledge was not the type that calculates the distance to the moon or determines how far two trains will take to arrive at the same point. This is the knowledge of things that will hurt us. This is the knowledge of knowing the pain you have caused your spouse because you have been unfaithful. This is the knowledge of knowing the estrangement you have with your parents because you have dishonored them.

Somehow the thrill of what we don't know gets the best of us. We justify it. We eat of this tree even though the tree of life is still in sight. We are willing to accept the words of someone who promises to give us something better than what God has for us. We challenge the promise of death and accept the lies of greatness.

Why did God have to put that tree there in the first place? I suppose that tree has to exist. There is no real devotion without the ability to be unfaithful. I suppose the marriage ceremony would make no sense if there was no possibility of unfaithfulness. The act of commitment means that you must reject anything outside of that commitment. The act of love means that you can't act outside of love. The act of worship means that you must act within what worship entails.

In front of all of us stands the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We will set our own destinies by which we choose. One still promises death- the death of our relationships with our spouses, the estrangement from God, dry, dull spiritual lives. The thrills it promises must be met with greater and greater thrills so that we don't notice that it is killing us.

The other tree is life. It is a relationship with the Lord that brings fulfillment. It is hearing Him speak. It is walking with Him in the cool of the evening.

Two trees are standing in the middle of our gardens. Which will we choose?

We can't have it both ways.

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