Yesterday I told the story of how Adam and Eve fell. (If you haven’t read it, do. My re-telling contains hints that will relate to this post. ) Was the story literally true — did it actually happen? Many of the stories in the bible which are rich in metaphor are also literal, historical events. Others may be mythic lore — that carrier of deep truths and ancient mysteries. I have no idea which category this story fits into, but here’s my interpretation of the deeper meaning of the tale:
First I need to backtrack a little and explain something that has, until recently, been somewhat of a mystery to me. Remember how God said, “Let Us create man in our image”? Many people get confused about that. What is the image of God? God said, “Let Us . . .” God is not an individual. God is a community; the Godhead; Father, Son, Holy Spirit; the Trinity. God, being a community, made mankind in His image; a community. He created Adam and then He took Eve out of Adam. Mankind was created to be one as God is One, and mankind was created to be one with God — not divine, but sharing in the nature of God. All that came to a screeching halt when Adam chose the wrong tree, but of course God knew this would happen.
The two trees are called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the Tree of Life. The tree of knowledge did contain the knowledge of good and evil as promised. It also contained spiritual death. When Adam and Eve ate from it, they died spiritually. The life of God left them. Why? The tree of knowledge also contained the nature of Satan, who is the chief of the fallen angels. When our first parents ate from that tree, they took into themselves the nature of the devil. We call it the sin nature. For the love of his own independent, self-controlled knowledge, Adam gave up divine life. We, including most Christians, still feed primarily on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil today.
The Tree of Life contains life, as promised. It also contains the nature of God. The Tree of Life is a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ. Since we have all things in Christ, had Adam and Eve chosen to eat from the Tree of Life, they would also have received all things, including knowledge, in Jesus. Had they eaten from the Tree of Life, they would not have then turned and eaten from the tree of knowledge. There would have been neither need nor motivation.
But they didn’t. They ate from the wrong tree. And a fundamental change happened in them. In place of their spiritual connection with God, they now had within themselves the sin nature. They chose to believe the lie that they would be like God. The ironic thing was that they were already like God. But when they chose individualism over community, they no longer looked like God. Now, they looked like Satan, who was the original individualist — the original free thinker — the original self-made . . . um . . . angel. All the things that we in the western world, and particularly in the American western mid-west so admire? Straight from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
God’s response? Check back in tomorrow.