1.4 The Garden of Eden

God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to work in it and take care of it (Gen 2:15).  Adam gave names to all the animals and birds.  God then created Eve out of Adam, because

        "It is not good for man to be alone" (Gen 2:18).   

Thus, in the original relationship of God and man, there was a condition of peace and fellowship among all parties:  God, man, woman, nature.  Conflict, sin, and death were not a part of the original recipe.

        God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (Gen 1:31).  

Yet there were two other elements present in the Garden.  The first is the reality of human freedom:

        And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;  but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die" (Gen 2:16-17).

In giving this command and setting the consequences of disobedience, God made possible human choice.   He made man a being with the ability of self-determination.  Man becomes a "namer," not just of the animals, and of Eve (Gen 3:20), but also of his own nature and future.  He can choose to obey the command of God (and live), or disobey and die.  This capacity in man is so basic to his nature that it even precedes the creation of Eve!

 

The second element present in the Garden was evil.  This evil was external to man, and prior to his creation:

        Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made (Gen 3:1).

        We are not given any further information at this point about the origin of evil or its incarnation in the serpent (Satan).  We note the following aspects of the temptation of Eve:

        a.  It is the intersection of the two elements, human freedom and external evil, that makes temptation possible.
        b.  the purpose of evil is to spoil the harmony of the Garden, to disrupt the entire Creation.
        c.  this means that God is the primary target of the serpent.
        d.  the serpent can get to God through Adam, who is made in the image of God.
        e.  the serpent can get to Adam through Eve, who was "taken out of" Adam (Gen 2:22).
        f.   the attack is not physical in nature, not an overt threat to life or body.
        g.  the attack is through man's God-given point of vulnerability: his ability to chose his own way.
        h.  man is not forced to disobey God, he must consciously choose to do so.
        i.   the root of sin is the serpent's denial of the truth of God's command:

        "You will not surely die" (Gen 3:4).

        j.  the lies of the serpent are enhanced by an emotional element:  the fruit is "good," "pleasing" and "desirable" (Gen 3:6).
       k. Eve committed sin prior to eating the fruit -- the moment she removed her trust in God and believed the serpent instead.
        l.  Eve spreads her disobedience to Adam (Gen 3:6).  Sin is contagious.
        m. Sin is revelatory:

        "Then the eyes of both of them were opened" (Gen 3: 7). 

        n. Sin is transformational.  It changes human character and relationships:

         "They realized they were naked" (Gen 3:7).

        o. There is no going back, it cannot be undone.
        p. The result of sin is the breaking of the unity that had existed between God and man, man and woman, and mankind and animals.
        q.  The serpent has authority over mankind.
        r.  Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden (Gen 3:)