The Two Trees:
Ever since I was little, I was told that sin entered the world because one man ate the fruit off the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When they ate this fruit, their eyes were opened and they saw things they never saw before. Due to their disobedience, God kicked them out of the garden before they could eat of this other fruit, the fruit from the tree of life, for if they ate this fruit then it would magically make them live forever.
I struggled with this, not that sin entered the world through one man’s disobedience, but with the magical fruit – especially as I began to learn more of how God has worked in history. It seems out of place to have this magic fruit that can give men knowledge of evil and this other magic fruit that will make man live forever. I continued to tell myself that it must be true as it’s in God’s Word, and Jesus Christ is proof that sin really did enter through the first Adam and must be dealt with – as HE is the second ADAM. But no matter how much I tried to reassure myself it seemed a bit too much like a fairy tale. I could not get around the inconsistency of this story. All the rest of Scripture leaves no room for blind forces rather only acts of God. To have this magic fruit that is so forceful that it could give life apart from The LIFE GIVER, so much so that HE has to keep man from eating it, seems out of character for the rest of Scripture.
I wondered if the account was not to be taken literally, but was some sort of allegorical account to how sin entered the world. But this contradicted too much. For example, Adam was a literal man who really sinned against God. The sin committed was actual sin as well. If chapter 3 is not literal then how does all this need for reconciliation really come about? Where doesn’t Genesis cease to be allegory and become literal? For if Adam is allegorical then his descendants must be as well since an allegorical man can’t have literal descendants. Due to this, I had to jettison the allegorical option for interpreting this as it jeopardized all of Scripture.
I believe God works miracles, I believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, I believe in the resurrection, I am a Christian; but I could not see how accepting Genesis chapter 3 as teaching that this fruit somehow contained special power to give wisdom when eaten as if an animal came along and ate it then they would have their eyes open to good and evil also. I was still left with this problem.
As I continued to wrestle with this I remembered the tree of life that is in the New Jerusalem. Was this figurative as well? If so, how much of the New Jerusalem is reality and how much is allegorical? It seems to be clearly literal, to me. This confirmed again that the trees in Eden were literal, not some sort of allegory.
In my seeking to harmonize all that was going through my mind with Scripture, I came across an article that reminded me of something I had forgotten. It seems that I had slipped back into my dispensational way of thinking thus forgetting that all through Scripture, God works in a covenantal way. A covenant has signs and seals. Take my marriage to my wife. The ring on my finger is not my marriage, nor does my ring posses the power to make me married or unmarried. It is a sign and seal of my marriage covenant. “With this ring, I the wed”, is what I told my wife, and she told me. By partaking of the forbidden fruit, they partook of the sign and seal of the covenant curse -“You shall surely die!” God is a covenant keeping God, and mercifully kept them from partaking of the sign and seal of life, He banished them from the garden keeping them from confirming humanity in their fallen state (Gen. 3:22-24).
This is an extremely truncated explanation of it all, but I simply wanted to share that I think Genesis 3 is properly viewed within a covenantal framework. This keeps the wizardry out of the fruit juice and gives one a proper view of why something as seemingly insignificant as eating one fruit over another is, in reality, so weighty a matter. It places the ramifications of life and death as results of the promises of our covenant keeping God, not some unstoppable magic contained within the fruit itself.
Because of Jesus Christ, all believers will be given to eat of the Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem! (Revelation 2:7) Ponder that, and rejoice!