As we continue to look at the account of creation and the fall, we see that from the very beginning God loved blessing Adam. He didn’t create Adam quite like the other animals. He made Adam in his own image, and He made him to rule over all the rest of the creation. God placed Adam in a special luscious garden He had created, and He gave Adam the privilege of naming all of the animals and birds. The Lord saw that Adam needed a companion, and then blessed him with a beautiful wife, Eve. As we learn later in Genesis 3:8, God would often take a walk thru the garden, and so Adam and God had a face to face personal relationship, something that we can only long for.
When God placed Adam in the luscious garden, he did make one stipulation, and here is where many of us may begin to derail. God told Adam that he could eat from any tree in the garden, except for the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and if he disobeyed, he would surely die (Genesis 2:15-17). This tree held wisdom that was for God alone. God knows what is best for us, but Adam and Eve wanted to take matters into their own hands. It wasn’t enough to be made in God’s image, they wanted to be like God. Now isn’t this just like our children? We give them and inch, and they take a mile. Only God had given Adam way more than an inch. He had given him the Kingdom.
The serpent then tempts Eve, and she falls for it. Adam goes along with Eve, and before they know it, what God said would happen, did. Their eyes were opened and they were ashamed. Notice that it was not the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge itself that would make them die, as if it were poisonous or magical, but instead, it was the awareness of how unholy and unrighteous they were compared to God’s own glory. They hid from Him, and the consequence of their sin was now total separation from God, a spiritual death. This was not because of God’s anger or even his punishment, but this was the natural consequences of their own sin. Consider when you tell your kids not to do something so they won’t get hurt. You don’t tell them all the details such as it is slippery and you will fall, or it is so high and your foot could slip. But, as you are consoling a crying child, kissing hurts, or rushing to the emergency room, don’t you think to yourself, why didn’t they just listen to me?
So was God only speaking of a spiritual death when He told Adam that if he ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil he would surely die? No, in fact, now that Adam and Eve carried an eternal shame in their hearts, it would now carry over into all of their offspring, and so God needed to protect them even further. This time He would not give them the opportunity to disobey. God banned Adam and Eve from the garden, “lest he take also from the Tree of Life and eat and live forever.” (Genesis 3:22) If God had allowed Adam to remain in the garden, he might have eaten from this tree that would have given him everlasting life. God knew that would be the worst outcome of this whole scenario, all mankind living in a state of separation from Him for all of eternity, and thus physical death entered the picture.
In God’s goodness, He protected Adam and Eve and all of humanity from a terrible fate. He also provided a proper covering for Adam and Eve from the skin of an animal to cover over their shame. Thus, Adam and God’s spiritual relationship was restored, but they still carried with them the consequence of their sin. Romans 5:12 states, “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all have sinned.”
Here is the answer to many of the hard questions. This was not what God originally created. He did not create evil, and the things that occur in this world are a result of Adam’s sin. Yes, in His omniscience and foresight, He did know the path that Adam would ultimately take, which is why He chose to cover Adam and Eve’s sin with the skin of an animal. This was a way for Him to restore relationship with Adam. This was a foreshadowing of the One who would come later to bring justification to all, the Light who would come to bring life to the spiritually dead, the Lamb who was slain, and the Word who was present at creation. “For just as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one man [Jesus] the many will be made righteous,” Romans 5:19. God has been good since the beginning of time. It is His very nature and He has not changed.
In Hard Questions Part 3: Compassion, I will show that God is often heart broken by the atrocities that occur here on this earth, but that He works through them, and that He has a plan to ultimately deliver us from the hardships of this world.