It was an unimaginable act of mercy when the Lord banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and guarded the Tree of Life with cherubim and flaming sword. (Gen 3:24) There was another tree, too, that held in its fruit the knowledge of good and evil. When tempted, they quite literally took the bait, and knew good and evil in an instant. God, though, infinite in wisdom and mercy since before time began, forbade thereafter that they eat of the Tree of Life. God the Just knew that if He allowed Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of Life, they’d continue for eternity in their fallen, sinful state. What mercy to allow for their earthly lives to not last an eternity. What mercy to one day send a Savior.
We face the same temptation today, from the same serpent. Though we know good and evil, we don’t have the mind of God. We are constantly being told the lie that we might have a chance at knowing what God knows, and all we end up with is confusion and misdirection. Once we veer off the straight and narrow, the devil has a foothold, and not a second later comes the deceit that there’s no way out of the mess we’re in. So we open one trash bag after the other, examining their contents over and over, hoping to sort it all out into what’s good and what’s bad. What would the Lord say of this? “You’re sitting in the middle of a landfill, trying to sort trash”? He’d be the only one who’d know what happens to it all. “I’ll reuse that one. Those will be buried. These things will decompose and be gone before you know it”, He says, “I am doing a new thing. I’ll make a way in the wilderness.” (Is 43:19)
All of this confusion, parsing, examination, fear – all of that – does it not sow back into what the enemy is trying to cultivate? Do not fret – it only tends to evil. (Ps 37:8b) We still believe the original lie that our earthly knowledge is equal to the sovereignty of God. If we knew what God knows, fear would always lay trampled beneath our feet, because we would act as God acts. “The only thing you need to know,” He says, “is that I am God. Be still.” (Ps 46:10) It’s easier in thought than action, to be certain.
Listen to David:
“My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.” (Ps 131)
O that we would be content as a child who know longer cries for its mother’s milk. Father, let it be that our concern is not set on things we can’t understand. Grant us the comfort of knowing we are with you, as a child is with its mother. Let us know what it might be like to walk in freedom with you in the cool of the day. (Gen 3:8)
The very thing that frees us from trying to organize chaos is the thing that Adam and Eve forfeited on that fateful day in Eden: closeness with the Father. Adam and Eve’s desire for knowledge – to know the things that God saw and they didn’t – ruined the only thing they needed and already had. Did they know the gravity of what they’d done? Did they know the state into which they thrust all of humanity? Did they see the mercy bestowed on them? Did they trust God that He’d continue to act on that mercy through the ages? Did they know they’d received a strange freedom from eternal death? And did they believe that He would give that same mercy again one day, when the serpent’s head would be crushed (Gen 3:15) by His Son?
Do we believe it? Do we believe that, though we were banished from the Tree of Life, we have access to another Tree of Life to which our dying Savior was nailed?
As our eyes are fixed on Jesus, and as we walk the straight and narrow path (though it be lined with trials and confusion and garbage) may the Father’s will of sanctification be done by our communion with Him. With our eyes fixed on the Son, may the Father’s desire for us to be made like Him be brought to completion at the time we tangibly arrive at His feet. May it be, that as we are being transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18), we wouldn’t chase after more knowledge of how it will come to pass, rather that we would seek more and more and more of the One who will make it so.