God’s first command to Adam and Eve did not seem to make sense. God created many beautiful trees, but one of them was different. God told the first couple they could eat the fruit from any of the trees, with only one exception. They must have thought that obeying God doesn’t make sense. Why should one tree be off-limits?
Sometimes we must tell our children to avoid doing something that doesn’t make sense to them. To a small child, we say, “Stay out of the street.” They look at that open space where they could run or ride a tricycle. It seems like a fun place to venture into. Genesis 3:6 says that Eve saw the forbidden tree was “good for food” and “pleasant to the eyes.” How could it be possible that God was right when He said that eating from that tree would lead to death (Genesis 2:17)?
Eve knew what God had told Adam about the tree. In Genesis 3:2, she goes even further when she says that even touching it would lead to death. Was she embellishing what God had said, or had she received further warnings? Did she know that if she touched it, she would want to eat it, just like the child who is near the street wants to step into it? Like that child, did the woman even understand what death is?
God couldn’t explain to Adam and Eve why He put that tree in the garden any more than the road builders could explain to the young child why they put the street in front of his house. The “why” didn’t really matter. The point is that just as the parent who tells a child to stay out of the street is wiser than the child, so God was wiser than the newly-created couple. Just as the child must learn to obey, so did Adam and Eve.
Learning to obey wise warnings is more important than knowing the reason. When we demand an explanation, we are saying that we are our own masters and will decide what we will do. Doing what God commands even when obeying God doesn’t make sense means that we believe He knows more than we do. It means we trust God, even though our desires and our culture tell us to take a different action. We must overcome our feelings and pride to obey, even when we want to run out into that street.
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments (John 14:15). When Jesus says to love your enemies, turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and pray for your persecutors, we think, “Obeying God doesn’t make sense.” (See Matthew 5:38-48.) Like the child running into the street or Eve reaching for the forbidden fruit, we want to rebel and trust our own understanding. But we need to remember the words of Jesus in John 15:10-11, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
— Roland Earnst © 2023