Continuing from Fox Byte #2, how do we learn what God’s definition of order is? How do we learn anything? Reading is a good way to learn, but most people I know are not really interested in reading more than they have to. The truth is, the way we learn best is from other people – hanging out with them, watching them, listening to them, trying to imitate them. Do you suppose God designed us to learn that way?
The Bible tells us that God gave human beings a list of rules so we would understand how to relate to Him and how to treat each other (see Matthew 22:34-40, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and Leviticus 19:18). We call them mitzvot, or commandments. Good things happen when we keep God’s commandments. We call those good things blessings. However, learning about the commandments takes some effort, and living by them takes even more effort. After all, they are not written like a novel. Most of them are in the first five books of the Bible, which Christians call the Pentateuch and Jews call the Torah. Reading them is sometimes like reading a legal document, and sometimes it’s hard to see how these commandments apply to people today.
Do you think God intended it that way? Maybe not. In the beginning God gave human beings only one commandment. Genesis 2:16-17 says:
And the LORD God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”
Do you believe that eating a plant can make someone smart? That’s what the fruit of this tree apparently did (see Genesis 3:4). I have no problem believing such a thing. If one cup of coffee early in the morning can turn zombies back into real people, then surely a plant in God’s perfect garden could have an even greater effect on the intellect!
Yet the Bible says the fruit of that tree causes death. Why? Maybe it’s because the humans who wanted to eat the fruit had to make a choice. If they didn’t eat it, they could hang around with God and learn directly from Him. If they did eat, they would become their own little gods and have the responsibility of figuring out stuff on their own.
Before they ate the fruit they followed God around the garden and shared His special secrets. It was something like what little children do when they follow their mothers around the kitchen. Those who stay close to their mothers learn their mothers’ special secrets. Eventually learn everything they need to know about how to prepare delicious and nutritious things that will bless the whole family. But what happens if the children want to start cooking Beef Stroganoff before learning the basic safety procedures? What if the children decide the mother is keeping secrets from them because she doesn’t want them to grow up? What if they try to throw the mother out of the kitchen and take over? I can tell you what my mother would have done: she would have thrown us out of the kitchen after giving us a hefty dose of severe punishment, and then she would have turned us over to our father for a timely (and painful) reminder about the importance of respecting our parents.
Perhaps it was not so different for our ancestors in God’s garden. After they ate the fruit, they were like little kids who decided to be all grown up before they were ready. Since they didn’t want to follow God around the kitchen anymore, they were no longer in a position to learn from Him directly. So God did the next best thing: He threw them out and gave them a list of rules to read and follow.
When you think about it, what did our ancestors really gain?