Why Make That Tree?

tree of the knowledge of good and evilThe LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 

Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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 surely die.” (Genesis 2:8-9; 15-17) 

Knowing who God is, it’s easy to understand His reasons for making the tree of life. After all, God is Love (1 John 4:8). He is merciful, gracious … and His character is such that He wants to share His eternal life with mankind whom He created in His image. 

But what was the purpose of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? 

Theologians, philosophers and Christian apologists have written much on this subject. The basic answer boils down to this: God made the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to give mankind something that God Himself obviously possesses … the power of choice. Free will is God’s gift to us. 

Without the power to choose, obedience would not have been optional, it would have been the only option. If obedience were not optional, then true love would have been impossible. Build a robot and program it to say “I love you, I love you.” That is not real love. It’s only mimicry. 

What an amazing truth: the God of all creation made us so we could choose to have and enjoy a love relationship with Him. He desires to share Himself with His creatures, to extend His family, to bless them with the knowledge of Himself. 

This is our greatest purpose. As the Westminster Catechism puts it, Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”  

A.W. Tozer writes in The Pursuit of God “With this agree the four and twenty elders who fall on their faces to worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, saying, ‘Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.’” 

For Further Review

1.  In your own words, jot down God’s purpose for making the tree of life. How does this bless and strengthen you today?

2.  Now jot down the purpose for God making the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in your own words. How is this purpose a blessing in your life?

3.  What do you think about the statement of the Westminster Catechism. Do you agree with it? Disagree? If you agree, how can you live your life today in a way that fulfills this statement?

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  1. February 18, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Hi Bill! Thanks for the post. I am continually in awe when Ephesians tells us that before the foundation of the world He had already had the plan of adoption through Christ in place, and that He did so in love. I keep bringing myself back to this when I feel lousy about myself—He loved me before the foundation of the world, and He did so knowing the tree would lead to the cross!—He wasn’t surprised by our choice, He had a plan of sacrifice in place before it, and He allowed it out of love for us. Wow!
    Thanks for all you are and do, Bill. You are a blessing.
    Erick

  2. February 23, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    excellent insight!
    “Without the power to choose, obedience would not have been optional, it would have been the only option”

    I’ve also tinkered with the concept that when Mankind was tempted by satan on the garden, free will must have been “in play”, otherwise, man was “willed by God” to sin?

  3. February 24, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Thanks, Pastor Deano.

    I agree with your concept … I don’t think there’s any other conclusion.

  4. February 24, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Thanks, Erick. Amen to the place you keep returning to. That’s a wonderful, and Biblical way to deal with our self-concept … to have a proper self-concept, which can only come from the truth of God’s Word.

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