The human race faces seemingly insurmountable problems. More than seven billion of us on the earth and we can’t climb out of the mess we’ve made. Politics doesn’t work, religion doesn’t work, sending good vibes around the planet doesn’t work. We treat each other with little to no respect and care even less.
The first step in solving a problem is identifying the problem. Step two is controlling the problem. Another way of understanding the process is the management phrase – “Name It and Tame It.”
Identifying the problem includes knowing what it is, where it came from, how it works and where it’s going. Controlling the problem includes “knowing, reasoning, choosing and behaving.”
Let’s use those management techniques in identifying and controlling Satan’s attack on the human race.
The “root” of our problem is in a tree – a very specific tree. It was called “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” It was in the same garden with all the other trees God had created, along with another special tree known as “the tree of life.”
Observe each aspect of this tree – “knowledge of good and evil.” It was a tree of “knowledge.” The Hebrew word is da’at and means “belief, perception, skill, understanding, wisdom, knowledge.” It comes from the root word yada (to know). It was a tree that had the knowledge of “good and evil.” Notice that the tree did not have knowledge of good “or” evil; it was the tree of the knowledge of good “and” evil. Just one fruit – not two. The wording implies the idea that the knowledge of one would necessarily include knowledge of the other.
“The 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.” Genesis 2:8-9
Who planted the garden eastward in Eden? Who put the man He formed in the garden? Who created the ground? Who made every tree grow out of the ground? Who planted the tree of life in the middle of the garden? Who planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden?
God did. God planted the garden. God put the man He formed in the garden. God created the ground. God made every tree grow out of the ground. God planted the tree of life in the middle of the garden. God planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden.
Now we’re getting somewhere. God is the source. We start with God. He planted the garden and placed the man He formed in the garden with all those trees. What did God want the man to do with the trees in the garden?
“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 2:15-17
God took the man He formed and placed him in the garden of Eden “to tend and keep it.” The Hebrew word for “tend” means to “work, labor,” as in tilling the ground and dressing a vineyard. The word for “keep” means to “protect, keep safe, guard, watch.” Adam had two responsibilities to God concerning the garden: work it and protect it. The work makes sense, but protect from what?
The garden was a dangerous place. We usually think of the Garden of Eden as being a safe paradise, but God knew what was lurking nearby. That’s why He told man to “keep” the garden – watch, guard, protect.
The danger was in something God called “the knowledge of good and evil.” He expanded on the danger by explaining the consequences of not protecting 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 surely die.” Death. That’s real. It’s not hypothetical or theory. Death means losing life. Death is loss. God told the man that the very thing He had just breathed into him (life) could be taken away from him by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The danger was near, but God warned the man about the danger and what to do – “don’t eat.”
Another key to identifying the problem is the word “command.” “And the Lord God commanded the man.” The Hebrew word for “command” in Genesis 2:16 means “to charge, appoint, constitute.” The word does not connote a request. It’s a command from the Commander. That goes to the root of the problem, which helps us identify the problem.
God plants a garden, places the man He formed in the garden, tells him to work in the garden and protect the garden, then tells him to eat freely from every tree in the garden except for one – “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.” That’s the extent of the command.
We’re making some good headway here, but there’s still more to identifying the problem. The danger is not necessarily the problem. The command is not the problem. So, what’s the problem? There was someone else other than God who also had knowledge of good and evil. That was the danger to man.
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’? … So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” Genesis 3:1, 6-7
We just identified the problem. Satan, who also knew the knowledge of good and evil, used his cunning to attack. The man ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and his eyes were opened. The man did not protect the garden from Satan’s attack. He did not protect his wife from Satan’s attack. Satan deceived the woman, she gave the man fruit from the tree and he ate it. The man God formed and placed in the garden disobeyed God’s command. God explained to the man his responsibilities and warned him about danger in the garden. God told the man what would happen to him if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but the man disobeyed God and ignited the problem. The man now knew the knowledge of good and evil and with that knowledge came a deluge of problems on all of humanity since that time.
As I mentioned earlier, controlling the problem includes understanding how the problem began. That the problem exists is obvious from the text.
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise…”
The woman listened to what the serpent said, looked at the tree and considered what she believed to be the benefits to her and her husband. She thought, “this is good for food, it’s certainly pleasant to look at, and it will make us wise.” The woman understood the meaning of the word “knowledge” to include the concept of wisdom and saw it as a “desirable” thing. That was her reasoning. What came next was her choice.
“… she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”
The woman chose to take the fruit and eat it. She also chose to give the fruit to her husband and he chose to eat it. Knowing led to reasoning which led to choosing. The next step was behavior – the action that follows choice.
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” Genesis 3:7-8
Just as God had told them, eating from the tree of the “knowledge” of good and evil led to the knowledge that they were “naked.” The Hebrew word is eyrom and comes from the word arom, which means “shrewd, crafty, cunning.” In Genesis 2:25 they were naked “and were not ashamed.” That changed when they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan had told the woman that “in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” However, what really happened was “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked.” Satan knew what they would see when their eyes were opened, so he lied to them. That’s what Satan does – he lies (John 8:44).
This new knowledge, that they were naked, changed their behavior toward each other and God. They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings, then they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord. Behavior follows knowledge, reasoning and choice.
We will see that repeated throughout history as we continue to look at Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack.” In our next post we’ll look at “taming” the problem when we see how God revealed His plan to resolve the problem the human race found itself facing for the first time.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”