A relative of mine who identifies as an atheist–though he once claimed to be a Christian–struggles with the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In fact, I think many atheists view the story as a setup: God was setting Adam and Eve up to fail; it was a “gotcha” moment.
Of course, as a Christian, reading the Bible and knowing the character of God, I’ve never thought this, but today, I think I received even greater insight into why the commandment was given in the Garden of Eden.
Hebrews 5:8 – Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
The scriptures tell us that though He was/is God in human form, Jesus, being sinless, still learned obedience. I would argue that Adam and Eve, as sinless, spiritual newborns, were certainly not greater than Christ and, thus, also had to learn obedience.
So God’s commandment was an opportunity for them to learn obedience, to grow spiritually.
Additionally, and perhaps more important, the commandment in the Garden of Eden gave Adam and Eve an opportunity to show God how much they loved Him by obeying Him.
Think about this.
The commandment in the Garden of Eden was not some sinister setup so Adam and Eve could fail; it was not a “gotcha” moment. It was an opportunity–given by God–for Adam and Eve to demonstrate their love for God.
As we discussed in Do You Really Love God?, God equates hating and disobeying His commandments with hating Him (on the flip side, loving and obeying God’s commandments may be equated with loving Him).
I do not know how much physical interaction there was between God and Adam and Eve in the Garden (Old Testament Christophanies), but certainly we, today, cannot yet shower physical affection upon the Lord. How else can we show Him that we love Him? We can tell Him, but, as we all know, talk is cheap.
We show God our love by obeying Him.
John 14:15 – If ye love me, keep my commandments.
This was the opportunity that Adam and Eve were given, the opportunity they squandered in the Garden of Eden.
Every day, we must consider whether we will take advantage of or squander opportunities to demonstrate our love for God by either obeying or not obeying His Word.