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  • Writer's pictureMike

God's Greatest gift - Choice

There is a wonderful story in the Bible, in Genesis Chapter two. It lays out a story of when God gave humanity the greatest gift of all. This gift may defy your expectations, but without it,  every other gift would be meaningless.

In verse seven, the Lord God created the first human, Adam, from the dust of the ground and breathed the breath of life into him. The scene unfolds in the pristine garden of Eden, a carefully designed haven for humanity. God meticulously planted this garden, marking the beginning of our existence and outlining a profound purpose for Adam and, as they discovered their roles and relationships within this incredible setting.

As we delve into the first three chapters of Genesis, a tapestry of God's plan for humanity unfolds, revealing insights into his character. The narrative extends from the creation of a perfect environment to the tragic loss of Eden, mirroring the restorative theme found in the last three chapters of Revelation, but in reverse.

There is something striking in Genesis 2:7-9. It’s not only the creation of the garden, but the intentional design and placement of every element within it. God crafted this garden paradise with purpose and precision.

The trees were beautiful and laden with delicious fruit. The loveliness and locations were not a result of chance, but a deliberate act of creation by God. God was an intentional designer. Moving beyond mere existence, the garden was a testament to God's commitment to our sensory experience. Genesis 2:9 paints a vivid picture of the variety of trees, appealing not only to taste but also to sight. The language used, such as "beautiful" and "delicious," highlights the sensory delight God intended for humanity.

God made us sensual beings. He made us to enjoy our senses. It looked good, tasted good, it was delicious. It didn't just taste good, it was delicious. I like that language. Don’t you? Delicious. He wants you to enjoy your life, and not just to exist.

God created the senses that you and I have; our sense of smell, sense of touch, sense of sight, sense of hearing, sense of taste. He created all of those senses with all of the nerve endings and all the bundles of nerves in various parts of our body that give us extreme sense of contact with the world around us. It lets us know we're alive!

When I was a young boy, I explored those senses. My mom and dad told me, “Mike, don't touch the stove when the burner's hot,” but I was one of those kids that learned by experience, not by listening to mom and dad, which was a bad way to learn. Sadly, it was, too often, my preferred way to learn lessons. I would always get closer, closer, and then one day I was tall enough to reach and I put my hand firmly up on that burner and those red-hot coils. When I finally reached my hand up and placed it on that burner, I only had to do it once. Man, that was a lesson not to be repeated again! It was learned thoroughly and effectively. 

It's kind of like when you tell your kid not to put the paper clip or tweezers in the electric outlet. Tweezers are just perfect to slide in both sides and make a really solid contact. Of course, I tried that as well. 

It's like telling your kid on the farm not to pee on the electric fence. I’ve never met a boy who did it twice. Again, I was one of those kids that learned by experience and not by the sage wisdom of my parents. 

Some of those things in life, we would be better off to have learned by listening instead of by trying ourselves, by experimentation. But God gives us those choices. He allows us to learn and grow and experience consequences. He gives guidance: parents, teachers, wisdom and knowledge, available everywhere, ready at our fingertips. And we have the opportunity to learn in a thousand ways. 

All of the creative expressions that we have: art, music, written language and oratory, architecture, everything that we do, God implanted and designed in humanity to be expressed so that we would have a life that's not simply existence, but enjoyment of that existence.

That's what the Garden of Eden was about. God built it, designed it, architecturally structured it. He planned and purposed everything to cater to the greatest of desires and needs of his human children. 

He could have designed us so we would plug in and have our food just pumped into us. We could have plugged in and got an energy bolt like a robot and recharged our batteries. There are so many things God could have done to fuel us, but he created something huge. He designed survival to be a beautiful and pleasurable experience.There is a lot of power in that design. There’s a lot of power in the reasons behind that. 

He surrounded the tree of life with all of the other beautiful trees, but there’s more. In the garden, there was a “Tree of Life,” strategically placed in the center of the garden. This tree held the key to eternal life, symbolizing God's desire for an everlasting connection with humanity. Revelation echoes this sentiment, illustrating the continued importance of the tree of life in the divine plan.

God's design, revealed in the garden, goes beyond mere existence. It encompasses a bigger and more abundant approach to health and well-being. The passage in Genesis 2:9 reveals that God's original plan for healthy living involves not just physical health but a sensory-rich, abundant, and enjoyable experience. When God created this world, he set the perfect picture of what healthful living, healthful eating was supposed to be.

So many people are fixated on restriction, on dieting and the so-called benefits of strict or extreme exercise - focusing in on the unpleasant. Even in the church sometimes there is this false concept or idea in church about “health reform.” You might use that term loosely, because many people have been… tortured… by what sour-face souls have called health reform: their “healthy eating,” “healthy living.” It didn't look good. It didn't taste good. Yet somehow, when it’s unpalatable to my eyes, unpalatable to my nose, unpalatable to my tongue, I'm supposed to believe that it's going to be really good for my stomach and the rest of my organs in my body. That just doesn’t make sense. Reading Genesis 2, I am so glad God outlines the true picture of what he has planned for us.

Truly healthy living should look good. It should smell good. It should taste good. It should make us happy. It should invite and welcome us in. That's way more than just diet, by the way. Healthy relationships should be like that too, shouldn't they? They should feel good, shouldn’t they? They should be like a Hallmark movie, with the fireplace crackling and the warmth just drawing you in on a cold, snowy day. Real relationships should make you want to be there and to participate.

Genesis says the trees were beautiful and they produced delicious fruit. The tree of knowledge of good and evil was positioned alongside the tree of life. This tree is a poignant symbol. Rather than placing it at a safe distance, God intentionally exposed them to the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Why? It was, more than anything, a symbol of God's commitment to freedom of choice. It was actually a gift to Adam and Eve - a constant reminder of their ability to choose.

In Genesis 2:8-9, God planted the garden and filled it with all sorts of trees.. that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. Then, “in the middle” of that abundance, he planted the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This is extremely significant. He filled the garden with various options of fruit trees of different colors, flavors, smells, trees whose fruit perpetuated daily life. He said they could “freely eat the fruit of every tree,” showing how God values and protect our preferences. He does not dictate or choose for us. He made an amazing playground (this world) and the told them to go and enjoy it. He filled the garden with many reasons not to eat the forbidden tree; he made it easy to obey. 

At the same time, there were no fences or trenches around the tree. Easy access reminded them every day that they could always “freely” reach out and help themselves to its fruit, as well. This actually has profound implications for every aspect of our lives. It lays the foundation for God’s plan for humanity in every age. Like with the trees, we are free to choose our relationships, careers, neighborhoods, lifestyles, hobbies, diet, dress, and much more. He has never intended to make our choices for us. It is for us to choose and enjoy.

The tree of knowledge of good and evil, is often viewed as a test of loyalty, and true, it was, but it was more. It was a living demonstration of God's paramount commitment to free will. The tree was not a mere loyalty test, but a promise. Its central placement emphasizes God's respect for human freedom. Every time they walked through the garden, every time they ate from a tree, every time they would reach to eat from the tree of life, they would see and be confronted by the tree of knowledge of good and evil, an incredible symbol of God’s eternal commitment to our freed of choice. This tree and it’s prominent placement was a constant foreshadowing of another tree of choice, a tree that brought the greatest clarity about good and evil: the tree on Calvary where our Lord sealed with his own blood his commitment to our freedom of choice.

In placing these two trees side by side, God shows us what love is (and how to demonstrate it to others). You cannot have true love or loyalty unless an individual has the freedom to say no, as well as to say yes. In God's plan, it was more important to take the risk of the loss of the loyalty than it was to take away that freedom of choice. He could have made us like robots, but he didn’t. He valued love and loyalty, intelligently given, far too much to do that.

Genesis 2 unveils a masterful tapestry of God's intentional design, from the beauty and abundance of the garden to the significance of the trees of life and of knowledge of good and evil. This narrative serves as a foundation for understanding God's greatest gift – the freedom to choose. God's commitment to our freedom of choice, as depicted in the garden, becomes a profound revelation of His character and love for humanity.


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