Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:8-9
A little trivia to start: The Bible tells us that the land in which God’s garden is located is called Eden, however we are never actually given the name of the garden itself, only the name of the land in which it is located. But one thing’s for sure, the word Eden means delightful, and we do know from the Bible that without a doubt, whatever the name of the garden, God’s garden was a delightful place to live.
Notice that in the middle of His garden God puts both the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “Why?” You may be asking. “Why include the forbidden tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in the middle of the delightful garden? Why ruin a perfect place with a forbidden tree?” The answer is that God desired a meaningful relationship with Adam and Eve, and a meaningful relationship requires a choice.
Marriage and Slavery
Hadijatou Mani is a 24 year old woman from the Sahel region of Nigeria, on the Southern fringe of the Sahara. Hadijatou’s story is the story of someone who wasn’t given a choice. When she was just 12 years old she was sold to a man named Souleymane Naroua. When she was just 13 she was raped by her master and forced to bear his children. A few years ago she tried to marry another man but her master took her to court, claiming that Hadijatou was already married — to him. Incredibly, the judge found Hadijatou guilty of bigamy! Where’s the meaning in the relationship between Hadijatou and her master? Where’s the love? There’s none to be found whatsoever.
Love and Choice
“In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9) I don’t think it a coincidence that the tree of life and the forbidden tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, were positioned in the middle of the garden, in close proximity to each other. Central to the garden were the two trees, the tree of life and the forbidden tree. Central to a relationship with meaning is a choice. God had to provide a choice to make it possible for Adam and Eve to have a loving and meaningful relationship with Him.
Like the relationship between Hadijatou and her master, a relationship without a choice is slavery and rape.
Love requires a choice.
Adam and Eve had a choice.
So do you and I.
Choose God. Choose Jesus.
[Image via Richard Keen, Creative Commons]
Related articles and resources:
Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Vol. 1, Nelson 2005