Why Did God Create the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in Eden?

The Tree of Knowledge, painting by Lucas Crana...

The Tree of Knowledge, painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever watch a movie where the opening scene took you into the middle of the story with the most drama, and then the next scene went back to the past to explain how the opening scene unfolded? Well the story of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is very similar. We have to ask why God even bothered creating the earth, Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, the serpent and all the trees in it. What happened before Creation and why did Jesus Christ eventually have to be tempted and to overcome that temptation? Why was the story of Job necessary?

First, the Temptation.

We can probably safely assume that Eve must have been curious about acquiring a higher level of knowledge and wisdom. And exactly where that curiosity came from inside her is not fully explained, though there is an intrinsic desire to learn built into each of us. 2 Corinthians 11:3 shows us that the serpent, possessed by Satan, used subtle guile to seduce Eve to desire more wisdom. It worked. Eve gave in, and Adam was right by her side knowing full well God’s warning to him about the tree. The Lord is not pleased, and so He repeats the death sentence and changed the relationship between man and woman and decrees that agriculture will be tough to manage.

But why put such a potentially dangerous tree in the garden in the first place? Did God set up Adam and Eve for failure?

No.

Like the movie tactic mentioned earlier, let’s flash back to Heaven before man was created. Over a period of time, Lucifer desired to be like the God of Wisdom, so his arrogance puffed his ego up. He influenced a third of all angels to follow him instead of the Lord God. This strategy must have taken some time. Being a heavenly being, Lucifer fully knew who God was, yet still chose to rebel. The Lord God probably gave him a chance to repent, but most likely his ego locked him into his goal of overthrowing God.

So God kicked him out as there was no room found in Heaven for Satan and his fallen angels.

Satan on his way to bring about the downfall o...

Satan on his way to bring about the downfall of Adam. Gustave Doré’s illustration for Paradise Lost by John Milton. Paradise Lost Book III, lines 739-742 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Christian concept of apocatastasis include...

The Christian concept of apocatastasis includes a restoration of the world to its original state, as in the Garden of Eden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But if there was no place found in Heaven, where would a place be found? Now we have come full circle with our story. In Genesis chapter 1, God created the heavens and the earth, where “heavens” means the sky and atmosphere, not the Kingdom of Heaven where God sits on His throne. So the Lord prepared a place for the fallen angels, which is where the darkness (void) comes from in the same chapter. God is a God of light, so the absence of light would be wickedness, also called darkness.

Why create humans amid all the darkness? Jesus tells us to let our lights shine. This is a clue as to what Adam and Eve were supposed to do. Had they not given in to temptation, their lights would have shined victorious over Satan and his kingdom of darkness. And then the Lord would have let them enjoy the fruit of the tree of Life which would have given them eternity in their victorious state, which would have meant no more evil forever. All they had to do was trust the Lord at His word and not waver.

But they failed miserably. Presumably, Satan intervened before Adam and Eve could make their way to the Tree of Life (they avoided the trees in the middle of the garden, judging by Eve’s response to the serpent). Had they made it to the Tree of Life first, we can assume that Satan would have been defeated permanently.

Nonetheless, Satan and his demons made their kingdom of darkness spread through the earth, causing their attempt at uniting man under this evil kingdom to be destroyed when God destroyed the Tower of Babel. This kingdom would expand again among men, which then led the Lord to unleash the flood during Noah’s era, frustrating Satan’s attempt at holding mankind hostage as if to seek some kind of ransom from our Heavenly Father. Then came Abraham, who actually resisted Satan’s temptation and did right by the Lord. And just as God chose Adam to be victorious over Satan, God chose Abraham and his seed to be victorious over Satan. Unfortunately, Abraham’s seed did not always resist temptation, which led the 10 tribes of Israel to be kicked out of the land of Israel, just as Adam and Eve were kicked out of Eden. Both Eden and Jerusalem were not important – it’s what they spiritually represent: a spiritual base (earthly kingdom) for overcoming Satan’s dark kingdom. Like the 10 Tribes, the remaining three tribes under Judah also failed, despite the many prophets like Daniel and Isaiah that God sent to warn them. And as the Parable of the Tenants explain, God finally sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to guide them out of Satan’s dark kingdom and back into the light. But they also rejected Him, so God rejected them once and for all (as a chosen group, not as individuals seeking salvation), kicking them out of Jerusalem just like He kicked out Adam and Eve and the 10 Tribes.

With Jesus Christ sealing the victory over the kingdom of darkness once and for all, there is no more need to get kicked out. We can become citizens of the New Jerusalem that Satan can never touch or thwart. That is why Jesus reveals Himself as the Giver of the Tree of Life:

Revelation 2:7

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.