One of the common questions about the story of Adam and Eve is why did God put the tree in the Garden? If God’s only rule was to not eat from this tree, why wouldn’t He put it somewhere else? Why not surround it with a moat and river full of hungry alligators?
Why did God need to put the put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the Garden?
The tree needed to be in the Garden of Eden to establish our free will. If the tree wasn’t easily accessible, humans wouldn’t have free will. Our only option would be to follow God and His commandments, and that’s not the type of relationship that God desired.
The Bible tells us that the tree of knowledge of good and evil was in the Garden of Eden with all of the other trees. And it didn’t look poisonous. When Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan, the tree looked like it had good fruit that would benefit her.
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”
Genesis 3:6 NIV
Not only was the tree easily accessible, it also wasn’t ugly or covered with thorns. We might think that God made a mistake by putting a tree that looked good in the garden, and then telling Adam and Eve not to eat from it.
And, since God is all-knowing, didn’t He already know that Adam and Eve would take and eat from the tree?
So, why even put it there? And why bother giving Adam and Eve rules if they were going to break them?
The tree of knowledge of good and evil needed to be in the Garden to establish a healthy relationship between us and God.
If the tree wasn’t accessible and appetizing, there wouldn’t be free will. Our only option would be to follow God and His commandments. Without free will, there isn’t a healthy relationship. If a wife is forced to stay with her husband and has no other option, the couple doesn’t have a relationship founded on real love.
Real love always requires a choice, and the freedom to turn away and leave. God’s desire for us is to have a relationship that’s based on true love. We need to make the choice to love God and we can only make that choice if there’s another viable option.
The tree needed to look good because it needed to be a viable option.
This might sound like a silly example, but if we’re given the choice between eating a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie and broken glass, we’re always going to choose the cookie. In that situation, there is only one viable option. Eating broken glass isn’t viable, and we might choose the cookie simply out of fear of getting hurt, not because we love a warm cookie.
Some people will tell you that God’s will always happens. Or if something happened, good or bad, it must’ve been God’s will. The story in Genesis 3 proves this to be wrong.
A “will” is simply something that you want to happen. God’s will is described like this:
to desire (wish, will), wanting what is best (optimal) because someone is ready and willing to act. This is commonly used of the Lord extending His “best-offer” to the believer.
So, since God knew they would eat from the tree, and He still decided to put it in the middle of the Garden, was it God’s will?
No, it was not God’s will. God made His will—what He wanted Adam and Eve to do—very clear in Genesis 2:17 when He said, “you must not eat from the tree.” God’s desire was for Adam and Eve to decide to listen to Him and not to eat from the tree. God doesn’t interfere with their free choice to not listen. God extended His “best offer” to Adam and Eve, but couldn’t do any more if He wanted them to have free will.
In order to maintain a loving relationship and not force us into slavery, God tells us what His will is, but He always allows us to make our own decisions. We have the option to do things that go directly against God’s will. We might suffer from the consequences of our stupid behaviors, but God won’t stop us.
God’s perfect will is for us to choose to follow Him. And even thought that’s what He wants more than anything, He will never force us to make that decision.