For those who are starting a new reading plan this January, especially those in Genesis, I thought I’d offer a few thoughts that came to me as I read this morning:
In the Garden of Eden, ‘adam, mankind, had access to all of God’s creation. In the center of the Garden, God placed two trees: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. While God promised man that he would be able to (eventually) eat of every tree of the Garden, for now, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was barred to them. A seraph-serpent approached the woman, telling her that if she ate of the tree, she would become like God, knowing how to discern between good and evil. (Surprisingly, this part is not the lie! God confirms that this is the case later in the chapter.) The woman eats, and gives it to the man, who also eats. Their eyes were opened and they saw (judged) that they were naked. Mankind has become like God – just as God judged the creation by “seeing” that it was good, Adam and Eve now judge their own condition in “seeing” that they were in a not-good position: naked.
Unfortunately, this sin has consequences all the way down. One such consequence is that all of the thoughts of humanity turned to evil (Genesis 6). Prematurely taking the knowledge of good and evil made it so that humans could think of nothing but evil and wickedness. Man had become false judges, and gave their daughters to the sons of God, who became mighty giants, perverted incarnations, demeneted places where heaven and earth meet. God decreates the world by sending a flood, breaking down all of the divisions created in the second-sixth day of creation, leaving only Noah and his family and a few of each animal.
Thankfully, at the end of Genesis, we meet someone who can discern between good and evil rightly. Joseph goes through two death-and-resurrection cycles – one for his own sake, when he is thrown into a pit by his brothers, and a second for the sake of the world, when he is thrown into Potiphar’s prison. After the first cycle, Joseph is exalted over Egypt. After the second cycle, Joseph is exalted over the entire world. He is a matured man, who has experienced a sort of resurrection life, who has learned discernment. His brothers come to apologize for the evil that they have done, and Joseph is able to discern that everything that they meant for evil, God meant for good.
Genesis calls us to think about the true Adam, the fully matured exalted son of God and man, who can truly discern between good and evil. Emmanuel, Jesus, God-with-us, discerns between good and evil in his youth (Isaiah 7:16). When we are united to the Son by the Spirit through faith, we are then trained ourselves to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). Jesus becomes, to us, both the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil when he is hung on a tree on our behalf (Galatians 3:10-14). We then join into the life of the true Adam, the life of the age to come, with our senses trained to discern between good and evil, ourselves partaking in the true Eden ideal.