The Knowledge of Evil

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die’.”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good from evil.”

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 3:1-6 (NIV)

As their teeth pierced the fruit, a horrifying vision appeared.

They looked around and there was no longer any garden. Everything was desolation as far as they could see. Each tree stunted and leafless. The rivers dried and dead. Not a blade of grass to be seen. A strange, reddish glow from the scorching sun permeated the landscape. Cruel winds blew fiercely across the plain that, only a moment before, had been a lush and beautiful garden.

And then, in an instant, the vision was gone.

They stood where they had been before, surrounded by life. Flowers, fruit, and turf in every direction, the sun radiating its life-giving warmth, the streams bubbling along their familiar course. But that desolate feeling remained. Everything looked the same, but nothing felt right.

All that morning, they thought pensively as they sought a way to cover themselves. It was not only creation that felt wrong, their very flesh seemed tainted. At least creativity didn’t fail them; some leaves and fibers would suffice to cover the most wrong-feeling parts. But nothing could cover the uneasiness they felt in their own skin.

It was like their eyes had been opened to a new reality, but not a pleasant one. Things that had once seemed good and right were suddenly full of potential evil. Anything was possible, and they had no idea how to maintain control of the world God had given them.

For the first time, Adam noticed the overpowering size of the bear, the dreadful teeth of the lion. Hadn’t he given them their names? Yet now they had an almost frightening aspect. Eve wondered why God would allow something like that snake into such a paradise. What a lot of trouble it had caused! Maybe the Lord wasn’t quite a wise as she thought. What other details had He neglected?

Not accustomed to thinking such weighty thoughts on their own, they began to feel lonely. After dressing themselves, they sat together in silence, leaning against a thick tree trunk. They wondered what the Lord would say. Would He be able to fix whatever had gone wrong? They had never doubted Him before, but then again they had never disobeyed Him either. How far would His goodness extend? The same question ran through their minds over and over as the day faded into late afternoon.

“What have we done?”

As the sun began to sink toward the horizon, they recognized the footsteps of the Lord nearby.

He had come to enjoy the lovely moments of a fading day with the jewel of His creation. Adam and Eve had always loved walking with Him. In all creation, nothing equaled the beauty of the Lord. He always felt nearby, but in the cool of the day they enjoyed the splendor of his fullness, the presence of the Father whose image they carried.

Today, His presence inspired a terror they had never experienced before. For the first time, they realized how great a difference there was between them and the Lord. He always said He loved them, that they were very good, but what if he changed His mind? The One who created everything could probably undo it in an instant if He got angry enough. And today He had a reason to be angry. They shrunk back into the shadows of the orchard, hoping that He would pass them by.

Then they heard the familiar sound of the Lord’s voice. It sounded sad and far-off.

“Children, where are you?”

© 2018 Jacqueline Tisthammer. All Rights Reserved.

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