Here in Genesis 2:16, we have God’s first commandment to man. With all of the blessings and gracious gifts that He had bestowed upon Adam and Eve, God laid down but one single rule that they were to follow; do not eat of a certain tree within the Garden of Eden.
One of the gravest and most severe forms of outright rebellion that people throughout history have taken against God is to question the fact that He even has the right to issue them commandments. It does not matter to them how easy the commandment might be to follow, they resent the fact that they have been given any commandment at all. They reject the idea that anyone, even their Creator, would retain any authority over them whatsoever. They feel that they have absolutely no one to answer to and are free to define their own morality, behaving any way they choose.
But God does have the right to command mankind. Why? Because He is the One Who has created us. We are under His authority because we live in His Universe. Here, at the very beginning of the Bible, God issues a single commandment to Adam . He makes no bargain with Adam, the Lord offers no promise of particular benefit or incentive for Adam’s continued obedience. He simply commands Adam to refrain from eating of one particular tree, and then tells him of the consequences that would result from disobeying.
The fact of the matter is that Adam was already enjoying the fruits of obedience to God. God’s blessing was on him and he had been given EVERY other tree in the Garden for food. Think about that for a minute: every single other tree was given to him without restriction. Every one. God had placed a boundary around one single tree and left the rest of the trees open for Adam and Eve to freely partake of.
The devil’s very first words to Eve in Genesis 3:1 are, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?” He is subtly bringing to her attention the fact that God has placed a restriction upon her and Adam’s behavior. God has exercised His authority over the woman and her husband by placing a limit, a boundary upon their actions. This is what their rebellion would signify: the rejection of God’s right to command their behavior.
Do we ourselves not do the same thing at times? As simple and easy as this very first commandment are the commandments of Christ (1 John 5:3). Our liberty in Jesus allows us to partake of the fruit of a thousand trees, yet we so often eat of those few that He has set a boundary around. In our flesh, we, too, often resent the meager limits that are placed upon us and by doing so we question our Lord’s right to command and regulate our actions. We may not actually say such words, but our disobedience reveals our attitude.
If we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15).
To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,
[This post was originally published August 12, 2009]
**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.
[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]