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The Tree Of The Knowledge Of Good & Evil


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#1 Fred Williams

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 09:36 AM

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil

Many Christians are familiar with the account in the Garden of Eden involving the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil. This is the tree with the forbidden fruit that Adam & Eve partook of that propelled the human race and creation into the tailspin it is currently in. There is not much detail given of this tree in Genesis, but we find some interesting tidbits interwoven in various passages in the Bible. You may be surprised to know that this tree was the greatest tree in the world in beauty, it was so huge that it towered over all other trees and its branches were bigger than fir trees, it was cut down by evil men during a drought, and the tree is now in hell!

The central theme is this:

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil symbolizes the Law, and ultimately death, and currently resides in hell. This tree is the antithesis of the Tree of Life, which yields eternal spiritual life and currently resides in Heaven (for more on ‘The Tree of Life’, see Admin3’s topic on this).

The Tree Symbolizes the Law

In Genesis we can immediately draw an implied connection between the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil and the Law, as it was at the center of God’s first command to man:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17)

After Adam and Eve ate of the tree, they became aware of good and evil, and then saw that they were naked (Genesis 3:7). In other words, they were naked before God, unprotected from his displeasure (for more on this, see ‘When Did The First Animal Sacrifice Occur In The Bible?’). Without this knowledge of good and evil they would never had known, and therefore committed, sin:

I would not have known sin except through the law. (Romans 7:7)

The Tree of Death

The penalty for violating this first commandment given by God was death: “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." The proper Hebrew translation is “dying you will die”. So immediately upon violating God’s command Adam and Eve died spiritually (they were “naked” before the LORD), and they also were decreed to suffer eventual physical death (dying you will die).

We know there is a direct connection between the Law (and by extension the tree) and death:

“And the commandment [the law], which was to bring life, I found to bring death.” (Romans 7:10)

We also know that the law and death will both be done away with:

For Christ [is] the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. (Romans 10:4)

The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:26)


The theme throughout the bible is that wherever the law is, death reigns, and conversely wherever there is grace, there is life. For example, when Moses brought the Ten Commandments (the Law) down from the mountain,

“…about three thousand men of the people fell that day.” (Exodus 32:28)

When Peter preached grace,

“that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” (Acts 2:41-42)

This contrast of law=death vs. grace=life is tied together perfectly in one verse:

“…for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)


Ezekiel 31 – an Amazing Story

God often likes to interlace two or more stories within one passage of scripture, a multi-layered pyramid of information, if you will. For example, scholars agree that Ezekiel 28 is both a treatise on the prince of Tyre and on Satan. Ezekiel 31 provides us a treatise on the king of Egypt and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil. Here we find out some interesting details about this tree:

1) The tree was HUGE:

With fine branches that shaded the forest, …its height was exalted above all the trees of the field; Its boughs [main branches] were multiplied, And its branches became long because of the abundance of water, Under its branches all the beasts of the field brought forth their young; And in its shadow all great nations made their home… (Ezekiel 31:5-12)

Interesting. Just like today, most make their home under the Law…

The fir trees were not like its boughs [main branch of a tree]… its branches have fallen on the mountains and in all the valleys; (Ezekiel 31:8,12)

Note that the following verses in Ezekiel 31, which refer to rivers that abundantly watered this tree, fit well with the Genesis account. The picture we get is a great river in Eden that breaks into four riverheads outside of Eden:

With their rivers running around the place where it was planted, And sent out rivulets to all the trees of the field. (Ezekiel 31:4)

Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. (Gen 2:10)


2) The tree was beautiful:

'Thus it was beautiful in greatness and in the length of its branches…No tree in the garden of God was like it in beauty. I made it beautiful with a multitude of branches, So that all the trees of Eden envied it, That were in the garden of God.' (Ezek 31:7-9)

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, … (Genesis 3:6)

3) Evil men cut the tree down during a drought:

I restrained its rivers, and the great waters were held back. I caused Lebanon to mourn for it, and all the trees of the field wilted because of it. (Ezekiel 31:15)

And aliens, the most terrible of the nations, have cut it down and left it; its branches have fallen on the mountains and in all the valleys; its boughs lie broken by all the rivers of the land; and all the peoples of the earth have gone from under its shadow and left it. (Ezekiel 31:12)


4) The tree was cast into hell along with the evil men who cut it down:

"Thus says the Lord GOD: 'In the day when it went down to hell, I caused mourning. I covered the deep because of it. … I made the nations shake at the sound of its fall, when I cast it down to hell together with those who descend into the Pit; and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, were comforted in the depths of the earth. They also went down to hell with it, with those slain by the sword; and those who were its strong arm dwelt in its shadows among the nations. (Ezekiel 31:15-18)

Conclusion

In Ezekiel 31 the symbolism of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil is illuminated - it was a great and beautiful tree that was a picture of the law. It was something man tried to live under but in the end could not, so in their wicked hearts they tried to get rid of it. Things are no different today, as men try to either live under the tree by following religions based on works, or aggressively try to get out from underneath this tree by trying to rid themselves of God’s Word (i.e. ACLU, liberalism, secularism, etc; Ted Turner summed up this mindset when he claimed the Ten Commandments are really the “Ten suggestions”). The net result of both methods is spiritual and physical death, and those who live by the tree will die by the tree, literally! – they will live in the company of this tree and the curse that came with it for all eternity in hell.

But there is good news. :)

Soon after Adam & Eve put themselves and humanity under the tree, God gave us a glimpse of the first steps of His intervening work to reconcile us with Him. Following what is recognized as the first prophecy in the Bible for our Redeemer (Genesis 3:15), we return to the two trees:

Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"-- therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24)

If Adam and Eve partook of the Tree of Life after their fall, they would remain alive physically but separated from God (dead spiritually) forever. By allowing men to die physically, God established a redemptive way out for the mess man put himself in, by taking upon Himself the payment of sin, which is death. This is all summed up beautifully in Galatians 3:13:

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree") (Galatians 3:13)

This was a gift of God (Romans 5:13, Ephesians 2:8) that whoever accepts the gift will have their spirit re-born and will be reconciled with Him (Romans 10:9). They will no longer be under the curse of Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and will regain access to the Tree of Life (Revelation 22:14).

So which tree will you like to partake of, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, (the Law), or the Tree of Life (grace)? Putting it another way, where would you like to spend eternity, smoking, or non-smoking? :)

“…for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)


Addendum

Here are some additional observations:

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as a symbol of the law and ultimately death is somewhat paradoxical, since the tree was beautiful, just as the law is holy and good (Romans 7:12). But man could not live under this tree (the law), so God provided a substitute, His Son, a gift of grace, so that we may again fellowship with God and eat from the Tree of Life.

Most if not all saved Christians at one time or another still partake of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, whenever they partake in legalism. See what God has to say about this in Galatians 2 & 3. :)

The account of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil given in Ezekiel 31 had to be in antediluvian times since the tree was still in Eden and Eden was intact. It therefore makes me wonder if the swallowing of this tree into hell was what triggered the Fountains of the Great Deep and Noah’s Flood.

Much of this article is based on a tape series by Pastor Bob Enyart that I highly recommend! (link)

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 11:13 AM

Very interesting post, Fred.

Where did you come across the interpretation of the tree in Ezekiel being the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? I have never seen a commentary that treated it as anything except the Assyrian kingdom.

#3 Fred Williams

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 01:23 PM

Very interesting post, Fred.

Where did you come across the interpretation of the tree in Ezekiel being the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? I have never seen a commentary that treated it as anything except the Assyrian kingdom.

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I first heard this take from a tape series from Pastor Bob Enyart (I gave a reference at the bottom of the psot). When I first heard him explain the Tree in the manner I outlined in the OP, I remember thinking, "where in the world in Genesis did he get this?" I ended up re-reading the first 6 or so chapters of Genesis looking for it, to no avail. But knowing Enyart I knew he didn’t just pull it out of thin air, so I listened to the 2nd tape in the series and it was there he revealed his source, Ezekiel 31. It is possible it is some sort of allegorical symbolism and not realty a historical account of the tree, though I doubt it. Everything fits so well with other principles in the Bible, such as the Law, man’s nature, etc. Also, the account of the tree in Ezekiel 31 is no less vivid in detail than the account of Satan in Ezekiel 28, and everybody readily accepts Ezekiel 28 as an account of Satan interlaced with the account of the prince of Tyre.


Fred

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 06:31 PM

Fred,

That is an excellent post. There is a lot of good doctrine in there that is deserving of study.

As I've mentioned before, I believe that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents Satan's plan. Now that isn't too far from what you've stated, and I think they fit pretty well together.


I think there is some more in this passage of Ezekiel that is worth considering.

EZE 31:8 'The cedars in God's garden could not match it; The cypresses could not compare with its boughs, And the plane trees could not match its branches. No tree in God's garden could compare with it in its beauty.
EZE 31:9 'I made it beautiful with the multitude of its branches, And all the trees of Eden, which were in the garden of God, were jealous of it.


This sounds very much like the description of Lucifer before he had fallen, and the reason for his fall.

EZE 28:12 "Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord God," You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
EZE 28:13 "You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz, and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx, and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise, and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you. On the day that you were created They were prepared.
EZE 28:14 "You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire.
EZE 28:15 "You were blameless in your ways From the day you were created, Until unrighteousness was found in you.
EZE 28:16 "By the abundance of your trade You were internally filled with violence, And you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane From the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire.
EZE 28:17 "Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, That they may see you.


Ezekiel 31 seems to be a paralell to Ezekiel 28.

The only question I would ask regarding the idea that man cut this tree down is how did they get access to it?

GEN 3:22 ¶ Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"--
GEN 3:23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.
GEN 3:24 So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life.

I've always thought that man was never allowed back in the Garden after Adam was driven out.

Terry

#5 Fred Williams

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Posted 08 May 2005 - 06:22 PM

I've always thought that man was never allowed back in the Garden after Adam was driven out.


That’s a good question and I’m glad you brought it up. I think this lends credence to the idea that the cutting down of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is what triggered the great flood. I realize the following that I offer is speculation, but I think it is reasonable speculation. :)

We know from Revelation that the Tree of Life is in heaven. A logical time for God to remove the Tree of Life from Eden and place it in heaven is right before the flood. During the drought, men probably theorized that cutting down this great tree would help their problem because they viewed the tree as part of the drought problem, by sucking up all the underground water (…all the trees of the field wilted because of it - Ezekiel 31:15). So in their wickedness they cut it down. At that point God swallowed them up along with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil into hell ((Ezekiel 31:15-18). God loves to turn wickendness on its head, so what better time to follow this drought up with a great flood!

Like I said, speculation, but reasonable speculation. :)

Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 1 Corinthians 1:20

Fred

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 04:47 PM

31:15).  So in their wickedness they cut it down. At that point God swallowed them up along with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil into hell ((Ezekiel 31:15-18). God loves to turn wickendness on its head, so what better time to follow this drought up with a great flood!

Like I said, speculation, but reasonable speculation. :D


Yeah,...., I think its reasonable.....

Terry

#7 Christopher_John

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Posted 11 May 2006 - 06:04 AM

Fred,

That is an excellent post.  There is a lot of good doctrine in there that is deserving of study.

As I've mentioned before, I believe that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents Satan's plan.  Now that isn't too far from what you've stated, and I think they fit pretty well together.
I think there is some more in this passage of Ezekiel that is worth considering.

EZE 31:8 'The cedars in God's garden could not match it; The cypresses could not compare with its boughs, And the plane trees could not match its branches. No tree in God's garden could compare with it in its beauty.
EZE 31:9 'I made it beautiful with the multitude of its branches, And all the trees of Eden, which were in the garden of God, were jealous of it.


This sounds very much like the description of Lucifer before he had fallen, and the reason for his fall.

EZE 28:12 "Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord God," You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
EZE 28:13 "You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz, and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx, and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise, and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you. On the day that you were created They were prepared.
EZE 28:14 "You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire.
EZE 28:15 "You were blameless in your ways From the day you were created, Until unrighteousness was found in you.
EZE 28:16 "By the abundance of your trade You were internally filled with violence, And you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane From the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire.
EZE 28:17 "Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, That they may see you.


Ezekiel 31 seems to be a paralell to Ezekiel 28.

The only question I would ask regarding the idea that man cut this tree down is how did they get access to it?

GEN 3:22 ¶ Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"--
GEN 3:23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.
GEN 3:24 So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life.

I've always thought that man was never allowed back in the Garden after Adam was driven out.

Terry

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Very interesting posts.... I do have to point out a literal observation.

to guard the way to the tree of life.


It only mentions that the path leading to the tree of life was blocked not the garden and ironically a path to which only Jesus Christ can give access to.

CJ

#8 Fred Williams

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Posted 14 May 2006 - 09:37 PM

Very interesting posts.... I do have to point out a literal observation.
It only mentions that the path leading to the tree of life was blocked not the garden and ironically a path to which only Jesus Christ can give access to.

CJ

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Thanks CJ, I hadn’t really picked up on the detail that it was specifically the Tree of Life that was guarded and not Eden per se. We know the Tree of Life is in Heaven (Rev 22), and that it would have had to be removed before the flood wiped out the face of the earth and Eden along with it. Thus, whenever this tree was removed from Eden, the cherubim were no longer needed.

Fred

#9 deadlock

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 07:12 AM

I have some points about this matter.

1 - Why is the knowledge of Good & Evil bad ?

2 - I think that not to be blamed because of ignorance does not turn us better beings.

3 - It´s curious that Adam and Eve sinned even without that knowledge.

4 - Without Knowledge there is no choice, and without choice there is no free will.

#10 dmwessel

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 10:52 AM

I have some points about this matter.

1 - Why is the knowledge of Good & Evil bad  ?

2 - I think that not to be blamed because of ignorance does not turn us better beings.

3 - It´s curious that Adam and Eve sinned even without that knowledge.

4 - Without Knowledge there is no choice, and without choice there is no free will.

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Good questions!

Adam and Eve were 'naked (without covering)' in the garden but 'it did not bother them'.

How could they be 'spiritually wanting (naked)' in God's garden but not be bothered by it?

They had no 'knowledge' when they entered the garden but were 'innocent'.

In 1 Tim. 1:13, Paul says that God did not hold him accountable for his sins because he did those things in 'ignorance':
"Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief."

In other words, Saul was spiritually 'naked' and so God did not hold him accountable.

The knowledge of good and evil is not bad but once we eat of it, we are accountable. As Adam and Eve 'ate' knowledge, their eyes were 'opened' and they 'knew' that they were 'naked'. The first thing they then attempted to do was 'cover their nakedness' with 'leaves'. Why leaves?

The 'tree' they had eaten from had 'fruit' on it but this tree had 'no fruit', only leaves.

After Lucifer had deceived them, they turned to him for help but he, the 'fig' tree (Jesus cursed the 'fig' tree) had 'no fruit'. Consequently they tried to cover their nakedness with Lucifer's 'leaves' but it was an inadequate covering because they were still 'afraid'.

Lucifer's leaves cannot bring spiritual healing, only fear.

Lucifer, wanting to be first, tempted Eve with 'wisdom' (Gen. 3:6, tree of life/tree of knowledge of good and evil/tree of wisdom/olive tree). If you do a study, you will see there is only 'one' tree in the 'midst (focal point)' of the garden.

Once eating spiritual knowledge/wisdom, their eyes were 'opened' and it had a 'reverse' affect on them. Lucifer knew this would happen.

And the reason Lucifer did that was because God had made Adam master but Lucifer wanted to be Lord of everything.

#11 Teejay

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 08:25 PM

Hello all,

I'm glad Fred posted this.  It may open many eyes, and I especially pray that it will give pause to Christians who want to confused Christians who endeavor to put themselves under the ordinances that Jesus has delivered us from.  More egregious are those Christians who plant their own Tree of Knowledge when they invent a law and then try and put others under it (don't drink wine, don't dance, keep the Sabbath, keep the dietary laws of Moses, and the list goes on).  May I add some proof to support Fred's OP that the law and the Tree are synonyms:

The Tree is a ministry of death (Gen. 2:17).  The Law is also a ministry of death (2 Cor. 3:7).

 

Do not partake of the Tree (Gen. 3:17).  Do not partake of the Law (Rom. 7:6; 10:4).

In the day you partake of the Tree, you will die (Gen. 2:17).  In the day you partake of the Law, you will die (Rom. 7:9).

By the Tree is the knowledge of sin (Gen. 3:22).  By the Law is the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20; 7:7).

The Tree brought the offense (Rom. 5:17).  The Law made the offense abound (Rom. 5:20)

The Tree's curse died on the Cross (Rom. 5:18-19).  The Law was nailed to the Cross (Col. 2:13-14, 16).

The Tree of Life is in the new heaven (Rev. 22:14), but not the Tree of Knowledge (Ezek. 31:15; [Rev. 22:14].  The Law of the Spirit (Rom. 8:2) is in the new heaven, but not he Law of death (Rom. 8:2; 7:6).

What God forbids, let no man permit.  What God permits, let no man forbid.  When we elect to keep any of laws (Sabbath law, circumcision, etc.) we are resurrecting the Tree of Knowledge.

 

TeeJay



#12 Teejay

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 08:38 PM

That’s a good question and I’m glad you brought it up. I think this lends credence to the idea that the cutting down of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is what triggered the great flood. I realize the following that I offer is speculation, but I think it is reasonable speculation. smile.gif

We know from Revelation that the Tree of Life is in heaven. A logical time for God to remove the Tree of Life from Eden and place it in heaven is right before the flood. During the drought, men probably theorized that cutting down this great tree would help their problem because they viewed the tree as part of the drought problem, by sucking up all the underground water (…all the trees of the field wilted because of it - Ezekiel 31:15). So in their wickedness they cut it down. At that point God swallowed them up along with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil into hell ((Ezekiel 31:15-18). God loves to turn wickendness on its head, so what better time to follow this drought up with a great flood!

Like I said, speculation, but reasonable speculation. smile.gif

Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 1 Corinthians 1:20

Fred

Fred,

"How did they get access to it to cut it down."  I think that initially, God put His angels to bar entrance so that fallen man could not eat from the Tree of Life and "live forever" in his sinful state.  But later, when God decided to flood the earth, He stopped up the waters that flowed from the Garden.  Apparently, at the same time, He removed the Tree of Life from the Garden.  With the Tree of Life removed, God did not have be concerned that man would eat of it and live forever.  With the waters capped by God, there was probably a drought and this made men angry.  They were free to enter the Garden and hack and saw at the Tree of Knowledge.  When God (and Noah) was ready, He loosed the fountains of the deep.  There are theories by credible Christian scientists who believe earthly debris was launched into space--explaining comets in space.

 

TeeJay






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