It’s been a while since I wrote anything on the Garden of Eden. We have several children’s bibles which I read to my boys at bedtime. Every one of these picture bibles begins with creation and makes the same mistake, mentioning only one tree in the Garden, focusing only on God’s prohibition, “do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or you will die”. Each time we begin to read a new bible my boys get the same wrong impression that Eve had of God; that he is a miserly, restrictive, severe school master sort of God.
Here’s some examples:
The Christian Focus Story Bible (Christian Focus)
“God told Adam that he was not to eat from the knowledge of good and evil. But Satan tempted Eve.”
First Bible Stories (Marks & Spencer)
“In the centre of the garden grew a special tree. It was called the Tree of Knowledge. God made it very clear that this tree was different from all the other trees. ‘You must not eat the fruit of this tree’, God warned Adam and Eve.”
Storyteller Bible (Lion)
“There’s just one more thing,” God said. “Do you see that tree over there? The one in the middle of the garden? Well, the fruit of that tree is not good for you.”
My very first bible (Lion)
The snake whispered what to do: they ate some fruit God had told them not to eat.
Meeting with God (Christian Focus)
He also gave them a very simple command to obey. He told them they must not eat from one tree that grew in their garden home, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, or they would die.
Instead of simply reading these accounts, I discuss with the boys the fact that there were two trees in the garden with a promise attached to each. We focus on the goodness and generosity of God in offering Adam and Eve the promise of eternal life if they would show him their faith in his promise by eating from the tree of life. We discuss the horror of their choice to eat from the other tree, wanting what God had said they were not to have, knowledge of good and evil. Then we talk about the punishment God threatened if they disobeyed God’s law, the threat of execution by God.
Three things result. First, my boys get the gospel. They get that God is generous and good and that they need Jesus to keep the law and die by execution as their substitute. Second, they get the Lord’s Supper. If eating the fruit of the tree of life was the way Adam and Eve were to show God that they trusted his promise, then eating the Lord’s Supper is the way God’s people show they trust the promises of God in Jesus and so inherit the promise of eternal life. Third, they learn to read all secondary Christian literature with caution. If it is not in the grown up bible then it needs careful consideration before we take it as gospel truth.
My sons are five and three years old. If they can get the Garden of Eden then it is time our children’s bible writers got it too. Oh, and, what’s the reason kids can’t express their faith in Christ in his Supper?