Out of Eden
The nature of progressive revelation is that it progresses. Sometimes our understanding of a doctrine in the Bible grows deeper or the breadth of our grasp of a subject is widened through the Holy Spirit revealing more truth. At other times the Holy Spirit simply corrects our misunderstanding of a certain part of His word and we need to change our minds on what we believe to line up with Him.
This happened to me a couple of days ago as to how I understood the relationship between mankind and the two trees in the Garden of Eden. For the longest time I have assumed, wrongly it seems, that eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is what brought death upon Adam and thus all mankind. However, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and showed me that this is not so.
It is written,
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
I had always assumed that this meant that it was the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that caused Adam and all that followed after him to taste death. However we read later in the book of Genesis,
“And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:”
What I understand now, through the Spirit, is that it was not the fruit of the forbidden tree that caused Adam to die but rather the lack of access to the tree of life that sealed his fate. God did not create mankind with inherent immortality as I had previously assumed. God created Adam so that he would never taste death so as long as he tasted the fruit of the tree of life. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not poison but rather the eating of it was merely an outward manifestation of the inward disobedience. It was disobedience which brought about the action which caused them to sin and loose eternal life through being barred from the Garden. It is written,
“So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”
For me, at least, this is a clarification of what really went on in the Garden. I suppose that this only makes sense because if God created the Garden perfect He would not have put something deadly in it.
A consequence of returning to the Spirit led obedience of the Garden is the restoration of the tree of life. One question I still have not figured out is simply,
“If the tree of life is restored to us in New Jerusalem does that mean we will partake of it there? Therefore is it still necessary to eat of it to have immortality?”
God gives us revelation as it suits Him. We are all dependent upon Him to understand what He wrote. Our minds are feeble and flimsy when it comes to truly knowing God’s word and we must open ourselves to receive His instruction even if it goes against what we have previously believed. The wonderful thing about progressive revelation is that acceptance of further revelation or even correction from God does not upset or violate our doctrinal framework because that expectation is already built into it.