We may think that God wants us to do a certain thing, but in reality, it is what we want (Rom 10.3). The Torah commandments should be observed “fully” as they apply to us, but chachmah (wisdom) is involved. We also should not make a mockery of the commandments. For example, there are certain schools who have Indian mascots who “dance” and so on. But, the “dances” aren’t anything like how Indians dance, and Indians get offended. It is the same thing with the commandments. We try to keep a commandment but in the process we make a mockery of them. At Passover, some go to a store and buy a leg of lamb, thinking they are keeping the commandment. But, they are making a mockery of it because how do you know that animal was unblemished, or how old it was. The lamb can only be eaten in Jerusalem and the list goes on. People don’t do it on purpose, but it happens.
There are two “tree’s of life and knowledge” and we are going to discuss that. One is “true” and the other is “false.” It all comes down to that. Let’s say you start out to take the Sabbath seriously. When you start, your “tree of knowledge” on the Sabbath is at the “basic” level. You don’t know anything because you don’t know the Torah. As you learn more, your “tree” goes up with you. Learning has a danger when it isn’t applied. This concept can be applied to any commandment.
Modern psychology places man at the center, but the problem with that is “MAN IS AT THE CENTER.” Our clarity on things is clouded now, and God’s ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts (Isa 55.8-9). There is one, true tree of life and knowledge and one is false (our desires and passions). The line between the two is clouded now and impaired by our rationalizations. Evil doesn’t always look evil, it can be “dressed up.” Which voice do we listen to, the desire within us or the “voice that commands us with words (the Scriptures, the written word).” This also has to do with how we read. Are we paying attention to it. Passion comes from God, and it is good. Without it, we are like an animal operating by instinct rather than “guided.” So, the question is, what is “guiding us?” There is the cloudy voice within and then there is the voice of the written word (Scriptures). The gift of the Torah (Mattan Torah) was given because we are deficient and we are not equipped to make these decisions. The Torah “compensates” for our deficiency.
Chava changed what God commanded with outright inaccuracies and she shifted the emphasis. She says, “From the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden (Gen 3.3).” But, in Gen 2.9 we have a problem. We think in American and it looks like both tree’s are in the “middle of the garden” in 2.9. But, in Hebrew, “in the middle of the garden” only modifies the first tree, the tree of life and not the second, the tree of knowledge. If both tree’s were in the middle of the garden, the way to say it would have been “the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden.” The Scriptures do not say where the tree of knowledge was, but it implies that it wasn’t in the middle of the garden. There are discrepancies in what was actually commanded (the specific word of God) and Chava’s recollection of the word of God. When you compare what is actually said by the Lord (the specific word of God) in Gen 2.16-17 and what Chava says in Gen 3.3-4, we have the following discrepancies: location of the tree; no mention that touching it was against his word; she says that they were not to eat from the “fruit of the tree” when God said not to eat “of the tree (2.17).” The nachash questions whether death is a certainty.
The Hebrew word for being “cut off” is “karet.” Sometimes in the Scriptures, individuals were cut off. They may have sinned, and are killed immediately (Uzzah and the Ark), but have a place in the resurrection of the righteous. Others are slain, and they will not be in the resurrection of the righteous. Then there is the sin unto death, but that may not be for a long time. Now, the Lord said in Gen 2.17, “In the day that you eat from it, you shall surely die.” The literal Hebrew says “In dying, you shall die.” Chava’s changes show how things looked to her. Lawyers look at every word because it is important. This is what we need to do with the Scriptures, look at it like a lawyer would a contract. Words mean things. In Isa 56.3-4 we read that the non-Jew is not to say they are a “dry tree” (an idiom for unrighteous) and they “choose what pleases me.” That’s the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Zech 8.23 says that the non-Jew will grasp the corners of the Jew, and Isa 56.5-6 says to “hold fast my covenant. These are another way of saying to grasp and hold fast to the tree of life and of the tree knowledge of good and evil (Prov 3.18).
What we are going to look at the mechanics of how desire can confound our perception of how things really are. Perception is defined as how we relate to the world around us through our senses. These are unseen mechanics. We can look at reality and we proceed to delude ourselves by exaggerating certain aspects and minimizing others. We play certain cards like “I’m not Jewish” or “it costs too much.” A favorite one is “I am free from the Law” or “not under the Law.” Watch out when we play the card, something else may be going on. Chava changed the restrictions by saying she can’t “touch” the tree. It is easier to rationalize the wrong id we exaggerate how hard it is to obey the rules. Fences are good, but don’t let the fences deter you from the commandments of God. The “mind games” of desire will shift the emphasis. We can also exaggerate the significance of what we can’t have. We shouldn’t desire to do things that only Jews were commanded to do if we are not Jewish (1 Cor 7.17-19). There are plenty of commandments to do if you are non-Jewish. King David said he would love to be a “gatekeeper” in the Temple because he would be in the presence of God all the time. Some non-Jews are disappointed that they can’t go into certain places in the Temple. But, we shouldn’t want to go where God says we can’t go. If you were Jewish, would you want to go into the Holy of Holies if you weren’t the High Priest? Don’t aspire to what doesn’t apply to you, but, don’t use it as an excuse for not doing what God called you to do.
We will pick up here in Part 8, and begin to discuss the dynamics of desire and how this is illustrated in the garden, and how this can be applied to us today. Like we have said before, it all comes down to the true tree of life and the true tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the false ones we have set up by listening to our “inner voice” which the nachash still tells us is from God, too. Those who say they are “led of the Spirit” but what they teach doesn’t lead to the written word of the Lord (The specific word of God; the tree of life and tree of the knowledge of good and evil-Prov 3.18) is not from God.