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Ramadan Mubarak, Day 12: The Origins of Feasting (not fasting)

Why we are so much more inclined toward over-eating than under-eating

by Mert Hershberger

 

Before there ever was a woman, Adam was the only human, but there was still law. Adam was commanded NOT to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil on pain of death. However, Adam was free to eat from every other tree: a veritable cornucopia and buffet of delights and colors and flavors were favored upon the man by God. More healthy options to choose from than at any modern iftar meal, this was the perfect menu for the creature called man. 

 

Tawrat, Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17  Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

 

At this point, animal flesh was not even considered a real option. The flesh of all fruits and nutmeats and seeds and berries and grains and beans and vegetables of all sorts were set before the man, and would also be available for the woman. Nothing good was withheld from him. The LORD God offered the man all he needed. It looked good. It tasted good. It was nutritionally good.


One item was off the menu though: the tree of knowledge of good and evil. A real and genuine tree the consumption of whose fruit would bear real and enduring consequences: death. But what exactly does “of the knowledge of good and evil” mean?


First, what it does not mean: It does not mean that the man at this point was an ignorant fellow. Indeed, it seems he was more intelligent than most modern men. As the first 'scientist', he named every sort of animal that was brought before him. He was also intelligent enough to know that these animals were not his mate. Adam did not find his spouse among the beasts of the field. Adam was smart enough to understand language, for he understood the verbal instructions.


However, what the “knowledge of good and evil” does mean is readily apparent from those contemporary people who are just learning language: when you tell a child of a certain age what he or she may not do, they are apt to do just that very thing. Our whole lives long, we humans are prone to try to determine our own course of action: we seek to be our own little kings and choose what is good for ourselves and what is bad. That is until we are aged and give up trying to assert our own wills over the wills of others because we are very weak. We relinquish our rights to make all our own decisions and let others lead. We retire.


Indeed, one will find this same pattern throughout the Holy Bible: the very old and the very young do NOT know good and evil, but the folks in between do so and do so quite assertively. To “know good and evil” is to assert one’s own will, even over the will of others. It is to depend upon our own, independent, self-centered understanding.

What then is the tree of life? It was a real tree, but it also embodied the principle of trust in God. Those who ate it would live, just as those who trust in the Lord Jesus will live today. Indeed, Solomon, the wise king of ancient Israel, testified that “wisdom is a tree of life” … the book of Proverbs, records in Solomon’s words, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding and He will make your paths straight.”

Do you want to walk in the path of righteousness, integrity, virtue, and justice? Then stop depending on your own thoughts. Read the Word of God. Study the Bible to understand His thoughts. Fast from your own agenda. Starve your flesh of its quest for selfish aims. Feast on humility, gentleness, peace, patience, joy, generosity, kindness, and fidelity. Let there be a famine of hate and an abundance of love. Abstain from lies and feed yourself and others only the truth.


Oh, how we need innocence of that first garden! Let us be innocent of evil and love good only. Let us share the truths we have received. Let us not neglect the needs of others but serve one another in truth and integrity. Let every good virtue feed our souls. There is no lack of freedom for those who walk in righteousness. But for those who feed their souls on wickedness, there is only bitter poison under their tongues and bitter barbs within their hearts.


The second chapter of Genesis concludes that the man and the woman (who would be called Eve) were unashamed. When we are humbly honest before God and with our family, friends, and foes, we need fear nothing. It is only when we listen to the lies of the evil one that we lose a taste for what will really satisfy. Lies look luscious. Gossip is gobbled by the ear. Slander and hatred feed the souls of the wicked. Boasting is a buffet to the fool. But in the end, those who feed on these things will eat dust. Do you to these things? Then you must fall before the Lord and ask for mercy.


Where will you find mercy? You will find mercy from the One who fed thousands with five loaves and two fish. You will find compassion from the One who created the grains of the earth and became the Bread of Life. You will quench your thirst as He becomes in you rivers of Living Water that bubble up within and no one will be able to take this well of life from you. Come, my friend. Come to Jesus and be satisfied as no month of iftar will ever offer you.



*If you would like to participate in a Bible study about this subject and similar ones, email us at comparingfaith@gmail.com or text 313.485.7153.

  • 26 May 2018
  • Author: Guest Blogger
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