And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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 ESV)
Here is the LORD God’s (literally Yehovah Elohim) first commandment in the Bible. Perhaps if we were to better understand this commandment or first instruction of the LORD given to Adam (i.e. man), then we might begin to make sense of the rest of God’s commandments.
All to often we are like children who only hear their parents say, “No!” We make the mistake of thinking the LORD’s commandments are restrictive telling us what not to do. I mean think about the Ten Commandments; we hear 8 “Thou shalt nots.” Is God just a so-called ‘kill-joy’ taking away all the fun in the world by telling us, “No?”
If we aren’t careful we will read this first commandment and only hear the LORD telling the man “No! Do not eat from this tree, or you will die.” But the commandment does not begin with a prohibition. The LORD’s instruction begins with freedom.
God says, “You may surely eat” translated in other versions as “free to eat” (NIV) or “freely eat” (NLT, KJV). But notice too with the freedom to eat is the LORD’s bountiful provision; within the garden the man and woman could choose from many different trees to eat – all of these were “good” (see Gen. 1:12). Only after giving the man the freedom to eat from all God had provided did the LORD make known the one tree they must not eat from. Adam and Eve were free to enjoy far more freedom than the one tree they were not to eat of.
It is all too easy for us to focus on the “No!” and miss God’s provision. Speaking about temptation James said, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (Jm. 1:16-17).
As I begin 2017, I need to focus on the freedom God has given me to choose and enjoy the good thing He has given. The LORD is not stingy, but provides a bountiful supply for all of us who choose to freely partake of His good gifts. If I focus on the LORD’S “Yes” more this year, then perhaps I won’t be tempted to take those things He has said, No” about.
Yes to Yield
LORD Jesus, I thank You that Your Holy Spirit wants to help me understand your commandments and instructions in a new way. Rather than seeing them only as prohibitions, with Your help I want to see the abundance of Your good gifts that You freely provide as an alternative. Holy Spirit, empower me to live in the liberty and freedom that You have given to me; keep me from the bondage of sin as I walk today in the joy of Your divine, “Yes.”