With the fall of mankind, their lot in life was not death. Regardless of the number of years one might live, death is always the end. One wise old physician once said that he had watched all the modern medical advances and was astounded by the things that now could save people’s lives. There are even heart transplants as well as all the organs. But, he observed in spite of all our medical advances he still perceived that the mortality rate is still 100 percent. God in his grace had made provision for man to live eternally in close fellowship with him in the Garden. But once that fellowship was broken, and death was the specter hanging over every man God moved to save us. God says in Genesis 3:22, “Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat and live forever—Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.” God did not curse man to live forever in the shadow of death. Courson asks, “Can you imagine what you would look like at 30,000 years of age at your present rate of decay? It would be sad. So, God in His mercy ruled out that possibility.”[1]

“Some interesting bits of evidence supporting the biblical account of the fall have been turned up by archaeologists. In the so-called Gilgamesh epic, an ancient Babylonian tale, the hero after a long and difficult quest obtains the plant of life only to have it stolen by a serpent. And in the vicinity of Nineveh two seals have been found, dating from 3000 B.C. and earlier, the one depicting a man, a woman, and a serpent, the other a tree in the center, a man on the right, a woman on the left plucking fruit, and a serpent standing erect behind her. However, the heathen nations may have twisted the details, it is evident that much of the truth about the origin of man and of sin remained widespread knowledge in ancient times.”[2]

We all (figuratively speaking) ate of the forbidden fruit and came to a certain knowledge that we did not have before. Baxter thinks very specifically about what that knowledge could be. He suggests that the tree is named The Knowledge of Good and Evil “because it gave man a power to know his own nature.”[3] It’s interesting that throughout the history of Israel the prophets had continually called the nation who had learned to put their confidence in religious externals, to repentance, i.e., the recognition and confession of a sinful nature. When Jesus observes two men praying in the temple, he uses it as a visual lesson for his followers. One of the prayers, a Pharisee, stood boldly before God and thanked God for making him such a good person, unlike the sinner who prayed beside him. The other man was a well-known sinner, a Publican, who recognized his sinfulness and prayed that God would have mercy on him. Surely part of the knowledge gained from sin is the corrupt nature of man. Remember, God sent Jesus for the sake of the sick, not the healthy. Jesus came for the sake of sinners, not for the righteous. It’s important for us to decide which we are.

[1] Courson, Jon. 2005. Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume One: Genesis–Job. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Haines, Lee. 1967. “The Book of Genesis.” In Genesis-Deuteronomy, 1:1:36. The Wesleyan Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[3] Baxter, Richard, and William Orme. 1830. The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter. Vol. 11. London: James Duncan.