Ask A Pastor: Why did God create the tree of good and evil?
If God is a loving God, why did God create the tree of good and evil knowing that Adam and Eve would sin and cause all of creation to groan?
First of all, thank you for asking this question! It is a deep question and not an easy to answer. I think your question has two main parts: who is God? And: why was there a tree of good and evil? But it goes beyond that because behind your question lingers the issue of why evil and suffering exist in this world.
Let me start with the first question: Who is God?
You write: “If God is a loving God” Now, I am sure you know that God indeed is a loving God, because the Bible assures us very simply: God is love (1 Jn 4:8). This was true in Paradise too. The original creation was not only filled with God’s glory, but also filled with reminders of God’s love! We find evidence of this when:
God created and said about everything he made: “Very good!” (Gen 1:31)
He created the most beautiful place for mankind to live in (Gen 1 & 2:10-14).
He made sure that there was food for us to eat (Gen. 1:29)
He made sure that we would get proper rest (Gen 2:3)
He gave Adam work to do (Gen 2:15)
He made sure that Adam was not lonely (Gen 2:20-25)
He made sure that Adam and Eve knew that they were allowed to eat freely from all the trees, except for one! (Gen 2:16-17) His only prohibition was straightforward, clear, and simple.
All these things show us God’s amazing goodness, his love, his generosity, and his desire to bless mankind. This is who God is! There is no stinginess in God. Paradise was a place of fulfillment, freedom and satisfaction. What love God showed us!
Now, with that in mind, let’s move to the second part of your question here: “Why did God create the tree of good and evil?”
This tree was a beautiful tree, and perhaps the most beautiful tree in the whole garden. It was the only tree that Adam was not allowed to eat from. Why did God create it? Why did this tree come with a prohibition? There are several reasons we can think of:
This tree gave man a free choice. The question behind this tree was: Adam, will you obey God who is so good to you, freely, willingly, wholeheartedly, and joyfully? God was requiring our pure and willing obedience.
This tree taught mankind to trust God to define what is good and evil. The question behind this tree was: Adam, will you trust God and the boundaries He thinks are best for you? God was requiring our whole-hearted trust.
This tree was about where we find our satisfaction. It posed the question: Adam, will you seek satisfaction and fulfillment in what God gives you and in Himself, or will you seek fulfilment in something more than God? In other words, it was asking: Is God enough?!
And you know the result of the Fall. We basically said: “God is not enough! I won’t serve Him willingly! I want to be like God, defining what is good and evil…” And it was the worst choice we ever made (in Adam – Rom 5:12).
This brings us to the last part of this question: “Why did God create this tree, knowing that Adam and Eve would sin and cause all of creation to groan?”
While thinking about this question, I read the following example which helps explain this clearly. When God commanded us not to eat, it is similar to the following situation. Your mom tells your little sister not to touch the burner on the stove. You know that if your sister disobeys, they may get burned and there will be consequences. This doesn’t make the stove a bad thing. It also doesn’t make your mom’s command bad. The problem is with the disobedient child!
God also promised there would be consequences when Adam disobeyed. Death and the curse make life difficult. But God kept his Word! Do we realize that the punishment was not immediate death?! God was still loving, gracious and patient!
And let’s not forget the glorious fact that while God announced punishment, He at the same time announced the Gospel! (Gen 3:15) Is that not loving and gracious?! He could have left us all in our sins and misery and groaning. That would have been right! But He did not!
Let me be honest with you. Why exactly God allowed sin to enter, I can’t perfectly explain. But, that He did so without being guilty of sin, is a fact. The glory is that He comes to reverse the curse in Christ!
Yes, creation groans. Yes, we have all fallen into sin. Yes, we all experience the misery of the curse, and that is certainly not easy. Perhaps you have certain consequences that are very difficult in your life.
Let’s never forget that God shows His love while we are still sinners. He sent Christ to die in our place (Rom 5:10), to take away the curse. This means that one day, there will be a new creation in which Christ will be All and in all! Then there will be no more curse (Rev. 22:3a). In trusting Christ, we trust that all evil and suffering will one day end.
I hope this answers your question. If you have any follow up questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
With Christian love,
Pastor Pieter van der Hoek