If God knew Adam and Eve would disobey His commands, why did He create the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the first place? Was God setting up Adam and Eve for failure? Doesn’t God know all things (omniscience), and therefore, knew they would disobey and allow sin to enter the world? Doesn’t it seem that if God wanted Adam and Eve to avoid sin, He would never have created the tree at all?
These are all great questions that a lot of skeptics/unbelievers have (and even new Christians) when reading the first few chapters in the book of Genesis. While the text in Genesis doesn’t delve into God’s purposes for creating the tree, we can use basic reasoning to consider God’s reasons.
Why God Created the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (The Forbidden Fruit)?
The tree was not really important in the grand scheme of things. I mean, if God didn’t want them to touch the tree, He could have kept them from it by any number of means. He’s God. In fact, just a few verses after this event (after they’ve been banished from the Garden of Eden), He actually sets up angels to guard them from re-entering (an interesting method, which no doubt gave Adam and Eve the hope of one day being able to enter their lost paradise again).
What the tree of knowledge of good and evil did was this: It allowed them to have a choice. It allowed them to obey God from the heart, or to rebel against His commands and follow their own passions. An important thought to keep in mind is this: God wants real relationships in us, not mere robots that He FORCES to love Him. The tree was merely a choice. Personally, I don’t think the fruit itself had anything interesting about it. I think the fact that they sinned suddenly made them realize what they’d done.
We, as humans, can relate to the desire to have fulfilling relationships. God wants a relationship with His creation too.
Do you really want your spouse to love you because they have no choice, or because they’ve seen everyone else in the world, but chose to spend the rest of their lives with you? God could easily have created a species of robotic humans to worship Him, if that is what God wanted. But no! God wants us to love Him from our own hearts. When God created man, He gave to him a wonderful gift: Freedom of choice. We have a will to choose. We can choose God, or we can choose sin.
If man chose to obey God, he could have enjoyed the blessings of the glorious creation. Instead, man chose to rebel against God and eat the one tree in which God commanded not to eat.
So the first things to keep in mind when reading this text is this: God created a beautiful, sinless creation. He created a paradise on Earth, and placed man there. Man had it made! He also gave man a free gift of choice, allowing Him to follow and obey his creator (God), or rebel and choose his own path. Why did God do this? Because God wants true love and true worship. Not out of compulsion, but from love and a true desire to serve, love, and obey Him.
But Didn’t God Know the Future? Why Did He Create It If He Knew They’d Fall?
Some people really get caught up on this question. I mean, we can all understand that God wants true relationships, love, and worship from His creatures. But if He knew mankind would fall, that His “good” creation would sin, then why bother? It seems silly to many unbelievers or new Christians that God would do this.
But if you think about it, don’t we humans do the same exact thing?
When we create our own children, we know certain things about their future (much like how God knows the future). We can know that no matter how much we love or protect our children, they will suffer in this life. They will no doubt feel extreme physical pain many times (losing their first teeth, getting vaccine shots, breaking a bone, bumping their heads, possible surgeries/accidents, etc.).
We know they will feel emotional pain when they endure mocking in school, get their hearts broken by their first infatuation/love, or if they experience the loss of a loved one (which will inevitably happen).
Lastly, we also know that our children will one day die, and there is nothing we can do to help it.
So before we create our own children, we know they will hurt physically, emotionally, and eventually die. We can do nothing about it, and yet we create them anyway. Why? I think we realize that even though bad things happen, it is worth it to have a relationship with our own creation. It’s worth it to look at our own children and see a reflection of ourselves as a gift from God, and experience the miracle of childbirth. We want to experience love and joy, even for a short time while we are on this planet.
So if humans create something that they know will feel pain, yet we don’t consider it evil to have children, then who could ever point the finger at God, when He does the same thing? In fact, God is far better than we humans, because God does have the ability to redeem us. He can grant us life, and prevent us from dying in eternity.
God put something of Himself in us when He created us (we’re made in His “image”). He created us to love us and have a lasting relationship, just like we hope to have when we create our own children. Did God know Adam and Eve would sin? Probably. But God must have found it worth it to endure our sins and rebellion for a little while, and He had a provision for a backup plan for Adam & Eve’s disobedience.
God Had a Backup Plan to the Problem of Sin
It makes no difference that God know Adam and Eve would sin. God, in His wisdom, always has a backup plan. What was the plan? Jesus Christ.
For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
Even though sin entered through one man, Adam, and death to all by that sin—so was sin solved by the blood of one man, Jesus Christ, and through His blood we may have eternal life. Jesus was both fully God and fully man. When He stepped into history, He lived a sinless life, paid the penalty for our sins on the cross, and allowed us to once again become reconciled with our creator.
In fact, Jesus’ redemption was prophesied in Genesis. This prophecy is considered the first prophecy concerning the Messiah in the scriptures, which was revealed as God cursed the serpent:
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
The passage above refers to the fact that, although Satan will wound the woman’s seed (Godly offspring of Eve), the Messiah will ultimately wound the head of the serpent (a fatal wound). In other words, God knew Satan would wound humanity’s heel (an irritation), but Christ would ultimately crush Satan and his influences.
Conclusion: God Knows What He Is Doing
God created mankind with freedom. Freedom to choose life, or freedom to choose death. Freedom to obey Him, or freedom to reject Him. We all have choices. God gave us choices because God wants us to choose to love Him from our own free will.
Yes, God likely knew (in His omniscience) that Adam and Eve would sin. It doesn’t matter. Adam and Eve were redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. God had a backup plan in sending His only begotten Son to the cross to pay for our sins. God is gracious and merciful, and puts up with our sins and disobedience in the hope that we will all come to repentance.
…Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9
Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and they paid a heavy price. In that moment, they died spiritually. Many centuries later, they died physically. They endured hardships and pain. But even so, Adam and Eve were saved from their sins by placing their faith in their redeemer: Jesus Christ.
What about you? Have you repented of your sins? Have you placed your trust in Christ? If you don’t accept Christ, you are dead in your sins and will be judged for your sins. If you place your faith and trust in Christ, God will forgive you of all of your sins and cleanse you and clean and as white as snow. God will remember your sins no more, and on the day of judgment you will be saved from the eternal punishment of sin and rebellion.