From Eternity Past


Chapter 3—The Predicament of Our First Parents

This chapter is based on Genesis 3.

No longer free to stir up rebellion in heaven, Satan found a new field in plotting the ruin of the human race. Moved by envy, he determined to bring upon them the guilt and penalty of sin. He would change their love to distrust and their songs of praise to reproaches against their Maker. Thus he would not only plunge these innocent beings into misery but cast dishonor upon God, and cause grief in heaven. EP 22.1

Heavenly messengers opened to our first parents the history of Satan's fall and his plots for their destruction, unfolding the nature of the divine government which the prince of evil was trying to overthrow. EP 22.2

The law of God is a revelation of His will, a transcript of His character, the expression of divine love and wisdom. The harmony of creation depends upon perfect conformity to the law of the Creator. Everything is under fixed laws, which cannot be disregarded. But man alone, of all that inhabits the earth, is amenable to moral law. To man, God has given power to comprehend the justice and beneficence of His law, and of man unswerving obedience is required. EP 22.3

Like the angels, the dwellers in Eden had been placed upon probation. They could obey and live, or disobey and perish. He who spared not the angels that sinned, could not spare them; transgression would bring upon them misery and ruin. EP 22.4

The angels warned them to be on guard against the devices of Satan. If they steadfastly repelled his first insinuations, they would be secure. But should they once yield to temptation, their nature would become so depraved that in themselves they would have no power, and no disposition, to resist Satan. EP 22.5

The tree of knowledge had been made a test of their obedience and love to God. If they should disregard His will in this particular, they would incur guilt. Satan was not to follow them with continual temptations; he could have access to them only at the forbidden tree. EP 23.1

To accomplish his work unperceived, Satan employed a disguise. The serpent was one of the wisest and most beautiful creatures. It had dazzling brightness. Resting in the forbidden tree, regaling itself with the delicious fruit, it was an object to arrest attention and delight the eye. Thus in the garden of peace lurked the destroyer. EP 23.2

The angels had cautioned Eve to beware of separating from her husband. With him she would be in less danger than if alone. But she unconsciously wandered from his side. Unmindful of the angel's caution, she soon found herself gazing with mingled curiosity and admiration upon the forbidden tree. The fruit was beautiful, and she questioned why God had withheld it from them. EP 23.3

Now was the tempter's opportunity. “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Eve was startled to hear the echo of her thoughts. The serpent continued with subtle praise of her surpassing loveliness, and his words were not displeasing. Instead of fleeing from the spot, she lingered. She had no thought that the fascinating serpent could be the medium of the fallen foe. EP 23.4

She replied: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” EP 23.5

By partaking of this tree, he declared, they would attain a more exalted existence. He himself had eaten and had acquired the power of speech. He insinuated that the Lord had jealously withheld it from them, lest they be exalted to equality with Himself. It was because it imparted wisdom and power that He had prohibited them from tasting or touching it. The divine warning was merely to intimidate them. How could it be possible for them to die? Had they not eaten of the tree of life? God had been seeking to prevent them from reaching a nobler development, and finding greater happiness. EP 24.1

Such has been Satan's work from the days of Adam to the present. He tempts men to distrust God's love and doubt His wisdom. In their efforts to search out what God has withheld, multitudes overlook truths which are essential to salvation. Satan tempts men to disobedience, to believe they are entering a wonderful field of knowledge. But this is all a deception. They are setting their feet in the path that leads to degradation and death. EP 24.2