Rolling back the Torah scroll each year, we start again at the beginning. In the culmination of His magnificent creative work, Yehovah creates mankind in His image, gives them dominion over the earth, blesses them, and provides for all their needs, notably, His presence among them. He prepares a home for them, surrounding them with incomprehensible life and beauty. And He gives them only one law, one instruction:
“of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” –Gen 2:17
This experience is all that man knows: Yehovah is their creator, placing them in a garden paradise, bringing man and woman together, and giving them provision to eat from any tree except the one.
Isn’t it interesting that Yehovah’s first instruction to mankind is a dietary command? Eating food is a basic function of life. How deeply ingrained is the submissive worship of Elohim when even the most mundane aspects of life come under the authority of His Word! Yehovah does not give a reason for this command, and man does not ask. Life is good in this arrangement. Man’s prosperity is not dependent on understanding the reasoning behind Yehovah’s instruction. Man simply accepts the law because Elohim told Him so.
Enter the serpent, the outside voice. It’s not surprising that the first move of the enemy is to attack the Word of Elohim. He blatantly misquotes Yehovah saying,
“Moreover because Elohim said, ’You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’” –Gen 3:1.
In fact, the serpent speaks the exact opposite from what Yehovah told man,
“You may surely eat from any tree of the garden” –Gen 2:16.
The enemy immediately seeds the lie which makes an appeal to man’s appetites and simultaneously fosters doubt in Elohim’s Word, His intentions, and His character. After all, why wouldn’t Yehovah want man to have what appears good and pleasing? Additionally, the serpent quotes only part of what Yehovah actually said, conveniently leaving out the clause regarding avoidance of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The woman attempts to correct his error, but the serpent responds by repeating his strategy. He first lies about Elohim’s Word,
“You shall not surely die” (compare to Gen 2:17).
Then, as if to paint Yehovah as a tyrant, he strikes at His character saying,
“Elohim knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like Elohim knowing good and evil” –Gen 3:5.
Forgetting Yehovah’s law, the woman saw, delighted, desired, took, and gave to her husband with her. Then they ate. What was the result of such a cascade? Nakedness. Fear. Hiding. Estrangement.
The voice of Yehovah calls out in fellowship to man, who at one time may have run into his Creator’s arms, but now responds sheepishly from behind tree and leaves. Then comes the Almighty’s question regarding man’s nakedness, “Who told you?”
This question is key. Yehovah doesn’t ask it out of curiosity but in order to bring conviction, to point out that the man had chosen to set aside Elohim’s Word in order to obey the outside voice. Up until this time, the man’s entire experience was reliance on Yehovah. All the man saw was created by Elohim. All he acquired was provided by Elohim. All he knew was told him by Elohim. Everything man comprehended revealed Elohim as the source. So who told man he was naked? It certainly wasn’t Yehovah. That information came from a source other than the Creator. In asking the question, Yehovah reveals to man that the object of his reliance had changed to another.
Six thousand years have passed and we continue to fall into the same trap as our ancestors. Yehovah has instructed man regarding His Law yet we often hear the challenge against His Word, “Did Elohim really say?” The outside voice calls Yehovah a liar and undermines His motives. Appealing to human senses, it tickles the ear of man in the form of false theology, science, logic, relativism, and plain old self-centeredness. The “if it feels good, then do it” philosophy has never been more alive and well. Ignoring Yehovah’s Law, man listens to the outside voice, and according to James, commits adultery against his Creator,
“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with Elohim?” (Jam 4:4).
He becomes estranged from the Elohim of Israel and opens himself up to an experience never meant for him. In disobedience he reflects the image of the fallen rather than the Exalted. How often this pattern repeats itself! We ignore Elohim’s Word in our faith like disregarding His Sabbaths and making our own. We ignore Elohim’s Word in major life decisions like choosing a spouse, a career, and relationships. We ignore it in daily decisions like how to raise children, how to manage finances, how full to fill a schedule, what to eat, what to listen to, what to watch on TV, to thoughts, attitudes, and goals. How often we knowingly or unknowingly forget to ask who is truly behind the wheel. How frequently the outside voice supersedes Elohim’s Word in our lives, calling good evil and evil good. How often we follow the serpent’s counsel. How often we sew the seeds of falsehood then cry out to Yehovah as we reap its bitter fruit of nakedness, fear, and estrangement.
“When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against Yehovah.” -Prov 19:3
We sacrifice Elohim’s Word in the name of self-sufficiency and instead of conquering sin, habit, and sickness as we were created to do, we are conquered by them. How life-changing it would be if we consulted Yehovah in all we did and ceased to “perish for lack of knowledge” – Hos 4:6.
“Trust in Yehovah with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” -Prov 3:5-6
I challenge you to begin allowing your life to be audited against the measuring rod of the Bible. Go back to the beginning. Leave no stone unturned. From where did you receive your building blocks when you laid your faith foundation? Your parents? Your pastor? Your friends? Your culture? Your emotions? Your appetites? The outside voice or the Elohim of Israel? Where do you still listen to the serpent, effectively distancing yourself from Yehovah’s influence in your life? Who told you to do that? Who told you to think that way? Who told you to feel that way? Who told you to treat yourself or others that way? Who told you to fear that thing? Who told you to add that theology to Elohim’s Word? Who told you to subtract that part of Scripture from your faith? Who told you to say ‘Yes’ when Yehovah said ‘No’? And who told you to say ‘No’ when Yehovah said ‘Yes’? Who told you to love what He hates and hate what He loves? Ask Yehovah to open your eyes to the life you are living before Him, and allow His Spirit to begin asking your soul, “Who told you?”