Adding to God’s command makes a person vulnerable to deceit and temptation, resulting in sin. At creation, God commanded Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But Eve in Genesis 3:1-4 added to God’s command that touching the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil would also results in death. This makes it easy for the serpent to deceive Eve, since the serpent only needs to touch the fruit from that tree and says “You will not surely die”, proving to Eve that she is wrong. Since Eve is proven wrong on one account, she started to doubt herself and think that she could be wrong also about eating the fruits from that particular tree. It is important to keep God’s command in the heart, without adding or subtracting from it. When in doubt always refer to the scriptures.
There are more lessons to be drawn from this.
The command was given to Adam before Eve was created, there is no record in the scripture that the command applies to Eve or applies to the rest of the creatures in Eden, since God was speaking to Adam directly. There is also no record in the bible that God or Adam told Eve about this command. So, why would it be a sin for Eve to eat of the fruits from the tree of good and evil? The lesson is not to read the scripture too literally, there is a need to understand the context of the command from God. God gave the command to Adam, who has dominion over all the creatures in the air, in the sea and on earth, therefore the command applies to all under Adam’s dominion. Eve is part of Adam, therefore the command also applies to her. This also show how important it is to spread God’s command, without adding or subtracting from it.
It is also important to understand the intention of the command. Without the ability to differentiate good from evil, Adam and Eve would remain pure. Whatever they do would not be held against them, like a child is not responsible for their action. Therefore their action would not results in sin. Understanding the intent of the command, it is obvious that the command applies to all living.
Genesis 2:16-17 (author) Adam commanded to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eve has not been created yet.
16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Genesis 3:1-4 (author) Eve adds to God’s command.
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
We can apply the above on the understanding of the context and intent of a command to the other commands from God. Take for example the command of keeping Sabbath. The command is given to Israel at Mount Sinai. In Exodus 19:5-6, God chose Israel to be a kingdom of priest over all people on earth and gave Israel the commandments, among which is the command to keep Sabbath for men, beast of burden and the land. Therefore, as priest, Israel is required to teach God’s command to the rest of the world.
Israel has been spread all over the world during the Assyrian exile, Babylonia exile and various persecution throughout history, is there anyone that is certain that they do not have Israelis blood in them?
Exodus 19:5-6 (God) Israel chosen from all people to be a kingdom of priests.
5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
Lets examine the intention of the command to keep Sabbath. In Genesis 1:1-3, when God rested on the seventh day. Did God need a rest? No! God do not need Sabbath, Sabbath is for men and men needs God to continue maintaining the universe. Did God stop all work? No! if God stop his work, this world would cease to exist. God stop his work of creating, but continues with the maintenance of his creation. The intent is for men to rest one day after six days of work, as men needs rest. Some men thinks that Sabbath is only for the Israelis, because it is a command given to Israel not to the rest of men kind. These men need to ask themselves, did God made them differently that they do not need rest? All men are made the same, we all needs rest. Hence we all need to rest one day after six days of work.
Some men debate endlessly, is Sabbath on Saturday or Sunday? This is an addition to God’s command. Sabbath is for men, men is not made for Sabbath. Over emphasis on Sabbath makes Sabbath into a worship, it become an idolatry practice. If a man worked all day staring at the computer monitor, spend Sabbath at home resting, reading the bible from his tablets, is he observing Sabbath. No! His eyes didn’t have a chance to rest, his body didn’t have a chance to exercise, this is not observing Sabbath. This men needs to get out, exercise so that the body can be refreshed. He needs to go to a community to interact with others, contemplate God words, so that his spirits could be refreshed. Keeping the Sabbath day holy is to spent the day with God, enjoy and appreciate his creation, learnt his command and spread his command. This is observing Sabbath.
Some men combine Sabbath for men and that for the land, leading to the Sabbatical year, where they take a year leave for every six years of work. This is men’s addition to God’s command. Leaving the land to fallow for one year, for every six years of farming is for the land, so that the land can be refreshed. Having Sabbatical leave is not a commonly acceptable practice in most society, it leads to destructive disruption in work, results in difficulty getting jobs or keeping jobs. Hence the practice starts to change, reducing to 2 months Sabbatical leave. If one of God’s command could be changed, then the other commands could also be changed, leading to sins. Sabbatical year is not a requirement from God. One year rest sounds good initially, but soon becomes a torture.
Brothers and sisters, it is important not to add to God’s command, important to understand the context, understand the intent of the command. God’s command is simple, it is good for men’s welfare. It is given, so that men can do it!
Genesis 1:1-3 (author) Sabbath is to work six days, take one day rest from the work
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
Exodus 20:8-11 (author) God’s command on keeping Sabbath for men
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Exodus 23:10-12 (God) God’ command for keeping Sabbath for the land and men
10 “For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield, 11 but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the beasts of the field may eat. You shall do likewise with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard. 12 “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed.
Exodus 31:16-17 (God) Law on keeping Sabbath
16 Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. 17 It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’
Elias, Malachi 4:5-6