Education in the Garden of Eden

“Behold, God is exalted by His power; who teaches like Him?” (Job 36:22, NKJV).

When God created man, He placed him in the Garden of Eden to tend the garden. Adam and Eve were placed in this garden school to learn to care for plants, trees, and flowers. Thus, the first college was the Garden of Eden. The first lesson taught to man was a Horticultural lesson. God was the first teacher for Adam and Eve in which he is called “the Teacher of Truth.” The second teacher in Eden was Satan, the serpent, and named the “false teacher.” The third teacher was the One who bruised the serpent’s head, Jesus Christ, the greatest teacher who ever lived.

Adam and Eve’s first employment was that of agricultural work. Labor was a blessing for our forebears—Adam and Eve. Work was assigned in Eden to serve as a guide against idleness. God knew that man would not be happy without employment. Work was created for man’s happiness.

God doesn’t just call us to salvation. He also calls us to work. God ordained Adam to become engaged in agricultural work. He appointed him, giving him responsibilities and authority: “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to take care of it.” (Gen 2:15, NKJV).

Ellen G. White said:

The book of nature should be studied by all. The soil is cultivated, and the seed is put into the ground. Then God, through his miracle-working power, sends the rain and sunshine, causing the seed to send forth, first the blade, then the ear, and then the corn in the ear. Thus the materials are provided from which man, using his God-given faculties, prepares the loaf which is placed upon the table. In this way God feeds thousands, and ten times ten thousand, a multitude which cannot be numbered.[1]

Work helps people to be satisfied. Leadership is a great privilege, and with that privilege comes great responsibility. It was John F. Kennedy who said, “with great privilege comes great responsibility.” Ellen White says, “Love, the basis of creation and of redemption, is the basis of true education.”[2] She goes on to say:

The system of education instituted at the beginning of the world was to be a model for man throughout all after time. As an illustration of its principles a model school was established in Eden, the home of our first parents. The Garden of Eden was the schoolroom, nature was the lesson book, the Creator Himself was the instructor, and the parents of the human family were the students.[3]

Education, regardless of its discipline or what we teach, must be practical. God did not teach Adam and Eve to be theoretical farmers; He also provided for them the soil where they could learn practical knowledge. God established one key rule that they must obey, and that was not to eat from the forbidden tree.

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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.” (Gen 2:16-17, NKJV).

While Genesis 1 and 2 gave man a perfect environment, Genesis 3 introduces the reader to the intrusion of a rebellious idea, a concept that disturbed God’s ideal plan. Sin came. The purpose of this “introduction is twofold: to acquaint the reader with the historical background of chapters 12 to 50 in Genesis and to point out some characteristics of this literary unit.”[4]

God taught Adam and Eve, yet, they did not seem to have been the most dedicated. It seems that though Eve was taught of God in the Garden, she didn’t take what she learned as seriously as she should have, as we can see by the very language she used. Genesis 3 presents an abrupt shift from that of Genesis 2. Whereas Genesis 2 talks about God as a gardener who placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to till the soil, Genesis 3 talks about humanity’s fall.

Adam and Eve were created sinless and had a free moral will. Eve was deceived by Satan, who planted the seed of pride. Consequently, Eve chose to disobey God and led Adam down the same pathway. Their sin had serious consequences on both, and on the human race as well.

While in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had a God-centered type of education. Eve had freedom to ask God regarding Satan’s false charges against eating the fruit of the forbidden tree and why they did not have free access to it. The serpent’s question about God’s instruction, and his subsequent suggestion that God had selfish motives in giving these directions, created curiosity in Eve’s mind; so much so that she wanted to know how her eyes could be opened if she partook of the forbidden fruit. This kind of learning was reflected in the way Eve responded to Satan. Her dialogue with him opened a can of worms. The couple immediately died spiritually and much later physically.

Moses wrote concerning what the serpent said to the woman:

You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate (Gen 3:4-6, NKJV).

Being attracted to the forbidden tree affected three major areas in Eve’s life. She was affected “aesthetically,” “physically,” and “intellectually.” The progression from aesthetic (delight of the eyes) to physical (eating) to intellectual (source of wisdom), involved a process of rationalization. The process for Adam followed a somewhat different path. When they committed sin, their eyes were opened. The new knowledge of sin brought with it shame and nudity that did not exist prior to the fall. Adam attempted to pass the blame to Eve (his wife), Eve to the serpent, and eventually Adam inferred that God had some responsibility (cf. Gen 3:12).

God punished them: the serpent was to lose its glory; the woman would give birth in pain, and her desire would be to her husband (cf. vs. 16), the man would toil over the unproductive soil, and would eat while perspiring (cf. vs. 17). Adam and Eve’s first lesson on stewardship was not heeded well. Their disobedience brought shame upon themselves and upon the rest of humanity.

Knowledge is not everything that education imparts; true education must birth true knowledge. True education does not aim to fill one’s mind with knowledge, but aims to help the individual analyze things and acquire useful information. True education taught Adam and Eve about God, and today should teach people about Christ. It was Mahatma Gandhi who penned these great words:

True education is something different. Man is made of three constituents, the body, mind and spirit. Of them, spirit is the one permanent element in man. The body and the mind function on account of it. Hence we can call that education which reveals the qualities of spirit.[5]

When we understand Adam and Eve’s fall, we can better understand the purpose of education in the present age. In spite of their banishment, life in an imperfect world ushered in a new purpose for education.

The apostle Peter gives believers sound advice about the need for growth in their Christian experience.

But also for this very reason [of being partakers of fellowship with Christ], giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet 1:5–11, NKJV).

Peter gives us a list: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, and so on. Notice, too, that knowledge is one of the things Peter mentions. This idea, of course, leads to the notion of education. True education will lead to true knowledge, the knowledge of Christ, and thus not only will we become more like Him, we also are invited as ambassadors to share our knowledge of Him with others.

Second Peter 1 and 2, however, make it evident that our education in Christ is an equal-opportunity experience for those who will dedicate themselves.

The writer of this lesson said: “Is it possible that part of our education in Christianity is not only avoiding temptation but also learning the many ways that God can and does deliver us from it as well as help guard us against those, he warns, who will ‘secretly bring in destructive heresies’ (2 Pet. 2:1, NKJV)?”

Adam and Eve were presumptuous sinners. They knew what God forbade them to do, yet they set God’s authority aside and violated His law, because they succumbed to Satan's deception. Therefore, God removed them from the Tree of Life in the Garden so they wouldn’t eat of it and live forever in a sinful, unrepentant condition—God wants no unrepentant rebels in His kingdom. The account sends a strong warning to us to be aware of present-day deceptions.

Through an educational process, God made sure that Adam and Eve understood the consequences of eating of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. If they subsequently had eaten of the Tree of Life, sin would have been immortalized in their bodies.

The wisdom that Adam and Eve gained through following Satan’s suggestions was a proud wisdom that hates rules, despises authority, and embarks on a selfish quest for autonomy. It is characterized by bitter envy and selfish ambition (Jam 3:16). It distances us from God, and ultimately produces the kind of despair felt by the writer of Ecclesiastes when he described all human wisdom as “Meaningless.

Youssry Guirguis is an Old Testament scholar with a special interest in the area of Islamic studies at the Asia-Pacific International University in Thailand and the Andrews MAR (extension site) program director for the Asia-Pacific International University. He is an adjunct professor in Middle East University’s Master in Islamic Studies Program and has conducted research in the areas of biblical studies, Islamic studies, and biblical rituals.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels.

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[1]Ellen G. White, Counsels on Agriculture (Fort Oglethorpe, GA: Teach Services, 2016), 15.        

[2]Ellen G. White, Education (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press. 1903), 16.

[4]Celia Brewer Marshall and Celia B. Sinclair, A Guide Through the Old Testament (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1968), 34.

[5]Mahatma Gandhi, The Essential Writings, ed. Mohandas Karamchand (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2008), 300.

 


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/10757
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I have to say that I am a little disappointed with this quarter which, rather than being primarily sourced in the Bible seems an effort to regurgitate the book “Education,” not that I have anything against Ellen White or that book. However, we have not done this previously with more seminal works such as the “Conflict of the Ages” series or the “Testimonies.” Why now? Is it intended to coincide with the first part of the school year as an effort to encourage parochial school enrollment?

That being said, I appreciate Spectrum’s willingness to appeal to a broader authorship, even including very conservative authors like this. Maybe some of those conservative believers who have had problems with Spectrum in the past over its progressiveness and have tended to gravitate to Fulcrum7 will now find a more welcoming environment.

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The wages of sin was/is death. After their disobedience, death came into effect as punishment. Could eating of the tree of life defy and serve as antidote for death?

After eating of the forbidden fruit they had lost immortality and became mortal, how then could they immortalize sin when they are to return to dust at death as destined?

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I think you’re reading some common theology into the text which, in my opinion, isn’t really there. Genesis doesn’t ever say that humanity (The Adam) was either morally perfect or immortal. In fact, in the narrative it seems like the Tree of Life is what keeps The Adam alive. That is why they were expelled as punishment, and a cherubim posted as a guard. The Christian tendency to think a “good” world must be a perfect one without animal death (but not plant or cell death?) isn’t really reflected in the text of Genesis. For instance, Jews have never held a common view of a spiritual “fall” in Eden. They see it very differently. :slight_smile:

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[quote=“thenerdwithin, post:4, topic:20838”]
Jews have never held a common view of a spiritual “fall” in Eden.
[/quote]

The reason is that the story says nothing about a fall or sin or Satan.
And predictions of bruised heads and heels without interpretation didn’t
seem to cheer A&E.

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May be you are not aware of Adventist theology. My point was based on strong Adventist theology,its a common, Adventist theology!

I don’t think this is an appropriate take on this. And this is one of the most problematic concepts in fundamentalist interpretation “stack”.

First it’s a conjecture-driven interpretation which you will not find anywhere in the Biblical narrative. You will not find a concept that it was some proud wisdom that hated rules and embarked on selfish autonomy that served as a motivation factor. No Biblical writers come even close to suggesting this.

Secondly, you have to consider about all of the parallels to historic human development that are packed in that story at the level of everyday life, before we can move on and deduce literal and complex understanding, or even assume that the literal understanding of that narrative was important to the writers.

I’ll list just a few, so it becomes more obvious.

Some more direct ones

  1. Snakes happen to crawl around or in fruit trees, because fruit trees attract rodents and birds, which in turn attract snakes.

  2. Women were gatherers, and would likely encounter snakes around fruit trees.

  3. Some fruit will poison you, even though it will taste great. Some will poison you in a span of few hours, some will poison you over longer period of time of consumption, in which accumulation of poison results in organ failure… hence the warning of the poisonous nature of such fruit may not be evident, especially if one sees other people eating it and do fine.

  4. Prefrontal Cortex is responsible for complex planning and decision making, and social awareness and behavior. It’s bigger in women, and matures a lot faster. Hence, women come to “knowledge of good and evil” first, in quite literal sense of that idea of human maturity.

  5. Human development depends on parental support and supervision. It begins with some degree of absolute trust, and gradually progresses to independent thinking, and perhaps even disagreements with parents on various novel issues.

  6. Fixation and curiosity, and even obsession over forbidden is a known psychological effect in humans. Typically, people can want more what they are told they can’t have.

  7. Humans and animals have a fight, flight or freeze response. The freeze response to snakes, which snakes take advantage of may lead to improper conclusion of about deceptive abilities of snakes to control or hypnotize their prey to obey their will.

  8. Fear of snakes is one of the most common phobias detected in general populations fairly consistently. Women are four times as likely to have it as men. The running hypothesis is that snakes exerted selective pressure on primates to evolve visual acuity. Hence, they could see better specifically to avoid snakes. Humans tend to have enhanced response in visual brain centers when they see or react to a snake.

  9. Trees can span multiple generations of people, hence these were associated with age and wisdom, especially as it perceived as something complex with many branches. Ancients wouldn’t see brain that way, but it’s interesting that our brain pathways resemble tree-like structures.

I could add more complex layers on top, which are dealing with human relationship to ideal, etc. But, the point is that there are possible historical context for these stories to exist in that specific narrative… which would not be necessitated by these narratives being the actual reality as opposed a fusion of multiple contexts of reality into a single story. IMO it doesn’t make it less true. It actually makes it more true.

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They were always mortal, always dependent creatures. Life and its continuance in the garden story was always dependent upon what God provided. This is the meaning of the tree of life within the narrative. The root dilemma of sin was the seeking to shed dependency upon God and what he provided, and blurring the boundaries between creature and creator.

Even in Revelation, the image of the tree of life is in the city of God, indicating that life in the age to come will always be dependent upon God and what he provides, not an intrinsic immortality that we will possess. We will always be creatures dependent upon the creator for life.

Frank

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The article lost me after the umpteenth quote from EGW, and the proof text method it employs. It also lost me when it made the claim that nudity was introduced into the garden after sin. That clearly contradicts the text that says that both man and woman were naked and unashamed, before the incident at the tree. It again draws on EGW, who drew on an obscure interpretive tradition about the Edenic couple being clothed in halos of light before sin. It’s just not there in the text itself.

Such interpretation seems to spring from and engenders shame about the human body, sex, etc. It almost sounds gnostic… the spiritual is good, but the material creation, including our bodies, is evil, and is to be overcome by the truly spiritual. That leads to real gross distortion not only of the Bible, but of healthy, integrated, spiritual life.

Honestly, I’ve been quite disappointed with the quality of the latest sabbath school articles in Spectrum. I can’t believe that more penetrating commentary isn’t available.

Thanks…

Frank

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I am so delighted with this article by Youssry Guirguis as a complement to the first lesson in the new quarterly. My Sabbath School class, comprised of 30-45 participants (via ZOOM and/or phone) were so pleased with the lesson study, we decided to start Sabbath evening. There is much ground and depth of content to study that we could not have done it in the 90 minutes typically allotted on Sabbath morning. It’s the first time we’ve held a 4-hour Sabbath School session!

I want to convey our appreciation and gratitude for the work all of you are doing and the personal effort you have put into this ministry. It has been a blessing and source of inspiration during these tumultuous times. Well done, Spectrum.

Warmly,
Rochelle Wolberg

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“Education in the Garden of Eden”,
and “modern” sex education:

I will specifically address SEX EDUCATION, which in the Garden was unfortunately taken over by Satan instead of God. (Sometimes Satan manages to do the same thing in current sex education as it is commonly taught But I will mostly discuss Eden and will provide current examples only if challenged to do so.

Gen 1:27 (KJV):
“ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Notice that sex was linked specifically in this verse to being a very important part of God’s image in humans. One could even infer that God has gender. Sex is one of God’s greatest gifts. So naturally Satan has attacked human sexuality with spectacularly evil results.

After they disobeyed, Adam and Eve attempted to make some crude clothing to hide their nakedness; and they tried to hide from God. That evening God came to them as usual. Gen 3:7 says, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” Knowing they were naked would NOT have normally made them ashamed. I imagine that the normal reaction for a sinless couple who suddenly discovered sexuality should have been something like, “hey Eve, you are really pretty, I would like to touch”. But instead they were ashamed. WHY?

WHY Indeed.
The answer is found in Gen 3:11, God asked, “Who told you that you were naked?”

Gen 3:22.
“God said the man has become like us to know good and evil”
The dialogue prior to this verse can be condensed to,
“The Serpent said…ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil…and he did eat…and they knew that they were naked” (verses 3:4-7)

Notice that in becoming like God and knowing good from evil,
that they suddenly became aware that they were naked and were ashamed. Innocence was lost.
They SHOULD have been ashamed of disobeying God, but instead they were ashamed of
their nakedness.
WHY DID SEX SUDDENLY GET ASSOCIATED WITH EVIL?
Satan accomplished two things: He shifted their feelings of guilt from the real crime of disobeying God to the imaginary crime of nakedness.
I think that when their eyes were opened, Satan took the opportunity to whisper to them both that they were very naughty children and they should be ashamed of their naked bodies. So, from the very beginning of sin, sex became unhappily associated with evil. WHY? I don’t understand that association. Sex is fun, wonderful, and exhilarating; but Satanically misled human nature intervened and made it nasty, even perverse. Just think of the pure fun that Adam and Eve missed by fouling God’s most fun gift. And conversely, some of the most degenerate, disgusting, and deadly evil on this earth is associated with sadistic sexual crime. SEX SUDDENLY GOT ASSOCIATED WITH EVIL!
Current sex education as it is sometimes taught strays away from biological facts and ventures into topics that many Christians would find perverse.

Welcome Rochelle.
I hear you are new to Spectrum.
I bet if you advertised an invitation here that some Spectrum folks would join your SS Zoom class.
We need more old fashioned conservative folks here at Spectrum to maintain a balance, but welcome regardless of your philosophy.
I wish for you (and all of us) truth and salvation.
Bill

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Your observation is very true. She got it from the tradition and the Apocryphal writings:
“This sinless pair wore no artificial garments. They were clothed with a covering of light and glory, such as the angels wear” (3SG, p. 34, 1864).
Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824): “Eve arose before Adam, and he gave her his hand. They were like two unspeakably noble and beautiful chil­dren, perfectly luminous, and clothed with beams of light as with a veil” (Life of Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations, Vol. 1, p. 8).
James P. Simmons : “By reason of transgression he had been stripped of that “white robe” in which, as a holy angel, he had been clothed in heaven, and driven down to earth” (War in Heaven, p. 217, 1871).
Alexander Walker (1825-1903): “And in that very hour mine eyes were opened, and I knew that I was stripped of the righteousness with which I had been clothed; and I wept sating, What is this thou hast done to me, because I have been deprived of the glory with which I was clothed?… And I quickly persuaded him, and he ate; and his eyes were opened, and he was also aware of his nakedness. And he says to me, O wicked woman, why hast thou wrought mischief in us? Thou has alienated me from the glory of God” (Apocryphal Gospels, pp. 459, 460, 1870).

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Because it was written by men, not God. Do we think that God really equated sex with depravity? Some of the Bible writers evidently did. They were still at it in the second century:

These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. (Rev 14:4)

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