The king had done so much for the couple. Everything in their garden home was a gift from him. But it was the king himself who won their hearts. He was full of surprises, but he didn’t hide how he felt about them. His love and respect for the caretakers was obvious.
Even though the king could have controlled their every thought and action, he was wise. At great risk, he gave them the gift of choice. He even gave the caretakers enough space to walk away from him if they wanted to. He knew that if they couldn’t leave him, neither could they choose to stay. Without freedom of choice and expression, the king’s vision for a free world could not be realized.
THE TEST OF TRUST
To give the caretakers freedom, the king planted two trees in the center of the garden. One he called the tree of life. The other he described as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A central garden path forked at the trees and went off in two different directions.
According to the king, the couple could eat of all of the trees of the garden, with one exception. If they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would die.7 The caretakers understood that the king was giving them a choice. But they weren’t sure what the king meant by death. He had given them so much to enjoy. Why would he put anything off limits?
THE LOSS OF INNOCENCE
The man and woman were about to meet someone who had more problems with the king’s rules than they did. Up until now, they didn’t know the king had any enemies.
The one who was about to walk into their lives had not always been a rebel. In another time and place, he too had been entrusted with honor and privilege. In the service of the king he was known by the names of “Light Bearer” and “Son of the Morning.”8
At some point, however, Light Bearer became inflated with self-importance. Convinced that he deserved everything he had been given, he wanted what the king had withheld. Light Bearer began to imagine what it would be like to rule rather than to serve. He became intrigued with the thought of forming his own kingdom. When he finally decided to leave, he didn’t go quietly. He convinced one-third of all the king’s servants to join him.9 That was when Light Bearer became known as “the prince of darkness.”
In the days that followed, the rebel and his followers wandered the universe looking for a place to call their own. Along the way, they heard about the king’s caretakers and the garden home he had given them.
With a plan as dark as the night sky, the rebel entered the garden in disguise. With a charm that concealed his motives, he drew the woman into a conversation.
THE TURNING POINT
With a well-timed question, the rebel set his trap. “Is what I’ve heard true? Has the king denied you access to every part of your own home?” At first the woman defended the king.10 But then, as she looked at the creature, she found herself having thoughts that had never occurred to her. “Why would the king say no to us about anything? What doesn’t he want us to know?”
The questions kept coming. Was the king holding out on them? Did he warn them about the path marked by the tree of forbidden knowledge only because he didn’t want them to know as much as he did?
Having doubts about their creator was a new experience for the woman. She had often talked with her partner about the wisdom of the king. Together they wondered where he had come from and how he could know so much about everything. Their own relationship had deepened as the king shared more of himself with them.
Now, however, all that they had learned didn’t seem to be enough. What happened next was a turning point they would never forget.
The woman started down the forbidden path and motioned for her partner to follow.
For a moment, the first caretaker paused. He remembered hearing the king describe what would happen if they ever took this path. He remembered hearing both love and concern in the king’s voice.
The man could hear his heart pounding. He felt caught and torn between his partner, the king, and his own curiosity.
As the couple started down the path together, it was as if they had taken a powerful drug. Their minds were altered. Their innocence was gone. They felt exposed and vulnerable. With the tree of the knowledge of good and evil behind them, they grabbed leaves from the garden and sewed them together to cover themselves.11