This “What If” post started as a reflection on the Tree of Knowledge series and in particular The Tree They Could Eat post. However, as Christmas 2020 and Epiphany 2021 has come and gone my “what if” post started to look and feel different – it does help if you wait on God. So, please read on as I either ramble or expound (readers’ choice) on the topic of – What If.
Tree of Life – The “what if” here will require some imagination. What if Adam and Eve had eaten from the Tree of Life first? Would the great religious term “original sin” have been draped on our necks? Following this thought would there have been a need for religion at all?
Proverbs 3:18 connects the tree of life with wisdom. What Adam and Eve got was knowledge, not wisdom and we have seen how that worked out. Would the serpent be able to temp them at that point? Adam had imparted what he knew to Eve, how the “don’t touch” phrase got added is open to debate. That add-in became the first religious, not righteous, statement ever made – humanity has been adding their thoughts to God’s words and not doing His will ever since.
Besides living forever could the Tree of Life impart wisdom? We can see that at the end of all things the “overcomers” in Heaven will be able to eat from the Tree and be healed forever. Would Adam and Eve be able to ignore the temptation of the serpent and stuff a fig in his mouth thus changing history? Well, that did not happen so let’s go to God’s Plan B.
Christmas – I am going to ramble first so please bear with me. Because Adam and Eve ate the fruit we get to sing about figgy pudding at Christmas time. On the bright side, we don’t have designer fig-leaf and accessory lines to deal with. The Christmas Carol and most modern rom-com Christmas movies are really “what if” stories. (Spoiler alert- Amazon Prime actually listed one older version of the Christmas Carol as a horror movie.) Time-changing ghosts or angels, bumps on the head, or unusual “portals” allow people to change their lives and fulfill a “what if” in their lives. Lost loves, missed chances, or bad attitudes and behaviors are some of the “ifs” that will get changed. Okay, now I will expound some.
Jesus and the Christmas story had to happen because the fruit looked good. Eve had no context to know if it would taste good or give her any advance mental abilities (Gen.2:6). Well, the knowledge part could have come from the name of the tree (God said that) and a crafty, lying snake. The “good for food” part is still very much up for debate in my mind because not all good-looking fruit tastes nice.
Israel’s history up to the time of Jesus showed God’s mercy, compassion, and love for His people and His willingness to give second chances. Before you distort the “God is love” fact, please remember the fall of Jerusalem, the exile of the Northern Kingdom, and the horror stories that caused “judges” to have to arise and set things up for a “what if” story. God did allow judgments to fall on the People because they followed their concepts of “good and evil” and not those of the Father. Jesus’ life starting with His first coming (Christmas) and going to His crucifixion and ascension is the fulfillment of the types and shadows of the Old Testament. Jesus’ life, teachings, and ministry speak of the history and feast of Israel. They should shift our thinking back to the Father’s Kingdom and what it would have been like if Adam and Eve had eaten from a different Tree.
I believe Psalm 8:5-8 gives us a glimpse of our true position here on earth and why Satan tempted Eve and Adam. Mankind had a place of his own, a job, authority, and (verse 9) was to praise God. Satan wanted all of it, especially the praise.
The Gospel – The story of Jesus had to happen because Adam and Eve choose the wrong “if”. The Good News is a “what if” story in action- what can happen if I believe and follow Jesus. The main problem here is that you have to choose Jesus as your Lord. (Adam and Eve choose a different lord.)
I so wanted to somehow make faith into a “what if”, it is not! Hebrews 11:1 ended that thought – Faith is being sure of what we hope (NIV). This could easily go to a “big wheel” argument (it just keeps going in circles). Stepping out into something new may be a “what if”. Missing the perfect way can allow God to do a “what if”, so things surrounding faith may be or turn into “what ifs”.
Ramblings – In the secular movie Letters to Juliet the protagonist “What-if” shows up early in the movie- hidden and screaming in silence but trying to catch its voice. You don’t really see its full influence until the end, starting with the marriage feast. The antagonist “Win-win” really steers the early direction of the film starting with the trip to Italy. Win-win is a perfect hero for one character but leaves one gasping and grasping. As the film ends, you know that Win-win lost but What-if’s final status looks good but hidden in the haze of a beautiful setting sun. (If you watch the movie know it has some questionable themes.)
Win-win has snuck into churches and is in a constant battle with What-if. For 2000 years Win-win has taken Kingdom terminology, thoughts, and actions and have misused them. Win-wins have twisted all sorts of Kingdom ways into paths that do not have JESUS AS LORD. I have asked people if they are Christian. The answer was not yes or no but what denomination they belonged to. Some people might say they are saved, but they cannot tell you from what. While other pew-sitters are sure that the Epistles are the wives of the Apostles (lol).
Final Thought – You will have what-ifs when you are following the Holy Spirit as He leads you to Jesus. Some will and some won’t be what you expect. Grace, however, is our game changer. Jesus is in the forgiving and second-chance business. Mercy is new every morning, but you have to take it. I am sure that the Father has a Plan A and a Plan B for you and all will work your “what if’s” together for your good.