Genesis 2 15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
The LORD offers a commandment to the first man in the state of his innocency that included a most generous provision for him, a most clear prohibition, and most ominous warning (vv. 16-17).
This is sometimes called the covenant of creation, or the covenant of life, or the covenant of works.
Calvin called it “a test of obedience” (commentary on Gen 2:16).
First, there is the most generous provision, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat.” What an incredible variety of trees God gave to man in his innocence to enjoy! You think the fruit of trees in this fallen world taste good now, imagine what they were like before the fall! And notice they were not barred from eating from the tree of life. A way was opened unto man to live forever (see 3:22)!
Second, however, there was the clear prohibition: “But, of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat it” (v. 17a).
We get a clue here as to how sin operates. We know it from our fallen selves. God provides for us a vast array of things that we might pursue that are wholesome, right, good, and soul-satisfying. And what is the thing we crave? That which he in his wisdom forbids.
The parent says, Don’t touch the stove, and the child thinks, I wonder what it would feel like to touch the stove! And very often the hand reaches out to touch the stove and gets burned.
There is finally also the ominous warning: “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (v. 17b). Man cannot say he was not warned. Paul will write in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death. God said it first in the garden. Adam and Eve will not immediately drop down dead, but spiritual death and eventual physical death will come the moment this commandment is disobeyed and the covenant is broken.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle