“Why Did God Put the Tree in the Garden in the First Place?” Contest Winners

As the question above from a 3rd grader demonstrates, teaching children can really keep you on your “theological toes.” Children can come up with the most basic yet profound questions—questions that theologians have thought about and wrestled with for years. As teachers we need to be prepared to thoughtfully and truthfully answer our student’s questions with age-appropriate language and concepts. That is no easy task, especially when the question isn’t specifically addressed in Scripture. So how did some of our readers answer the contest question? Here are some excerpts showing the scope of the answers:

  • God wanted to demonstrate to everyone that a living and eternal loving fellowship with Him is only possible by being given a new heart that seeks to follow Him completely. That is the new covenant we have been given in Jesus Christ. Even Adam who lived in an ideal world with easy access to God sinned when faced with the decision to trust God or not. 
  • God wanted us to understand how great His mercy is. God’s mercy couldn’t be fully experienced in a sinless world. God’s mercy is best seen by His saving sinners.
  •  …since Adam has been given authority to govern God’s creation like the animals and name them (such a huge task), etc., the Lord had placed that tree in the garden to remind Adam that even though Adam was given the leadership task and therefore a sense of authority, the Lord reminds Adam that He is the ultimate Authority that even Adam and the entire creations have to acknowledge, worship and bow to.
  •  He put the tree in the garden because He wanted to test their hearts and for them to know that He is the Creator over all things and for them to have the obedience of Faith in Him alone.
  •  The greatest way that God has shown us His love is through Jesus and His death on the cross for sinners. If Adam and Eve had never eaten from the one tree, there never would have been a need for a Savior.  The tree, sin, and the death of Jesus were all part of God’s plan from the very beginning (2 Timothy 1:9).
  • God placed the tree in the garden because He wanted to give Adam and Eve true freedom—the freedom to love and obey God and the freedom to disobey. His love for them (and us) is not coerced. Nor does He desire a coerced love from us; He desires a true relationship and wants us to want to obey Him. Just like your mom and dad would rather you obey them because deep in your heart you love them, so too God wants our obedience to be driven by our love and desire to please Him. Having THAT tree in the garden gave them the chance to show their love FOR God and obedience TO God in a way that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

As you can see by the variety of answers, this was a very difficult question. When I was first asked this question by a 3rd grader, my response was as follows: You know that is a really good question and I don’t have the answer right now. This week I will spend some time finding the answer, and next week I’ll tell you what I found out. That is why I am so grateful for books such as Dr. Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. It is an indispensible tool for every teacher and has helped me time and time again. I have learned as a teacher that it’s okay to say “I don’t know” and then go for help to good resources, because it is more important to provide accurate answers then immediate answers.

Thank you to everyone who was willing to tackle this hard question! Gary and Marguerite, enjoy your free copy of Big Truths for Young Hearts!

Written by Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson is a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher and author. She has taught Sunday School for over 20 years and writes God-centered curriculum for Children Desiring God.

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