My Jewish coworker recommended that I listen to a video entitled “Playing God” by Rabbi Lorge. You can access the full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhX6D8barAk&t=0s. Rabbi Lorge’s views (and other Jews’ views that I’ve since discovered) seem to stand in stark contrast to Christian views on Genesis 3, original sin, God’s intentions, our immortality, and whether Satan was an honest character. In this blog, I will share the Rabbi’s views along with a Christian response to such views.
“At the beginning of all things in the garden of Eden, the serpent explained to Eve that should she eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge, the Temple Elohim, you…humans shall be like God who knows good from bad. And the serpent was telling us the truth! In the Garden of Eden, God created two paths to become like God each of which was embodied by a tree: Eat from the tree of life and live forever here in the Garden or eat from the tree of knowledge and learn the difference between good and evil and go enter the world. We had to choose which way we would become like God and we chose morality rather than immortality. Humans became like god not by living forever but by gaining the ability to distinguish between good and evil. And while Christianity views this as the great fall from paradise, Judaism maintains a wider interpretation of that expulsion. You see eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge – that was not a sin. It was what God hoped we would do! God wished more than anything that humanity would choose moral understanding and then with God, go out into the world and try to make it good. What God wants and what Judaism expects is that we will use our God-like power of morality to imitate or to play God.
Now that phrase “play God” has some baggage that we have to address. In the modern western world, the idea of playing God is an accusation. It has a negative connotation. ‘Who are you to play God?’ We might hear a pundit scream out because in our society, to play God is to misuse power we have no business wielding. But Judaism’s concept of playing God is radically different. For Jews, playing God is not an accusation. It’s an aspiration. ‘Walk in God’s ways’ demands the Torah. We are commanded to play God in the world to make use of our God-like power. If there was a mission statement for the Jewish people – one that is accepted by all streams of Judaism across all of time, this is it: play God.”
In Genesis 2: 15-17, God prohibits Adam from eating of the tree of good and evil.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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.’”
Satan’s very first words questioned whether God really said that. He lied to Eve, telling her that she would not surely die. Yet upon eating the fruit, Adam and Eve started the process of human decay, which is in all mortals. They died. All humans die. We lost immortality and paradise in the garden of Eden. We lost the ability to walk with and witness God physically and on a daily basis. We became ashamed of nakedness and of our own deficiencies. God warned Adam and Eve against this in no uncertain terms. He never “wanted” us to play God or to disobey His rules. He is alone our Lord and Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He alone is worthy of worship.
In case you haven’t read Genesis 3 in a while, I have pasted it below for your convenience. Make up your own minds on God’s intentions. We fell from grace and still fall short of God’s glory.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when 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, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring an d her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”
And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
These are not the words of a Lord who’s in approval of Adam and Eve’s decision to eat of the tree of good and evil. These are clearly the words of a Lord who preferred that Adam and Eve choose immortality over morality (or immorality!). Thankfully, God has given us the key to immortality and salvation through the redeeming work of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Bless the Lord!
Thank you for your time.