Genesis 2:17: “you shall surely die”

With some minor editing, here are my notes from my ESV Journaling Bible, Interleaved Edition.

2:17“you shall surely die”: i.e., you will begin a process that inevitably leads to physical death, but your spiritual death begins immediately. This is ultimately the only kind of death that matters—to live outside of God’s will, to live against the grain of one’s existence, to be separated from one’s Creator. (“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” Matthew 10:28)

This scripture is ingenious—because it practically forces us to be “tempted” in the same way Adam and Eve were tempted: Because I want to ask why: “Why, God, did you put this tree (of the knowledge of good and evil) in the center of the Garden? Was this wise? Was this necessary? Was your command arbitrary?”

But even in asking, I am attempting to place myself above God, to assert some superior knowledge, to claim some moral high ground above God himself. “Did God actually say…?” (Gen. 3:1)

Why do I presume to second-guess God’s Word? Why do I presume to know what’s best for me apart from God? This presumptuousness is at the heart of so much of my own sin and—not to mention—unhappiness!


One thought on “Genesis 2:17: “you shall surely die””

  1. “Who has been his counselor?” “No, but, who are you, oh man, to reply against God? Shall the thing formed, say unto him that formed him, ‘Why have you made me like this?” Even “blameless” Job got chastised for questioning God’s treatment of him (with much pain and suffering), and he “repented in dust and ashes.” (Not that, however, I am never in fact tempted to so question!)

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