“And the Lord God commanded the man [Adam], saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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.”” (Genesis 2:16,17)
The death penalty for eating fruit from a tree seems extremely harsh!! We would judge any society inflicting such a severe penalty as brutal and barbaric. Yet, God’s judgment is clear and emphatic. “You will surely die.” We could paraphrase it, “Be absolutely clear, you will most certainly die.” If the Bible shows us who God really is, then does this reveal a barbaric God?
The LORD’s command to Adam was a simple test of obedience. It did not require great intelligence, might or will power. The test revealed whether or not Adam would acknowledge God as sovereign. To eat of the tree was to send a message that God had no right to tell him what he could or, could not do. This is the essence of what the Bible calls “sin.” It is man refusing God the right to be God. The LORD’s answer to such rebellion is, “you shall surely die.”
We can never appreciate the necessity of Christ’s crucifixion until we see the true nature of God. Jesus did not die on the cross as a martyr. He died because of the demands of a holy God.