The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 3: The Temptation and Fall
< Prev T. of C.
... Next >
No longer free to stir up rebellion in heaven, Satan's
enmity against God found a new field in plotting the ruin
of the human race. In the happiness and peace of the holy pair in
Eden he beheld a vision of the bliss that to him was forever lost.
Moved by envy, he determined to incite them to disobedience,
and bring upon them the guilt and penalty of sin. He would
change their love to distrust and their songs of praise to
reproaches against their Maker. Thus he would not only plunge
these innocent beings into the same misery which he was himself
enduring, but would cast dishonor upon God, and cause grief in
Our first parents were not left without a warning of the
danger that threatened them. Heavenly messengers opened to them
the history of Satan's fall and his plots for their destruction,
unfolding more fully the nature of the divine government, which
the prince of evil was trying to overthrow. It was by disobedience
to the just commands of God that Satan and his host had fallen.
How important, then, that Adam and Eve should honor that law
by which alone it was possible for order and equity to be
The law of God is as sacred as God Himself. It is a revelation
of His will, a transcript of His character, the expression of divine
love and wisdom. The harmony of creation depends upon the
perfect conformity of all beings, of everything, animate and
inanimate, to the law of the Creator. God has ordained laws for
the government, not only of living beings, but of all the operations
of nature. Everything is under fixed laws, which cannot be
disregarded. But while everything in nature is governed by natural
laws, man alone, of all that inhabits the earth, is amenable to
moral law. To man, the crowning work of creation, God has
given power to understand His requirements, to comprehend
the justice and beneficence of His law, and its sacred claims upon
him; and of man unswerving obedience is required. [p. 53]
Like the angels, the dwellers in Eden had been placed upon
probation; their happy estate could be retained only on condition
of fidelity to the Creator's law. They could obey and live, or
disobey and perish. God had made them the recipients of rich
blessings; but should they disregard His will, He who spared not
the angels that sinned, could not spare them; transgression
would forfeit His gifts and bring upon them misery and ruin.
The angels warned them to be on their guard against the
devices of Satan, for his efforts to ensnare them would be
unwearied. While they were obedient to God the evil one could not
harm them; for, if need be, every angel in heaven would be sent
to their help. If they steadfastly repelled his first insinuations,
they would be as secure as the heavenly messengers. But should
they once yield to temptation, their nature would become so
depraved that in themselves they would have no power and no
disposition to resist Satan.
The tree of knowledge had been made a test of their obedience
and their love to God. The Lord had seen fit to lay upon them
but one prohibition as to the use of all that was in the garden;
but if they should disregard His will in this particular, they
would incur the guilt of transgression. Satan was not to follow
them with continual temptations; he could have access to them
only at the forbidden tree. Should they attempt to investigate its
nature, they would be exposed to his wiles. They were admonished
to give careful heed to the warning which God had sent
them and to be content with the instruction which He had seen
fit to impart.
In order to accomplish his work unperceived, Satan chose to
employ as his medium the serpent—a disguise well adapted for
his purpose of deception. The serpent was then one of the wisest
and most beautiful creatures on the earth. It had wings, and
while flying through the air presented an appearance of dazzling
brightness, having the color and brilliancy of burnished gold.
Resting in the rich-laden branches of the forbidden tree and
regaling itself with the delicious fruit, it was an object to arrest
the attention and delight the eye of the beholder. Thus in the
garden of peace lurked the destroyer, watching for his prey.
The angels had cautioned Eve to beware of separating herself
from her husband while occupied in their daily labor in the
garden; with him she would be in less danger from temptation than
if she were alone. But absorbed in her pleasing task, she [p. 54] unconsciously wandered from his side. On perceiving that she was
alone, she felt an apprehension of danger, but dismissed her fears,
deciding that she had sufficient wisdom and strength to discern
evil and to withstand it. Unmindful of the angels' caution, she
soon found herself gazing with mingled curiosity and admiration
upon the forbidden tree. The fruit was very beautiful, and she
questioned with herself why God had withheld it from them.
Now was the tempter's opportunity. As if he were able to discern
the workings of her mind, he addressed her: "Yea, hath God
said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" Eve was
surprised and startled as she thus seemed to hear the echo of
her thoughts. But the serpent continued, in a musical voice, with
subtle praise of her surpassing loveliness; and his words were
not displeasing. Instead of fleeing from the spot she lingered
wonderingly to hear a serpent speak. Had she been addressed
by a being like the angels, her fears would have been excited; but
she had no thought that the fascinating serpent could become the
medium of the fallen foe.
To the tempter's ensnaring question she replied: "We may
eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the
tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall
not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent
said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know
that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and
ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
By partaking of this tree, he declared, they would attain to a
more exalted sphere of existence and enter a broader field of
knowledge. He himself had eaten of the forbidden fruit, and as
a result had acquired the power of speech. And he insinuated that
the Lord jealously desired to withhold it from them, lest they
should be exalted to equality with Himself. It was because of its
wonderful properties, imparting wisdom and power, that He had
prohibited them from tasting or even touching it. The tempter
intimated that the divine warning was not to be actually fulfilled;
it was designed merely to intimidate them. How could it be
possible for them to die? Had they not eaten of the tree of life?
God had been seeking to prevent them from reaching a nobler
development and finding greater happiness.
< Prev T. of C.
... Next >