Rusty rolled over, scratched his nose with his paw and fell back to sleep. Life was awesome! The beautiful Garden, called Eden, was perfect! The Lord God had created this wonderful place for Adam and Eve and all the animals, birds and fish. The animals loved to run and play all day long. There were rocks and trees and bushes to hide behind when they played hide-and-seek and big meadows to run in. Sometimes Adam and Eve played with them when they weren't taking care of the Garden.
One day Rusty came upon two especially big trees in the Garden that were not like any he had ever seen before. One of them was especially beautiful and the fruit on it looked very, very delicious. As he was staring up at it Adam and Eve came along and Adam was saying to Eve, "Now remember, the Lord God said we could eat fruit from ANY tree in the Garden except this special tree, called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Now, don't forget!"
Rusty had been given so many delicious pieces of fruit from lots of trees that he thought, "No problem!" But as Adam and Eve walked away he noticed that Eve turned around a couple of times to glance at that special tree. "Hmmm" thought Rusty. "Adam said the Lord God told them not to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and I know the Lord God has a good reason. Maybe I'd better guard this Special Tree!"
So everyday Rusty checked out the Special Tree to make sure nobody was there. One day when he went to check on it he saw something odd. There was Snake standing beside the Special Tree and when he looked his way, Rusty DID NOT like the look in his eyes. Somehow, he didn't trust that Snake and he had never had that kind of feeling before.
The next day Rusty had just made his way to the Special Tree when he heard voices. "Now, now, did the Lord God REALLY say not to eat fruit from the trees in the Garden?" The voice was coming from Snake. "Oh, no" said Eve, "About this Special Tree the Lord God said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it or you'll die".
Rusty wished he could yell "Eve, He didn't say you couldn't touch the Special Tree, He said not to EAT its fruit!" But Rusty could only bark because he couldn't talk like Adam and Eve and he had no idea how Snake was able to do it. But then, Snake seemed to be totally different from all the other animals anyway. Just then, Snake glanced at Rusty out of the corner of his eye and then said to Eve in a whiney voice, "You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Rusty knew what that Snake was doing and he tried to warn Eve by jumping up and down and barking, but she paid no attention to him. She already knew about good, she would only learn about evil by disobeying the Lord God. "Why doesn't she understand that?" Rusty thought. Then He saw her reach up, take a piece of that delicious looking fruit, look at Snake, back at the fruit and then put it to her mouth and take a bite.
Just at that moment Adam came along. He looked at her as if he couldn't believe his eyes and shouted, "What are you doing?" Eve just smiled at him sweetly and handed him the piece of fruit, saying, "It's alright, Adam". He hung his head and slowly reached for the fruit, held it for a minute and then put it into his mouth. Rusty was at his wit's end. He was barking, "No, No, No!" But there was nothing he could do. He flopped on the ground, put his head between his paws and moaned. When he looked up he saw a strange sight. The brilliant light of God that had covered Adam and Eve was gone. They were naked. Uncovered. They knew it too and were ashamed. They weren't ashamed because their bodies were uncovered, they were ashamed because the brilliant light the Lord God had covered them with was gone. They also knew that the reason it was gone was because of their disobedience. Rusty could do nothing but watch them run around gathering big leaves and weaving them together to make a covering for their bodies.
Suddenly Rusty heard a hissing sound near the tree and when he looked, he saw Snake leaning against the tree smiling at him. That smile made Rusty shiver! Adam and Eve finally went back to the place they had made for themselves in the Garden and the animals followed them. It was a depressing scene. Adam and Eve just sat with their heads down and the animals, knowing what had happened, lay around them silently. Rusty just moaned.
In the late afternoon they heard the Voice of the Lord God. He had always come to talk with them in the late afternoon but Adam and Eve had been so depressed that they had forgotten He would come. They suddenly jumped up and ran and hid behind some big trees. Rusty watched them thinking, "Who do you think you're fooling?" He was very disappointed in them. Then the Voice of the Lord God said, "Where are you?" and Rusty thought, "He knows very well where you are and what you've done, he's just waiting for you to confess it!" Adam called from behind a tree, "I heard the sound of Your Voice in the Garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself." "Eve is afraid to say ANYTHING!" thought Rusty. "Who told you that you were naked?" asked the Lord God. "Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" Then Rusty was ashamed to hear Adam say, "The woman who You gave to be with me, SHE gave me the fruit from the tree and I ate it." "Oh, Adam, Adam" thought Rusty. "Do you have to blame her? Even though she was wrong, she was tricked by Snake but you just walked right up and ate it!"
Then the Lord God said to Eve, "What is this you have done?" And Eve said, "Snake tricked me and I ate the fruit." There was a little sound above his head and Rusty looked up. Right there in the tree above his head was that sneaky old Snake, who had climbed up there to have a good view of what happen! Of course the Lord God knows everything so He knew Snake was there all along. He said to Snake, "Because you have done this your legs will be taken away so that you will have to crawl on the ground the rest of your days. Above all, you will be hated more than any other creature. One day a descendent of Eve will be born and you will hurt him but he will destroy you!" "Whoa!" thought Rusty, "God sure told him!" And he watched as Snake slithered down the tree and off into the Garden.
Then Rusty heard the Lord God speak to Eve, "For your punishment, you will have pain when you give birth to children". Rusty seemed to understand that if Eve had obeyed God she would have had no pain when her children were born. To Adam, the Lord God said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; the ground will grow weeds and thorns. You will have to work hard to grow your food until the day your body dies."
"Wow", thought Rusty. "That means that someday we will all die because you disobeyed the Lord God. He meant for us all to live forever in this beautiful Garden with no weeds or thorns or ANYTHING bad. I'm really disappointed in you Adam, my friend!"
Then the Lord God took a lamb, killed it and made clothing for Adam and Eve from the skin. All the animals were shocked but they understood that instead of God taking the lives of Adam & Eve, he allowed the blood of a lamb to pay for their sin of disobedience.
"Well, even though this is so sad," thought Rusty, "The Lord God let us all live and made a way for Adam and Eve to be forgiven. He could have wiped us all out and started over again. What a loving God!" The Lord God also said one more thing that actually brought tears to Rusty's eyes. "You will have to leave this beautiful Garden I made just for you because if you should eat of the Tree of Life you would live forever in this terrible, sinful condition". Rusty let out a little cry and looked around. He saw tears in the eyes of all his friends as they turned to follow Adam and Eve out of the beautiful Garden. When they reached the edge of the Garden they all turned around for a last look. Adam and Eve were crying, Monkey was wiping his nose with his tail and Elephant sniffled all the way down his long nose. Tiger let out a very sad growl and tears were trickling down Giraffe's long neck. Rusty, too, had such big tears in his eyes that he could hardly see where he was going. Rusty understood that even though Adam and Eve had been forgiven, the wonderful, close relationship they had had with the Lord God had been ruined! "OW!" barked Rusty as he jumped up. He looked around and saw an apple that had fallen from the tree and hit him on the head! "Well, anyway, I'm glad it woke me up. My wonderful dream turned out to have a bad ending." Rusty looked around and barked, "Lord God, I really thank you for forgiving Adam and Eve and thank you for my big back yard, even though it's not the Garden of Eden!