”…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 2:17
But on that day he did not surely die, but went on to live another 930 years. Any who have seen a person they have known who has died immediately recognizes the total absence of any form of communication in that absolute stillness.
What was previously all forms of communication is now death. It may be said that communication is life, whereas the cessation of communication is death. Therefore the death experienced by the Adam “on that day” may well have been the loss of intimate and trusting communication and direct contact with the Creator, the cutting off and casting out into exile from the wonderful Garden of Eden wherein is the presence of God.
Salvation is therefore the reconnecting and establishing of that communication and communion anew – Life from the dead.
“You were dead in your sins…and God made you alive in Messiah.”
Is it assumed that Adam was created immortal? There is no indication in the Genesis text to indicate such, as we are told that “And YHVH God said” (after the eating of the forbidden fruit) “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
Therefore it would appear that Adam too was created with the potential for death, with the option of eating of the Tree of Life, which he did not, just as are we all (and even then we all must physically die once, though we are told “Whoever believes on me shall never die”). If so, doesn’t that tell us that there was indeed physical death in the Creation before the sin of Adam?
And Adam was told, “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,” yet Adam did not die on that day. “In biblical justice, Cain suffered a fate worse than death: the enforced separation from God. He was denied any awareness of the transcendent unity that pervades all existence. He had no hint of a larger purpose other than day-to-day survival, a living death” – (The Science of God– Gerald Schroeder).
I think this may well describe the “death” referred to in both Genesis and New Testament: “You were dead in your sins…and God made you alive in Messiah” and, “Whosoever believes in me shall never die” – yet all since have died physically.
Mayflies, created before the Adam, live less than 24 hours and die (or else the air of the world would be literally thick with them today), if a trout doesn’t eat him first. Maybe it was a different and perfect world back then, as we do not know what that “perfect” place looked like, or might have been.
Also, there might have been a different world outside the Garden of Eden to where Adam and Eve were exiled, where the trout ate the mayfly in the rivers. We do not really know, but by faith, and so we await that Knowledge at the fulfillment of the physical resurrection in a new Creation.