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The Garden and the Gospel

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IN THE BEGINNING

 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Gen 1:1

 

“In the beginning God”—with what simple, majestic language does the inspired Word of God begin. It offers to us no arguments for the existence of God—the creation is evidence enough. It makes no attempt to describe the Being of God—His essence cannot be comprehended. As His creatures, it is enough to know that God is, and that He made all things. “In the beginning”—in the beginning of what? God had no beginning—He is the Eternal Self-Existent One. Furthermore, Eternity, the dimension in which God dwells, has no beginning or end. So these words can only mean the beginning of time, the beginning of His creative work to make the universe, the world, and man. Time itself is a created concept, a measurement that did not exist before in God’s eternal now; and so it is that God’s Word begins to record for us all that He began to do.

1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Isa 40:18 To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?

Psa 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

Genesis is rightly called the book of beginnings. From the accounts of this book the foundation was laid for all of Scripture. In the first three chapters particularly, we see the existence of the Triune God, the account of His creative handiwork, the forming of man out of the dust, the planting of the Garden, the making of Eve from Adam’s rib, the temptation of the Serpent, the fall of man, God’s curse upon the earth, the promise of a Deliverer, and the expulsion from the Garden. While much could be expounded upon each of these topics, it is not our purpose to examine every detail about each of them. What we are most concerned about are those aspects of the Genesis account which deal directly with the fall of Adam and the resulting consequences to all of mankind.

1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

Most people are somewhat familiar with the account of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden—how God told them not to eat of a certain tree and if they did, they were going to die. Nevertheless, Eve, being tempted by the Serpent, took of the fruit and ate it; then she handed it to her husband and he also ate. As a result of Adam’s disobedience to God, he, and with him the entire human race, became fallen creatures. This resulted in man’s separation from God, the loss of Paradise, and his death.

Gen 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
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But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 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.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 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.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise,
she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Gen 5:5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.

Now, this simplified account may be a good generalization, and fine to tell to small children and new or unlearned believers, but we need a deeper explanation to understand the full impact of all that took place there. To begin with, of great importance to us is the purpose of God’s prohibition against the eating the fruit of one particular tree. While we will study what the trees of the Garden represented in great detail, we must understand God’s motives in giving such a command. Again, we will say that most people have tried to oversimplify this aspect—at the expense of understanding the real truth. Let us, therefore, briefly look at some common misconceptions.

1 Cor 14:20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

First of all, in regards to God’s command not to eat of this one tree, this was not a test of man’s obedience or a way to show his love for God—as is so often presented. Also, many would say that it doesn’t matter what the tree was or what it represented, it was Adam’s obedience that was the real issue. However, God does not tempt man to do evil or to disobey Him. Furthermore, His commands are not meaningless restrictions to prove man’s love and fidelity to Him. He already knows what is in our hearts, whether we love Him or not; He does not need to resort to schemes to try and obtain that knowledge; and He is not insecure and need some outward evidence of our devotion to Him. The commandment not to eat of the forbidden fruit was actually an act of love by God, to protect man from something that would cause him great misery, and that would also bring about his death. As parents, I would hope that we do not make unnecessary demands upon our children merely to see if they will mind us; but, that out of our love for them, and in their best interests, we tell them what they should or shouldn’t do in order to protect them and help them live a long and happy life. Do we suppose that God, whose love for us is infinite, would do anything less?

James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

Psa 139:1 O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.
2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Matt 7:9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Many there are who also think, even as Satan made the suggestion, that God was trying to keep man from experiencing complete fullness—which would make man equal with God. There are others who would say that God was trying to keep man from some joyous pleasure—as we often think the commands of God are meant to do. To answer these accusations we would say first, that God is not insecure in who He is, nor is He worried that someone may dispose Him from His throne. Furthermore, He is not one who is out to keep us from enjoying life; quite the contrary, He is only interested in what will make us truly happy, and wants us to enjoy pleasures forevermore.

Psa 2:2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
4
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

Psa 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Psa 35:27 Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.

Psa 36:8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.

Therefore, if we are to understand the purpose of God’s prohibition, we must have some understanding of the nature of Adam and what God was trying to protect him from. Adam was, as the Scripture says, created in the image of God. Just as God is a Trinity, with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit making up the Godhead, even so man is a triune being, consisting of a body, soul, and spirit.  However, as God is an innately spiritual being who inhabits eternity, man was made a natural being to live upon this earth, and in the realm of what we call time. Furthermore, though Adam was created in the image of God, he was not another god as Jehovah. He was created to serve God, even though he was made the lord over God’s creation—the earth. Also, in the day that Adam was created, he was good in the sense that he was naturally good—he was a perfect man. He was not good in the sense that God, who is absolute holiness, is good; but he did that which was, by his nature, acceptable to God; and Adam lived according to the natural laws that God put into his heart.

Gen 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
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So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Gen 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

1 The 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Isa 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

1 Cor 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.

Rom 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

The Creation account in Genesis relates that it was the regular occurrence for God to walk in the Garden and to have fellowship with Adam. However, what may we say was Adam’s relationship with God, and, if he was not holy as God is, how was that relationship sustained? In other words, how could an infinitely Holy God have fellowship with this earthly creature who was made “lower than the angels”; and how could Adam stand in the presence of the One who is terrible in holiness, and before whom, the angels hide their faces?

Psa 8:4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Isa 6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
5
Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

Adam, because he was the direct creation of God, was a son of God. He was not “the Son of the living God”, as is Jesus, and he was not an angel, who are also sons of God, but he did a have a father-son relationship with Jehovah. However, Adam’s unique relationship with the Father was not based upon holiness, but rather innocence. The newly created couple were naked, but they did not know it; and even though there was a vast difference between their righteousness and God’s, they did not perceive it. Therefore, because there was no standard or law that told them they fell short of the glory of God, they were not condemned by being in God’s presence. God also, because they were not under any law that condemned them, could freely fellowship with them based upon their innocence. His holiness was not offended because they merely acted in the realm in which He created them.

Luke 3:38 Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.

Matt 16:13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ,
the Son of the living God.

Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

Rom 4:15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

There were however, two things which presented the possibility of an anomaly in this idyllic relationship, and which threatened this heaven on earth. The first is found in the nature of Adam himself—“the creature was made subject to vanity”. Now again, without going into the philosophical reasons of why God created man with this weakness at this time, this was the chink in the armor through which Satan would have access to man’s psychic. This was the Achilles heel that would allow him to tempt man to sin and become a part of his rebellion.

Rom 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Now, this being an important point to consider, what does it mean to be “subject to vanity”? While the words vain and vanity refer to something that is empty or without purpose, they also refer to being excessively overtaken by one’s own appearance or accomplishments. Vanity, or pride in himself, was Lucifer’s downfall because he became obsessed with his own beauty and wisdom; and he forgot that what he possessed came from God. His thoughts were vain, empty, because they were without substance—they had no real basis of fact or truth. He became the father of lies because he rejected truth and turned to falsehoods. Adam and Eve were created with the proclivity to be “subject to vanity”. Again, they were not holy as God who cannot sin, who cannot be tempted to sin, and who cannot be charged with either pride or vanity—all honor and glory are rightfully and truthfully do to Him because of who He is and what He has done. God deserves to be honored and praised by all creatures, even by His own Word. However, such is not the case with either angels or men, because all we are, or have, or have done, came from God.

Psa 62:9 Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.

Eze 28:17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. (Satan personified in the king of Tyrus)

John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Rom 11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

Rev 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

1 Cor 4:7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

Howbeit, although this inclination toward vanity was present in Adam, it had not as yet blossomed into sin, but would nevertheless be Satan’s avenue of temptation. This weakness required a catalyst before it could be exploited. Now the catalyst that was present in this newly created world, which Satan would use to bring about mankind’s rebellion, was “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”.

 

 

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