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UNDERSTANDING THE GARDEN ACCOUNT

GOD’S MERCY

“…but according to his mercy he saved us…” Tit 3:5

 

If now that were the end of the narrative—man eating of the forbidden fruit, fleeing from the presence of God, condemned to die, yea already dead in sins—that would be a bleak picture indeed. All of mankind would have been left to wander in the wilderness of sin, controlled by a new master, even Satan. We would have been left to toil and struggle for our very existence, not knowing real happiness, without hope, eternally lost. Yet now into that very situation we are shown the exceeding grace and mercy of God. Man has fled from the presence of God, he is now afraid of his Creator, Father, and Friend, but contrariwise God comes seeking man, calling out, “Adam where art thou?” Again, let us not reduce this to the level of a story we tell our children. God certainly was not in ignorance of Adam’s whereabouts; and He was not unenlightened about what Adam had done. He was not taken by surprise that man had violated His warning and now had hidden himself somewhere in the Garden, nowhere to be found. From all eternity He knows the end from the beginning and what every man will do in every situation. He knows where every molecule in the universe is at every moment and where it will be a million years from now. As my Pastor has often said, “When God asks a question, it is not to gather information.” God is all knowing; there is nothing He is not aware of; there is nothing that has just occurred to Him that He did not know before; there is nothing that takes Him by surprise; or is there any situation that has escaped His foresight. When He called out for Adam, it was for Adam’s benefit. The question was meant to provoke Adam to thought. What had he done? Where had his disobedience led him? What kind of existence did he now have? Where was he going? As has been said, the three great questions that every man should ask are—“Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?”

Gen 3:9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

Isa 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Matt 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
30
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Adam now confesses why he has hidden himself. The Holy Law of God has revealed his nakedness and he is afraid. I have often had a dream, as well as others that I have known who have related the same to me, of being in a public place walking around naked or in my underwear. In my dream I had the feeling of being embarrassed, vulnerable, and uncomfortable. Our clothing gives to us a covering for our physical faults and the infirmities of our flesh. No one is a perfect specimen of human beauty. We all have physical faults that we do not wish others to see, and hence we seek ways to cover them up. Even body builders and Hollywood stars are never satisfied with their appearance; and most resort to heavy make-up and flattering clothes to give them an aura about their looks. They are constantly trying to improve their appearance using plastic surgery and physical conditioning. There is the story of someone who said that they wished they looked like a particular model; and the model, after hearing it said, “I wished I looked like her too.” Only in her photographs, after her image was improved using computer wizardry, did she look like the goddess of beauty many thought her to be. Now, if we are uncomfortable in the presence of other people with our physical appearance, and use various cover-ups to hide ourselves, how did Adam feel in the presence of God? Adam, who was created with a perfect human body which was still uncorrupted by the effects of sin, was now aware of his nakedness—his shortcomings before God; and now he was being summoned by Him who was perfect in all His ways, and whose glory and beauty outshine the sun. The Biblical account does not indicate that Adam and Eve ever came out of hiding to stand in God’s presence until God provided them with clothing. From the truths of Scripture it is revealed that no fallen man can see God’s face and live. Neither sin, nor the sinner who is naked, can stand in His presence, they must have a covering.

Gen 3:10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

Exo 33:20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no (fallen, sinful) man see me, and live.

We are not implying that Adam’s bodily nakedness was the only issue being dealt with here. Adam was naked in every sense of his being—body, soul, and spirit. He fell short of the glory of God in every way, as was now revealed by the Holy Law of God. His body, which was a natural body, created a little lower than the angels, and subject to corruption, was like a dim candle compared to the glory of his Creator. His soul, though created in the image of God, could never comprehend the heights and depths of the wisdom, love, and knowledge of God. His spirit, even when fully alive, could not measure up to the Holy Spirit of God, whose power created a universe out of nothing.

Mt 17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
(God now veiled in human flesh)

Isa 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Gen 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Other men who have been in the presence of God can give us some insight into how Adam must have felt. Moses, who was in the presence of God more than any other man, was never permitted to see His full glory, but was hidden in the “clift of the rock.”

Exo 33:17 And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.
18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.
19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
21 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:
22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:
23
And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

Isaiah, who in a vision saw the Lord of glory, was immediately struck with self-condemnation. He, as God’s prophet, had proclaimed to Israel, “woe unto you”; but when in the presence of the Holy One, he cried, “woe is me.” Even the holy angels cover their faces and cry, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY” in the presence of God.

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.

The Apostle John walked with the Lord Jesus on this earth when His full glory was covered by the veil of His flesh. However, in his vision on the Isle of Patmos, he fell down as a dead man before Him when he saw Him in His glorified state.

Rev 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

God now begins the process of redemption for His fallen creatures. After seeking out the fallen couple, He now starts to deal with the problem of their sin. Again He asks two other questions, not for His own benefit, but for Adam’s—“Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” Man must be confronted with his sin. He must accept the fact that he is now a guilty, fallen, hell-deserving, breaker of God’s Holy Law. His new nature is not one of innocence and purity, but of disobedience and rebellion. At first, the fallen couple only express their new nature by trying to blame someone else for their sin. Adam blames his wife and God—who gave her to him. Eve blames the serpent, and the serpent probably would have liked to blame the devil who used him. In how many ways do we make excuses for what we have done? It is always someone else’s fault for the way we act. It is our parents fault for how we were raised. It is societies fault for the way we were treated. Life has been unfair to us and we have reacted in the only way we could. We can justify ourselves from even the most heinous crimes. The Nazi monsters who masterminded the killing of six million Jews, after their defeat and eventual capture, said that they were merely following orders as good soldiers. Every convict is innocent in his own eyes and is being unjustly imprisoned. Even children, that we esteem to be so angelic and innocent, will lie and try to blame others for their misdeeds.

Gen 3:11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done?
And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Luke 16:14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.
15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God

1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10
If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

It is only when we are confronted with our sin, and accept our guilt and responsibility, that God can begin His act of redemption. God will only save sinners, and He is the one who must make us see that we are a sinner. Joseph Hart (1712-1768) wrote—“A sinner is a sacred thing, the Holy Ghost hath made him so.” Jesus did not come into the world to save good people; because there are none to save. The problem is—most sinners think that they are good, and have no need of being saved.

Psa 14:2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
3
They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

1 Tim 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

The guilty pair, after their initial response, now stand speechless before God, being convicted in their hearts. While their excuses may have had some merit with men, with God there was no excuse for their knowing, willful, and plain disobedience to what God had commanded, particularly in Adam’s case. Eve may have been truly deceived by Satan, but Adam was not; and it was Adam’s sin, as the representative head of the human race, which caused the fall of mankind. So each of us must come to the place where we offer no more excuses, and stop chiding with God about our sin. We must stand before Him naked and guilty, hoping only in His mercy.

John 8:7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

1 Tim 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

Rom 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

1 Cor 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Rom 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Prov 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Without God’s mercy, fallen man has no hope. God would have been perfectly just to have had the earth swallow up the guilty pair and send them to eternal torment. Man has no excuse for his sin, and the wages of sin is death. God is not obligated to allow any sinner to live another day on His earth. Indeed, it is a marvelous thing that He allows men, who spit in His face and blaspheme His name, to live out their lives. How many people there are in this world that live long lives in wealth and honor before men, but curse and ridicule the God who gives them life? Nevertheless, there are many accounts in the Bible where God, for his own purposes, suspends mercy to certain individuals, that all of us may learn to fear before Him. Therefore, He sovereignly chooses to whom He will show mercy and to whom He will not. We must not presume upon God’s mercy just because He does not always immediately bring men into judgment for their deeds.

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

James 2:6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
7
Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

Num 16:31 And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:
32 And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.
33 They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.

Acts 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things

Exo 33:19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

In His dealings with the chosen people of Israel, God made a special place where He would meet with them and talk with them called “the Mercy Seat.” From the beginning, when He first showed mercy to Adam and Eve, throughout all of the Scriptures, and throughout all of time, God has showed mercy to His creatures. This is not to say that God merely overlooks the sin of certain men while He judges others for their wrongdoing. All sin must be accounted for and punished, but as we shall see, God’s mercy, grace, and love have already made a way for fallen man to be reunited with Him. God did not abandon the guilty pair to the eternal consequence of their sin; but the plan of redemption that He devised in eternity past is about to be revealed.

Exo 25:21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

Tit 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Psa 85:10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Psa 136:1 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
2 O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.
3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.
4 To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.
5 To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.
6 To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.
7 To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever:
8 The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever:
9 The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.
10 To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever:
11 And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever:
12 With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever.
13 To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever:
14 And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever:
15 But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.
16 To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.
17 To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:
18 And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:
19 Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever:
20 And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever:
21 And gave their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever:
22 Even an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for ever.
23 Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:
24 And hath redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever.
25 Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever.
26 O give thanks unto the God of heaven:
for his mercy endureth for ever.

 

 

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