Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Back to Eden

Genesis 2:15-16 - Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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.” 

The biblical definition of Eden is house of pleasure. It is also referred to as paradise. I have been ruminating about eternity but somehow this got cultivated. 

Paradise. In the beginning God...created the heavens and earth. He created man. He created man to live in a garden called Eden. Paradise. Heaven on earth. God talked and walked with man. Man's job was only to name the animals and tend the animals and the garden God created…and walk with Him. There was no physical labor involved. It was to be an eternity like this. We don't know if more people would have been added to the garden. That's one of God's mysteries. 

Imagine spending days on end walking and talking with God. Everything was provided. Food was abundant. Clothes were not necessary. There was no pain, illness, sorrow or shame. As long as they obeyed one single command, just one, it was paradise. But Romans 5:12 says, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned… Man was vulnerable. 

Man's free will, a deceitful serpent, curiosity and one disobedient move changed all life. "Did God really say...?"  was the thought that entered man’s head. All man had known till this time was the goodness, presence and provision of God. So man may have questioned, like we do today, if He is so loving why would God _____ (you fill in the blank). So, what could be wrong with eating of this delightful looking tree's fruit?

Test. God wanted obedience...and only required one thing, not to eat of that one tree...for if you do you will die. It didn’t take long for man’s will to take over. 

Separation. Man disobeyed God's command. He became ashamed of his nakedness and was banished from Paradise, no longer saw God or walked with Him. Separated. Sin separated man from God. We are all separated from God until we make a choice. Pain, sorrow, tears became a part of life. This was the new norm. We all know and live this. God was no longer as accessible. Now man had to toil for a living. Life was different. Paradise was lost.

A plan. Fast forward several thousand years. After many years of God trying to get man to obey His commandments and trust in Him for all their needs, He chose an alternative. He had a plan. He chose to come down off His throne and be born and settle among the people for awhile. He would walk with them again. He would look like an average Joe come from humble beginnings. He owned nothing, had no place to live, but had a wisdom people either could not dispute or were so jealous about and intimidated by they wanted Him dead. 

This Man said He was God. He said He could bring eternal life. Did anyone put two and two together and think of Eden, the lost Paradise? Did they remember how He walked with man back then, like He walked among them now? Did they even consider this might be the same Man? Some did. His name was Emmanuel, God with us. How did some not know? How do some still not know? 

Reconciliation: He was persistent. He said if they would come to Him and follow Him, they could experience life that would be like those days in Paradise, even better. The sins of their fathers and forefathers could be forgiven. Life like in Paradise might not be today, but some day and for eternity. They had to believe, trust in His words and be obedient to His commands. Like man in the garden, they could walk with Him, follow Him. They would be reconciled with Him again. They could once again be guaranteed Paradise. Their old, sinful nature could be made new, through Him. 

Fast forward to what the Bible says about our future. Like the description of the Paradise of Eden, in Revelation we are told:
...God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful. … It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:3-8)

Wow, same words and more. It describes Who once was, Who will be…and Who is today for anyone who desires Him. Jesus is the beginning (Genesis, Alpha) to the end (Revelation, Omega). Oh, but the hard words…cowardly, unbelieving, abominable...just a few names for those who do not believe…and fall into the same category as the rest. We are all in that category until we receive Jesus as born again believers. We all must humble ourselves before the living God to become true believers. It’s the only way. Remember Jesus on the cross between two thieves? One totally rejected Him, the other humbled himself and admitted his sin. What did Jesus say to that second thief? Today you will be with Me in Paradise. That’s what He promises. Eden, paradise, Heaven.

People say the Bible is just a bunch of stories. The Bible is a bunch of reality! A bunch of truths. A bunch of wisdom and examples for us to learn from. A bunch of personalities we can relate to. A bunch of stubborn, prideful sinners, some of whom were made new, turned from their sin and walked with God. I have been known to be fickle. I can start a project and get tired of it. Same with books. I can take interest in one thing or another and then lose interest in time. For 18 years I have been committed to Jesus Christ. Through His power He opened my eyes to His reality. I can’t shake it. Even if I grow weary, I bounce back. I once was blind but now I see. This is no whim. 

Isaiah 57:15 - For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

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