Series: The Kingdom of God; The Garden of Eden
Sunday am 23 April 2017 – Kobus Swart
Gen. 2:8-9; (Luke 23:39-43); (Gen. 5:1-2); Rev. 13:8; Rev. 17:8; Eph. 1:3-6; (1 Cor. 15:28); (Col. 1:15); Rom. 8:18, 28-29; Rev. 2:7; (2 Cor. 12:2); (Luke 9:62); (Matt. 13)
The book of Genesis is probably one of the most important books of the Bible ever written. The book of Genesis is quoted 165 times in the New Testament. Genesis lays a ground work, a foundation for the entire revelation of God’s purposes. It is all there! If we do not see that we run the risk of putting together our own theologies. God is a God of beginnings (plural). Where it says, “In the beginning God created” it actually says, “in beginnings God created”. Genesis gives us vital information of the origin of all things. Genesis means origin, beginning, your genes and everything in the future is rooted in the past. If you do not see that you are going to expose yourself to contrary winds.
The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:8-9). The story of Adam and Eve is the greatest parable ever told in the Bible. What is a parable? It contains the word “para” from which the word “parallel” or “alongside” comes. What is the true meaning of the word “parable”? It is more than a story. It is a story and alongside it is a deep reality and truth that God wants to communicate. Why did Jesus tell so many parables? In Matthew 13 alone there are seven parables of the kingdom. How does each one start? “The kingdom of heaven is like …” (Matt. 13). It is a story and yet it has a truth, made digestible to the average listener. Jesus used the language of His time and culture. A parable communicates a very important truth.
They have not been able to find the piece of land called Eden. So what is it? It is a state of being, an atmosphere. Gene Edward explains that when God decided to create an atmosphere and He took heaven and He took earth and He brought them together and He created Eden. Read deeper! When we understand the Garden of Eden we will understand the nature of God, the nature of man and the nature of the devil. Remember the three voices on Calvary, they represent the voice of man, the voice of the devil and the voice of God (Luke 23:39-43). Do a bit more reading in the first few chapters of Genesis; read, absorb and let the Holy Spirit take you deeper than ever before. It is not by accident that this parable is placed at the beginning of human history because it is the foundation upon which the whole purpose of God is built. By understanding that, we are going to understand what is happening to us. If we read it properly – the two trees in the middle of the garden, how the enemy came and tempted Eve – look in the “mirror” of that parable to realise what is happening to you.
This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them MAN (singular, and “man” in Hebrew is Adam) in the day when they were created (Gen. 5:1-2). Adam does not refer to the man next to Eve, the male. “Adam” is referring to mankind, to humanity. We are part of humanity. As much as we have been part of the first Adam, when the last Adam came, He opened the door back into Eden, that intimate, special relationship and now we become part of the last Adam. That is what Jesus told the thief on the cross who recognised who Jesus was. Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Begin to associate in your thinking the Garden of Eden, the kingdom, paradise, that special space in which there is a unique relationship between God and man.
Adam’s (mankind’s) experience is our experience. What happened to him happens to us. Where he was, we are. His destiny is our destiny. May the Lord open the eyes of our understanding to see these things. You read about the garden, it is we who are confronted, intended, addressed, accused, expelled, instructed and redeemed. Read the complete story. The story of the fall is a searchingly true picture of the recurring fall of every man under the temptation to be as God, to usurp God’s place as master of his world, for his own selfish ends. How many times has the enemy tried to push us to be ‘god’ in our own world?
The New Testament is hidden in the Old Testament, and the Old Testament is explained in the New Testament. If you read the Old Testament you see the formation of the Church, in the language of parables.
My question is: what was the purpose of the fall? Why did God allow the fall? God deliberately put the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil there, which means they are accessible; we have to choose. God knew what was going to happen. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain (Rom. 13:8; Rev. 17:8). This highlights those who are redeemed in Christ but there is a step we have to take, the born-again experience – our names had been written in the book of life before the foundation of the kosmos. God was not surprized at the fall. He sees the end from the beginning. We have been predestined to the adoption as sons before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-6). Don’t you think the God who said, “Let us make man in Our image” looked further than the fall? He looked to the final climax in His Son. His purposes will come to fruition and nothing will stop it. We can delay it but we cannot stop it. What God starts, He completes. Ultimately He is going to eradicate every vestige of the image of self and of satan. God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28). God will infiltrate and fill everything with Himself.
God is full of hope. There is a magnificent future that God has planned for us. In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own. The world of creation cannot as yet see reality, not because it chooses to be blind, but because in God’s purpose it has been so limited—yet it has been given hope. And the hope is that in the end the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent liberty which can only belong to the children of God! (Rom. 8:18-JB Philips). A baby is innocent, but that innocence is challenged as the baby grows up. The sooner the baby learns that there is a negative side, and that not everything is innocent and pure, the better. God deliberately put two trees in the garden. God wanted them to be exposed to the negative first and become strong. They had to find out that there is a wrong way of doing things. That is how we grow up; that is how we leave just being fed on milk each Sunday. We need to go onto solid food to make us strong.
God is full of hope because Jesus was the beginning of the creation of God (Col. 1:15). Through Him, for Him and unto Him everything has been created! Only two thousand years ago was He perfected in the sense that He had to be made man to initiate a whole new order of man, the last Adam. Jesus had to become man to rescue Adam, humanity. God reconciled all of humanity with Himself through Christ. All of humanity has provisionally been united, restored, reconciled with God. But humanity has to see it by revelation, experience an encounter with that truth, make a commitment and come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Christ then is the true or the last Adam, the proper Man in whom God’s plan for humanity comes to its realisation for the first time. God’s plan for man to be perfect was first fulfilled in Jesus Christ 2000 years ago. He came to bring many sons to glory, He is going to be the elder brother and many brothers are going to follow and become like He is.
What happened to the garden? Is it still there? Does the Garden of Eden still exist? It is the city of God (Rev. 21 & 22). The garden is the city. In the city even the two realms, heaven and earth, interface exactly. This time we are talking about a new heaven and a new earth, interfacing in the garden called the city of God.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. ‘To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’ (Rev. 2:7). This message is not just to the church at Ephesus, but to the churches (plural). There is Eden! Then Paul was caught up in the spirit to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2). He was caught up to paradise. In the city of God there is only one tree, the tree of life, not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That is dealt with! There is a new heaven and a new earth!
Do not be just a lukewarm Christian. God always uses a cutting edge remnant to break open new ground. They are the overcomers. God is shaping and moulding us. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:28-29). We all go through things and God uses those things to turn us into overcomers. Once we put our hands to the plough and look back we are not fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). Withdrawal is destructive.
We are called before the foundation of the world; our names are written in the book. You are going to eat of the tree of life. In Jesus the door is open and access is again given to Eden, the garden of God. Jesus had to go through the garden of Gethsemane to open the door to the Garden of Eden. Gethsemane means “oil press”. Jesus had to go through that to open the door and He says, “Today you will be with Me in paradise.”