Series: The Garden of Eden; The Kingdom of God; The Overcomers
Sunday 21 May 2017 – Kobus Swart
Gen. 2:8-9; Matt. 13:11, 34 (Ampl); Isa. 61:1-3; Ps. 1:1-3; Ps. 92:12-13; Ps. 96:10-13; Ps. 37:35; Jude 4 & 12; (Matt. 12:33); James 3:12-18; Matt. 7:16-20; (Gen. 25:32-34); (1 Chron. 5:1); Gen. 49:3-4; (Gal. 5:22-23); 2 Cor. 12:9; (1 Cor. 1:27); Rom. 8:5-6; John 3:3-5; John 12:24-Msg; (Gen. 3:4-5, 10-11); (Matt. 6:10); Isa. 66:1; (Matt. 11:28); (Heb. 5:8); (Heb. 2:10); (Luke 23:43); Rom. 5:8-11
We must understand the numbers and the symbols in the Bible otherwise we miss the deeper truth, especially in the book of Revelation.
There were three kinds of trees in the Garden (Gen. 2:8-9): the tree of life, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and all the other trees. Both the Old and New Testaments are full of pictures and symbols. We have to know how to decode and go beyond, go deeper. Once you understand these pictures and symbols they are far more expressive than a thousand words. However, in order to understand the symbols of Scripture there are two things required:
1) We must understand their oriental customs and characteristics of the Hebrew mind. The original Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language.
2) The other is the spirit of revelation which is the Holy Spirit of truth.
Often times after a parable the disciples would pull Jesus aside and ask Him what He meant. He would explain it to the disciples (Matt. 13:11). It is like looking for the fertile prepared soil that will yield 30, 60 and 100 fold, instead of just throwing the seeds everywhere. It has pleased God to send forth much of His deeper truths like the mysteries of the kingdom, in such a manner that it becomes revealed only to the spirit-anointed mind (Matt. 13:34-Ampl). Often when Jesus stopped His public teachings He closed with: He that has ears to hear let him hear! (Matt. 11:15; Matt. 13:9, 43). May the Lord give us a full understanding of these deeper truths of the kingdom.
Trees usually represent people in the Bible. The trees in Isa. 61:1-3 represent God’s chosen ones at the end of this age. Psalm 1:1-3 and Psalm 9:12-13 speak of God’s elect people, those planted in the house of the Lord. Ps. 96:10-13 is pointing to the day when the Lord shall come forth and deal with all the nations and bring His glorious Kingdom to pass in all the earth. In Psalm 37:35 David talks of the wicked and impious men. See also Jude 4 & 12. You shall know a tree by its fruit (Matt. 12:33). Many people say one thing yet they are another (James 3:12-18). You can say the most beautiful things and even speak what is true but what will be imparted in a subliminal way, is what is in your spirit. What kind of tree are you? What kind of fruit comes out of you? (James 3:17; Matt. 7:16-20).
Two examples are Esau and Reuben. Esau sold his birthright. Reuben lost his inheritance. Both these men were eminent in dignity and power (Gen. 49:3-4). In the eyes of the public, they were strong men of value, but they were ruled by their flesh and they lost their inheritance (Gen. 25:32-34; 1 Chron. 5:1). What does it mean to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? It is facing us every day of our lives. The temptation, in a subtle way, is to eat of the wrong tree. Be careful who you associate with. Do not eat fruit from the wrong tree. They drew from the flesh instead of from the spirit. The lack of self-control began in the Garden of Eden. Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). The lack of self- control today is still robbing many of their eternal inheritance in Christ. We are our greatest enemy. Many who are pre-eminent in dignity and pre-eminent in strength are uncontrolled as water and weak in spiritual strength. Look at the contrast, how does God work in terms of these elements? In this world, we are encouraged and motivated to be strong, but God’s power is perfected in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). God has chosen the weak things of this world to shame the things that are strong (1 Cor. 1:27). It is so opposite to the values of the world that we live in.
There is a gulf between that which is natural and that which is spiritual. There is the gulf between life and death, between the good and the bad. How do I move from where I am to where I want to be? There is no shortcut no matter what people say. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace (Rom. 8:5-6). How important it is for us to get this mindset right? (John 3:3-5). How do we move from this level to the kingdom of God level? You have to be born–again! It means becoming like a child. Children do not have a history of failure; they do not have bad memories. They are so innocent and ready to be taught the positive. Become like a child and you will inherit the kingdom of God. By being born of water and spirit you will enter the kingdom. It is another realm.
How does a seed multiply? It needs to be planted, it needs a specific environment and then in a sense it dies and out of that “death”, it reproduces itself many times over. That is exactly what happened to the pattern Son, Jesus (Jn 12:24,25), the One who paved the way. He died but was raised again. In order to multiply Himself, He had to die. There is no shortcut for us if we cannot identify with that; not only with His death but with His resurrection.
The Garden of Eden, which always has the significance of the kingdom of heaven, has been re-established on earth by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. When Jesus rose from the dead and sent forth His Spirit into the hearts of men on the day of Pentecost, the Garden of Eden was re-established in the earth and the tree of life was once more planted on earth in the midst of the garden. The life of Christ by the eternal spirit was again made accessible to man by faith. Satan will continue to lure you to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He will offer you shortcuts; he will offer you ‘better’ options. You and I must be very careful what we choose in this life. By His death and resurrection He plucked out the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, He uprooted it! So the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was destroyed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but Satan will keep on holding this tree before you. He will tell you like he told Eve, “The moment you eat of this tree you will be like Him” (Gen. 3:4-5). In the daily fellowship, that wonderful state of being in the garden, God comes to the man and woman and suddenly they are hiding. Why did they hide? They discovered that they were naked (Gen. 3:10-11). God asked, “Who told you that you are naked?” Where does sin consciousness come from? The tree of life is the tree available to you and me.
Until humanity wakes up to the truth of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ it is going to take a long time until we see what life is about. Many people pray for an overnight rapture, “Take us home and give this planet to the devil”, but Jesus prayed “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). This earth belongs to the Lord. God is looking for a house in which to rest (Isaiah 66:1). He found a house in which to rest in Jesus when He came to the earth. Jesus was a man in rest but He could accomplish things (Matt. 11:28-29-Msg). He was not driven by religious fervour. May God give us that breakthrough in being fruitful and being in a place of rest. It all started with Jesus, God found a man in whom He could rest, with whom He could enter into a union, whose whole being was open to the rule of His will and nature and fellowship of His love. Between the ages of twelve and thirty, He learned obedience by the things He suffered (Heb. 5:8). At the age of thirty, His sonship was confirmed from heaven. He was recognised from heaven and Joseph had to step back as the Heavenly Father took over.
The earth by itself cannot produce fruit; neither can the seed by itself produce fruit. The two need each other. The seed needs to be put into the soil and under the right circumstances, it will start to grow. Jesus was the divine Seed that had to be planted in earthly humanity and die before He could produce and multiply Himself many times over. His Sonship on earth was the planting of the Divine Seed of the Father’s life into a human body and nature. The incarnation means God becoming flesh in the man called Jesus. The Son of God becoming the Son of Man, dying on the cross, being resurrected and He became a Son of God again. His ascension was admittance as man into the very glory of God, the perfect oneness with God in glory in the unity of the spirit. All of this was fulfilled in the first-born Son. The work was not complete because Jesus came to bring many sons to glory, not just Himself (Heb. 2:10). This is where we are in this Divine process. If it was not for Jesus who opened the door and paved the way, we would have been stuck outside the Garden of Eden forever, but He opened the gate, He opened the door and He said, “Today you shall be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
In His resurrection and ascension, He was no longer only the Mighty God but He was the Mighty God whose divine life and nature had laid a hold on humanity and raised it up into identification with Himself. The Son of Man became the Son of God. Lord, help us appreciate and see these things and go through the open door. Stop battling with that which has already been conquered. The accuser of the brethren has been cast down. We give too much attention to the voice of Satan; he is a liar, a religious spirit, the accuser of the brethren.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…. much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Rom. 5:8-11). Too often the preaching of the gospel has stopped before the “much more”. We have to live the resurrection!
It is one thing to be saved by the death of Jesus Christ it is another to be saved by His life. While both expressions are correct to talk about being saved by the death of Christ, there is a greater need to talk about being saved by the life of Christ. If reconciliation and justification by the death of Christ could make men to be conformed to the image of the Son of God then all baby Christians in Babylon’s harlot religious systems would be well on their way to sonship. You know that is not the case. The death of Christ can make one a justified believer but only the indwelling life of God’s Christ can enable us to truly put on the mind of Christ and be transformed in thought, desire, emotion, nature and body into His likeness. It is as if Christianity needs another explosion in a new insight into the finished works of Jesus. It is as if the gospel needs an upgrade; we need to speak these things so that our mindsets can change and the fruit will be seen and tasted in our lives. I pray that we will embrace the resurrection, not just in mind but begin to live the resurrection.