Saturday, August 10, 2013
Returning to God's Garden...
Some might say that the day Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and hid themselves from God was the saddest day on planet Earth. But God was not surprised. He knew it was going to happen, since He knows all things, and He had a plan in mind from eternity past. (Acts 2: 23) For Christ would be our sacrificial Lamb, just as sure as Abraham was provided the ram caught in the thicket after being tested by God with offering up his beloved son Isaac on Mount Moriah in Genesis 22:13. (This was the very same spot where Jesus was crucified.) Think of it, Jesus was the Ram caught in the thicket for all of us.
But before Jesus came and died for us, God commanded Adam and Eve to leave the beautiful garden of Paradise. Adam was commanded to earn his food and provide for his family by the sweat of his brow. The curse meant no more fellowshipping with Christ in the garden of the cool of the day to be taught by Him. Now Adam and his family must be banished from the beautiful garden, and he must work and toil all his life. Moreover, the ground would not be kind to Adam, for "thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you" is what God told Adam would be the result of his labor in Genesis 3: 16a.
Sweating has been the story of mankind. Men work hard and their fortune can be wiped out overnight. One can break their back for a corporation, only to be let go when the economy declines. Security that seemed unending, gone in a minute. All that sweat, and what a tragedy as we see more and more homeless people who were once middle class. Do you really think this situation this will improve when we are trillions of dollars in debt?
In my reading in Ezekiel the other day, the prophet described the rebuilt Jewish Temple in the time of the coming Millenial Kingdom, when Christ will rule human history from Jerusalem for a literal 1,000 years while Satan is bound in the bottomless pit. (Revelation 20: 3) The Spirit caught my attention with the description of the priest's clothing in this passage, because it also has to do with sweat:
"And it shall be, whenever they enter the gates of the inner court, that they shall put on linen garments; no wool shall come upon them while they minister within the gates of the inner court or within the house. 'They shall have linen turbans on their heads and linen trousers on their bodies; they shall not clothe themselves with [anything that causes] sweat.'"
Now I wonder, why would the Lord not want them to sweat as they minister as priests in the Temple? After all, Adam and all his descendants have been sweating ever since that day when he and Eve were banished from the Garden.
Of course, I should know that the answer is found in one of the most important verses in the whole Bible! I like this translation from Kenneth Wuest in The New Testament: an Expanded Translation, because it gives the sense of the verse, and it was written as if it is happening right now, because that is how the Apostle John wrote it.
John 19: 28-30
"After this, Jesus knowing that all things had now been brought to a consummation and stood finished in order that the scripture might be fulfilled says, I am thirsty. A vessel was standing there full of sour wine. Then, after putting a sponge filled with sour wine around a hyssop reed, they put it to His mouth. Then when Jesus had received the sour wine He said, It has been finished and stands complete. And having bowed His head, He delivered up His spirit."
Who was in control there? Jesus was! He knew, at that exact moment, the most important moment of all human history, that all sins had been paid for. It was then, and only then, that the Lord gave up His human spirit. Thus the work was finished. The veil of the curtain in the Jewish Temple was torn in two at that exact moment as well, indicating God's satisfaction with Christ's sacrifice. (Matthew 27:51)
Now, there is another tree in the Garden, and it is most wonderful. This tree is now available to us, with no sweating on our part, because of what Christ did for us that tragic but glorious day. This tree is called the Tree of Life. The fruit on this tree is not forbidden, we can partake of it as much as we want! In the New Jerusalem, established after the enemy of our souls is finally banished to the lake of fire, there will never again be a curse, no more death, no more sickness. Can you imagine a world without these things? By faith in what Christ did that day was for you personally and acknowledging that God raised Him from the dead, you, too, can be among those worshipping Him forever.
Revelation 22: 1-3:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."