Friday, January 8, 2016

Understanding the Book of Revelation - Chapter Four, The First and Last Adams

Chapter 4 - The First and Last Adams

“For since [it was] through a man that death [came into the world, it is] also through a Man that the resurrection of the dead [has come]. For just as [because of their union of nature] in Adam all people die, so also [by virtue of their union of nature] shall all in Christ be made alive. Thus it is written, The first man Adam became a living being (an individual personality); the last Adam (Christ) became a life-giving Spirit [restoring the dead to life].” – I Corinthians 15:21-22, 45

“Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath or spirit of life, and man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden [delight]; and there He put the man whom He had formed (framed, constituted). And the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and guard and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and blessing and calamity you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” – Genesis 2:7-8, 15-17

Adam was the first person made by God’s own hands. Eve, his wife, was the only other person to ever be directly fashioned by God. After God made Adam, He put the man in the Garden and gave Adam what seems to be two relatively simple directives – tend and protect the Garden, and don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So here we see that God had given the use of the land, in this case the whole earth, to Adam. Adam was to oversee and guard the land and by doing so he was fulfilling his God-given role. Then, at the close of Genesis, chapter 2, we see God creating Eve, Adam’s helper – someone who could come along side of Adam and fully complement him in every area of his life. By the time we get to chapter 3, we can deduce that Adam may have already become negligent in his duties. In the opening verses of chapter 3, we are introduced to the serpent and he’s doing what he does best – twisting the Word of God in order to fracture a person’s relationship with the Living God, with other people and with themselves.

“Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, for God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity. And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate.” – Genesis 3:1-6

Eve should have just walked away from that serpent and never given him the time of day. But she, like all of us, was human and allowed herself to be drawn in to a match of wits for which she was not equipped. From this initial encounter with the serpent, we can see the pattern Satan still uses today. First, he questioned God’s Word. “Did God really say that?” Next, we see that rather than ignoring this comment, Eve answers, although her answer adds to what the Lord had actually spoken to Adam. (You must remember that when God gave that command to Adam, Eve hadn’t been created yet, so it had been up to Adam to instruct Eve in the ways of God.) Eve’s addition to God’s Word was the opening Satan was looking for.

Satan knows the Word of God, probably better than any of us will ever know it. He’s had a lot of time to study it, trying to find some loophole in order to fulfill his warped desires. So when Eve added, “neither shall you touch it, lest you die,” to the command God had given to Adam, Satan had her just where he wanted her. He told her that she wouldn’t die, and that it was only because God was withholding something from her that she had been instructed not to eat of the tree. Questioning God’s motives and His provision is another tactic that has been working for Satan through the centuries. By this point poor Eve has been swayed. She took another look at the tree for herself and saw that it was not only a good source of food, but was pleasing to the eye and could make a person wise. That was all the convincing she needed – and the rest, as they say, is history. But Eve didn’t stop there. Apparently she didn’t want to sin alone, so she brought some of the fruit to Adam and he partook as well.

At this point you’re probably thinking about what a horrible, manipulative little creature Eve was. Wasn’t it bad enough that she defied God? Did she have to drag Adam down with her? Well, let’s put the brakes on the Eve-bashing for a minute and see what really happened here.

As I mentioned earlier, Adam was the one who was in charge of tending and guarding the Garden. His first mistake was letting the serpent get in. It also seems that Adam didn’t fully communicate God’s Word to Eve. She was obviously very easily led astray by the wiles of the serpent and was ultimately deceived by the serpent. When Adam took his bite of that famous fruit, however, he did so with both eyes open and with full knowledge of what he was doing. He purposely disobeyed God’s will. In Genesis 3:7, we see that it was not until Adam ate the fruit that both of their eyes were opened and they then knew that they were naked. I believe that this clearly lays responsibility for the couple’s act at Adam’s feet. But why would Adam knowingly and willingly sin against God, losing everything that had been entrusted to him? Let’s look at Adam and Eve’s relationship a bit more to find out.

In today’s world of high divorce rates and growing numbers of dating services, you soon realize that finding the right mate is a high priority for most people. But can you imagine if God made your mate for you with His own hands, out of your own body? Eve wasn’t just the perfect wife for Adam, she was literally part of him. I can’t even begin to imagine the love these two must have shared, not only with each other, but in their unfettered relationship with God. The couple walked freely through the Garden, clothed only in the light of God’s glory. But when Adam ate the forbidden fruit, all of that changed.

When Eve came to Adam with the fruit in her hand, Adam had a choice to make. Here stood Eve, holding a piece of fruit in her hand. I can almost see her crying like a baby over what she had just done. Because Eve had been deceived into sinning, she would have no longer been able to be in perfect relationship with either God or her husband. Before Adam stood the woman that he loved, but he could no longer relate to her. He couldn’t take her in his arms and comfort her in her time of despair. There was a chasm of sin between them. The only way that Adam could ever be with Eve again was to follow her into her fallen state, and out of his great love for her, he did just that.

With that one decision, the world changed forever. For the first time in history, man knew shame and guilt. The first thing Adam and Eve did after their eyes had been opened was to sew leaves together in hopes of covering their guilt – the first religious act – but God quickly shows us that we can not cover our own iniquity nor can we dictate what will please God. The Lord had to spill the innocent blood of animals in order to make atonement for the transgressions of His children. The skins of those sacrificial animals became clothing for His children. Then God had to expel the couple from the Garden and post a guard at the entrance to keep them from eating from the tree of life and obtaining eternal life in their fallen state. But there was something else that happened that day in the Garden.

Through his willful disobedience to God’s will, not only did sin and decay enter into the human condition, but Adam forfeited his title deed to the land. Fortunately God didn’t let any time pass before He unveiled His plan of redemption. In Genesis 3:14-15, God not only makes the first proclamation of the Messiah, but that the Messiah would ultimately crush the head of Satan, while He would have His heel bruised (this was fulfilled in the life of Yeshua when He hung on the cross).

We are also shown that Satan is currently in legal possession of the earth in Luke chapter 4. In this passage Satan comes to Yeshua in the wilderness and begins tempting Him. When Satan offers Yeshua all the kingdoms of the world and all the authority to go with them, Yeshua didn’t correct him, because for the time being Satan does indeed have legal possession of the earth. Yeshua knew that the only way for Him to be eligible to ultimately redeem the land meant He would have to follow the Father’s plan and not take matters into His own hands. He stood firm and sent Satan packing.

In Romans 8:19-21, we can see that creation is indeed waiting to be redeemed. “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Creation must be redeemed, just as each of us is in need of redemption, and the One who is qualified to redeem us is the same One – the only One – who will be able to redeem the earth and return it to its rightful owner – Yeshua the Messiah.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” – Philippians 2:5-8

It is no small thing what the Messiah has done for us. But why would Yeshua step out of His rightful place in the Godhead to be born a human and ultimately die the most hideous death known to man? Because He loves us. He looked upon us in our desperation, our souls crying out for the help that only He could give, and out of His compassion and mercy He chose, just as Adam did, to join His bride in her brokenness. But rather than joining us through an act of willful disobedience to the Father, Yeshua lived His life in perfect obedience to the will of God. Adam’s willful sin made it necessary for a human, someone who could perform in the role of kinsman-redeemer, to live a perfect and sinless life. It is because of Yeshua’s obedience that He can step into the role of kinsman-redeemer, not only for us, but for creation as well.

I believe that what we are seeing in the Book of Revelation is Yeshua stepping into the role of Kinsman-Redeemer for us, taking the title deed for the earth (the seven-sealed scroll) and transferring the legal title to the rightful owner once more. Because Adam willfully sinned, causing the title to default, there had to be a person who was completely obedient in order to qualify as Redeemer. Yeshua is that one.

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