PART II

THE ORIGINAL REVELATION

CHAPTER 1

THE APPOINTED VOCATION OF MAN IN PARADISE

God set mankind on the earth. In Eden He planted that wonderful Garden that should be its possessors' delight and pleasure, for "Eden" means ``pleasure land, loveliness." Paradise was the beginning of the ways of God with man here on earth.

Christ and the New Testament quarantee the historicity and literality of the opening chapters of the Bible. Everywhere the Lord and His apostles treat them as accounts of actual events; indeed they even draw from them dogmatic conclusions. Matt. 19: 4 - 9; Rom. 5: 12-21; I Cor. 15:21, 22; I Tim. 2: 13, 14; Jas. 3: 9; I John 3: 12; Rev. 20:2; "If therefore the New Testament is truth, then Gen. 1-3 is history." Whoever rejects or explains away this history of the first beginnings is thereby in opposition to the absolute authority of the Lord Jesus and His apostles. For details see the Appendix "The Trustworthiness of ancient Biblical History."

Paradise was

i. The Home of an Indescribable Bliss,

ii. The Starting-point of a Wonderful Task

iii. The Arena of a Mighty Conflict,

iv. The Scene of a Tragic Collapse: and thenceforth it is

v. The Longed-for Goal of a waiting Mankind.

I. THE HOME OF AN INDESCRIBABLE BLISS

Majestically the lord of the earthly creation ruled the Garden, and all the work of his hands prospered. The flowers bloomed wIth such beauty as the human eye has never again seen, and the trees bore the most glorious fruit. In the vegetable and animal world a wondrous breath of heavenly peace prevailed; and, above all, God Himself, the Creator of the universe, held ungrieved intercourse with men and granted them the enjoyment of His blessed presence (Gen. 3: 8).

Where the earthly Paradise was situate cannot be stated with certainty. Some have suggested Armenia or the Syrian-Arabian desert. In any case the Phrat (Gen.2:14) is the Euphrates and Hiddekel the Tigris (comp. Dan. 10: 4, the Aramaic Diglat). That the district of Eden must have lain high is proved by the circumstance that it was the birth-place of great rivers (Gen.2:10). The Garden is not Eden itself, but in" Eden (Gen. 2: 8,10). That later the name of the district passed to the Garden itself (e.g. Ezek. 28:13) is a common occurrence easily to be understood. The rivers Pison and Gihon cannot with certainty be identified. It appears that substantial changes in those regions were erected by the Flood.

The word "paradise" is derived from the Persian and means in the first place simply a park or forest which surrounded the royal stronghold. Thus Nehemiah 2: 8 speaks of a certain Asaph, the keeper of the royal forest (Heb. pardes). Similarly, Solomon in the sentence "I made me gardens and parks" uses for parks the same word "paradises" (Eccles. 2: 5; comp. Song of Songs 4: 12). The Septuagint translates by "paradise" whenever in the Hebrew the word "Garden," Eden, is found. In the New Testament the word occurs only three times (Luke 23: 43; II Cor. 12: 4; Rev. 2: 7).

But God had placed man in Paradise not for enjoyment only: he was also to be active and produce fruit; and thus the garden became for him.

II. THE STARTNG-POINT OF A WONDERFUL. TASK
(I) MAN AS A PERSON

From the point of view of salvation's history God, world, and man are the three essential realities of all that exists. To recognize them is the task of our understanding. A threefold consciousness has therefore been granted to man; a consciousness of God, of the world, and of himself; and in correspondence with this the Creator has given to him the organs which capacitate him for this threefold consciousness.

The world man perceives through the senses (feeling, smelling, taste, hearing, sight) which are exercised by the bodily organs (nerves, nose, palate, ears, eyes). It is through the body that we attain to world or sense consciousness.

The Ego we perceive through the soul. For man is far more than a sensitive member of external nature; he is a self with volition and individual personality. This is revealed to him directly through his own inner being, and thus through the soul he attains to self-or Ego-consciousness.

And so that he might finally rise to the Creator, God gave him the spirit. Through it he attains to God consciousness.

Thus man is a trinity in unity, and his invisible inner being consists of two substances to be clearly distinguished; for the Word of God is able to pierce " to the dividing of soul and spirit " (Heb. 4: 12), and the apostle further testifies: "But he, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through, and your whole spirit, together with soul and body, must be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thess. 5: 23). "Spirit and soul are one as to their nature (the right dichotomy), but different substances (the right trichotomy)" (Delitzsch).

Thus "spirit" is that part of our personality which, as the higher consciousness, is directed toward the Divine and supersensual; whereas "soul" is the lower component of our inner man which has cognizance of the earthly and creaturely. l The soul attains merely to self consciousness, but the spirit attains to God-consciousness.

1 One sees this specially in the use of the adjectives "soulish" and "spiritual" " Psychical ' (soulish) occurs six times in the New Testament and always in inferior contrast to "spiritual", I Cor. 15: 44 (twice), 46; 2: 14; Jude 19; Jas.3:15

The soul attains merely to self consciousness, and even this only with the help of the spirit, but the spirit attains to God consciousness.

The soul is the connecting link between spirit and body. Only through its mediation can the spirit act on the body; for the spirit is to the soul the "substance interwoven from within and above" even as the body is the same "from outward and beneath. " Hence the soul is the bond between both these; it is as it were, a "body" for the spirit, even as it is itself enclosed by the body as its own material frame (see Tertullian).

According to the Scripture, the body should be

a temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6: 19),

a sacrifice for true service to God (Rom. 12:1),

an instrument of riihteousness (Rom. 6: 13),

a means to the glorifying of God (I Cor. 6: 20),

a seed-corn for the glorified spiritual body (I Cor. 15:43-47).

Without redemption, the body is

a door of attack for the enemy (Gen. 3: 6; Matt. 5: 28-30)

the body of sin (Rom. 6: 6),

a body of humiliation (Phil. 3: 27),

a decaying earthly tent-dwelling (II Cor. 5: 1-4),

a seed-corn of a Satanically ruined resurrection body (Dan. 12: 2; John 5: 29).

Of this triunity of the human personality the Mosaic tabernacle is an image. "In the same figure a Christian is portrayed: his spirit is sanctum sanctorum, the All-holiest, the dwelling of God in the darkness of faith without light, for he believes what he neither sees, nor feels, nor grasps. The soul is a sanctum, the holy place, here are seven lamps, that is, all kinds of understanding, discrimination, knowledge, and perception of corporeal visible things. The body is the portico, the atrium (forecourt) which is manifest to every man, so that one can see what he does and how he lives" (Luther).

Thus in the nature of man there correspond

world consciousness, self consciousness, God consciousness,

body, soul, and spirit,

atrium, (forecourt), holy place, All-holiest.

It is from the All-holiest, from the spirit, that God rules over soul and body. Here lies, preserved in the conscience, even as in the ark of the covenant, the unchangeable Divine Law. Here is the actual place of revelation of the Most High in us, even as in the tabernacle God dwelt over the cherubim. And as then the cloud of glory, the Shekinah, floated above the throne of grace, so does this indwelling of the Divine Spirit in our spirit bring to us [as regenerate believers] the consciousness of peace and joy (Rom. 8: 16). For the throne of God in us is no judgment seat, but a throne of grace, and the sceptre of His sovereignty is salvation. Thus are we permitted, like that tabernacle, as a pilgrim-tent of God to go through the world-wilderness, till at length we reach the goal, eternity, the heavenly Canaan (comp. II Cor. 5: 1-4).

With such a vocation for man we now comprehend also why it is in precisely the account of his creation, as the crown of the creation, that for the first time the Word of God rises to a poetical song of joy. The form of Hebrew poetry is that of thought rhyme, parallelism of members and verses, not of sounds. Now therefore the Holy Scripture celebrates the creation of the triunity, man, this wonderful act of the triune God, in poetic strain, through a threefold rhyme, a threefold "God created:"

And God created man after his own image;

After the image of God rrcated he him;

As man and wife created he them. (Gen. 1: 27).

(2) MAN AS THE IMAGE OF GOD

But the true God-resemblance of man does not really consist in that he, as consisting of spirit, soul, and body, is a triunity in unity and thus reflects the triune being of his Creator;

nor in that his body is already in advance formed after the likeness of the glorified resurrection body of the Son of God, which, by virtue of the super-temporality of God, had already been eternally existent as the prototype in the mind of the Creator (Phil 3: 21);

but it consists in this, that he, as a spiritual and moral being, gives expression in a creaturely manner to the inward characteristics of God.

Two sides are to be observed of the Bible teaching as to theGod-resemblance of man: a resemblance that can be lost, and one that cannot be lost. For, on the one hand, this God-resemblance is indicated as something that was lost through the fall and can only be regained through the redemption (Col. 3: 10; Eph. 4: 24; Rom. 8: 29; I Cor. 15: 49; II Cor. 3: 18), and, on the other hand, there is still recognized an image of God even in fallen man (Gen. 9: 6; I Cor. 11: 7; Acts 17: ,8; Jas. 3: 9). First, man is an image of God in the wider sense in so far that he is in general appointed to be for eternity a moral, indestructible personality, with self consciousness, understanding, reason, a power of moral judgment, conscience, and freedom of will; to which is added his vocation to rule, through which he, as ruler of the earth, is to be an image of the Lord as Ruler of the universe (Gen.1: 26-28). This is the image of God as a plan, as the essential feature of human nature in itself, without which man would simply cease to be man.

But actually and inwardly this comes to pass only if a man does truly reflect the spiritual and moral nature of God by his practical condition of holiness and love: this is the image of God in the narrower sense of condition and possession. The image of God in the first formal sense did not perish through the fall of man; yet as an inward and material possession it is lost. " The wheels of the mechanism indeed remain; but its running is disturbed. The flower and its calyx are still there; but its tinted enamel and its scent are gone." Hence the necessity of the redemption.

(a) Thc Endowment. God Himself is the prototype. Spirituality, liberty, and blessedness form the three fundamental characteristics of His holy, loving nature. He would now in man, as in a copy, be glorified. Therefore God endowed him with the three powers of his spiritual and soulish inward being. He gave him will, intellect, and feeling. That he might partake of the freedom of holy love He granted to him, will; that he should in true knowledge mirror the divine spirituality, intellect; that he should rejoice in the divine blessedness, feelings.

(b) Thc Sanctification. For this reason the goal of all sanctification is described in the New Testament m corresponding manner. As regards the spiritual power of thought it says that we have put on the new man which "is being renewed unto full knowledge after the 'image' of him who has created it" (Col. 3: 10). In reference to the moral condition of the will it is said that the new man "after the 'image' of God is created in true righteousness and purity" (Eph. 4: 24). And finally, as concerns the joyful experience of the glory of God, which with the whole personality-its thinking and willing-includes at the same time the joy of the feelings-we read, "But we all, with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord, become transfigured, according to the same 'image,' from glory to glory, as through the Lord, the Spirit" (II Cor. 3: 18).

(c) The Mediator. But all these three rays unite in one, in the image of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord: "for those whom he has foreknown them he also afore-appointed to this, to become like to the image of his Son. He should be the firstbom among many brethren" (Rom. 8: 29). The image of the Father is none other than the only begotten Son (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1: 3). In this image God created man according to His image. Therefore in us the image of the Father reaches its exhibition in the image of the Son. In the Son we are appointed to be sons. Therein consists our resemblance to God (I John 3: 2). Christ, the historical centre of salvation, is, at the same time, the prototype of the ultimate perfection of the universe.

Yet not in a moral sense only is conformity to Christ the final purpose of redemption, but also as regards the future spiritual body. Therefore has Christ entered into the glory with a glorified human body (John 20: 14-29; Acts 1:11), and therefore also we expect Him back from heaven as Saviour, as the One Who will "conform the body of our humiliation to the body of his glory" (Phil. 3: 21). For "the first man is of the earth, from dust, the second man is from heaven. And as the heavenly so are also the heavenly ones. And as we have borne the image which is of dust, so shall we also bear the image of the heavenly" (I Cor. 15:47-49).

(d) The Goal. Consequently, when this spiritual body comes (Rom. 8: 23) the goal of all salvation will be completely attained. As truth, righteousness, and peace, the inner nature of the kingdom of God will unfold itself (Rom. 14:17), and glory will be in all those who then awake in the image of their God. In the holiness of their will, the wisdom of their knowledge, and the happiness of their feelings, the freedom and spirituality and bliss of the Creator will be perfectly displayed, and the three powers of their soul will become for all eternity a glorifying in the tri-unity of a creature of the triune self-determination of the eternal God.

But to all this there is added something special. By the creation of man God had manifestly not only the thought that he, like the angels of heaven, as a pure and happy being, should glorify Him, but, inasmuch as He entrusted to him the earth as his sphere of rule, He also gave to him a special task which extended over this his dwelling place.

(3) MAN AS RULER OF THE EARTH

"Be fruitful and increase yourselves, people the earth and subjugate and rule it" (Gen. 1: 28). In these words the royal appointment of the human race is plainly declared. The capacity for this is the human spirit, which reveals itself above all in speech.

(a) The Beginning. What is a word? A sound, a note, a tone which goes out of the mouth! Yet much more! A conveyor of a motion of the spirit, an instrument for manifesting the intelligence, a sign, a sound-symbol of an activity of the soul: Only through the gift of the spirit and speech man becomes really man. Only thus is it that he receives the capacity of inward development.

By speech Adam began in Paradise the exercise of his royal authority. At the very beginning, even before the creation of the woman, God Himself brought to him the creatures of the air and the earth, so that he, discerning their natures, should give them suitable names (Gen. 2: 20): and thus was their "king' at the very beginning crowned by the Creator, and speech became, spiritually speaking, the "sceptre of mankind."

Thus speech is not, as unbelieving philosophers assert, an invention which man first made little by little within human society for the purpose of mutual intercourse. For God " spoke " to Adam even before He had given him Eve as helper, and in like manner Adam, before the creation of the woman, made use of speech in the naming of the animals. Rather therefore is speech an "instinctive emanation of the spirit" which, "passing out through the mouth, is a perceptible revelation of the intelligence " (Plato), " audible spirit " (Bettex). As an aptitude inherent in creation the gift of speech was present in man from the beginning; but it needed to be freed and released, and this God effected by giving to man the task of naming the animals.

What was the original language in Paradise cannot now be determined.

(b) The Purport of the command. But the earth-at least exterior to Paradise-in spite of its creation and government by the Most High, was a region that had not yet entirely reached its goal. Indeed, it appears that the condition of disharmony that with the fall of Satan had invaded this earthly realm (Rom. 8:20,21) was still existing everywhere in the earth outside Paradise at the time man was created. At any rate, the earliest Bible history indicates that the earth itself, in spite of the divine new beginning which set in with the creation of man, was not yet absolutely withdrawn from the operation of demonic powers

This is proved by the command of God to man, not only to cultivate the garden of Paradise, but to "guard" it; as also by the fact that his temptation came through a hostile power opposed to God, appearing on the earth and making use of an animal of the earth. Furthermore, had the whole earth been everywhere a place of life and highest perfection, there would have been no need at all for a Paradise! But evidently the first created man, in ability and appointment, stood much superior to the earth, and therefore for him a special region must be prepared, so that he should have a residence corresponding to his rank and to the dignity of his calling. So the planting of the garden of Paradise, regarded from the standpoint of the Bible, is a witness to the yet imperfect character of the earth outside of Paradise.

With this agrees the witness of geology. For scientifically it is clearly to be recognized that many present forms of vegetable and animal life have an extraordinary resemblance, indeed, some of them, almost exact likeness, to the corresponding forms of life of the Tertiary Age, and even sometimes to the Chalk and Limestone Ages, thus standing evidently in organic connexion with them. Now if one would teach that at the time of the first man the earth beyond Paradise was freed from all death and all disharmony-which the Bible does not expressly teach-then one must draw the inevitable yet most highly improbable conclusion that the animal species of the Tertiary Age which are like (!) those of the present day-we think here especially of the flesheating animals-were first destroyed, or as regards their instincts, their forms of feeding, and consequently their whole bodily structure, were transformed anatomically and physiologically, and then, after the fall of man, were once more created anew or changed back into a condition which essentially corresponded to their Tertiary condition. But to accept this is a much greater difficulty than to regard as accurate the connexion of the present forms of animal and plant life with the fossils.

Therefore it is easier to believe that during the time of Paradise the species of animals outside of Paradise remained in their former partly wild state, and that if man had exercised and constantly extended his function as ruler in accordance with God's plan, the animal world would have attained at last to a final liberation from the bands of savagery and death.

Thus the extending of man's rule on the earth, provided he remained subject to God, signified a drawing of all things earthly into the sphere of the moral world-purposes, an increasing resumption of the earth for God and therewith a progressive leading forward of the creation to redemption and perfection. Paradise was thus the fixed point from which the uplifting of Nature into the sphere of the spirit should take its beginning. It was appointed by God to that purpose, "so that from here the whole earth should develop into a Paradise. The garden is the Holy of holies, Eden the holy place, the whole surrounding earth the vestibule and court. The climax is, that the whole shall be transformed into the glorified likeness of that Holiest."

In this regard Adam himself counted not only as an individual, but at the same time as the primary ancestor and organic representative of the whole of his descendants, then already seen in principle "in" him (I Cor. 15: 22; Rom. 5: 12-21). Therefore is it said first "Be fruitful and multiply and people the earth ", and only afterward, "and subdue it to yourselves and rule it" (Gen.1:28). So then the Paradise garden is beginning and end, start and goal, basis, programme, and type of the whole task of man on earth.

But this could be attained only by the man being placed in a moral conflict with the possibility of yielding to evil. Only in a conflict could he "conquer;" only so could he obtain the crown of the "overcomer." On the other hand Satan, the adversary of God, would not allow the work of his enemy, this man created pure and good, to go unattacked. Thus, at the very beginning, there forthwith opened a highly significant struggle, and Paradise became

III. THE ARENA OF A MIGHTY CONFLICT

With this its mysterious background it entered into the cosmic frame of universal super-history. Behind Paradise stands the star world of God and the greatest revolt that has ever taken place, the conflict between Satan and God.

According to the principle of development the object of the temptation was adapted to the childlike intelligence of young mankind. Therefore the command not to eat of the fruit of the tree.

Foolish indeed is the objection that to eat of a forbidden fruit was no more than nibbling a dainty on the sly and so a small sin; for to the first pair it was not simply to test the flavour of the fruit, but they wished, behind the back of the Creator, by a forbidden way, to rise to equal exaltation with Him (Gen. 3: 5) The prohibition as to eating from the tree was thus essentially sptritual, inasmuch as it established the absolute authority of God over men, and this as the true good.

Through not eating the fruit of the tree, that is, through victory in the temptation, Adam's moral consciousness, through the exercise of his freedom of choice, should attain to freedom of authority, and at the same time his service to the earth as its ruler should therewith become effective. Each victory over temptation would have ripened and deepened his inner life. More and more would he have recognized the good and seen through the evil, and would have grown out of the condition of childlike innocence into one of adult ripeness, of victorious holincss, with an attainment of a perception of good and evil like to that of God. "This tree of the knowledge of good and evil was become Adam's altar and pulpit, from whiich he was to render due obedience to God, recognize God's word and will and give Him thanks; and had Adam not fallen this tree would have been like a temple and cathedral" (Luther). Thus, then, the tree was a sign of the rule of God over man and the subjection of man to God. Even in the prohibition God wished far more to give than to withhold. The tree of knowledge had consequently in a double manner a divine purpose; it was a means in the hand of God for the education of man and by this for the transfiguration of the earth.

But then came the sin. In Eden man lost his Eden, and Paradise, this dwelling of delight and loveliness, became

IV. THE PLACE OF A TRAGIC COLLAPSE

The serpent had promised man the knowledge of good and evil, and in a distorted form he has kept his word. But "instead of perceiving the evil from the free height of the good he perceived the good from the deep abyss of the evil." According to God's plan man through victory in temptation should have perceived what good is and what evil would be; but through sin he subsequently perceived what evil is and what good would have been. And because at the tree of knowledge he had wantonly sinned, he must now also be cut off from the tree of life (Gen. 3: 22, 23). Death entered the human race, and in Paradise began man's hell.

Yet man could never forget his native place. All peoples have sung of "Paradise Lost" and hoping and waiting have watched for its return. Therefore Paradise is

V. THE LONGED-FOR GOAL OF A WAITING HUMANITY

And in fact their hopes will not be disappointed. The final history will return to the opening history, and as at the beginning of the ancient earth there existed an earthly paradise, so at last on the new earth there will be a heavenly paradise (Rev. 22: 1-5). Moreover, after the Fall the Lord permitted the high calling of man to continue. Even now the glorifying of the earth and the perfecting of mankind still remain eternally connected.

Therefore the Scripture intimates repeatedly a deep connexion in the history of salvation between the earth and mankind. "Thus Paradise corresponded to the man in innocence, the land under curse to him as the fallen man. So to Israel, as the typical people of God, corresponded the Promised Land as the type of the future Paradise. Similarly, to each religious and moral decline of that people there corresponded a darkening and desolating of its land (Deut. 28: 15ff.; Joel 2; Zeph.1:14ff.), even as to each period of spiritual reviving, there corresponded an uplifting of nature (Deut. 28: 8ff.; Psa. 72: 16,17). Likewise at the death of Christ the sun became darkened, and the renewing of the earth announced itself at His death by the earthquake."

Similarly with the increase of sin in the time of Antichrist there will come an increased distress over nature (Rev. 16: 1ff); but in the Millennial kingdom nature will be blessed with the whole of mankind (Isa. 11: etc.). Finally, with the close of human history the old universe perishes as to its form (II Pet. 3 :10; Rev. 21), in order that, with the glorifying of redeemed humanity, there may come a glorified "new earth" (Rev. 21:1).

Therefore "the earnest expectation of the creation awaits the manifestation of the sons of God" (Rom. 8: 19), and therefore can it be brought "to the sharing of the liberty" only when the children of God are in the state of glory" (Rom. 8: 19-22).

In Christ at last will mankind attain its blessed goal. He appeared on earth and completed His work. He humbled Himself, went to the cross and bore there the sins of mankind. Thereupon He ascended to heaven and now sits at the right hand of the Father, until at length He shall usher in the day on which He will present to Himself and to the Father His own people glorified (Eph. 5: 27).

Yet as the Son of Man He has perfected here the work which the Father gave Him to do. As man He bore here the crown of thorns which the unredeemed land, standing under the curse offered Him; and therefore as man will He some day, as Head of His church, reign over the same earth, though then redeemed and freed from the curse (Eph. 1: 22). The Divine Redeemer became man and as such redeemed the human ruler of the earth united him then to Himself in eternal, inseparable oneness, and at the same time effected the redemption of the earth. This is the way which grace found. Thus, then, the old vocation of man remains, and yet is it filled with wholly new content. In Christ as its head mankind attains the purpose of its appointment. As the last Adam (I Cor. 15: 45, 21, 22; Rom. 5: 12-21) He is for it centre, crown, and star. The whole human race is "a circle, and in the course of the outworking of salvation Jesus Christ is more and more wrought out as the Centre of this circle."

But it is one of the deepest secrets of the counsel of the grace of God that, in order to reach His great world-embracing objective, He did not set man aside when the latter, through his sin and fall, proved unworthy of his high vocation. "The gifts by grace and the calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom. 11:29) As with Israel in the smaller sphere so here in the great, this note sounds alike, through sin and misery, destruction and salvation In spite of all, the perfecting of creation is to be bound up with man. Though its development may proceed along other ways than it would have done had man not fallen by sin, yet the final purpose remains. And because it remains the way and the goal of God that man shall be the channel of blessing for the creation therefore can the devil be cast into the lake of fire, and there be a new heaven and a new earth, only after the great white throne that is, after the conclusion of the revealed history of the redemption of mankind (Rev. 20: 21; comp. 20: 11-15).

Previous Chapter/Table of ContentsNext Chapter