Here in America we like to boast of men going from rags to riches.
We like to point to presidents of our country, financial successes, or men of other earthly achievements whose beginnings were humble, and who climbed from log cabins and poverty to become rich and famous.
Scripture presents to us another picture. Having shown us a man in indescribable bliss and riches, Holy Writ shows us one who fell from riches to rags, from spiritual life to spiritual death, and therefore from boundless joy to deep sorrow, and from fellowship with God to banishment from His face.
In the Word of God little is said about the ideal conditions in which Adam and Eve lived before they were cast out of the garden. By implication we do learn much from that into which they were plunged. In Genesis 3:17-19 we read, “And unto Adam God said, Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life: Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
Before this, God had already said to Eve, “‘I will greatly multiply thy conception; in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
Take these two together, and you can somewhat visualize what Adam and Eve had before this. The climate was ideal, and they did not need coats of skin during the day nor the evening. There was no sweat or sorrow, no struggle to get food for their stomachs, no injuries to be experienced by thorns and thistles, in a few words no discomfort, but instead pure comfort and joy and peace and gladness. They could truthfully say, THIS is life!”
And the loss of all this was greater for Adam and Eve than we could ever know, for we never had any such ideal conditions anywhere on the face of this earth since that day,. nor were we robbed of all of it in one day. (No, Job did not even suffer so great a contrast, though he lost much in one day.) Man sought to rob God of His glory; and he ended up robbing himself of all the good and joy and life that he had from God. His glory was all taken away; and he became poorer than the beasts of the field.
Yes, he did! For man lost something the animals never had, and that was God’s covenant fellowship. He had because of that “mother promise” of Genesis 3:15 the beginning of a restoration of that covenant fellowship. God had clothed him with the skins of animals and had given him promise of -better things to come. But that close, intimate, personal fellowship with God that he enjoyed in the garden is gone! And there stand cherubim (Please never read it as in the King James version, for cherubim already is plural, and cherubims is no more correct than geeses or mites) with a flaming sword to keep man away from that sacred place where he had such joy and fellowship with God. This loss, by contrast, makes the other insignificant, even though by nature we see it the other way. We sing correctly from the Psalms, “To live apart from God is death, Tis good His face to seek; My refuge is the living God, His praise I long to speak.” And Jesus tells us that this is life eternal, that we know God and Jesus Christ Whom He has sent. John 17:3.
We may, therefore, also be sure that Adam and Eve lived outside the garden as close to that gate or way to the tree of life as they could. Cain soon moved away with no desire at all to be reminded even of God’s existence. But Adam and Eve as believers with a rich and precious promise dwelt just outside the garden with the hope of a full restoration of covenant fellowship with God. They loved God again, for God had put enmity in their hearts against Satan and his whole kingdom. And by faith they took hold of that promise of victory in the Seed of the woman.
Yet as far as the material side is concerned, their loss was a permanent loss. Never would they go back to such ideal earthly conditions. Nor would their children, or children’s children to a thousand generations. In fact their children to a thousand generations were told that daily by God. It is well to take note of the fact that the original earthly creation as pictured to us in Genesis 1-3 contains three distinct areas or precincts. There is the land of Eden, There is the garden eastward in that broader expanse of the land of Eden. And there is the “midst of the garden” where were those two special trees, and where Adam had that close and delightful fellowship with God. And when God gave Moses the plan for the tabernacle, He designed it again to have three precincts corresponding to these three areas of the original creation. He dwelt Himself in the midst of the garden (tabernacle) between the cherubim on the mercy seat, in the most holy places, or Holy of Holies.
Now the point we wish to make is that which is given us in Exodus 26:1, 31 where we read, “Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine-twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubim of cunning work shalt thou make them. And thou shalt make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubim shall it be made.” And thus generations after Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise, their children’s children still saw cherubim guarding the way to the presence of God on that veil. All Israel was reminded in the tabernacle that the way was barred. And though the high priest might go behind the veil once a year without being burned by the fury of God’s wrath, he had to do so with the symbol of the blood of Christ, which he would symbolically sprinkle on the mercy seat, on the great day of atonement.
This was continued in the temple; and until the day that Christ took away those cherubim, because He had suffered the flame of God’s wrath upon the sins of His people, Israel had that reminder. And when Jesus cried out in victory, “lt is finished!” God tore that veil with the cherubim in twain and showed man that the way to a full return to His presence was now legally realized.
For the world, of course, there is never a return to the ideal conditions of paradise, though man invents his air conditioners, furnaces, labor-saving devices, humidifiers, dehumidifiers and air purifiers. God took that whole garden away through the flood. On this earth there is no paradise anymore. There was one for a time after the fall of man from which he was barred, but today there is none at all.
What is more, it will not work. It simply will not work! This whole unbiblical movement of the women’s liberation movement will not work. Neither will all of man’s labor-saving devices, inventions, and discoveries of the powers in God’s creation keep man from getting himself into worse messes than at the moment he decries. The younger generation is correct in pointing to the mess we have made of things. They are incorrect as far as their explanation of it and solution for it is concerned. But that man makes a mess of God’s earth (and messes up His moon with our junk—for a crashed lunar landing vehicle is nothing but junk) is inevitable from the moment man refused to be God’s royal priesthood, His steward and servant. We care not how we pollute the air and waters, just so we can get a few more so-called labor-saving devices, and fleshly pleasures, and seek to escape the curse without the cross. Since man declared war on God he also declared war on his fellow men; and he still says today, “Everyman for himself!” (And he practices it as much as he can.) If it is to my material advantage, I’ll pollute your air and streams. But I will fight you, if you pollute my air and water.” Indeed, paradise is lost, because man is lost in sin. Not being united in God with the desire to glorify Him with all His creation, man is disunited from his neighbour to seek that glory of God for himself; each man for himself, each family for that family, each nation for that nation. And to unite presently in the Antichrist will seem for a brief period of time to give hope of something better on this earth. But it will not work, for God has placed the curse upon this earth. And all men in the world together not only cannot lift it, but by their very efforts can only call for a more terrible measure of that curse in hell!
God is not mocked. But God is not pushed aside either. Men may say that He is dead. But that does not kill Him and remove Him from the scene, or remove one smallest part of the curse which He has imposed upon man. The woman, likewise, may object—and today strenuously does object—to the curse God imposed upon her. Because God has multiplied her conception, she often resorts—to the pill and to abortions. Because of that curse upon her there are cries of a population explosion that threatens to bring starvation to all of us. But you are not going to lift God’s curse by the pill and by the murder of abortion. You are only adding new sins for which that more terrible form of the curse in hell will be meted out by a holy and sovereign God!
There is no room in God’s law for abusing and mistreating the woman. But there certainly is not in Scripture any room for a women’s liberation movement that liberates itself from the fifth commandment and rebels against that word of God in Genesis 3:16, “. . . and he (thy husband) shall rule over thee.” To try to escape this punishment and curse (for this is something distinct from the authority that God gave Adam over Eve in the state of righteousness by the very fact that He gave her to Adam, and not Adam to her, made her of his rib and not him of her rib) by rebellion only aggravates the sin and increases the guilt. And this is not the way out for the woman. It is the continuation of the way on which she began when she wanted to be God’s equal, and therefore ate of the forbidden fruit. Now she wants to be man’s equal. But it will not work, because the almighty God has placed her under man, and under the curse that he shall rule over her in his sinful, fleshly defiance of God.
For us there is hope in Christ. Paradise is lost, and we will never get it back. Nor do we want it back. We must not face that first paradise with the hope of returning to it. By faith we must look forward to the new Jerusalem of Revelation 21 and Revelation 22. There we will have the tree of life again, and there we will dwell with God in a tabernacle that has no veil and has no cherubim to guard the way to the tree of life.
And all this is true and is possible because we lost our sin when the last Adam paid for it with His life. There is therefore now no condemnation for them that are in Christ Jesus. Dwell not on the loss of paradise and its beauty, but quickly flee to the cross of Christ to rejoice in the loss of sin! For that also means the loss of the curse and the obtaining of a blessedness far greater than Adam’s and Eve’s in that first paradise.
Having lost our sin in Christ there is hope for us, though paradise is lost. And that hope is for that new Jerusalem with the river of life, the tree of life and God’s tabernacle with men, the one that has no veil and no cherubim to bar the way. The one where there is no curse, but blessing, no sweat of our faces and sorrow, no thistles and thorns, but instead the joy of tasting and seeing that God is good.