God did not leave His creation in the lurch
The consequences of the fall were explained in the study ‘Broken relationships’.
Sin and death entered the world as a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience.
God did not leave His creation in the lurch however.
God searched for Adam and Eve.
Because the spiritual relationship between God and man was broken, God now also had to seek contact with Adam and Eve via the visible world:
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, … But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:8-9)
God went to look for Adam and Eve in the cool of the day in spite of the fact that they had not trusted God and had transgressed His commandment. God did not storm into the Garden of Eden like a furious storm wind around them, angry because of their disobedience, to teach them a lesson once and for all.
God walked in the cool of the day, benevolently and lovingly, because He wanted to teach Adam en Eve how to deal with the new situation in which they found themselves, hereby leaving it to Adam to take the initiative to come out of hiding, when He asked: “Adam, where are you?”
God never forces people into a relationship with Himself. He calls them, nevertheless, hoping that people will go to Him voluntarily and then He comes to meet them and to help them.
The nakedness of Adam and Eve covered.
Adam and Eve felt ashamed in front of each other, as an immediate consequence of their disobedience, because they realised they were naked.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised they were naked … (Genesis 3:7)
Biblical symbolism of nakedness:
In the Bible, nakedness is a symbol for man, who, alone, is not capable of living according to God’s will, as is described in the third chapter of the Book of Revelation among others.
There the apostle John describes how he received the commission from God to write a letter to the Christian church of the city of Laodicea, which consisted of nominal Christians according to verse 15.
God told them:
You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you Bgold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Revelation 3:17-18)
And the apostle Paul sighs:
Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. (2 Corinthians 5:2-3)
a. Man covers his nakedness.
When Adam and Eve fell disobedient, they no longer reflected God’s glory and sought for a solution of their own to cover their nakedness.
… they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:7)
Fig leaves were not really good material for clothing. They left gaps, so that the nakedness would still be seen, and they would need to be renewed regularly.
Fig leaves were not a permanent covering.
Man clothing himself with fig leaves is an image of his attempt to cover his nakedness by means of his own efforts, in an attempt to thus acquire a ‘glory’ of his own.
b. God made clothes, not coverings.
God did not search for Adam and Eve, He came to their aid as well, to cover their nakedness permanently.
The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)
It is not known what these clothes for Adam and Eve looked like.
It can be assumed, however, that they covered the whole body. That would not have been the case with the coverings Adam and Eve had made for themselves.
The ‘garments of skin’ God made for Adam and Eve are clear evidence of God’s abiding love for man(kind), in spite of their failings.
Because God provided a solution for Adam and Eve’s nakedness, He thereby also took away their shame. They no longer had to hide from God.
God still desires contact with man, even though the direct spiritual relationship has been broken off.
By clothing Adam and Eve with animal skins, God also demonstrates that He is prepared to forgive disobedience.
c. God killed an animal.
God had to kill an animal in order to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness with a skin.
As Adam and Eve did not eat meat, because people and animals were created as ‘vegetarians’ (Genesis 1:29-30), this must have come as a real shock to Adam and Eve, who were not acquainted with death until then.
God had said that man would die if he ate of the forbidden tree.
When Adam and Eve ate of that tree nevertheless, they died at that moment, spiritually speaking, because God was no longer able to have a deep relationship with them, as a result of their disobedience.
They did not die physically straight away, but they were clothed with animal skins by God, as a sign of His abiding love for them.
An animal had to die in order to cover Adam and Eve’s shame.
This animal died in Adam and Eve’s place as it were.
God forgave Adam and Eve’s failure in their relationship with Him, by taking the punishment away from them and placing it on an animal, which died in their place.
God accepted someone else taking the punishment for sin upon himself.
d. The foreshadowing of the burnt offering.
God had reconciled Himself to Adam and Eve. He clothed their nakedness with the skin of an animal that died in their place as a sign that He had forgiven their disobedience.
God always places symbolism in His acts.
As Adam and Eve did not eat meat, it is plausible that God burned the animal, after stripping it of its skin – as a foreshadowing of the burnt offering that He would establish later for the people of Israel, together with all the other sacrifices and laws.
Texts referring to the burnt offering state:
… it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you. (Leviticus 1:4)
… You are to skin the burnt offering and cut it into pieces. … and the priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. (Leviticus 1:6-9)
The priest who offers a burnt offering for anyone may keep its hide (the skin) for himself. (Leviticus 7:8)
The skin of the animal that was sacrificed as a burnt offering was not burnt on the altar with the rest, but was for the priest who was on duty at the time of the sacrifice – a symbol for the skin God used to clothe Adam and Eve.
Moreover, the burnt offering and the whole of the temple service were actually also symbolical and temporary, for they too were:
… an illustration (that was) not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only … applying until the time of the new order. (Hebrews 9:9-10)
The symbolism of the clothing of Adam and Eve and also that of the sacrifice pointed to the future, when God would restore the relationship with man completely.
God still remained involved with the world, in anticipation of this complete restoration.
Man can rule over sin.
When Cain, a son of Adam and Eve, nursed anger and jealousy against his younger brother, Abel, God warned:
“Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7)
Jealousy, anger, wrath emanate from the realm of darkness and crouch at the door of the soul, the heart, as it were. They lie there in wait, eagerly desiring to force an entry and to steer the deliberations of the heart, so that negative emotions are transformed into wrong acts, which go against God. This is called ‘sin’ in the Bible.
God told Cain that he had to keep the control over the deliberations of his heart and over his acts in the world in his own hands.
In spite of their fall, their disobedience towards God, man had kept his free will and the possibility of choice.
A person only becomes a slave to sin, and thereby a slave to Satan, if he lends an ear to wrong thoughts and desires.
David wrote in a short psalm:
LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbour, and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person but honours those who fear the LORD;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things will never be shaken. (Psalm 15:1-5)
- Blameless is to be understood as: complete, whole, unspoiled, healthy, intact, innocent, upright, acting uprightly, what is complete and whole, in accordance with the truth and the facts – thus: He, who walks with integrity …)
- who despises a vile (it is a verb in Hebrew!) person - is to be understood as: Who sees what is worthless as despicable.
God gave mankind His rules of conduct.
When God had delivered the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt, He brought them to the Sinai desert. During the two years they lived there, they were able to rest and recover from the hard life in Egypt.
He also gave the people His laws during that time:
- To this end they were to build the tabernacle, the tent in which God was visibly present in the midst of His people.
- He gave them an extensive service of sacrifices, through which God was able to maintain a relationship with them
- and a comprehensive legal system, in which He made His outlook on life and society clear.
a. The tabernacle:
The description of the tabernacle is to be found in the book of Exodus 25-31 and 35-40.
This tent was placed inside an enclosure. Everyone who brought a sacrifice to God was allowed to come into this enclosure, in the forecourt.
Here stood the altar of burnt offering and the laver.
The tent itself, the tabernacle, was divided into two areas :
- the sanctuary, which only the priests were allowed to enter. Here stood the altar of incense, the candlestick with seven arms and the table of showbread
- and the Holy of Holies, which only the high priest was allowed to enter, once a year. Here stood the ark, a chest containing the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments. The ark was sealed with a lid, called the mercy seat, upon which stood two cherubim.
God dwelt between the cherubim, visible outside the tent in a pillar of cloud that rose above the tabernacle, on the site of the Holy of Holies .
Each part of the tabernacle contained extensive symbolism concerning the life of Jesus Christ.
As sufficient literature exists in which this symbolism is explained, it is not discussed further.
b. The service of sacrifice:
The sacrifices God had set were a means for the people of renewing and confirming their relationship with Him.
There were sacrifices that brought about reconciliation after past sins and sacrifices made out of gratitude, or at special celebrations.
These are described in the book of Leviticus 1-7 and Numbers 27-28 .
These sacrifices include extensive symbolism concerning life and death of Jesus Christ. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews called this: the time of the new order:
This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings – external regulations applying until the time of the new order. (Hebrews 9:9-10)
c. The laws:
In the laws God gave his people at Sinai He made clear how he meant life on earth to be, as far as the relationship of man to man and in social and civic life are concerned.
The most famous are the Ten Commandments, a kind of constitution, to be found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.
Other legislation can be found in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
This comprehensive legislation made God’s standards of good and evil known.
No man will be able to live according to the whole of this legislation.
What is important is whether a man has the desire in his heart to want to obey God in everything.
God comes to man’s aid.
God never leaves man alone in his struggle against sin.
For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
(2 Chronicles 16:9)
The Holy Spirit, the ‘Spirit of God’, can be seen in ‘the eyes of the LORD’ who ‘was hovering over the waters’, as Genesis 1:1 describes.
Even though the relationship between God and man has been broken, the Holy Spirit remains the connecting link between heaven and earth. Everyone who longs for God in his heart and tries to live as Psalm 15 above (among other texts) describes, will be powerfully assisted by the Holy Spirit.
God set a term for man’s life on this earth.
God had told Adam he would die if he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. After Adam and Eve had eaten of it, God said:
“The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.
After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24)
Man (soul and spirit) is spiritual and created for eternity.
He lives in a body, which is taken from the earth.
Now man had lost his glory through disobedience, the relationship with God was broken and he lived on an earth that was cursed and lying under the rule of Satan.
God prevented this life from lasting forever because of His love for mankind. That is why He drove Adam and Eve out of paradise, thus preventing them from eating from ‘tree of life’.
Physical death in this world is actually the only means of escape from an incomplete life on an earth that is cursed.
After the death of the body, man, soul and spirit, lives on forever in the spiritual world. Soul and spirit are eternal!
Choices a person has made during his life determine in which sphere of influence he (soul and spirit) will spend eternity after his death.
God’s plan for restoration.
Satan had indeed obtained dominion over the earth in paradise, but this dominion was only to be partial and temporary.
God told the serpent (that is also called the devil and Satan – Revelation 20:2):
… I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. (Genesis 3:15)
With this God gave a small insight into the future, and into His plan for the restoration of the relationship between Himself and mankind.
a. Satan would lose his dominion in the future.
God determined that, in the future, a descendant of the woman would crush the head of the serpent, which represents Satan.
‘He will crush your head’ means: he (who) will take the authority away from you.
God foresaw that a descendant of the woman, i.e. Jesus Christ, would take back the dominion over the world from Satan.
God only revealed a small part of His restoration plan with this statement.
God’s plan foresaw not only Jesus Christ retrieving the dominion over the world, but also that He would bring about definitive and eternal forgiveness of the sins.
This is explained further in the following studies.
b. Satan would hinder the woman’s descendants.
God decrees that the serpent will strike the woman’s descendants’ heel in the future.
The woman’s descendants refer here to all the people, throughout the world, who have trusted in Jesus Christ during their lifetime. They are regarded in the Bible as a body that represents Jesus Christ in the world.
Satan will be unable to rise up against these descendants, the body, but he will be able to bite its heel. Satan will be unable to prevent this body’s testimony in the world, but he will always try to work against it.
c. Satan’s dominion was limited.
God said that there would be enmity between Satan and the woman, and between both their descendants.
Satan had indeed obtained dominion over the world from the hands of Adam and Eve, but they and their descendants kept their free will to choose and were not automatically delivered into the caprices of Satan and his demons.
Think about what was mentioned earlier in this study:
- God, Who told Cain he must rule over sin
- And the Holy Spirit Who assists people in a powerful way, if, in their heart, they are longing for God.
Later, after Satan had had to relinquish his dominion to Jesus Christ, the apostle James writes:
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
To be continued in de study ‘The road to recovery’.
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God did not leave His creation in the lurch.