From earliest times to the present day, the necessity of sacrifice of life for expiatory purposes has persisted as an idea in the human mind. This necessity was illustrated at the first by the coats of skins which the Lord God made for Adam and Eve after sentence had been pronounced on account of their sin. That incident should convey the thought of a victim, and that the sinner was not himself able to make the necessary provision. It should also teach us that just as the Lord God provided the victims whose skins were made into robes for the sinners, so He would, and He only could, in due time provide the necessary sacrifice that would actually supply the needed covering, and would expiate the sin. In a word, the incident in the Garden illustrated the love of God for the guilty pair, and foreshadowed its grander manifestation to be made in ” the fullness of time ” on behalf of them and all their race. — Gen. 3: 2 1 ; John 3: 16; Gal. 4: 4 , 5 .
The extent of the ignorance of and alienation from God of the race is shown in the fact that most of the tribes of men are worshippers of demons or idols, not knowing the true God. As the divine likeness in them has been more and more obliterated, notions of cruelty and vindictiveness, on the part of their deities, have been introduced into their religions in connection with the still persisting idea of the necessity of expiation, in order to atonement. The fact that the sinner could not himself provide the victim, but that it must be provided by God, has been quite lost sight of. Thus the teaching concerning the relationship of the creature to the Creator has been so distorted that it might be said of some that their gods have been made by men.
Even Christendom has not escaped the bane, as is evidenced by the vindictiveness of character often ascribed to the Almighty.
Doubtless Justice must be exact and stern; but it can be both without being vindictive; in fact, vindicriveness is a beginning of injustice, for it leads to excess. On the other hand, a loving provision for the exact satisfaction of the divine penalty against the sinner is quite compatible with justice; it magnifies the divine honour, exhibits the love of both God and Christ for a lost world, and lays the foundation for a substantial benefit, which in due course will accrue to all who desire to avail themselves of it. The teaching of Scripture on this most important subject is both harmonious and convincing.
When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden which God had planted ” eastward in Eden,” they were
perfect of their kind; ” very good ” was the word used to describe them. (Gen. 2 : 8 ; 1: 31.) Man’s estate is not the highest in the universe. There are at least two above him — the divine and the angelic. If there be grades between the angelic and the divine nature we know not; but the angelic nature is doubtless the lowest plane of spiritual nature, for of the man it is said,
” Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels.” (Psalm 8: 5.)
Man was made for an earthly habitation, and the restitution processes will bring back all the willing and obedient to the perfection originally illustrated in Edenic conditions. Angels are heavenly beings, differently constituted from mankind, and dwelling in other conditions. — Psalm 115: 16; Dan. 9: 20, 21; Matt. 18: 10; Mark 12: 25.
Such an one, ” a little lower than the angels,” but perfect on his own plane, was our father Adam, when
placed by his Maker in the garden. Being without experience, and, therefore, without established character, though their physical and mental processes were perfect, he and his beautiful companion were placed under a command which was to test their obedience and loyalty to their Creator. The point of the test was a very small one, being merely the abstinence from the fruit of a certain tree, the lack of which would in no way have interfered with their sustenance. As no law is of force unless a penalty be arranged for infractions, so a penalty was provided in case of disobedience to this command. And just here is a difficulty to some, that the penalty arranged for seems out of all proportion to the insignificance of the offence to be punished.
Men were hung in England for sheep-stealing, when sheep were sold for 2d. each, and a Bible cost £40.
But such penalties are now abolished, and capital punishment is pronounced only for a few offences, considered very heinous. In the Garden of Eden, however, we find capital punishment the penalty for eating a little fruit! If it be inquired, Why was this? the answer is that the value of the fruit was not at all the consideration, but the loyalty of the creature to the Creator. It must not be overlooked that the smaller and less significant the incident, the more severe is it as a test of loyalty; whence the principle enunciated by the Saviour.
” He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in
the least is unjust also in much.” (Luke 16: 10.)
God had a right to require perfect obedience from His creature, man, and to declare that the disobedient
should not be allowed to live.
This is very different from the usual misunderstanding of the penalty threatened and pronounced in the
Garden. Many think that God meant to torture the transgressors to all eternity. Had He so intended. He would certainly have stated it in the plainest terms, under which no misunderstanding could have been possible.
Considering the issues involved, nothing less than the clearest possible expression of His intention could be justified by Him Who is the embodiment of Justice, not to mention Love.
Perusal of the first three chapters of Genesis reveals not a word that could be construed as implying an
eternity of pain as the threatened penalty for disobedience.
” But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it ; for in the day that thou eatest thereof dying thou shalt die.” (Gen. 2 : 17, margin.)
This is the only record of God’s words to Adam on this subject before he sinned, and here should be
found the straightforward teaching of eternal torture, had that been the penalty of disobedience. But God said nothing about it; instead of saying that Adam should expect to be kept alive in pain, He said that the transgressor should die.
” The soul that sinneth, it shall die;” ” the wages of sin is death.” — Ezek. 18: 4; Rom. 6. 23.
Some have found difficulty in understanding how Adam died in the day he ate the forbidden fruit. He
did not die within twenty-four hours of his sin, for we read in Gen. 5: 5,
” And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.”
This difficulty is more apparent than real, and it resolves itself when the wide use of the word “day” is
recalled. We speak of “our day,” not meaning a period of twenty-four hours, but a number of years.
This usage is common in the Bible; two instances will suffice for the present.
“Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. (Heb. 3: 8, 9.) ”
“But beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
“A thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the
night.” (2 Pet. 3 : 8 ; Psa. 90: 4.)
When these and similar references are considered, it is not at all difficult to understand that Adam died within the day that he sinned. The dying process began promptly, and it was completed in less than a thousand years.
If the words threatening the penalty say nothing about eternal torment, much less do those in which
the sentence was pronounced and more fully explained after the transgression.
” In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken (Gen. 2 : 7 ) ; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Gen. 3: 19.)
This language is very precise. None need mistake its meaning. The sinful man was to return to the ground from which he had been taken. Did Adam, when God formed him “of the dust of the ground,” emerge from a condition of misery and woe unspeakable? Let those answer who believe that “return unto the ground” means eternal torment.
The language describing the execution of the sentence is equally clear, allowing no room for the thought
that eternal torment was intended to be understood.
“Lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat. and live forever; therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.” (Gen. 3: 22,23)
Here is the best possible evidence that the penalty was not to be a perpetuation of existence in misery,
but rather a taking away of all power to live, as indicated in the act of excluding the man from the Garden where the trees were, the eating of whose fruits would have kept him alive. In order that the sinner might die, he was driven forth into the unprepared portion of the earth, to struggle on as best he might with the thorns and thistles — which have remained and multiplied to this day, but which, with all other unfit conditions, shall be eradicated during the Kingdom Age — until, near the close of his “day,” the execution of the sentence was finished, and he returned to his dust. Had he not sinned, he would have been permitted to live on.
The sentence thus pronounced and executed has become the inheritance of the sinner’s posterity. Certain it is, we all die; and the Bible furnishes the only reasonable account why this is so. Many Christians, instead of recognising death as the wages of sin, look upon it as the gateway to glory. This is a great mistake, and has contributed much to the prevalent confusion.
The Apostle explains,
“As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so death passed upon all men.”
In Adam all die,” and ” by a man came death.” (Rom. 5: 12; 1Cor. 15: 21—Rotherham—22.)
The whole of the race has entered into the results of Adam’s transgression, as it is written.
” The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” (Ezek. 18:
No other explanation than that of God’s Word suffices to tell why infants die. These do not bring death upon themselves, because they know not right from wrong. Yet they die. It must be as the Scripture says, that by
“one man sin entered and death by sin.”
What is true of the infant is true also of the youth, of the middle-aged and of the old; all die because of the legacy of death bequeathed to them by our first parents. All are born dying, not living, and the whole of what we call life is but a process of decay, arrested temporarily by such expedients as man can devise. This is the ” broad road ” to destruction, down which the entire! race of Adam is hastening with ever-increasing velocity. Adam completed the journey in nine hundred and thirty years; the present average length of life is only thirty-five years.
Why did God so arrange that the penalty of Adam’s sin should descend to some twenty-seven thousand millions who did not enjoy the privileges of perfection and favourable environment that he had?
Does it not seem unjust that such a vast multitude should, without being consulted, and without power to avoid it, enter into a curse which they did nothing to bring upon themselves?
Is there any wisdom in it?
Before mentioning what seems to be the Scriptural answer to these urgent and reasonable questions it might well be asked whether it is at all likely that we, in Adam’s position, would have done better than he did. Let each one carefully think it out for himself, and the conclusion must be that the most of us, if not all, would have done precisely what our progenitors in the garden of Eden did, circumstances being the same, it cannot, therefore, be alleged that God was unreasonable in not giving us an experience exactly like that of our first parents. And when the arrangements made for atonement for sin are comprehended, it will be clear that the course God took was not only reasonable, but was the most advantageous for the human race.
- The New Covenant Advocate April, 1909 pp. 3-6
Continue to read how Divine Justice requires the punishment of disobedience, and cannot allow the guilty to be cleared, and how God deals with such disobedience.
A Ransom for all 2 Corresponding price
A Ransom for all 3 Seeing Him as He is
- Coming to understanding from sayings written long ago
- Genesis – Story of creation 3 Genesis 2:1-15 Story of Adam and Eve
- Genesis – Story of creation 5 Genesis 3:1-12 Eating of the fruit-tree of knowledge
- Genesis – Story of creation 6 Genesis 3:13-24 Enmity and curse
- Creation of the earth and man #1 Planet for living beings in a pre-Adamic world
- A multifold of elements in creation and a bad choice made
- Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden 1
- Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden 2
- Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden 3
- Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden 4
- First mention of a solution against death 1 To divine, serpent, opposition, satan and adversary
- First mention of a solution against death 2 Harm or no harm and naked truth
- First mention of a solution against death 3 Tempter Satan and man’s problems
- First mention of a solution against death 4 A seed for mankind
- First mention of a solution against death 5 Evil its law of death
- First mention of a solution against death 6 Authority given to the send one from God coming out of the woman
- A solution for a damaged relationship 1 All vegetation for food except one fruit
- A solution for a damaged relationship 3 Insight and prophesies given
- The 1st Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures #2 Beginning of mankind
- The 1st Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures #4 The Fall
- The 1st Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures #5 Temptation, assault and curse
- The 1st Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures #6 Curse and solution
- The 1st Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures #7 Promise and solution
- The 1st Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures #8 Looking for the 2nd Adam
- Trusting, Faith, calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #3 Voice of God #1 Creator and His Prophets
- Old language to confirm the promises
- The Question is this…
- Story of Jesus’ birth begins long before the New Testament
- Man’s own fault and the choice to flee from fear
- Sinning because being a sinner
- Greatest single cause of atheism
- Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
- God receives us on the basis of our faith
- A voice cries out: context
- The faithful God
- A promise given in the Garden of Eden
- Do not be afraid. Good news because a Saviour has been born
- Days of Nisan, Pesach, Pasach, Pascha and Easter
- Gone astray, away from God
- Not trying to make the heathen live like Jews #1
- Necessity of a revelation of creation 2 Organisation of a system of things
- Necessity of a revelation of creation 3 Getting understanding by Word of God 1
- Necessity of a revelation of creation 4 Getting understanding by Word of God 2
- Necessity of a revelation of creation 5 Getting understanding by Word of God 3
- Running in the Garden
- Bible Study Notes: The Fall
- The Epitaph of Sin
- May 22, 2017 – Surrender? Genesis 22:1-2, Psalm 139:8-12
- The Jesus driven reading of God #2 (ungodly sacrifice)
- Communion Meditation 19: Communion with the Smitten Christ
- May 22 @ Exodus 29-32
- Today’s Scripture – May 22, 2017
- Loved from the First of Time
- The Finished Work
- Hallelujah! What A Saviour!
- What God Does With Our Sin
- From a Poor Thinker’s Blog… On God’s House Rules
- The Necessity of Atonement
- Gospel Terms
- St Isaac the Syrian: The Triumph of the Kingdom over Gehenna
- The Myth of Hell and Eternal Torture
- Is Hell a Myth?
- Dec 23 I feel like a boat
- Hard to Go to Hell Here!
- What Did Jesus Teach About Hell?
- Is the Hellfire Doctrine Truly Just?
- God’s Purpose for Hell – Part 7
- God’s Purpose for Hell – Part 9
- God’s Purpose for Hell – Part 10
- Eternal Torment? Not from a God of love
- Eternal Torment? Not from a loving God Part 1
- Eternal Torment? not from a loving God
- Eternal Torment? Not from a loving God 3
- Eternal Torment? Not from a loving God 4
- Eternal Torment? Not from a loving God 5