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STUDY EIGHT

Paradise

A Study in Scriptural Integrity:

Story Lines in Genesis II

Figures of Speech, comparison of Scriptural accounts, Biblical usage of words.


In these studies on scriptural integrity, we are still seeking keys on how the scriptures convey their meaning.

To come to a greater understanding of the intended meaning of Scripture, it is imperative to begin to gain an understanding of the Biblical connotations and usage of words.

We are still studying the use of "figures of speech" used in Scripture to decipher intensified or hidden meanings, and we are comparing scriptural accounts, and we are using words according to Biblical usage. Finally, we continue to trust the Author of this work to open the eyes of our understanding.

Remember, the earth had become without form, and void. Now, God has put everything back together again. These are what we know as "the six days of creation." We take up the account beginning in Genesis 2:4:

"These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

"And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

"But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

Gen. 2:4-7

With breath, man became a living soul. This man was not a change in Cro-Magnon man. Cro-Magnon was gone, wiped out by the spiritual warfare that had destroyed God's creation, making it "without form and void." He was not a descendent of Neanderthal, or Peking, or any other pre-historic man. And he did not descend from the trees as an "improved monkey." He was created. He was the being that scriptures refer to as "the first Adam."

"And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

"And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil."

Gen. 2:8-9

Knowledge does not literally grow on trees. Nor does life. Thus these are likely to be "figures of speech."

Some hold that in these figures the trees have something to do with sexuality, since a "tree" or a "branch" is often used for procreation or generation in Scriptures. This scripture does not tell us exactly what this tree was, therefore it may be that we do not have the ability to even know.

It may even be literal trees that were referred to here. Perhaps there was a fruit that triggered knowledge of math, another of genetics, another of good and evil.

But more likely in this account of Genesis these were analogous or "parallel" usages of "fruit" and "tree." Lacking true evidence to the contrary, we will navigate these Scriptures on this assumption.

"And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

"The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;

"And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.

"And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.

"And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates."

Gen. 2:10-15

Today, it is not a river that "compasseth" (encircles, or borders) Ethiopia. It is the Red Sea. Following the depression formed by the Red Sea and upwards through the Jordan, one reaches the vicinity of the origin of the Tigris and Euphrates in central Turkey. The identity of the fourth of these rivers is lost, the topography perhaps forever altered by the cataclysm that precipitated and accompanied the Flood.

"And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

Gen. 2:16

This is the first job given man. To dress and keep the land God had given him. He was to organize it, to keep it neat, and keep it orderly. Later on in Scripture one sees that where there is confusion every evil work is closely associated, both being a consequence of strife and envy.

To help keep evil from one's life, one must "dress and keep" the land, one's environment.

"Dress" is the word "abad," and is used of service and ministry. Man was to "serve," to minister to, the land. He was not to mold it and rape it and use it like there was no tomorrow.

"Keep" is the word "shamar," often translated "observe" or "preserve."

Man was given the task of ministering to the garden, of being a loving gardener, keeping watch to preserve the garden Eden.

We will see later how Man's failure to lovingly minister to the land as God's stewards helped bring calamity in the flood.

"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

"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 thou shalt surely die."

Gen. 2:17-18

In this Eden, Man ruled supreme, having dominion over all. There were two stipulations.

One, he was to minister to and keep watch over the Garden. Two, and of utmost importance, he was to remain dependent on God for his moral compass, rather than to take upon himself the decision of what constitutes good and evil.

So often today we hear expressions such as, "I feel we should each be true to ourselves."

Yet man was to depend upon God for his moral compass, for his standard of what constitutes good and evil. Only God is wise and good enough to know truly what is good and evil.

And it was not good and evil that was growing on the tree, literal or figurative, it was the knowledge thereof.

Knowledge does not grow on trees. There is no magic fig one eats to become adept at mathematics, or a vine one ingests the grapes of to know history.

Likewise, there is no evidence that spiritual knowledge grows on trees. For this reason the tree in the middle of the Garden was likely figurative.

Also, note it was Adam himself who "stood in the middle of the Garden," as itís center and its head. The earth for Man, Man for God.

Whatever it was literally that Eve did and Adam did when they ate, it entailed their rejection of God as their moral standard, and entailed placing themselves as able to judge what was good and what was evil. How clear and how simple this is.

Do we need to literally know what actions were taken? Perhaps, perhaps not. Some feel God kept this information secret because if Adam, created in perfection, could not resist, how could we who were born in sin?

But we certainly know what happened to their moral compass, their dependence on God.

"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man."

Eccl.11:13

Of all things Man is to do, it all centers upon this purpose: Fear God, and keep his commandments.

This does not mean, as modern English insinuates, that Man is to "be afraid" of God. The Biblical usage here is "to respect, to revere, to be in awe of." This respect, this awe, however is to be so deep that it is likened to fear.

Note in Genesis that God commanded the Man not to eat. God never told Eve, the woman, directly. It was up to Adam to see that Eve knew of this commandment and was informed enough to make the right choice.

The Scriptures later say that through one MAN sin entered into the world. Not through one WOMAN, but through one MAN! Sin entered not when Eve ate, but when Adam became party!

Adam was responsible in that sin entered through his conscious decision to follow what Eve did. While Eve suffered the consequence of her wrong actions, Adam had been given the commandment. Through one man sin entered into the world, therefore through one man would sin be defeated in Christ.

But initially, Man obeyed God, and kept Eden.

"And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

"And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

"And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him."

Gen 2:19-21

Adam did not go altering God's design as it suited him. He simply began by identifying what God had already created. And at first, he had no help, and no company.

"And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

"And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

"And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

"And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."

Gen. 2:22-ff

With God's standard as their standard, Adam and Eve were comfortable with the way they had been created. There was no sin, and therefore no sense of sin. There was no condemnation.

And Eve was a help to Adam. This term "help" is not to say she was subservient to Adam, a slave and a sheep. The same term "help" is used of God toward those He aids, and He is certainly not subservient.

As Christians, we should note this original purpose. Husbands, your wife is as saved as you are. Your job is not to boss, it is simply to love and to speak truth. And do this in a kind, not in an overbearing, way.

And wives, your husband as a Christian should be respected. Donít embarrass him by making sure his faults or weaknesses are exposed, though certainly sometimes us men make this easy to do. Please stand on conscience, but realize that God puts a burning desire in a godly man to uncover truth, to uncover the mechanics of life.

So Eve was a partner, a help. It was to the male and female God said, in chapter one of Genesis, to "have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the earth, and over every living thing."

To them he gave every herb, and tree, and wherein there is life. Man and woman, a team, a partnership. He made both man and woman in His image.

What is the image of God? John 4:24 reads,

"God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

A spirit has no arms of flesh, and no face with eyes and mouth. Man was created with spirit, in the image of God.

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul."

Gen. 2:7

Man became a living soul. Man's body was formed, and his soul was breathed into him. But that part of Man that was in God's own image of spirit was created. Compare Genesis with I Thessalonians:

"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

I Thes. 5:23

See? We see the created spirit, we see the soul life that was breathed in, and we see the formed body.

Indeed, "soul" means breath-life. In Genesis it is "nephesh," "soul," as opposed to "ruach," "spirit."

"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."

Eccl. 12:7

Most of us tend to think of "spirit" and "soul" as the same thing. It is not, any more than "soul" means the same as "body." God did not form his image in clay. He created "ruach," "spirit," in man. Man had spirit, soul, and body.

So did woman. Male and female created He them.

God took a spiritual being He had created in His own image, and stuffed it into a body He had formed having biological life that He breathed into it.

Does God breath? Of course not, not literally. It is a figure of speech. God caused the body to become a living soul. But Adam was primarily a spiritual entity, merely housed in the physical. And he was in the garden, using his spiritual senses to obey God and adhere to God's standard of good.

Adam and eve were spiritual beings, in fellowship with God and with the world they ministered to and kept.

They obeyed God and tended Eden. They had one other duty:

"And God blessed them, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth."

Gen. 1:28

As man and woman, as a joined unit, man was to be fruitful and multiply. It was as a heterosexual unit that they were to then subdue the earth, "subdue" meaning to take and tame. Earth had been reformed, but was still wild, still needing to be dressed and kept to be like Eden itself. What an exciting world this must have been, full of opportunity and adventure!

And this adventure was within the proper context of what today we would call "marriage."

Not "social arrangements," not "limited arrangements, and not "alternative recreational arrangements."

But as man and woman, joined, as one.

Thus man had three jobs. One was to revere and obey God. Another was to procreate in a monogamous heterosexual partnership with a perfect specimen of the opposite sex. Finally another was to dress and keep the garden, to minister to it.

They had Eden, paradise. They had a world to explore and tame. And they had the spirit made in the image of God to work with. They had full use of the abilities God had given them both spiritually and physically.

There were no tragedy, no death, no sorrow, no weakness, and no illness. And there was only one possible cause for all those maladies, but that would require Adam choosing to turn his back on God who had so richly blessed him.

Truly Adam and Eve were as blessed as could possibly be, and had all eternity with which to enjoy it.

We see their fullness as man and women, made, formed and created through Biblical usage and figures of speech.

What happened to ruin this fullness?

The answer to this question is the basis for our next study in Scripture Integrity.

 

 

 

 

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