(Part 1 of 3)
the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there
he put the man whom he had formed
The second great mystery of Genesis is: Was there ever a Garden of Eden? And if there was, where is it?
Unlike the ark, the Garden of Eden has apparently vanished from the face of the earth. A pile of wood, even one the size of a football stadium, could be hidden from view from our sophisticated eyes in the sky called satellites. The Garden however, if it was of any size at all, could not easily be hidden unless it was planted in the tropics and has become enveloped by the natural vegetation of the land. Although this is not an impossibility, I'm going to exclude such a possibility from this study.
Where to begin? And what to include? The Garden of Eden story is like a blackberry bush in that it not only produces seeds that can be carried great distances and be replanted amongst other forms of vegetation (in this case, other stories), but its roots are strong and can produce new branches that bear fruit of its own as well. Another similarity blackberries have with the Garden of Eden account is that what we see of the blackberry bush is only the outer perimeter, the old stalks having died away leaving nothing but stubble in its wake, even though the "patch" seems to be growing. The story of the Garden remains with us today, and we see fruit of the Garden in the distant future, but all we have before us today is patches of dry stalk from which to glean some understanding.
The Garden of Eden is not an entity in itself. The Garden is an integral part of the story of creation, of God's plan for His creation, of mankind, and of the New Testament and all that it entails. Trying to find a place to begin an investigation such as this is much like trying to straighten out a knotted mile-long rope where the ends can't be found.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Gen 1:1)
I suppose the best place to begin a study such as this one is at the beginning.
Before I begin presenting what I see in the Word, it might be best to show what others have found in their examination of the subject at hand. First we have at this beginning the beginning of a story that takes us, not to the end of the story, nor to our present time, but it takes us to another beginning that began millions or billions of years before the beginning of the Genesis account. I'm not going to comment on this branch of the tale since I've already covered my view in Fantasies, Fables and Traditions - Making of a Doctrine, Lucifer. If you're in for popular fairy tales you might check that story out.
What do others have to say about the Garden of Eden? Let's take a look:
When I check out the word for garden I find it means "Fenced," from a root word that means "Hedge, to defend, protect." (Keep these minor facts in mind, they're going to come in handy later in this study.)
This garden was planted "eastward" in Eden. Does this mean the garden is east of Eden? Or does it mean it is planted in the eastern part of a region called Eden? This question is also in debate, but not a subject we will be looking into at this time.
Eden I find means "The region of Adam's home." That's not much help. Let's check out the word Eden. Eden is derived from a root word that means "pleasure" and has been translated as "Delicate, delight, pleasure." This is probably why some people have called the Garden of Eden the "Garden of Delights." I find a problem with this designation however because the term tends to have the effect of playing to the carnal nature of man's nature rather than the Spiritual aspect as God has called for. And isn't this the very reason Adam and Eve were kicked out of their "Garden of Delights," because they chose to investigate the carnal nature of their being?
As with anything connected with the Bible or God's plan, complication has to be presented into the mix. Just so I don't leave any ingredient out that may be found necessary later, here is what some scholars have determined: The word for Garden may have been taken from the Sumarian word meaning "Plain, or Steppe." A steppe, just in case you don't have your dictionary handy, is a grassy plain with a few trees. This might seem superfluous (meaning more than you wanted to know, your English lesson for the day), but again, this information might just come in handy later in this study.
Ok, one more. There's a possibility the word garden comes from an Aramaic word that means "fruitful, well watered." Does any of this help you to understand the Garden of Eden any better? It should, but I doubt it does as yet.
[I've come across something in this investigation that I found interesting though it really doesn't fit this study. But I thought I would present it here while I'm thinking about it. We read in Ezekiel 28 this interesting statement:
"Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; ....Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth;"
This, by all accounts, refers to Satan. Is this saying that the cherub God placed at the gate of the Garden was Satan? If so, then doesn't that mean the "covering cherub" fell after Adam fell? Just one of those questions that comes to my mind now and then.]
It's natural that the Jews would connect everything to themselves. This is not surprising since it's what we all do. When we look at the churches and all religions we see that's what they do as well. Everything begins and ends with the one who is in question. Since the Bible, certainly the creation account, is given to and for the Jews it makes sense they would conclude that they are a big part of the events of the Bible, at least the Old Testament section of the Bible. After all, the Bible is a history (and the prophetic future) of the Jews.
A for-instance of this attitude is in the Noah account. It's difficult to assume that the Ark landed in Israel (even though I believe it did, as explained in the story of Noah I mentioned earlier), but the Jews have reckoned that the olive twig the dove brought back to the ark was taken from a tree from the Mount of Olives, a region that had somehow escaped the ravages of the flood.
Taking this imagery one step farther, we find that the Garden of Eden, in Jewish eschatology, was planted in Israel, and the end of all history will again fall to the Garden of Eden, which of course is in Israel. Impossible you say? By looking at the geography of the Middle East, and the description of the Garden (past and future) it would seem that such a conclusion is impossible, but God works His wonders using the impossible. So let's not throw the baby out with the wash water just yet.
Where is the Garden of Eden? Do you like tall tales? How about that old American legend Paul Bunion (not the one we get on our foot after a long hike)? Everyone claims to be in possession of the Garden of Eden. This shouldn't surprise us either because everyone claims to be in possession of God, and even Jesus. To the Chinese God and Jesus are Chinese. To the blacks, God and Jesus are black. To the Jews....? Now, that doesn't fit, because we know Jesus was a Jew, at least a half-Jew. Anyway, you get the picture.
How about a country that claimed to have God's footprint planted squarely in it? Wouldn't that convince you that God had been there and wanted us to pay attention to what He has left us? According to some, this has happened. We Americans have footprints of Paul Bunion, as well as a river he dug while dragging his ax. And what about his blue ox? Well, we're not the only ones who think big, not by a long shot. Check this out: On a summit of a mountain in Sri Lanka there's a plain (there's that word again) that's shaped like a giant footprint. This area is thought to have been the Garden of Eden. It even has four rivers flowing from it. The Buddhists believe this is the footprint of Buddha, the Hindus believe it to be that of Shiva. But don't point the finger too quickly, there are Christians and Muslims that believe the footprint to be that of Adam. (I didn't know Adam was that big! How big then must his rib have been?)
Closer to reality, it has been decided that there is no real evidence as to the establishing of the Garden of Eden beyond the account given to us by the Book of Genesis (and I might add, the other such similar stories as are told by those of other nations). However, there is still the quest for this land of the lost by hardy explorers who are not inclined to let a thing pass merely because of its impossibility. Look at the Wright Brothers and Thomas Edison, and closer to home, Christopher Columbus.
Setting aside those who believe (and teach) that the Garden of Eden never existed, or if it did, it was in another realm, or on another planet, the prevailing understanding is that the Garden was located in Mesopotamia (Eastern Turkey near Mount Ararat). There are two general areas theorists assume the Garden would most likely be located. The favored, so it seems, is at the headwaters of the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers (as mentioned). There are two reasons for this, one that the Euphrates is specifically mentioned, and two, this is where it makes the most sense that rivers such as described might stem from.
The second favored location is where the two rivers come close together. In this area we find old Babylon on the Euphrates, and modern Bagdad on the Tigris river. This of course seems a logical location in that the terrain is suitable for such a garden, but other elements (in either assumed location) does not fit the scenario presented to us in other passages of Scripture.
Besides the many other theories laid down as to the location of the Garden we find speculation that it was on Atlantis or some other land that is now under water. If this should prove to be so, or that it was in fact on another planet or sphere of existence, than this or any other search for the Garden would be futile. I don't like to assume that something I desire to know is futile, so I'll plunge ahead as if there is an answer to my question.
In the Bible there are a few passages that relate specifically to the Garden of Eden. I will present these here in as short a format as I can, however, I find that to cut a passage too short robs it of its true meaning. So some of the passages may be longer than you feel necessary. Later we'll be looking at other passages that relate to the Garden of Eden, but are not specifically named as such.
1And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the third month, in the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2Son of man, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, and to his multitude; Whom art thou like in thy greatness? 3Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs. 4The waters made him great, the deep set him up on high with her rivers running round about his plants, and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field. 5Therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long because of the multitude of waters, when he shot forth. 6All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations. 7Thus was he fair in his greatness, in the length of his branches: for his root was by great waters. 8The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the chestnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty. 9I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches: so that all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God, envied him. (Ezek 31:)
We find in this passage many metaphors that are used throughout Scripture. We know the trees spoken of here are not trees, that the birds are not birds, the rivers, waters, and seas represent something other than that of the natural. Just what do they mean? If we accept everything literally that seems so apparent, then we miss the entire message God is delivering to us. If we misapply these metaphors we again lose the significance of what is being said. Later we will be looking more closely at other aspects of these similes. For now, just keep them in mind. (Hint, you may find you will have to reread this portion of the study to gain benefit from it since if you're at all like me, this will have escaped you before long. Try marking sections of the study you might want to refer back to later.)
15Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day when he went down to the grave I caused a mourning: I covered the deep for him, and I restrained the floods thereof, and the great waters were stayed: and I caused Lebanon to mourn for him, and all the trees of the field fainted for him. 16I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth. 17They also went down into hell with him unto them that be slain with the sword; and they that were his arm, that dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the heathen. 18To whom art thou thus like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? yet shalt thou be brought down with the trees of Eden unto the nether parts of the earth: thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised with them that be slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord GOD. (Ezek 31:)
Eden will be sent to hell? What an interesting picture. Considering this aspect of Eden it gives us a new angle by which to view it, wouldn't you say?
The language used here to describe Pharaoh is very much like (in fact, in some instances exactly like) that used to describe what we attribute to Lucifer. I wonder why these passages aren't applied to him as well?
The word used for pit here means a cistern or some other hole in the ground such as a well. Wells and pits were used as prisons in Biblical times, as we see in the story of Isaiah when he was imprisoned in just such a pit. This is true of Joseph also. The word for hell used in this passage is hades, which could either mean the grave, or the place of the spirits of the wicked dead.
25Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 28And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. 30And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. 31Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. 32Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel. 33Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded. 34And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. 35And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited. 36Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the LORD build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it. 37Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock. 38As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the LORD. (Ezek 36:)
This is a very interesting passage. It sounds like Ezekiel is referring to Eternity, or at least the Millennium. However we see the heathen in this scenario, as well as fields being tilled. Is this the picture you've been given of future stages of history?
"You shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations." It's been my understanding that we're to be proud of ourself for having had the wisdom to be baptized into being a child of God, kings and priests, king's kids. But here we find we will see ourselves as loathsome in our own eyes. I think of the words of Jesus when He says we're to be meek, and servants in our own eyes if we're to be with Him in Eternity. Have I missed the picture?
We see in this passage that a desolate land ("Destroy, devastate, waste") will become like the Garden of Eden. Could this then mean that the place where the Garden was planted is now laying desolate and wasted? Perhaps the Sahara desert is where the Garden once lay, do you think? Then again, looking at the Jew's view of where the Garden was planted, perhaps its in the area of Judea since that area certainly is desolate in comparison to the Land of Milk and Honey God promised their land would be. How about maybe the Dead Sea Valley? Hmm?
1Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. 2Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. 3For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. (Isaiah 51:)
Now we're getting more specific. It's the city of Zion that is now laying waste and will become like the Garden of Eden. Does this mean that Zion was, or is the Garden of Eden? Maybe further reading will help us to understand the meaning of this passage a little better.
Notice the metaphors used here such as the rock from which you are hewed and the pit from which you were digged. I for one find the language used in the Bible quite fascinating. It disturbs me that the beauty of the words used has been caused to appear as commonplace at best as words are translated into our modern versions of the Bible. The King James may be lacking in appeal to those who wish to merely have a simple reading, but the true meaning of the words are often lost when the words are brought down to our own level of understanding. Modern translations tend to be more of a transliteration than a true translation of the original language. They try to "approximate" what is being said rather than give the exact meaning. The "thee's and thou's" of the King James throw a lot of people, but setting this antiquated form of speech aside, the KJ seeks to give a word-for-word translation rather than to approximate the meaning. This is the reason I use the KJ as a guide, while I check out words in the original language to make sure I capture all the nuances of the words that I am able, considering my limited formal education.
For any of you to really know what is being taught in the Word, you need to become a scholar yourself and use the many cheap (and often free) resources at your disposal. Be sure to let the Holy Spirit take the lead or you'll find yourself in as desolate a land as the Garden of Eden has become, all the while believing you're clothed in fig leaves amidst a garden of understanding.
1Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; 2A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. 3A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. 4The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. 5Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. 6Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness. 7They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: 8Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. 9They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. 10The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: 11And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? (Joel 2:)
It seems rather clear that Joel is talking about the Tribulation that lies ahead of us. The people in this picture appear to be resurrected saints or at least like the Apostles in that they can not be killed. We find this to be true of Paul at least, that is, until his time had come.
The Garden of Eden in this passage is just the opposite of that in the passage we read previously in that it begins as a garden, and becomes devastated in the wake of Joel's army. What does this mean? Hopefully that answer will be given to us further on in this study.
10And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. 11Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. 12Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. 13But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly. (Gen 13:)
This is an interesting passage that we should (and will) examine further.
Did you notice how the land is being described? How does this description differ from what we see of this land now?
We've been looking at the Garden of Eden. There's another term often used for the Garden that can either be applied to the Garden of Eden or to what we see as Heaven, the dwelling place of God. This word is "Paradise." Let's see if Paradise will help us to understand the Garden a little better:
7He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Rev 2:)
There are a lot of theories going around as to what Paradise is. In days gone by, and I suppose it's still believed by many groups, Paradise was considered to be the place "good" people are sent while they await the Judgement. We here on earth have a way of putting people in prison while they await their trial to see if they're innocent or guilty of the crime they've been accused of. Is that what God does as well? And if these souls haven't been judged as righteous or wicked, then how does (whoever) know if they're to wait their trial in Paradise or that other place? And what happens if someone in hell is acquitted, or vice-versa?
Paul was detained in bonds waiting for his trial two years under the present (his time) administration. Then he again had to wait years in Rome before they finally executed him. And it's in the Roman view of law that we have our own concept of a "speedy trial." And, it appears, we do in fact follow the Roman example.
Did you notice anything about the passage above? It's the "overcomer" who will be in Paradise. If Paradise is only for the overcomer, then were does that leave those who have fallen short of the high calling of God?
The tree of life is in the midst of Paradise. Does that mean the tree of life is presently in hell where those who are waiting to be judged are housed? And we find in the very beginning of the Bible that the tree of life was planted in the midst of the Garden of Eden. Does that mean the Garden is in hell also? That would certainly explain why no one has found it, wouldn't you say?
5Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. (Rev 2:)
It's believed by some that the Menorah is a representation of the tree of life. I can certainly understand why this concept might be taken. We have these passages that seem to support such a supposition:
20The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. (Rev 1:)
5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:)
6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:)
11And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (1John 5:)
1And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Rev 22:)
14Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Rev 22:)
20At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:)
It might be said that Jesus is the Tree of Life, and those who obey Him, and who overcome, are branches of that Tree. If this is the case, then it seems to me as how those of us who overcome and obey the Lord are a part of the Tree of Life that is in the midst of the Garden. Does this sound feasible to you at all?
42And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:)
The thief on the cross made a request of Jesus. Did Jesus avoid or misunderstand what the thief said? I doubt that to be the case. The thief asked to be remembered when Jesus came into His Kingdom. Then Jesus said "Today" you will be with me in Paradise. We have two particular issues presented here. First we have what seems to be a crossover understanding of what the Kingdom Jesus is going to bring is. Is Jesus saying that Paradise is the same thing as His Kingdom? The thief asked about the Kingdom, and Jesus replies with something about Paradise. Are they the same? If this is so, does that mean "today" the Kingdom comes?
The second issue this passage brings forth is the statement made by Jesus that "today" you will be with me in Paradise. Where was Jesus going to be that day, and for three more days? Isn't He going to be confined in a grave? Does this mean the grave is Paradise? That would certainly fit the concept mentioned at the beginning of this section. And since the thief asked about the Kingdom, does that mean the Kingdom Jesus is going to bring is that of death and the grave?
Let's see if we can make some sense out of this interesting, and I suspect very confusing passage that seems to be skipped over so lightly in the sermons and the commentaries:
20And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:)
16The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. (Luke 16:)
43And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for THEREFORE AM I SENT. (Luke 4:)
3And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4I have glorified thee on the earth: I HAVE FINISHED THE WORK WHICH THOU GAVEST ME TO DO. (John 17:)
The Jews had been prepared for a thousand years for their awaited Messiah and the Kingdom He would establish. When He finally arrived, bringing His Kingdom with Him, they didn't recognize Him because He didn't fit the mold they had built for Him.
41And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. (Luke 19:)
How much more must Jesus weep over His Church, the body He gave His life for as we too look in every direction for Him except in the direction from which He is to come? We look into the past, into the future, we imagine Him coming on rain clouds where we will be yanked into the sky to join Him. We prepare ourselves with works as did the Pharisees, or we don't prepare ourselves at all and believe Jesus doesn't care how we are as long as we take a dip in a pool and confess His Name. The Scriptures have been turned into a child's Scrabble game where we make it say whatever fits our fancy, and tear out the pages we don't agree with.
Jesus made it clear that the Kingdom is here and now, that He brought the Kingdom with Him. When we see Jesus, we see the Kingdom of God. When people see us, they're to see the Kingdom of God as well. Instead we point to the man Jesus, and we fail to strive to become all He was and who He said we're to be.
10Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. 12Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (John 14:)
Greater works will the believer do? That seems impossible to us, especially since we can't do any of the works Jesus did. However, Jesus performed His miracles sporadically, even avoiding some people such as the Samaritan woman, saying to her that He only came for those in Israel. Later the Apostles healed everyone who came to them (Acts 5:10). Clothing was taken from Paul's body (or was brought to him) and sent to people who needed healing (Acts 19:11-12). People sat on the shady side of the street so they could experience the healing that Peter's shadow brought them (Acts 5:15). Believers in Jesus did indeed perform more miracles than did Jesus.
We have the impression that Jesus came to "do it all" and therefore there is nothing for us to do. We teach that adding to what Jesus has done is sacrilege at best. We read the Bible in such a way as to cause it to say Jesus was a part of the Kingdom of Heaven, that the Kingdom was within Him, but that it has little to do with us. By doing this we cause everything Jesus accomplished to be counterproductive. Jesus came to begin a work, not to finish it. He came to open the door for us by which we may enter the Spiritual realm of the Kingdom of Heaven. When Jesus said "it is finished," He was referring to His part of the redemption plan, not ours. We turn around and close the door and lock it shut (Mat 23:13-15), expecting it to not be opened again until Jesus returns. Jesus is the head, the beginning of the creation of God (Rev 3:14; Col 1:15; 2Cor 5:17; 1James 1:18), not the entirety.
Birth begins with the head. But the head is not all there is to the birthing process. If the body is not born as well, there is no birth (Isaiah 66:6-9; Rev 12:1-2; Eph 5:23,27; Col 1:18,24: 1Cor 12:27) . We are to become born of God as Jesus was born of God, otherwise the birth of the Church, of the Christ child is not complete. Does this sound odd and confusing? I suppose it does since it goes contrary to what we're taught. But I suspect if you keep this concept in mind as you read the Bible you will find it clearly spelled out all through the Scriptures.
It was not the intention of Jesus to heal everyone. Nor was it His purpose to cast out every demon. He only came to bring the Kingdom to those who were waiting for Him, which was the "reason He was sent." Instead we focus on His ability to heal, to cast out demons, to walk on water, and of course His sacrifice for us on the cross. The miracles Jesus performed were for the purpose of proving to the people that He was who He said He was, the one sent from God to redeem them and to establish their Kingdom. They rejected their King even with all the proofs He provided,. How much less will we accept Him considering we have not been waiting for Him, and we have no evidence of His existence other than a book that seems to make no sense to us and that we reject most of? Who Jesus is, and His purpose, has been "hidden from our eyes."
If we, like the Jews of two millennia ago, are unable to understand that Jesus came to bring the Kingdom to earth, and not to take us up somewhere in the sky, then how can we know the rest of the story? Jesus said:
10Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. (John 3:)
14Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. (Mat 15:)
15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16Ye shall know them by their fruits. (Mat 7:)
It's customary these days to preach a very watered-down message, if what is preached could be called a message at all. I've seen some preachers who could not be considered to be more than a mere entertainer who has added a bit of Scripture here and there. And of course, as God said "My people love to have it so" (Jer 5:25-31).
We speak (and preach) what we know. And what we know is produced in our actions. If a person is filled with the Spirit of God, they can't help but make every effort to get those they teach to be filled as well. Since the churches don't preach a message to the effect that their congregation should be out on the track striving to do their best rather than sitting on the sidelines, I can only assume the preachers themselves are happy to be on the sidelines. And since I don't see anyone complaining about not having strong meat served to them, I again assume the listeners are without teeth and can only handle pablum.
28But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. (Mat 12:)
34Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35And the angel answered and said unto her, THE HOLY GHOST SHALL COME UPON THEE, and the POWER OF THE HIGHEST shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:)
4And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. (Acts 1:)
8But YE SHALL RECEIVE POWER, after that THE HOLY GHOST IS COME UPON YOU: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:)
Jesus was not an entity unto Himself. He was the seed from which a full harvest is to come. What He experienced, we are to experience in our own Christian life (John 15:18-21; 1John 2:5-6). If we're not living the life He lived, if we're not striving to do the Father's will as Jesus, our Head, did, then how can we have assurance that we are indeed a part of God's plan?
The Kingdom is now. And if we're not functioning as the kings and the priests we claim to be, then how can we be recognized as part of the Kingdom of God? (John 13:34-35)
9Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:)
1Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: (1John 3:)
4For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (Rom 12:)
27Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. (1Cor 12:)
Jesus did the work of the Father here on earth. He was the Father's hands, His mouth, and His love of mankind. We are to be the hands, the feet, the mouth, and the compassionate ear of our Lord here on earth. We are to continue His work as did the Apostles. The Apostles were a first planting of the harvest. We are to be a further planting of the harvest, not only to produce the works of God, but to add to the harvest as well by spreading the Word as we see Jesus and the Apostles doing. If we aren't part of the true harvest, producing fruit, then we are tares doing no more than taking up valuable space and inhibiting the work of those who are part of the harvest.
It's modern man's desire to be entertained, to be made comfortable. But we see in the life of Jesus and the early Christians that Christianity is not for the purpose of appeasing our selfish desires, but to sacrificially give of ourselves to further the comfort of those who are in discomfort.
13And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. (John 3:)
13But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. (Mat 23:)
Jesus was in Heaven while He was here on earth. How can that be? Heaven is where God dwells. God is a Spirit. And where the Spirit of God is, is where Heaven is. We are to have within us the Spirit of God as did Jesus. Jesus was the Temple of God because the Temple is where God dwells. If we have the Spirit of God within us, as we claim to have, then we too are a Temple of God. Is this possible?
16Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (1Cor 3:)
How holy are you as a Temple of God? How active is the Holy Spirit within you? When people look at you and your works, do they see the Father at work? Or do they see someone who is using God's Temple for their own purposes, making merchandise of it?
ORCHARD - a park, forest.
In the Old Testament there's a word very similar to that of the Greek, also meaning a park. It adds to this description an Orchard, or a forest, and has been so translated. The word is "Pardec."
8And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God. (Neh 2:)
12A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. 13Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, (SoS 4:)
4I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards: 5I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits: (Eccles 2:)
PARADISE -- paradeisos -- Of Oriental origin (compare [H6508]); a park, that is, (specifically) an Eden (place of future happiness, "paradise"): - paradise.
1It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (2Cor 12:)
We're back to the Garden of Eden. Here we see that the Garden is not only called Paradise, as it seems to be in previous verses, but it's called the "Third Heaven" as well. We sing of being in seventh heaven, and we see denominations and religions where more than one heaven is taught as a reality. Is there more than one Heaven? We read:
1Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. (Heb 8:)
4For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: 5Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount. (Heb 8:)
11Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (1Cor 10:)
What can we learn from those who have gone on before? Can we avoid their mistakes, and thereby miss the punishment they endured?
What happened to those in the wilderness, and throughout the Old Testament, were for an example to those who will be living during the end of days. Is that us? If so, then I think it would behoove us to pay attention to the lives of those written about in the Old Testament, and other "foreshadows," and learn from them what they have to tell us.
The Tabernacle was constructed in such a way as to create a picture of God's plan for us, His creation. If this is so, then by studying the Tabernacle we can learn what God has in store for us, and what His Kingdom is like. We read:
1Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. 2For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread; which is called the sanctuary. 3And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; (Heb 9:)
The Tabernacle, as well as the Temple, was made up of three chambers or sections. The outer court was really nothing more than a yard surrounded by a linen fence where the priests sacrificed the offerings brought to them. In the outer court nothing was done but cleansing (laver) and sacrifice (the brazen alter), that's what the outer court was designed for.
In the first section of the tented area a different kind of sacrifice was offered; service (show bread), providing light (lamp stand), and the sacrifice of prayer. This was pictured through the incense that was burned twice a day. Incense was not burned in the outer court, nor was animal or grain (and other such offerings) made in the Holy Place.
Beyond the Holy Place there was a vailed chamber where the presence (Shekinah Glory) of God resided. Only the High Priest was allowed in this compartment of the Tabernacle, and that only one time a year.
If the Tabernacle is actually a picture of Heaven as we suppose it to be, then perhaps the three chambers of the Tabernacle is a description of three sections or stages of Heaven, the last (Paul's "third Heaven") where God resides.
13for the lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. 14this is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it. 15I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread. (Psalm 132:)
Zion is Jerusalem (the City of David specifically 2Chron 5:2). God said He will make Jerusalem His home forever. Is this significant? I believe it is. Consider, if God lives in Zion, a mountain here on earth, and that forever; then what happens to our popular concept that we're going to be living in some mansion up in the sky somewhere?
God is going to reside in Zion. Let's take a look at Zion of the future:
8And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9And 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. 10And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. (Gen 2:)
For our purpose, that is finding where God planted His Garden, the above passage of Scripture is essential. Where did God plant the Garden? We see the Garden is eastward in Eden. Eastward means "Front, absolute fore part". And if the Hebrew has been correctly translated, which I assume it has been, my having no reason to doubt its accuracy, the Garden is a part of Eden, not detached from it.
We now have a sacred area, a place where God walks (communes) with man (Gen 3:8; Ex 25:22). Is Eden Heaven, Paradise? Let's do a little investigating. There are certain things we know from our earlier studies, for instance Heaven has three parts (since Paul has been to the third part), and the Tabernacle, which is a picture of Heaven, is composed of three parts as well. Using this picture, we see that the Tabernacle is composed of a curtained area, and a tent located at the western end of the curtained area. The tent is made up of two parts. One part of the tent is called the Holiest of all, or the Holy of Holies, the place where God dwells. Eastward in the tent, the fore part where the entrance sets, there's another, larger chamber where man communes with God through prayer. As indicated earlier, no sacrifices other than the sacrifice of prayer, of the lips (Heb 13:15; Mat 15:8; Eph 5:1-2) is offered. All sacrifices other than that of continuous praise (Lev 24:2; Heb 13:15) has already been accomplished before a priest enters the tented area, the chamber that sets eastward in the tent (Rom 12:1; Micah 6:6-9. Pay special heed to the last words of the passage in Micah).
But there are three parts of the Tabernacle where there appears to be only two parts of Eden. Remember what the curtained area is called? It's called the "outer court." Again, this is where sacrifices are to be made. If no sacrifice is accomplished, or if the sacrifice is insufficient, then there is no entering into the tented area, into "Eden" if our picture is correctly drawn.
Washing in the laver is another aspect of the outer court. The laver is made of the "looking glasses" donated by the women, and in these looking glasses a priest can see where he is dirty (Psalm 26:2; 1Cor 11:28; 2Cor 13:5). Then he must wash his hands and his feet (correct his walk and his works) before he is even allowed to perform his responsibility of offering sacrifice to the Lord. In the 13th chapter of John we read where Jesus washed the feet of His disciples before He departed this earth, leaving them here to continue His service to the people. Could Jesus have been serving as a laver to the twelve?
[Note: I'm trying to be extra brief in this study, cutting short areas I would like to delve into more thoroughly. However, I've covered these areas in other studies, therefore such an effort would be redundant, and it would further dilute the message I'm presenting here, which is the location (and not the purpose or the function) of the Garden of Eden.]
Where is the "outer court" of the land we know as Eden? If the tent encompasses Eden and the Garden, then there must be an outer court to Eden in order to complete the picture.
Notice how there is a river that flows from Eden and waters the Garden, then the river becomes four heads that continue in four directions. What might we call the land watered by these rivers? They're not in Eden (the tented area of the Tabernacle). Could they be considered as the "Outer court" do you think?
7Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.(see Gen 2:9; Rev 2:7; 22:2,14; John 7:38; Mat 12:33) 8Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. (See Mat 13:15; Rev 22:2; Acts 5:16) 9And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish (John 6:9; 21:6), because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh. 10And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it (Jer 16:16; Mat 4:19) from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, (Gen 1:21) as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many. (Ezek 47:)
How much of what you read here are you skipping over assuming you already know what it says or means? Are you checking the references to make the connections I'm presenting? If you're not, then you're really not all that interested in what I'm showing you, and the chances are you won't accept or understand my reasoning. "What can this guy tell me I don't already know" is likely to be your attitude. "Nobody knows where the Garden of Eden is, or if there even was one."
Well, maybe that's so. Then again, maybe not.
Did you pay any attention to the towns mentioned in the above verses? Where are these towns? Do you care? Is their location important? It just may have a lot to do with where the Garden of Eden is located."Phooey" you say?
Engedi is located half way along the western bank of the Salt Sea, and Eneglaim is somewhere (I haven't found just where yet) also on the banks of the Dead Sea. Do you know why they call the Dead Sea the Dead Sea? That's right, nothing lives in it. It's too salty. Keep this fact in mind. It's going to be very important later.
11And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Mat 8: see also Mat 22:13 and 25:30).
The word "outer" has been used only four times in the KJ version of the Bible. The first time it has been used is in Jeremiah and it is referring to the outer court of the Tabernacle (or the Temple). The other three times the word is used are these as they were spoken by Jesus when talking about those who believe they're part of the Kingdom (such as the unworthy servant, the Pharisees and the man who performed wonderful works in the name of Jesus), but who instead found themselves weeping and gnashing teeth in outer darkness.
"But isn't everyone who makes it to Eternity going to be treated like royalty while ruling with Jesus?" That is the popular perception, but besides it making no sense (who will we rule over? those in outer darkness?), it doesn't fit Scripture as we will see very soon.
Before departing the Tabernacle, let's take one more look at it from a new perspective. When the Tabernacle is considered, it's seen from the East to the West, from the entrance of the curtained area to the Holy of Holies. And of course this is a logical way to look at the Tabernacle. But let's reverse the process and see what we find.
God resides in the Holy of Holies. When God leaves the Holy of Holies, which way would we expect Him to leave? Might we assume He would leave through the Vail that separates the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place? Let's assume He would and see what we find.
Outside the Vail is the Holy Place, the area we consider to be the Church age, the area and the era in which we, the Christian live. When Jesus died, this Vail was rent. We assume this means that we can now enter the Holy of Holies at will. And according to Paul, this is true. However by focusing our attention on this single aspect of the renting of the Vail I believe we're missing a much bigger picture that God is painting for us.
When Jesus died, when He was pierced in the side by the Roman Soldier, blood and water issued forth. John in the 19th chapter made quite an issue of this fact as if it is something we're to pay special heed to.
In the 3rd chapter of John we read where Jesus said we must be born of water and the Spirit. John the Baptist said we must be born of water (repentance) and of Spirit (Mat 3:11; Acts 19:4), which Jesus would bring to us. When did Jesus provide the Holy Spirit?
When God created a bride for Adam, He brought her forth from Adam by opening up his side. When the Church, the bride of Christ, was brought forth it also came from the side, of Jesus, the second Adam, the Adam of the Spirit rather than of the flesh. The "Vail" that was rent was Jesus' flesh, through which God, by way of the Holy Spirit, came to "dwell" with (and in) man (Heb 10:20; 1Cor 3:16; Rom 8:9; Rev 21:3; Gen 5:24; 6:9; 3:8; 1John 2:6; Rev 3:4).
In this Church age God is walking in man, the Christian, and demonstrating His love for mankind through His people, as He did through Jesus and the Apostles. We are the eyes, the feet, the mouth, the "members in particular" of the Christ. Jesus said we are to be "rivers (fountains) of living water," water being the Holy Spirit that's to flow through us.
Using this picture, consider the Tabernacle as an image of the Christian age. God leaves the Holy of Holies through the Vail of flesh that Jesus sacrificed on the cross. From the "water" that flowed through Him, we are to become rivers of life-giving ("healing") water to the world (Rev 17:1,15; Ezek 47:8-9; Luke 10:2-3,9; Acts 5:16; Rev 22:2) . Consider the Church as the Holy Place through which the waters flow from Eden, through the Holy Place (the Church, the Garden), onward to the outer court (the "nations of the saved"). (Keep in mind the many times, and the many ways the Bible refers to the people of God as plants, trees, vines, grapes, wheat, tares and the like. (Luke 10:2)
Again looking from the East to the West (the direction lightening strikes according to Jesus, Mat 24:27), we see that the Message of the Kingdom was taken by Paul (to the Gentiles) from the East to the West, the land of the Gentiles. Also we see where the Magi came from the East to the West, following a star they, and apparently only they, understood the meaning of.
Does any of this ring chimes with anyone? Do you find it interesting at all? I've not taken any time to explain my reasoning for this concept (only a brief and incomplete outline) because it's not a part of this study. But if it lights a bulb in anyone's mind, then it was worthwhile that I inserted this tidbit.
[A note: am I saying here that I think the Garden of Eden is the Church and nothing more? Not at all. But I think the Garden, as is the Tabernacle, might well be a picture, a foreshadow of the Church age.]
1And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2In the midst of the street ["A wide space, square" (maybe a garden?)] of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, [see Gen 2:9] and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. 5And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Rev 22:)
Again we have a vivid description of the Garden of Eden, only this Garden is found far in the future, not the past. Here we find, not only the tree of life (without the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), but we find another interesting statement as well. We find that the tree of life yields leaves for the "healing of the nations." What nation is John talking about? There's no more sickness in Eternity, so who are these "nations" who need healing? A mystery do you think? Or maybe you believe as some experts do that John is now looking backwards all of a sudden and describing a period of time before Eternity, then jumping back to his train of thought. Maybe, but I don't think so.
John then goes on to describe a people who will be seeing the face of God, and who will be serving Him personally. Again, as far as I can tell, most people assume everyone in Eternity is included in this scenario. Again, I don't think so. Check these scriptures out and see who it is that will be in close contact with God. But before you read these, try re-evaluating your concept of what an overcomer is: (Rev 2:7; 11, 17; 26; 3:5, 12; 21; 21:7; 3:21). The popular view is that everyone who is baptized fits the description of an overcomer. For myself, I just can't see it. If that were the case, then who are the ones in the churches Jesus is condemning in the first part of each of His letters to the churches? And have you ever heard of "tares and wolves"? These are all baptized, and apparently very active, members of the churches. Paul spends much of his time and effort warning us of these people, and dealing with them.
1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Rev 21:)
Here we have a new Heaven and a new earth. Elsewhere, in another story I gave my explanation as to how I see this new creation, much too long to elaborate on here. Let me just capsulize my view on the matter. The world (the "first earth") is the area of the Tabernacle we call the outer court (and as I believe, the outer darkness Jesus tells us about where those who haven't done their homework will be spending Eternity as farmers and other laborers). There will be no more sea, the sea being the world in general who hasn't accepted the offer Jesus made, these having been eliminated from the picture altogether. The Heavens are those who are striving to serve the Lord here and now by humbling themselves and serving their fellow man as Jesus and the Apostles were seen to do. Some of us are able to serve 30 fold, some 60 fold, and we see 12 earlier, and a 144,000 in the future who will have served a 100 fold as did Jesus. The "first Heaven" is the Church (Spirit) age, the "partial realm" of the Kingdom.
In this capsulated form my proposal sounds like hogwash I'm sure, but that's the best I'm willing to do in this study, which I'm hoping to keep as short as possible.
Notice that Jesus is talking about a people who will be outside the walls of the city and who will not be allowed in. Here He calls this place the "second death," and an area of fire and brimstone. Elsewhere this area is referred to as the nations of the saved, outer darkness, and a place where people will be weeping and gnashing teeth. I should suspect that if I am one who believed by doing nothing but taking a bath, going to church once a week, and the rest of my life was spent indulging in the world satisfying myself, believing I'm one of the "elite": Then finding myself, as I am here and now, on the outside looking in, and that for eternity, I would feel as if I was in a lake of fire and doing a lot of weeping and gnashing teeth.
There will be no more death. There will be people who will no longer die. But apparently that does not mean they can't have health problems or else why the need for "leaves" that will be used for healing?
4When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. 5And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. 6And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain. (Isaiah 4:)
When the Jews were in the wilderness they experienced much the same picture as pictured here:
21And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 22He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. (Ex 13:)
God was ever with them, affording them comfort, light and protection, both from the elements and from their enemies who encompassed them (as they do to this day).
5And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Rev 22:)
22And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 23And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof (see John 9:5; 12:45;35). 24And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. 25And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. 27And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. (Rev 21:)
14Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (Mat 5:)
We have two issues here, the second issue is there being people who are outside the city, not a part of the light, but having to walk in the light of the city. And again we have people who possess the very same carnal nature, and this in Eternity, we're to strive to rid ourself of here in this life. Is John again playing his hopscotch game and jumping into the past, then in the same breath back to his present?
The city has no need for the sun. This doesn't mean there's no sun, any more than the sun disappeared when the Jews were in the wilderness (Isaiah 30:26; 49:10). But those in the city are in the light (Jesus said He is the light of the world, and we're to be the light of the world - John 9:5; Mat 5:14), the light produced by the Spirit of God. Those who are without the Spirit of God, are without the light of God. Those who have quenched the Spirit here in this lifetime will be without light, "in darkness" during Eternity. It is in the here and now we mold ourself into the person we want to be for eternity. And it's here and now we prove ourself worthy servants who desire to serve and be with the Lord more than we value our own pleasures and entertainment.
When the Bible refers to "the city," it isn't speaking of a literal city, although I have little doubt but that there will also be a city called Zion built on Mt Moriah as well. What God is telling us is not about bricks and stone, but about a Temple He will (and does now to a limited degree) occupy in the future. We are the Temple of God (1Cor 3:16-17). It's in us He will dwell. God is Spirit, and a spirit doesn't care about houses and temples (Isaiah 66:1-2; Jer 23:24), but about human beings that He can live though, and through which He can perform His work as He did through Jesus and the Apostles (John 5:17; 9:4; 14:10-12; Acts 22:11). When we're told we're not to work, we are then being told to quench the Spirit and prevent Him from doing the very thing He is assigned to cause us to do.
16And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. 18And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 19This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. (Zech 14:)
The above passage is describing what appears to be right after the Tribulation. And maybe that is the time frame spoken of. However, when we read the rest of the chapter (only one paragraph) it should give us pause to consider.
1And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Rev 22:)
9Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. (John 4:)
Like in any society the Jews lived under what is called a "caste" system. According to my dictionary a caste is: "An exclusive social class." There's the upper crust of society, the middle class, and the poor of any culture. Jesus broke the barrier between the castes by fraternizing with (and in fact preferring the company of) the outcast rather than flirt with the elite as the elite believed their Messiah would do.
In the church system we have a vivid picture of this caste system at work. We have (name the denomination you belong to here), and we have those outside our church walls, but who are still within the ream of the "Church," (such as the Baptist, then the Pentecostals or vice versa as an example) and we have the outsiders, those doomed for hell. Then, in between these two extremes we have what we see as those carrying the same name, that of "Christian," but who we see as being even lower than those who are outside the walls altogether.
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