The most relevant scripture that enables knowing the difference between our life and death is Genesis 2:16-17: And the Lord God commanded the man, saying ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (ESV).
Let us bear in mind that when the Lord speaks, what comes from His word of mouth is Law, and God can never break His own law. The command above was to mankind, represented in Adam, whose loins carried all humanity, including Eve. “For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”
When did the man die? On the day that he ate the wrong tree, he surely died. Some will try to figure out that Adam lived another 930 years, assuming that he did not die on the very day that God said he would die. However, the death of Adam was effective on the very day that he ate the wrong tree, just as the Lord had said. The degeneration of the physical body is not the death that God was talking about.
Had Adam known of the effects of death, as implied by God, he would have cried out in a loud voice: “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”’, at the point of eating a wrong tree (Mark 15:34) (ESV). This was the day that mankind, represented by Adam, died, as the Lord had said. But, apparently, the man was oblivious of the significance of death.
However, fear and shame overtook him, as Adam took a hiding position against God. Death implies separation from God, who is the source of human life. During Jesus’ ministry someone said: “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said “leave the dead to bury their own dead’” (Matthew 8:21-22).
As far as God is concerned, humanity attained death on the very day that Adam ate the wrong tree. We are all like the moving corpses, as we died at the time that Adam ate the wrong tree. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
You can buy the most expensive suit in the world and drive the most expensive car. But that means you are a corpse that is putting on that expensive suit, though driving that most expensive car. We lost our identity with God at the Garden of Eden; on the very day that Adam took a wrong fruit.
This reality is profoundly the most important datum that changes the way we think, even in our Christian lives. A human being was created in God’s image. For that reason, humans are on earth, but being not of this world. Like Jesus, humans are supposed to think like their father in heaven. Jesus said; anyone who had seen Him had seen His father (John 14:9).
If we were created in God’s image, we are supposed to also duplicate our Father in heaven. However, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). This, therefore, describes the story of the man of sorrows, or the suffering servant, as described in Isaiah 53, or Isaiah 52:13-53:12.
Jesus’ purpose was to carry our sorrows, in the mission of redeeming humanity. He reverses the curse that was pronounced by God’s own word, at the Garden of Eden. To understand the reason for Adam’s exposure to the wrong tree, we need to first appreciate the significance of God’s image.
The purpose of humanity was to have dominion over everything that God created, on earth. Bear in mind, as stated [here], planet earth had been subjected to a state of chaos (Genesis 1:2). In six days God restored it to its former glory. God then created humanity in his own image, with the sole purpose of ensuring that His authority, in the form of man, would continue to maintain the earth in its splendid condition.
Let us use the analogy of a colony. There was a time when Rhodesia was a colony of Britain. Being ruled as a colony meant that a representative of the Queen of England had to come to govern Rhodesia, according to the laws of Britain. The governor got his instructions from Britain and ensured that everything was run according to the British kingdom. Being a British Colony, Rhodesia was an extension of British kingdom.
The natives of this country were governed according to the laws of Britain. Effectively, the governor could not be questioned on his methodology of governing. He could simply say, “I do everything according to what the Queen of England says”.
Using this as analogy, humanity had been given authority to govern this earth, according to the requirements of their King in Heaven. To cut a long story short, humanity lost it, due to the schemes of the devil, at the Garden of Eden.
Back to our question, why did God expose Adam to the wrong tree? Adam, representing humanity, was supposed to think like God, because He was created in God’s image. The test of character needed to be checked and dealt with, first and foremost. This is like testing a clay product, using fiery furnace.
In humans, God did not create robots to mechanically follow instructions. God’s own image meant that humans would operate independently, with ability to analyze rationally, like God. Humans are supposed to be superior, even to angels.
The human character ought to reflect the character of God. This is why Jesus taught us to pray thus: “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Like the governor from England, humans are supposed to represent the Government of Heaven. We failed at the very start. But, “When what you get is not what you wanted, then what you get is experience” (author unknown).
After separation from our dear Lord, Jesus came to fix the effects of that separation. Even though we were dead, our resurrection has been achieved through Jesus. Character is of utmost importance. It is not automatic, but necessary, before reverting to be under God’s Kingdom. The freedom of choice remains with humanity. However, Christ is now available for our redemption. But no-one gets manipulated to accept God’s offer of salvation.
The beauty of God’s Kingdom is that people are invited, but granted freedom to accept or reject it. His desire is that all humanity may accept it, but His love is not self-seeking. He still blesses those preferring the opposite direction, as if saying to them: “go and enjoy your self-destruction.”
Various scriptures seem to indicate that God punishes those who disobey Him. The truth is that God takes responsibility of the consequences of what goes on with those who reject His calling. He is the one who created the laws of cause and effect. Therefore, He takes full responsibility of the sufferings experienced by sinners, going through the consequences of sinning.
If you touch a hot stove, you cannot avoid burning your fingers, because God created combustive laws to behave like that. You wouldn’t be wrong if you blame God for creating combustive laws. But, because He is a God of mercy, He also gave you the analytical mind, to avoid consequences of playing with fire. If anyone is to blame after the effects, it cannot be anyone else other than yourself.
Nevertheless, people are not punished by God for their sins. But the effects of their sinning causes them to suffer the consequences. Hosea 4:6-7 makes this point very clear: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (ESV).
Satan is no longer our enemy. He was defeated on the cross. But ignorance has now become the greatest enemy of humanity. Please see one of my recent postings: [here]. True identity implies appreciating that God is our father, who created us in His own image. It also means identifying the purpose of existence. Having discovered that you are a child of God, it’s time to be about your Father’s business.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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