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Have you ever tried to imagine what Paradise must have been like?  A beautiful garden full of delicious fruit bearing trees, herbs of the ground, and every beast of the field and bird of the air. But the best part – walking with God in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8).  Adam and Eve were living the good life! The earth watered itself because the Lord God had not caused it to rain (Gen. 2:5-6) and made every tree to grow that was pleasant to the sight and good for food (v.9).

Then it happened, the lack of faith that leads to disobedience of God’s command. Adam and Eve were sent out of the Garden of Eden to protect them from also eating from the Tree of Life and living forever in their sin (Gen. 3:22-24). Just like that, paradise was lost. But not HOPE. This punishment itself contained the seeds of HOPE.  God was withholding a good that would have been unbearable for man in his present condition.

To understand the HOPE of Easter, we need to go back to the very beginning.  God spoke creation into existence out of nothing. Whereas man manufactures products (cars, clothes, etc.) out of raw materials that already exist, God creates out of nothing. The creation tells us that the all-powerful God we serve is ultimately in control of all that happens and that God has a purpose and the power to accomplish that purpose.

As a final and climatic act of God’s creation, on the sixth day He created man, the crown of His creation.  “God created man in His own image, after His own likeness (Gen. 1:26-27) with the capacity to grow into a spiritual person. God created man with 1) intelligence – “the power to reason, to reflect, to investigate, to come to conclusions, to guide his life by his thoughts and conclusions”, 2) the power of will – “the power of choice sufficient to make him a responsible moral agent”, 3) the power of rational affection – the capacity to “rise to the level of deliberate sacrifice for the good of others”, 4) a moral nature – “a sense of right and wrong…”.”

Here the act of creation is personal and intimate – motivated by divine love. God is creating people to be the principal object of His love. Man was created not by the spoken word but comes directly from God’s hand which fashions it. “The picture is painted of God bending over the dust of the earth and shaping it in His hands as the potter shapes the clay.  The intimacy of this act of creation is seen further as the Lord God breathes into man’s nostrils the breath of life. It is then that man becomes a living being (or, soul). It is the divine breath of life that unites with the material body that makes man a ‘living soul’.  The creation of man is the climax toward which all the other acts of creation have been moving.”

God’s fatherly love is seen in His planting a garden for man and placing him in that garden (Genesis 2:8-14) “The garden was planned only for man and is to be understood as a gift of God’s gracious care for the man He created.”

God’s fatherly love is seen in His placing man subject to His command. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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’” (Genesis 2:16-17).  “The command of God is for man’s benefit since the fruit would work destructively upon him.  Only one tree of the entire garden is singled out, showing that God’s command is not oppressive. The Old Testament usage of the expression ‘good and evil’ referred not only to moral matters, but primarily to ‘everything’. Thus, the knowledge of good and evil was omniscience. The placement of the tree in the garden put before man decision and the serious question of obedience.”

God’s fatherly love is seen in the creation of woman and in the instituting of marriage. He blessed them in every delight and enjoyed intimate fellowship with them, even condescending to walk and speak with them among the Garden of Eden’s beauty (Genesis 3:8).

But Adam and Eve made a disastrous choice to reject their Creator’s loving rule over them. Deceived by Satan, God’s ancient adversary, they arrogantly ate which God had forbidden. “We see the entire scale of human emotions in this account (Genesis 3:6). First, she “saw that the tree was good for food” – the sensual aspect.  Then, “that it was a delight to the eyes” – the aesthetic stimulus. Then, “that the tree was to be desired to make one wise” – the highest enticement, the grasping after equality with God (I John 2:16 “the pride of life”).”

Their willful rejection of God’s command ushered sin into the world. Sin, anything that we say, think or do that breaks God’s laws, caused a cataclysmic rift between the Creator and the created.  Sadness, shame, pain, sickness, hate, and –  worst of all – death became realities.  God cast Adam and Eve out of Eden.  Paradise – perfect, intimate fellowship between the Heavenly Father and His children – was lost.

The aftermath of sin didn’t end with Adam and Eve, though.  Sin’s curse has extended to every human being in history.  The whole world, in fact, is accountable to God (Romans 3:19).  As Adam’s seed, we all have inherited a sinful nature and stand guilty before God from the time we are born.  As Romans 5:18 says, “One trespass resulted in condemnation for all people.”  Many other Scriptures affirm this, including these:

  • “For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.” Psalms 51:5 NLT
  • “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.” Romans 3:10-11
  • “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

Sin’s immediate consequences are spiritual alienation from God and ultimately death. Romans 6:23 explains that “the wages of sin is death,” and Romans 5:12 says, “So death spread to all men because all sinned”.  Likewise, Ephesians 2:3 says, “Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”  The Bible clearly states that God’s final judgment against unregenerate sinners is eternal separation from Him and punishment in hell.

There is HOPE for fallen mankind!  God’s justice is perfectly balanced with love and grace.  Immediately after the Fall, God mercifully intertwined a hint of coming salvation with pronouncements of judgment.  During His curse on Satan, God declared, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike His heel” (Genesis 3:15).  The woman’s “offspring” was Jesus.  This was a foreshadowing of messianic redemption!

God put a wondrous plan of salvation in motion long before creation. At the center of His plan is Jesus, the incarnation of God the Son. As the second Person of the Triune God, Jesus has always existed (Colossians 1:15 “the firstborn over all creation”, John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”, and Revelation 1:18 says that Jesus is “alive for ever and ever!”). The scope of God’s cosmic rescue mission exceeds the bounds of time!  Are you amazed by God’s love for you yet?  You should be!

God revealed His marvelous reconciliation plan to mankind through the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament.  The Bible tells a cohesive story of HOPE through the saving work of God’s Son.

Throughout the Old Testament we see allusions to the coming Messiah in the sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22; John 1:29), the Passover (Exodus 12), the bronze serpent (Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:14), and the life of Jonah (Matthew 12:38-40), to name a few. Christ appears in hundreds of Old Testament prophesies that provide details on everything from the place of His birth (Micah 5:2) to His crucifixion (Psalm 34:20) to His eternal reign (Daniel 7:12-13).

After Malachi, God was silent for more than four hundred years.  The Jews waited . . . and waited for the promised Deliverer.  It seemed like the Lord’s redemption would never come.

But HOPE was on the way.

The resurrection changed everything, and gives us hope and peace even today. Celebrate with us on Easter Sunday at BIXBY’S FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH at 10:30 am

 

More from this Series

The HOPE of Easter Part 1

The History of Easter Part 2

Our Desperate Need for Hope Part 3

Hope Revealed Part 4

A Living Hope Part 5

A Present Hope Part 6
 

Sources

Joshua Cooley, “The Hope of Easter”, Outreach, Inc., 2016
T. Conner, “Christian Doctrine”, B&H Academic, 1998
G. Von Rad, “Genesis: A Commentary”, Westminster John Knox Press, 1973

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