Welcome to Volume 8 of Executed to Suppress His Message.
In Volume 1 of Suppressing the Words of Christ we saw how money-funded???, institutionalized religions suppress the teachings of Jesus Christ, so they can promote their own particular doctrines and beliefs. And now with this volume, we continue to address these suppressed teachings.
Having Christian parents, I was introduced to the religion of Jesus Christ at an early age. My family regularly attended weekly church services. And later when I was a bit older, my parents enrolled me in church classes for teenagers. And by the time I was thirteen years of age, my views on Christianity were firmly established.
Here is what I believed:
1) There exists a holy, righteous and all-powerful God;
2) Disobeying God is called sin;
3) God created an angel called Lucifer who rebelled and became the evil Satan;
4) God will punish sinners by sending them to eternal punishing in the Devil’s empire of Hell; while those who are obedient to God will go on to eternal happiness in heaven.
According to my parent’s church, the Garden of Eden was an example of the above principles. God created Adam and Eve, warning them to obey Him. But along came the Devil, who convinced the first two humans to disobey God. So instead of allowing Adam and Eve to go to Heaven, God removed them from the Garden, sending them off to labor for food until they died, after which they suffered for all eternity in the fires of Hell.
My teenage mind readily accepted this story as a basic outline for the Christian religion. And from what I heard at church, it seemed there was little else I needed to know or do, other than making sure I attended church services every week.
And therefore, Christianity seemed very simple: I should worship and obey God, overcome sin, and make sure I went to church. And if I followed these rules, I would go on to eternal happiness in heaven. But if I disobeyed, God would send me to Hell, where I would be tortured and punished for all eternity.
It’s now been over five decades since those early teenage years. And throughout those decades, I attended churches from several Christian denominations. I also heard hundreds of sermons explaining what God is doing with humankind. But instead of obtaining more spiritual understanding, I only learned how Christian denominations contradict each other over matters of doctrine.
For example, some churches teach that God is a Trinity; while other denominations deny this doctrine. Then there are churches which claim the Sabbath is on Sunday; while others claim it’s on Saturday. And even though the majority of Christian churches teach the existence of eternal punishing in Hell, some denominations disagree with this premise.
But there are two characteristics that are common to all Christian churches:
1) Every denomination has its own set of unique Christian doctrines;
2) The doctrines of one Christian denomination always disagree with at least some of the doctrines of all other denominations. In fact, it’s this primary difference that sets one denomination apart from all the others.
All Christians agree that there is only one Messiah. And this Messiah preached only one message, which contained a single and consistent set of doctrines. Then four eye-witness apostles recorded our Lord’s teachings in their writings, all of which generally agree with each other.
So how can there be so many versions of Christian doctrine, when Jesus gave only one set of teachings?
It was this realization that convinced this author to start studying the Bible on my own. And in doing so, I came to understand that all Christian churches teach doctrines that are different from, and sometimes even contradictory to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
And Christian churches must do this, so they can claim to be unique denominations.
And yet I could have known this from the beginning of my Christian calling, if I had paid attention to what happened in the Garden of Eden.
Most Christians are familiar with the Garden of Eden story. Prominently located at the beginning of the Bible, this story relates how the first man and woman rejected God’s instructions, thereby setting an example for what most of humanity would do for thousands of years into the future.
After reading the Garden of Eden story, most people conclude it’s an account of the first man and woman demonstrating their carnality and sinful nature. While others might see an ancient tale created to reinforce the idea that God punishes sinners.
But what if the second and third chapters of Genesis contain one of the most important messages God has ever given to Christians? Would you be willing to take a second look at this story?
I hope so, because the story of Eden contains one of the most important messages God has ever given to Christ’s Church!
Many biblical writings use symbols to represent other things. For example, Genesis uses the rainbow as a symbol for God’s covenant. While the gospel of John uses a stairway to represent the manner in which angels approach God. Then in Exodus, Psalms and Revelation, thunder, lightning, clouds and smoke are used as symbols of God’s majesty.
And in the same manner, the Garden of Eden story uses symbolic imagery to represent many things. And we cannot fully understand God’s message in this story, until we determine what these symbols represent.
As an introductory example, Genesis 3:1 describes the Devil as a reptilian serpent. But notice how God describes the appearance of the Devil, as related by the prophet Ezekiel:
Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre (Satan) and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you. On the day that you were created They were prepared. "You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire (Ezekiel 28:12-14).
Most people do not realize that Satan projects a stunningly magnificent appearance of almost “perfect” beauty, which God described with such adjectives as rubies, diamonds and precious stones.
And therefore., Adam and Eve did not see a frightening reptilian Devil, because Satan looks nothing like a snake. Instead, the Garden of Eden story uses the snake as a symbol for the Devil. And frankly, what creature could better symbolize Satan’s character than a hungry, poisonous snake?
The Eden story tells us the Garden had many trees. One produced eternal life; while others were pleasant to the sight and good for food. And then there was the deceptive Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Notice how Genesis describes these trees:
Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9).
Thousands of years of human experience have proved that agricultural trees cannot not share knowledge or grant eternal life. And so again, Genesis must be using trees as symbols for something else.
When Scripture uses symbols, other parts of the Bible may reveal what these symbols mean. And thus in Ezekiel 31:8-9, we find a passage that provides additional information about Eden’s trees:
The cedars in God’s garden could not match it; The cypresses could not compare with its boughs, And the plane (without bark) trees could not match its branches. No tree in God’s garden could compare with it in its beauty. I made it beautiful with the multitude of its branches, And all the trees of Eden, which were in the garden of God, were jealous of it.
This passage describes the greatness and glory of Pharaoh, King of Egypt. And it does so by stating that Pharaoh’s glory was even greater than the glory of all the trees in God’s Garden (Eden).
But isn’t this a rather strange comparison? And how could an agricultural tree compare with the great Egyptian Pharaoh?
And did you notice how Eden’s trees were jealous of Pharaoh? But wooden trees don’t possess any emotions. So perhaps we need to stop and think about this story.
If the trees in this story possessed emotions, then they must represent intelligent beings capable of having such emotions. And given that Adam and Eve were the only humans in existence at this point in time, these intelligent beings must have been spirits.
The Egyptian Pharaohs reigned from approximately 3150 BCE to 30 BCE, a period of time that started more than a thousand years after the Garden of Eden incident. And yet these jealous beings symbolized by Eden’s trees were still around during the reign of the Pharaohs.
And these trees could not have represented humans, as such people would have had to survive the great flood of Genesis Chapters 7 and 8, where God killed every human being not on the ark, and then lived to be over 1,000 years old.
Therefore. all the evidence points to the trees of Eden being symbols for eternally-living spirit beings – and they had to be angels or demons.
And therefore, there’s a lot more to the Garden of Eden story than Adam and Eve eating an apple from the wrong tree!
Genesis 2:8 states the “Lord God” planted the Garden of Eden. And as we saw in Ezekiel 28:13, the garden was God’s property.
But who was the Lord God? Jesus provides the answer in John 5:37 and John 6:46. And here we find Jesus explaining how up until the 1st Century, no human being (including Adam and Eve) had ever seen or heard God the Father. Thus the “Lord God” of Genesis had to be the God of the Old Covenant, who would later be called Jesus, the Christ.
So the Lord placed Adam in the Garden and showed him all the animals He had created. But Adam did not find a suitable companion in these animals. So the Lord created Eve, Adam’s wife.
Then Genesis introduces the two most prominent trees of the Garden. The first is the Tree of Life. But since no wooden tree can impart eternal life, this tree must represent deity. And since the Lord God (Christ) was walking around the garden and talking to Adam, the Tree of Life must represent God the Father, the ultimate source of all eternal life.
The Garden also had another prominent tree, called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And this tree also represented a spirit being, because later in the story, we find it speaking to Eve.
And there were other, less prominent trees in the garden. Genesis states how these trees were “pleasing to the sight and good for food.” While the Lord told Adam he could “eat freely” from these trees. But since Ezekiel wrote how “all” the trees of Eden were jealous, it’s likely that these also represent intelligent spirit beings (angels).
And finally we have the talking serpent, which represents the Devil.
So why did God place Adam and Eve in a garden? Perhaps we can find the answer in Revelation 2:7:
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.
Revelation 1:1 and 1:8 tell us the Spirit speaking is the Lord Jesus Christ. And here the Greek translated into the English “paradise” is pronounced paradeisos, which specifically means a park or garden.
And there’s an important piece of information here: even though Revelation was written many thousands of years after the Garden of Eden incident, the Tree of Life was still in God’s garden.
This word paradeisos is used only two other times in the bible. The first occurrence is in Luke 23:43, where Jesus told one of the criminals being crucified how He would soon be in heaven:
Luke 23:43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise [Greek: paradeisos].”
Then in II Corinthians 12:3-4, the apostle Paul spoke of a man who was taken up to heaven:
And I know how such a man — whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows — was caught up into Paradise [Greek: paradeisos] and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.
As you can see from both of these passages, the word paradeisos seems to refer to heaven, or the spiritual realm in which God dwells. And according to Jesus Christ, there’s another Tree of Life in a spiritual garden that Jesus equates with heaven (see Revelation 2:7 above).
But since there can be only one heaven and one Tree of Life, the Garden of Eden on earth had to be a symbol or representation for the spiritual realm in which God dwells.
Genesis 2:15 appears to explain why God put Adam and Eve in His garden:
Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
According to Bible commentators, the original Hebrew in this verse is greatly obscured by English translations. So if we want to understand what this verse actually means, we have to dig a little deeper.
The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon relates how the Hebrew translated into the English “put” carries the context of someone being placed in a certain location for the purpose of obtaining rest or repose. A good example of a more accurate translation is found in Deuteronomy 5:14, where the same Hebrew describes resting on the Sabbath. And therefore, Genesis 2:15 should be more accurately translated, “God caused Adam to rest and relax by cultivating and working the Garden.”
But this revised translation is still not completely accurate, because later in the story we find how Adam’s rejection of God’s commands resulted in him having to “cultivate the ground” (Genesis 3:23). And since working the ground was Adam’s penalty for disobedience, it’s unlikely that he was working the ground before he disobeyed.
So let’s take a closer look at Genesis 2:15, by focusing on the latter part of the sentence that says:“put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” In Hebrew, the text translated “it” is of feminine gender; whereas the noun translated “garden” is masculine. And according to the rules of Hebrew grammar, this means the “it” does not refer to the garden. And therefore, the actions of “cultivating and keeping” were not associated with maintaining the Garden.
The Bible usually uses the Hebrew word translated into the English “cultivate” in association with serving someone else. Of the 294 times this word is used in Scripture, it’s translated 224 times into English words serve or served. And when we remember how Adam was not required to work the ground until after he sinned, it becomes obvious that God placed Adam in the Garden for a very different reason. And when we read in the next verse (Genesis 2:16) how the Lord began to give commands to Adam, it becomes clear that Adam and Eve were placed in the garden to serve and obey the Lord.
We’ve covered quite a few topics and symbols in the above paragraphs, and it probably seems a bit confusing. But it will all start to come together and make sense very soon.
Let’s move on to another subject by reading the passage that introduces the Garden of Eden’s trees:
Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9).
So “all” the trees were pleasing to the sight and good for food. And in the original Hebrew language, the phrase “pleasant to the sight” means to desire, delight in, take pleasure in. While the Expositor’s Bible Commentary tells us the Hebrew should be more accurately translated: “every tree that is beautiful and edible.”
But there were two special trees: 1) the Tree of Life; and 2) the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And these were set apart from all the other trees, because they were located in the middle of the garden — a prominent place where they could not be ignored.
Genesis states that all the trees could provide edible food for Adam and Eve. But should the word “edible” be taken literally? Or are these trees just another set of symbols representing something else?
We find part of the answer in Matthew 4:1-4:
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”
This passage describes a time when Satan tried to tempt the Lord.
But it also tells us that God’s words are spiritual “food” for His people.
So with this fact in mind, let’s consider the Tree of Life – the fruit of which causes one to live forever (Genesis 3:22). Certainly eating ordinary fruit like apples, peaches and oranges cannot produce eternal life. But now add what Jesus said in John 10:27-28:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
Jesus said His teachings lead us to eternal life. So could the Tree of Life represent the words of Christ? Perhaps.
But look at this:
"He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.
And therefore, Jesus is not the ultimate source of God’s life-giving words, because He only repeats what the Father has spoken to Him. So the real source of these words of life is God the Father. And since the Lord was personally present in Eden and visiting with Adam and Eve, the Tree of Life probably represents God the Father, the source of all eternal life.
Now let’s move on to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The name informs us that its fruit was “knowledge,” rather than apples, pears and oranges. And again, we know this tree represents a spirit being, because as we shall later see, this tree carried on a conversation with Eve.
Finally, there were numerous, less prominent trees in the garden. Genesis describes these trees as “pleasing to the sight and good for food (edible).” But since the Book of Ezekiel tells us these trees had emotions, they also must represent intelligent spirit beings. And considering how the Lord told Adam he could “eat freely” from these trees, it seems safe to assume they represented holy angels.
And since none of Eden’s trees provided edible food for Adam and Eve, all of the trees appear to be symbols for intelligent spirit beings.
We’ve already seen how a proper translation of the Hebrew reveals that God placed Adam in the garden for rest and relaxation. And therefore, Adam didn’t have to work to till the ground, because the Garden was a place where God provided for all of their needs.
Genesis also reveals how God visited the Garden on a regular basis. So while Adam and Eve were in the Garden, they had regular fellowship with their Creator.
But even though the first two humans had the “good life,” which included fellowship with the Lord and an offer of eternal life through the Tree of Life, there was imminent danger from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil:
The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).
And then along came the serpent:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1-5).
Revelation 12:9 tells us the serpent was Satan the Devil. And notice how the Devil’s primary objective was to get Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
So Satan didn’t cause Adam and Eve to sin. Instead, the Devil planted the seed that God was not truthful – and that Eve should discover what God was hiding from them. And of course, Satan knew his tree contained what was necessary to destroy Adam and Eve’s relationship with God.
The Devil’s primary objective was (and still is) to encourage God’s children to listen to the lies produced by a false messenger.
Now let’s compare the above with how Satan tempted Eve:
“For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).
Satan suggested that Eve would not truly know the difference between good and evil, until she learned from the forbidden tree. So this tree wasn’t producing apples, pears, and oranges.
It was an intelligent being that was sharing intellectual knowledge with Eve.
And we can prove that Eve’s action of taking the forbidden fruit consisted of accepted false knowledge, by reading what the Lord said on His next visit to the garden:
And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:11).
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil shared false knowledge with Eve.
Now let’s go back a few verses and see how Eve reacted to this talking tree:
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate (Genesis 3:6).
So understand: The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a symbol for a lying spirit who gave false knowledge to Eve.
Let’s summarize what we have learned from the story of Eden:
The physical Garden of Eden symbolized a much greater spiritual reality in heaven;
The serpent represented a magnificent, beautifully-appearing spirit originally named Lucifer, but now called Satan;
The trees of the Garden represented intelligent spirit beings. One represented God the Father, while the others represented angels and demons;
One of these spirits told Eve that she and Adam were naked;
Once Adam and Eve accepted knowledge from sources other than the Lord, they became afraid of the Lord and hid themselves;
The end result of listening to the forbidden tree (person) was that both Adam and Eve were separated from God.
But why did Satan consider it so important to separate Adam and Eve from the Lord God? Jesus gave us the reason:
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3).
God the Father’s power of eternal life — which was symbolized by the Tree of Life — can only come through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
And therefore, Satan worked to destroy Adam and Eve’s relationship with Jesus, by encouraging Eve to listen to a lying spirit — a spirit that convinced Eve the Lord was not their friend, and that He was to be feared, rather than trusted and loved.
Adam and Eve died, because they accepted and believed spiritual knowledge from sources other than God.
The immediate result of Adam and Eve accepting false knowledge from the forbidden tree was that they no longer trusted the Lord God. And naturally, this made them look for another source of spiritual leadership.
Thus in Genesis 3:8, we find how God’s children were hiding from the Lord among the trees of the Garden. And since these trees represent angelic (and perhaps demonic) spirit beings, this suggests that Adam and Eve decided to place their trust in these angelic beings, rather than the Lord God.
In the Bible, the English word “angel” is derived from various Hebrew and Greek words that specifically mean “messenger.” Thus it seems the primary job of an angel is to carry God’s messages to others. And now that Adam and Eve no longer trusted the Lord, they began to seek their spiritual guidance from angels – or more likely demons.
Satan’s ultimate goal was to cause Adam and Eve to trust angelic “messengers” more than they trusted in the Lord God.
But Satan’s agenda has not changed — and Christian churches provide plenty of evidence to prove this is true. And this is why the average Christian has almost absolute trust in their spiritual messengers (pastors, preachers, priests, etc.), while they almost never open their Bible to learn the words of their Lord Jesus Christ.
Just as with Adam and Eve, Satan has deceived the entire Christian world into believing the words of a messenger are just as good, or perhaps even better than the words of Jesus Christ.
After the Lord God created the first two human beings, He placed them in a place of continual rest where He provided for all of their needs. And while Adam and Eve remained in the Garden, they had free and open access to eternal life. But once they listened to and began to trust spiritual authorities other than God, they stopped trusting in their Creator — and incredibly, Adam and Eve actually became afraid of the very God who created and cared for them.
By convincing Adam and Eve to trust the words of a deceiving messenger, rather than the words of the Lord, God’s enemies were able to overcome them. And without a trusting relationship with the Creator, they lost out on His offer of eternal life and died just as the Lord predicted.
And all of this happened because Adam and Eve listened to and trusted a spiritual messenger other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
Notice how Genesis relates this story:
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know (determine for himself) good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the Garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24).
The original Hebrew of this passage is most informative. And it literally states that God placed cherubims and a flaming sword “to guard the road to the Tree of Life.”
And therefore, there’s a road that leads to eternal life.
Let’s now add this passage from the New Testament:
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).
And here the Greek translated into the English “way” means a road.
Thus when Adam and Eve chose to believe a lying spirit that encouraged them to turn their backs on the Lord, they walked off the “road” that leads to eternal life — and that road is Jesus Christ.
The Song of Solomon is an ancient biblical story about a married couple that are very much in love. However, many biblical scholars believe this ancient writing is an allegory (symbolical narrative) about Christ and His Church. These scholars suggest the husband symbolizes Christ, while the wife symbolizes Christ’s Bride, the Church. And here is what is most interesting:
The Song of Solomon uses a garden to represent the bride.
So if we can accept that God inspired Solomon to write about the Bride of Christ, then the Song of Solomon defines a “garden” as a symbol for the Church.
Back in Chapter 3, we saw how Jesus said the Tree of Life was located in a place named with the Greek word paradeisos. We also saw how this word can refer to heaven, the place where God dwells.
But once the New Covenant was initiated by Christ’s resurrection, Jesus promised that both He and the Father would move their permanent residence into the collective body of Christ’s Church. We can read about this in John 14:23, where Jesus explained what it means to be “one with God:”
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
And here the Greek translated into the English “abode” means a residence.
So according to Jesus Christ, both He and God the Father are now making their permanent home inside the members of Christ’s New Testament Church. And if you are a genuine Christian, then God the Father and Jesus Christ dwell inside of you.
And if the spirits of God the Father and Jesus dwell inside of you, then why do you need a human spiritual “messenger” to help you understand the Bible?
As Christians, perhaps we need to consider what the apostle John wrote in I John 2:27:
As for you, the anointing (the Holy Spirit) which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.
Once we understand how the Father and Jesus Christ make their home within the members of the God’s Church, we can use these facts to equate the church with the Garden of Eden, since Genesis uses the garden as a symbol for the place where God dwells.
And this opens the door to some astounding parallels between the Garden of Eden and Christ’s Church:
After God created (begot) Adam, He placed him in the Lord’s garden.
After Christians are born again (begotten), the Lord Christ places them in His Church.
Adam and Eve had regular fellowship with the Lord God (Christ).
The Lord has regular fellowship with each member of His Church.
Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden to serve and obey the Lord God (Christ).
Christians have been called to serve and obey Christ.
Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden for rest and relaxation.
Those who are called into Christ’s Church enter their rest: “For we who have believed enter that rest …” (Hebrews 4:3).
In the Garden, God provided for all of Adam and Eve’s needs.
Christ promised that God the Father will do the same for those in His church: “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:29-30).
God warned Adam to ignore the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and listen only to Him.
Christ said this about those in His church: “My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me.”
The Lord God commanded Adam: “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely.” Thus Adam and Eve had free access to eternal life via the Tree of Life.
Christ promises His Church free access to the Tree of Life: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7).
Satan entered the Garden and cast doubt on God’s goodness and truthfulness, then introduced Eve to another spiritual messenger.
Satan does the same to Christ’s Church: “These are the ones who are beside the road where the (Christ’s) word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them” (Mark 4:15).
The Garden contained the Tree of Knowledge (a lying demon) which taught Adam and Eve that eternal life is a matter of knowing good and evil; and that religion is a matter of knowledge.
The members of Christ’s Church are bombarded by preachers who claim that Christians are saved by learning matters of knowledge. (doctrine). While Jesus said in John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Because Adam and Eve believed the lies of a self-appointed spiritual messenger (symbolized by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil), the first two humans developed a false view of God that eventually destroyed their relationship with Christ. And without a personal relationship with Christ, Adam and Eve were unable to find the way (road) to eternal life.
Christians that choose to follow self-appointed preachers rather than Jesus Christ, will lose out on eternal life: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36).
This comparison between the Garden of Eden and Christ’s Church is amazing, And in every area, the events that transpired in Eden seem to exactly parallel what happens to Christians within the New Testament Church.
So are these parallels merely coincidental? Or does Eden have a powerful message for Christ’s Church?
And if Eden does represent the Church, then perhaps Eden’s most important message is this:
The first man and woman lost access to eternal life because they chose to obtain their spiritual information from sources other than Jesus Christ.
Within the first few pages of the Bible, we find an ancient story that warns of an extraordinary danger to God’s people: self-appointed “messengers” who claim to have spiritual truth. And we don’t have to go beyond the next book of the Bible to find God’s warnings about these self-appointed spiritual messengers.
And then approximately twenty-five hundred years after Adam and Eve died, God appointed Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. But just as the Israelites were about to enter their promised land, Moses did something unusual:
It came about the next day that Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood about Moses from the morning until the evening.
This was very interesting event, because God never asked Moses to judge the anyone. Notice the following biblical passage where God called Moses and assigns his duties. Read through it and see if you can find anything about Moses “judging” God’s people:
“So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.” Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them. “Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:8-10).
God never even suggested that Moses should judge the Israelites. Instead, Moses was told to simply lead them out of Egypt.
Then in verse 16, we read how the Lord told Moses to gather the elders of the people together and inform them of what God was planning to do. And this was important information, because it proves that the elders (heads of the families, households, and tribes) were those who were to judge Israel — not Moses.
So Moses superseded the authority of the elders and appointed himself as Israel’s judge.
And then along comes Moses’ father-in-law Jethro, who wants to give Judge Moses some advise. Exodus 18:1 describes this man as “the priest of Midian.” And some biblical commentators believe Jethro was a priest of the true God, like Melchizedek. But Midian was several hundred miles from where the Israelites were imprisoned in Egypt. So it’s hard to imagine how this man could have had much to do with God’s people. And this is why most biblical commentators believe Jethro was a pagan priest.
This author tends to agree with the latter opinion, for two reasons. First, the name “Jethro” is a central figure in the rites and pilgrimages of the pagan Druze religion. Then there’s the meaning of Jethro’s name. Strong’s Bible Dictionary relates how this name means “His Excellency.” While the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon states “Jethro” means “His Abundance.”
And I find it very hard to believe that such a title would be used by a humble servant of the God of Israel.
Let now read what Jethro told Moses:
It came about the next day that Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood about Moses from the morning until the evening. Now when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge and all the people stand about you from morning until evening?” Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God.” When they have a dispute, it comes to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor and make known the statutes of God and His laws" (Exodus 18:13-16).
If you’re familiar with the Book of Exodus, you may have noticed a rather large “red flag” associated with what Moses said. Because at the time Moses said this, God had not revealed His statutes and laws to anyone.
So what was Moses doing? Apparently, he was making up statutes and laws for God out of his own mind. And of course, this was something that went far beyond any authority God had given to him.
So with the above thoughts in mind, let’s continue with what the pagan Jethro counseled Moses:
"And Moses’ father-in-law said unto him, The thing that you are doing is not good. You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.
Now listen to me: I will give you counsel, and God be with you. You be the people’s representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God, then teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk and the work they are to do.
Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. Let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge (Exodus 18:17-22).
Certainly, this advise must have put Moses’ ego to the test – especially when Jethro told Moses, “You be the people’s representative before God.”
So Moses stepped up to the plate and took charge of Israel’s civil and spiritual leadership. And he also appointed leader/judges that would rule over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens — all of which amounted to establishing a national government over the Israelites.
And just as we read in Exodus 18:24:
So Moses listened to his father-in-law (Jethro) and did all that he had said.
God Was Not Pleased With Moses
Exodus Chapter 19 describes how the Israelites finally arrived at Mount Sinai and set up camp. Then Moses went up to the mountain and spoke to the Lord, who told Moses to gather the people together on the third day, so He could speak with them.
So let’s focus on the very first words the Lord spoke to Moses, in the presence of all the Israelites:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20:2-3).
Unfortunately, most Bible translations hide some of the most important information in this verse. The Hebrew translated into the English “gods” is pronounced ‘ĕlôhı̂ym. And even though this word can refer to deity, it commonly refers to anyone having authority over other people. So if you take a Bible concordance and look up the passages where this word is used, you will find that it refers to human rulers, human judges, and even angels.
And therefore, a much more accurate translation of the above passage is: You shall have no other authorities before Me.
But there’s still more to learn about this biblical passage, because part of the passage is not reproduced in most Bibles. This part comes from the Hebrew word pânı̂ym, which is translated “me” in “You shall have no other gods before me.” Contrary to the English translation shown above, the Hebrew is not a personal pronoun, but a common noun that specifically means “the face.” And this is why Bible commentator Albert Barnes states the original Hebrew literally means “before my face.”
Therefore, the most accurate translation of Exodus 20:3 is as follows:
“You (Israel) shall have no other authorities in front of my face.”
Or said another way, “You (Israel) shall have no other authorities between you and me” — a command that had to include Moses and all the other leaders he had appointed to serve between himself and the people.
The very first words out of God’s mouth to the nation of Israel was a heavy-handed rebuke against Moses and all the leaders he had appointed — a humiliating reprimand that instantaneously ripped away all their self-appointed authority and placed God solely in charge of the nation.
And why did God have to do this?
Because Moses followed the counsel of a self-appointed, lying spiritual messenger.
The Garden of Eden reminds Christians of two things: 1) the Lord Jesus Christ wants nothing but blessings for His brothers and sisters. And 2), Jesus promises to provide for our every need, while He personally guides us into eternal life in His Kingdom.
But most of the people God calls do not believe these things. And just like Adam, Eve and those listening to Moses, they choose to follow human spiritual messengers, rather than building a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Some of these messengers will claim that God is harsh, unforgiving and vengeful — and that He plans to execute eternal torment on all that do not overcome their sins. While others will claim that we are not worthy of God’s love, unless we give generous tithes and offerings to support their evangelical works. But whatever their particular message may be, these self-appointed messengers will misrepresent God as distant and difficult to please, while they claim that salvation can only come through supporting the messenger’s teachings and works.
And just like with Adam and Eve, these well spoken messengers will turn many away from the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, to follow the teachings and commandments of human beings and their humanly-derived religious institutions.
And many of God’s people will fail to inherit their spiritual reward, simply because they chose to believe human beings, rather than the Lord Jesus Christ.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
— Jesus Christ, John 10:27
"When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.
— Jesus Christ, John 10:4-5
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,‘ and do not do what I say?”
— Jesus Christ, John 10:27
John 5:37 And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form.
John 6:46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.
Genesis 2:16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely …”
Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
D. A. Taylor
D. A. Taylor
Copyright 2016 by D. A. Taylor
Prepared on 03/22/23 at 03:00:42 PM
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