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Paradise Lost and Paradise To Come
3 July 2013
Yesterday I wrote about Adam and Eve in the Garden, knowing God in a free and natural way, without the burden of religious obligation. Walking with God in the Garden, in the cool of the day. Relating to Him without the obstacles of ritual and dogma. I asked, "Is there a way to enter into that kind of relationship with God today, or did the Fall render it impossible?"
The closest humankind has ever come to Adam and Eve's interaction with God was when God became flesh and lived on earth for some years. But rather than walking with two people in the Garden, in the cool of the day, this time He walked with His twelve close followers, and others, on the dusty roads of Israel in the heat of the day.
The ancient prophet Isaiah foretold that...
"...the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel," which means "God with us." (Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23)Never since the Garden of Eden did humankind have the glorious opportunity to "hang out" with God as they did when God became a man and lived among us. Being with Yeshua (Jesus) was a taste of paradise lost as well as a foretaste of paradise to come!
What the disciples experienced is SO radically different than what the average Christian experiences in our day. His disciples didn't have to recite a creed about Him, they didn't have to go to special meetings just to be with Him, they didn't (as far as we know) sit around and sing songs to and about Him, they didn't merely read about Him in a book, they didn't have to pray to an invisible Yeshua hoping He would hear them, they didn't hear Him only with their inner ears and then try to figure out if it was really Him, or any of the other things the religious have to go through.
No, on the dusty roads of Israel, in the nights wherever they happened to find a place to sleep, in the miracle of God becoming human and living with man, it was enough to simply BE — to exist — and be with God, without having to perform the customary religious ceremonies. Hanging out with Yeshua, walking with God on the road, in the heat of the day. Relating to Him without the obstacles of ritual and dogma.
Yeshua did not come to earth and die for our sins in order to establish another religion — He came to establish relationship with us. There is a night and day difference between the two. Yeshua the Son came to bring humankind back into a relationship with Father God, which was lost so long ago in the Garden.
The group of people whom Yeshua had the harshest words for were the religious. Throughout the four gospels in the New Testament, we see Yeshua clashing with the religious leaders time and again. One of the most dramatic confrontations is recorded in the book of John, chapter 8. See my previous article Yeshua and the Islamic Leaders for an in-depth analysis.
Nowhere in Yeshua's teachings do you see Him trying to establish a new "denomination" within Judaism, nor trying to create a completely new religion. Such ideas and plans were not even on His agenda. Less than 24 hours before Yeshua was murdered on the cross, He was talking to His Heavenly Father about His followers, and said,
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind — just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, so they might be one heart and mind with Us.... So they'll be as unified and together as We are — I in them and You in Me.... You've sent Me and loved them in the same way You've loved Me. (John 17:21-23)This sounds a lot more like the intimacy of relationship that Adam and Eve experienced with God in the Garden than the religious rigmarole of modern Christianity. As Yeshua stated earlier in the passage from John:
This is the real and eternal life: That they know You, the one and only true God, and I, Yeshua the Messiah, whom You sent. (John 17:3)
Religion leads to death, relationship with God leads to life. The Apostle Paul warned about this is one of his letters:
I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Yeshua will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. (2 Corinthians 11:3)Once again, we have that connection between Yeshua and the Garden. That's because Yeshua is the thread that connects all of human history. In the beginning, Yeshua created a Garden and set in its midst the Tree of Life. Humankind enjoyed intimate relationship with God. But because of disobedience and turning away from God, humankind was banished from the Garden, doomed to live under a curse.
But the Good News is that everything which was lost will one day be restored! At the end of the last book of the Bible, the promise comes:
On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse.In my last article, I expressed the wish that we could get ourselves back to the Garden. For followers of Yeshua, this wish will definitely come true!
I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God."
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then He said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
This article is 17th a series of articles on this Web site related to Modern Christianity and the Church which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
On January 15, 2015, Piotr wrote:
You named exactly what I miss in today's Church - the intimacy rather than formality, mercy rather than sacrifice ...