Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Fall

Before God Created earth, He had Created Heaven, His Home, where He is Lord over all the angels and creatures there. We have seen in the beginning, how earth, as Created by God, was patterned after Heaven. Unfortunately, something went wrong somewhere, because the world is a mess today and Jesus needed to be sent to re commission mankind and the earth.

“Now the serpent was craftier than all the creatures the Lord God had made. Going to the woman, he asked...” This is not just any normal serpent or snake; who or what it is we shall discuss in the next few moments. In Heaven, angels were arranged in hierarchical order, with positions assigned based on that hierarchy. Somewhere in this picture was the angel commonly referred to as Lucifer; whether this was his angelic name or not is not the topic of our discussion today. Ezekiel 28 depicts his former position of authority in Heaven and his demise (though addressed to a human king, we can determine, by observing the phrases being used, that it also refers to the spiritual ruler of which the earthly ruler is only a type[1]). Verse 15 says, “you were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you...So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God and expelled you, O guardian cherub from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendour. So I threw you to the earth...”

The devil, like man, was created blameless and without sin, but somewhere along the way, “wickedness” was found in him, and his wisdom was “corrupted”. But how is it that a Perfect God could seemingly create something contrary to His Will? The truth is I don’t know the exact answer to this question and I will not pretend as if I do. With that in mind, I’ll only attempt to paint an adequate picture, based on what the Bible teaches. (We shall come back to study the devil in more detail at a later date).

The Bible teaches that God is Omniscient, and knows the beginning from the end. He even says of Himself “I am the Beginning and the End”. So, with this in mind, we can confidently infer that God knew what Satan would eventually do, even before creating him. We also know, from the Bible, that God does not just create robots; His creations all have a soul or mind, which is the ability to process information, or reason (in this case, the information is the Will of God, i.e. His Plan for His creation). Despite being Perfect and all knowing, God still went along with His Plan for creation; this Plan was to model it after His own Nature and Image. Built into this creation, was the ability to communicate with God and receive information from Him, referred to as the spirit of man. If we are to liken this unto a computer system, God is the User, the input devices represent the spirit receiving data from the User, the processor is the mind, where data is translated into information, and the body is the output device, through which an action is carried out based on the information. However, unlike a machine, the mind has the ability to choose how to act upon the processed data, whether in the way the User intended, or not. Thus, the phrase “life is a series of choices” is definitely true. The devil also had this ability, but chose not to act as God, the User, intended.

The Bible also teaches that God is Love. This Love is who He is, i.e. His Nature, therefore, everything He did or created was born out of that Nature of Love. Man, as God created him, was designed to make decisions based on the information received from God via the spirit (from His Spirit, reflecting His Nature i.e. in His Image and Plan). Now however, the human mind is influenced by the data received through the body and makes decisions without the third party. We, by logic, reason with our minds that since God must have known how the devil would eventually turn out, He should not have created him in the first place. God however, reasons through His Spirit in accordance with His Nature of Love. It was out of this Love that He created everything He ever did, including the devil. Granted, He created satan knowing the consequences, but did He leave it at that? No! He made provision for His own Son to be sent back to Restore that which would be lost to the devil. In view of all this, we know that God, out of Love, created His creation in His Image, they being in His Image were also created with a mind and a will, and the ability to process information whether for good or bad (i.e. according to His Plan or not); He did not want robots to serve Him, but those who would do so of their own accord. They could choose to maintain communication with God through their spirits, but they could also choose with their minds, having processed the Will of God, to function against the Plan of God. The devil did not create his own plan, all he did was to corrupt the plan of God in his mind, i.e. bend the truth or miss the mark. His pride led to his downfall.
After attempting an unsuccessful coup d’├ętat in Heaven, the devil was stripped of his former position as guardian cherub and thrust away from the Presence of God. Those angels who took part with him in the rebellion were also stripped of their positions, however, at certain times, God may permit satan or other spirits to enter His Presence temporarily (see Job 1:6, 1 Kings 22:19). He still maintains some of his “wisdom” and “beauty”, because God has chosen not to take those away from him for the time being, the only difference is that they are no longer pure, but corrupted, because rather than use those gifts according to the Master Plan, i.e. the Will of God, he uses them to satisfy his own will or plan, which is to become a god. This is where our story of the serpent picks up from. We know this is the devil because in Revelation, he (devil) is referred to as “that ancient serpent”.

Satan now uses this corrupted beauty and wisdom to use humanity for his own purposes, to take the earth for himself, having failed to take Heaven. When God had created Adam and Eve, he placed them in the Garden of Eden, to look after it. This garden was a paradise, and the Plan was to turn the whole earth into this paradise. In the centre of the garden, God planted two trees: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God gave man a simple instruction, “Eat of any tree in the garden, but do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because on the very day you do, you will surely die”. Nonetheless, because of His desire to have those who would truthfully Worship Him for no reason other than their Love for Him (see John 4:23), God does not force man to comply, but leaves the tree within the reach of Adam and Eve.

Satan is not called a crafty serpent for no reason, as we see just how easily he is able to corrupt man with a simple question. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Did God really say? ... This perversion of the truth is all the devil needs; it is no wonder Paul says “do not give the devil a foothold”. Now he has sown a seed of doubt in Eve that cannot easily be uprooted from her mind. What is Eve’s reply: “Um, no that’s not exactly true, what He said was that we could eat from any tree except that one in the middle because if we eat it we will die” Good effort, but unfortunately the devil has succeeded in his primary objective; he has watered that thought and caused the woman to focus on the tree. As a result, she is the one who brings up the the tree although he is the one who planted the thought in her mind. Just entertaining the wrong thought for a second too long can end up placing you in an unstoppable cycle of calamity that you yourself and unsure how you got into. Having succeeded in his first objective, the snake moves in for the kill; “You will not surely die...” phew that’s a relief! The only problem is that it is another lie, though an entertaining one. “In fact, now that you’ve mentioned it, the fruit does look pleasing to the eye and is desirable for gaining wisdom”. As a result, that which was once a distant, if not nonexistent thought, has now become so captivating a thought; all it took was a simple, but deadly question. Crafty indeed! Now, rather than relying on the Instruction of God given to her spirit, the woman finds her mind being dominated by this one perverted thought, it has held her captive (made a stronghold in the mind).

As you’d expect, she reaches out, plucks the fruit, licks her lips (now being controlled by her thoughts (whose seeds are corrupt) rather than her spirit) and takes a bite. “Wow, tastes great, and I’m still alive! I have to share this with my husband”. We are not told how she convinced him to eat it, but no doubt, he also became a captive of the wrong thoughts. But wait, didn’t God say they would die? The truth is they did die. When God formed man, he remained lifeless until God “breathed” into his nostrils the “breath of Life”. The word here used for “breath” also means “spirit”. So in essence, what this is saying is that God put his Spirit into man; remember that it is through the “Spirit” that man communicates with God and is made aware of His Master Plan. As long as man remains connected to God through his spirit, the Will of God for the earth, to be modelled after Heaven, can be carried out through man. It is in this “Light” that we see “Light” (remember Psalm 36:9 from previous post). John 1 says “in Him (Jesus) was Life and the Life was the Light of men”; so this Light is connected to life, because the very reason why we were given life was to see this Light and Radiate it, i.e. carry out the Master Plan. So, now man has “died” because he no longer operates under the control of this “spirit”, for God’s Will, but through [the stronghold in] his mind, for the devil’s will (unbeknownst to man, who thinks the idea came from him, whereas the seed was planted by the devil). There is now an ever worsening disconnect between man and God, through the alienation of the “Spirit” or "Breath" of God, hence why man is said to have “died”.

Just like any other lie, which is soothing to the ears, like a high from a drug which eventually wears off, man’s eyes finally become “open” to their disconnect from God. Adam and Eve are now in a panicked state; where there would once have been the voice of the Spirit to relay to them the Will of God, there is now a huge void with no voice or instruction for this dire situation; as a result, a feeling of shame comes over them as they become aware of their “nakedness”, which was previously covered by the glory or Light of God in them, which radiated through them. Man in his fallen state now looks for ways to recreate that glory and hide his nakedness. That which God would previously have clothed by His Spirit of Light is now being clothed with much more inferior leaves of trees. This is also symbolic of the leaf (man) being disconnected from the Source (God), and unable on its own to sustain itself. We can see this throughout history and more so today; all the technological advancements, the ways in which light and the sun can be harnessed and used, the creation of massive buildings and structures, even the clothes on our backs, the philosophical and intellectual concepts of old and new, are all an attempt by man to recreate the “glory” not for the common good, but for selfish ambition (WMDs, expensiveness of solar energy, etc).

God decides to take a walk in the garden and Adam and Eve hear him and hide themselves. That one seed has now blossomed to the extent that it now bears fruit of guilt and fear. They have now become aware, not only of their nakedness but of their disobedience to God’s instruction. God is aware of this and calls out, “Where are you?” This is a rhetorical question which God intends man to ask himself, meaning “You have been cut off from Me, but where are you heading now?” Rather than run back to God, who is Love, and confess their error in the hope that He will forgive them and once again clothe them with His Light, they run away from Him out of fear; the spirit is no longer there to draw them to God, so they can only rely on their corrupted mind, which tells them God will be displeased and will no longer show His Love towards them. They forget that God is Love and is Unchanging. The lie has blinded their eyes from the truth.

Of course, God knows what they have done, and questions their motives: “Who told you that you were naked?”, who corrupted your mind, and in so doing caused you to disconnect from my Spirit of Light, which clothes you? Here is where the blame game starts; the answer God was looking for was "It's my own fault" (see 1 John 1:9 & 10). You may say that it is all the devil’s fault, so God is unjust to think to punish man; the former is partly true, because it was the serpent who planted the seed in the woman’s mind, but it was the woman who chose, knowing full well God’s stance on the matter, to entertain that thought. After the devil fed her another lie, she could very easily have sought the counsel of her spirit to see whether this information agreed with the Perfect Plan of God, but she chose to listen to the truth her mind had corrupted. Adam also did the same thing, and in so doing sinned against God. Basically, Adam blames both his wife and God (“the woman You put here with me – she gave me...”), yes but you’re forgetting that you had the choice to reject it; because you had your mind set on taking it, you are to blame. Eve follows suit and blames the serpent, but God, knowing the already corrupted nature of this serpent, does not even bother to ask him anything. Even now, if they had both admitted their mistake, that they were both at fault, God may have chosen to forgive them; but instead, they are cursed. The serpent is cursed above all the livestock, which he probably expected, but isn’t really bothered about, because he has succeeded in his objective; man is stripped of his authority and will continue to be held captive by the seed of thought which the devil has planted. This seed will go on to blossom into corrupted, evil thoughts, which will be translated into actions which are contrary to the Will of God for the earth, but in agreement with the devil’s own will. If this didn’t bother him, the next curse surely did, “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.” How is this supposed to bother the devil? We shall come back to that soon.

To the woman, God increases her pains in childbirth and makes her subject to her husband. Through Adam, the ground is cursed, such that it can no longer become like the paradise of Eden, but must be laboriously worked before it can produce anything useful for mankind. Furthermore, in addition to the “death” Adam has experienced, i.e. disconnect from God’s “Spirit”, his mortal body will also eventually die because it was the “breath” that gave “life” man’s body. Now his body will return to the ground and his carbon cells reused. Unfortunately, these curses have continued to follow mankind all throughout history, but there is still Hope. 

Back to the second curse on the serpent; the woman’s “Offspring” is to crush the head of the devil, while having His heel struck in the process. This foretold the work of Christ upon the cross, where He struck a deadly blow to the devils head, while He Himself was “struck” through His death for the sin that Adam had committed. However, it would still be a long time before Christ would appear, so something needed to be done in the meantime to cover up man’s nakedness.

Though God cursed man’s He did not abandon him altogether. Out of His Nature of Love, God made new garments of skin to clothe Adam and Eve. These garments are symbolic of the “Law” or “Old Covenant” given by God through Moses in the desert, which we shall discuss in a later blog entry. These garments had a longer shelf life than the tree leaves, but would still eventually wear out through constant use, and so were symbolically only a temporary measure that had to be repeated (cf the continuous sacrificial system of the Old Covenant ( see Hebrews 10:1-18)). Adam and his wife were evicted from the paradise that was Eden, where the Tree of Life also lay, which man could not now eat from until further notice.

We have now seen how man was manipulated into handing over the authority he was given by God to the devil. All it took was a simple, subtle, but lethal question to plant the wrong seed of thought in Eve’s mind. This seed will continue to grow in the mind of man, and worsen the divide between man and the Spirit, causing man to continue to deviate from the Master Plan. However, even in the midst of this seeming hopelessness, there is still some Hope to be found in the anticipation of the fulfilment of the final curse upon Satan, which is also a Blessing in disguise on man. In the meantime, to ensure that man is not completely cut off from God, a temporary measure is put in place until the prophecy finds Fulfilment in Christ Jesus. It is this temporary measure that we shall look at in the entries to come.

[1]A principle referred to as the principle of double reference. It has also been used to compare Israel to Christ (Hosea 11:1), and Peter and Satan (Matthew 16:23)

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