Summary: Our first parents were place in Paradise and through wilful disobedience it turned to Paradise Lost bringing discord and death but God in Christ made possible Paradise Regained by redemption.
PARADISE - LOST AND REGAINED
The Internet has been both a boon and a blight. On 11 May 2000 a lady found a new e-mail message on her computer, which simply said, "I love you". It looked innocent enough, perhaps even romantic. Like most of us would, she clicked to open the message, and the so-called "Love Bug" was born. With lightning speed it raced around the world, bringing politics and business to a halt. It was a deadly computer virus that caused millions of computer software programmes to crash. One virus, but so much contamination. But it’s not the first time that a single virus has caused so much grief to mankind. In fact, it’s a kind of replay of a deadlier virus that hit Planet Earth more than six thousand years ago polluting the first human couple, Adam and Eve. Despite God’s warning not to click on to Satan’s message, they did so with appalling consequences for them, and through them to all mankind. That virus is called "Sin".
Scripture clearly intends us to accept that they were the founders of the race of human beings that God created in his own image. The genealogies in the Gospels trace the human race back to Adam. Jesus himself taught that "at the beginning the Creator made them male and female" (Matt 19:4). The apostle Paul told the Athenian philosophers that God made every nation "from one man" (Acts 17:26). The several billions of human beings now living on Earth share the same anatomy and genes, all pointing to a common ancestor. It’s what Adam did in rebelling against his Creator and what God did in response that has shaped the course of history, and that affects each one of us. It’s impossible to understand the chaotic state of the world and it’s tragic condition unless we understand how mankind moved from Paradise to Paradise Lost.
Planet Earth is God’s creation and he made it a perfect world. The whole story of the human race can be summed up in terms of what has happened because of Adam and what has happened and will yet happen because of Christ. God created Adam in his own image as a perfect man as the zenith of his creation. Adam, together with Eve, was placed in a wonderful estate somewhere in the Middle East, in all likelihood, near the Persian Gulf. It was named "the Garden of Eden". It was a perfect environment, in fact Paradise. And what a wonderful life it was for the first couple! They didn’t have to earn their food by the sweat of the brow - just to pick the fruit! God had placed them in a beautiful garden. Adam was the park keeper, the estate manager.
It was all sheer enjoyment. There was no evil, no cause for unhappiness at all. It was a place where God talks with man. The highpoint of the day was when God would come to meet Adam "in the cool of the evening" and have fellowship with him. God had made man in order that he might have this companionship. Man would also benefit for being made in God’s likeness he needed communion with his Maker. It’s been said that man has a "God-shaped gap" in his make-up. It was a state of perfection - a state of innocence - a state of perfect bliss.
At the centre of the Garden were two trees - the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil. These were to be crucial in the relationship between God and man. The trees were God’s reserved territory, standing as a symbol of God’s supremacy over his creation. The "knowledge" Tree represented "deciding for oneself what is right" - "doing your own thing" without God. It’s the morality of humanism where "anything is right" if it suits you.
It’s seen in the pollution of the Earth’s precious environment in the cause of greed. It’s the scientist who tampers with creation in experimenting with the human embryo and the wanton killing of the unborn for social reasons. It was at this point that the freedom of human life is limited by one prohibition. Adam and Eve were told quite clearly that the trees were "out of bounds". The trees were not to be touched. God had established a moral boundary in the divine command "You shall not eat".
God has set moral boundaries for our good. And if we over-step those boundaries, the word comes to us as it came to Adam and Eve, "In the day that you eat of it you shall die." The prohibition not to eat of the Tree wasn’t a harsh restriction, but rather given for the good of our first parents. Freedom without bounds can all too quickly become destructive. That’s why we tell children not to play with matches! True liberty is only found within bounds. If you have a goldfish in a bowl and somehow it gets "liberated" from its water, it won’t survive long in its new-found freedom! Adam and Eve were told that their continued life of bliss depended on obedience to the word of God.