Paradise Prospects Valid Despite Human Disobedience
1. With the passing of time, where are the first man and woman to be seen and in what surroundings?
TIME has passed. The first man and woman are no longer innocently naked. They are clothed—with long garments of animal skin. They are just outside the entrance to the perfect garden of Eden. Their backs are to the garden. They look at the scene ahead of them. They see only uncultivated ground. Quite plainly it does not have God’s blessing upon it. Before them can be seen thorns and thistles. Is this not the earth that they were commissioned to subdue? Yes, but the first man and woman are not now out there for the purpose of extending the garden of Eden over such unattended land.
2. Why do not the man and the woman try to reenter the Paradise garden?
2 At such a contrasting sight, why do they not turn back and reenter the Paradise garden? Easily suggested, but look at what is behind them at the entrance to the garden. Creatures whom they had never seen before, even inside the garden, cherubs, and the flaming blade of a sword that is turning itself continually. The man and the woman could never get past these alive into the garden!—Genesis 3:24.
3. What had happened to change the first couple’s circumstances so drastically?
3 What had happened? It is no mystery so complicated as to baffle science for thousands of years. It is simply explained. The first man and woman were to realize the wonderful prospects that God’s commission set before them on their marriage day but on the condition that they obey their heavenly Father in the smallest matter. Their perfect obedience was to be tested by a single food prohibition: They must not eat the fruit of “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.” (Genesis 2:16, 17) If they did so against God’s orders, they would positively die. That was what Adam, as God’s prophet, told his wife, the younger human creature. But surprisingly, that na·chashʹ, that serpent, denied the truthfulness of what God had told Adam in His warning against eating from the forbidden “tree of the knowledge of good and bad.” The serpent deceived the woman into believing that to break God’s law and eat the forbidden fruit would result in her becoming like God and make her independent of God in determining what is good and what is bad.—Genesis 3:1-5.
No Mythological Account
4, 5. How does the apostle Paul show that the account of the serpent’s deceiving the first woman was no myth?
4 Incredible? Does it sound too much like a myth, a legendary story not based on facts and hence not acceptable to modern enlightened adult minds? No, not to a still widely read writer, a trustworthy writer, a specially chosen apostle, who knew the correctness of what he wrote. To the congregation of adult Christians in the worldly-wise city of Corinth, this apostle Paul wrote: “I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent seduced Eve by its cunning, your minds might be corrupted away from the sincerity and the chastity that are due the Christ.”—2 Corinthians 11:3.
5 Paul would hardly refer to a myth, a fable, and use such an imaginary thing to make his point with those Corinthians, who were well acquainted with the myths of the pagan Greek religion. Quoting from the inspired Hebrew Scriptures, which he declared to be “the word of God,” the apostle Paul affirmed that “the serpent seduced Eve by its cunning.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13) Furthermore, when writing to a Christian overseer who was charged with the duty of teaching “the pattern of healthful words,” the apostle Paul said: “Adam was formed first, then Eve. Also, Adam was not deceived, but the woman was thoroughly deceived and came to be in transgression.”—2 Timothy 1:13; 1 Timothy 2:13, 14.
6. (a) How did Adam’s transgression against God differ from that of the woman? (b) Why can we be certain that the woman was not making up a story about the serpent?
6 The woman’s being deceived by the serpent is a fact, not a myth, just as surely as the consequences of her disobediently eating from the forbidden fruit are hard facts of history. After thus coming into transgression against God, she induced her husband to share with her in eating, but his eating was not because he too was thoroughly deceived. (Genesis 3:6) The narrative of their afterward rendering an account to God says: “And the man went on to say: ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree and so I ate.’ With that Jehovah God said to the woman: ‘What is this you have done?’ To this the woman replied: ‘The serpent—it deceived me and so I ate.’” (Genesis 3:12, 13) The woman was not making up a story about that na·chashʹ, that serpent, and Jehovah God did not treat her explanation as a fabrication, a myth. He dealt with that serpent as having been an instrument in the deceiving of the woman into transgressing against Him, her God and Creator. It would be beneath God’s dignity to deal with a mere mythological serpent.
7. (a) How does the Bible account describe God’s judicial dealing with the serpent? (b) How could the serpent who deceived the first woman also deceive us? (Include comment on footnote.)
7 Describing God’s judicial dealing with that serpent in the garden of Eden, the account says: “And Jehovah God proceeded to say to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this thing, you are the cursed one out of all the domestic animals and out of all the wild beasts of the field. Upon your belly you will go and dust is what you will eat all the days of your life. And I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.’” (Genesis 3:14, 15) Any sober court deals with facts and sifts real evidence, not legends. Jehovah God was not making himself foolish, silly, by directing his judicial sentence to a mythical serpent but was passing judgment upon a factual, existing creature that was accountable. It would be, not laughable, but pathetic if that same serpent deceived us into thinking that he never existed, that he was a mere myth, that he was not accountable for anything wrong on earth.*
8. What judgment did God pass on the woman, and with what consequences to her daughters and granddaughters?
8 Treating the woman’s statement that involved the serpent as being a fact, the record concerning the man’s wife says: “To the woman he said: ‘I shall greatly increase the pain of your pregnancy; in birth pangs you will bring forth children, and your craving will be for your husband, and he will dominate you.’” (Genesis 3:16) Nothing like this had been included in God’s blessing at her marriage to Adam when God said to them: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) That blessed commission to the perfect human couple indicated much pregnancy for the woman but no undue travail and extreme birth pains and no husbandly oppression of her. This judgment pronounced upon the transgressor woman was to affect her daughters and granddaughters for generation after generation.
God’s Law Magnified by Sentence Against Adam
9, 10. (a) What warning had God directly given Adam, and what would be the consequences if God held to such a penalty? (b) What judgment did God render against Adam?
9 What changed circumstances, though, was the woman to share with the man whom she had induced to join her in transgression? To this man, God had directly said: “As for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.” (Genesis 2:17) Would God, the Judge, hold to a sentence of such finality for Adam’s merely eating of a piece of fruit? Think of what the execution of such a penalty would mean! It would of itself destroy that soul-stirring prospect that Adam and Eve had entertained on their marriage day, the prospect of filling the whole earth with their offspring, with a perfect human race peaceably inhabiting a paradise earth forever in eternal youth, in peaceful relations with their God and heavenly Father! Surely, God would not defeat his own marvelous purpose for mankind and for man’s earthly home by strictly enforcing the penalty of death upon the first human parents of all mankind! But listen to the divine decree as plainly recorded in the Bible account:
10 “And to Adam he said: ‘Because you listened to your wife’s voice and took to eating from the tree concerning which I gave you this command, “You must not eat from it,” cursed is the ground on your account. In pain you will eat its produce all the days of your life. And thorns and thistles it will grow for you, and you must eat the vegetation of the field. In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.’”—Genesis 3:17-19.
11. What facts regarding obedience illustrate the deservedness of God’s judgment against Adam?
11 That judgment meant the execution of the death penalty upon the man regardless of the consequences to God’s purpose to have a paradise earth filled with perfect men and women lovingly and peacefully dwelling together and forever cultivating and caring for the earth-wide Paradise garden. The man had listened to his wife’s voice instead of to God’s voice that told him not to eat from the forbidden “tree of the knowledge of good and bad.” And if he did not himself obey the voice of his God and Creator, would he consistently teach his children to do so? Would his own example be a talking point in teaching them to obey Jehovah God?—Compare 1 Samuel 15:22.
12, 13. (a) How would Adam’s sin affect his children? (b) Why did Adam not deserve to live forever in Paradise or even on the earth at all?
12 Would Adam’s children be able to keep God’s law perfectly, as he himself in his human perfection had once been able to do? By the operation of the laws of heredity, would he not transmit to his children his weakness and tendency to disobey God’s voice and listen to some other voice? Factual history supplies the answers to these questions.—Romans 5:12.
13 Did such a man who, just for the sake of a human creature, turned from perfect obedience to God in expression of perfect love for God deserve to live forever in Paradise or even on earth at all? Would it even be safe to let him live on earth forever? Would his being allowed to live forever on earth in his transgression magnify God’s law and display His absolute justice, or would it teach disrespect for God’s law and imply that God’s word was unreliable?
Driven Out From the Garden of Eden
14. How does the Bible record describe God’s taking action against Adam and his wife?
14 The Bible record tells us in what way God decided these matters: “And Jehovah God proceeded to make long garments of skin for Adam and for his wife and to clothe them. And Jehovah God went on to say: ‘Here the man has become like one of us in knowing good and bad, and now in order that he may not put his hand out and actually take fruit also from the tree of life and eat and live to time indefinite,—’ With that Jehovah God put him out of the garden of Eden to cultivate the ground from which he had been taken. And so he drove the man out and posted at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubs and the flaming blade of a sword that was turning itself continually to guard the way to the tree of life.”—Genesis 3:21-24.
15. (a) How did God show consideration for the feeling of shame that Adam and his wife felt at being naked? (b) How was the first couple driven out of the garden of Eden? (c) What changed circumstances faced Adam and his wife outside the garden of Eden?
15 The divine Judge showed consideration for the feeling of shame that the sinners Adam and his wife now felt at being naked. In some way not stated, he provided for them long garments of skin to replace the loin coverings of fig leaves sewed together that they had made for themselves. (Genesis 3:7) The skin garments would last longer and give them more protection against the thorns and the thistles and other hurtful things outside the garden of Eden. Because of having a bad conscience after sinning, they had tried to hide from God’s vision among the trees of the garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:8) Now, after being sentenced, they experienced some form of divine pressure in being driven out of the garden by God. They were driven eastward, and shortly they found themselves outside the garden, forever banned from it. They would no longer be working to enlarge that garden and spread its Paradise conditions to the ends of the earth. From now on, they would eat bread made from the vegetation of the field, but it would not sustain them everlastingly in human life. They were cut off from “the tree of life.” After some time—how long?—they must die!
Jehovah’s Original Purpose Undefeatable
16. What had God not purposed to do, and why?
16 Did God now decide to destroy the earth, along with the moon and the sun and the stars, in a universal conflagration because these two creatures of the dust had sinned against him? If he were to do such a thing, would this not mean that he had been defeated in his glorious purpose, all because of what a na·chashʹ had started? Could a mere serpent break up all of God’s purpose? He had set forth his purpose to Adam and Eve on their marriage day when he blessed them and told them what his will was for them: the filling of the whole earth with a perfect human race, with all the earth subdued to the perfection of the garden of Eden, and with all mankind peacefully having in subjection all the lower creature life on earth and in its waters. A dazzling vision of God’s purpose accomplished, the preparations for which he had made by six creative days of work over thousands of years of time! Was this praiseworthy purpose now to be left unrealized simply because of a serpent and the perversity of the first human couple? Hardly!—Compare Isaiah 46:9-11.
17. What had God determined to do with regard to the seventh day, and so how will this day end up?
17 It was still the rest day, the seventh day, of Jehovah God. He had determined to bless that day and had made it holy. He would let nothing make it a cursed day, and any curse that would be schemed by anyone to fall upon that day of his rest he would counteract and turn into a blessing, making the day end up blessed. It would leave the entire earth as a holy place, with God’s will being done down here on earth as it is done in heaven, and this by a race of perfect humans.—Compare Matthew 6:10.
18, 19. (a) Why can suffering descendants of the sinful first human pair cheer up? (b) What will further columns of The Watchtower discuss?
18 God felt no frustration. He did not abandon his purpose. He determined to vindicate himself as the fully reliable One who both purposes and carries out fully what he purposes, with all due credit to himself. (Isaiah 45:18) The imperfect, suffering descendants of the sinful first human pair can cheer up and look forward to God’s faithful carrying out of his original purpose with everlasting benefit to them. Already, millenniums of his rest day have passed, and the final part of the day that will have his special blessing must be near. The “evening” of his rest day is passing, and as in all the preceding six creative days, the “morning” must come. When this “morning” reaches its perfection and makes fully visible to all beholders the glorious accomplishment of God’s unchangeable purpose, it will be possible to put on record: ‘And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, a seventh day.’ An amazing prospect indeed!
19 All of this is spine-tingling to think about! And in further columns of The Watchtower, more will be said about the entrancing Paradise prospects ahead for obedient humans, lovers of God’s law.
What Would You Say?
□ Why did the first human couple lose their Paradise home?
□ Why do we know that Eve’s deception by means of a serpent was no myth?
□ What sentence did God pronounce upon the woman?
□ What sentence did God pronounce upon Adam, and why did this magnify God’s law?
□ Why did God feel no frustration regarding his purpose to have the earth filled with perfect humans in Paradise?