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LIFE IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD

There a number of indications in the Scriptures that life in the Millennial age will, in some respects, be very much like life in the Garden of Eden.  The animals will all be vegetarian  – just as they were when created:– “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.  And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.  And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den” (Is.11v6-8 – see also Is.65v25).

Men will live to great ages, as they did before the flood – compare Gen.5 with Is.65v20-23 – “as the days of a tree are the days of my people”.  Just as before the curse there were no thorns and thistles (Gen.3v18), so, in the kingdom there will be fir trees and myrtle trees instead of thorns and briers, Is.55v13.  As in the mountain which was the Garden of Eden[1]: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain (Is.11v9) – so, just as there were no carnivorous or venomous creatures “in the beginning” there will not be any in the Millennium either.  A river will flow out of the temple and the city, divide & go east and west (Eze.47v1-12, Joel 3v18, Zech.14v8).  “The mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills,” (Mic.4v1) – just as the Garden of Eden was.

 

GENESIS AND THE BOOK OF REVELATION

Nowhere is this parallelism more clearly seen than at the end of the Book of Revelation.  The language of the last two chapters of Revelation has a number of remarkable echoes from the language of the first three chapters of the book of Genesis.  Genesis 1-3 describes “the beginning” Revelation 21-22 “the end” – but the two are intimately connected.  God’s purpose, begun in the creation of the physical world reaches its fulfilment in a spiritual world which is directly related to the physical.

When Adam broke God’s commandment in Eden his action did not cause God to introduce a new plan to deal with the situation.  Jesus said: “thou lovest me before the foundation of the world” (Jn.17v24).  An examination of the other nine occurrences of the phrase “the foundation of the world” will show that this terminology refers to the creation described in Gen.1-2.  God knew the Saviour and the way of salvation before he even created the first man[2].  It is logical therefore that the purpose, begun in the creative work of the six days should find its completion in the Sabbath of rest described in the final chapters of the Bible.

 

THE NEW CREATION

Gen.1v1 and Rev.21v1 both contain the phrase “heaven(s) and earth”.  In the latter there is “no more sea” – the seas not being gathered and named by God until Gen.1v10.  In Eden, Adam and Eve “heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen.3v8); now “the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them and be their God” (Rev.21v3).

“All things” in Rev.21v5 are made new – as were all things in the original physical creation.  Light was created in Gen.1v3 before the formation of the sun, moon and stars[3].  Rev.21v23 & 22v5 state that the glory of God gives light to the city described in the previous verses.  It might be argued that these are spiritual depictions – but in Is.60v19-20 there is a description of the LORD being an everlasting light to Israel in the Millennium – which in turn echoes back to the time when he lit their path through the wilderness with a pillar of fire.

 

EDEN RESTORED

The city described from Rev.21v10 had “a wall great and high” (v.12).  I believe that the Garden of Eden was also surrounded by a wall, since once Adam had been expelled from it and the Cherubim placed at the east of the garden, there was no way in which he could get access from any other direction to the tree of life.  “The tree of life” was, of course, in the midst of the Garden of Eden (Gen.2v9), now in Rev.22v2 it has expanded into the wood of life, constantly fruitful and able to provide healing for the nations.  A river went out of Eden (Gen.2v10-14) to water the earth – it would have been a pure river (no pollution!) and would have sustained life wherever it flowed.  Now in Rev.22v1 “…a pure river of water of life [proceeded] out of the throne of God and of the Lamb”.  Again, it may be argued that this is a vision of spiritual things, but in Eze.47, Joel 3v18 & Zech.14v8 we are told of a literal river that will flow out of Jerusalem, divide (just like the river in Gen.2) and even heal the Dead Sea.  Truly Eden restored!

 

THE REMOVAL OF THE CURSE

The sin of man brought much evil into the world.  As a result of it both Eve and Adam would experience sorrow in their respective spheres of activity – Gen.3v16-17.  Death would also be the end result of their transgression – Gen.3v19.  Now in Rev.21v4 the glorious announcement is made that: “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.  Death has finally been swallowed up in victory, the earth is now populated only by immortals and the consequences of Adam’s sin are finally removed.

In Gen.3v24 God caused the cherubim to dwell (placed = shakan) at the east of the Garden.  Adam and Eve could not walk in the way of the tree of life, they could only have limited fellowship with the cherubic manifestation.  Now, in Rev.22v3 John hears a great voice …saying: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God”.  The curse of Gen.3v17 is finally removed – Rev.22v3 “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it.”

 

ACCESS TO THE TREE OF LIFE

In Gen.3v22-23 God said: “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know 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…”.  The contrasting picture is drawn in Rev.22v14 “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city”.  In Eden there was a man who had been disobedient, who had not done God’s commandment – he was debarred from entering through the gate into the garden and had no right to the tree of life.  Now here are obedient people who have kept his word and to them is granted the right to go through the gate and partake of the tree of life.  Symbolic language yes – but Oh what glories it symbolises!  Let us strive to “do his commandments” that we may be granted the right of access to the tree of life in that day.

 

Bernard Burt

[1] See the previous article in this series “Behold the man is become as one of us” – p.XXX

[2] It is not of course being suggested that Jesus had any physical existence “before the foundation of the world” – Eph.1v4 shows that, in a similar way, every saint in Christ was chosen by God “before the foundation of the world”.  “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15v18.

[3] Light before the sun should not be an issue to those who know that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 Jn.1v5).  It is however interesting to note that the latest NASA diagram of what is thought to have happened after “The Big Bang” http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/starsgalaxies/wmap_pol.html has light appearing 400 million years before the first stars!

Part 3 here… Part 3

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