The Great Plan:What is life all about?

It was like this….

There was once a powerful and influential lord who possessed a large estate.  It covered such a large area it was effectively a country in its own right.  In the west the sea waves gently lapped the soft white sand while in the eastern area of the estate a large garden had been planned.  A river flowed through the garden and watered a greater area beyond the cultivated garden itself.  In the distant forested areas many kinds of animals and birds wandered, their movements often dependent upon the seasons.  After the winter snows which capped the distant mountains and cooled the winds passing over the land, the cycle of the seasons resumed with the rebirth of new life in both flora and fauna.

The great landowner had very many interests, and being a gracious and generous man, wanted to share his domain with those who shared his ideals and appreciated the beauty of nature.  There had been others who had assisted him in implementing his plans for the estate, setting the balance of plant life and agriculture.  Animals and birds were necessary for the operation of the estate.  But once the creation of the domain was established, it no longer needed builders, but managers to ensure it would run smoothly and productively.

The landowner consulted with his planners and builders.  They knew that none of the existing earthborn creatures had the capacity to superintend the estate.  The animals who already roamed the territory were creatures of instinct.   Those appointed to superintend the garden would need to be superior to these earthly creatures, not merely governed by the instinct for survival, but with ability to think ahead and aspire to the highest goals in order for the garden to be enjoyed by others who would be born.  A decision was made.  Creatures would be formed like the wise builders themselves.  The landowner and his assistants realised that unless the new managers understood the principles upon which the estate had been created and organised and had the capacity to do the work, then the garden could easily fall into disrepair.

The great landowner made a man made from the dust of the ground in the same way as other earthborn creatures.  The man was then introduced to each of the creatures and he chose suitable names to portray the characteristics of each animal.  When all the animals had been brought before him, each with its mate, it became obvious that the man alone of all the creatures was without a partner.

The Lord then gave considerable thought to the final achievement of all creation; a suitable companion for the man. The animals lived in social groups, each with its own mate who had been independently created.   But for humans to achieve a higher purpose, it was necessary for the man and his mate to have a different relationship to the animals.   The attachment between male and female animals was chiefly for the purpose of procreation, and to this end, many couples only kept company for a given period until the young were born or sufficiently old enough to lead lives of their own.

He determined that it was necessary for woman to be made by a unique process.  Instead of being independently constructed from the same material as her companion, she was formed from a piece of his own living substance so that she could be said to “come out of man.”   Between them there was to be a life long attachment.  Sharing one flesh, they would be mutually sensitive as their living nerves were linked in some inextricable way.  Yet there was also a difference between them.   They were not two peas in one pod.  They each had marked differences in their thought patterns and responses, but which when blended, would enhance their union as a couple.  They were two facets of the same beautiful gem.  Together, they would form the basis for human society, each individual valued for unique qualities, each quite independent in thinking, but as part of the wider society, contributing to the advancement and stability of the whole realm.

“Let them have dominion over all,” decreed the landowner to his assistants, setting in place the new humans’ superior status in the garden.  Over the ensuing weeks and months, the couple settled into life together and were conducted around the garden by the holy ones.  They began training in the nurture of the garden, the pruning process, and fencing areas needed for cultivation in order that crops would not be trampled by wandering animals.  There was a lot to do.  The climate was very pleasant, and it was necessary to construct a shelter of only light materials.   The holy ones generally arrived in the evening towards the end of the day, and they would often sit down together and watch the fading light of the sun as they discussed the day’s activities and future plans.

The man and woman were happy and content.   If there were things they did not understand, they were not always aware of them.  As their daily experiences caused them to think of other possibilities, the wise ones were always willing to discuss such matters, and even make further suggestions that had not yet crossed their mind.

The arrangements of the estate were the responsibility of the new humans.  There was only one prohibition placed upon them.  They could eat of all the fruit from any tree in the garden, except one, the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  As yet, there was no evil in the garden, everything was very good.  Evil could only be introduced if the express instructions of the landowner were disobeyed.  The punishment for the infringement of the law was death.  The Lord knew his creation.  He knew that the moment negative elements of selfish individualism disturbed the harmony of the creation then problems would arise.

The man and woman accepted the law as naturally as they had eagerly accepted guidance on many matters.  It was not until the serpent approached the woman and questioned the law that Eve thought about the tree of knowledge of good and evil itself.  The serpent was wise, a speculating kind of natural born wisdom.   He was very observant, and made his judgment upon what he saw.  He questioned Eve about the consequences of disobeying the law.  He had not witnessed any death in the garden, and in fact wondered what death was.  But he had listened to conversations between the holy ones and knew that before they had achieved their present status, they had been through some experience of good and evil.

“Well,” reasoned the serpent, “you could be like the holy ones, knowing good and evil.”  Eve looked at the tree with new eyes.  Perhaps the serpent knew something she didn’t know, because after all the fruit looked quite delicious.   So she ate and persuaded her husband to share the fruit with her.  They were immediately smitten with guilt and shame, and in their new awareness, realised they were quite naked, so when they heard the footsteps of the holy ones coming to visit them at the customary time, they sought to hide.   However with their new knowledge they couldn’t look the wise ones in the eye.

The Lord seeing an uncharacteristic nervousness in the man and woman, questioned Adam first because the law had been given specifically to him.  But the serpent was not questioned because he lacked the ability to reason upon such matters.  He could only make decisions on the basis of his own limited experience.  And so judgment was made upon each sorry creature.  The death sentence was now inescapable.  A change took place in their body.  The process of dying began as the cells of their bodies commenced the aging process which would lead to inevitable death.  In each seven year cycle, every cell of the body would be replaced with a new one.  However, there was hope, for the Lord promised that there would be a way out.  In time a saviour would come from the children that the woman would bear who would counteract the effects of sin and death.

The Lord of the garden was very disappointed, but not entirely unprepared for such an eventuality.  The man and the woman would have to leave.  He could not have them discovering the most important tree of all, the tree of life, eternal life.  He made plans to guard that tree until such time as man and woman would be worthy of such a gift.   It would not do to perpetuate a race of eternal sinners!

When Eve found she was pregnant, she was overjoyed. She named the baby “Cain” (meaning acquired) because she thought he was the child of promise.  Cain however, though giving the Lord of the garden due reverence, wished to make an adjustment to the ritual of worship which the Lord had instituted.  And when the Lord chided him, he wouldn’t be persuaded.  In fact he vented his jealous rage on his younger brother, and killed him.

The two ways

This was the beginning of two ways;  those who choose to accept their Lord’s wishes and walk in his ways, or those who want to make their own way in the world, quite unmindful of the Lord of the estate upon whose beneficence they depended.  Those in the way of Cain, not content with the simple life, soon advanced into big business of various sorts.  They no longer saw fit to observe any of the creator’s principles and introduced polygamy.   The hatred which Cain had nurtured in his heart resulted in his descendants publicly boasting of their murderous intentions to avenge any slight or challenge.

As the years passed, those who walked in the ways of God were soon threatened by those of the way of Cain.  Those who felt no threat, were influenced and eventually corrupted, until the Lord observed that mankind for the most part had become completely unmindful of the principles of creation.   What could he do?  The reasoning of the heart of mankind was continually evil.  The seeming small transgression in the beginning had grown like a monster into full scale depravity, until “the earth was filled with violence.”

The Lord was grieved.  Despite the warnings of prophets Enoch and Noah, people were not only unheeding but incredulous that any punishment could interfere with their waywardness.  The Lord made the decision to end it all.   He brought a great flood upon the earth, water overflowing the earth from the depths of the turbulent sea floor, and pouring down from heavily laden skies.  There was one family worth saving; only Noah walked with God.

It took Noah and his family some years to prepare for the event by building a ship (the ark).  His knowledge of the ways of God accepted the inevitable doom of all of earth’s creatures, but his witness to his countrymen was derided.  Once the animals and the family of God’s choice had entered, the door was firmly shut and the ark was borne up by the rising waters.  It was a haven from the devastation, and also the means of preserving animals of each species found on earth.

The Lord saw that the problem was within the heart of man, those wicked imaginings that sought to satisfy personal ambition.  He would need to work patiently for a long time to bring about the redemption, the return to Eden.  It could only be achieved through personal choice, just as had been permitted in the Garden.  Only those who chose to exercise control and wisdom in their own life would have the ability to live harmoniously with the Lord’s plans.

Some hundred years after Noah, a powerful man arose called Nimrod, who attempted to impose his autocratic rule upon the earth.  His empire reached its height when the people under his direction began to build a great tower.  They refused to accept the promise that the Lord would never again flood the earth, and challenged heaven with their proud claim to self determination.   “United we stand,” they said. “But divided they fall,” thought the Lord in grim response and scattered them by confusing language.

One called out

The Lord recognised that the time needed for the development of humans would be a protracted matter.  The whole of humankind was as yet in a kind of childhood where they needed certain routines and restraints until they grew to a mature discernment.  Signs of developing maturity were taking longer than the Lord hoped.   He decided that instead of working with communities at this point, he would choose one individual who had already demonstrated the capacity to appreciate a higher purpose.   He chose a man called Abraham who lived in a great but idolatrous city.  “For I know him that he will command his children and his household after him and they shall keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment.”   This man was already thinking expansively about his purpose in life.  The Lord spoke to him.  Abraham’s response would soon demonstrate if he was the sort of man the Lord was looking for.  Abraham agreed to go.  It was no light decision, for he would leave the comforts of the city and adopt nomadic life, not even clear concerning his final destination.

When Abraham finally reached the land which he was promised, realising that possession was for a future life rather than for the present, he never made his home in any of the Canaanite cities, but lived in tents as a pilgrim.   Pilgrimage became the hallmark of his long life.  During the years in the promised land he worked through all the doubts and difficulties which confronted him, never wavering in his implicit trust in what the Lord had promised.  His insight was so outstanding that his descendant, the son of the Lord of all the earth, would say of him “Abraham saw my day and was glad.”

The people who descended from Abraham were in due course constituted as the nation of Israel with a code of law and religion.  The law featured remarkable aspects which have only been understood and appreciated in the last two centuries.  There were laws for health, safety, social welfare and family stability, along with land and finance laws to ensure none were dispossessed.  Laws were also formulated to honour God in worship who, as Lord of creation, ultimately cared for all those who lived by his eternal precepts.

As the nation grew, a Kingdom was inaugurated which centralised government and assisted the political advancement of the nation.   Trade and interchange with other countries resulted in people near and far coming to visit Israel and hearing the Lord’s wisdom from the King himself.  It was an age of affluence, glory and advancement.   But the life of ease and prosperity does not generally advance spiritual life.   The people of God and their leaders, instead of being grateful for their blessed situation, became complacent and began to look about them with covetous eyes to see what others were doing.  This led to following the way of the world, the ancient self-serving way of Cain.

The Lord looked down and observed all.  They were like wayward children who would not respond to the direction of the wise parent, or listen to his counsel.  Still willing to work patiently with his people, he sent messengers and prophets to warn them and encourage them to hold to the eternal vision.  Finally, as a last endeavour, he sent his son.   Surely, he thought, they will honour my son, the heir of all that I possess.  But they took him and slew him.

The mission of Jesus Christ was intended to exhibit all that God was, for the son is the model of his father.  “Look at my boy, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight.  I have put my spirit upon him.  Those who are discouraged and oppressed he will not crush, and he will fan a smouldering ember into life once more.  He will execute true justice, for I, his father, have called him in righteousness.  I will hold his hand, keep him and give him for a covenant of the people and a light to all nations.”  As Jesus walked among his people, they observed his graciousness, his gentle but strong resolve, his penetrating judgment, his compassion and selflessness.   The will of God, the ultimate purpose of the whole of creation, was more important that the advancement of any personal motive, for his ambitions were entwined with God’s purpose.  Nothing was too much for him to give to achieve the highest good, not even life itself.

In this body the way of God and the way of man met, but they could not live together.  As his lifeless form was exhibited on the stake for all to see, it told the story of the inevitable end of human life, that in the final analysis, the most vibrant life is reduced to a dead body that will return to the substance from which it was made – dust.

But this chosen one who so completely honoured his father, the Lord of all the earth, could not be held in the thrall of death for very long.  His sinless life had reversed the human predisposition to being dominated by sin.  The Lord raised his son from the dead.  Jesus’ matchless life and submission to death made possible the access to the tree of life.  Jesus died so that you could have a future life.

The great landowner did not intend that humans would have such a short existence with an ignominious end.  He wanted better things for those he hoped would be his companions.  The King had come and the King had gone, but only for a time.  The Lord’s grand scheme simply went on hold for a while.  The King, the Lord Jesus, had endeavoured to instil God’s way into the heart and mind of each person who sought to learn of him.  Not the way of God as legislated in the Law of Israel, but an appreciation of what the law was all about, a thankfulness that all had been provided for rightful use.

The invitation

In the absence of the King, the Kingdom of God is in recess, while the invitation goes out to all people who wish to share in the new social order.   The landowner determined that as part of the training, those who wished to enter his service would promote his cause by telling others about the glad news – blessings upon all those who wish to enter the royal service.

Meantime, there is a patient waiting, for life is lived in hope for the grand tomorrow.  The allegiance to the King permits no-one to be committed to any passing matter; there is no room for serving another master.   Instead, one’s time is occupied by honest employment, family involvement, keeping in the company of those who will best assist him, regularly reading his Lord’s instructions and showing to all about him, the grace of God in a caring manner.   Despite the growing despair and anxiety around him in a world of suffering, he will be like a light shining in the midst of the darkness of uncertainty.

And when he stumbles, as he will, he will have the support of others and the wise direction of the King through the means of the unseen holy ones.  At times, circumstances will come upon the disciple and problems arise that will make him wonder, yet in the end all will be understood as part of the shaping of character in training for the greater role for which he is being prepared.  This is because everything is for an ultimate purpose.  The difficulties of the present are trifling compared with the glorious future all are called to.  We will be led into the right path, for “we must through much pressure enter into the kingdom of God.”

Though death may claim the disciple, his declining years will be marked by wisdom and implicit faith.  Death will be seen to be but a moment, for the resurrection morn will see him arise to receive a body that cannot weary.

Then the landowner will enthrone his own son, the King in Jerusalem.  He will judge the people of all nations and administer his laws in the reconstituted Kingdom of God.  Those who have sought the right ways, despite their own personal failings, will be welcomed to enter the eternal service of the King and assist in rebuilding a depleted earth into paradise once more.  But those who have not kept the terms of the lease, nor acknowledged any indebtedness to the landowner will be issued with eviction notices.   “For evil doers shall be cut off but those that wait upon the Lord shall inherit the earth.”[1]

Meantime, the Lord invites you, “Come my people, be separate from depravity and sin and aimlessness… and I will receive you and be a Father unto you and you shall be my sons and daughters,”[2] my family – for eternity.

Beulah Edwards

Enquiries and further copies available from:

(Mrs) B C Edwards

[1] Psalm 37:9 The Bible

[2] 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18 paraphrase

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