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Great Expectations

Great Expectations
By: Pete Garcia

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” (Genesis 3:6-7)

In the beginning, God created everything. Inside of the concept of “everything”, He made man in His image, which differentiated him (Adam) from every other living creature. He then made woman out of man, who was to be a helpmate to man. He created them perfect, and placed them in a perfect environment and communed with them daily on a personal level.

Inside of this perfect environment known as the Garden of Eden, He placed one tree, and forbade Adam and Eve from eating of it. He did so because in order for love to exist, there must also be choice. The choice is either to love and obey, or not love and disobey. We are all familiar with the story, and are still suffering the consequences of that decision many thousands of years later. But an even greater demonstration of God’s love continued to unfold.

Having succumbed to temptation and eaten of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve realized their nakedness. It is believed by some, that prior to eating the fruit, they were covered in a ‘shekinah’ glory…or a shimmer that clothed them in light. Upon disobeying God by eating of the fruit, the ‘shekinah’ was gone, and now they only saw themselves clothed in flesh, and the finality of their mortality set upon them.

Before they sinned, they had been created perfect, yet untested…meaning they could still sin at some future point if they gave into temptation. The Bible does not specify how long they existed in that state of innocence prior to that first sin, but it does state that the very moment they had partaken of said fruit; their eyes were opened, knowing both good and evil. Although they didn’t die that second, they began to start dying in that moment, having lost their immortality.

Paul affirms both Isaiah and Hosea’s testimony in his paraphrase in 1 Corinthians 15:56-57 that;

“the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NKJV)

The penalty or sting of sin is death. But if the Bible meant a literal, physical death, we would all have died the moment we first sinned, none of us making it past our early teen years. In fact, the human race would have long ago been extinct if that were the case.

What is being described here is a spiritual death. Since humans are hybrids (half animal [flesh] and half divine), what dies in us is the divine connection we had with God. I believe this is why children go to heaven when they die, because like Adam and Eve, they are innocent until some future point when they understand fully between right and wrong.

But Paul reiterates this concept again in his own confessional in Romans 7:

“But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.”

Adam and Eve’s sin immediately changed their nature forever, and God, through His abundant grace and mercy, first establishes a principle through a simple act of covering them with the skin of an animal which would reverberate throughout history.

“Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)

Prior to the fall, Adam had been tasked with naming all of the creatures in the animal kingdom. In other words, he knew them all by name. He was probably able to communicate with them on a level that we today could never do, simply because of his innocent nature.

When he and Eve fell, and hid from the Lord in the garden, they did so out of the same innate fear that the nature of God produces in us. Like the Israelites, who at the foot of Mt. Sinai, shuddered and feared because of the trembling, smoking, lightening filled mountain in which God met Moses at. Like Daniel and John who also fell as dead when encountering Christ in His true nature.

When Adam and Eve were sought out by God, they revealed to Him that they hid, because they were naked. But in His mercy, God takes an animal, an animal that Adam almost certainly knew personally, and slaughtered it. Adam and Eve saw the first death in the creation of the world. They saw the violence of it, the blood, and those last quivering moments that animal would have experienced as its life drained away.

In that moment, they understood that they could not cover their own sins (as with fig leaves), but that to cover sin, innocent blood must be shed. The first death of any living creature was right there before Adam and Eve. I can only imagine, but I suppose it was a pretty traumatic experience.

Granted, I’m reading a lot into this one passage, but I feel at liberty to do so, because of the abundant scripture that supports this concept. From the first Passover, where the Death Angel took the lives of the entire first-born in Egypt save those who sacrificed a blemish-less lamb and covered their door posts with the blood, through 1,500 years of the Levitical Sacrificial system. It was a principle so ingrained into the hearts and minds of the Israelites that it was meant to prepare them for the coming of their Messiah. Had they accepted Him as their Messiah, I have no doubt that the Romans then would still have crucified Him thus fulfilling Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, and Daniel 9:26 along with numerous other passages predicting that the Christ would have to die for the sins of many.

Yet, the Jews also fulfilled scripture by rejecting their perfect sacrificial Lamb, even after Christ was identified by John the Baptist as the ‘Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world’. Yet God, in His abundant mercy, used their sinful rebelliousness to His advantage, by bringing about salvation for ALL of mankind, thus entering us into an age of the Church that takes both Jew and Gentile and merges them into a new creation called the ‘body of Christ’.

It is this way even until today, and thus we await with great hope and great expectation, the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to return to take His people back with Him to where He dwells, given us the fulfillment of glorification whose process is laid out for us in Romans 8:28-30:

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

It was only after Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, that we could be justified by His sacrifice; Believers from the birth of the Church in the 1st century, until today fall into this category.

I believe that at the Rapture of the Church, we will once again receive that ‘Shekinah’ glory that was lost at the Garden of Eden. Only this time, we will have been tested first, and found righteous, not by our own works, but by faith in Jesus Christ, who gives us His righteousness. This allows us to go ‘boldly into the throne room of God as a son or daughter, and not as a servant’.

It is this reason why the Church does not enter into the time of the Tribulation. Not ‘tribulation’ as in the burdens and persecution we face on a day to day basis in today’s sin-prone world, but that specific time of Daniel’s 70th week. The Seven year period when God initiates His judgment upon the earth by opening the 1st Seal that triggers the most awful time period the world will have ever known.

When we place our faith in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, our sins are nailed to the cross. Jesus received the full wrath of the Father’s judgment at that moment, which He did on our behalf. We were judged at that moment, and all who would come to believe, trade their pitiful attempts at righteousness, for Christ’s perfect righteousness. He received ours, and we His. He then becomes our Passover Lamb, applies His blood to the door posts of our lives in which we pass through that covers and atones for us.

I long for the day that we are Raptured, not so much that I can escape this fallen world, but that I can escape this sinful, sin-prone ‘tent of flesh’ I call my body, that I remain encapsulated in while on this earth.

I long for the day that I can inherit my ‘building from God’ and claim victory over lust, pride, anger, slothfulness, and envy that I struggle with on a daily basis. It is my great hope, and yours as well I pray, that we long to be clothed with righteousness as our first parents once were. In that state, we will again be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ ‘face to face’, and will forever be in harmony with our Creator and Father who is Love, and Light, and Peace, and Joy, forever.

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3)

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