God of Judgment
What Is the Good News of Yeshua? (Part 3)
The foundation of the Good News was laid when the God of creation made the heavens and the earth. He filled the world with life that sprawled across the land, sea and air—beautiful and pristine, it flourished. As His crowning achievement, God created a caretaker for His creation who would multiply, bless the earth and be blessed by it in return. God made man in His very own image and likeness to be the sentient recipient of His abundant goodness. For the moment, all things were in total harmony and peace.
God created the first man from the “dust of the ground.” Through no deliberate effort or thought or will of the man—nor by any random spark or organic accident of cosmic fortune—the God of creation gave the man his form out of a mere pile of dirt. He then “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7, MJLT). Then God caused an entire garden grove of good food-producing trees to literally spring forth from the ground. He set the man there to rest, and to serve and to guard his custom-created paradise. Out of the man’s own body, God then built him a woman, so that the man would have a helpful counterpart and no longer be alone. The two of them—the man and his wife—were wholly provided for, naked and innocent and unashamed; God walked among them in the breeze of the day. Everything was very good.
But God had also done a most curious thing. In the very middle of the garden He placed two particular trees. One was “the tree of life,” the fruit of which would cause the one feasting on it to live forever. The other was “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”—this one, a banquet of edible death. God specially identified the second tree to the man, and told him, “do not eat of it, [or] you will die” (Genesis 2:17, MJLT). And with that, God had issued man his first command. The grove abounded with choice and desirable fruit; there was no good reason to even approach that illegal growth. All the man had to do in order to obey his Creator was to freely partake of the abundance of the garden—and to leave the one, forbidden tree alone.
Yet the allure of the prohibited proved to be wily competition; the first temptation would soon find its prey: the knowledge of good and evil, it seemed, was “desirable to make one wise” (Genesis 3:6, MJLT). Casting doubt on the Creator’s credibility, the woman—at the serpent’s leading—began to question if what God had said was true. So the wife and her husband took of the forbidden fruit—the first sin was born from an appetite for the taboo.
God had given the man a command in the context of a kind of covenant. God’s implied promise to provide him “every tree of the garden” (Genesis 2:16, MJLT) was offset only by His requirement that the man refrain from just one of them. As part of this covenant, God also laid out the consequences the man would face should he choose not to comply. So while the man had all the benefits of God’s creation, in return, God only wanted the man to keep His command.
“But the sin, having received an opportunity through the command, brought about all covetousness” (Romans 7:8, MJLT) within the newly formed souls. Had there been no command to defy, the tree might have gone largely unnoticed. But the lure of the forbidden—urged on by a crafty Accuser—led them to distrust their Creator, take the word of a snake, transgress the covenant God made with them (see Hosea 6:7), and enact its fatal provision. Though not immediate, death was now imminent.
In a matter of moments, man’s close-knit relationship with God was unraveled. What had been a peaceful harmony was now broken and dissonant, enduringly scarred by sin. Immediately, man sought separation from God as a remedy for his fear and shame. God had given the command and forged His covenant, and He now had no choice but to keep His word. The God of judgment had passed His sentence.
The bad news is that “by the misstep of the one man the death reigned,” such that “the death also passed through to all men, in that all sinned” (Romans 5:17,12, MJLT). “God,” therefore, “does not hear sinners” (John 9:31, MJLT) and can have no relationship with us, because he “who is doing the sin is of the Accuser”—that serpent who has been sinning “from the beginning” (1 John 3:8, MJLT). Our expelled, mortal flesh inherited its great susceptibility to temptation and its irresistible propensity toward sin. That is why “the mind of the flesh is death”—it is “hostility to God” (Romans 8:6-7, MJLT); it is unable to obey God and abound in His presence.
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We share Adam’s fate, then, because we share his same weaknesses. We fear and hide and separate ourselves from God, violating the covenant with our Creator and bringing judgment upon ourselves.
The God of judgment has barred access to the tree of life by the garden gate forever. If only there were another way… For even as in Adam all die, so also in the Messiah all will be made alive…
– 1 Corinthians 15:22, MJLT
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