More Things (3)

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Eden - Like No Place on Earth

God does not act without purpose. He created the Heavenly Host, intending that they carry out His will. Did He create them to meet some need in Him? No. A complete, perfect being has no deficiencies. God has no need of a council, but he uses one. Similarly, God did not need humans to steward His creation or, later on, to reveal that Messiah had come. But those were His choices as well. [be careful here, the common mis-think is that God would not have done it this way; see Darwinism which is flawed in its presuppositions). God delighted in creating proxies to represent Him and carry out His wishes. His decisions in that regard have ramifications. Ideas have consequences.

Earth Was Not Eden

The first thing we should notice is one that is transparent form the text, but somehow missed by many: Not all the world was Eden! It is important to establish that Eden was, rather than the entire earthly creation, only a tiny part of it. This will be important as we move forward in this study. The text makes this clear.
Eden was actually a tiny plot on earth. Its location circumscribed by geographical markers.
Genesis 2:8–14 ESV
And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
This is enough to be clear that the earth was not Eden. There are other indicators.
In Genesis 1: 26-27.. God made humankind as His imagers, His representatives in this new domain. This functional view of the image becomes clear in the commands
Genesis 1:28 ESV
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Notice that it says the earth needed filling. This does not refer to Eden. Eden has not even appeared yet in the story. It’s first mention is in Gen 2:8
Genesis 2:8 ESV
And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.
The garden of Eden is said to be in the East. The directional word informs us that there were other parts of the Earth. God “planted” this garden. We know from Gen 1 that the dry land (called earth) already existed. It had to in order for God to plant a garden in the east.
Genesis 2:15 ESV
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Here the man God has made is put into the garden for a reason - the man’s job is to take care of the garden. Earlier it was to subdue and multiply, but he needed a woman for that, and she was not created yet when he is put in the garden. Cultivation of the garden and subduing the earth are not the same tasks.
Genesis 1 and 2 have a strange relationship, they are not chronological, but they may be some sort of simultaneous, minutes, timeline. The man’s original task is to take care of the garden, where he lived (Gen 2) After he gets a partner (Gen 1) God says to both of them (commands are plural in Hebrew) to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, and rule over its creatures.
We can see then that Earth and Eden are distinct. The Garden the home of God on earth, is perfect, planted by God, it is what God wants it to be. It does not need subjection. That is not something that can be said for the rest of the world. God called creation very good, but very good is not perfect.
Lastly, they have to be distinct since Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden. Unless from space, distinct places.
There is a lot of misinformation about the creation, garden, earth etc. But we are focused on one thing. The original task of humanity was to make the entire earth like Eden. And although God could do that, he created imagers to do so.
Eden is where the idea of the kingdom or God begins. And it’s no coincidence that the Bible ends with the vision of a new Edenic Earth.

Proclamation and Partnership

The working relationship between God and humankind, before and after the Fall, involves genuine, meaningful participation on the part of God’s human imagers. This is most transparently seen through the Bible … Moses, Joshua, David, the bone carriers, the prophets, the disciples, etc… The pattern extends to us, to all believers. There is nothing we do that God could not accomplish himself. But he has not chosen this method. Rather, he tells us what His will is and commands his loyal children to get the job done — human and otherwise.
The participatory nature of the the relationship between God and his human imagers is no surprise. God decrees His will and leaves it to his administrative household to get the job done.
1 Kings 22:16–23 ESV
But the king said to him, “How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” And he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘These have no master; let each return to his home in peace.’ ” And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?” And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you.”
So… this is a meeting between God and his divine council. Verse 20 makes it clear God had decided it was time for Ahab to die. God then asked the host of heaven standing in attendance, how Ahab’s death should be accomplished. The death was decreeded but not the means....... I’ll put lying spirit, God … that will work, get it done.
Daniel 4:17 ESV
The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.’
what? Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and told Daniel that a watcher (a divine being) proclaimed that the tree would be cut down, leaving a stump … terms for the king who would be like an animal… but the decree was by the watchers… but sovereignty belongs to the Most High… but later
Daniel 4:24 ESV
this is the interpretation, O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king,
but the watcher decreed it, under the authority of God, both are in the decision but it is God’s alone.. HE IS SOVEREIGN

Only God is Perfect

Like the creation story, the story of the Fall in Genesis 3 is one of those episodes that anyone acquainted with the Bible seems to know. But there’s more to the story than meets the eye. We will be looking at some of these as they fit our theme of “more things...”
What we have covered in earlier chapters serves as a crucial backdrop for understanding the fall. Eden was both the divine abode and the nerve center for God’s plan on Earth. The worldview of the biblical writers was where YHWH is, so is his council.
YHWH announced his intention to create humankind as His imagers in Gen 1:26… the council members heard that these humans, new members in God’s family, would be tasked with overspreading the Earth, and advancing God’s kingdom rule. They were God’s choice to be steward=kings over a global Eden under God’s authority. We will soon see that there was dissent, But how could there be trouble in paradise? How could things go so wrong?
The Book of Job contains some of the clues.

The Backdrop

Job is an odd book. That’s part of why it is so interesting. The story opens up with a divine council scene— the sons of God appear before YHWH. During the council the satan shows up. His rank is not clear. The language is ambiguous with respect to whether he is of the same level as the sons of God or is on the scene as a servant official to the council. The lower status is more likely, given what we learn about his job.
I use the satan deliberately. The Hebrew means something like “adversary,” “prosecutor” or “challenger.” It speaks of an official legal function within a ruling body - in this case, God’s council. When God asks the satan where he has been, we learn that his job involves investigating what is happening on earth
Job 1:7 ESV
The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
He is, so to speak, God’s eyes and ears on the ground, reporting what he has seen and heard.
The satan in Job 1-2 is not a villain. He’s doing the job assigned to him by God. The book of Job does not identify the satan in this scene as the nachash of Genesis 3, not does it identify this figure with the devil of the New Testament. The OT never uses the word satan of the serpent figure from Genesis 3. It is not a proper noun in the OT. I am not the Keith. English doesn’t use the definite article with personal names,neither does Hebrew.
Most of the 27 occurrences of satan in the Hebrew Bible have the definite article, including all the places English readers presume the devil is present. The satan described in these passages is not the devil. Rather, he is an anonymous prosecutor fulfilling a role in the council. the places there is no definite article well.. look at this
Numbers 22:22–23 ESV
But God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. And the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand. And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field. And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road.
As his satan … that creates problems if we take it as a name rather than a function.
The issue is that the figure in Gen. 3 eventually become thought of as the greatest adversary, so the label stuck to him as a name. The OT does not use it of the figure in Gen 3.
In Job 1 the satan and God converse about Job. The satan gets a little uppity, and challenges God about Job’s integrity. We know the rest of the broad sweeps of the story - God gives the prosecutor enough latitude to prove himself wrong, albeit at Job’s expense.
The beginning of Job is of interest to us because of two statements later in the book. In Job 4, Eliphaz responds to Job’s lament and wish for death Job 3:11
Job 3:11 ESV
“Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire?
Eliphaz is not much comfort here. He questions Job’s belief that he has done nothing deserving of suffering. Which is true as we know. Then he says Job 4: 17-19
Job 4:17–19 ESV
‘Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker? Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error; how much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like the moth.
Who do you think you are Job? A man more righteous than his Maker? Why would God see you as blameless when he doesn’t see heavenly messengers that way? And he repeats his charge Job 15: 14-15
Job 15:14–15 ESV
What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous? Behold, God puts no trust in his holy ones, and the heavens are not pure in his sight;
God’s heavenly council members are corruptible; they are not perfect. God knows that Job can fail, he just hasn’t, the divine council member and the messengers apparently cannot be completely trusted. Wow.

Free Imagers

God knows that none of his imagers, divine or human, can be completely trusted. Imagers are like God, but they are not God. We know that from our lives.
Without free will, imagers cannot represent God. This is will of choice about all things but the prompting of salvation. Humanity was to spread Eden over the earth .. that is the mandate. use the image of God to extend the reign of God on the earth. How all that happens post fall varies from person to person. In our experience, humans have widely differing abilities. Some never see birth due to natural death or abortion. Others manifest in the bodies the effects of a world that isn’t Eden. Some human beings have severe mental and physical defects that impede or prevent representing God according to the original vision. Even humans that are born with no discernable impairment, are still across the spectrum of abilities the abilities we have are to be used to image God as we have them.
We are reflections of a free being not automans. And we are created to glorify God and carry out His will and decrees. the lesser elohim were also created with this purpose. Only God is perfect, all other thinking created being can and do stray or rebel from the decrees of God. Trouble could and did happen in paradise and it grieved God but he prepared a way.
This should raise some questions. Free Will is needed to image and represent, is Risk the right word to use; God foreknows all things, but did he predestine them? If he did is there free will. What about the notion that they will Gen 3:5
Genesis 3:5 ESV
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
what does knowing good and evil mean… Does God have a streak in him, NO...
all of these questions have been argued, but there are straightforward answers in front of us. What we have built on so far helps us grasp the answers when we get to them. God does not delight in evil and suffering, nor does He need it for his sovereign plan. The conundrums will evaporate is just allow the text to say what it says. Period like an ancient Israelite would have before all the theologians came around.
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