THE KINGDOM OF GOD: Exile And Promise by R. Alan Streett

Experiencing the Kingdom of God in the Here and Now

Exile And Promise by R. Alan Streett

From: Heaven on Earth

For Adam and Eve, the consequences of heeding the serpent’s voice are immediate.  First, they become self-conscious and experience shame because of their nakedness.  Second, they become fearful of God and hide from him, (Genesis 3:7-10).

But before God addresses the man and woman, he speaks to the serpent: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel,” (v. 15).  Two opposing categories of people will emerge – those designated as Eve’s offspring, who will follow God’s voice, and those identified as the serpent’s offspring, who will obey the voice of their diabolical master.  Interestingly, thousands of years later, Jesus will place people into these same two camps, (John 8:44).

God then declares in cryptic form that one of the woman’s seed will decisively defeat the Satanic seed, although he will be injured in the process.  This defeat will be the turning point in restoring God’s kingdom to his people.  Known as the protoeuangelion, this is the first promise that speaks of the demise of Satanic forces on Earth.

Adam and Eve’s sin will have detrimental effects of birth, death, and everything in between.  When Adam and Eve emerge from hiding, God says this to Eve:

I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children,
yet your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.
(Genesis 3:16)

Here we get the first hint that things will grow progressively more difficult for humankind in its attempt to subdue and take dominion over the Earth.  The mother of all future generations will suffer discomfort as she brings children into the world, and she will be subservient to her husband.  God originally designated her to be co-ruler over the Earth, but he now declares that her husband will rule over her.  This is a major paradigm shift!

God then turns to Adam.

Cursed is the ground because of you;
in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
(Genesis 3:17-18)

The command to subdue the Earth is never rescinded, but Adam will have a more difficult time fulfilling his mission.  He now must toil to harvest the Earth’s resources that will sustain his life.  Additionally, God announces that Adam’s day will be numbered.  This is implied by the phrase, “all the days of your life.”  God then adds this:

By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread
until you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
you are dust,
to dust you shall return.
(v. 19)

Adam is not only made from the Earth and for the Earth, but he will now return to the Earth.  From this picture we discover that death by sin refers to physical death.  The breath of God that animates man’s body will depart, and he will die.  This is a fulfillment of God’s original warning, “You will surely die.”

Finally, and most importantly, the first two humans are expelled from their garden paradise, which means they will no longer have access to the source of life.

Then the Lord God said, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever,” – therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken.  He drove out the man; and at the east of the Garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the Tree of Life, (vv. 22-24).

Despite their exile from the garden, Adam and Eve remain under orders to multiply and to replenish and rule over the Earth.  But their task will not be an easy one.  The Earth will no longer be a pristine and friendly environment.  With no access to the Tree of Life, Adam and Eve will grow old and die and relinquish their rule to others.  The pattern will be repeated for generations to come.

We know from the New Testament that at the end of the age, God will personally intervene to reestablish the Earthly garden to its original condition.  Paradise lost will become paradise restored!  Until then, humans are under orders to rule an imperfect Earth on behalf of God.  We face many obstacles as we attempt to bring creation under the reign of the Creator, but God promises to guide us in our mission.

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