by Jeannette Haley
Of all the people who have ever lived only two experienced paradise on this earth. The name of this paradise was Eden, which means pleasure. God prepared this beautiful, perfect “park” for His most special creation—man.Genesis 2:8 tells us, “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” As we meditate on this verse, many soul-stirring thoughts come to mind. First, God did all the work to plant this perfect garden in which to place man. If you have ever put a yard in from scratch, as we have, (with the help of friends) about now you are thinking, “What would THAT be like, the lucky duck!” It had to be beautiful beyond comprehension and far more glorious than any earthly garden or park today, regardless of how grand they may be. How awesome to consider the closeness and personal love and tender care of God as He personally put the man into this incredible paradise.
We cannot begin to imagine such a wonderful environment. It was never too hot, never too cold. Adam’s body was perfect. He had no aches and “owies,” no indigestion or constipation, no disease or pain of any kind. He would never lose his hair, develop a potbelly, and grow old and cranky. There was no need of doctors, chiropractors, dentists, proctologists and the like, or morticians. Just imagine! There were no annoying or blood-sucking insects to spoil his pleasure. All of the creatures were tame and harmless, and without a doubt created for the ultimate enjoyment of never-ending entertainment and discovery. There was no such thing as hunger, thirst, flood or famine. War was unknown. Nevertheless, to the chagrin of some, God gave him work to do. Yep, Adam was given a JOB. God not only “took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden” but He put him there“to dress it and to keep it” Genesis 2:15. “Dress” means “work.” “Keep it” means (according to Strong’s), “to hedge about (as with thorns), i.e. guard; to protect, attend to, beware, be circumspect, take heed (to self), keep (-er, self), mark, look narrowly, observe, preserve, regard, reserve, save (self), sure, (that lay) wait (for), watch (-man).”
Therefore, we see that God gave Adam two main responsibilities. Does that throw a damper on your enthusiasm for paradise? Keep in mind, Adam still had a perfect environment in which to live. Therefore, work was still a part of his “pleasure” which resulted in meaningful interaction, involvement, and participation with God’s creation as we see in his naming of the animals. Adam’s scope of involvement and discovery of the creation is incomprehensible in its endless nature and complexity. All of this was for the purpose of adoration and worship to Creator God. In spite of this staggering reality, Adam’s ultimate pleasure, or state of bliss should have been the fact that the Lord God Himself came every evening to fellowship with him.
Besides working, or being active in Eden, God gave Adam the charge to protect it, along with the warning concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was after this that we read, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” Genesis 2:18. Remember, up to this point God “saw that it was good.” Why was it suddenly “not good?” A clue to this may be Job 31:33 which gives us a startling insight into Adam’s disposition. It says, “If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom.” Hosea 6:7 sheds more light on this subject. It reads, “But they like Adam have transgressed the covenant; there have they dealt treacherously against me.” We know from Romans 5 and other Scriptures too numerous to mention, that it is through Adam (not Eve) that all die. (See 1 Corinthians 15:22).
God’s solution to Adam’s “not good” situation was to make a “help meet” for him. What does “help meet” really mean? For some it means God created woman to be man’s personal slave. You know the popular concept: “Get me another beer, Dear, and while you’re at it, could you whip up something tasty for me and the boys?” After all, many of the world’s cultures relegate women to an inferior and somewhat “less-than-human” status where their sole purpose is to please the man. Sadly, in the majority of Christian denominations we find the same sentiment. Women are to remain silent, serve the men, bear children and cook for church potlucks. Is this really what God had in mind for Adam? Did Adam need “help” with manual labor in the Garden? Of course not! God didn’t create man in His image to be a big worthless boob.
Let us look at the Hebrew root for “help”—ezer which comes from the root azar which means to surround, i.e. protect or aid:–help, succour. If you look up the next word, “meet” you will discover that it is the same word, azar. Therefore, what God gave Adam was not a sub-standard human partner whom Adam called “Woman” but an equal in every way who was created for the express purpose of giving aid in the area of protection. Protection from what? It certainly could not have been physical protection because there was nothing in Eden to physically threaten Adam. Further study into this subject indicates that she was created by God to lead him back into a relationship with God. Her role was not just to be Adam’s physical “joy toy” who plucked and prepared fruit for his dining pleasure, but to compliment the highest attribute of Adam’s being; that is, his spiritual state.
We know from chapter 3 of Genesis that Eve had not been properly informed or prepared by Adam for her encounter with the serpent that he was initially responsible to keep out of the Garden, nor did she force the forbidden fruit down his throat. Verse 6 makes it clear that Adam was “with her” and did eat. She was beguiled and deceived while Adam stood by and made a deliberate choice to sacrifice (not protect) her, and rebel. We all know the tragic consequences, and their expulsion from this perfect paradise.
I believe that deep within the heart of every person is a longing for this lost paradise—a place to live that is free from human suffering, misery and death. Most do not recognize that this longing for the “perfect life” traces back to “paradise lost” but it reveals itself in various ways, depending on the culture. For example, in America, it manifests itself as the “American Dream,” which often spills over into excesses because of the insatiable quest for pleasure. Tragically, because of sin, pleasure seeking in our modern world is becoming increasingly grotesque, perverted and wicked. An insatiable quest for sensual pleasure is the highway to hell.
Concerning Adam, his decision to disobey God reveals a state of discontent. Why was he dissatisfied? After all, he had everything a man could ask for in the way of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pleasure. He had creation to explore; he had provision for every need. He had a purpose and a partner with which to share this perfect life. Above all, he had the opportunity for intimate communion with His Creator. Therefore, could it be that behind Adam’s failure to obey God was a failure to delight in God? He may have experienced “pleasure” but pleasure generally originates externally to produce a self-indulgent experience. For example, what we generally take pleasure in is something that pleases us because in some way we gain from it physically, mentally or emotionally. It is all about us. The pleasure we normally seek does not originate from within, extending outward from our innermost being, but rather exists in our environment to “make us happy” as we partake of it. The perfect pleasures of Eden were not adequate in and of themselves to prevent Adam from falling. His deliberate choice (in spite of the good and perfect pleasures he possessed) resulted in termination from his relationship with God, and expulsion from Paradise.
Therefore, does it not seem rather obvious that if we, in our fallen state, were somehow to gain “the whole world,” or even the “best of the best” with every luxury and pleasure that it would fail to be fulfilling in every way? Why then, do so many people, including professing Christians, live for worldly pleasures that can never satisfy? I believe the answer, or at least part of the answer, to this question is three-fold: Rebellion against God and His authority as God, rebellion against loving God above all else, and rebellion against His laws, and the consequences of breaking those laws. In essence, it comes down to, “I resent authority, I resist disciplining and directing my affections, and I refuse to obey laws in spite of the consequences. One can see at a glance that this three-fold rebellion sets the stage for the breakdown of the family unit, society and nations. It is a recipe for disaster because the underlying premise is lack of faith towards God, self-love, and pride.
What did God have in mind for Adam before his fall? Was Adam created to wander around in a perfect paradise so he could be happy? To understand more about Adam, allow me to quote from Oswald Chambers. “God did not create Adam holy. He created him innocent, without self-consciousness (as we understand the word) before God; the one thing Adam was conscious of was God and only of himself in relation to the Being Whose commands he was to fulfil; the main trend of his spirit was towards God. Adam was intended by God to take part in his own development by a series of moral choices whereby he would transform innocence into holiness. Adam failed to do this, Jesus Christ came on the same platform as Adam and did not fail. Supposing Adam had transformed the natural life into the spiritual by obedience, what would have happened? Transfiguration; he would have “spiritualized” the natural life and made it all that God wanted it to be. The natural life is neither good nor bad, moral nor immoral; it is the principle within that makes it good or bad, moral or immoral.”
Concerning transfiguration, Chambers wrote: “When holy character was fully matured in Our Lord, earth lost its hold on Him and He was transfigured. In all probability if Adam had transformed his innocence into holy character by obeying God’s voice, transfiguration would have been the way out of this order of things, there would have been no death. The entering in of sin made this possible.” (See Romans 5:12, 6:23
Instead of preaching and teaching that God’s will for His people is to seek first His kingdom through faith and obedience in order for this transfiguration to take place, the emphasis is on the humanistic and wicked deception that God wants us to be “happy.” This is the evil overshadowing of humanism. Jesus did not die to make men happy; He died to make men holy. The lust for “happiness” has become so great that it has paved the way for hirelings to build their “seeker-friendly,” “happy-clappy” mega churches, and for liberal, “progressive” politicians to establish a socialistic, “progressive” evil government. There really isn’t much difference between the two, except Jesus is “tacked” on to the former.
Coupled with obedience, the journey from innocence to transfiguration must be one of love from beginning to end. As Rayola points out, there is a difference between love for God, and love of God. Adam may have begun with love for God, but this love never developed into the love of God. Love for God may be pleasant on the surface, but the love of God is abiding, inward delight. Consider delight (as opposed to pleasure) in Psalm 1:1-3. “Blessed (happy, state of bliss) is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” [Emphasis added.]
Consider Psalm 37:4, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”Delight in this verse means soft or pliable. How soft or pliable are you in the hands of God? “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” Psalm 40:8. Delight in this verse means inclined to, or pleased. How inclined, or pleased, are you to do God’s will according to His law written on your heart? The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7:22, “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.” Delight in this verse means to rejoice in with oneself, feel satisfaction concerning. Is this the state of your heart? We can have love for God, yet fail in truly delighting in obedience to Him as in the case of Adam. Many who have love for God serve Him, but only those who possess the love of God serve Him in Spirit and in truth. This love is sacrificial and will stand the test of fire on Judgment Day.
Finally, what did Jesus have to say about man’s happiness? The answer can be found in Matthew 5:3-12.Therefore, if you have been seeking happiness through worldly pleasures that have left you empty and void of life, won’t you seek instead the true happiness that can only be found in delighting in the Lord?
May God help us all to be established through Christ upon the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life in the presence of the Lord forever.