Imagine the cherubim of the Lord and the flaming sword barring the entrance to Eden, keeping Adam and Eve from returning to the garden, cutting off access to the tree of life. Here is the beginning of the ‘day of the Almighty’ as described repeatedly in His Word. This day is near; it comes like a tempest. We are banished from paradise and from the presence of the Lord God. What a day, says Joel.
“15 A! A! A! to the day; for the day of the Lord is nigh, and shall come as a tempest from the (Al)mighty. (O! O! O! what a day! for the day of the Lord is near, and it shall come like a tempest from the Almighty.)”
Death begins; we are eternally damned, separated from God. The tree of life is outside our reach. A flaming sword flashes back and forth to guard the way so that we do not live forever. We are actually kept from God and prevented from eternity.
The day of the Almighty is close. What a day! A day of nakedness and shame. God asks Adam, “Who told you that you are naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (Genesis 3:11, NIV) Now we know both good and evil; and evil dominates our lives.
Paul cries out, “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” (Romans 7:21) “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24)
The only rescue from the day of the Lord is through the finished work of Jesus the Christ. Jesus Himself declares as He dies on the cross of Calvary, “It is accomplished.”
“This is eternal life: that [we] may know You, the only true God, and the One You send — Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) I’m always a bit bewildered that people don’t seem to realize they are in hell. Obviously some people are extremely aware of being in hell — their circumstances make their condition painfully obvious. For others, however, this earth has many pleasures — its natural beauty is one of its best attributes. Of course, we owe that entirely to the Creator. But, after the fall into sin by Adam and Eve, we — in our natural state — also find ourselves in trapped in hell. Remember the angels usher us out of the garden of Eden and bare the way back.
Jesus reveals God to us. As we accept Him as God — that is, Lord and Savior, Healer and Coming King — we are ushered out of hell and into His kingdom. Because we remain on this earth for a time, we may be very aware of the trappings of hell around us. But, we are not of this world. We are foreigners, waiting for our full inheritance, our heavenly country, as the author of Hebrews writes.
Knowing God is eternal life.
Once we all – both the Jew and the Gentile – were imprisoned in disobedience. This imprisonment first occurred when Eve was deceived by the serpent in the garden of Eden; and Adam foolishly put his wife before God. Adam took Eve’s offer, likely not fully believing that the fruit would make them equal to God. Both were at fault, but the serpent bore the brunt of God’s punishment. After all, no salvation awaits the ultimate enemy of God. His destiny is the lake of fire, which burns eternally.
For Adam and Eve, imprisonment in disobedience began. They were banished from the garden of Eden. Work for food was suddenly necessary and hard. Childbirth was painful as was the raising of children. Life was no longer easy.
God, in His mercy, chose for Himself one man, Abram and one woman, Sarai and through them created a nation for Himself. Yet, this nation – this people – He also bound in disobedience.
“For God has imprisoned all in disobedience, so that He may have mercy on all.” “So the last will be first, and the first last.” (Matthew 20:16)
Jesus speaks of coming to earth in order to provide us – first for the Jew, but also for the Gentile – life; and that life is to be abundant. The life we live, we live to God. “Therefore,” writes Paul, “by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)
“His love endures forever,” writes an anonymous psalmist. “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.” (Psalm 136:1) “Give thanks to the Lord of lords: to the One who remembers us in our low estate His love endures forever. and frees us from our enemies, His love endures forever.”
In the garden of Eden, Adam – after falling to temptation – tries to hide from God who “remembers [man] in [his] low estate.” Though God soon banishes Adam from earthly paradise, He also sets His plan in motion — His plan to “free [man] from [his] enemies.”
“Give thanks to the Lord, to Him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:4)
The greatest wonder of God is His willingness to sacrifice His Son – Himself – on the cross for Adam’s salvation. Even as the angels bar the way back to earthly paradise, God provides the narrow gate to a heavenly paradise.
“Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:26)
“Yahweh, You are my God; I will exalt You. I will praise Your Name, for You have accomplished wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.” (Isaiah 25: 1, Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Why is anyone surprised or bewildered that God plans? Why are we taken aback by God having created us knowing we would fall, having allowed the serpent to tempt us, having driven us from Eden, having planned our salvation? Why does it irk us that God makes choices? Is He not in complete control? Is He not sovereign? Does He not have the final say in any matter?
“For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Or who has ever first given to Him, and has to be repaid?” (Romans 11: 34 – 35)
The way around bewilderment or even resentment that God is in control is to recognize that everything He does is done “with perfect faithfulness.” In God’s sovereignty there is no error.