Moses pleaded with God to reveal and show His glory (Exodus 33:18) and on the other hand we have Prophet Isaiah crying out “Woe to me, for I am ruined” on seeing “The Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted” with the angels (Seraphim) proclaiming His Holiness and glory to each other and to all in the universe (Isaiah 6:1-5). What is it that places a deep longing for God in our hearts yet deep fear and trembling overtakes us at the thought of meeting God? We look for Him in everything, and different cultures seek Him in stones, sun and many other created things yet fail to connect with Him despite calling Him “a Friend, a close relative and Father”. Is God angry with us and hides Himself from us?
Why man is separated from God? – God’s purpose of creation has been to pour out His love for us through this and provide us an opportunity to know and love Him through regular contact and fellowship. But God loves us so much that He never ever desires to keep us in bondage with Himself, even to the point of losing any contact with us due to our wrong choices. It is His Divine love that is seen in the heavenly place “The Garden of Eden” where He placed our ancestors to enjoy the best facilities without making any effort. Yet He provided us a choice of the fruit of the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil knowing full well that we are likely to make the wrong choice.
The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil was forbidden by God not because He wanted to save it for Himself but to save us from ourselves. His desire has always been to reveal Himself to us and the forbidden fruit would lead us to know ourselves instead of God. The moment we change focus from God to self we start, firstly to depend on self rather than on God; secondly we tend to lift self in relation to everyone else including God and thirdly that we fall from the perfect state that we were created in. This self knowledge directly affects our relationship with God, with each other and also with every other created thing for we attempt to use everything for self gratification rather than for glorifying God- the original purpose of creation.
In our fallen state we change positions causing a change in our outlook. God is the same yesterday, today and forever and “does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). Without our realizing we shift to a new position because of our sin in an attempt to hide our sins from the All Knowing God. Thus while initially we were in His direct presence, face to face with Him in the Garden of Eden, in the changed place we stand hiding behind His back. In this distorted outlook we perceive God to have turned His face away from us in His anger and wrath, whereas “God is love” and wrath has no place in love.
God hates sin, not sinners for despite knowing about the disobedience of Adam and Eve, God came looking for them in the Garden at the appointed time. God did not curse Adam, Eve and Satan but revealed their changed status to them. The question directed at Eve “What is this you have done?” was not to ask her but to make her aware of the seriousness of the situation for this has resulted in loss of blessings to all. The next statements from God clearly spell out the future for each of them-
- The serpent/ Satan – He had been thrown down to the earth and with this his abode was further degraded for earth having received the curse would not permit his stay on it but only below in the depths of hell. Secondly, the woman’s revenge to be through her seed with a retaliatory action from Satan of “bruising his heel”.
- The woman –The blessing of being “equal partner” of man lost for leading him into sin and a place of weakness and submission through “desire for man” reached. The blessing of child bearing to come about with labour pains and travail.
- The Man –To lose the blessed state of authority and power over everything and to toil for fulfilling all needs- reduced from a king to a laborer.
- Nature/ the Earth – Cursed because of Adam’s sin and to produce “thorns and thistles” also after breaching the fallen state.
But everything of creation having been created in perfection aspires to achieve that lost glory through all out efforts. A flower reaches its beautiful state of bloom, a fruit ripens to sweetness and aroma and even a man may achieve some purity of thought and deed through good works, but they all perish and die. The lost glory is the perfection of Paradise and the only way possible is through death to this imperfect world and new life into the perfect state of heave. The blood being the life of man must be poured out and replaced with pure heavenly blood. Since this was impossible for man, he chose the second best option in an attempt to please God. God had not changed then nor now and was/is “available to those who seek Him” (Jeremiah 29:12) and the two sons of Adam start the process of offerings to God. Abel realizing that he cannot offer his own life and being a shepherd of livestock brings his best animal and sacrifices it to God. Cain, who is a farmer, brings produce of the earth and realizing the inadequacy of his offering feels jealousy for his brother and kills him – probably as his best offering to God.
God does not hide from this sinner also and His question to Cain is also the same as it was to Eve “What is this you have done?” (Genesis 4:10) to tell him ‘do you realize what you have done in your hatred?’ His position is explained to him by God since Cain is now cursed by the earth for pouring out Abel’s blood on it and the earth providing him no permanent shelter making him a nomad and not yielding its produce to him. God in His love places a mark of protection on Cain so that others do not kill him for his sin of killing his brother.
Does God require animal sacrifices? – If we lose a credit/debit card, someone explains to us the consequences of this, that we may lose money. But this information provider cannot be said to have cursed us and the first step for us is to stop this presumed loss and then get around to obtaining a new card. The sacrifice offerings of Abel and others right through the ages in the Old Testament have been efforts to stem this loss due to our changed position in respect to God. God desires fellowship and a close relationship with man, which is only possible in a sinless state. God declares “Shall I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of male goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and pay your vows to the Most High; call upon Me in the day of trouble, I shall rescue you and you will honor Me” (Psalm 50:13-15). God in His love is ever willing to come to our rescue in times of trouble and then will accept our thanksgiving of humble submission to honor Him.
Was ‘Noah’s flood’ not a curse? – Adam’s disobedience affected whole of creation which also “unwillingly was subjected to this degradation and hopes for its restoration to the earlier glorious state along with mankind and therefore earnestly seeks that” (Romans 8:20-22). During Noah’s time the state of humanity had fast reached such a perverse state that the purity of woman was fast eroding due to prevalent immorality and it was apparent that drastic steps were needed to save mankind from destroying itself thus making it impossible for the “Seed of Woman” to be available as Redeemer. It was then that God saved eight persons of Noah’s house and all other living beings of the earth in the ark while the earth and sky in their wrath poured out water to cover the whole earth. God out of His love for His creation saved the chosen few to again “multiply and fill the earth”. After the required number of days, the same nature and earth yielded it to become habitable again and provided its plants and fruits as food for all.
What is god’s wrath for mankind? – The message to Adam was very clear “cursed is the earth for your sake” and similarly to Cain after he killed Abel, his brother, “Now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from you” (Genesis 3:17 and 4:11). Man’s sin brings forth a curse on nature also and everything goes into its fallen state from the original glorious condition. Like man, all of nature also derived its perfection from the Creator and aspires to achieve that same position. All creation entered this state of futility and corruption not willingly but with a hope that with mankind it will also receive redemption and restoration and earnestly cries out for this (Romans 8:20-22). It is this continuous turmoil and efforts towards correction that create instability and difficult conditions for all inhabitants of the earth.
The moment God had planned creation of heaven and earth, the All Knowing God became aware of the sinfulness of Lucifer, some angels and man and the resultant fall of nature, for there is nothing past, present or future hidden from Him. The Great ‘I AM’ still continued with the process despite knowing everything, shows His love and justice of not rejecting and condemning His creation even before anything started. Even after the commission of the act of rebellion by Lucifer and his partners, God only ejected them from heaven onto the earth and latter to hell-under the earth. God is love and it is “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Because of their acts, the offenders only lost certain privileges and like Adam Lucifer suffered at the hands of the nature of heaven, which would not tolerate any further ill effect to it by their presence in heaven.
“How then can man be justified with God? – Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” (Job 25:4). Bildad, one of Job’s friends raised this question and Job was very clear that it is impossible with man to “bring a pure thing out of an impure one” (Job 14:4). When Adam was created God breathed “neshamah” breath or spirit into his nostrils, a part of God also was passed onto him. It is this breath that gave his uniqueness to Adam and through him to all of mankind- the image and likeness of God. But after the fall of man, this was lost and man “polluted with sin” and in his impure form, attempts to reach his original state of purity. In like manner, all of nature also tries this- a flower reaches its fullness, a fruit its sweet and aromatic ripeness but withers away after that. Man tries this through various good deeds, donations and offerings to God. Abel offered an animal and this continued thereafter all along in the Old Testament times, where man knew that he has to pour out his own life by dying to and in sin and then be born into an incorruptible state for redemption. But animal sacrifice- the best unblemished one- was made to placate the demands of nature.
There is repeated promise of God all through the Scripture “Seek and you will find Me” or “Call and I will answer” (Psalm 50:15, Isaiah 65:24). By implication God cannot be deemed to be angry with a person whose call He desires to answer “even before you call” and the cause of man’s sufferings is the result of retribution from nature due to the ill effects suffered by it due to sin. The only way that man could receive salvation and with that earth and the nature also, was that he must die to and in this world and be reborn in heavenly nature and form. The polluted blood must be poured out and the flesh of the body die and be replaced by heavenly blood. Man could die a physical death but the need of spiritual awakening and rebirth can only be met by a heavenly being- one who could provide access to the Holiest of Holies, denied because of sin. This death to the world had to be without any trace of sin in the body and blood and entry into heaven through the Spirit that was breathed into man at the time of creation.
Even angels are part of heaven and man could become partner in their holiness through death but they do not have the right to lead someone else in. This rebirth also thus could only take place with and in the Holy Trinity alone. At the time of creation God poured out His love onto all creation and mankind and this love had to be visible in the recreation process as well. And “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Man had been offering the “first-fruits” of his livestock or his best to God as a sacrificial offering and gave His Best and most precious- His Only Son, and sacrificed Him for mankind to redeem them.
The process of recreation – The fall had been the result of man’s sin and man had to pay the penalty by dying to it and God’s Son had to be born as man as “seed of a woman” in fulfillment of the prophecy of Genesis 3:15. Redemption also happened in the same way as creation did; when Adam was created sinless and this “seed of woman” had to be sinless in nature and pure. Only a virgin woman without any part of man had to bear this Son and Holy Spirit mediated in this “new creation” as before. God was thus born to Mary to be directly involved in redemption of mankind. As man, Jesus poured out His blood, offered His body as a sacrificial offering to pay the price of sin in full. As God He emerged from the grave with authority to enter and lead others into the Holiest of Holies, in heaven and the veil of separation was torn. As God He reentered man as Holy Spirit to resume the broken dialogue of the Garden of Eden to transform man into the “image and likeness of God”.
It is unimaginable that an angry God would sacrifice His Son to pay for the sins of those He is angry with. And God is just and after completion of the process of redemption He remembers our sins no more (Hebrews 8:12). All mankind suffered the effects of sin of Adam for everyone is born through him and his offspring and God was in Adam at that same time as his breath. When God received the sacrificial offering in the form of his Son the benefit automatically accrued to all those who believed in the Son. Lord Jesus offered His body and poured out His blood and His resurrection opened the way for us to be reborn as a New Creation, “a chosen people, a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). On the day of Pentecost the relationship was further cemented with the coming of the Holy Spirit to dwell in us.
Since God is love, since love is the essence of the Divine life, the consequence of loss of this life is loss of love… Though the damned do not love God, God loves them, and this is their very torture. The very fires of hell are made of the love of God! Love received by one who only wants to hate and thwarts his deepest want and is therefore torture. If God could stop loving the damned, hell would cease to be pure torture. If the sun could stop shining, lovers of the dark would no longer be tortured by it. But the sun could sooner cease to shine than God cease to be God” Peter Kreeft.
God’s love is available to all but received by only those who believe that He is! His Son revealed God and His love and waits to lead us out of darkness to a glorious state!