Redefining Hell - Part 2
The Garden of Eden
In Part 1 of this series, we learned that when Paul spoke of the “natural man,” he spoke of the “first man” who is “natural” as opposed to the “second man” who is “spiritual” (1st Cor. 15:47-49; ESV). As we also learned, Paul was not referring to Adam or Christ as individuals but rather to a characteristic of both that is true of every individual born into this earthly realm. Paul tells us in no uncertain terms that it is the “natural man” who “does not receive the things of the Spirit of God” (1st Cor. 2:14; NKJV), hence explaining in part the reason for Adam and Eve’s fall from grace in the Genesis parable.
As mentioned in Part 1, the Garden of Eden is a key component in understanding why death even exists, so let’s go to the second chapter of the book of Genesis.
Genesis 2:7-9 (ESV)
7 … then the Lord God formed the man (Adam; mankind) of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature (soul; KJV; 1st Cor. 15:45-47). 8 And the Lord God planted a GARDEN in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 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 (1) was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (2).
What is a garden? Oxford Languages online defines it as, “A small piece of ground used to grow vegetables, fruit, herbs, or flowers.” In other words, it’s a place reserved for sowing or planting seed and reaping the subsequent harvest that eventually follows. What did our Creator do immediately following the formation of mankind? He “planted a garden in Eden, in the east.” What did He do next? “There HE PUT THE MAN WHOM HE HAD FORMED.” The idea of a “garden” brings us to the following.
Galatians 6:7-8 (ESV)
7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one SOWS, that will he also REAP. 8 For the one who sows to his own FLESH will from the flesh reap corruption (1), but the one who sows to the SPIRIT will from the Spirit reap eternal life (2).
No doubt, the sole purpose of a garden is sowing or planting seed and reaping what is planted. That being said, and in agreement with what Paul recorded in Galatians 6, might the “Garden of Eden” actually represent this divine and universal principle? Absolutely! And soon we will learn that the two trees specified in this garden correlate with the twofold outcome of this extraordinary guideline. Further understanding of this perspective can also be gleaned from the Parable of the Sower in Matthew, Chapter 13, Mark, Chapter 4, and Luke, Chapter 8.
Simple logic dictates that the first part of the principle of sowing and reaping, i.e. sowing to the “flesh” and reaping “corruption,” must apply to our “natural” essence as typified by the “natural man” (1st Cor. 2:14; KJV). This of course means that the second part of this principle or sowing “to the Spirit,” applies to our “spiritual” essence. In agreement with the order given by Paul in 1st Corinthians 15:46, we see that the “flesh” or “natural” is FIRST, followed by the “Spirit” or “spiritual.” Why is this? Because the first is requisite for arriving at the second! It cannot be otherwise! Paul confirms this in the following.
1 Corinthians 15:35-36 (NKJV)
35 But someone will say, "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.
Why is the Garden of Eden a key component in understanding death? Because it exemplifies this divine principle which includes the understanding that what is sown “is not made alive UNLESS IT DIES.” What did the Lord tell Adam in Genesis 2:17? “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it YOU SHALL SURELY DIE” (ESV). At this point, we must be willing to lay aside the notion that the fall of Adam and Eve into death is a mistake brought on by the so-called free will of man. Friend, if this is true, then God is certainly far from omniscient! Can we honestly believe that God can be taken by surprise?
When we read that God placed Adam into the Garden after its formation, might this suggest that our Maker placed all humankind into this divinely ordained concept? Might this be why Paul was rather bold in stating, “DO NOT BE DECEIVED: GOD IS NOT MOCKED”? Furthermore, because our Maker IS omniscient, does it not make more sense that He intended for Adam and Eve (and us) to fall in order to accomplish a divine purpose in His creation? And what might this purpose be? We’ll begin our consideration of this in Part 3.