Paradise was Lost at the Fall of Man
At the Creation it seems that God’s plan was for mankind to dwell with Him in peace and harmony. For instance, the Lord God walked the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day looking for Adam and Eve. The Garden was a form of earthly Paradise. Let’s read just how pleasing and beautiful that Garden was:
The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God caused every tree to grow that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden [rather than rely upon storms]; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there as well. The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and tend it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may freely eat; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for on the day that you eat from it you will certainly die.”
For more detail on this amazing Garden see Eden.
But the Good Life in Eden was Conditional
As mentioned, Adam was commanded not to eat the fruit of The Tree of Good and Evil. If he did, he would die. He didn’t die immediately, but he did die of old age (930 years according to Genesis 5). He had become mortal. It seems that man’s mortality was the consequence of disobeying God’s command. Mortality was the consequence of the wrong free-will choice and this had consequences:
therefore [as a result of man’s wrong choice] the Lord God sent him out of the Garden of Eden [from an earthly form of Paradise], to cultivate the ground from which he was taken (Genesis 3:23)
It seems Paradise was lost.
But what if Adam and Eve hadn’t eaten the forbidden fruit and simply obeyed the rules God imposed in Eden? Would they have retained their immortality and enjoyed Paradise with God for ever? Would they have continued to live and not die? It seems that, given free choice (free-will), mankind made the wrong choice. Theologians refer to this historical event as The Fall of Man.
Is it all a Myth?
We can dismiss the Genesis account as myth, and many do. After all, at the outset it seems unfair on the rest of mankind. On the other hand it does explain our everyday experience of good and evil. It explains how man’s free-will (choice) can be destructive, or constructive. It explains the chosen paths of Hitler and Wilberforce for example; one man destroyed humanity whilst the other helped humanity. In a fallen world who can deny that man can do either?
The Redemption of Man – Paradise Restored
Was Paradise and the harmony of man with God lost for ever? Or is there a way back to a perfect everlasting destiny? Is there a way back to Paradise?
Apart from describing the Fall of Man, the Bible also gives hope. Romans chapter 8 says that, due to the Fall the whole of creation currently groans and labours, but will one day return to a state of Paradise. According to Revelation an Eden-like Paradise will one day be restored and populated by all who believe in Jesus. But all that is on a New Earth. Here’s a brief look at that future Earth:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood The Tree of Life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse.
The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve Him. They will see his face, and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
Now that sounds like Paradise. Mankind once more in harmony with his Creator – the perfect destiny. But how can fallen mankind get there?