Saturday, May 26, 2012

This life and eternal life

Apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the young Christian community in Corinth
If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
1 Cor 15:19 NASB

The fullness of the Biblical revelation - for there is an internal development or should we say evolution of the matter - clearly talks about two types of life. There is "this life" by which Paul apparently means the life that ends in death and there is a life under the generic title "resurrection". Especially in the cited chapter 15 apostle Paul attempts to explain what this is.

The Biblical setting for life
The setting for life is set in mythical language and images in the second creation story that tells about the Garden of Eden. This is a story of life and death in most serious tones and establishes the framework for human existence in God's world.

We read from the story of Eden that God creates the wonderful garden with special considerations for man. There were friendly animals, plenty of fresh water, wonderful fruits - including figs - and the gold of Havila was pure and good. God in His goodness creates woman as a suitable help for man so that he does not need to be alone. The two were running around butt naked and were sexually innocent like small children or even more so. It was a really good place to live, a true paradise, carefully planted and planned by God for man, Adam (adama, earth).

However, Garden of Eden was not a static place, a kind of retirement vacation hotel just for being happy and lazy. It was a dynamic place full of gardening and maintenance work and enormous potential.

The amazing Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil growing in the midst of the garden was mysterious and the more intriguing to Adam because he was explicitly forbidden to eat its fruit under the threat of death sentence "die by dying". Note that the first and only command in the Garden of Eden was given before Eve had been created of Adam's rib.

There was also the Tree of Life and no prohibition against eating from it!

The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
Genesis 2:16-17 NASB

After Adam and Eve had eaten from the mysterious Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil their creator God became worried that in this status of "knowing like God good and evil" they would now go and eat from the Tree of Life. This tree would change them so that the life God had given them would become eternal - no death. (Even there was a death sentence hanging against Adam and Eve for eating the forbidden fruit against God's commandment.)

Potential for eternal life
There was now a great risk that God saw in the case of His creatures. The state of Adam and Eve had changed after eating from the mysterious tree and now the potential of eternal life existed in the unguarded Tree of Life growing in the garden.

God was clearly thinking that in the status before breaking His commandment Adam and Eve could have eaten from that wonderful tree and avoided death. Now something essential had changed and eating from the Tree of Life would be a disaster. Not for God who lives and is the master of life and death but for Adam and Eve themselves. 

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”
Gen 3:21 NASB

So action was definitely needed by God Himself in control of the situation and responsible for everything

therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden

He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.
Gen 3:22-24 NASB

Reality of life and death and eternity
How can we possibly talk about "reality" when the Biblical setting of the human condition - blessed life, fall and curse, death, eternal life as good or evil - is set in such mythical terms?

How can we possibly talk about "reality" of resurrection when the Biblical message through Apostle Paul is so clearly tied with faith and not factual proof and with so much room for disbelief in the so called apostolic wittness that Jesus lives, the new Adam is here and we have hope beyond this life and after death?


That's how it is.

Take it or leave it.

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