"But now [Jesus] has obtained a more excellent public service, so that he is also the mediator of a correspondingly better covenant, which has been legally established upon better promises." ―Hebrews 8:6
Jehovah created man in his own image, with qualities that he himself possesses; and he deals with him accordingly. Instead of "lording it over” his people he dignifies them by entering into covenants with them, allowing them freedom of choice, and blesses them for carrying out their part of the covenant. (Genesis 1:26,27; Psalms 25:10,14; 1 Peter 5:3)
Before proceeding it might be good to look at what a covenant is. According to WEBSTER'S NEW UNIVERSAL UNABRIDGED DICTIONARY, a covenant is defined as:
1. a binding and solemn agreement by two or more persons, parties, etc. to do or keep from doing some specified thing; a compact. 2. in theology, the promises of God to man, usually carrying with them conditions to be fulfilled by man, as recorded in the Bible.
Also, INSIGHT ON THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. 1, states:
In effect, any promise made by Jehovah is a covenant; it is certain to be carried out; it can be relied on with confidence for its fulfillment. (Heb 6:18) A covenant is in force as long as the terms of it are operative and the obligation to perform rests on one or both parties. The results or the blessings brought about by the covenant may continue, even forever." ―it-1 p. 521 Covenant
Accordingly, the first
covenant Jehovah made with man was with Adam in the Garden of Eden. It involved his
blessings upon the man and his wife, providing them with meaningful and
satisfying work, with the prospect of seeing eventually the whole earth filled with their
offspring; but also
included was the
requirement of obedience to their Creator. (Gen. 1:28;
COVENANT OF WORKS, the constitution under which
Adam was placed at his creation. In this covenant, (1.) The contracting
parties were (a) God the moral Governor, and (b) Adam, a free moral agent,
and representative of all his natural posterity (Rom. 5:12-19). (2.) The
promise was "life" (Matt. 19:16, 17; Gal. 3:12). (3.) The condition was
perfect obedience to the law, the test in this case being abstaining from
eating the fruit of the "tree of knowledge," etc. (4.) The penalty was
death (Gen. 2:16, 17).
Symbolizing the terms of the covenant were
two unique trees that Jehovah had planted within the Garden of Eden. Growing in
the middle of the garden was the “tree of life,” the eating of which
symbolized the right to continued life for keeping the covenant. It was easily accessible due to its location, and
since there was no prohibition in connection with it Adam was permitted
to eat of its fruit. (Gen. 2:16,17;
22:1,2) The other was the “tree of the knowledge of
good and bad.”
The terms of this covenant that Jehovah made with Adam were much the same as what he told the nation of Israel over 2,500 years later, when he entered into a covenant with them.
"I have put life and death before you, the blessing and the malediction; and you must choose life in order that you may keep alive, you and your offspring, by loving Jehovah your God, by listening to his voice and by sticking to him; for he is your life and the length of your days." ―Deuteronomy 30:19,20.
Jehovah has always allowed man to make his
own decisions in life. He will tell us what is best for us but leaves the
choice of what we do up to ourselves. (Isaiah 48:17-19) Of course, with
choice comes responsibility! By choosing to love Jehovah, by his obedience
and keeping the covenant, Adam could hope to reap the blessings meant for
him and his posterity. But disobedience would break his covenant and thus
also his relationship with God, not just for himself but also all his yet
unborn offspring, which of course includes all of us. (1 John 5:3)
The purpose of God's command to Adam was not to test his obedience but rather to guide him, just as the laws of the covenant made with the nation of Israel was for the purpose of benefitting them. It was a simple law to which he would eventually add others as mankind grew in numbers. God did not create man with infinite wisdom, but wanted Adam to learn from his Creator. He was not designed "to direct his step" but rather to look to God for guidance. (Jeremiah 10:23) This was not a flaw in his design, but rather showed God’s great love for man, as he wanted to be a caring father to us, as members of his family. He did not create man and then abandon him, to fend for himself, as is sometimes the case with parents today. Jehovah would never be too busy to listen to his children and provide for their needs.
As long as Adam was alone he did not need much in the way of laws. But when Jehovah presented him with a wife, Eve, the situation changed. Who would set the standard on what was proper conduct? How should a husband treat his wife, or the wife her husband? Not just Adam and his wife needed guidance, but also all future generations. Why do we today have so many marriage counselors, failed marriages and broken homes if we can direct our own step? (Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:28,33; 1 Peter 3:7)
The question also included: who would decide between what is good or bad, right and wrong, for all the future generations that were to follow? There have to be laws, for without them there is chaos. Is that not why every nation, every state or province, every town, village and municipality has laws? But rebelling against those laws is common as the authority to make laws and enforce them is challenged universally.
Who would have the right and the wisdom to
make laws for all mankind that would be respected and obeyed by all? Who
would have the love to want the best for all God’s children, without
prejudice? Also, who would have the right and power to enforce these laws?
Jehovah, in his love and wisdom, and as our Creator, kept the right for himself to not only
tell us what is good or bad, right and wrong, but also to enforce
compliance. He knew that without a universal authority that everyone can
accept, there would eventually be worldwide lawlessness. Thus the "tree of
the knowledge of good and bad" symbolized the right for God to govern us.
It was a simple law at a time when a lot of rules were not needed, and it
was the basis for the covenant. Thus, to obey God would mean accepting his
benevolent rule over us and keeping his covenant; whereas disobeying this
simple command and eating from the tree would be rejecting his
authority, rebelling against his right to decide for us what is good or bad, and thus break
the covenant with all its consequences.
An Anointed Guardian Cherub
God did not create Adam and his wife with any defects. They were created perfect. (Deuteronomy 32:4) How is it, then, that a perfect person can sin, since sin means "missing the mark?" Let us consider briefly what perfection does not mean.
Being perfect did not mean for Adam to be
all-knowing. After he was created he had to learn about his Creator, about
his surroundings, about the animals, and the variety of foods available to
him. God gave him the work of assigning names to the many kinds of animals
and he would have to observe them in order to give them meaningful ones.
(Genesis 2:19,20) Jehovah intended to educate Adam, and since he was
perfect he would have been able to retain the information easily, having a
perfect memory. And, in turn, the man could instruct his future offspring.
Consider Jesus as an example. He was born
without sin, he was perfect. But does that mean that he could walk as soon
as he was born, or did he have to learn to do that? Like all children, he
probably stumbled a few times before getting good at it, and finally being
able to run. He also had to learn to talk, and later learn from his father
the carpentry skills. Does perfection demand that he did everything
"perfect" the first time? He needed to be educated, but he must have been
an excellent student. By the time he was twelve years of age the teachers
in the temple "were in constant amazement at his understanding and his
answers." (Luke 2:46,47) Perfection enabled Jesus to take in information,
retain it, recall it when needed, and apply it far better than we are able
to do in our imperfect condition. (Matthew 13:54)
CHERUB: An angelic creature of high rank having special duties, distinguished from the order of seraphs. . . In [Ezekiel’s] pictorial visions the cherubs are intimately associated with the glorious personage of Jehovah and constantly attendant upon him.
The Bible reveals the following about this anointed covering cherub:
"This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has
said: 'You are sealing up a pattern, full of wisdom and
perfect in beauty. In Eden, the garden of God, you proved to be. Every
precious stone was your covering, ruby, topaz and jasper; chrysolite, onyx
and jade; sapphire, turquoise and emerald; and of gold was the workmanship
of your settings and your sockets in you. In the day of your being created
they were made ready. You are the anointed cherub that is covering, and I
have set you. On the holy mountain of God you proved to be. In the midst
of fiery stones you walked about. You were faultless in your ways from the
day of your being created until unrighteousness was found in you.
This cherub had been "anointed" by Jehovah for the purpose of “covering” or sheltering man in the same way that Jehovah had his angels protect his Son from any harm when on earth; had put a protective "hedge" around faithful Job; and safeguarded faithful servants of his on many occasions. It demonstrates what great love and concern our heavenly Father has for his children. The Scriptures tell us: ”For the angel of the LORD guards all who fear him, and he rescues them.” (Psalms 34:7 NLT; 91:11,12,14; 105:14,15; Luke 4:10,11; Job 1:10; 2 Cor. 6:17,18; see footnote 1)
Being anointed by
God rightfully placed this cherub in the Garden of Eden. He had been
given his position of authority just like Jehovah has entrusted other
servants of his with authority to watch over his people, such as in the
case of Moses, Saul, David, Jeroboam, Jesus, and eventually a "little
flock" of chosen ones. (compare
2 Samuel 7:8;
Adam Breaks the Covenant of Life
Just as a sinful person can do good, because he wants to, in the same way a perfect person can also do bad, if that is what he chooses to do. (see Ezekiel 33:18,19)
This highly favored spirit son of God must have reasoned that he was more worthy of his position than any of the other angelic creatures, due to his wisdom and exceeding beauty. After all, was that not the reason why Jehovah had chosen and anointed him with such wonderful privilege and authority? He became obsessed with his wisdom and beauty, which made him feel superior. He now craved to be like God, desiring to have subjects that would look to him for guidance and worship him. The scripture tells us:
"As for you, you have said in your heart, ‘To the heavens I shall go up. Above the stars of God I shall lift up my throne, and I shall sit down upon the mountain of meeting, in the remotest parts of the north. I shall go up above the high places of the clouds; I shall make myself resemble the Most High.’" ―Isaiah 14:13,14. (see footnote 2)
Waiting for the opportunity for Adam's wife Eve to be alone, this anointed cherub approached her by using a serpent (snake) to conceal his true identity. Eve was not afraid of snakes or any of the animals as they had been made subject to man. Now, this previous "faultless" son of God told Eve the first lie ever spoken. (John 8:44) He directly contradicted the clearly stated consequence of disobedience. The account in Genesis tells us:
"Now the serpent proved to be the most cautious of all the wild beasts of the field that Jehovah God had made. So it began to say to the woman: "Is it really so that God said YOU must not eat from every tree of the garden?" At this the woman said to the serpent: "Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat. But as for [eating] of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘YOU must not eat from it, no, YOU must not touch it that YOU do not die.’" At this the serpent said to the woman: "YOU positively will not die. For God knows that in the very day of YOUR eating from it YOUR eyes are bound to be opened and YOU are bound to be like God, KNOWING good and bad." ―Genesis 3:1-5.
The idea of wanting to be like God had appealed to the anointed cherub and now he was using this as an inducement to tempt Eve as well. Did Eve also want to be like God? Do we? The implication is clear, if we refuse to listen to God, and decide for ourselves as to what is good and bad, we are in reality wanting to be like God. That is also true of anyone who presumptuously adds or takes away from what God has commanded us. (Deuteronomy 12:32) That is why the vast majority of Adam's offspring have refused to subject themselves to God. This attitude is very prevalent and even encouraged today. Most do not want to submit to any sort of authority. They want to do what is right in their own eyes. Has this proved to be beneficial, as this now rebellious spirit creature promised?
By his lie this once
cherub made himself the Devil. And by opposing God he became Satan. He
succeeded in getting Eve
to listened to him, and so took the fruit and ate it. Later she gave
some of it also to her husband. The scriptures tell us that Eve was
deceived but Adam was not. (2 Corinthians 11:3;
1 Timothy 2:14)
A Promised Hope
Although the first man Adam had
now become guilty of sin, Jehovah still had full confidence in his creation. He
had pronounced it as good. (Genesis 1:27,28,31) Adam's rebellion was not
due to any defect in his design, as is stated at Deuteronomy 32:5,
"They have acted ruinously on their own part;
They are not his children, the defect is their own. A generation crooked
Our Creator, who designed the amazing
human body with all its interdependent organs and parts, which we often
take for granted when everything functions the way it should (thus
enjoying good health), certainly also knows what is best when it comes
to human relationships. To get along with one another in peace and
harmony, especially on a world wide scale, we need guidance from above.
(Jer. 10:24) By his disobedience, Adam had rejected any dependence on God
and could no longer look to him for direction. The terrible consequences
that soon followed was an indication of what was in store for humanity
estranged from their Creator. Not being guided by God’s law and thus not in a
position to teach it to his offspring, such as morals
of right and wrong),
Adam's firstborn son
Cain, in a fit of jealous rage, turned upon his younger brother Abel and murdered him. It set the stage for things to come. (Gen. 4:8,25)
Every man became a law to himself,
enforced by his own strength and superiority, although at that time
everyone was still closely related to each other. (Gen. 4:23,24; Eccl.
In time the whole
earth came to be filled with violence and bloodshed; so very opposite of
what God had intended.
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