The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.
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Themes Archive

 
Corrupting of the Righteous World
 
    At Eden at the beginning of God's seventh creative day a righteous world existed. The time was about 4,025 B.C. There was then a righteous earth under righteous heavens. By this we mean something different from the planet earth and the material heavens from which man gets his natural light by day and night, the sun, moon and stars. In the symbolisms of the Bible the heavens are used to represent those who inhabit the realm higher than man's, namely, the invisible heavenly realm inhabited by spirit persons. The earth is used to picture the human population who inhabit it. Addressing such, Psalm 96:10, 11 says: "Jehovah reigneth: the world also is established that it cannot be moved: ... Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice." (AS) From this standpoint there was a righteous earth at the garden of Eden. Not only was it a paradise, but it had righteous human inhabitants, created in perfection in the image and likeness of God. Every animal, even the serpent, was in subjection to the perfect man and woman. "God made man upright." (Eccl. 7:29, AS) There was, too, a righteous heaven over upright man. The great heavenly Father was over his human son and daughter and was doubtless represented invisibly in Eden by his official Word, his only-begotten Son, now Jesus Christ. Jehovah God would doubtless speak to his human creation by his only-begotten Son as His official Word. There is no record of anyone else's speaking officially with humankind in the paradise of Eden.
   The tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and bad God planted in Eden with man in mind. If any birds and animals ate of that tree of life and tree of knowledge, it was not to be expected that by this act and by such food they would gain the right to eternal life and a knowledge by which they could determine and decree what is good and bad.    The first man Adam was under a test in Eden and before the test was over God did not mention, point out and identify to Adam the tree of life in the middle of the garden, as far as the Bible shows. But when reminding Adam that he was under test to prove whether he was worthy to continue living in the paradise of Eden, God declared the tree of the knowledge of good and bad a forbidden tree. "And Jehovah God proceeded to take the man and settle him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and to take care of it. And Jehovah God also laid this command upon the man: 'From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.' " (Gen. 2:15-17, NW) According to this, man would not die for not eating from the tree of knowledge but would die for eating from it while prohibited. Hence Adam was not deprived of anything vital by being barred from eating it. As for the knowledge of good and bad, Adam could leave that safely with God without fear of being a shame-worthy ignoramus. God allowed Adam freedom of choice as to whether to eat from it or not. God did not tempt Adam to disobedience and wickedness by putting the tree of knowledge in the garden, for he had the other trees to eat of to satisfaction; but God rather encouraged him to obedience and faithfulness to God's sovereignty by warning him of the penalty of eating the forbidden fruit. So Adam could not be deceived by any tempter about this.
  After God gave Adam his instructions and warned him against the way that led to death, God created a wife for him and gave her in marriage to his earthly son Adam. It was then that God, speaking by his official Word, his only-begotten Son, blessed them and stated their commission to subdue the earth and fill it with a righteous godly race. Doubtless there were other occasions afterward when Jehovah God by his official Word spoke to them as he walked in the garden about the breezy part of the day, for so the divine Record indicates later. Adam, acting as Jehovah's visible mouthpiece or prophet, told his wife about the forbidden fruit and warned her of the death penalty. This was because she was a part of his body, one with him, and he did not want to have harm come to his own flesh. Rightly he loved her and did not want to lose her in death. No other creature on earth was God's prophet to her, but such other would-be prophet on earth would be a false one and would mislead her into death.
   Then a day came and another voice was heard in the paradise of Eden. It was not Jehovah's; it was not Adam's. Eve looked at the speaker. It was the serpent, known for its cautiousness. "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 for fear you may 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.' " (Gen. 3:1-5, NW) Hm-m-m! That was a new thought to Eve about that tree.
   But the Creator had not endowed that lowly creature with the power of speech and gift of human language. There must have been someone behind that serpent speaking—from the invisible world, the same way that an angel made Balaam's ass speak to him. (Num. 22:21-33; 2 Pet. 2:15,16) Who was the real speaker that tried to act as a truer prophet than Adam and contradicted what God had said? It could be no other than the lying adversary of God. Warning against false apostles and prophets, Paul warned his Christian brothers: "The serpent seduced Eve by its craftiness,... And no wonder, for Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light." (2 Cor. 11:3, 13, 14, NW) But how did he ever get to be in the righteous paradise of Eden?
   From other parts of the Bible we must build up the facts of the case. Ezekiel, chapter twenty-eight, mentions another personage as being in the garden of Eden. But that prophecy is addressed to the king of Tyre; and the city of Tyre did not exist in Eden and the literal king of Tyre who was there addressed was not born till thousands of years later. (Josh. 19:29) However, the king of Tyre or the dynasty of its kings took a traitorous course toward Jehovah's people; and in describing the wickedness of the royalty of Tyre God uses language that fits his treacherous adversary at Eden. Because the course of the royal line of Tyre is thus likened to that of the original traitor against God, then by our considering the language of Ezekiel 28:11-19 we can see reflected the lamentable course of the glorious cherub of heaven who became the chief opposer of God and the murderer of humankind.
   The king of Tyre was once without blame with regard to the nation of Israel after they settled in the land of Palestine. There was no iniquity in the king of Tyre as far as molesting the chosen people of Jehovah was concerned, even though the Tyrians were cursed Canaanites and the Israelites were Shemites. The king of Tyre in the days of David the king of Jerusalem was Hiram, and this Hiram was ever a lover of David. So he sent envoys to David and craftsmen to build David a palace. David's son Solomon made a league with King Hiram, and this king of Tyre provided the sturdy lumber from the mountainside of Lebanon for the temple that King Solomon built to Jehovah. Solomon also sent to Tyre for a craftsman named Hiram, who was half Tyrian and half Jew, and he did the intricate brasswork of Jehovah's temple. The king of Tyre also assisted in building Solomon's magnificent palace and provided pilots and sailors for Solomon's fleet. King Hiram even addressed Solomon as "my brother". (2 Sam. 5:11; 1 Ki. 5:1 to 9:27; 10:11-22) This was irreproachable conduct for a heathen king.
   In course of time iniquity of conduct toward Jehovah's chosen people was found in the king of Tyre. He yielded to commercialism; he joined Israel's enemies; he carried gold and silver belonging to Jehovah into his temples at Tyre, sold the sons of the kingdom of Judah to the distant Grecians, abandoned the captive Israelites to the enemy nation Edom and "remembered not the brotherly covenant". (Joel 3:4-8; Amos 1:9, 10) He ceased to be a protector, ceased to be like a cherub with outstretched wings, like the cherubs in Jehovah's temple that stretched out their wings to cover the propitiatory cover of the Ark of his covenant. By the slopes of Mount Lebanon, with its famous cedars, the king of Tyre had been as in a garden of Eden and on a mountain of God. He was gorgeously decked in royal robes and splendor from all the precious gems and metals that his commerce had brought into the country. But now for his devilish perfidy toward Jehovah's people, divine judgment was to come upon him at God's appointed time. He was to lose his position in his Eden-like garden spot and on God's mountain, and he was to suffer fiery destruction and become a loathsome memory.
   Because of the king's close imitation of the course of God's main adversary, God uses the king's course to picture the course of the Devil, and he really addresses the Devil, at Ezekiel 28:11-19, saying: "Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Thou, who sealest up the measure of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, thou wast in Eden, the garden of God. Every precious stone was thy covering: the sardius, the topaz, and the diamond, the chrysolite, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the carbuncle, and the emerald, and gold. The workmanship of thy tambours and of thy pipes was in thee: in the day that thou wast created were they prepared. Thou wast the anointed covering cherub, and I had set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou didst walk up and down in the midst of stones of fire." - Da; AS; Yg.
   This reveals to us that besides the Word, or God's only-begotten Son, God had stationed a cherub in the garden of Eden, whose personal glory was like that of Tyre's king decked in dazzling precious stones and in gold, with musical accompaniment. Being God's creation, he bore the stamp of the measure of perfection and he was beautiful and wise. He was anointed by God to a position of service. His responsibility was to cover or safeguard as with wings that part of God's universal organization over which God set him. So he was on the mountain of God, the mountain picturing God's holy universal organization. Being a glorious cherub, he was invisible to Adam and Eve, who were under his outspread wings in Eden. Being higher than they and being spirit, this anointed covering cherub served as an immediate heavens over them, a righteous heavens. Adam and Eve, being "out of the earth and made of dust", constituted a righteous earth, symbolically speaking. (1 Cor. 15:47, 48, NW) Thus at the be-ginning of human history in the garden of Eden God set up a righteous world, of righteous spiritual heavens and of a righteous human earth. God created no Devil.
   The anointed covering cherub was wise, but still he could go wrong in his responsible position. King Solomon was the wisest man of pre-Christian times and yet he lost his understanding and turned away from Jehovah God and took up idolatry. His "brother", the king of Tyre, was also wise to begin with, but then he yielded to selfishness and betrayed the interests of Jehovah's chosen nation of Israel. God, pointing out the unfaithful course of the anointed covering cherub at Eden, now says: "Thou wast perfect in thy ways, from the day that thou wast created, till unrighteousness was found in thee. By the abundance of thy traffic they filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned; therefore have I cast thee as profane from the mountain of God, and have destroyed thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I have cast thee to the ground, I have laid thee before kings, that they may behold thee. By the multitude of thine iniquities, by the unrighteousness of thy traffic, thou hast profaned thy sanctuaries: and I have brought forth a fire out of the midst of thee—it hath consumed thee; and I have brought thee to ashes upon the earth, in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the peoples shall be amazed at thee: thou art become a terror, and thou shalt never be any more." - Ezek. 28:15-19, Da; AS; Yg; So.
   From this we discern that the anointed covering cherub in Eden, new in his position but yet wise enough for it, was lifted up with pride at his endowments from God. Blinded by it he engaged in a condemned course. For this he was used as a warning against putting a novice or newly converted person in a responsible position of prominence in the Christian congregation, "for fear that he might get puffed up with pride and fall into the judgment passed upon the Devil." (1 Tim. 3:6, NW) Just as the princely son of the king of Tyre presumed to be a god and 'set his heart as the heart of God', so the covering cherub became selfish and wanted to become worshiped as God, at first by Adam and Eve. (Ezek. 28:1-9, Da) As the king of Tyre took the children of the kingdom of Judah captive and sold them as slaves to the Greeks for self-profit, so the covering cherub, greedy for selfish gain, was willing to capture Adam and Eve from God and sell them into the service of others for the price of his exaltation and worship as a god. He was willing to do violence to the interests of Adam and Eve by murderously turning them into the course that would lead to their destruction and to the death of all their offspring. For this crime the covering cherub, grown proud and selfish, would bring destruction upon himself, foreshadowed by the destruction that came upon the perfidious, commercialized line of kings of Tyre, accompanied by the ruin of their capital city Tyre. God is thus absolved from the charge of creating Satan the Devil. The anointed covering cherub in Eden made himself that wicked one.
   The oldest Bible translation is the Greek Septuagint Version (LXX). It was made by He-brews from Hebrew manuscripts older than the oldest Hebrew manuscript of Ezekiel that we have extant today. It reads differently from the Masoretic Hebrew text, which is quite variable or obscure in meaning in some parts of Ezekiel 28:11-19. Addressing the Devil, pictured by the king of Tyre, the Septuagint says: "Thou wast in the delight of the paradise of God;... From the day that thou wast created thou wast with the cherub: I set thee on the holy mount of God; thou wast in the midst of the stones of fire.... Of the abundance of thy merchandise thou hast filled thy storehouses with iniquity, and hast sinned: therefore thou hast been cast down wounded from the mount of God, and the cherub has brought thee out of the midst of the stones of fire." - Ezek. 28:13-16, LXX (Bagster; Thomson); see also RS; AT; Mo.
   According to this the Devil was not himself once the anointed covering cherub, but was with the cherub in Eden, possibly meaning with the Word, God's only-begotten Son by whom God made Adam and Eve. When the glorious spirit creature pictured by the king of Tyre yielded to selfish ambition, and unrighteousness was dis-covered in him, then the cherub drove him out of his glorious position and threw him, wounded with a divine condemnation, out of God's mountain or theocratic organization. Our determining whether this is the correct reading of Ezekiel's prophecy against the king of Tyre waits upon the discovery of an older Hebrew manuscript of Ezekiel's prophecy that will agree with the Sep tuagint Version (LXX). In the meantime we shall hold to the traditional Masoretic Hebrew text, with which the Latin Vulgate agrees. Whereas Jehovah by his Word conversed with Adam and Eve in their perfection and innocence, the Genesis record does not show that the anointed covering cherub did so directly. When he did address Eve, according to the record, he did so indirectly through the serpent. He did so as a traitor to God, as Satan the Devil, which Bible expression means "the Opposer, the Slanderer". He had now set himself in opposition to Jehovah's universal sovereignty; and to tempt Eve and Adam away from willing submission to Jehovah's rightful sovereignty he slandered God to Eve and misrepresented God as a liar. Captivated by his own egotistic ambition to be a god to take the place of Jehovah, he dangled before Eve the idea of becoming like Jehovah God and being able to make her own decisions as to what is right and wrong, good and bad.
   Satan did not reveal his now devilish trans-formation but disguised himself as an angel of light and acted craftily and used the cautious, inoffensive-looking serpent of that day. He became the first liar and slanderer or devil, and by what followed he became a murderer. In proof of this, Jesus, God's only-begotten Son, who also had been in Eden, said to Satan's agents: "You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a man-slayer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie."—John 8:44, NW.
   Adam was not present at Eve's temptation and could not exercise his headship over her by preventing her from eating the forbidden fruit. After wrongly entertaining the Devil's slanderous charges against her Creator, Eve fell under deception. She began to feel she was blind intellectually and morally. She determined to try being godlike at once by deciding that Jehovah God was frightening her to keep her back from becoming like Him, and by making her own rule of what was right and good. That her husband might not interfere, she would eat while he was away. "Consequently the woman saw that the tree's fruit was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, yes, the tree was desirable to look upon. So she began taking of its fruit and eating it. Afterward she gave some also to her husband when with her and he began eating it. Then the eyes of both of them became opened and they began to realize that they were naked. Hence they sewed fig leaves together and made loin-coverings for themselves." - Gen. 3:6, 7, NW.
   Adam ate of the forbidden fruit under no deception from the spirit Serpent, the Devil. Hence he sinned willingly and fully deserved the penalty death. "For Adam was formed first, then Eve. Also Adam was not deceived, but the woman was thoroughly deceived and came to be in transgression." (1 Tim. 2:13, 14, NW) At once that quality of conscience, which distinguishes man from the lower living creatures, began to condemn them and they could no longer look upon each other in a pure way. They became filled with a fear of God, which causes a restraint and which shows a lack of love for him—sin against God is unloving toward him. So they made artificial coverings of body parts they now became ashamed of, and they tried to escape pronouncement of the penalty of the law.
   All this denoted a world catastrophe. Oh no, the literal heavens and earth of the material cosmos did not meet with disaster and suffer destruction. But the righteous world, or theocratic arrangement of things heavenly and earthly, had ended. It had become corrupted, not through any evil ingredients in it itself, but by the forming of selfish desire and by being drawn away by it into a lawless, godless course. (Jas. 1:13-15) The local heavens, represented by the anointed covering cherub, yielded to corruption first and produced the great original Serpent, Satan the Devil. The earth, represented by Adam and Eve, yielded to the influence of the corrupted heavens and departed from the way of theocratic righteousness. The need arose for creating righteous new heavens and a new earth, to vindicate the Creator, Jehovah God.