Part 1 – Shadows of the Kingdom, Chapter 4 – Deforming the intended direction for creation
[Bible references: Genesis 2:16-17; 3:14-15, 23; Psalm 4; Hebrews 1:1-4]
Everything was broken and separated from God. Spiritual death, the impaired relation between God and His image-bearers was immediate and would be mirrored by the physical death caused by separation of the people who would no longer have access to the Tree of Life. This was a great tragedy that could not be undone, not by the image bearers. But as we look around us, we can see that, despite the tragedy around us, things aren’t totally bad. Even though evil is very evident around us, goodness is also evident. It is in that observation that we can glimpse the possibility of hope.
God had ordained the penalty of death, spiritual and physical, to be the consequence of turning away from him. Spiritual death, the separation God’s image-bearers from God happened immediately, but physical death, the separation of soul and body, did not happen right away. What God did, was to apply discipline to his image-bearers. He also gave a hint of the solution to the problem created by sin, the first of many other hints that were to come.
There was also evidence for hope in the continued creation by God, as he continued to sustain the universe he created, and within that universe He continued to create new living things, plants, and animals alike. Related to that hope, was that the mandate given to the image-bearers was still in force, although there would now be suffering involved in the fulfillment of the mandate.
There was also hope hidden in God’s very name. The name given to us, which was given to Moses and first revealed in Genesis 2, is “Yahweh” (Hebrew, יהוה). In the ancient Hebrew, the characters would have looked a little different and each character would represent an object or action. In Hebrew, the characters are read from right to left. The first character (י) represents a hand or arm and could also represent work or worship. The character (ה) represents a man with arms raised and could also represent displaying or revealing something. The (ו) character represents a nail or tent peg and could also represent fastening something together. So, embedded in the name יהוה is the message “hand revealed nail revealed” – a foretelling of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
The sacrifice of Jesus followed a life in which Jesus successfully waited to receive those things that His Father intended to give, resisting the temptation to grab those things for himself. In his life and death, Jesus successfully accomplished what Adam and all those who came after Adam had not.
In the beginning, we were eager to grasp for ourselves wisdom and the knowledge of good and evil on our own terms. What we didn’t plan on the consequences that would follow. Sometimes God gives us what we think we want even though it would bring us the suffering that God was trying to steer us from. It’s a continuing pattern we see from the beginning until now, that it is not always a good thing when we get what we think we want.
 Benner, Jeff A. “Hebrew Alphabet Chart”
It’s not hard to see signs of brokenness around us. Are there any signs of hope that can be seen?
Read Galatians 3:13-14; Ephesians 1:11-12; Jeremiah 29:11; Isaiah 1:26; Matthew 17:11; Acts 3:18-26. Throughout the Bible, God has chosen to share his future plans in pieces at a time. Because of that, what exactly those plans are, have been the subject of much debate within the church. What is your understanding of God’s plans for the future?