ECHOES from EDEN, PART 24
END-TIME PROPHECY – TRUTH REVEALED
BY: J. PRESTON EBY
KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
THE GARMENTS of EDEN
Naked in the Garden
The Exposure of the Flesh
"And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. And when the woman saw that the tree was a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. Unto Adam and his wife did the Lord God make COATS OF SKINS, AND CLOTHED THEM."
If we understand how a machine works, then the most intricate mechanism in the world is simple, but if we lack this understanding, even the simplest device can bewilder us. Well do I remember my fascination as I listened to a friend who works at the nearby White Sands Missile Range explain the almost incredible performance of our missile and anti-missile systems. When I expressed my astonished admiration, he smiled and said, "Well, really it is quite simple when you understand the principle of it." Any who have received specialized training and have become proficient in their specific field, will not doubt the truth of that statement. I once watched the frustration of my nine year old daughter as she tried to connect a tire pump to her bicycle tire. Not having connected anything like that before, the harder she tried to screw the pump connector on to the valve stem the more difficulty she was in. After a short period of observation I went over and pointed out to her that it is necessary to hold the connector absolutely straight over the valve while turning it on in order for the threads to join. A very simple lesson, but how important! So whether it be a multi-million dollar missile or a three dollar pump, both are quite simple when you know how they work. The way a bumble bee flies with wings disproportionate to its body size and shape is a mystery to man, but to the bee it is merely his way of life.
The same thought of understanding was in the heart of the apostle Paul when he wrote,
Men of the world have told me that the things recorded in the Bible are ridiculous, and I suppose to them they are, since God has declared, "it is foolishness unto them."
There is not the slightest uncertainty in my mind that although the mind and heart of each and every child of God has been quickened by the Spirit of God, yet, in our spiritual immaturity we have oft times understood only a minute portion of the things that pertain to the vast and marvelous realm into which we have been birthed. Like Israel of old, even in the reading of the scriptures, a veil has been over our minds and we have been limited to that which our carnal mind could interpret, so that we have seen the things of God from the limited view of human understanding rather than seeing things AS HE SEES THEM. Understand this and you will understand a great truth: Divine revelation always carries one beyond what the natural mind can grasp. Read any chapter or verse in the whole Bible, and if you can understand what you read with your natural mind then you have failed to discover the TRUE MEANING which lies hidden deep beneath the apparent meaning. If you do not see any truth above and beyond what is obvious to the natural understanding then you have not been touched by the spirit of wisdom and revelation from God and what you do understand is not a living revelation of truth to you at all, but merely a DEAD LETTER.
This is no more the case anywhere than when we approach the opening chapters of the book of Genesis with their story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The vast majority of God's people have never progressed beyond what the carnal mind beholds in that wondrous scene: An earthly paradise flourishing with fruit-laden trees, abounding with babbling brooks, grassy slopes and secluded dales; inhabited by exotic animals and one naked human couple who had nothing better to do than spend their days sampling the luscious fruit, romping and playing over the sun-kissed hills and across the valleys, bathing their flesh in the invigorating waters, and petting the animals. But can you not see, beloved friend, that if you were to give the story of Adam and Eve to the vilest sinner on earth, and to the meanest man in the country, and to the wealthiest business man you know, and to the most depraved drunk in the gutter, along with the most fundamental pastor in your city and the most lettered scholar from the seminary, after all have read and studied the story with great deliberation, ask each of these men to relate what they have learned, and one and all, having read with darkened natural minds, will have perceived precisely the same things, will have reached exactly the same conclusions, and the ungodly drunk will recite the same set of facts as the preacher!
Ah, beloved, it does not take one ounce of revelation from God to interpret the story of the Garden of Eden with the natural mind! Because God is God, because God is Spirit, and because His Book is a spiritual Book, we must expect Him to say many things and state many facts that the human mind cannot comprehend nor pry into.
There is one thing about which the Lord's people must be very clear. The Bible is not primarily intended to teach history, or biography, or natural science. It is intended to teach THE PURPOSES OF GOD and SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLES AND REALITIES. It deals primarily with states of being and the laws of spiritual activity; and anything else is only incidental. Each of the principle characters in the Bible represents a kind of nature, character, or state of being that any of us may experience and walk out; and the events that happen to the various characters illustrate the consequences to us of walking in such realms of nature and character, either good or bad.
May the Holy Spirit stir up our spiritual minds to see that the story of Adam and Eve is not merely the historical tale of an original pair that leaves us more or less uninvolved. Adam is mankind. Adam is everyman. Adam is you and me and every other man and woman that have ever lived or shall live. What happened to him happens to us. What he was we have been. His experience is our experience. May God now give enlightenment to the eyes of your spiritual understanding that you may see and know of a truth that what was happening to Adam in the Garden speaks of SPIRITUAL REALITIES even in the beginning of history, before history, beyond history and yet in history; it is we ourselves of whom the Garden speaks, it is we ourselves who are confronted, intended, addressed, accused, expelled, and redeemed. It is our pre-history, truly our own. It is the beginning, destiny, guilt, redemption and perfection of every one of us. What happened to Adam there is exactly what is happening to us here!
NAKED IN THE GARDEN
This is the essential significance of the Garden of Eden drama. Every detail is extremely important and instructive. The thing most Christians seem to have forgotten, if indeed they ever knew it, is simply this: The Almighty Creator of the universe said,
Have you ever heard people say that it is "cruel and unusual punishment" to spank a child? You should "reason" with him, the psychologist tell us. But the simple fact is that you cannot reason with a child because a child has neither experience nor understanding from which to reason. He comes into the world void of either experience or knowledge, and in his innocence he must learn to obey by suffering the pain of correction when he disobeys. This is the God-ordained method by which the child eventually comes to understand the reason for your demand. The foolish refusal of parents to apply the rod of correction is the one cause above all others for the terrible wave of disobedience, disrespect, hate, delinquency and rebellion spewing forth from so many millions of our young people over the past several decades. A child does not know good or evil, neither does it understand right from wrong anymore than Adam understood it. Don't waste your time reasoning with children who as yet have no basis from which to reason. I can assure you that if you do not break a child's will, that child will break your heart.
Adam was created in innocence, and then given a command, and when he disobeyed the command God did not sit down and reason with him. No! For six long millenniums Adam's race has walked under God's chastening rod as every sorrow, tragedy, pain, disappointment, heartbreak, and funeral procession has served to administer the Creator's correction to mankind. It is not my purpose in this article to go into a discussion of the ages-lasting processes of God's disciplines upon man by which he shall be finally brought from original innocence to the mature image of God, but let us note here that the first thing the Lord did in making man in His image was to make him innocent and without experience. The record states of man in his original innocence,
"And they were both NAKED, the man and his wife."
Adam and Eve were both
Among all the creatures which God made, Adam, man stands out unique, stark naked, which means devoid of true wisdom and knowledge, with his inner nature revealed, opened up, exhibited, and made bare. Oh! that
THE EXPOSURE OF THE FLESH
What is this "flesh" which can be "exposed," making a man "naked"?
The flesh is the name by which scripture designates our HUMAN NATURE – soul and body.
As William Law has ably pointed out, in this antagonism of the flesh to the spirit there are two sides. On the one hand, the flesh lusts against the spirit in its committing sin and transgressing God's law. On the other hand, its hostility to the spirit is no less manifested in its seeking TO BE RELIGIOUS – to serve God –apart from the Spirit! In yielding to the sense realm, the soul sought itself instead of God. Self-effort, self-expression, and self-development prevailed over God's life. And now, so subtle and mighty is this spirit of self, ego, and I-will, that the flesh, not only in fulfilling its own lusts and desires and sinning against God, but even when the soul comes into contact with God, still asserts its power, refuses to be led by the Spirit alone, and, in its self-efforts to be religious, is still the great enemy that ever hinders and quenches the spirit! It is because of this deceitfulness of the flesh that there often takes place what Paul speaks of the Galatians:
All the world lives after the flesh, human nature, with its propensities for good and evil. Both the depraved and religious aspects of the flesh are referred to as
Because the natural man is so prone to magnify the "good" which he does, insisting that God should pay attention to his efforts, to offset his bad, it is only natural for man's "good" to become the enemy of God's best. How many times have you attended a funeral of an unbeliever only to hear someone say, "I know that Joe wasn't a Christian, but he surely was a good man." Then they awkwardly rattle off a list of his "good deeds" which he managed to accomplish in spite of the fact that he was unregenerate. The idea, of course, is that his good works give doubly-dead Joe a chance to be justified in God's sight! But I do not hesitate to tell you that even the great Patriarch Abraham could not count on his "works" to run up a good "score" with the Lord. Paul says,
As the revelation of sonship breaks upon our believing hearts we shall come to be led by the Spirit of God, and not by the flesh (Rom. 8:1-14). This means that we shall earnestly seek the face of God to direct us His INDWELLING SPIRIT in all things. We cannot any longer choose our life's occupation with the carnal mind which asks, "How much will it pay? Will it make me famous?" No, we will live to know that the Father would have us do, even if it offers us little in terms of gold or fame. The carnal mind makes its own plans, chooses its own mate, seeks it own comfort and security, fulfills its own desires, follows its own wisdom, holds its own opinions, does its own thing, and is totally alienated from the Holy Spirit of God. It cares nothing for God, or His will, or His way.
Lest I fail to make the message clear and plain, let me reiterate that even when the flesh produces a good work, humanly speaking, it is just as much "sin" as the bad which it does, because it does not bring glory to God and is not an expression of HIS LIFE.
To be "naked" means TO HAVE THE FLESH UNCOVERED AND EXPOSED.
It means that in that moment you inner state of being was made bare, laid open, brought to light, and men did not see the Lord's life, all they saw was your life. They beheld your nakedness and then you felt ashamed when you realized what you had revealed unto them. At times like that how conscious we are that we have dishonored THE CHRIST in our lives! In innocence there is no shame when our flesh is exposed. Before God has dealt with us and laid His requirements upon us, there is no shame. But after He speaks and deals, there is always the sense of shame when our nakedness appears before men. If you get mad, fly off the handle, blow your stack, slam the door, throw things around and yell and fuss and fume and cuss, don't tell me that is the life of Christ coming out of you, for if you do are telling me that Christ acts that way. Not so! It is only your nakedness being revealed, your inner nature being unrobed, your flesh being exposed to be gazed at by all around. We feel shame and embarrassment strikes us when our nakedness is uncovered, and that is God's divine order! GOD HIMSELF is a great "flesh exposer." And never forget, dear ones, that ministering without the anointing, serving God with human zeal and man-made methods, going through the religious motions of singing, clapping, dancing, praising, worshipping, or any ministry performed by rote rather than from the spontaneous arising of His life within – all this is as much an exposure of OUR FLESH as if we were caught in bed with our neighbor's spouse!
One of the greatest truths to be gleaned from the Garden of Eden is the truth that Adam was first created in the very condition in which every son and daughter of Adam comes into the world – in a state of nakedness, coupled with innocence. The Lord God so ordered it, that in and by the fall man should get what previously had not, and that was, a conscience, the knowledge of good and evil. By means of the conscience "the eyes of them both were opened," but, alas! to what a sight! – it was only to discover their own nakedness. They
This is the first record we have of man's attempt to remedy, by his own device, his condition, but this was not the single act of Adam of old, it is truly the act of each of us, yes, OUR VERY OWN! The Spirit would make very real to your heart, dear reader, that Adam's effort to cover his nakedness was not a mere moral act, it was a RELIGIOUS ACT. Our attentive consideration of what transpired in that Eden of long ago will afford us wonderful instruction as to the character of human RELIGIOUSNESS in all ages. In the first place, we see, not only in Adam's case, but in every case, that man's effort to remedy his condition IS BASED UPON THE SENSE OF HIS NAKEDNESS. He is confessedly naked, and all his "works" are the result of his being so. This can never avail! I must KNOW THAT I AM CLOTHED, before I can do anything acceptable in the sight of God.
And this, let every man know, is the difference between the walk in the Spirit of God and human religiousness. The walk in the Spirit is founded upon the fact of a man's being clothed; religion is founded upon the fact of his being naked. All that a son of God does, is BECAUSE HE IS CLOTHED; all that a mere religionist does, is a self-effort to be clothed. This makes a vast difference! When a man comes to look at these terrible realities straight in the face, by the spirit of wisdom and revelation from God, he will discover that the religion, works, traditions and observances of men is a bed too short for him to stretch himself upon, and a covering too narrow for him to wrap himself in.
Can we now open the eyes of our understanding to behold what it means when the Holy Spirit states that "they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons"? The Authorized version does not express all that is indicated by the Hebrew word taphar, translated "sewed." The true meaning is that they tied, twisted, platted, or fastened together the leafy twigs and small branches of the fig tree, so as to form a sort of girdle, somewhat resembling the laurel wreath worn upon the head among the Romans. The same word occurs in Job. 16:15 where, although it is rendered,
What happened to Adam happens to us. What he was we have been. His experience is our experience. Ah, child of God, may the blessed Spirit give enlightenment to your mind that you may know of a truth that what happened to Adam in the Garden IS EVEN NOW HAPPENING TO EACH OF US. Every man from Adam to this day has been naked and, at some time, in some manner, has been busily engaged in weaving together his very own fig-leaf apron to try and cover his nakedness. No one wants to appear as what he is, even though he is a thief, an adulterer, a murderer, a liar, or a religious hypocrite. In an effort to appear other than he is man sews together very wide leaves of the fig tree; that is, he tries every device he can, including multiplied religious works, to gloss over his true condition. But all the garments which men device to hide their nakedness become mere "spider's webs" when the dazzling light of God's presence and glory shines in upon them.
There is something in man’s soul that makes him substitute his own ideas for God’s. As soon as Adam and Eve sensed their guilt and fear, they devised an elaborate way of winning God’s approval. Their fig-leaf aprons are a symbolic presentation of all the religions in the world. Every human religious invention since that time has simply been an unfurling and a spinning-out of that fig-leaf theology which was invented there in the Garden so long ago. What they did was institute the first religion which could have been called “THE FIRST HOLINESS CHURCH OF THE FIG LEAF.” Are you a member of that church? Here is how you can tell. I think I might give you a bit of a fashion show. The perennial favorite in this fashion parade is probably the choicest fig leaf on the whole tree called “holiness.” But it is not God’s holiness! It is man’s holiness. Ah, you can see people dressed
The Bible says that there in Eden, God looking upon Adam and Eve’s fig leaves, made coats of skins and clothed them. The first thing God does is strip away all the artificial, man-made coverings, and presents His own glorious covering.
I now invite you to meditate deeply upon my words. In the process of changing our garments and covering our nakedness God brings us to the CROSS, which has its base in the foundation of God before the world began. Interesting that the Lamb in Eden was slain not merely for the sinning man and woman, and not only for the naked man and woman, but for the man and woman CLOTHED IN FIG-LEAVES! The "skins" of covering from the Lamb were given to replace the fig-leaves of mans self-effort, and not only was the man himself brought to the cross but all his self-made religion of works as well! Ah, yes, the cross shall deal not only with sin and nakedness, it shall deal as well with our fig-leaves!
Hear now this remarkable statement by the apostle Paul as to what was nailed to the cross of Christ.
Fig-leaves righteousness is so shallow, limited to outward observances, appearances, works, regulations, do this, don't do that, go here, don't go there, etc. But for those who have become identified with the Lamb, having discovered HIS INDWELLING LIFE which produces HIS IMAGE, who now live in the wisdom and righteousness of His LIFE-FLOW, it is no longer a matter of regulations – do this, and do that, etc. It is not a matter today of so many do's and don'ts, but entirely a matter of THE LIFE OF THE LAMB.
How vain have been our strivings about externals and our insistence upon little technicalities which we in ignorance deemed so very important! How often my own heart has been saddened as I have listened to brethren wasting their time contending over baptisms, communion, foot washing, meats and drinks, holy days, dress codes, long hair, short hair, women preachers, and petty doctrines of every kind, and when they were through with all their pietistic wrangling, they had accomplished nothing but to prove that they knew everything about the dead letter of the Word and absolutely nothing of the LIFE-GIVING SPIRIT! When I consider the vastness of God's great plan and the awesome majesty of His eternal purposes, my soul grows weary with the petty quibblings of earth-bound, tradition-ridden men who are never able to deliver themselves from their own trivial opinions about heaven and hell, what we must or must not eat or drink, what we must or must not put on, how we must observe this ordinance, that ceremony, and the other ritual, who can or cannot minister, and as a result are not able to see who God is or grasp the wonder of His ways or the ALL-SUFFICIENCY OF HIS INDWELLING LIFE. Men do not need any external ordinances, ceremonies, or regulations. They need Christ! They do not need to know doctrine. They need to KNOW HIM as their INDWELLING LIFE AND LAW.
When I know GOD AS LIFE, then, as the SPIRIT OF LIFE WITHIN leads me to eat, I will eat. When the LIFE prompts me to drink, I will drink. When the LIFE anoints me to fast, I will fast. When the LIFE quickens me to sing, I will sing. When the LIFE commands me to speak, I will speak. When the LIFE orders me to be silent, I will be silent. When the LIFE stirs me to go, I will go. When the LIFE tells me to stay, I will stay. When the LIFE directs me to work, I will work. When the LIFE guides me to rest, I will rest. When the LIFE impresses me to wait, I will wait. When the LIFE draws me aside for a season of separation, I will turn aside. When the LIFE speaks that I should go here or there, to this meeting or that gathering, I will go. When the LIFE reveals that I should give, I will give. You see, with Christ there are no regulations, no rules, only the indwelling rule of HIS LIFE. Today it is not a matter of the law, or ordinances, or observances, or tradition, or regulations, but wholly a matter of Christ. As long as the Christ life within directs, you are safe – for Christ today is the present, instant, up-to-date, indwelling LAWGIVER. Hallelujah!
"The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, LIKE UNTO ME; UNTO HIM SHALL YE HEARKEN."
ALL must be brought to the CROSS, washed away in the life of Eden's Lamb, and replaced by the righteousness WHICH HE IS. Someone will say, "What do you mean? After doing service for God all these years, being baptized, taking communion, keeping all the rules of the church, faithfully teaching a Sunday School class, holding street meetings, jail services, youth rallies, passing out tracts, singing in the choir, serving on the church board and various committees, attending all the meetings, do you mean that all this is fig-leaves and I must now be stripped and reclothed?" I do not want to belittle or depreciate anything that has been done as unto the Lord and has brought blessing to others. Do not cast away the good that God has done in spite of our weakness and unprofitableness, but do, I pray you, cast away all self-satisfied belief that all your works have been pleasing to God and performed at His bidding. It should be self-evident that many of our works have been mere fig-leaves of our own invention, for I am confident that in the vast majority of our service, though sincere and well-meant, and successful in measure, THE FLESH HAS SHOWN THROUGH!
Human energy, soulish zeal, carnal planning, selfish ambitions, doing by rote what we have been taught and programmed by the religious systems to do, has produced a fig-leaf condition that must be dealt with, stripped away, and replaced by the living breath of God. Ah, yes, self has enjoyed the recognition that men give for our service to the Lord. And how often has our service for the Lord been natural rather than BY THE SPIRIT. We become accustomed to doing it OUR OWN WAY, and out of habit. I do not see how any child of God can ever become an overcomer and enter into Sonship by following the ordinary course of Church activity. There is
When the Jewish offerings and sacrifices got to be nothing but a ritual which they performed every week, God turned His face away in disgust and said it was a weariness to Him and a stench in His nostrils. What more is there to the wearisome repetitions into which today's church activities have entered? Do they not go through the same ceremony every week as they sing their hymns, say their prayers, give their offerings, make their announcements, preach their sermons, and wait for the benediction? This is not the WAY OF LIFE nor is it the path that leads to sonship. Ah! and how we need to watch our own little "Spirit-led" traditions! – you know: three peppy, hand-clapping choruses followed by two slow worship choruses followed by three minutes of singing in the Spirit following by two prophecies followed by teaching followed by prayer requests and personal ministry. I feel that I cannot be too strong in my earnest exhortation to all who read these pages that regardless what form our traditions may take, they are the path to stagnation and infancy.
I know whereof I speak. In my early ministry in one of the Pentecostal denominations I ignorantly practiced all the religious tomfoolery. I taught things as they came from the Bible Schools, from the Sunday School materials. I received materials from the Headquarters and put them into practice without ever asking God about them. We had a Ladies Auxiliary because that is how we were taught from the Headquarters. We had the Young People's Life-liners because that is how we were taught from the Headquarters. We taught the Sunday School class from Mat. 11:1-19 because that was the lesson in the Sunday School quarterly sent from Headquarters. Everything we did was because it came from the Headquarters! We had our name, our board, our District Conference, our State Conference, our Stationing Committee to move the pastors around like chessmen on a chess board. We never stopped to ask the Lord whether this was from Him or not! And I doubt if the Headquarters of the denomination ever stopped to ask either. We just kept going, doing the same things for years, never stopping to seek the face of God to find whether what we were doing was His will or not. So few people have ever learned that our relationship is WITH CHRIST and without Him we can do nothing. Thank God for the day when I learned this one simple but basic truth and began at last to break out of the smothering cocoon of tradition. The Spirit of God is calling you to lift up your eyes to the heavenly hills to behold a place IN CHRIST where Christ becomes ALL IN ALL. In these heavenly places in Christ Jesus there are no more chains of self-effort, man-made religion, or external observances, for here we walk with God and learn of Him, being indwelt by His life, led of His Spirit and, being thus led, we grow up into full sonship in Him.
In all the dead works of religion MAN'S FLESH SHOWS THROUGH and it is manifest that his covering is insufficient – for when God clothes a man with the covering of His Lamb NO FLESH WILL BE SEEN – ONLY CHRIST! When God clothed Adam and Eve in the skins of the slain Lamb, yet dripping with the precious blood, He showed that they were COVERED WITH LIFE. It is a wonderful day for a child of God when he becomes so conscious of the indwelling and overshadowing presence of Christ and the ALL-SUFFICIENCY OF HIS LIFE that he no longer makes any effort to cloak himself with anything that is not a product of that life. When once you know this life experientially, you no longer care one whit about silly forms, procedures, methods, external observances or regulations. The true cause of spiritual dryness and fleshliness among Christians is that they strive and contend so much for the letter of the external trappings of religion that they never discover the blessedness of His quickening life. Everywhere we see Christians busy, running here, going there, promoting this program and that project, fighting for this and that cause, doing, doing, doing, and in it all literally billions of dollars being spent on outward show, glass cathedrals, fine buildings, comfortable pews, lettered and famous preachers, popular and glamorous speakers, programs and schemes of every imaginable description. It is not difficult therefore to understand why the spirits of so many Christians are as shriveled as prunes and as dry as a hay stack. All this outward show is but a sepulcher void of life and full of dead men's bones.
Fig-leaves! Fig-leaves! Fig-leaves! Cursed covering of man's own devising! And any man with eyes to see can see the flesh shining brazenly through it in spite of all the intricate design and superficial appearance of life. Oh! how men try to conceal the corrupt flesh underneath, and indeed they may partially hide it from men, but the fig-leaf apron can never screen a man from the eye of God! But, blessed be the name of the Lord, God has reserved to Himself in our day a people who is completely different, a people who is wholly HIS, a people who dwells in the light which Christ Himself is, elect according to the foreknowledge of God, sanctified by His Spirit, obedient to their heavenly Father, sprinkled with the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and CLOTHED IN THE