The gift of prophecy is one of God's choicest gifts to the human family. Indeed, it ranks next to the supreme gift of His only-begotten Son and of His Holy Spirit to a world estranged and separated by sin.
But the giving of His Son made necessary the bestowal of another giftthe gift of prophecy. This was imperative. It was required as a medium of communication through which the Lord might tell a lost, perishing world why He gave His only Son. Through this channelthe prophetic giftGod has held communion with man since the fall. By this method of communication He has ever given messages of information, guidance, warning, and entreaty to the entire human family.
In doing this the Lord has mercifully lifted the curtain that separates His world of light from our world of darkness. Through the opening thus made, the glorious light of His sinless world pours into our world enshrouded in moral darkness. The coming in of that light has brought the new vision, the new hope, and the transformed life God purposed in the giving of His Son.
The revelations that have come from God to men through the prophetic gift have, in part at least, been recorded and preserved for the benefit of the whole world through all time. It has made possible the Biblethat sacred and divine record bearing the name, The word of God.
That Inspired Record throws a flood of light on all that we beholdabove, below, and around us. It takes us back to the beginning. It reveals the origin of thingsof our world, of the human race, and of that mysterious disorder we call sin. It sheds a floodlight on the meaning of the present situation in which we find ourselves. It foretells the future to the end of time.
In the Inspired Word there is given a brief, rational account of the origin of man and the beginning of the history of the
human family,indeed, the only authentic and satisfactory account that men possess. The opening statement reads:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Gen. 1:1.
Then follows the record of creation week. The account of the sixth day of that week describes the origin of man:
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. Gen. 1:27.
According to this Inspired Word, man was created by Him who made the myriads of mighty worlds that fill the universe. As related to this world, man was the crowning work of the Creator, grander, nobler, and more marvelous than all else that God had created. Endowed with perfect physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual qualities, he occupied the highest place in the world over which he was given dominion by his Maker.
Adam and his companion, Eve, were, before the intrusion of sin, honored and blessed with free, direct association with their Creator and other members of the heavenly family. They were permitted to behold the glory of God, and to hold communion with Him without a dimming veil between. In this close association with their Creator, it is but reasonable to believe that they received from Him the information they needed regarding His great purpose in creation, also their relationship to their Creator and to the world in which they were placed.
The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed. Gen. 2:8.
This perfect man and woman were placed in a perfect environment, with the most alluring and glorious possibilities. Paradise was their home. They were to be the parents of the human family. They were to have dominion over the whole earth, and it was to be a glorious dominion. In it there was to be not one inharmonious note. There was to be no sin; hence the dire results of sin as we know them todaydisease, pain, suffering, sorrow, and deathwould be unknown. The earth
was to be filled with a sinless race, and everything in that realm was to give joy to the inhabitants throughout all eternity.
God's first man, then, was perfect; he was put in a perfect environment and he had perfect fellowship with God. Harmony reigned within himself, within all his relationships both with the inferior creatures beneath him and with the sovereign Creator above him. There was everything within and without his life to foster complete submission to the sovereignty of God and perfect obedience to His will.Life on the Highest Plane, Ruth Paxson, Vol. I, p. 38. New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1928.
Such was the wonderful future that the Lord planned for the human family. But our first parents tragically failed to appreciate their glorious prospect. There, in their Paradise home, in the possession and enjoyment of all that God had bestowed upon them, they proved untrue to Him. They gave a listening ear to the base insinuations of one who had become the archenemy of their beneficent Creator. Yielding to the influence and suggestions of that enemy, they disobeyed the command of God. Their sin had brought a terrible tragedy upon the world.
After they had sinned, Adam and Eve heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.
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.
And the Lord God said, What is this that thou hast done?
And unto Adam He said, Because thou hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake.
Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden. Gen. 3:8-10, 13, 17, 23.
Thus by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin. By one man's disobedience many were made sinners. Death reigned from Adam to Moses. Rom. 5:12, 19, 14.
This wrongdoing brought incalculable woe upon Adam and Eve. They lost the sweet, satisfying innocence that had been theirs. They lost the beautiful garment of the righteousness of God, which had clothed them. The virus of sin entered their hearts, and they were filled with all unrighteousness. Rom. 1:29. All the deadly evil into which the human race has plunged during six thousand years existed in embryo at that fatal hour of disobedience, ready to give birth to the mightiest effort possible for the defeat of the divine purpose.
The fall of man filled all heaven with sorrow. The world that God had made was blighted with the curse of sin, and inhabited by beings doomed to misery and death. There appeared no escape for those who had transgressed the law. Angels ceased their songs of praise. Throughout the heavenly courts there was mourning for the ruin that sin had wrought.Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 63.
That, writes J. W. Westphal, was the gloomiest hour this world has ever seen. Never has there been a moment since when the star of hope has not been shining to pierce even the midnight darkness. But at that moment there was not one ray of light to cheer the bewildered, sinful, grief-stricken pair. They had experienced the first pangs of death, and although much was still hidden, they well knew that in the course they had taken there was no hope of relief. Separated from God, they had no rest. They had become one with the archenemy of God.
To Adam and Eve the situation was dark, tragic, unsolvable. A great change had taken place in man himself, and this involved a change in his environment, in his relationship to God, and in his communication with his Maker. Sin tragically terminated the personal association and open communion with God that had been granted to the first pair. It became the veil which separated man from God. This separation was inevitable, for of the Creator it is said: Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity. Hab. 1:13. Plainly it is declared to fallen man: Your iniquities have separated between
you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you. Isa. 59:2.
Man must now be separated from direct fellowship with his heavenly, sinless associates. He can no longer dwell in the presence of God, or remain in Paradise. Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden . And He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. Gen. 3:23, 24.
In humility and unutterable sadness they bade farewell to their beautiful home, and went forth to dwell upon the earth, where rested the curse of sin.Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 61.
But this grief-stricken pair were not banished from their Eden home without a ray of light and hope. Before they were sent forth, they, with Satan, were summoned before the Lord to hear the terrible sentence that must be declared. But in the sentence that God pronounced upon Satan, who had wrought their ruin, they heard these cheering words: I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; it [He] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel. Gen. 3:15.
To man the first intimation of redemption was communicated in the sentence pronounced upon Satan in the garden . This sentence, uttered in the hearing of our first parents, was to them a promise.Id., pp. 65, 66.
This brief foretelling of a great conflict between Christ and Satan, and the promise of the ultimate, absolute triumph of Christ and the utter defeat of Satan, must have assuaged somewhat the grief of Adam and Eve as they left forever their once happy home. Yes, there was light and hope in that prophecy, in that promise. In His abounding mercy and infinite wisdom God had provided the solution of the terrible problem that disobedience had created. God had decided upon a plan by which mankind could be redeemed from the very worst that sin could bring upon the race. This was dimly revealed in the sentence pronounced upon the malign instigator of evil.
To effect the reconciliation of man to God, to redeem him from the curse of sin, and to restore him to the Paradise home from which he was banished, was a plan which had long been determined upon, and that plan was now announced to the tempter in the hearing of the guilty pair. Satan might indeed bruise Christ's heel, but Christ would bruise the serpent's head. He would ultimately put an end to sin in its entirety.
Here a momentous question presses for answer. How could God be true to His righteous law, and yet justify its transgressors?
The answer is Christ, the light of the world. God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16. Again: Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father. Gal. 1:3, 4.
These statements are a revelation of God's marvelous plan for the salvation of the sinner from his sins, and his restoration to the Paradise home that had been lost through sin. God gave His Son. The Son gave Himself. God hath made Him [the Son] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor. 5:21.
Thus was provided for sinners, restoration full and complete. The atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross not only made the sinner's reconciliation with God possible, but it also made possible, for every sinner who might choose to accept the offer, restoration to Adam's glorious state before he sinned.
The great gulf made by sin that separates man from God and heaven has been spanned by the cross of Calvary. Christ became our substitute. He took our place, that He might deliver us from condemnation and death. What cause for adoration!
But another baffling question requires an answer. It is this: How can this marvelous provision for man's redemption be communicated to him? By what process, in what way, can God now
talk to and instruct those who can no longer see Him or have direct converse with Him? This problem could never have been solved by man. Its solution belonged to Him whose wisdom and whose provisions are infinite. He alone knew how to make Himself, together with His divine purposes, known to man separated from Him by sin. Here is the method that was devised:
If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make Myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. Num. 12:6.
This is a divine method of communication,a method chosen and declared and used by the Lord Himself. It is a vital, inseparable part of the plan of redemption. It is a divinely designated means by which God's messages are to come to the human family. Through all time the Lord would, in this way, communicate with men. It was an abiding provision. What amazing condescension! He who was so grievously wronged by man established a plan for a clear, reliable revelation of Himself to a world in active, determined rebellion against Him!
O wondrous provision, whereby Adam, although an exile in the land of sin, might still receive the Father's messages of love and forgiveness, and be made to understand the plan of salvation for a world plunged into sin by his willful act of disobedience! O wondrous provision, whereby messages from the throne of God have been transmitted to men in all ages, and whereby are brought even to us, upon whom the ends of the world are come, divine assurances, yea, and evidences, of the complete and imminent triumph of the plan of redemption!
This beneficent arrangement calls for the deepest gratitude
from its unworthy beneficiaries. Yet more, it calls for the humble, grateful
recognition and acceptance of the instruction, reproof, and demands that come
from God through this merciful and gracious arrangement. More still, the plan
is so vital and so imperative, as it relates to the sinner's salvation through
the gospel, that it should receive the sincere, earnest study necessary to make
it clearly understood.