Adam and Eve were created and set down into a delightful world which God had prepared. There was no pain, toil, or suffering because it was not a dualistic world where every pleasure has a flip side of suffering, beauty implies the existence of ugliness, and so on. Yahwe instructed them to keep away from tasting of this dualism of good and evil because it would kill them. We would die, that is, from the designer’s intended world and state of being. Probably also from eternal life.
Whenever my computer or other digital device is not functioning according to the way it was meant to work, my first attempt to fix it is to do a restart. This reset will restore the factory behavior that was programmed into it. Like a programmer, God designed us for an intended existence and purpose. In a thumbnail, we were meant to be in a face-to-face relationship with Him, to walk the earth in joy and ease, existing off low hanging fruit without effort. Adam and Eve could hear God’s voice and converse with Him freely. And they were charged with tending the earth and caring for its flora and fauna. We were God’s representatives on earth. And by the way, it was a totally sustainable environment.
The one who made us had guidelines for us to follow, but they weren’t hard-wired into us, they were recorded in RAM (random access memory) which we could choose to access or not. We had lots of OI (original intelligence) to choose how we wanted to live and behave. Unfortunately, centuries and millennia of misusing the hardware and software (sin) have resulted in a condition where both are corrupted. A reset to factory settings was the answer to the problem envisioned from before the creation of this world.
God’s taking flesh as Jesus – the incarnation – is the reset needed to restore us to this pre-disobedience condition. Jesus was and is eternally the embodiment of God and human. In our metaphor, Jesus is both programmer and program, maker and hardware. Only He could accomplish this reset. And so, embodying man and God, and taking on the accumulated corruption (sin) into himself and dying on the cross, he accomplishes the reset. What’s even more amazing, is that Jesus the Christ is still and forever the embodiment of God and man.
When Jesus appears to the disciples and others after his death and resurrection, his glorified body, as the Bible calls it, still bears the wounds of the crucifixion, and always will. Even as he takes his place in the other-dimensional realm with the Father, he still is man, God, and cross (the eternal action of taking on our accumulated sin). I imagine that he is a resplendent human and God and that his coronation which occurred on the cross is somehow displayed in his being. The wounds Jesus bore for us become the crown jewels of His inauguration as King of Kings.
Why then, in spite of this reset, are we still struggling with this process of regaining our original garden of Eden state? Have you heard the joke about how many psychologists it takes to change a light bulb? Just one, but it really has to want to change. But the joke is not a very good metaphor for our situation. Recently my six-year-old desktop computer crashed and I had to take it in to have its C: drive wiped, reformatted and the operating program reinstalled. After that, it was once again running at its intended speed. However, once I got it home, I still had a ton of work to install all the software programs and check over the data drives, some of which had been corrupted. Well, you get the idea, it’s a process. But even this is not all of it. I don’t think it’s just a matter of time and effort.
This restoration process was begun and made possible by Jesus in the historical work of incarnation and the cross, and by the eternal, continuing work of incarnation and cross. But that’s not all. The work of the cross is complete in certain respects. Perhaps we could say that Jesus removed all the barriers that were there before he did his miraculous work. What will get us to the New Earth condition is veiled in mystery. We know it’s not our striving or even good deeds that will complete the work of the cross. Some will say it’s heresy to say that there is more to come as the work of the cross is complete. On the other hand, you’d have to blind to think we have attained the restoration to our pre-fall condition.
What I do know is that we are to be on a journey that moves us ever closer to Him. It will involve stumbling and suffering at times. It will involve joys and even happiness at times. It will involve bringing bits of heaven to earth. And it will definitely involve being carriers, bearers of the presence of God and his love to all we encounter. But He promises to be with us even to the end of this age. After that a new earth!
16Because the former troubles are forgotten,
And because they are hidden from My sight! 17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. 18 “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing
And her people for gladness.
19 “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people;
And there will no longer be heard in her
The voice of weeping and the sound of crying.
20 “No longer will there be [o]in it an infant who lives but a few days,
Or an old man who does not [p]live out his days;
For the youth will die at the age of one hundred
And the [q]one who does not reach the age of one hundred
Will be thought accursed.
21 “They will build houses and inhabit them;
They will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 “They will not build and another inhabit,
They will not plant and another eat;
For as the [r]lifetime of a tree, so will be the days of My people,
And My chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands.
23 “They will not labor in vain,
Or bear children for calamity;
For they are the [s]offspring of those blessed by the Lord,
And their descendants with them. 24 It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 65:16-25 New American Standard Bible)
See also Revelation 21:1 and 2 Peter 3:13 which refer to this prophecy by Isaiah.