|Topical Bible Study||January 1962|
The People in God’s Plan—Introduction
This Series of Lessons
BEGINNING with this issue, The Dawn will present a series of lessons designed to acquaint students of the Bible with the divine plan as revealed by God’s dealings with the people of the Bible. The lessons will begin with Adam, and end with the Apostle John, whom the Lord used to write the Book of Revelation. One of the very enlightening methods of becoming familiar with the message of the Bible is to get acquainted with its people, how God dealt with them, his promises and warnings to them, and how he inspired many of them by his Holy Spirit to be his messengers of truth.
In presenting this series we will not follow our past custom of making each lesson an approximate length suitable for a single study session. Instead, each lesson will be sufficiently long to cover the subject matter in hand properly. In some instances this may mean that a single lesson will serve as a guide for a study meeting over a period of two or more weeks; while the shortest ones will probably contain sufficient material for one study meeting. The lessons will not be dated, so each study group will be able to devote whatever amount of time in pursuing them that it may deem best.
These lessons will not be exhaustive in content, but merely outlines of the material they present. For further study, appropriate reference material will be cited, in most instances from “Studies in the Scriptures.” We trust that this series of lessons will prove to be a blessing to many. We commend them as a further means of getting acquainted with the divine plan of the ages, and the manner in which God’s dealings with the people of the Bible reveal his plan for our guidance and encouragement as we seek to know and to do his will.
Adam and Eve
THE first name we come to in the Bible is Adam. The Hebrew word translated “Adam” literally means “ruddy.”* This same Hebrew word is also translated “man,” and appears for the first time in Genesis 1:26. Here God is quoted as saying, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” This could just as properly be translated, “Let us make Adam in our image, after our likeness.”
* Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary, ref. 120.
The Hebrew word translated Adam and man applies to, and is a designation of, the human species. Thus it differs from the word man as used to denote the male of the species. The Scriptures apply the Hebrew word translated Adam, to both Adam and Eve.—Gen. 5:1,2
There is an erroneous theory, believed by many, that the man whose creation is described in Genesis 1:26-28 is not the same man who is called Adam in the second chapter of Genesis. But this theory is seen to be false when we realize that the same Hebrew word is used in both instances. It was appropriate that the specific name Adam be given to the first man, for he is the head of the human species, the adamic race.—I Cor. 15:45
The first man of the human species was created in the image of God, and given dominion over the earth. (Gen. 1:26-28; Ps. 8:3-8) The information which the Bible gives us on this point reveals the divine plan for his human creatures. Man was not created a spiritual being, but earthly. (I Cor. 15:47) Nor was man given any indication that he would later be transformed into a spiritual being. The earth was created to be man’s home, and, to begin with, a special garden was prepared for him “eastward in Eden” in which every provision was made for sustaining his life.—Isa. 45:18; Ps. 115:16; Gen.2:8,9
Man was created in the image of God. This was not a physical, but a mental and moral image. Man was endowed with the ability to reason and reach conclusions. He could not reason on so high a level of thought as his Creator, but he did not need to be guided merely by his instincts as were the lower animals. (Isa. 55:8,9) Man is able to reason concerning right and wrong, good and evil. Indeed, God has invited man to reason together with him.—Isa. 1:18
The Bible also uses the word “likeness” when comparing man with his Creator. This does not mean that man is like his Creator in every respect. This expression is used in connection with the statement that man was given dominion over the earth. The thought seems to be that just as the Creator exercises dominion over his entire universe, so man, as God’s representative, was given dominion over the earth. Thus man was “crowned with glory and honor.”—Ps. 8:5
Man’s superiority over the lower animals is not due to a superior life quality implanted within him when he was created, but to a superior organism and greater brain capacity. He was not given an “immortal soul” which escapes from the body when it dies, and which continues to live in heaven, hell, or purgatory. Man is a soul, a human soul, composed of his organism animated by what the Scriptures term “the breath of life.”—Gen. 2:7
The word “soul” in the Genesis record of man’s creation is a translation of the Hebrew word nephesh, which simply means “living creature.” The same Hebrew word is translated “Living creature” when the reference is to the lower animals.*—Gen 1:21
* Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary, ref. 5315.
God knew that it was “not good that the man should be alone,” but he wanted Adam to learn this by experience. To bring this about, arrangements were made for Adam to name all the animals. Thus he would become familiar with them and learn that none would be suitable as a “help-meet” for him.—Gen 2:18,20
The method which the Lord used to create Eve was unique. (Gen. 2:21-23) A portion of Adam’s own body was used so that in reality Eve was a part of Adam, but separated from him for the propagation of the human race. Adam, who found no congenial companionship among the beasts and the birds, now had Eve as his mate—bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. Their very difference of quality made them the more companionable to each other, because each found in the other the desired complement.
A rib was taken from Adam In the creation of Eve, and many have wondered if Adam originally possessed an extra rib for this purpose, since male humans today have an equal number of ribs on each side of their bodies. It is not necessary so to conclude, for even if Adam had lived the remainder of his life minus one of his ribs, this would not affect his offspring in this respect. It is an interesting fact, however, that the ribs are the only bones in the human body which, if removed, will re-grow; so even Adam did not need to go without his full set of ribs for more than a short time.
God designed that man should live and exercise his dominion over the earth as long as he’ remained obedient to divine law. He was warned that disobedience would lead to death. (Gen. 2:17) After Eve was created, Satan spoke to her through the serpent and questioned her concerning this. Upon her affirmation of God’s warning that death would result from disobedience, Satan said that this was not true, that they would not really die.—Gen. 3:1-4
Thus Satan charged God with being a liar, whereas in reality he was the one who had expressed an untruth. (John 8:44) However, Eve was deceived by Satan. (I Tim. 2:14) Evidently she actually believed that death would not result from partaking of the forbidden fruit. What was true of Eve in this respect has, in a different sense, been true of the vast majority of Adam’s progeny. Nearly all have been deceived into believing that while the body dies, the person remains alive; that from this standpoint there actually is no death.
The truth expressed by God concerning the fact that death would be the penalty for sin, and She falsehood set forth by Satan that “there is no death,” have been at variance with each other throughout the ages. All of God’s inspired servants whom he used to write the Bible, agreed with God. (Rom. 6:23; Eccles. 3:19-21) Essentially all teachers of false religious concepts, both in heathendom and in the professed Christian world, have unwittingly agreed with Satan.
The “no death” falsehood is also seen in the theories of incarnation and the transmigration of souls. The incarnation theory is that when one dies his soul waits around invisibly for an opportunity to inhabit the body of a newborn baby, thus to go through, life again as a human, and that these returnings continue indefinitely. The transmigration of souls theory is that the human soul, released by the death of the body, comes back to earth in the body of one of the lower animals, perhaps even an insect.
In the professed Christian world the “no death” viewpoint is seen in the idea that those who die, instead of actually dying, depart in spirit form, either to enjoy the bliss of heaven, or to suffer the excruciating agonies of purgatory or hell. In the case of those who, it is claimed, go to purgatory, there is hope of release; for, as the word purgatory implies, it is a place where they allegedly are purged of their sins and made fit one day to enter heaven.
None of these “no death” theories have any foundation in fact or in Scripture, for the truth is that death is a reality. It is not, as some claim, merely a separation from God. It is not an experience of temporary or eternal suffering in a place of fire and brimstone. Those who die are really dead. They feel nothing, see nothing, know nothing. They are unconscious.—Eccles. 9:5,10
The hope of life after death which is set forth in the Bible is based upon the promises of God to restore the dead to life in what the New Testament describes as the resurrection of the dead. We find that this great truth of God’s Word is revealed through God’s dealings with Adam and by the subsequent scriptural references to what occurred in the Garden of Eden.—Acts 17:32; 23:6; 24:15,21; I Cor.15:21,42; Heb 6:2
Adam was not deceived by the allegation that death would not result from disobedience to God’s law. He knew that disobedience would be a sin, and that it would incur the death penalty. Nevertheless he partook of the forbidden fruit, and judgment came upon him. He was sentenced to death, and told that he would return to the dust from which he was taken.—Gen. 3:17-19
Following this sentence to death, our first parents were expelled from their garden home in Eden, out into the unprepared earth to die. Precautions were taken by the Lord to prevent their return to the garden and to the trees of life which were there; for, had they been able to do this, they would have continued to live.—Gen. 3:22-24
But our first parents were not left without hope, because God made a wonderful statement to the serpent concerning a “seed.” We will not, in this lesson, examine the details set forth in the Bible pertaining to this “seed.” (Gen. 3:14,15) We merely note that this is one of the words used in the Bible with respect to a great deliverer from sin and death whom the Creator would send for this purpose, Christ Jesus, and his true followers who would be associated with him in this great work of restoring mankind to life.—Rev. 20:1-4,13
Cain and Abel were the first two sons of Adam, and in due course they brought offerings to the Lord. Cain offered in sacrifice the fruit of the field, while Abel offered a lamb. Abel’s offering was accepted by the Creator as being “more excellent” than Cain’s. (Gen. 4:3-5) Abel’s was a flesh and blood offering, evidently designed by the Creator to point forward to the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God, who was to take away the sin of the world, and by this means provide a way of escape from the condemnation of sin and death which had come upon our first parents.—John 1:29
There are many references in the New Testament to the sentence of death which fell upon Adam, (Rom.5:12) and the fact that through the sacrificial work of Jesus this sentence was to be set aside. (Rom. 5:19,21) The opportunity to regain life through Jesus, the Redeemer, is a provision of divine grace, a manifestation of the Creator’s love. (John 3:16; Rom. 6:23) The sentence which came upon Adam was just in every way. But God, in his infinite wisdom, found a way through Jesus to manifest his love on behalf of his sinful human creatures, while continuing to be just.—Rom. 3:26
This provision of life for the sin-cursed and dying race will ultimately lead to actual deliverance from death. The Apostle Paul explains this in considerable detail, assuring us that just as through Adam the entire human race lost life, so through Christ all will have an opportunity to regain life. (I Cor. 15:21,22) For the vast majority of the human race this opportunity will be extended during the thousand-year reign of Christ’s kingdom; and to make it possible, all will be awakened from the sleep of death. But to attain everlasting life it will be necessary wholeheartedly and humbly to accept the provisions of divine grace, and to obey the laws of the kingdom which then will be in operation throughout the earth.—Acts 3:23
In presenting this hope of deliverance from death through the redemptive work of Jesus; Paul refers to the original human as the “first man Adam,” and to Christ as the “last Adam.” (I Cor. 15:45) Adam, as the progenitor of the race, imparted only a condemned life, the result being that none has continued to live. All have been born imperfect and dying. But Jesus, whom Paul speaks of symbolically as the “last Adam,” will regenerate the human race, awakening the people from death and giving all an opportunity to live forever—“everlasting life.”—John 3:16,36
The Genesis record of the creation of man is such an integral part of the divine plan as revealed throughout the Scriptures, that if we impugn its authenticity the entire Bible becomes meaningless to us, in the sense of being a revelation of the Creator’s plan and will. This fact becomes apparent through an understanding of the answers to the following questions.
What is the first name that appears in the Bible, and what does it mean? Explain in detail.
How do we know that the man referred to in the first chapter of Genesis is the same person as Adam mentioned in the second chapter?
What do the Scriptures reveal concerning the divine purpose in the creation of man? Was he to enjoy a temporary home on earth, and later to be transferred to another realm?
The Bible states that man was created in the image of God. What does this mean?
The Bible also uses the word “likeness” when comparing man with his Creator. What does this mean?
Is man’s superiority over the lower animals due to a superior life quality having been implanted within him when he was created? What does make the difference?
What is a soul, and how do we know that lower animals are souls, even as are those of the human species?
What arrangement did God make to reveal to Adam that he needed a helpmeet?
What was the unique method weed by God in creating Eve?
Since one of Adam’s ribs was used in the creation of Eve, explain why the male of the human species does not now possess one less rib than the female?
Upon what condition was it possible for man to continue to live and to exercise his dominion over the earth?
In what sense did Satan deceive Eve with respect to the penalty for disobedience to divine Law?
In what sense has Satan’s lie to Eve deceived the vast majority of the human race?
Have the inspired servants of God who wrote the Bible held to the same truth expressed to Adam when he said to him, “Thou shalt surely die”? Give examples.
Explain the manner in which the “no death” error, introduced by Satan, is expressed in the various beliefs of the heathen and of professed Christians.
Quote scriptures to show that death is a reality, that God’s statement, “Thou shalt surely die,” was a literal statement of fact.
Upon what basis does the Bible hold out a hope of life after death?
Was Adam deceived by Satan’s lie, “Ye shall not surely die”? Would our first parents have died had they been permitted to remain in the Garden of Eden?
Were our first parents left without hope? Explain.
Explain the manner in which God’s acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice pointed forward to God’s provision for the redemption and deliverance of mankind from sin and death.
Quote some of the assurances in the New Testament that the sentence of death which fell upon Adam is set aside through the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Will the sacrificial work of Christ lead ultimately to the actual deliverance of the human race from death? When will this opportunity be extended to the vast majority?
While all of Adam’s race are redeemed through Christ, upon what conditions will the individuals of the race be privileged to enjoy everlasting life?
Explain the implications of Paul’s comparison of “the first man Adam,” with Jesus, the “last Adam.”
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT THOUGHTS
The word “man” in the first chapter of Genesis, and the name “Adam,” in the second chapter are synonymous, and refer to the human species in God’s creation. Man was created to live on, and have dominion over, the earth, but the realization of this divine purpose in his creation depended upon his obedience to divine law. Adam failed to obey, and in keeping with the warning given to him, came under the sentence of death. But God still loved his human creation, and provided redemption and recovery from death through Jesus, the Redeemer and Savior of the world. Thus God’s dealings with Adam, and the various scriptural references thereto, reveal the divine plan for the rescue of mankind from sin and death.