by Pastor K. E. Abraham – (Contensed into a Summary by Pastor Saju Joseph)
The Hebrew word paradise means ‘garden’ and in Greek the word ‘Eden’ is used. In the Septuagint translation the word ‘Eden’ is used for the word Hebrew word ‘paradise.’
In the Word of God there is heavenly paradise and six other paradises which are established in different places at various times.
I – HEAVENLY PARADISE
Often we refer to heaven as a single place, but we should know that it does not refer to just one place. In the original text of the Bible the plural noun is used in Genesis 1;1; ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. There are several heavens and above all is the heaven, which is the dwelling place of God. (Deut. 10 : 14; 32:1; I Kings. 8:27. II Chron. 2:6, II Chron. 6:18, 33, 35, 39. Psalms 68:33, 148:4, Eph.4:10. Heb.4:14; 7:26.) These verses affirm that there are many heavens rather than one heaven.
Scripture divides these heavens into three; first heaven, second heaven and third heaven. Paul says about a third heaven (II Cor. 12; 1, 2). This helps us to know that heavens are divided into three groups and that the third heaven is above all the rest. The writer of Hebrews also says, ‘seeing that we have a great High Priest, that has passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession’ (Heb. 4;14). This statement typifies how the high priest of the children of Israel entered the holy of holies once a year passing the outer court and the holy place. So also Jesus Christ our High Priest passing through the first heaven and the second heaven entered to the third heaven.
The first heaven refers to the clouds, the second to the stars and the third to the abode of the Almighty God. This is referred to in the passage where the fall of Lucifer is given. When Lucifer became proud in his heart he said, ‘I will ascend my throne above the stars of God. I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north, I will ascend above heights of the clouds, I will be like the most high (Isa. 14: 12-14). Thus the height of the clouds (first heaven) the stars of God (second heaven) and the heaven (third heaven) are mentioned here. We may infer from the Word of God that the millions of stars of this universe are the abode of the angels of God. The phrase ‘stars of God’ in the Scripture refers to stars in the sky as well as to the angels who abide in them. Thus Lucifer wanted to exalt himself above all the other angels (Judges 5:20).
The stars of this universe are innumerable. The heaven, the throne of God is above all these visible and invisible stars. We also see from the Scripture that ‘above’ means the north. The throne of God is referred to as ‘the mount of congregation in the sides of the north’. (Isa. 14: 13). Also in many other places in the Scripture, the throne of God or the third heaven is referred to as the north (Psalms. 41: 2, 48; 2, 75:6, 7. Job 26: 7.). Therefore the first and the foremost paradise is the Heaven, the dwelling place of the Almighty God (Ezek.28:14).
II – ORIGINAL EARTHLY PARADISE
Earth was created “in the beginning” when God created all the heavens. So it is written. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen.1:1).
God did not create the earth void. The Word of God plainly tells us that, ‘He created it not in vain’ (Isa.45;18). God created the earth as a beautiful planet and later on it became without form and void. It is evident from what God tells Job about the creation of the earth. (Job. 3: 4, 7; Heb, 11:3; Job 26; 7).
In the beginning when God created the earth as a lovely planet it was given to Lucifer and his angels as their abode. The Word of God proclaims that in the heavenly places or in the stars are the powers and principalities of the angels. (Eph. 1; 20-21, 1: 20, 21; 3:10, Col.1; 16;1 Pet. 3:22.). It is clear from these Scriptures that there are principalities and powers among them. 1 Tim. 5:2. So the angels are those who govern the planets and stars of this universe, along with and under the power of the Lord, God Almighty, Principality, Power, Might, domination – these words denotes the official status of the angels.
The stars are innumerable. . Then how could we count the number of the angels that dwell in those stars? John the revealer says: “… and of the number of them was ten thousand times and thousands of thousands (Rev. 5:11). Daniel also speaks about them.
On the earth which was beautifully created God also established His garden, as a reflection of the heavenly one. He established it on the mount of God as the capital of Lucifer and set him in that garden. Lucifer and his angels dwelt in that garden for ages and then his heart was filled with pride (1 Tim. 3:6). He decided to revolt against his Creator and Lord. He was not satisfied with his position as ruler of the earth. He has an inordinate lust that he will ascend into the heavens with his angels and capture the throne of God and govern all the stars and planets and the entire universe. He decided to set out a revolution among the angels and formed a party with the help of his own angels. Thus Lucifer revolted against the Lord of Hosts.
But the omnipotent God took away the glory and beauty that were in Lucifer and his angels and they were changed as the angels of darkness. And God cast them out of the earth into atmosphere. As a result the earth became without form and void. Job also describes it as follows: “which removed the mountains, and they know not, which overturned them in anger. Which shaketh the earth out of her place and the pillars therefore tremble. Which commanded the sun and it riseth not. And sealeth up the stars (Job: 5-7 ). In Genesis 1:2 we see that when the earth became without form and void, it was covered by darkness and water. Job describes how this happened.
When the earth was shaken out of its place, its pillars (axis trampled) and the earth moved away from its orbit and it could receive no light from the sun and fierce darkness prevailed over the earth and because of that it was covered with water. As the places near the northern and southern poles are covered with ice so also the earth was covered with water.
Due to the revolt of the early inhabitants of the earth, they were cast away from the earth and the condition of the earth also was changed. Along with that the earthly paradise – the abode of Lucifer – also was destroyed . The original earthy paradise thus came to a close.
III – ADAMIC EARTHLY PARADISE
Third paradise is the garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve, the first parents were placed. In six days God reconditioned the earth which had became without form and void, and there He established God’s paradise or the garden or Eden; God created man to live on this renewed earth and to subdue it. God decided to give over lordship of the earth to mankind which, Lucifer, the son of the morning and his angels once held. God made a paradise (the Garden of Eden) on the earth as a reflection of the Heavenly One, to be occupied by men (Gen. 2: 8-15). As the heavenly Paradise is on the sides of the north, on the mount of the congregation, so also Eden was situated on a mountain.
While man was being elevated, a little lower than God, and Lord of the universe, his fall took place. When Lucifer saw that someone else had occupied his place as Lord of the earth, he became envious, took the form of a serpent, entered the Garden of Eden and deceived man. In the garden there was the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. God did not mean that man should never eat from the tree of knowledge. Though Adam was a perfect man on the spiritual side, he was only a child. God’s plan was that Adam should eat from the tree of life first , and when he matures spiritually he should eat from the tree of knowledge. But Satan persuaded man to disobey God’s command. Here Adam committed double crime- unfaithfulness and disobedience. As soon as he had eaten that fruit, he lost the authority he held over the universe and Satan got the power. However, as a result man was sent out of that beautiful Edenic paradise.
IV – THE PARADISE IN HADES (HELL)
There needs to be some explanation about Hell for a better understanding about this subject. As there are three heavens, the hell also is divided into three. The Hebrew word for hell is ‘sheol’ and in Greek it is ‘hades’. There is another word ‘gehenna’, also in Greek, which too can be translated as hell. So “sheol” or “hades” means “hell”.
To understand the three divisions of hell, we have to see about the place to which the spirits of the Old Testament saints, who died before Christ, went. Thinking that his son Joseph was dead, Jacob laments “For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning” (Gen.37:35). Again he says: “Then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave (Gen.42:38). “Ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave (Gen.44:29). The brothers of Joseph say; “Thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave” (Gen.44:31).
Jacob was one of the patriarchs. Even God introduces Himself as God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Ex.3:6). Jacob, a great soul, of whom God Himself says that he will go to sheol after his death. This was true with all the Old Testament saints.
Job, who was certified by God, as “a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God; and escheweth evil,” also says the same. When he was undergoing great troubles he said: “O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past….” (Job 14:13). Again he says: “If the only home I hope for is the grave” (Job 17:13). He continues: “And where is my hope? As for my hope who shall see it? They will go down to the bars of the pit, where our rest together is in the dust” (Job 17:15, 16).
It is clear from these Scriptures that the Old Testament saints regarded sheol as their dwelling place after death. Not only the soul of the saints, but also the wicked went there. Hear what David has to say: “The wicked shall be turned into hell and all the nations that forget God” (Psa.9:17).
Though the saints and the wicked after their death go to the hell (sheol) the Word of God clearly says that the two groups are at separate places. In Deut. 32:22 we read; “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell”. Also in Psalms 86:13 it reads; “For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell”.
From Deut. 32:22 it is clear that in hell there is a place where a fire is kindled, and that it is the lowest hell. Also David glorifies God for his soul was delivered from the lowest hell, where a fire is kindled in God’s anger (Psa.86:13). Now we may conclude that all the Old Testament saints at their death went to hell; not to the lowest hell but to the upper hell. We can also read about the lowest hell in Prov. 15:24 and Isa.14:9.
The Scripture declares that the New Testament saints –after the resurrection of our Lord–at their death go to heaven where Christ is (The Heavenly Paradise). So they all will be with Christ, as Apostle Paul, when they depart from this life. From the fact that till the resurrection of Christ, The Old Testament saints at their death were sent to the Upper Hell and that the New Testament saints after the resurrection of Christ, at their death are sent to the Heavenly Paradise. We can understand that till the death and resurrection of Christ, souls were not sent into the Heavenly Paradise. At the fall of Adam the gate of the Earthly Paradise was closed against man. As the Earthly Paradise was the reflection of the Heavenly Paradise the closing of the gate of the Earthly Paradise means that the Heavenly Paradise was closed against man. (Later on we will see how and when man will be allowed into the Heavenly Paradise). Thus as the souls of people were not allowed into the Heavenly Paradise, the souls of the Old Testament saints rested in Sheol–the Upper Hell–which was prepared for them.
Though they were in Sheol, Paradise, they were in prison. It may cause us to wonder how the life in paradise could be a prison life. But it is like a king kept in a palace, still imprisoned. The same is the condition of the Old Testament saints. They are the beloved of God: they are saved by faith by the atoning sacrifice of the Savior; they have made a covenant with God by sacrifice; they are saved from the lowest hell where the fire of God’s vengeance is burning. They have the inheritance in the heavenly paradise. But as the sword at the gate of the Paradise was still there, God prepared for them a place in ‘sheol’. As their entrance into the heavenly paradise was hindered, they were kept as prisoners in ‘sheol’. They stayed there, waiting with the hope that a time will soon come when the Son of God will lead them into the Heavenly Paradise.
As the sword at the gate of the Paradise was laid on the Son of God, now He descended into sheol to deliver the saints from captivity and to lead them to the heavenly paradise. On the cross on Calvary He committed His soul in his Father’s hands, and as per instructions from the Father, He descended in Spirit to the Upper Hell. The gate of Sheol was opened as “the keys of hell” were with Him (Rev. 1:18). As the Son of God entered into the Upper Hell, the souls of the saints that were there for years, waiting for His arrival to deliver them, were filled with joy and gladness and they began to shout and sing.
At the gate of the Upper Hell He made the proclamation concerning His victory and it echoed in the lower hells. He proclaimed the good news that He has accomplished the work of redemption though the sacrifice of His own body which the Old Testament saints looked forward and offered sacrifices of faith. He announced that through His blood there was reconciliation peace with God. Apostle Peter says: “……..he went and preached unto the spirits in prison” (1 Pet.3:19). The word “preached” in this scripture comes from the Greek word “Kerusso” which means “proclaimed”. The above scripture means that He proclaimed in sheol that He has become victorious and has wrought redemption. The proclamation was to all in sheol and the sound of the proclamation was heard throughout sheol. This sheol was the fourth paradise.
V – SPIRITUAL PARADISE
Next is a study about the Spiritual Paradise, which in reality it is a figurative paradise or a garden of God. Let us see the prophecy given by David in Psalms 68. “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou has received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them” (Psa.68:18).
In the book of Ephesians Paul also mentions the same: “When he ascended up on high…. and gave gifts unto men” (Eph.4:8). The fact that Christ ascended up with the Old Testament saints from the lower parts of the earth and his public ascension is mentioned in this scripture. After the resurrection He appeared to His disciples for forty days, and convinced them of His resurrection (Acts1:2, 3). He explained to them how all things were fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets and in the Psalms, concerning Him (Luke 24:44, 45). He also told them that after His ascension He will receive the Holy Spirit from the Father and send on them, and that after they are endued with that power from on high they shall be witnesses unto Him both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth and that they should baptize them that believe. He also promised that he would send the Holy Spirit on those that believe on Him and that they shall speak in new tongues and great miracles performed by them. Further, He promised to be with them even unto the end of the world (Matt.28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:8). Then, from the Mount of Olives, He ascended into the heavens and a cloud received him out of their sight.
In various places in the scripture we see the church is spoken of as the garden of God. (Isa.5:1; 58:11; Matt. 20:1-8). In short, the New Testament Church is the spiritual paradise. In the spiritual paradise also we see the overflowing of the river of the Holy Spirit. One does not have to go to any distant place seeking this great blessing. We find the rivers being full and overflowing at all places. The garden on the whole earth is thus watered. This is the blessing that the Lord received of the Father and gave to his saints. In the book of Ephesians Paul says: “he ascended up on high…. And gave gifts unto men” (Eph.4:8) and he continues to say what these gifts are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (4:11).
VI – MILLENNIAL EARTHLY PARADISE
The Spiritual Paradise or the Church transferred to the heavenly places will be there with Christ, in its glorified condition. It is then that the wrath of God will be poured out on the earth. As the flood came after Noah and family entered the ark, and as fire and brimstone rained over Sodom and Gomorrah after Lot was removed from there, the wrath of God will be poured out on the earth after the saints are gathered into the heavenly places.
The Holy Ghost who came down on the day of Pentecost will ascend with the Church and then the wicked be revealed on earth. “Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt.24:20). The whole world, the Jewish nation in particular will pass through great tribulation.
When Christ comes down to the earth with His saints from Heaven the tribulation period will be over, As he ascended from the Mount of Olives it was declared “…this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). He ascended from the Mount of Olives and He will come down to the same mount. “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east …and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee” (Zech.14:4,5).
Apostle John writes about it as follows: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (Rev.19:11-14).
This is the Second Coming of Christ. “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire….” (2 Thess.1:7, 8). He is coming down to establish that glorious kingdom, which the saints from the beginning of the world looked forward to, and that was declared by the prophets. He shall reign in righteousness on the earth. The whole world shall be under His rule and Palestine will be the inheritance of the children of Abraham. Our Lord will reign a thousand years in this earth, Jerusalem as his Capital (Rev.20:4-6). This is the sixth paradise.
VII – THE NEW EARTHLY PARADISE
In a previous chapter we saw that the redemption of man has two steps, namely, the redemption of the soul and the redemption of the body. When a sinner accepts Christ as his personal Saviour and is regenerated his spiritual redemption takes place. At the coming of Christ he is transformed in his body and attains bodily redemption. The redemption of man is complete only by these two steps.
As there is redemption for man by the atoning death of Jesus, there is also redemption for the earth which is under the curse. See what Apostle Paul writes in the book of Ephesians: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Eph,1:13,14). What is meant by “the redemption of the purchased possession”. It is the redemption of the earth which is the abode of man. When Adam sinned the earth came under the curse (Gen.3:17). As we saw elsewhere, when Christ begins His glorious reign here, the earth will be redeemed from its curse. That is the first step in the redemption of the earth and the earth will reach the stage in which it was before the fall of Adam. But the redemption will be complete only after the flood of fire.
Because the earth is burned with fire, it will not lose its condition as a planet. We read in the scripture that the earth abideth for ever (Eccl. 1:4) and as the Word of God stands true, the earth will never lose its condition of being a planet, but it will last forever, even in all the ages to come.
After the flood of fire, a new earth shall be formed out of the original matter of the burned earth. Prophet Isaiah says: “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isa.65:17). “For as the new heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth….” (Isa.51:16). Apostle John sees the new heaven and the new earth; “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away: and there was no more sea” (Rev.21:1). See what Peter has to say: Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet.3:13).
Though the present earth will be destroyed by fire, from its matter the Lord will make the new earth. In Isaiah 65:17, the prophet uses the word “create”; from the expression “make” in Isaiah 55:22, we know that it is not a new creation but it is making something new out of the old one. In Isaiah 65:17 the word translated as “create” is not the Hebrew word “bara” which means ‘to bring something out of nothing”. So from the old earth a new one will be formed. The resurrection of the human body, it from the old substance itself. About this Apostle Paul says, that we will be clothed upon with the heavenly body, above our original body. Not that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that morality might be swallowed up of life (2 Cor. 5:2-4). As the new body is formed out of the matter of the old body, the new earth shall be made out of the matter of the old earth. With this the redemption of the earth will be complete.
The earth, where once Lucifer and his angels lived and punished due to his rebellion, will become the place where the Son of man and his brothers shall abide. Then the Lord will be able to tell the Father, “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me” in the full sense of the words. As he prayed that His children might see His glory (John 17:21) this will be the time when that prayer is answered and they will see him in his full glory (Rev.22:3). This is the time when the Son will bring all the enemies under Him and rule over them.
At the end of this period “time” will come to a close. Time began when God commenced creation. Before that there was not “time” but only eternity or the eternal ages. At the close of the period of the fullness “time” will be stopped and again eternity or the eternal dispensation will begin. Then the Son of man will deliver the Kingdom to the Father. He is the Alpha and Omega. In the Greek alphabet Alpha is the first letter and Omega the last one. This means that He is the beginning and the end. I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Rev. 22:13). When time started at creation, He was Alpha. When time ends He will be Omega. Then the Son will deliver the kingdom to the Father and the Son also will be subject to Him. From then God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28). The details concerning the ages to come have not been revealed to man, because it is so incomprehensible. However, this eternal new earth and new heaven will be the seventh and the last paradise, according to the Bible revelation.
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