After the fall of Adam how did God reveal Himself to Adam’s offspring?
Obviously, the clearest presentation of Himself was through His Son, Jesus, (John 10:30) but how did He reveal Himself to generations before His advent?
Inherently they all knew something about Him, because they had some of His characteristics. (Genesis 1:27) They were born with a conscience, knowing right from wrong; they had feelings and emotions; they could empathise. They had intelligence and the capacity to reason. They were creative. God even called them gods. (John 10:34, 35)
Prior to the fall of Adam, God made Himself intimately known to him. God involved him in naming all the creatures He had created. (Genesis 2:19) He instructed him to tend and keep the garden of Eden. (v 15)
After creating Eve as a helpmate for Adam, (v 18) He let them get on with tending and keeping the garden, but, as we know, God gave them one rule, which if broken, would result in their death. Adam was aware of this singular command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (v 17) and there is no doubt Eve also knew of the prohibition, for she reasoned with the serpent why she shouldn’t eat of the tree. (Genesis 3:2, 3)
Having eaten of the tree, Adam and Eve didn’t physically die there and then. Had they done so they would have had no offspring. However, both were told of the consequences of their sin. In Adam’s case God cursed the ground and made it clear to him he would have to toil at working the land to eat herb and bread. (Genesis 3:17-19) Eve would suffer pain in childbearing, and her sorrow would be increased. (v 16)
As the story unfolded God said that as man had become ‘like Us’ (the Godhead), knowing good and evil, He would banish Adam from the garden, ‘lest he put out his hand and take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.’ (Genesis 3:22, 23)
From there on Genesis describes how the world became populated with Adam’s offspring. People lived to a great age, and their families were large, but owing to their imperfectness, caused by the indwelling sin of Adam, they were incapable of living perfectly in obedience to God.
Starting with the murder of Cain by Abel, (Genesis 4:8) mankind was bent on a course of progressive rebellion against God. ‘Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5) Because of this God decided He would destroy mankind and the other creatures, (v 7) but there was one man with whom He found favour, i.e., Noah who ‘walked with’ Him. (v 9) He was a righteous man. (Genesis 7:1)
God mercifully instructed Noah to build an ark in which all kinds of creatures and eight humans would survive a worldwide flood. All other humans died, but sin remained imbedded in the eight who survived. (Genesis 7:23)
After the flood, Noah built an altar to God, on which he made a burnt offering of ‘clean’ animals and birds. (Genesis 8:20) God smelt its soothing aroma. (v 21)
From the time of Cain, the first son of Adam, people knew God was pleased to receive offerings if they were sincerely given. He was not pleased with Cain’s offering, unlike that of Abel’s. (Genesis 4:3, 5)
Generally, people knew they should have a right relationship with God. Adam, after his fall, clearly understood his relationship was marred, and because of it he would die. (Genesis 2:16, 17) His prodigy would also die.
Adam could not restore his relationship with God. Only God could do it. He did not write Adam and Eve off, instead He showed His compassion by making them tunics of skin, (Genesis 3:21) but He withheld the gift of eternal life. He made sure of it by removing them from the garden, where they could have stretched out their hands to eat of the fruit of the tree of eternal life. (Genesis 2:9; 3:22, 23)
However, there was another part to God’s plan to bring about a restored relationship. He would be selective; not all would be chosen. (Ephesians 1:4, 6) We learn from the Old Testament that He chose the Jews to be a special nation for Himself, (Deuteronomy 7:6;14:2) They would be an unbelieving ‘type’ of the people with whom He would have a harmonious relationship, namely believers of the New Testament Church. He would give them eternal life. (John 3:16) It would be done through the enactment of the ‘new covenant in the blood of Jesus.’ (Hebrews 8:7-13; 9:15; Luke 22:20)
This ultimate reunion would be effected by the Seed (Jesus) who would bruise the serpent’s head. (Genesis 3:15)
Until the time of Jesus’s crucifixion there was no acceptable sacrifice capable of restoring a harmonious relationship between God and Adam’s offspring. Jesus had to die to atone for the sins of His people. (Luke 24:46, 47)
Before Jesus was crucified He told His disciples He would not leave them as orphans. After His death His Father would send the Holy Spirit. (John 14:26) He, the Holy Spirit would bring to the remembrance of the disciples all things Jesus had taught them. And true to His promise, the Holy Spirit came in great power at Pentecost to give birth to Christ’s church. (Acts 2)
For those born of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit aids them in many ways. He is called the Helper or Paraclete; one who comforts, advocates and intercedes. He is indispensable for the Christian’s walk with God. No one can truly have a personal relationship with God, without being born of His Spirit. (John 3:3)
There are various ways in which humans can grasp an understanding of who God is and what He desires of them.
Jesus the Perfect Revelation
The most revealing way God has made Himself known, is through His His Son, Jesus – God with us – our Immanuel. (Matthew 1:23) We learn about Him from the Scriptures. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John particularly focus on Him.
The Holy Spirit’s Intervention
By the intervention and power of the Holy Spirit people are brought to life in His Spirit. (John 3:3-8) He removes those born of His Spirit from the realm of the ‘natural man’ so that they can discern spiritual things, for them to have ‘the mind of Christ’. (1 Corinthians 2:14, 15)
God’s Word, the Bible
The written scriptures reveal God’s nature, and what He requires of us. It speaks of His testimonies, statutes, commandments and judgments. In keeping them there is ‘great reward.’ (Psalm 19:11)
The role of the Church is to preach the gospel and to make disciples. Those who join in worship at a biblically based church have this privilege of ‘hearing’ the gospel, and in so doing they can learn about God and the faith He requires. (Romans 10:17) This seems like a paradox, because it is God who gives the gift of faith. (Ephesians 2:8, 9)
‘For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so they are without excuse.’ (Romans 1:20)
Before the time of Christ’s coming, the author of Psalm 19, in the first half of the psalm, paints a picture of who God is by revelation through His creation. The psalmist tells of God’s eternal glory as seen in the heavens and the sky. He speaks of the sun, likening it to a majestic bridegroom – God Himself, ruling the universe, knowing all things, controlling all things. He blesses the world with His light and warmth. There is no place where anyone can hide from His gaze. (Psalm 139:7-12)
Our Internal Knowledge
God also reveals Himself in us, because we are like Him, i.e., we have certain aspects of His nature. (Genesis 1:27)
Finally, whether we are in the Spirit or in the flesh, we are all accountable to God. (Hebrews 9:27) Everybody will bow the knee and be subject Him. We shall all know Him on the last day. (Revelation 20:11-15)
‘As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seek after God.” (Romans 3:10, 11)