Monday, 22 March 2010

Paradise is a place on earth

A summary of the Bible Hour presentation at the Christadelphian Hall, Blackpool Street, Burton-upon-Trent on Sunday 21st March 2010.

This blog uses Bible references. If you don’t have a Bible, you can find the Bible text online.

‘Paradise’ in the Old Testament

The word ‘paradise’ is of Persian origin, it means an enclosed garden.

In Genesis 2:8 we read of the Garden of Eden. In the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) this is the word ‘paradise’.

Some things we learn about the garden of Eden:
  • It contained all kinds of trees (Genesis 2:9, Ezekiel 31:8-9)
  • It was well watered (Genesis 2:10, Ezekiel 31: 4, 16)
  • It contained gold and precious stones (Genesis 2:12, Ezekiel 28:13)
  • It was a place of joy, gladness, thanksgiving and melody (Isaiah 51:3, see Genesis 3:8 which says literally ‘the sound of God walking in the garden’).

Paradise restored

In Acts 3:19-20 the return of Jesus Christ to the earth is referred to as "times of refreshing" and "times of restoration of all things". In Matthew 19:28 it is referred to as the "regeneration" or ‘rebirth’.

What is it that will be restored?

The future Kingdom of God is described in many places, e.g. Isaiah 35; Isaiah 54:10-14, 60; Jeremiah 31:10-14; Ezekiel 36:33-36. Notice how the Kingdom will have the characteristics of the Garden of Eden which we noticed earlier.

‘Paradise’ in the New Testament

The New Testament mentions ‘paradise’ three times:

1. 2 Corinthians 12:3, which seems to be a vision of the Kingdom of God

2. Revelation 2:7, again looking forward to the Kingdom (compare Genesis 3:22)

3, Luke 23:43. In response to the remarkable confession of faith of the thief who was crucified beside him, Jesus said "Verily I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise" (note that the punctuation is put in by the translators and was not in the original text). It is sometimes suggested that this means the thief went to heaven that day. This can’t be the case because:

  • As we’ve seen, paradise will be on earth, not in heaven
  • the Bible is clear that Jesus died and was buried, was raised, and only after 40 more days ascended to heaven. So what does it mean? The dead are unconscious (Ecclesiastes 9:5-10). When believers die they are said to be asleep (Mark 5:39, John 11:11-14). The thief died that day, and his next waking moment will be in paradise.

The Kingdom of God

In Revelation 21 & 22 we are given a picture of the Kingdom: God dwelling with people; joy and happiness; precious stones and gold; the river of the water of life; the tree of life; no more curse. All references back to the Garden of Eden.

If we show faith in Jesus like that of the thief on the cross, the promise of paradise can be ours too.

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