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Age of Decision

   Man was made in the image of his Creator and Adam was first given to live within a righteous setting. He was given the ability to reason, remember and imagine for the purpose of making decisions, unlike any of God's other earthy creations. Even though Adam possessed at the beginning many God given abilities, he personally knew only righteousness, living within his perfect home and had not yet experienced sin. Man was given a mate named Eve and they were presented with one rule to test their loyalty to their Creator. God Jehovah designated one tree in the midst of their pure environment that Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of its fruit, "but the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil you may not eat of it, you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:17), but all the other trees they could freely eat. The first couple had that one simple but solemn decision before them daily, Adam's purity would remain until he would choose to eat from this particular tree; having no personal concept of sin or its consequences, only of God's instruction and warning. Adam's world and character was perfect and flawless, but, man was not yet complete, nor was he ready to share eternity with his Father. In God's perfect wisdom, He knew man needed to understand the love he had already received from his Creator, by bringing them into existence and by giving them a pristine environment to experience and exist within, but Adam needed to step beyond obedience and to decide for himself to love God. Love needs to be a free will decision, as Jehovah decided to create mankind in order to share His love with them, He also desires to receive their love back. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was put in the Garden to present them with a choice, to obey God's command or to disobey; to trust his Creator or doubt His word and His intension. The Bible doesn't indicate how long Adam did not eat and continue to make the decision to obey God's one command, but at some point he did fall from obedience and he did eat from that one forbidden tree.

   We all know the story, even though many believe it to be just a story, but according to God's word, Adam, the very first man was not born, as we are, but created, "And Jehovah God formed the man out of the dust from the ground, and blew into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7) and Eve was also created from the rib of Adam. Eventually, by his own free will, Adam decided to eat of the fruit from the forbidden tree, this was man's first act of disobedience. The Bible doesn't explain Adam's reasoning, whether he ate from curiosity, or that he couldn't bare the thought of being without his wife, since she ate from the forbidden tree first. Adam knew this was wrong because Jehovah told both Adam and Eve of the consequence, "but the Tree of Knowledge of God and Evil you may not eat of it, you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:17). Sin was now, to some degree, part of man's understanding, but they still lived in this perfect sinless garden environment. Jehovah knew man needed to first, experience sin, for the purpose of fully understanding good and evil, in order for him to make his decision to love His Creator by wisdom and his chosen desire. Eve, having been tricked by the serpent (Satan) ate first, then Adam ate, both tasted the forbidden fruit against their Creator's instruction, but Adam's decision was the first sin for mankind, because he made the decision to disobeyed God's instruction and the results of Adam's fall remains with all of us today. For every one who decides to disregard a command of God has sinned, and Adam and his wife soon experienced the consequence of his sin, projecting them into a different setting and with a new nature; this entered mankind into an age of decision, which has continues for about six thousand years, and counting.

   The question that presents itself is: did Jehovah know or depend on Adam to make that fatal leap to sin? If you read further, you'll understand why I believe He did know and man's fall was part of God's plan. When Adam made that decision, the human status changed from a righteous nature, not knowing sin, to a sinful nature of knowing right and wrong, and accompanying this new nature was, and still is, an internal battle of learning right from wrong, fired by Satan's constant influence to turn us away from our God and Father. Satan (Lucifer) introduced sin to existence while in the presence of God and His holy angels, hence, Satan and his followers were cast out of Heaven to earth, "And the great dragon was cast out, the old serpent being called Devil and Satan, he deceiving the whole world, was cast out onto the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." (Revelation 12:9), and there remains a constant negative force directed toward mankind. Shortly after Adam's fall, the couple was exiled from the Garden of Eden and was denied access to the most important tree in the garden, the Tree of Life, "And He drove the man out. And He caused to dwell the cherubs at the east of the Garden of Eden, and the flaming sward whirling around to guard the way of the tree of life." (Genesis 3:24). This presented Adam and Eve with many new daily challenges, having an expanded agenda, because the world around them also changed, the animals and the plants and the decaying nature of all things, including themselves, this was now part of Adam's world. Mankind and the world itself were given a death sentence. This scenario, in itself, indicates to me that God anticipated that Adam would disobey His command, because the Garden of Eden was a separate and special place from the rest of earth and the first couple was cast out of this Garden to labor for their daily necessities.

    When Satan introduced sin in Heaven, he was given charge over the earth and  the devil continues to tempt man at every opportunity. I say, "at every opportunity" because God Jehovah, being in complete control over all things, including Satan, allowing him only some freedom to temp and act against us, again, only within Jehovah's plans and His will, by means of preventing, allowing or causing things to happen.

    Since Adam's fatal decision, the human race, the descendents of the first couple, have continued in this age of decision, at different levels and intensities and this age will continue until every saint has been sealed, "Do not harm the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, until we seal the slaves of our God on their foreheads." (Revelation 7:3), and then the judgment courts in Heaven will be closed, for all those who fear and love Jehovah, and for those who chose differently, "Then those fearing Jehovah spoke together, each one to his neighbor. And Jehovah gave attention and heard. And a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared Jehovah and those who esteemed His name." (Malachi 3:16), those chosen will be entered in the Book of Life, "saying in a great voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him, because the hour of His judgment has come; also, worship Him who has made the Heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water." (Revelation 14:7), and then Christ will return once again to retrieve those of His flock, "The one acting unjustly, let him still act unjustly; and the filthy; let him still be filthy; and the righteous, let him still do righteousness; and the holy, let him still be Holy. And behold, I am coming quickly, and my reward is with Me, to give to each as his work is." (Revelation 22:11,12). God's judgment day will have been completed before the first resurrection occurs, "But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand were ended. This was the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one having part in the first resurrection. The second death has no authority over these, but they will be priest of God and of Christ, and will rein with Him a thousand years." (Revelation 20:6,7) and then the count of time will end shortly after the second resurrection, first for those that will be lost in the lake of fire by death, then for those in New Jerusalem, the saints from the first resurrect, their count of time will end because the commencement of eternity, which has no count for those in the kingdom of God.

    Unlike Adam, who stood on righteous ground and had just one command to consider, who's challenge was to avoid forfeiting his righteous state, in contrast with Adam's task, our challenge and objective, since Adam's fall, is to cleanse ourselves from the sins we have already committed, by confession and repentance, "From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent! For the kingdom of Heaven has drawn near." (Matthew 4:17), and to exercise righteousness, only. It is our daily (continual) decision to do what is right, according to the commands of God, by our commitment to following His Son's lead until the end of this age of decision. It was Christ's challenge, in His human state at His first advent was to lead a righteous life, for the purpose of qualifying Himself as the perfect sacrifice, "On the morrow, John sees Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29), enabling Him to pay the price for man's repented sins in the eyes of God, our Judge. We are to follow Christ's lead in exercising righteousness and to die of ourselves as He died for us on the cross. This walk through the age of decision doesn't take us back to Adam's position before his fall, but to prepare us to the next age in God's kingdom of righteousness. Adam knew not sin and needed to learn and understand good and evil for the purpose of his education, and this is also our call, to proceed to the next age to be in God Jehovah's presence. We are to move from our unrighteous state to a cleansed and pure position, now knowing both good and evil and daily deciding on either, hopefully using the education available to us, which is only available with purity in God's word and to wisely choose life. It is our daily decisions and our hopeful destiny to move forward to this next age of permanent righteousness, "The one unjustly, let him still act unjustly; and the filthy, let him still be filthy; and the righteous, let him still do righteousness; and the holy, let him still be holy." (Revelation 22:11), where we will experience all the blessings Jehovah has planned for our eternity with Him and the Heavenly host, because we have proved our hearts desire for righteousness, acquired by consuming God's word and performing God's commands, pursuing His righteousness, His character, understanding the reasons for His commands, that they are all perfect, pure and for our benefit, "The law of Jehovah is perfect, converting the soul. The testimony of Jehovah is pure, making the simple wise." (Psalm 19:7), "So indeed the law is holy, and the commandments holy and just and good." (Romans 7:10); moving His divine law to our heart; for each law to be our desire and our personal commitment, transforming our character to the character of God, which is also the character of the Son of God, our Shepherd, Jesus, the Messiah of Jehovah.

    Jesus was sent to reveal His Father, the God of all existence, first by example, then by way of the one the Book He gave us, by His inspiration to all the writers in the New Testaments, and I believe the Old Testaments also. In the Book Christ gave us were  examples and explanations, warning and prophecies, to entice us to salvation. Since Adam's sin, man was denied direct communication with our God and Father, but Jesus, having come in a human state, "but we do see Jesus crowned with glory and honor, who on account of suffering of death, was made a little less then the angels, so that by the grace of God He might taste of death for every son." (Hebrews 2:9), shared with us the knowledge and character of His Father and our Father. Christ is now our only Advocate and Mediator, bridging the gap between God and His people, "For God is one, also there is one Mediator of God and of man, the Man Christ Jesus." (I Timothy 2:5). If we choose God Jehovah and His kingdom as our destination and Christ as our Way to the Father, He will lead us along this spiritual journey, represented to us in the journeys of the Israelites, and then we can enter the next age, to the existence that God had planned for us, even before Adam's first breath. Our arrival depends on our daily decisions and our success depends on if we take advantage of Christ's offer to lead us home and to supply the strength all of us need for this journey, "Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and we may find grace for help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16). All steps and directions are contained within the pages of God's word and must be read often for necessary and continual spiritual nourishment, needed to keep our focus on the only way home, by way of Christ.

    When we see Jesus at His second advent and we are filled with joy and not shame, we enter the next age, an age that now, can only be a dream, because this has never been realized by any man, with three exceptions, Adam didn't experience this future state, although he was close. Adam know righteousness before the fall but afterwards, he had the same decisions to make as we have been confronted with during this age of decision. Enoch, Elijah and Moses are the only men we know of who have already been translated into God's presence. Why were these men translated before the first resurrection? Could it be because they walked perfectly in the light of Jehovah? "By faith Enoch was translated so as not to see death and was not found, because God translated him, he had obtained witness to have been pleasing to God." (Hebrews 11:50) This is our task during this age of decision, every other human decision pales in comparison. Now is the time to seek cleanliness, in preparation for God's kingdom and we are not on our own, we have all the help we need by our request to our Shepherd, Jesus, but it is our decisions and our efforts to seek the righteousness available through the guidance and strength of Christ.

    When the courts in Heaven are closed, the saints will have already been sealed, permanently, according to Jehovah's just judgment, each will either be set for eternal life or eternal death. Translation doesn't transform anyone from unrighteousness to righteousness, "the one acting unjustly, let him still act unjustly; and the filthy, let him still be filthy; and the righteous, let him still do righteousness; and the holy, let him still be holy." (Revelation 22:11), it transforms those who have worked out righteous in this life, "So then my beloved, even as you always obeys, not as in my presence only, but now much rather in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12) and it will continue and remain that way, according to the choices we make during this age of decision. There is no second chance.

     Jehovah stated, "forming light and creating darkness, making peace and creating evil - I Jehovah do all these things." (Isaiah 45:7), and this indicates to me that He had fore knowledge of man's fall and that the age of decision is a necessary step to assure God that those who will enter His kingdom will, wholeheartedly want to enter, because they made it their effort to purify themselves during this current age of decision, only because they have come to understand the beauty and perfection of Jehovah's character and the purity of government, presented in His laws and Commandments. Righteousness is a decision to make and to strive toward by avoidance of evil and repentance of our transgressions of God's laws, through our only hope, Christ and the strength that He desires to share; help that is available to all who make the commitment to cleanse themselves, as the priest of temple did before they entered in the presence of Jehovah to perform their duties, and to seek God Jehovah, " ...For Jehovah searches out all hearts, and He understands every imagination of thought. If you shall seek Him, He shall be found by you. But if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever." (I Chronicles 28:9). It is our heart that needs changing through cleansing because of our understanding.

   Another point that supports God's design for us to go through this age of decision is that the forbidden tree was a special tree with the special name, "...The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil" (Genesis 2:9). Jehovah could have selected any tree to test Adam and Eve for their obedience, but this name shows us Jehovah's intention toward a new age of learning of good and evil for the decisions in front of everyone from the "fall" on. We need to know evil by our personal observation and experience in order to fully understand good, we need to choose righteousness for the correct and pure reasons, because God's system is best for all involved, God's way expresses His concern and love for us. If we come to understand that this is the only system that can sustain co-existence with others of the human race, we need to know this now, without any questions so our decisions are pure without one reservation. We will be made permanent in a state for an eternity, either righteous or otherwise (referring back to Revelations 22:11) and, "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each as his work is." (Revelation 22:12). Before the fall, man knew not the meaning of either, evil or good; it is necessary for us to experience both, personally and by viewing others in their sin and the results of both, to understand good fully, evil is all around us and with us, and be wise it often doesn't look or feel wrong, unless we know God's perfect character, in order for us to see its dangers and damage and the victims of a sin. It is our choice to avoid what God does not promote for our well-being and to discard all evil.

  Where does the Flood fit into this equation? From my understanding, God does not see the future, however He does have complete control of the future, so obviously, He does know how things will proceed forward and He is sure of its ending. He can and will cause things to happen, according to His perfect plans, as He did with Pharaoh and with Nebuchadnezzar, which are only two of the many examples and He also prevents things from happening, having control of Satan and of us. If He desires to change the course of the way things are going, He doesn't take away the privilege that He gave us, to make decisions, but if we choose something contrary to God's eternal plan, He simply gives the opportunity to one of the many others to perform His will. The Flood may have been God's reaction to man's consistent disregard to make correct choices. The other possibility is that God needed to show the human race that He is consistent with His concern for us to do righteousness and He allowed men to go in their own sinful path so He could, by example of His worldwide flood, show us the result of a sinful future. The Lake of Fire that He warns us about will not be another example, but the end of evil, "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and those having become foul, and murderers and fornicators and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all the lying ones, their part will be in the lake burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8). We need to take the entire Book of God's instructions to our mind and our heart; it the only way to know the truth. All words of man needs to be confirmed with God's word.