A Plan for Restoration

Chapter 4

As they awaited the sentence for their sin, Adam and Eve stood as criminals before the righteous Judge. But before they heard of the life of toil and sorrow which must be their share, or of the decree that they must one day return to dust, they heard words which could not help but give them hope. In the sentence pronounced upon Satan, they heard the first intimation of redemption—a plan for full restoration. The Lord declared, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15. This sentence was a promise to them. While it foretold war between man and Satan, it declared that the power of the great adversary would finally be broken. Though they must suffer from his bitter attacks, if they remained faithful, they could look forward to final victory.

When Satan heard that enmity should exist between himself and the woman and between his seed and her Seed, he knew that his work of corrupting human nature would be obstructed; that by some means man would be enabled to resist his power. Yet as the plan of salvation was more fully unfolded, Satan rejoiced that; having caused man’s fall, he could bring down the Son of God from His exalted position. Having been successful thus far in his plan to debase man’s nature and involve him in his own warfare against heaven, he was confident that when Christ should take upon Himself human nature, He also might be overcome and the redemption of the fallen race would yet be prevented.

Adam and his companion found assurance in the fact that notwithstanding their great sin, they were not to be abandoned to the control of Satan. The Son of God had offered to pay, with His own life, the penalty for their transgression. A testing period would be given them, during which it would be proven by test and trial if through repentance and faith in Christ they would choose to become obedient and loyal children of God, honoring His Law and respecting His authority.

The sacrifice demanded by their transgression revealed to Adam and Eve the sacred character of God’s Law; and they saw, as they had never seen before, the guilt of sin and its dreadful results. In their remorse and anguish, they pleaded that the penalty might not fall upon Him whose love had been the source of all their joy; rather let it descend upon them and their children.

But, as the Law of Jehovah is the foundation of His government in heaven as well as upon the earth, the life of a created being could not be accepted as a sacrifice for its transgression. Not one of its precepts could be abolished or changed to meet man in his fallen condition. Since the divine Law is as sacred as God Himself, only one equal with God could make atonement for its transgression. In the entire universe there was but one who could, in man’s behalf, satisfy its claims. The Son of God, Who had created man, could make an atonement for him. As Adam’s transgression had brought wretchedness and death, so the sacrifice of Christ would bring life and immortality.

At his creation, Adam was placed as ruler over the earth. But by yielding to temptation, he was brought under the power of Satan. “For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” 2 Peter 2:19. When man became Satan’s captive, the rulership which he held passed to his conqueror. Thus, Satan became “the prince (or ruler) of this world.” (See John 12:31;16:11.) He had usurped that authority over the earth which had originally been given to Adam. But Christ, by His sacrifice paying the penalty for sin, would not only redeem man, but recover the dominion which he had lost. All that was lost by the first Adam will be restored by the second. The apostle Paul points forward to the “redemption of the purchased possession.” Ephesians 1:14. God created the earth to be the home of holy, happy beings. That purpose will be fulfilled when—renewed by the power of God and freed from sin and sorrow—it becomes the eternal home of the redeemed. “The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever.” Psalm 37:29

God gave the system of sacrificial offerings to man, not only as an admission of his sin, but as a confession of his faith in the promised Redeemer. These sacrifices were intended to impress upon the fallen race the solemn truth that it was sin that caused death. To Adam, the offering of the first sacrifice was extremely painful. It was the first time he had ever witnessed death; and he knew that had he been obedient to God, there would have been no death of man or beast. As his hand took the life, which only God could give, he gained a deeper and clearer understanding of the greatness of his sin, for which nothing but the death of God’s dear Son could atone. He marveled at the immeasurable goodness that would pay such a price to save the guilty. Like a star of hope, it gave light to the dark and terrible future.

More, however, than the salvation of man and restoration of this world was to be gained by Christ’s life and death. The act of Christ in dying for the salvation of man would not only open heaven to men, but before the entire universe it would vindicate God and His Son in their dealing with Satan’s rebellion. It would establish the eternal nature of the Law of God and would reveal the inevitable results of sin.

It was to this result of His great sacrifice—its influence upon the intelligent beings of other worlds, as well as upon man—that the Saviour looked forward when just before His crucifixion He said: ‘‘Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:31–32

From the first, the great controversy had been about the Law of God. Satan had endeavored to prove that God was unjust, that His Law was faulty, and that the good of the universe required it to be changed. In attacking the Law, he aimed to overthrow the authority of its Author. In the controversy it was to be shown whether the divine statutes were defective and subject to change, or perfect and unchangeable.
When Satan was cast out of heaven, he determined to establish his kingdom on the earth. When he tempted and overcame Adam and Eve, he thought that he had gained possession of this world; “because,” said he, “they have chosen me as their ruler.” He claimed that it was impossible that forgiveness should be extended to the sinner; therefore, the fallen race were his rightful subjects and the world was his by virtue of conquest. God’s response, however, was to give His own dear Son—One equal with Himself—to bear the penalty of transgression and thus provide a way by which they might be restored to His favor and brought back to their Eden home. Christ undertook to redeem man and to rescue the world from the grasp of Satan. The great controversy that began in heaven was to be decided in the very world, on the very same field, that Satan claimed as his.

It was the marvel of all the universe that Christ should humble Himself to save fallen man. That He—Who had passed from star to star, from world to world, overseeing all, by His divine guidance supplying the needs of every order of being in His vast creation—should consent to leave His glory and take upon Himself human nature was a mystery that the sinless beings of other worlds desired to understand. When Christ came to our world in the form of humanity, the unfallen universe followed with intense interest His every step as He traveled the bloodstained path from the manger to Calvary. Heaven marked the insult and mockery that He received and knew that it was done at Satan’s prompting. They marked the work of the united forces of evil as they tried to obstruct the progress of Christ’s work to redeem fallen man. They watched the battle between light and darkness as it increased in strength. And as Christ in His dying agony upon the cross cried out, “It is finished!” John 19:30, a shout of triumph rang through every world and echoed through heaven itself. The great contest that had been so long in progress in this world was now decided, and Christ was conqueror. His death had answered the question as to whether the Father and the Son had sufficient love for man to exercise self-denial and a spirit of sacrifice. Satan had revealed his true character as a liar and a murderer. It was seen that the very same spirit with which he had ruled the children of men who were under his power, he would have manifested in heaven had he been permitted to rule there. With one voice, the loyal universe united in praising the divine government.

If the Law could be changed, man might have been saved without the sacrifice of Christ; but the fact that it was necessary for Christ to give His life for the fallen race proves that the Law of God will not release the sinner from its claims upon him. It is demonstrated that the wages of sin is death. When Christ died, the destruction of Satan was made certain. But if the Law was abolished at the cross, as many claim, then the agony and death of God’s dear Son were endured only to give to Satan just what he asked; then the prince of evil triumphed, his charges against the divine government were sustained. The very fact that Christ bore the penalty of man’s transgression is a mighty argument to all created beings that the Law is changeless; that God is righteous, merciful, and self-denying; and that infinite justice and mercy are united in the management of His government.

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