But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. -Gen 2:17The Lord warned Adam that the day he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would die. Did he die that "day?" Well, most theologians who have accepted the Platonic, yet unbiblical, concept of an "immortal soul" and a misunderstanding of "spirit" would tell us that Adam died "spiritually" that day.
From John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on Genesis:
That is, thou shalt lose all the happiness thou hast either in possession or prospect; and thou shalt become liable to death, and all the miseries that preface and attend it. This was threatened as the immediate consequence of sin... Not only thou shalt become mortal, but spiritual death and the forerunners of temporal death shall immediately seize thee.Adam was always "mortal." "spiritual death" is a loaded phrase which we will not take up here in full.
Back to our question: Did Adam die that day?
Let me suggest two possibilities from scripture.
1. Adam died at age 930, which is less than a prophetic "one day."
2. Immediately after Adam and Eve sinned, God offered a blood sacrifice as a substitute.
Scripture is full of prophetic days. We are told by Peter in his second epistle, "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." We also see this idea in Hosea in regard to the current age. Speaking of a period after Israel is set aside by the Lord for her "adultery," we read this in Hosea:
Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. -Hosea 6:1-2This would appear to be the two thousand years after Israel is put aside at the end of the Acts age.
We also see the seven days of creation as a possible application of this biblical principle. There has been roughly six thousand years of the age of man:
- Two Days, 2000 years from current creation to Abraham [Nations Age]
- Two Days, 2000 years from Abraham to Christ and the end of the Acts Age [Israel Age]
- Two Days, 2000 years from the end of Acts until Israel is again God's channel [Mystery Age]
The seventh day then being the 1000 year millennial reign of Christ with Israel in her promised land. This is the coming age of the New Covenant fulfilled in Israel.
A sacrificial death is a substitute death. Immediately after Adam and Even sin, we read this:
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. -Gen 3:21To be able to make those coats of skins, blood had to be shed. This was a temporary covering picturing the completed work of Christ on Calvary.
The verses which follow are often ignored, yet they carry an important truth:
And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. -Gen 3:22-24"Forever" here, as translated in Young' Literal, is "to the age." That is, with access to the Tree of Life, Adam would live through the ages of the world. We do not want to miss that, but more importantly for this study, we do not want to miss that after sinning, if Adam still has access to the Tree of Life, he would continue to have physical life. Thus this tree was taken away.
We can extrapolate from these verses that the punishment from the Lord was twofold: loss of relationship (as seen in Adam hiding in the garden) and loss of access to the Tree of Life. Without that access, mortal Adam would physically die. Adam was not, in an of himself, immortal.
In Revelation 21, we see the new heavens and the new earth and the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven. In Revelation 22, we see the reward to the overcomer of living in this city.
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him... -Rev 22:1-3We see here the re-entry of the Tree of Life into the story of man. After the nations failed to worship God in spirit and in truth after the flood of Genesis 6 (see the decay into wickedness mapped out in Romans 1), which culminated in the building of the Tower of Babel, the Lord chose Abraham and his descendants as a channel of blessing for the nations on earth. In Romans and Galatians Paul reminds Israel that this was always God's plan (in this age, after Israel was put aside, believers have blessings in the far above the heavens apart from Israel).
In Exodus 15 we see this tremendous prophetic truth pictured:
“If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.” Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters. -Ex 15:26-27Note that when Israel obeys the Lord fully (they never have), the Lord will heal the nations.
This is pictured in the 12 wells of water giving life to the 70 palm trees. Israel's 12 tribes bringing life to the 70 nations of Genesis.
But remember, this can only be true if Israel is obeys the Lord's commands and covenant. When will this be true? It will be true under the New Covenant.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” -Heb 8 / Jer 31
Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Although I have cast them [Israel v.15] far off among the Gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.” ’ Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And they will go there, and they will take away all its detestable things and all its abominations from there. Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God." -Ezek 11:16-20
Israel will be restored, in the future, via the New Covenant, and the nations will come to them again.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘In those days [future] ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” -Zech 8:23We have a picture of the millennium and the coming age beyond that.
Having true "immortal life" only comes through resurrection. Adam did die that "day." He was restricted access to the Tree of Life. He returned to dust. This is the fate of all flesh. Man is not immortal. He must "put on immortality" in resurrection. We read this in the great resurrection chapter, 1 Cor 15:
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”No one apart from God has immortality until then. As Paul reminds us, God alone is immortal (1 Tim 6). Until then, all (believers and unbelievers) return to dust. We are as the beasts of the field. We are souls which die. Animals are souls which die. If you want LIFE it is found in faith in His Name Alone. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will have life. Otherwise, your fate is to perish and return to dust for the ages. Man is full of pride, yet his fate is decay, just like the animals (Ps 49)
Note the last verse. Our "spirit" is the breath of life from God. It is not the "immortal" you. It is vanity to forget we have the same fate as the animals. We are all but dust, and the only hope of life in the ages to come if the free gift of resurrection life by grace through faith in the Son of God.
Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed,
Or the golden bowl is broken,
Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain,
Or the wheel broken at the well.
Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,
And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,
“All is vanity.”
When the Lord died in the cross, he said, "into your hands I commend my spirit." He is then said to have been in the grave for three days and three nights. We are told his "soul" was in the grave. The greater truth, however, is that he reversed the curse and his body did not return to dust!
For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. -Acts 2:17He gave up his life and took it back again! He reversed the curse of death and decay! Because of that, we might have life through his name. If you believe that the unbeliever opens his eyes in fiery torment, you are saying he has "life" beyond the grave. That is heresy. Once we understand that our hope is in resurrection and that is how we experience true life, you will find his resurrection is greater than you have ever imagined. The lost have no life in them. They will perish as Adam, but without hope.
Even believers, if the Lord had not raised, would perish. Again we look at the great resurrection chapter of 1 Cor 15:
For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
Resurrection is where we have true life. Those who do not have Christ (unbelievers) will not see life.
Scripture offers no other comfort than this. No one is "partying with Jesus" in death.
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. -John 3:36He is the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in him, though he die, yet shall he live.
Scripture offers no other comfort than this. No one is "partying with Jesus" in death.