The angels of heaven were deeply interested in the work of creation as it progressed from day to day. When the first week of earthly time was finished and the completed beauty of the new world was seen, “The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted with joy.” Job 38:7
But all was changed after the Fall. Man had broken his allegiance to his Creator. The earth and the human family had fallen into the hands of Satan and the rebel host, which had been so recently driven from heaven. Angel songs of joy were hushed, and sorrow filled heaven.
The results of the sin of Adam and Eve could not be mistaken or overlooked. Through the fall, man lost dominion over the earth, which had been given him at creation. This dominion was usurped by Satan and the earth and its inhabitants were lost to the loyal universe of God. Satan had secured a kingdom for himself, and unless it were redeemed through the infinite mercy of God, and wrested from the usurper, he would retain it forever.
The heart of the Son of God was touched with pity for fallen man. He knew the malignity which had taken possession of Satan and his rebel host. He knew the woe and suffering that would be the lot of the human race. He knew the depths of sorrow and degradation which the power of evil would bring upon the human family.
But by infinite love a plan had been devised by which man should be redeemed and the lost earth returned to its place in the moral universe of God.
Man had broken the command of God, and stood convicted as a sinner. There was but one penalty for sin—“The wages of sin is death.”
There was but One in all the universe who could satisfy the claims of the law, and rescue the race from its impending doom. The Son of God, who was equal with His Father, the Author of the law, would take upon Himself the guilt of the world, and pay the penalty of death in man’s behalf.
The immutability of every precept of God’s law is emphasized by this dire necessity of the sacrifice of Christ. Could that law have been changed, the Son of God need not have died, for then man might have been saved without such an infinite sacrifice.
David has said, “Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name.” Psalm 138:2. Speaking to Israel of Christ, Jehovah said, “My name is in Him.” Exodus 23:21. Christ alone bears the name of God.
The name of great earthly families is guarded jealously. The name and reputation of the family of God may not be lightly reproached. Yet the name of Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was secondary when compared with the “word,” or law, of the Almighty. Christ was to be subjected to a life of sorrow, suffering, and humiliation, and to a death of shame, that God’s law might stand vindicated before the entire universe.
Gladly would angels have undertaken the work of atonement, but the death of any created being could not satisfy the claims of the law in behalf of fallen man. The angels themselves are amenable to the law, and, with man, would suffer its penalties should they break it. Hence their lives could not atone for sin.
“And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” Zechariah 6:13. Christ pleaded with the Father in behalf of the sinner. Between Them the whole plan came in review. Great consequences were involved in the decision. If undertaken, Christ in person would be separated from His Father during His lifetime on earth. He would be a “man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53:3
On earth Jesus would own no possessions; and while here, He said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.” Matthew 8:20. He must suffer the displeasure of Jehovah for sin as the sinner must suffer it. And He must die the most ignominious death of the most hardened criminal.
Even this was not all. Do we realize that as a man Christ assumed all the conditions of a man? With the surroundings and tendencies of a man, He must live the holy life of God. Otherwise He could not be the Saviour of the fallen race, or even a fit example for humanity to imitate.
In becoming a man, Christ took upon Himself the awful liability of eternal loss as other men must take it. Day by day He was “in all points tempted like as we are.” Hebrews 4:15. If there was no danger of failure and loss, there could be no temptation, for He would be beyond it.
The very temptation He met and so successfully resisted gave Him experience in the life of man, and prepared Him to “succor them that are tempted.” Hebrews 2:18. Paul says, “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” Hebrews 5:8
The heavenly “counsel of peace” resulted in favor of man, and full provision was made for the salvation of the race. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. What wonderful love! Truly, the love of God “passeth understanding.”
Christ did not come to earth in His own divine strength. He left this when He came as a babe in the manger. But, guarded and guided by power from on high, as every human being can be guarded and guided, He lived a life of simple purity such as no other being has lived upon earth, and thus became our perfect example.
God was with His Son in every act of His earthly life, and in His ministry below Jesus represented the Father to the world. Paul, explaining His mission, says, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” 2 Corinthians 5:19. Man had become “alienated from the life of God” through sin, and the mission of Christ was to bring him back to a reconciliation with his Creator.
After Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, the Lord met them, and made known to them the consequences of their sin. And to the serpent He said, “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
Naturally there is no enmity between Satan and fallen man. Both “have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. Naturally their interests go hand in hand. Any effort to draw away from the rule of sin and Satan is contrary to the natural order, and ever results in conflict with the powers of darkness; but the Lord said He would “put enmity” between Satan and the sinner. Hence every desire of man to draw away from evil and toward God, is miraculously put there by the Holy Spirit of God. It is embraced in the plan of salvation as proclaimed in Eden at the fall.
Early in their fallen state man was informed of the plan of redemption. In it was the promise of the Messiah. The promised Seed of the woman (Christ) should bruise the head of the serpent (Satan). Although Christ would be cruelly wounded by Satan, yet the conflict would finally result in the overthrow of the devil, the loss to him of his usurped dominion, his death, and with it the final destruction of all evil.
When Satan heard the words spoken to the serpent in the garden, he knew that a plan for the salvation of man had been formed in heaven, and that it included the final doom of himself and his followers in sin.
“Yet as the plan of salvation was more fully unfolded, Satan rejoiced with his angels that, having caused man’s fall, he could bring down the Son of God from His exalted position. He declared that his plans had thus far been successful upon the earth, and that when Christ should take upon Himself human nature, He also might be overcome, and thus the redemption of the fallen race might be prevented.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 66
Although Satan had failed in his warfare in heaven, he felt sure that he could overcome Christ when He should come to earth as a man, bearing the infirmities of humanity. To this end he bent all his energies of evil and cunning, developed through four thousand years of experience.
But through power from heaven, secured through earnest prayer, the Saviour withstood every attack of the enemy, and when the cry went up from the cross, “It is finished,” Satan realized that he was vanquished, and that his doom was sealed. The Son of God had overcome all the power of Satan and his host. The sacrifice was complete, and a remnant will at last come forth “more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” Romans 8:37
After our first parents were driven from Eden, they were more fully instructed in the plan of salvation by the angels. With sorrow and remorse they learned of the suffering and death that were to come to the Son of God because of their sin. They bowed in contrition and adoration at the evidence of such wonderful love. Humanity would yet be redeemed from the hand of the enemy. The Eden home which they had lost would someday be restored to the family of Adam.
Until Christ should come as an offering for sin, the lives of innocent animals must be taken and their blood shed as a type of the blood of Christ which was to be spilled for the sins of the world. With every sacrifice made by them, the fact that Christ must die for their sins was brought vividly to their remembrance. Every lamb offered in sacrifice pointed to “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8
“To Adam, the offering of the first sacrifice was a most painful ceremony. His hand must be raised to take life, which only God could give. 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 he slew the innocent victim, he trembled at the thought that his sin must shed the blood of the spotless Lamb of God. This scene gave him a deeper and more vivid sense of the greatness of his transgression, which nothing but the death of God’s dear Son could expiate. And he marveled at the infinite goodness that would give such a ransom to save the guilty. A star of hope illumined the dark and terrible future and relieved it of its utter destruction.
“But the plan of redemption had a yet broader and deeper purpose than the salvation of man. It was not for this alone that Christ came to the earth; it was not merely that the inhabitants of this little world might regard the law of God as it should be regarded; it was to vindicate the character of God before the universe. To this result of His great sacrifice—its influence upon the intelligences of other worlds, as well as upon man—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 earth, will draw all men unto Me.’ John 12:31, 32. The act of Christ in dying for the salvation of man would not only make heaven accessible to man, but before all the universe would justify God and His Son in their dealing with the rebellion of Satan. It would establish the perpetuity of the law of God and would reveal the nature and the results of sin.
“From the first the great controversy had been upon the law of God. Satan had sought 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 immutable. …
“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, superintending all, by His providence supplying the needs of every order of being in His vast creation—that He should consent to leave His glory and take upon Himself human nature, was a mystery which the sinless intelligences of other worlds desired to understand. When Christ came to our world in the form of humanity, all were intensely interested in following Him as He traversed, step by step, the blood-stained path from the manger to Calvary. Heaven marked the insult and mockery that He received, and knew that it was at Satan’s instigation. They marked the work of counter agencies going forward; Satan constantly pressing darkness, sorrow, and suffering upon the race, and Christ counteracting it. They watched the battle between light and darkness as it waxed stronger. And as Christ in His expiring agony upon the cross cried out, ‘It is finished!’ a shout of triumph rung through every world, and 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 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 if permitted to control the intelligences of heaven. With one voice the loyal universe united in extolling the divine administration.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 68–70
“The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second Man is the Lord from heaven.” 1 Corinthians 15:47
Through the sin of the “first man,” Adam, the dominion of the earth was lost to the race. Through Christ, “the second man, … the Lord from heaven,” the dominion will be restored. Says the prophet, “O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto Thee shall it come, even the first dominion.” Micah 4:8
And Paul tells us of the “redemption of the purchased possession.” Ephesians 1:14. Yes, the possession has been purchased at an infinite cost. And when the great work of redemption is finished, “the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.” Daniel 7:27
Truly, the plan of salvation, which to Paul was “the mystery of godliness,” is beyond our comprehension. “Who can know the depths of that love which ‘passeth knowledge’? Through endless ages, immortal minds, seeking to comprehend the mysteries of that incomprehensible love, will wonder and adore.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 64
Past, Present, and Future, James Edson White, ©1909, 28–37.
[All scripture taken from the King James Version.]