First Dispensation: The Age of Innocence
This age began in the Garden of Eden, and ended with the fall. It is also called Paradise, because that is what the garden of Eden was. During this time God kept Adam and Eve for their faithfulness and obedience to Him.
Gen. 1:26, “…God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion…” The triune God had a purpose and it went far beyond the garden Eden. We don’t see this at first when we read Genesis, but God purposed a New Creation. He wanted man to have dominion, that still has to come to pass. We read in verses 26 through 28 that God gave man dominion over everything. He was to rule over all God’s creation.
Gen. 2:8-9, “…The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” God placed Adam in the garden to dress it and to keep it (2:15).
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 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” (2:16-17). This was the stewardship of Adam. He had a responsibility to rule over creation, to keep the garden and to obey God. God tested man (the natural man) as to his ability to obey.
God made the woman (2:22). “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed (for they were not put to shame – 2:25).” They didn’t even realize they were naked. There was no condition of sin in their life, no guilt. Adam and Eve were created sinless, but not holy. If they had been holy, they couldn’t have sinned. They were innocent, subject to sin. Of course God knew that, but He wanted them to find out. God wanted this on record before ALL humanity. That the natural man, even under the best of circumstances, is not able to obey God. Adam had everything he could want, didn’t have to work, just dress the garden a bit, nothing to worry about. Above all this they were innocent, didn’t know sin. They didn’t know there was good and evil. They were like children in their understanding and dealings with one another. But the serpent came on the scene
The serpent spoke to Eve (not Adam). He simply asked her a question. “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (3:1). This is Satan’s way, he asks questions. He gets people to doubt God. He caused Eve to begin to doubt the goodness of God. When Eve answered, she added to what God had said. “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” God didn’t say anything about touching it. “And the serpent said unto the woman. Ye shall not surely die” (3:4). The serpent took away from what God said (See Deut. 12:32 & Jn. 8:44). The woman should have referred the serpent to her husband. God really never spoke to Eve concerning the tree, He told Adam (2:16).
I Timothy 2:14 sounds like Adam deliberately took of this fruit, for “Adam was not deceived.” I believe he loved Eve so much and didn’t want to be separated from her. He knew she was going to die, because God said they would if they ate of that tree. This is a beautiful picture of Calvary. This is what Jesus did. He was willing to be separated form His Father and take upon Him our sin, deliberately, to be identified with us. That is what Adam did. Adam lost his stewardship in doing this.
Have you ever wondered how long they were in the garden before they disobeyed? I don’t think it was very long. Through all these dispensations, Satan had his part in trying to defeat God’s purposes. He used to be Lucifer and fell from his place and became an enemy of God. He tries to defeat all of God’s purposes. When God created such a wonderful innocent sinless man, Satan tried to destroy that. Gen. 3:6, they ate of the forbidden tree. What was so bad about that? They disobeyed God. Isn’t that how human nature is, you tell the natural man not to do something and that is exactly what he wants to do. It shows up at a very early age. In every dispensation, it didn’t matter how God dealt with men, they failed God. They were not able to do what God wanted them to do.
When Adam and Eve fell, all the human race fell. Their sin was passed on to the next generation and from there on down. Sinful parents cannot give birth to children without sin. Verses 11 through 13 of Genesis 3 tell of man’s disobedient spirit as the result of the fall. With every failure of man in these dispensations, there came a judgement. God judged the serpent, Eve, and Adam. First He judged the serpent (3:14). This judgement will not be lifted even in the Kingdom Age, the last dispensation (Isa. 65:25). When man sinned and rebelled, all God’s creation rebelled, the animals were no longer tame, but wild. In the Kingdom Age, when righteousness comes to this earth, all other animals will be released, there won’t be any ferocious beasts (Rom. 8:18-23 & Isa. 11:6-9). But the serpents will still be on their belly and eat dust.
The judgement upon the woman was concerning pain in child birth and the man would rule over her (3:16). Compare I Tim. 2:15. The judgment of Adam was concerning food. Because he ate of that tree, the ground would not produce the food it should produce. When man lost dominion, the earth rebelled and brought forth thorns, thistles, and weeds. God told Adam that until he died, he will make his living by the sweat of his face (3:17-19). This will be lifted during the Kingdom Age. Man won’t have to work hard, all the land will be tillable and produce abundantly. In their judgment, Adam and Eve were barred from the garden (3:22-24). This was God’s grace that they would not eat of the tree of life and live forever in sin.
Even today man tries to get away from his failure. He just denies everything God has said by his actions and attitudes. But man was plunged into darkness and with out hope. God was not taken unawares. Man’s need provided the opportunity for God to manifest His grace which He purposed in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1). God purposed a creation which would be holy. God gave Adam and Eve a word of prophecy, a light, a hope, a Deliverer was coming (3:15). God also clothed them with the skins of slain animals. He was teaching them that a blood sacrifice was necessary for their sins to be covered, pointing them to Calvary. God instituted sacrifices, pointing forward to Christ, our Sacrifice. Redemption is the way God has obtained this holy creation. Christ is the head of this new creation and everyone who will believe on Jesus Christ may become a new creation. In each dispensation, God tested humanity and man always failed and must be judged. Only the believers escape judgment, because Jesus bore the judgment for our sins on Calvary (Jn. 5:24).
Next issue: The Age of Conscience