A Last Eve in the New Heaven and New Earth
– JoAnne Gerety
Images in the biblical narrative are special phenomena. Exploring these images can reveal heavenly assets and a helpful way to envision the completed work of Jesus Christ.
I have been meditating on the narrative of Genesis in particular:
God plants a garden in Eden. There are elements in this garden that are quite clear. God is present. There are archetypal humans: Adam and an Eve. There are two trees that are named: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. And there is a talking serpent.
In chapter two of Genesis, Adam was alone until God causes a sleep to fall upon him and then the woman is removed from Adam. She is later identified as Eve.
The law that God commanded in Eden was that Adam and Eve were not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. One law, one horrible punishment (if you eat, you shall die – Genesis 2:17).
The talking serpent in Eden beguiles Eve; she disobeys the law and eats. Adam joins in the noncompliance and they are expelled by God from the garden to prevent them eating from the tree of life. A barrier with a flaming sword guarded by cherubim is placed between God and the unhappy couple. Connection with Adam resulted in death (or separation from God) for all humankind (1 Corinthians 15:22). Humanity was prevented from partaking of the tree of life.
Jesus fulfilled all prophecy between the time of his crucifixion and the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in A.D. 70. Could Jesus repair the breech between God and humanity? Can the imagery in Genesis be found in the New Testament?
Jesus is referred to as the last Adam in 1 Corinthians 15:45. Is there a last Eve – and where is she? We know from many of the epistles, that people who believed in Jesus in the first century were being placed “in Christ.” This group of people were collectively called the body of Christ, the church, or the “called-out ones.” Like the Eve of Genesis, they were taken out of Adam – in this case the last Adam – to be presented as a bride. It was possible for these people to be corrupted by the serpent like Eve was in the Genesis account (2 Corinthians 11:3). As members of the body, they were to remain as a chaste virgin to be presented to Christ.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was symbolic of the law. And we know that this tree was thriving in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) because God gave God’s early people a total of 613 commandments to obey. Because there was a law, there was also an accuser (Revelation 12:10). The serpent was running amok on the pages of the New Testament having acquired additional names: the great dragon, the Devil, and Satan (Revelation 12:9). The serpent thrived while the law was in force and unfulfilled!
Jesus began the battle with Satan immediately when he began his ministry, and the battle continued until his coming in A.D. 70. In the interim forty- year period, however, Jesus removed the curse of the law when he hung on the tree (Galatians 3:13). Believers in Christ’s death and resurrection were the ones who were placed in his Body in the first century. They would be preserved from the first-century wrath that was to come, which included the defeat of Satan.
The whole New Testament provides in detail the battle that Christ waged to complete all things; the book of Revelation paints a marvelous mural of these events. Finally, a New Heaven and a New Earth emerges; a bride is standing with the Spirit, issuing a call to “Come and drink freely.” (Revelation 22:17). The bride has partaken in the marriage to the Lamb in Revelation 19. She is the total of those believers who had been placed “in Christ” during the first century. She has been resurrected in the likeness of her husband’s resurrection, and removed from the last Adam like Eve was from the first. She remains eternally in the New Heaven and New Earth, along with the tree of life. There is no talking serpent or tree of the knowledge of good and evil in this place. Nor is there any barrier between God and humanity. Jesus restored it all, and the future is ours.
JoAnne Gerety lives in Riverton, N.J. A resident “Oldie but Goodie at 67 years old,” JoAnne loves spiritual studies and is a long-time devotee of Max King’s theological works.