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Age of Decision

   Man was made in the image of his Creator (Genesis 1:26), and was brought forth within a righteous setting and he did not know sin. Man was given the ability to reason, remember and imagine, this was for the purpose of making decisions, unlike any of God's other earthy creations. Within this flawless environment Jehovah designated one tree in the Garden of Eden that man was forbidden to eat of its fruit, "but the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil you may not eat of it, you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:17), but all the other trees Adam and Eve could freely eat. The first couple had that one simple but solemn decision before them, reminded by the visual presence of this one specific tree. Adam's purity would remain until he would eat from this particular tree; he had no personal understanding of the consequences of sin, only of God's instruction and warning, otherwise Adam's world was pure and flawless. His character was as his Creator's character, but man wasn't yet complete or ready for eternity with his Father, his God. Adam, possessing these God given abilities, chose to transgress the one command from his Creator, Jehovah, and in doing so, God initiated a new age, an age of decision. In God's perfect wisdom, He knew man needed to understand God's love and to make a decision for himself to return love to his Father with complete sincerity. This decision to love was a responsibility for Adam and this remains a responsibility with us today, prompting every man to personally make his decision to love the one and only God. The tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was put in the Garden to present him with a choice, to obey God's command or to disobey, to trust his Creator or doubt His word and His intensions. The Bible doesn't indicate how long he did not eat and continued to make the decision to obey God's one command, but at some point he did fall and he did eat from that one forbidden tree.

   We all know the story, even though many believe it to be just a story, but according to God's word, Adam, the very first man, not born but created, did decide on his own to eat of the fruit of this forbidden tree. The Bible doesn't explain Adam's reasoning, whether he ate from curiosity, or from pressure from Eve or that he couldn't bare the thought of being without his wife, because she ate from the forbidden tree first. Adam and Eve knew this was wrong because Jehovah told Adam of the result of disobedience, (Genesis 2:17), but sin still wasn't part of their understanding, since they lived in this perfect sinless garden environment. Jehovah knew man needed to experience the results of sin first hand, for the sake of fully understanding the decision man is called to make, to love. Eve, having been tricked by the serpent (Satan) ate first, then Adam ate, both tasted the forbidden fruit, against their Creator's instruction, but Adam's decision was the first sin for mankind because he made a decision to disobeyed God's instruction and the results of this fall remains with us today. For every one who decides to disregard a commandment of God has sinned, and Adam experienced the consequence of his sin, and his life changed, he personally experienced aging and death.

   The question that presents itself is: did God Jehovah know or depend on Adam to make that fatal leap to sin? If you read further, you'll understand why I believe He did know and that Adam's fall was part of God's plan for mankind. When Adam made that decision, the human status changed from a righteous nature, not knowing sin, to a sinful nature of knowing right and wrong. Accompanying this new nature was, and is still is, an internal battle, because of Satan's objective to influence us in turning away from our God and Creator. Satan (Lucifer) introduced sin into existence while in the presence of God and His holy angels. Satan and one third of God's angels that sided with Satan, were then cast out of Heaven to earth "And the great dragon was cast out, the old serpent being called Devil and Satan, he deceiving the whole world, was cast out onto the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." (Revelation 12:9), and there has been a constant negative force misdirecting man ever since. Shortly after Adam's fall, the couple was exiled from the Garden and was denied access to the most important tree in the Garden, the Tree of Life, "And He drove the man out. And He caused to dwell the cherubs at the east of the Garden of Eden, and the flaming sward whirling around to guard the way of the tree of life." (Genesis 3:24). Their exile presented Adam and Eve with many daily challenges, having a new and expanded agenda, because the world around them also changed, the animals, the plants and the decaying nature of all things, including their own changes and demise; all this was now a part of Adam's world. Mankind and the world itself was given a death sentence. What indicates to me that God anticipated that Adam would disobey His command is because the Garden of Eden was a separate and special place from the rest of earth, because the first couple was cast out of this Garden to labor for their daily necessities.

    Since Adam's fatal decision, the human race, the descendents of the first couple have continued in this age of decision, at different levels and intensities, and this present age will continue until every saint has been sealed, "Do not harm the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, until we seal the slaves of our God on their foreheads." (Revelation 7:3) and then the judgment courts in Heaven will be closed for all, those who fear and love God Jehovah and for those who chose differently, or avoid making a choice, "Then those fearing Jehovah spoke together, each one to his neighbor. And Jehovah gave attention and heard. And a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared Jehovah and those who esteemed His name" (Malachi 3:16), those who chose the Godly path will be entered in the Book of Life, "saying in a great voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him, because the hour of His judgment has come; also, worship Him who has made the Heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water." (Revelation 14:7), and then Christ will come once again, "And behold, I am coming quickly, and my reward is with Me, to give to each as his work is." (Revelation 22:12), the Day of Judgment will have already been completed before the first resurrection occurs. The second resurrection is for those who chose the lake of Fire, "But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand were ended. This was the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one having part in the first resurrection. The second death has no authority over these, but they will be priest of God and of Christ, and will rein with Him a thousand years." (Revelation 20:6,7), "And if anyone was not found having been written in the Scroll of Life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire." (Revelation 20:15), then the count of time will end, shortly after the second resurrection and those in New Jerusalem will commence in a life of eternity with God, His Son and the heavenly host.

    Unlike Adam, who stood on righteous ground and had just one command to consider, those accepted in the Kingdom of God will have no more right and wrong choices because they accomplished their choices, changing their character to be as their Creator during this age of decision. Adam's challenge was to avoid forfeiting his righteous state, our challenge and objective, is to cleanse ourselves from the sins we have already committed, by confession and repentance and to exercise righteousness and love, only, out of our passion for God's truth. It is our daily (continual) decision to do what is right, according to the commands of God; committing ourselves to following His Son's lead until the end of this age of decision. It was Christ's challenge as a man to lead a righteous life, for the purpose of qualifying Himself as the perfect sacrifice, "On the morrow, John sees Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) enabling Him to pay the price for man's repented sins. We are to follow Christ's lead, "Then Jesus spoke to them, saying, I am the light of the world; he following Me in no way will walk in darkness, but will be the light of life." (John 8:12), in righteousness and to die of ourselves as He died for us on the cross. This step through the age of decision doesn't take us back to Adam's position because he knew no sin and needed to learn and understand good and evil. From then on, ours purpose is to move from an unrighteous state to a cleansed and pure position knowing good and evil, and hopefully using the education available to us, only in God's word, to choose to live a righteousness life. It is our daily decisions and our hopeful destiny to move forward to the next step, an age of permanent righteousness where we will experience all the blessings Jehovah has planned for our eternity with Him and the Heavenly host, because we proved our hearts desire for righteousness, by considering and performing God's commands; pursuing His righteousness, His character, understanding the reasons for His commands, that they are all perfect and pure, "The law of Jehovah is perfect, converting the soul. The testimony of Jehovah is pure, making the simple wise." (Psalm 19:7), "So indeed the law is holy, and the commandments holy and just and good." (Romans 7:10); moving His divine law from our head to our heart, to be our desire and our commitment.

   Jesus was sent to reveal His Father, the God of all existenceisFather to us, through the Book Christ gave us by inspiration to all the writers in the Old and the New Testaments. Christ gave us examples and explanations, warning and prophecies to enlighten us for our quest for salvation. Since Adam's sin, we were denied direct communication with our God and Father, but Jesus, coming in a human state, "but we do see Jesus crowned with glory and honor, who on account of suffering of death, was made a little less then the angels, so that by the grace of God He might taste of death for every son." (Hebrews 2:9), shared with us the knowledge and character of His Father and our Father. Christ is our only Advocate and our only Mediator, via His Spirit, bridging the gap between God and His people, "For God is one, also there is one Mediator of God and of man, the Man Christ Jesus." (I Timothy 2:5). If we choose God Jehovah as our destination and Christ as our Way to the Father, leading us along this spiritual journey, represented for us in the journeys of the Israelites, then we will enter the next age, the existence that God always had planned for us, even before Adam's first breath. Our arrival depends on our daily decisions and our success depends on if we take advantage of Christ's offer to lead us home and to supply the strength all of us need, "Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and we may find grace for help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16). All steps and directions are within the pages of God's word and must be read often for necessary continual spiritual nourishment. The salvation God Jehovah offers through His Son is truly a gift we can't earn because we don't deserve such a gift; it has been given to us, just as our life has been given to us, but we certainly can forfeit this gift by our acts of unrighteousness; by failing to prepare ourselves to be in the presence of deity, in the kingdom of God, where sin does not exist.

   When we see Christ at His second advent and we are filled with joy and not shame, we enter the next age, an age that can't even be dreamed because it has never been realized, even Adam didn't experience this future state, although he was closer than anyone else. Adam know righteousness before the fall but afterwards, he had the same decisions to make as we are confronted with, during this current age. Enoch, Elijah and Moses are the only ones we know of that have experienced this coming age. Why were these men translated before the first resurrection? Could it be because they walked perfectly in the light of Jehovah? This is our task during this age of decision; every other human decision pales in comparison. Now is the time to seek cleanliness, in preparation for Christ's second advent, and we are not on our own, we have all the help required, if we request help from our Shepherd, Jesus, but it is our decisions and our efforts to seek truth and righteousness, available through Christ's inspired word's and His power and strength.

    When the courts in Heaven are closed, all the saints will have already been sealed, permanently, according to Jehovah's just judgment, each will either be set for eternal life or eternal death. Translation at Christ's second advent doesn't transform anyone from unrighteousness to righteousness, it transforms those who have chosen to act righteously in this life, giving their heart over to God through His Son, to continue and remain that way, in accordance with the choices we have made during this age of decision, "And the one acting unjustly, let him still act unjustly; and the filthy, let him still be filthy; and the righteous, let him still do righteousness; and the holy, let still be holy." (Revelation 22:11), and this ends at our first death, which Jesus appropriately called a "sleep". Individually, we don't know when that point will be, but for those sleeping in the grave, that point was when they died. There is no second chance, according to God's word. For those still alive during the time of the great tribulation, Christ will see to those who have committed themselves to following Him through this trying time, whatever their fate, they will be listed in the Book of Life and will rise up at the first resurrection with all the saints from their graves. The righteous will meet with their brothers and sisters that also were sealed to life eternal in the air at Christ's second advent.

     Jehovah stated, "forming light and creating darkness, making peace and creating evil - I Jehovah do all these things." (Isaiah 45:7), and this indicates to me that He had fore knowledge of man's fall and that the age of decision is a necessary step to assure God that those who will enter His kingdom, will wholeheartedly want to enter because they made it their effort to purify themselves during this current age of decision, only because they came to understand the beauty and perfection of Jehovah's character and government, represented in His laws and Commands. Righteousness is a decision to make and to strive toward by repentance, with our only hope in Christ and the strength that He desires to share; help that is available to all who make the commitment to cleanse themselves. The priest needed to cleanse himself before they entered the temple to perform their duties, and to be in the presence of his God, Jehovah. We need to seek God Jehovah now, "...For Jehovah searches out all hearts, and He understands every imagination of thought. If you shall seek Him, He shall be found by you. But if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever." (I Chronicles 28:9).

   A point that supports God's design for us to go through this age of decision is that the forbidden tree was a tree with a special name, " the tree of knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2:9). Any tree Jehovah would select would test Adam and Eve to their obedience, but this name shows us Jehovah's intention toward a new age of learning of good and evil for the decisions in front of everyone from the "fall" on. We need to know evil by experience in order to fully understand good; we need to choose righteousness for the correct and pure reason, because it is best for all involved, by understanding that this is the only system that can sustain our co-existence with others of the human race. We need to know this now, without question so our decision is pure with no reservations. We will be made permanent in our chosen state for an eternity, either righteous or otherwise, referring back to Revelations 22:11,12.

    Where does the Flood fit into this equation? From my understanding, God does not see the future, however, He does have complete control of the future, consequently, He does know how all things will proceed forward and its sure ending. He can and will cause things to happen according to His plans, as He did with Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar, which are only two of many examples. He also prevents things from happening, having control of Satan and of us, if He should desire to change the course of the way things are going. He doesn't take away our privilege of making decisions, that He gave us, but if we choose something contrary to God's eternal plan, He simply gives the opportunity to one of the many others to perform His will. The Flood may have been God's reaction to man's consistent disregard to make correct choices. The other possibility is that God needed to show the human race that He is consistent with His concern for us, to do righteousness and He allowed men to go in their own sinful path so He could, by example, show us the result of a sinful future, "and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah the eighth, a herald of righteousness, bringing a flood on a world of ungodly ones... He condemned them with an overthrow, setting an example to men intending to live ungodly. " (II Peter 2:5,6). The Lake of Fire that He warns us about will not be another example but the end of evil, "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and those having become foul, and murderers and fornicators and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all the lying ones, their part will be in the lake burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8). Could our choice of actions be any simpler? This age of decision will not last much longer, for us and for the world.