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AN EXPOSITION OF THE APOCALYPSE
7. "The Paradise of the Deity."
The wood of the formative spirit-life is to stand "in the midst of the Paradise of the Deity." This word paradise is merely a transfer from one language to another -- that is, it is not translated. It is originally, a Persian word, transferred from that tongue to the Hebrew; and from
the Hebrew to the Greek; and from the Greek to the English. In the Perso-Hebraic form it is (!Hebrew!) pardais, and occurs in Neh. 2:8, where one Asaph is designated as "the keeper of the pardais which belongs to the king" of Persia; that is, a pardais in Palestine, from which the king authorized Nehemiah to take "timber to make beams for the gates of the palace," and so forth. It is evident, from this, that a pardais was a tract of land containing trees, from which timber might be hewn. In the English version it is translated by the word "forest."
This word occurs in two other places of the scriptures; first in Eccl. 2:5. Here Solomon says "I made for myself gardens, and pardaisim, and I planted trees in them of all fruits; I made me pools of waters for to irrigate with these the wood, making the trees to grow." In the English version Pardaisim is rendered "orchards." From this text it is easy to perceive what pardaisim were understood to be in Solomon's time. They were tracts of land planted with all kinds of fruit trees, and irrigated with streams of water, to make the trees productive.
The third place where the word occurs is in Song 4:13. The passage reads thus, "A garden enclosed is my sister bride, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy sprouts are a pardais of pomegranate trees, with fruits of most pleasant ones; cyprus-flowers with spikenards. Spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief of the spices; a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon." The literal of this exhibits a pardais as a very beautiful enclosure, and illustrates the form of garden our first parents were placed in at the beginning. Speaking of this, Moses says, "YAHWEH Elohim planted a garden in Eden of the East. And YAHWEH Elohim made to grow out of the ground every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food; and a Tree of the Lives in the midst of the garden, and a Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And a river went out of Eden for to water the garden; and from thence it was divided, and became into four heads. The name of the first Pishon; that encompassing the whole region of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that region is good: there is the pearl and stone of the onyx. And the name of the second river Gishon; that encompassing the whole region of Khush. And the name of the third river Hiddekel; that flowing eastward of Asshur. And the fourth river the Euphrates" (Gen. 2:8).
From these examples we may know what the Hebrews understood by a pardais, namely, a tract of land well watered, and abounding with choice trees, pleasant to the eyes, and yielding luscious fruits, and fragrant flowers; and rich in gold, and pearls, and precious stones. The Greeks called the Hebrew and Persian pardais by the word paradeisos,
which has been transferred into our language, and Anglicised making paradise.
The Hebrews were instructed out of the law and the prophets. Hence, all the truth they believed was in harmony with these writings, while all their errors obtained place in their minds by adopting the speculations of the heathen, and thinking after their own vain conceits, as Jews and Gentiles do at this day. Corrupted as they were by myths and traditions, they never imagined paradise to be the grave, or sheol, or hades, or some ethereal region "beyond the solar system," or in the skies! It remained for the reverend and learned dunces of the Nikolaitan Apostasy to proclaim this marvellous absurdity. The Jews knew what paradise signified, for they were taught it in glowing terms by many of the prophets.
Instructed by these, they knew that the area of Paradise belonged to the country styled "Eden." When Moses wrote the passage quoted above, he was westward in "the wilderness of the land of Egypt." He says, "YAHWEH-Elohim planted a garden in Eden of the East." This region was so named because of the delightful and pleasant character of the land and climate, from (!hebrew!) Eden, "delight, pleasure." Eden was a part of the East, as Ohio is a part of the West. It was quite an extensive range of country, and in after times became the seat of powerful dominions. It appears to have been well watered by the tributaries to "a river that flowed out of Eden." These were four principal streams -- the Choaspes, the Gyndes, the Hiddekel, and Euphrates; of which the Hiddekel, or Tigris, and the Euphrates, are well known. The Hiddekel, Moses says, "is eastward of Asshur;" that is, eastward of Nimrod's original settlements between the Tigris and Euphrates. The Choaspes, or Pishon, flows down from Media; and the Gyndes, or Gihon, is the river of Khushistan. These four rivers water the Eden of the East; and flowing out of it in a confluence of waters, empty themselves at length into the Persian Gulph.
This country, in after ages, came to be denominated "the Garden of Yahweh;" and the Powers reigning in it, "the Trees of Eden." It came, doubtless, to be styled Yahweh's Garden, as a whole, from the fact of his having in the beginning planted a garden in it for Adam and Eve; so that the name of a small part of Eden came to be applied by his family, in the time of Abraham and his posterity, to the whole region; more especially as the prophets of their race testify that the future paradise is to occupy a considerable portion of its ancient limits.
That the Holy Land is a part of the Eden of the East, appears from certain prophecies of Ezekiel. In setting forth the certainty of the
overthrow of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, by the king of Babylon, the Spirit recapitulates the power and dominion of the Ninevite dynasty of Assyria; which, however, was not able to withstand the king of Babylon, "the mighty one of the heathen;" and, therefore, there was no hope for Egypt of a successful resistance. In the recapitulation, the Ninevite Assyrian is styled "a cedar in Lebanon;" that is, his dominion extended over the land of the Ten Tribes of Israel, in which are the cedar-crowned mountains of Lebanon. After describing the greatness of his power by the magnitude of the cedar, the Spirit saith, "the cedars in the Garden of Elohim could not hide him; nor was any tree in the Garden of Elohim like to him in his beauty. I made him fair by the multitude of his branches; so that all the trees of Eden in the Garden of the Elohim envied him" (Ezek. 31:3,8,9). These trees were the royalties of Mesopotamia, Syria, Israel, and so forth, which the kings of Assyria had abolished (Isai. 37:11-13), and which "could not hide him," or prevent him getting the ascendancy over them. It is clear, then, from the terms of this beautiful allegory, that the countries I have indicated were parts of the Eden of the East; that as a whole it is styled the Garden of the Elohim; and that the trees are the royalties of the land.
That Eden extended to the Mediterranean, or "Great Sea," appears from Ezekiel's prophecy against Tyre. Addressing this Power, he says, "Thou hast been in Eden a Garden of Elohim. Thou hast been upon the holy mountain of Elohim. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day thou wast created till iniquity was found in thee. Therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of Elohim. Thou shalt be a terror, and nothing of thee during the olahm" (38:13-19). The meaning of this is obvious to one acquainted with the history of the kingdom of Tyre. It was a royalty of Palestine in Upper Galilee, whose king, Hiram, was in intimate alliance with Solomon. He appears to have been a proselyte of Judaism, which his successors sometime afterwards abandoned; and therefore YAHWEH Tz'avaoth suppressed the kingdom of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar for seventy years and for the rest of the olahm, by the Greeks.
Eden has been a field of blood from the beginning of the contest between the "Seed of the Woman," and the "Seed of the Serpent," until now; and will yet continue to be until the Serpent Power be broken upon the mountains of Israel. It was in Eden that Abel died by the hand of Cain. There also Abel's antitype was wounded in the heel when "he was made a curse for his brethren" by hanging upon a tree (Gal. 3:13); and lastly, to fill up the measure of the iniquity of the blood-defiled land, the serpents of Israel slew the son of Barachus
between the temple and the altar. But the blood of the saints shed in Eden did not cry to him in vain for vengeance; for as the Lord Jesus predicted, so it came to pass. "Behold," said he, to that generation of vipers, "I send you prophets, and wise men, and scribes; and some of them ye will kill and crucify; and some of them ye will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city; that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the land, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zecharias, son of Barachus, whom ye will slay between the temple and the altar" (Matt. 23:35).
The Holy Land, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Assyria Proper, are manifestly countries of Eden. But in the beginning, Eden contained a Garden, pardais or PARADISE; so also in the beginning of the Millennial Aion, the same Eden will rejoice in a paradise adapted to the necessities and enjoyment, not of two persons only, but of "a great multitude which no man can number" (Apoc. 7:9). Adam and Eve's paradise was upon a small scale, yet ample enough for them. From its Mosaic geography no other locality, I believe, can be reasonably assigned to it than between the Gulf of Persia and the confluence of the four rivers named. The text reads, "and a river went out of Eden to water the Garden: and from thence it was divided, and became into four heads." This I understand to mean, that a river, formed by the confluence of four others flowing out of Eden, was caused to water the garden on its way to the sea; and that, tracing this river northward from the garden, it diverged into its tributaries which terminated in four several heads. The heads were not in the garden, but at remote distances from it; therefore, they err who locate Adam's paradise at the heads, or original sources, of the Tigris and Euphrates in the mountains of Armenia. A warmer climate was necessary for the comfortable existence of two naked persons. The heads, I say, were not in the garden, for it was watered by one only; as it is written, "a river went out to water it," which certainly excludes the four from its inclosure.
From subsequent developments in the history of their posterity, the Babylonian region of Eden was a very appropriate locality for the origination of "sin, which is the transgression of law." In the Adamic Paradise was laid the foundation of that gigantic system of iniquity, which is styled, apocalyptically, "Mystery, BABYLON THE GREAT, the Mother of Harlots, and Abominations of the Earth." The principle, which may be termed, "the vital principle," of this "mystery," is disobedience. Adam's paradise was the birthplace of this principle, and at once the arena of the Serpent's victory and defeat.
The individual serpent prevailed, and was cursed in the paradise of
the first Adam; so also he has prevailed, and is destined to be bruised in the paradise of the Second. The serpent principles, embodied in the Power symbolized by the Goat and his Five Horns (Dan. 8:8,9), have thus far prevailed. The Power has desolated the Holy Land, and made it a field of blood. But this fair portion of Eden is not always to lie in ruins under the serpent-dominion; for the sentence is, "Thy Head, O Serpent, the Woman's Seed shall bruise:" the dominion will therefore be destroyed, and the Holy Land in Eden of the East be delivered from the enemy.
That the Holy Land is to become the Paradise of the Deity is manifest from the following testimonies, which every one acquainted with the history of Eden, in whole, or in part, knows have never yet been accomplished. Thus the Spirit saith, "Thy land, O Zion, shall no more be termed 'Desolate;' but thou shalt be called Hephzibah (that is, My Beloved is in her), and thy land Beulah (that is, Married): for YAHWEH delighteth in thee, and thy Land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thine Elohim rejoice over thee" (Isai. 62:4,5). Here Zion and the Holy Land are represented as a Virgin-Bride; and the Elohim, or Messiah and his brethren in their One Spirit-Body manifestation, as the Bridegroom. This Virgin-Bride and her Bridegroom are the loving couple, whose loves are celebrated by Solomon in his "Song of Songs." The land, in its paradisaic development, is typified in his "garden enclosed," and which, as king, he styles, "my sister spouse," as already quoted. This is the literal, which is also allegorical of something more recondite, as hereafter will be shown. At present we have to do chiefly with the geo-material aspects of the subject.
When the marriage, or union, between the Sons of Zion and their King, as the Bridegroom, and the Holy Land as the virgin-bride, comes to pass, the country will become the Paradise of Yahweh, which his own right hand hath planted. Thus, the Spirit saith, "Yahweh shall comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the Garden of Yahweh; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody" (Isai. 51:3). "Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to Yahweh for a renown, for a memorial of the Olahm, which shall not be cut off" (Isai. 55:13). At that time, "I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water; I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle tree, and the oil
tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box together, that they (Israel) may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of Yahweh hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it" (Isai. 41:17-20).
Lastly upon this point Ezekiel's testimony may be adduced; as, "Thus saith Adonai Yahweh; in the day that I shall have cleansed you, O Israel, from all your iniquities, I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded. And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the Garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities fenced, and inhabited. Then the nations that are left round about you shall know that I, Yahweh, build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I, Yahweh, have spoken it, and I will do it" (Ezek. 36:33).
When thus converted into Paradise, the same prophet tells us that there will be "a river that can not be passed over" by wading; and that it will be formed by a confluence of "waters springing out from under the threshold of the temple eastward, from its right side, at the south of the altar" (47:1-5). He then informs us that "on the bank of the river was a great wood (!hebrew!) aitz rav, (both words in the singular number) on the one side and on the other. "The waters issue from Mount Moriah down its south side, and flow on toward the east through a vast cleft in the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4,8). When they have passed this valley they divide into two rivers, the one flowing through the desert and emptying into the Dead Sea; and the other into the Mediterranean: both of them abundant and never failing streams.
The effect of the eastern river upon the Dead Sea will be to heal its waters. Both streams are healing waters; for the prophet says, that "It shall be, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the two rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither; for they (of the Dead Sea) shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh. And it shall be, that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engeddi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the Great Sea (or Mediterranean) exceeding many.
"And by the river on the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall come up every tree for food, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be exhausted; for its months it shall yield, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for food, and the leaf thereof for healing."
After these statements, the Spirit then proceeds to point out the boundaries of Paradise. He commences the line from the Mediterranean at the outlet of the Orontes, called "the entering in to Hamath," and passes on in a direct course of one hundred and thirty three miles to Berothah upon the Euphrates. This is marked out as the natural boundary on the north by the range of mountains, called Amanus, which, as a natural barrier, extends across the country from the Great Mediterranean sea to Berothah; to which the Euphrates is navigable from the Persian Gulf. When Messiah is enthroned king of the land, and proceeds to take possession of it to its utmost limits, he will then say to his companions, "Come with me from Lebanon, my Spouse, with me from Lebanon; look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lion's dens, from the mountains of the leopards" (Song 4:8). Taking up their position upon that commanding border, the Sons of Zion may view the landscape of a goodly and glorious land, fragrant of rich odors, and flowing with milk and honey, outstretching eastward in all the length of Euphrates to the East Sea. This is its border on the east. From the junction of the Euphrates with the Persian Gulf in lat. 30 deg., the frontier is drawn "from Tamar to Meribah of Kadesh, to the river towards the Great (or Mediterranean) Sea." This is the south border of Paradise; a line of over a thousand miles abutting upon the Nile, and thence to the sea; and affording free access to the Red Sea by the Elanitic Gulf. The boundary on the west "shall be the Great Sea from the border (south) till a man come over against (the entering in to) Hamath."
Thus we have an ample area; containing by estimation three hundred thousand square miles, for the length and "breadth of Immanuel's land," extending, as covenanted to Abraham and his Seed, "from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates, for a possession in the Olahm" (Gen. 15:18).
Such is the territorial paradise or kingdom of the Deity; which all the prophets testify shall be inhabited by the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and their nobles, all of them Priests and Kings with Messiah pre-eminent in all things over all. The twelve tribes will have had a new heart given them, and a new spirit put within them, by the refining process they will have been previously subjected to. Their present stony heart will have been abolished, and a heart of flesh substituted in its stead, as it is testified in Ezek. 26:25-32. Then, for the first time since their revolt from the house of David in the days of his grandson Rehoboam, they will again become "one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all". They will then rejoice in Jesus of Nazareth, as High Priest upon the
throne of his father David after the order of Melchizedec for the "season and a time," or Olahm of a thousand years. The former troubles will all be forgotten; and they will "no more be made a reproach among the nations" (Joel 2:19).
Under this new and glorious constitution of the Hebrew Kingdom, the tribes will be settled in Paradise in parallel cantonments, extending across the country from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates. Dan's canton is the first reckoning from the north border. Then Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, and Judah. This brings us down to "the midst of the Paradise of the Deity." South of Judah is the Foursquare Oblation, "a holy portion of the land," containing "the sanctuary, the Most Holy;" the holy portion for the Levites; and the "Profane Place for the City," for dwelling, and for suburbs. On the east and west is the Prince's portion, the foursquare oblation being in his portion, and bounded north by the canton of Judah and south by that of Benjamin. Thus, "Yahweh shall inherit in the (canton) of Judah his portion upon the land of holiness, and shall delight in Jerusalem again" (Zech. 2:12) -- the Holy Oblation and Prince's portion being thus reckoned of the canton of Judah.
The Holy Oblation is to contain the Millennial Temple described by Ezekiel, which is to be in the midst of the Most Holy Portion of the Oblation, "upon the top of the mountain, the whole limit whereof is Most Holy" (43:12). The details are given in 45:1-8, which concludes with the remark, that "in the land shall be his (Messiah the Prince's) possession in Israel and my princes (who will then be the saints) shall no more oppress my people: and the rest of the land shall they give to the house of Israel according to their tribes."
The City, which will be square, will be 4,500 measures on each side, or 18,000 in circumference. Its twelve gates will open into suburbs of 250 measures broad; and to the east and west there will be areas of 10,000 measures each, making altogether "a profane place" of 25,000 measures from east to west, by 5,000 from north to south, which "shall be for the whole house of Israel:" and "the name of the city from that day shall be YAHWEH-SHAMMAH," because "He who shall be is there."
Next to the Holy Oblation a portion is allotted to Benjamin, and successively afterwards to Simeon, Issachar, Zebulon, and Gad, which is the most southerly of all the tribes. Such is the area of Paradise from north to south, and from east to west, a royal domain larger than that of any kingdom or empire of Europe, Russia alone excepted. It exceeds in the aggregate amount of square miles, the territories of ten
kingdoms of Europe, as Prussia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover, Wirtemberg, Denmark, Sardinia, and Greece; and its relative proportion to Great Britain and Ireland is 300 to 118, or more than two and a half to one.
The situation of Paradise is peculiar in relation to its borders. The Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf, form on the west, the south, and the east, borders of a land which, but for these inland seas, would be wholly encircled by Asia, Africa, and Europe, and shut out from all direct communication with the Pacific and Atlantic, and lesser oceans of the globe. The river of Egypt to the Mediterranean, and that sea from the mouth of the Nile to the estuary of the Orontes, and the Euphrates from the foot of Amanus to the Persian Gulf, leave not the smallest portion of the west side, or of the east side, that is not actually or virtually a navigable coast to the extent on both sides of two thousand miles; while on the north, the intermediate barrier of Amanus, at the breadth of less than one hundred, renders the land "a Garden Enclosed." No country could be better situated for the establishment of a kingdom whose sovereignty is destined to rule all nations, peoples, and tribes, inhabiting the land and sea to their utmost bounds.
Such, then, are the geographical and the literal features of the Paradise of Deity. It belongs to the earth, and is as real, visible, and actual a region, as Britain or America. The literal Paradise, however, differs from these in that its literality is also symbolical and allegorical of things pertaining to that great incorporation of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Israel, styled by Daniel and other sacred writers, "the Saints." Thus its literal river is symbolical of the spirit to be received from the throne, and through the altar Jesus, by the trees of righteousness that come out of the earth by resurrection. Ezekiel's river is therefore placed among the apocalyptical symbols of Apoc. 22:1. So also, his aitz rav, or GREAT WOOD, on both sides of his river, is adopted as a symbol by the Spirit in the same chapter, and there styled "the xulon on this side and that side of the river of water of life," and representative of the aggregate of the saints, each saint being an element of the wood. The leaf of the Ezekiel wood is for healing; as an apocalyptic symbol it is representative of the saints, who are leaves as well as trees of the xulon of life, through whom the Spirit breathes "for the healing of the nations," symbolized by the waters of the Dead Sea.
To eat of the wood of the life in the midst of the Paradise of the Deity is to be an unfading leaf -- an immortal possessor of the glory, honor, and incorruptibility of the kingdom, which the God of heaven
shall set up in the Holy Land. It is to be one of the priests of the Most Holy Portion of the Holy Oblation, to whom it shall be said by the King, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the State" (Matt. 25:34).