With his eyes open, with full knowledge of what the penalty was to be, Adam ate of the forbidden fruit. From that day to this, death has been the universal sovereign. Adam started a great funeral procession to which millions upon millions have joined themselves since, and the procession goes on yet today. The grave has enlarged herself and opened her mouth without measure, and their glory, and their multitude and their pomp, and their rejoicing throng descend into it. Do you not hear the tramp of the feet as they march to their destiny?
Before the eyes, the terrified eyes of Adam and Eve, God killed an animal. The blood spurted. That was death. And it may have been a beloved pet, one that followed them about and even shared their food. But now a lifeless corpse. The death that should have been theirs had fallen upon it. It was the victim, the substitute for the time being.
And one may ask why such a bloody religion, as the Jews had? Why all the sacrifices from day to day and for years. It was to tell them about the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Every man could look at the sacrificial victim, bleeding and breathing its very last, and say within himself "Except for the grace of God, that is I." To them death was no far away dream. It became a present reality, a reminder.
But why the reprieve? Why was the substitute killed and Adam live on another 930 years? Adam was driven out of his paradise. But the sacrifice did not give him the right to re-enter that paradise. No such provision. Nor could he return and eat of the tree of life and live on and on. That, too, was forbidden. Why?
Death was postponed so that there might be an intervening redemptive purpose worked out so that Adam might some day live again. An immortal being, an having a new and far better paradise than the one he lost. This is the love and grace of God.
For God so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. He has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light by the gospel.
To accomplish this great redemptive work, the Lord Jesus Christ has therefore been constituted a second Head for the human race, a Second Adam. But there is a difference. In the physical realm, Adam was head of the human race without exception. What folks might or might not believe about it did not alter it a whit. But in the case of the new Head, there is a difference. He is the Head only of all of those who believe. The rest perish.
And so we discover that the new creation is a selection from the old of those who will make the right choice. Those who make the wrong choice, and have no union with the Divine Redeemer, are like the beasts that perish.
(Reprinted from Truth For Today, Vol. 29, No. 11)