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The four phases
The multi-reference also applies to dynamic events, namely to cycles composed of four phases. The first phase is dominated by peace, the second by sin, the third by judgment and the fourth by revival, that is to say, by the restitution of peace. Also remember that the term Adam represents both the angels and humans (see Some apparent paradoxes of Genesis 2-3). The history of the angels is consequently described in the second account of creation because it is the history of Adam. This cycle of the angels, which is an entire era, not only includes all the history of the physical world and humanity, it even began before this history (see The big bang and Summary of salvation history). So the details given by this account have to be interpreted separately as related to the invisible world of the angels or to humans.
It is of course very difficult to describe a world we do not see. In addition, the account gives only obscure hints. It is nevertheless possible to extract the four phases from it, which is in fact the most important for us. Since Genesis 2:5-25 describes peaceful events, we have to conclude that this passage describes the first phase of the angels. During this phase, all angels, even the future demons, still lived in perfect harmony with God in a spiritual paradise. At least this was so in the beginning of their existence, for it is probable that the phase of sin did not occur abruptly but gradually because it is always superposed with the phase of peace, as we shall see in Salvation History.
The second phase is characterized by sin and is thereby described by the eating of the forbidden fruit (Gen 3:1-6), which is comparable, for example, to the theft of intellectual property or the consumption of a drug because drugs change the manner of perceiving the world and cause a euphoric sensation. It therefore implies an individual choice of one’s happiness and destiny. It also unmasks the snake as seducer. As for the angels, the eating of the forbidden fruit was of a purely psychological nature, a kind of aspiration to independence, because the desire to know good and evil is connected to the wish to become the judge of good and evil. This choice of independence imperatively brought the angels into opposition with God, who alone is the legitimate master of good and evil. The most extreme position in this aspiration to independence is held by Satan, who wishes to take God’s place.
It is well known that sooner or later drugs lead to disillusion and disaster because drug addicts become disconnected psychologically from reality while physically remaining within reality, which can only lead to suffering. This must have been similar for the angels because the quest for happiness without God is sooner or later revenged by disillusion and leads to a painful wrench between unrealizable ambitions and reality. It goes without saying that this auto-punishment constitutes the phase of judgment, referred to by Genesis 3:7-24, and more particularly by Genesis 3:24 describing the expulsion from the paradise.
In order to save the angels from this suffering and to turn them away from their fatal search for independence, God created the material universe with a view to the redemption through the sacrifice of God’s Son on the cross. This is why the physical world is impregnated by death, announcing Jesus’ sacrifice. This does not mean, however, that it was cursed (Gen 1:31). The expulsion from paradise of Adam and Eve after their fall must be understood on different levels. It applies in the first place to the fall of the angels even before humans. As pointed out in The First Account of Creation, the material world is a mirror of the spiritual world. This is why the presence of death and suffering in our world must be seen in relative terms: it is not a curse but the image, a distant echo, of an event that happened in another world.
It is also in this perspective that Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:21 must be understood: it is not by the sin of the first humans that the whole world instantly changed and herb-eating lions (Gen 1:30) as well as all the other predators started to hunt, as is believed by young Earth creationists. These animals always hunted and death was present from the start. This does not exclude, though, that the first parents of humanity did commit an original sin, transmitting it to all humans.
Salvation emanating from the sacrifice of the cross was offered to all angels, who all sinned, and reopened the gate of paradise for those who accepted being saved, but also opened the doors to hell for those who refused it. This universal offer of salvation is referred to by 1 Peter 3:18-20, which describes the descent of Christ into hell between the time of his death and his resurrection. Salvation was therefore even offered to the fallen angels. But they did not accept it, which made their torment definitive. Their rejection was predictable, but it was necessary that salvation be universal in order for nobody to be excused, following the principle evinced by John 15:22-24, which can be universalized and thereby also be applied to the angels as well as to all humans. This implies the possibility for humans to receive redemption even after death. So even those who ignored Christ for any excusable reason in the present life can be saved.
Therefore, the phase of revival of the angels began with Christ’s sacrifice. It is likely that this phase was preceded by an anticipated revival starting with the creation of the material universe, for it is likely that the angels knew God’s intention to make himself human for the sake of everyone. In this perspective, a lot of them may have converted in view of the future sacrifice of Jesus, which made their salvation definitive. This revival is therefore marked by different steps, spreading over a very long period, which will only finish when the history of the present world comes to an end.
Things are more complex concerning the place where the revival of the angels is described in Genesis. Without going into too much detail, let us just make clear the following: the revival of Adam and Eve occurred with their offspring, that is to say, with the birth of Cain and Abel (Gen 4:1-2), as we are going to see. The revival of the angels, on the other hand, is not described by this passage. Since their history spans over the whole time of the terrestrial world and humanity, there are three contexts that have to be taken into consideration: the angels were present at the creation of the universe as well as at the time of the first humans and at Jesus’ sacrifice. Thus the account gives hints of the angels’ presence at these three events. The most evident hint is, of course, the speaking snake, because it is an image of the devil, the leader of all fallen angels, who seduced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. As for the revival, we have already seen that the creation of Adam also refers to the incarnation (see The incarnation). And the sleep of Adam, during which God removes a rib from him to form Eve (Gen 2:21-24), relates to the death of Jesus, a theme we will resume in The new Eve. Therefore, the angels’ redemption is referred to by this same passage.
There are also the fallen angels that have to be taken into account: they have no revival because they decided to continue living in sin. This is why the sin and judgment phases of the second context only concerns them. In Genesis, this is expressed by the seduction of Eve by the snake and its punishment (Gen 3:14). In the third context then, the revival of the converted angels becomes complete with Jesus’ sacrifice. So in spite of the three contexts linked to the angels, we find the four usual phases.
On a psychological level, the life of a human being experiences several highs and lows, which are different for each person. At a biological level, however, things happen more commonly to all people. In fact, we are going to see that human life follows the phases as described by Genesis: the first phase by 2:5-25, the second by 3:1-6, and the third by 3:7-24. The fourth phase, as mentioned above, is described by the offspring of Adam and Eve. So its beginning is related to Genesis 4:1-2. Thanks to the multi-reference of these phases, the account about Adam and Eve, who in a certain sense imposed their law on all humans, becomes very revealing.
We have already seen that, according to Genesis, the first man was not really formed with dust but was born as a baby (see Common descent). Thus it is easy to imagine what the paradise of Adam and Eve looked like: it was of course childhood, during which the boy is still free from work and the girl does not yet bring forth children in the pain (Gen 3:16-19). In this paradise they were naked and “felt no shame in each other’s presence” (Gen 2:25) as all little children do, which expresses their innocence.
Later, however, they disobey God’s commandment and eat the fruit of knowledge (Gen 3:1-6), which equals the phase of sin. We have seen that on the spiritual level this consumption means the aspiration to one’s own laws, the wish to be one’s own master, consequently to live independently of God and, in its most total form, to even take the place of God. On the human level, this is expressed in an analogous manner during puberty when children mostly take a critical position regarding the moral principles with which they were educated by their parents. This can become the well known parent-child conflict, which reflects the conflict that separated the angels from God.
Then there is the awareness of their nudity, that is the discovery of their sexuality, which does not mean that their sexuality is the original sin, or sin in general. Nevertheless it is a consequence of their disobedience. Ashamed, they try to hide their nudity by covering themselves with fig-leaves (Gen 3:7). On the biological level, this is expressed by the growth of pubic hair during puberty. On the psychological level, this goes along with a sense of guilt, which is hidden and leads to the loss of the childlike transparency and happiness. Finally becoming adult, humans separate themselves from their parents to found a new family, which implies for the man to work hard, since henceforth he has to feed his family, and for the woman the pain of pregnancy. At the end, both undergo the biological death preceded by aging (Gen 3:16-19). Through their own children, however, they become young again, which is their revival. This is very briefly the meaning of the four phases regarding the human life cycle.
By fathering within the woman a new human being, the man resembles God, who makes humans born again by his Spirit in order to eternally adopt them as his children (Jn 3:1-8; Gal 4:4-7). Man’s resemblance to God is very complex and revealing. On the one side, the man figuratively puts himself in the place of God through this resemblance, which leads to the phase of judgment. On the other side, however, it also causes his phase of revival because he participates in the life of his children. He is reborn by them in a figurative manner similarly to the only real spiritual rebirth, the one introduced by Christ (Jn 3:1-8) (see also The incarnation and The purpose of the phase of apparition).
We will better understand this by taking into account the role of the woman: according to the duality Creator / creation, the man resembles Creator by giving his reviving seed to the woman, who resembles creation by receiving a new breath of life by her children. This image can be inverted however, because the man, holding at the same time the image of an “offender” by figuratively putting himself in the place of God, needs more than the woman the revival coming from his children. In this sense, the woman brings him his revival from the exterior by her children. This is why she makes part of his revival, because she is more united with her children than the man by carrying them inside her and then by essentially educating them. She is thereby nearer to the real spiritual rebirth that only came with Christ, which does not perform the revival from the exterior – that is to say, by the children – but from the interior of the being needing the revival. In other words, the woman prefigures a person become again a child spiritually. Thus the new parents live again the lost happiness of childhood through their own children, which helps them to reach heaven, where only children, in the spiritual sense, can enter (Mt 18:1-4).
Let us not forget, however, that these are only intermingled images, for the duality parents / children also corresponds to the duality Creator / creation, which means that both the man and the woman resemble God, with the same consequences. And it goes without saying that one does not necessarily need to marry and make children in order to be saved. But it may help…
As already mentioned, the herb-eating predators may also signify that animals go to heaven, where they live in peace with each other (see here).
According to a current opinion, only the bad angels sinned, the good angels having always been without fault. This way, one excludes any relation of the angels’ fall with the redemption of humans and thereby with the creation of the material world and the incarnation: supposing that the good angels never sinned effectively implies that they had no need for redemption. As for the bad angels, they do not need it either because they cannot be saved in any event since their punishment is definitive and eternal. Some also believe, however, that the fallen angels did not attract an eternal punishment from their first sin, which is supposed to have developed gradually. Therefore, God could have considered the redemption of these angels while their sin remained relative. It is however precisely by refusing redemption that the sin of the demons became absolute. This implies, still by supposing that the good angels never sinned, that the redemption saved no angels and that God established it in vain because the good angels never needed any redemption, which is entirely inconceivable. So a part of the angels whose sin was relative must have converted themselves thanks to the merits of Christ. In addition, Scriptures clearly indicate that all angels sinned, with the result that redemption became necessary to save all celestial beings. The most important passage concerning this is Colossians 1:19-20: “For in him [Jesus Christ] God in all his fullness chose to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things to himself, making peace through the shedding of his blood on the cross – all things, whether on earth or in heaven.” This plan of God to reconcile all beings with him consequently implies that not only all humans but also all angels sinned, whether the angels converted or those who remained in sin. This universal sin – prefigured by the original sin, which solely concerns humans (Rom 3:19-23; 5:12) – is confirmed by many other passages (Eph 1:7-10; 4:10; Heb 9:23-24; Job 4:17-19; 15:15-16).
The duality Creator / creation can be extended to heaven / earth of the six levels (see figure 8). Since the man expresses Creator, or in other words masculine (this term is better adapted to the comparison that follows), and the woman creation, or better feminine, it is possible to transfer reciprocally the images expressed by the dualities masculine / feminine and heaven / earth of the six levels. In fact, various passages (Mark 2:19; Jn 3:29; Eph 5:23; 2 Cor 11:2, etc.) compare Christ to the Spouse (masculine) and the people of God to his bride (feminine). The duality masculine / feminine is also present in flora and fauna. Plants with their leaves, which are like long hair, and their inoffensive and silent character are indeed very feminine, as well as flowers, which seduce insects with their colors and smells in view to being pollinated. Similarly, women often use perfume and make-up, try to be beautiful and attractive. They dress themselves colorfully and voluminously (this was true especially in the past). Fashion, which applies much more to women than to men, changes following the four seasons, which are best perceptible through vegetation change. Women also release their salutary spirituality like plants exhaling their oxygen. In addition, the mean age of plants exceeds that of animals. In general, women effectively live longer than men. On the other hand, animals are often noisy and a cruel competition may reign between them resulting in losers and winners. They thus correspond rather to masculine. Compared with women, men are more discreet about their clothes and rather prefer to conceal themselves from the public eye, similar to animals having often tendency to hide in the shade, in the earth or under leaves or elsewhere. In short, the whole of creation seems to reflect the image man / woman. This is also why many languages attribute a gender to nouns. It may be that in modern times these differences between men and women have become less important by the emancipation of women.
This is supported by further arguments. The woman has a different physiognomy than the man, with more rounded and less chiseled features, which rather resemble those of children. She has no beard and a lesser vocal change at puberty. She cries and shows her sentiments more easily in general, not as freely as children, but nevertheless more than the man. She is more fragile and traditionally sustained by the man, similar to children, and so on.
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