Robert Hawker | Added: Oct 19, 2022 | Category: Theology
- Download this Page (PDF)
We find this word three times in the New Testament (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 2:7), but the word is not used in the Old Testament. The word itself is derived from the Hebrew or Chaldee, it signifies forest or garden of trees; and the same meaning is annexed to what Nehemiah useth for the king’s forest, Nehemiah 2:8; and what Solomon saith, Ecclesiastes 2:5, about his gardens and orchards; and of the church it has the same meaning when Jesus commending her saith, ‘Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates’—that is, a very paradise.
We are apt to confine our ideas of the word paradise to the garden of Eden, as being so during our first parents’ innocence; and this being lost, we now look forward to the possession of a better paradise in the kingdom of glory. What the Lord Jesus said to the dying thief upon the cross (Luke 23:43), and to the church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:7), have tended much to establish this opinion. It is sufficient however for all the purposes of knowledge concerning the word itself, that it means a place of unspeakable happiness and delight; and our Lord’s promise to the dying thief decidedly settles the point. I would only beg to observe upon that sweet promise of Jesus, in what He plainly shewed, and by His own words, in the manner of expression, that the blessedness of paradise consisted. The happiness of the poor pardoned sinner was not in the place, not simply as paradise, for this he might have been, and in the company of angels also, and yet not blessed. This was not the chief blessing spoken of by the Lord Jesus; but the felicity of which paradise was made up, and which formed the sum and substance of all joy, was Christ. Verily (said our Lord Jesus), ‘I say unto thee, this day shalt thou be with me in paradise’.
Shall I be indulged with subjoining one thought more on the subject of paradise in general, and the ease of this highly-favoured pardoned sinner in particular, just to remark that this promise of Jesus to him, that that very day he should be with Christ in paradise, carries with it a conviction of the truth of that doctrine, that the souls of the redeemed pass instantly to glory on their separation from the body. The voice John heard from heaven, commanding him to write ‘Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; from henceforth’, that is, immediately, instantly, the bodies rest from their labours, until the resurrection of the just, and then the solemn events Jesus speaks of will take place (John 5:28, 29). But to be to-day with Jesus in paradise, carries with it a palpable demonstration of immediate consciousness and unspeakable felicity. I beg the reader to connect with this what the Holy Ghost hath said by the prophet of the consciousness of the opposite character entering eternity (Isaiah 14:9, 10). In the person of the impious king of Babylon, the sacred writer thus addresseth him: ‘Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming; it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak, and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?’ Now here we see not only a state of living consciousness described, but the miserable already departed speaking to the miserable now come among them, and giving them the horrible gratulation of partnership in endless woe. Let the reader compare both descriptions; that which Jesus said to the penitent thief, and that which is here described by the prophet; and let him then form his own judgment whether the happiness and misery of the eternal world to the different characters is not immediate on death.
Please feel free to use and distribute content from New Focus but please make sure to include a credit to “New Focus https://go-newfocus.co.uk”