Eden was a divine institution. In Genesis, God established one place for men and women to dwell, multiply, rule the earth and fulfill God's purpose for creating humanity. As we discussed earlier, the garden was filled with divine life, perfectly suited as a habitat for mankind to imbibe Living water, and to eat Living fruit. According to God, Eden had the capacity to make people be filled with Life for eons.
Point: The fall might have been inevitable (or might not have, for all that we know) but the capacity was there. Paradise was a permanent, divine institution, established for (potentially) forever.
There is no getting around this, for those who've sometimes preferred anti-institutional dogmas. I should know. I'm such a person. But again, this was God's institution. This was NOT subject to human control. Yes, Eden was planted in one spot, fixed and unmoving. Yet, within Eden itself there was also constant motion. The garden God planted especially for Woman & Man is said to have been richly abundant with life - growing, changing, expanding, increasing, vibrant, extravagant Life!
We already discussed how the River and Tree are both divine examples of motion in stillness. But there's more. This particular River split outwardly, in four directions. Wherever it ran, it was running out from Eden. This is significant. Eden's Life-water was going somewhere! Thus, this divinely established habitat - which should have (regardless of whether or not it could have) remained permanently viable as an ideal home for mankind - was also somehow situated for irrigating the rest of Creation.
Eden was a divine institution, fixed and firmly established, yet completely dynamic. Just. Like. God.
And also just like the Law.
The Torah was/is a divine institution, established forever, constant, unchanging, unyielding, and (some might say) unforgiving. The descriptive word "standard" reflects that it stands, like a statue, like "a statute forever". And God's standard stays very high - mercilessly high. And yet the Law itself was most merciful. The Torah reflects God's mercy, God's forgiveness, God's ability to soften his anger, to turn his own wrath away, to change course (seemingly or actually) if Abraham or Moses dearly entreated Him so to do.
The Law also gave mercy. The very Law that condemned each soul's conscience also prescribed daily, regular and perennial methods for encouraging deep remembrance that God would keep on overlooking Israel's sins. Time and again, year after year, time after time, and generation after generation, the statutes of mercy were to be enacted through ritual. But these particular rituals - remember - were being prescribed by God himself. Did they become dead rituals, after a millenia or two? Probably. Did they have to become so? Perhaps they did not.
As with Eden, so with Torah. A divine establishment, once granted to humankind, had the capacity - if not the inevitability - to remain Vibrant, a constantly renewable resource for drawing God's people back, back, ever back to himself. As God's intended provision "forever" for Israel, the Law should have (regardless of whether it practically could have) been capable of keeping Jacob's descendants close to Him, following Him, perhaps more and more deeply, for many centuries to come.
Theoretically, the Law could have kept on doing this for forever. Actually, the Law never stopped being viable. Think about that. Did the Law ever stop being capable of instigating, on Earth, the Movement of God? Or did Israel, like Adam, simply, at some point, forsake that divine institution?
The fact is that, some centuries after Moses, Israel eventually did forsake God's Law, and for doing so, they received the same penalty as Adam.
Adam's chief punishment, you may recall, being Exile.
To be continued...