Genesis 3 – the True Hope

Here’s a quick summary of the first two chapters – Chapter 1 of Genesis has been about God’s formation and filling of his creation in presenting the gospel of Jesus’ incarnation (light over darkness), death (separation of the waters) and resurrection (new life on dry land) through Days 1-3, and 4-6 respectively.

Chapter 2 focuses on the creations of the dry land, a symbol of future hope (as prophesied through the immediate period post-Noahic flood/parting of Red Sea, which in themselves are symbols of global judgment on the Day to come, which instead of global water will be global fire 2 Peter 3:7) – and much of the 2nd chapter reveals two things. (1) The inevitable fall of man through his creation from the dust outside of Eden and (2) his utterly inability to make his way to the true communion with God symbolised by the Edenic goodness, except by the covenant of the grace of God to sabbath man by gifting him with communion with Him in the Garden (of God – Ezekiel 28:13), and allow man to rest on the very next day of his life (day 7, the Sabbath).

The cutting-down of woman from man immediately preaches Christ’s need for a bride, and thus revealing that in pre-creation, the Father had always been preparing a bride for Christ; and that to Christ, his bride – the church – has always been his first love even before creation (and he, too, in return commands us to love Him as our first love – Revelation 2:4 and Deuteronomy 6:5-9). The husband and wife’s oneness is already an immediate prophecy to the church and Husband’s oneness in eternal glory, a predestination of those who have fallen asleep in Christ (Ephesians 1) – and this sets the scene for Chapter 3, which should follow the Christological logic of the first two chapters.

6 issues to pick up for sake of easier reading:

1. Eve’s mis-quoting of God’s command to Adam

Compare what the LORD God commanded Adam in 2:16-17, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die“.

And then see what the woman said to Satan in 3:3 “…but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die”.

Why the distinction and differentiation? 2 points:

(1) The Law and the gospel: Let us notice that when the woman saw the tree of good and evil among other trees, she saw that the tree was “good for food, and a delight to the eyes”. Out of the countless blessings of God, the countless food, manna, fish, bread that God provides, we still complain like the Israelites in the wilderness, and forget to count our blessings and realise how utterly retarded we are to forget God and go with the one temporal sin that destroys both body and spirit. What a problem sin is in our life! That is exactly what sin appears to be before us – a tasty cuisine, delightful to the eyes, captivating our hearts in the dark. Despite setting the even “higher” command that God did not say to Adam, the woman still fell completely short of it, and instead became at peace with the temptation rather than submit to the Spirit who was striving in them. As Owen said in his “Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers”,

“It is our duty to be ‘perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1); to be ‘growing in grace’ every day (1 Peter 2:2, 2 Peter 3:18), to be ‘renewing our inward man day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). Now, this cannot be done without the daily mortifying of sin. Sin sets it strength against every act of holiness, and against every degree we grow to. Let not that man think he makes any progress in holiness who walks not over the bellies of his lusts. He who doth not kill sin in his way takes no steps towards his journey’s end. He who finds not opposition from it, and who sets not himself in every particular to its mortification, is at peace with it, not dying to it”.

So also, in response to salvation, we praise God through the life of the Spirit rather than attempt to be ascetic. God’s commandment to man and woman in Eden was not a covenant of works – the covenant of grace was already established in chapter 2 – and this commandment follows the pattern of the giving of the Mosaic laws AFTER the salvation of the Israelites. The salvation of works would see the Pharisaic Israelites attempting to do the law perfectly, and deceiving themselves that they have done enough good when they have kept it perfectly, though their physical death betrays that truth whether before or after the giving of the Mosaic law. Like the popish Catholic doctrine of supererogation, the woman here not only misquotes God but sets an even higher ‘call of duty’ which, like all popish Catholics and unsaved Israelites in the OT, inevitably fall short of. The salvation through faith would see the Spiritually circumcised Israelites responding by SERVING and KEEPING the covenant (Genesis 2:15), maintaining the goodness of the law which, like a mirror, displays our fallen nature for who we are – that we need to eat from the tree of life, rather than tree of good and evil to live. The commandment is therefore to show God’s personality and what we cannot attain. Could Adam have ‘kept’ the commandment perfectly? Unlikely – God knew he would fail, and he had to, so he could live through Christ.

(2) Marriage: A second note concerning her misquoting of the commandment is that the woman was not ‘present’ when God commanded Adam. Here, we receive insight concerning Adam and Eve’s marriage – had Adam washed Eve with the Word of Scripture (Ephesians 5:25-27)? Did Eve respond favourably to Adam’s headship? No – thus, the fall of the woman came through many fold – the succumbing to the life of flesh rather than the life of Spirit; the feeding of the physical flesh (manna) rather than spiritual truth (Christ); the sub-ordination of man to woman as opposed to the headship of man to woman — all of this from her one seemingly trivial desire to eat a fruit from one tree out of several others. That is the shocking nature of how sin is in our life – so seemingly trivial, but like hemlock, once we drink even a sip of it, it is enough to murder.

2. Serpent’s deception and God’s curse on him

Some people say that Satan fell long before the garden was created, before even ‘creation’ itself which I dispute. I don’t intend to go into the discussion of when exactly he was created (and many refer to Job 38, but I’m not sure exactly why since God did not mention any ‘angels’ in Job 38), but Ezekiel 28:12-19 and Isaiah 14:12-20 reveal much about Lucifer’s character (note that Lucifer literally means ‘light-bringer’ or ‘Morning Star’:

Isaiah 14:12-20:

12“How(A) you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star,(B) son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
13You said in your heart,
(C)I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
(D) I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;[a]
14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High
.’
15(E) But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.
16Those who see you will stare at you
and ponder over you:
‘Is this(F) the man who made the earth tremble,
who shook kingdoms,
17who made the world like a desert
and overthrew its cities,
(G) who did not let his prisoners go home?’
18All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
each in his own tomb;[b]
19but you are cast out, away from your grave,
like a loathed branch,
(H) clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword,
who go down to the stones of the pit,
like a dead body trampled underfoot.
20You will not be joined with them in burial,
because you have destroyed your land,
you have slain your people.

and Ezekiel 28:12-19:

12(A) “Son of man,(B) raise a lamentation over(C) the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD:

“You were the signet of perfection,[a]
(D) full of wisdom and(E) perfect in beauty
.
13You were in(F) Eden, the garden of God;
(G) every precious stone was your covering,
(H) sardius, topaz, and diamond,
beryl, onyx, and jasper,
sapphire,[b](I) emerald, and carbuncle;
and crafted in gold were your settings
and your engravings.[c]
On the day that you were created
they were prepared.
14You were an anointed(J) guardian cherub.
I placed you;[d] you were on(K) the holy mountain of God;
in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
15You were blameless in your ways
(L) from the day you were created,
till unrighteousness was found in you
.
16In the abundance of(M) your trade
you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from(N) the mountain of God,
and I destroyed you,[e](O) O guardian cherub,
from the midst of the stones of fire.
17(P) Your heart was proud because of(Q) your beauty;
you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground;
I exposed you before kings,
to feast their eyes on you.

18By the multitude of your iniquities,
in the unrighteousness of your trade
you profaned your sanctuaries;
so(R) I brought fire out from your midst;
it consumed you,
and I turned you to ashes on the earth
(S) in the sight of all who saw you.
19All who know you among the peoples
are appalled at you;
(T) you have come to a dreadful end
and shall be no more forever.”

The obvious keywords here are ‘proud’, ‘guardian cherub’, ‘blameless’, ‘signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty’, ‘ascend to heaven’, ‘set my throne on high’… This Morning Star, Lucifer, who is also the beautiful, blameless guardian cherub, aimed to be proud and to set his throne on high by ascending to heaven, but failed and is crushed and thrown to the dust below. And all this happened IN Eden, and not before. The symbol of the serpent who slithers on the ground is exactly part of the gospel preached – that the most the Serpent can do is bruise Christ’s heel, incapable of rising tall to overcome Him.

Compare the above two quotations to the curse against the Serpent Genesis 3:14-15- which says that he is now “cursed above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on [his] belly [he] shall go, and dust [he] shall eat all the days of [his] life”. Can anyone convince themselves otherwise that this Morning Star is not referring to Lucifer who is now thrown to the ground despite his attempt to imitate Christ, the true Ascender? (Deuteronomy 30:12; Psalm 24:3; Proverbs 30:4). Indeed, Satan, through his works, through his craftiness (which is really another word for wisdom and knowledge rather than the necessarily negative connotation of ‘cunning’) cannot ascend; only Christ can. The sadness here is that even the Lord lamented for Satan – much as Christ lamented for not only his Christian brethren but for all those who persecuted him as well (Ezekiel 18:31; 1 Timothy 2:4). This is no Calvinist reprobation vs. predestination – this is fully Barthian theology, that we were predestined to be PART of the ELECT, the only ELECT, that is CHRIST. What this means is important, for all choices we make must do with the gospel. Satan was also given the choice to remain in God’s favour but he chose to positively reject it. What of angel’s choices we don’t know much about, but it is fair to say that angel’s choices have no chance of repentance or redemption, for Christ died not for angels but for men.

3. “Wisdom” and nakedness – from Woman to Eve (the wife Proverbs 31)

So what is true wisdom, but the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:10)? And like the Day Star who is beautiful, it is easy to follow the woman of folly (Proverbs 9:13) who is similarly good and tasty to the eye (Revelation 17:6), the Prostitute who even the apostle John marveled greatly at. Her beauty is hard to refuse, but we must run away fast to Christ, like Joseph from Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39). It will serve to analyse “WHO” this wisdom is, and why Proverbs 31 ends on the ‘excellent wife’. Is it speaking of the bride? Of course not, we are not perfect. Is it speaking of the deity of Sophia? I think we know the answer to that question. Is it speaking of Christ, who has wisdom? Unlikely, for even he had to grow in wisdom (Luke 2:52). But who gives wisdom, except by the Holy Spirit, who IS wisdom, the excellent wife and mother of Christ, a part of the Holy Trinity (1 Corinthians 2), the helper of the Father and the Son in the creation of the world and in the resurrection of Christ. No longer will the Woman remain a woman of folly, but become a woman of wisdom, that through fearing the Lord will the Seed come from Eve, the renamed woman, the mother of all living.

What is interesting next is why the man and woman were naked. Their immediate self-conscious realisation frustrated God, for they now cared more about their own appearance and thought they should cover themselves with fig-leaves, which is so pitiful compared to the animal skin which God provided for them. Man will, throughout his life, continue to build fig-leaves as a veil that separates us from people and that separates us from God – whether that be the Tower of Babel, whether that be our golden calf, whether that be our Molech or Asherah, whether that be our achievements, whether that be our fake religiousness, whether that be the extensive knowledge of Scripture which puffs up the knowledge rather than builds up love… the list is endless. And yet God takes all that self-conscious glory away (Matthew 6:3) by providing them with animal skin, so characteristic of God clothing us in robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10):

10(A) I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
my soul shall exult in my God,
(B) for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself(C) like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
(D) and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

So God intends to protect us with the garments of salvation, the animal skin which he clothed us with. What horror Adam and Eve witnessed when an innocent animal was slain on their behalf, and yet this is unsurprisingly another one of God’s graceful gospel presentations. Yes, perhaps Adam and Eve did not know that Jesus would be born in Nazareth; Yes, perhaps Adam and Eve did not know that Jesus would come from the line of Judah, as the Israelite tribes have not been established. But those details are trivial and merely point to the great truth of the great Lamb slain on our behalf. The truth which is similarly preached in Job 42:8-9, when Job interceded for his friends by supplying a burnt offering of 7 bulls and 7 rams. Why were these innocent bulls and rams slain, much like the animals on behalf of Adam and Eve? Why did Jesus die for sinners who did not deserve his death? The question rings the core bell in Christian theology, and we cannot deny that Adam and Eve (and Job even, if you believe he existed prior to the Mosaic law of sacrifices) were possibly initially surprised, but eventually understood the symbolism behind the death of the animals. Much like the truth behind feeding on seed-bearing plants, and so also man already understood that life can only be given in exchange for another’s death – and this ‘another’ must be the Son of God himself.

4. The sound of the Lord walking in the garden (v.8 )

Now the literal Hebrew for qowl (sound) is Voice – and though it seems like it is referring to the Father walking in the garden, it is more sound to view it as the “Voice” himself walking in the garden. If I may paraphrase: “The Voice (of the Lord) walking in the garden” seems much better. Why do I say that? Let’s look at what John Owen thinks of this “Voice”:

… a revelation was made of a distinct person in the Deity, who in a peculiar manner did manage all the concernments of the church after the entrance of sin. (Works, vol 18, 216)

He by whom all things were made, and by whom all were to be renewed that were to be brought again unto God, did in an especial and glorious manner appear unto our first parents, as he in whom this whole dispensation centred, and unto whom it was committed. And as, after the promise given, he appeared ‘in human form’ to instruct the Church in the mystery of his future incarnation, and under the name of Angel, to shadow out his office as sent unto it and employed in it by the Father; so here, before the promise, he discovered his distinct glorious person, as the eternal Voice of the Father. (ibid, p220)

I need not make my own case for Christophany and the Angel of the Lord – there are resources for that which covers it in far more detail, but I merely point out that it is the intercessor, the Son, who had not forgotten them even in the midst of their sin. The Son who has always been the true image of God, the Son who is the visible of the invisible Him, the one whom all can see, the Seen of the Unseen, the one who is at the Father’s side and makes him known (John 1:18). Then how can this Lord be the Father, walking in the garden and interact with our earliest ancestors, unless it is the Son himself, who has always been our intercessor in the earliest of and since before creation?

5. Curses against Satan, Eve and Adam

It is another misconception to think that the only command which man failed was the eating of the tree of good and evil; but also the failure to have dominion over all the beasts earlier mentioned, and of course the failure to protect his wife from Satan’s temptation. What was Adam doing there, standing by his wife, whilst the woman just ate the fruit happily?! (v.6) Not only that, but we see a disgusting retort from Adam – he actually BLAMED God for the woman (v.12) He gave him!! Again, Satan’s influence has made its reaches; his pride has pushed into the hearts of God’s first man and woman, and they adopted the Satanic tradition of putting blame on others, of thinking one is sinless (or less sinful) compared with the countless other sinful ones. The power of judgmental human eyes, vs. the power of a Godly discerning mind – the latter giving all the glory back to God, the former reserving secret glory for oneself.

What is interesting is the pattern here – Christ spoke firstly to Adam, then shifted the attention to the woman and finally to the beast. Yet the curse, however, begins with the beast, shifts to the woman and then to Adam. Did God not know that Adam and Eve ate from the tree of good and evil, and that the serpent deceived them? Did God really need their confirmation? No – but like the prayers that we speak, God already knows what is on our mind but expects us to communicate it to him in our hearts and speech. Like the salvation that we have, God wants us to speak and live out the truth that he already acknowledges. It is very characteristic of Him to speak to his beloved creation first, before turning to the first culprit. He favours us still, and his favour has not left us – whether through the Voice of the Lord walking in the garden approaching us first; whether He speaks to us first; whether He provides us and clothes us directly… his favour is still there in this chapter. Though we should not undermine the gravity of the situation which led to the suffering of mankind in this incomplete world, we should also rejoice in the truth that God’s personality has not changed – his covenant of grace still applies, and Adam and the woman need only have faith in that truth rather than hide away from God with their fig leaves. Much of our life, God is asking “Where are you” (Genesis 3:9), so let us present ourselves to Him, He who loved us first.

Creatures

Pre-curse

Post-curse

Serpent

Beautiful guardian cherub, in some level of communion with God like all other (types of) angels. Crafty, wise and having many tools at his disposal, but misused it for his own glory rather than giving glory back to God. Tried to compete against God’s son, but his pride destroyed him.

On belly he shall go, and dust he shall eat, all the days of his life (v. 14). Enmity between him and the woman, between his offspring (seed in Hebrew) and her offspring/seed; he [Christ] shall bruise his head, and he shall bruise his [Christ’s] heel (v.15)

Woman

We can assume that child-bearing was either or minimal pain or painless; and that woman did not desire for (‘against’ in ESV footnote) her husband. Whatever the case may be, child-bearing has always been part of God’s plan, whether pre or post-curse.

Multiply pain in child-bearing; desire shall be for (‘against’ in ESV footnote – like the characteristic of sin in Genesis 4:7 which also had ‘desire for/against Cain’, sin which is alive and crouching at the door of every man’s heart) [her] husband, and he shall rule over [her] (v. 16).

Man

Sanctified his wife through the washing of the Word (Ephesians 5:25-27); loved her deeply as his first and only love; was the head of the relationship as she, in return, was his helper and not his slave.

Listened to voice of the wife and ate of the tree [of good and evil], the ground is now cursed and in pain Adam shall eat of it all the days of his life (v. 17), and by the sweat of his face he shall eat bread till he return to the ground for out of it he was taken (v. 19).

Now before we look at each case quickly, something to note: why, in the Hebrew, did God speak to Adam first? Was the curse already ‘in-action’, the curse of the husband ‘ruling’ over the wife (hence God speaking to Adam alone)? There may be many reasons which I’ve been made aware of (e.g. man’s separation from his wife due to his sin; that man had always been in an egalitarian position with his wife, that God does not consider ‘headship’ to be a biblical doctrine, but ‘headship’ has been a doctrine implemented post-fall). However, I think the most convincing is still the fact that the man is responsible for his wife. The doctrine of headship had been established to display Christ’s headship over the church and the Father’s headship over Christ (Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 2, 1 Corinthians 11), and has nothing to do with the fall in Genesis 3. Is this headship a domineering headship? Is it a type of ‘headship’ that reflects the husband ‘ruling over’ his wife? Of course not, for the Father does not ‘rule over’ the church dictatorially, and neither does Christ do so – yet the intra-Trinitarian dynamic must not be denied, and so the family and marital dynamic must utterly reflect this truth.

Turning to each curse, we have spoken of Satan’s glory prior to his fall so we can drop that. The woman and man is no longer inclined to help one another, but the battle of the sexes have begun. The curse of their physical death and battle of the sexes reveals the truth of their actions – that through their failure to obey God and maintain godly relations, the message preached is ‘Death’ and ‘Discord’, completely contrary to God’s character. Yet, God curses them with Death and sexual Discord in order to reveal to them the ultimate shining light that will blast into the darkness to provide the true remedy of Life and sexual Harmony – eternal life by the Spirit, and sexual Harmony by godly marital and familial relationship with the Trinity in new heaven and earth. It is thus an imperative for all men and women to keep the covenant of marriage, which preaches God’s marriage to us, rather than preach a message of Discord and Death everytime the husband ‘listens’ to the wife (v.17), and everytime we sin. Sure, God’s favour is still with man, but man will still taste the pain of eating from the ground by the sweat of his face until he is released from the days of this life.

Finally, I believe child-bearing deserves its own paragraph. What does child-bearing preach, but that the bride herself must bear Godly offspring in an ungodly world?

15(A) Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?[a] And what was the one God[b] seeking?[c](B) Godly offspring. So guard yourselves[d] in your spirit, and let none of you be(C) faithless to the wife of your youth. (Malachi 2:15)

And so, the child cries when he enters the world for he is pained in the fallen creation, still yearning for the new creation where God will wipe every tear away (Revelation 21:4). And the wife, the bride, the creation, yearns in pain of childbirth, all of us groaning inwardly for that new hope:

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time(AG) are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for(AH) the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation(AI) was subjected to futility, not willingly, but(AJ) because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that(AK) the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that(AL) the whole creation(AM) has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have(AN) the firstfruits of the Spirit,(AO) groan inwardly as(AP) we wait eagerly for adoption as sons,(AQ) the redemption of our bodies. 24For(AR) in this hope we were saved. Now(AS) hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we(AT) wait for it with patience. – Romans 8:18-25

6. Blessing-in-disguise – a new hope

Will we receive God’s true hope of Christ, or continue to work by the sweat of the brow and ‘accept’ the Death and Discord in life like most listless people in this world? The dejected people who think that we are merely insignificant atoms roaming in an insignificant universe? Or will we turn to God’s blessing and continual favour even in this terrifying chapter of the Bible, He who continued (rather than “started”) to work with His Spirit and His Son for our redemption since after the seventh day? God intended that man must live, and to be reborn in new flesh before he even created Adam out of the dust outside of Eden. Death was absolutely necessary, a necessary pain to go through – Christ is necessary, a necessary sacrifice to be made.

This is why God prevented Adam and the woman from eating directly from the tree of life, lest they live forever (v. 22) in their sinful state. No – God had planned for far greater things, and wanted them to move beyond their sinful state, to work the ground in face of God’s law which displays their absolutely sinful nature, so that they must then focus on Christ who can reverse all of that. Thus, we will be clothed in true animal skin, the true robes of righteousness, and temporarily taste his goodness when we live by obeying the life of the Spirit before inheriting new flesh. The renaming of Woman to Eve, the mother of all living, is not ironic – it is a truth that has been preached to our earliest ancestors. Need they worry about working the ground? Need they even worry about death? No! They understood that only through death could they have true life.

Would it have been good for them to take from the tree of life prior to taking the tree of good and evil? Perhaps; but they would not gain the new flesh which God promised them. Even had they eaten from the tree of life immediately after being sabbathed in Eden, it is still not perfect communion with God. We are still incomplete images of God, only made even worse by the Fall, that not only our physical but our spiritual well-being disintegrating at a rapid rate. Yet, through God’s holy provision of the law, we are shown for who we really are – and sin was made alive, so that we would turn to Christ. The true hope had always been there before Moses, before Jacob, before Abraham – Adam and Eve, the mother of all living, had already understood that death was the only way through which we gain eternal life. Not through some pitiful animal sacrifices, not even through one’s own death – but through the death of Christ, the One Seed who ascended, crushing the head of the Serpent who will never ascend.

Genesis 3 – the True Hope

Genesis 2:16-25 – The great gospel of marriage

v.16-17 speaks of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and it is God’s commandment that man should surely eat of the tree of life (v. 9) as opposed to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Much debate spins on why God would want us to prevent ourselves from feeding on that tree of good and evil. Personally, I find the issue moot – it is quite clear what happened to Adam and Eve after they ate from the tree of good and evil: they decided that morality was good enough for them, and that they did not need God. Thus, they decided to establish their own morality, and decided that it was sufficient to judge one another by that ‘morality’.

Much of modern discussion hinges on “ethics”, “moral” jurisprudence – and mistakenly, they think the Bible is just another tangent on morality, that God’s commandments are something we can pick and choose from to fit our own bill.

Paul Blackham, minister of Farm Fellowship and author of the Bible Book-by-Book series has this to say concerning the issue:

“When we consider how we are to live we are not part of a general consideration of what is good and what is evil. We are not part of a general quest that the human race is working on together. We are not part of a universal consultation process. No, we are deliberately and self-consciously cutting ourselves off from the ethical discussions of pagan society and deliberately and self-consciously attempting to think good and evil from our redemption in Jesus Christ, the second Adam who renounces his own will, his own choice, and knowledge of good and evil in favour of the choice and knowledge of his Father in heaven. If we ask the question “What should we do?” there are basically just two answers: trust in Jesus Christ if I am not yet a Christian, or present the gospel of Jesus Christ if I am already a Christian. Christian ethics has one single central point – the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our first concern in all ethical thinking is how we may present the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our behaviour has no meaning or purpose beyond that.”

I think Blackham hit it spot on. Our woes and worries concerning the ethical problems of the world only contributes to the image of dust, rather than image of God. Were we made to discuss ethical issues, or were we made to redeem people into the gospel of Christ? Unless the gospel of Christ is presented at these debates, even if we manage to encourage people to settle on preventing abortion, euthanasia or homosexuality, the gospel still is not preached. Instead, we are sending more “moralistic” or “religious” people to hell.

In a similar manner, marriage, the wonderful doctrine which proclaims God’s truth has been threatened since the early days of man, and much of v.18-25 speaks of this truth. I’ve written about this great gospel of marriage HERE (for you to download into word or pdf format at your own discretion), and an actual page to present it HERE – or you can click the link “Marriage” above.

Genesis 2:16-25 – The great gospel of marriage

Genesis 2:15 – Salvation by works or faith alone?

We now come to a heavily misconceived topic – “Work”. The verse in Hebrew for Genesis 2:15 goes:

וַיִּקַּ֛ח יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֑ם וַיַּנִּחֵ֣הוּ בְגַן־עֵ֔דֶן לְעָבְדָ֖הּ וּלְשָׁמְרָֽהּ׃

Here is the NIV translation:

“…Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

The Chinese 和合本 translation:

耶 和 華   神 將 那 人    安 置 在 伊 甸 園 、 使 他    修 理 看 守

The NLT translation:

The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.

The KJV:

And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

NASB:

Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.

Finally, the ESV (I will only highlight my bolded vocabulary in the previous translations):

“…and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and to keep it“….

Notice the discrepancy over the usage of the Hebrew for ‘yanach’ (ינח) (commonly translated above as “to put”, which can be translated to ‘deposit’, ‘by implication, to allow to stay or to rest‘), ‘abad (עבד) (commonly translated as ‘dress’, ‘cultivate’, ‘work’ or ‘tend’ – also can mean to work (in any sense); by implication, to serve, till, (causatively) enslave, etc.), and ‘shamar’ (שמר) (meaning normally to ‘keep’ – also can mean to hedge about (as with thorns), i.e. guard; generally, to protect, attend to, etc.) Why such a discrepancy? Any omission of one of the valid meanings in the context can crucially change the meaning of the verse. As for the Chinese translation, it should definitely be given its due consideration come later in this post – but a quick note to see is that it’s translation for God putting man there is God “resting” man in the garden, and “rested” man in the garden to “serve” (one of the possible English translations of ‘abad) and to “keep” (excluding the term “it” after the word serve and keep – why? This surely doesn’t make grammatical sense? Serve and keep what? Nothing? Or Eden, as the other translations suggest? Are these translations even reliable, given the not-so-trivial discrepancies?).

And yet, the problem on the common evangelical view of work is the basis of the interpretation of Genesis 2:15. A book commonly used in student circles in preparation for their work ministry in the future is “Thank God it’s Monday”, which, again, bases the Godly work and secular work divide on the faulty interpretation of Genesis 2:15. Sure, the book has its positive impact on enabling people to focus on God even during their nine to five (or nine to infinity, as is common in Hong Kong), but is it that simple? Can we incorporate God into our work? Or has it always been vice versa? What does Genesis 2:15, pre-fall, really say about “work”?

The basic definition of work is what we have to do in order for us to live. The basic level is to grow, hunt, and find your food, and build and maintain your home. This can involve earning money so someone else can hunt your food, or someone else can build our home. This work is crucial to life and maintenance.

Traditional Protestant Work Ethic

The traditional Protestant work ethic lies in Genesis 1 – that work is labouring in creating the universe. And because man is created in God’s image, the “logic” is that man, is in the image of God who is a worker. And this seems to be substantiated furthermore in Genesis 2:15 – that the Lord put man in the garden of Eden to work.

But this creates the false impression that full-time paid Christian work is better than secular work (which the octogenarian John Stott had once mistakenly thought in “The Living Church”). However, all work should be good – all our work should be our worship, and work therefore isn’t refined to the ‘religious’ sphere. 1 Corinthians 9 shows that everything we do is for God. In Adam’s sin in Genesis 3, we see that work has become a drudge and becomes toilsome, but work is essentially still a good thing. Is that true? That to be godly is to be working hard at our job as a form of worship? A duty that we owe to God? So being a Christian is akin to working hard?

Self-speaking theology of work

There is something disturbing behind working hard as a form of worship. As a preliminary note, it seems to suggest to the non-Christian that Christians can only be accepted by God through their hard work – an impression we wish not to impose on the observer, as we should be living witnesses for the gospel. But what do we make of the Genesis 1 and Genesis 2:15 interpretations of God as worker and that man is a worker in His image?

The simple differentiation lies in the Hebrew, which is a shame given the majority of English translations lend no significance in gender and nuanced distinctions. The word primarily used of God’s work and man’s work are different words in Hebrew! The Hebrew for God’s work is mla’kah ( מְלַאכְתֹּ֖ו ) in Genesis 2:2 , whereas, as we already stated the Hebrew for man’s work is ‘abad ( לַֽעֲבֹ֖ד ) in Genesis 2:15.

If work is what you do in order to live, then how can this definition work with God’s definition of His work? His work had nothing to do with his own sustenance of life. What we see from His work is that creation is a present and a gift for his Son – that God had prepared creation, and a bride, in worship of his Son (Genesis 1:31 and Revelations 13:8 – the Lamb was slain before the creation of the world, for it is not good for man to be alone, and Adam was meant to be a type of Christ, so Christ was slain before the creation of the world, and left his Father to incarnate and die and ascend as the Father, before creation, prepared the race of men and women in faith to be his bride).

Furthermore, the “logic” of the image of God being akin to being Him is quite inversely contradictory – given that the image of God is a very specific thing (as mentioned in my previous post on Day 3 and Day 6 – but more needs to be said about it). Mike Reeves, UCCF theological advisor, in his sermon on theology behind work states that no God-respecting Old Testament scholar thinks that the image has anything to do with working. How do we explain Genesis 2:15 then? Again, the ‘secret’ as it were, lies in the poor Hebrew translation offered in the English NIV translation as is commonly used in European and Asian churches. To suggest that man was put in the garden to work and to care for the garden is to directly contradict Genesis 2:5 – that no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground (‘adam)… but streams came up to water the ground. Furthermore in Genesis 7:12, we don’t see rain until the Noahic flood. If that is the case, Genesis 2:5 refers directly to man working ‘adam after sin (In Genesis 2:5 we see that God states specifically that there was no-one to work the ground (‘adam) – and this is repeated again in Genesis 3 where the ‘adam is cursed – in Genesis 2:15, God is unnecessarily silent on this ‘adam which is so crucial to understanding God’s reversal of his blessing on man, from the ‘adam being a blessing to ‘adam becoming a curse), as opposed to working “it” and keeping “it” (the “it” in English is of course neutral…but does it necessarily refer to the “garden” in the Hebrew?).

To sum up quickly: Earth is an uncultivated wasteland – a lot of work is needed to feed hungry Adam; yet the Lord forms Adam out of that wasteland outside Eden and then we get to see (v. 8-9) the Lord planting a finished garden, where Adam can receive the food that he needs (more on this point of food later on). So in this uncultivated wasteland, we have the garden of Eden which was planted in the east. Why does God take Adam from the uncultivated wasteland and put him in the garden? Genesis 2:15 should be an answer to this subtle point, which many people miss when they preconceive that Adam was made in the garden, which he wasn’t. The significance lies in him being brought to the garden from outside in. Unlike v.8 (where he used the word “put” to mean “to put (used in a great variety of applications, literal, figurative, inferentially, and elliptically)wholly, work.” – a type of putting that is NOT the same as the Genesis 2:15 “put” — Moses therefore did not use the word “the Lord put Adam there”, but Moses said he “rested him” (akin to “sabbathed” him – and in fact, this fits the Chinese translation!) in the garden. The man is therefore given rest in the garden, not work! But we still haven’t explained Genesis 2:15 – it doesn’t say rest… or does it?

The problem lies in the translation of the word “it” – but we can find comfort in the fact that God’s work (in Genesis 2:2) is not the same work used in v. 15, though the English seems to say so. The 3rd person pronoun of “it” in Hebrew however has a male and female distinction. Remember in my first few posts (Genesis 1:1, Genesis 1:2, and details of day 1) that the gender is essential to understanding exegetical insights which prevents problems of liberal or feminist thinking by understanding our roles in relation to God. If we were to respect the Hebrew grammar similarly, we should treat every feminine/male distinction with the same theological distinction as it deserves, which English does not preserve. So here we go.

In Hebrew, the gender for ‘garden’ (‘gan), is masculineגַן ” – yet, in v. 15, the word “it” (which in the English seems to be referring to the garden) is feminine -“הּ” . Essentially this would mean work “her” and keep/take care of “her” which simply doesn’t fit well if we were to imply that Adam was working/tilling/keeping the garden in v. 15 (let alone re-interpreting the word “work” in v. 15, which is different from v. 2). This displays a clear grammatical error in the English translation.

Genesis 3:23 shows God’s punishment for sin, each part of God’s curse being a reversal of Adam and Eve’s previous blessing. They had life, and now they have death. They had rest, and now they had work. If we were to give Genesis 3:23 its contextual understanding in light of pre/post-fall status of man, then we should give Genesis 2:15 its respectfully more accurate translation:

God rested/sabbathed man in the garden to serve and to keep

And why do I not include the word “it”? Because the nature of the word “it”, if used in this context (in English) would wrongfully include the “garden” as an object of the work. However, if we stay sensitive to the grammar, the word “keep” (kamar) is in fact quite similar to the keeping of the covenant in other situations (Genesis 17:9-10; Exodus 19:5; Leviticus 18:4-5; Deuteronomy 7:9). If we were to then understand the context of the female “it” and the consistency of “work/keep” with the keeping of the covenant (since we don’t work the covenant, instead, we kamar “it” (that is used in Genesis 2:15) and kamar the covenant). Therefore, kamar, the keeping of the covenant, is what we know as worship of God – for we, as Christian, serve the Lord and keep his commandments as worship and not as works-salvation in itself (Romans 7:7-25).

Thus it is not the garden that we serve and keep! But it is the gift that God established through his provision of the garden that we ‘serve’ and ‘keep’! The gift of the covenant which he established before creation, the covenant which he ‘barach’ed/cut @ Creation, the gift of salvation through his faithfulness (Romans 3:4)!

This is unsurprising given that the Lord God commanded the man in v. 16 to worship and obey – so the gift is given to man for a finished package to enjoy. In v. 19 we see that the Lord brings animals to man (v. 20-21) – man didn’t have to find the animals. The Lord then finds a suitable helper for man. Man can rest and all he needs to do is worship the Lord and have everything given to him! All of this fleshed out day 6 in Genesis 2 – so that, on the seventh day (the first day after man was made), man can have Sabbath. God has done everything for humanity and delivered them a pure gift. Man did nothing, God did everything.

If creation is a sheer gift of grace, undeserved and unearned love, then the Sabbath, also, is all about the gospel. Sabbath is life all about simply trusting the Lord, not the physical day in itself. Hebrews 4 shows that God’s rest is entered only by believing the gospel – simply trusting the Lord like that ends our attempts to end his favour. Hebrews 4:10 – anyone entering God’s rest = resting from his own work just as God did from his, intended for Adam. Similarly, salvation is about receiving God’s rest – that Christian faith and love lies in the truth that we no longer have to work to have true life – the Lord providing entirely for our salvation.

Therefore, unlike the Pharisees’ whose skewed theological understanding is enables us evangelicals to see that rest, rather than an absence of activity, is in fact absence of work which is different from activity! Israel wouldn’t have Sabbath days only but also Sabbath years. However, the Pharisees turned the Sabbath into earning God’s favour, and the point of the Sabbath is that God will provide entirely. But human sin is the choice to reject God’s favour, and the choice to embrace sin (Genesis 3). Thus, man is cursed with work, yet God still yearns to give humanity the rest we are given to enjoy. So what does God do after day seven? Indeed, to give humanity rest again through His work (John 5:17).

Therefore, the work of redemption through the Christ is to give us rest again in the second week after the first seven days!!!

Work of Redemption

John 5:16 – Jesus has just healed a man on the Sabbath; Genesis 2 shows that healing on the Sabbath is a good thing! Yet, it isn’t seen as ‘work’ – John 5:17 – I too am “working as is the Father”. So has this work anything to do with us? Absolutely not – this work of redemption, which the Lord had been doing after his Sabbath on (Genesis 3) is the work of redemption.

John 9 – We meet a blind man in this chapter; the disciples ask why he is blind and Jesus answers in v.3, so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. In v. 6 and 7, Jesus heals and miraculously brings healing through true sight – the gospel of redemption. The work of God after Genesis 3 therefore is a work of redemption and salvation. Jesus in John’s gospel goes to the cross to do the work of redemption. So in v. 4, as long as it is day, we must join in God’s work! To help in bringing healing and redemption to God’s world!

So, the good works (Ephesians 2:10) is joining in GOD’S work which not implicitly, but directly proclaims the gospel which glorifies His name to His good pleasure (Philipians 2:13)! To help in bringing healing and redemption to God’s world!

Two Types of Work

Therefore, we have two types of work: the work to live (temporarily in this fallen world, post Adamic-exile where he banished to the east), and then there is God’s work, which we join, to bringing about redemption. However, can we blend these two together? After all, we work to live, and not live to work!

And similarly, Paul expresses that our labour/work IN THE LORD that is not in vain – that when Christ calls his disciples/fishermen, he stops them and calls them away from their profession. Same with Paul himself, in Acts 18, we learn that he earns his own living through tent-making, but that is not the identity which he carries. No, he does that tent-making work, so that he can do God’s work! God’s work in that work is possible, but that work is merely a stepping stone, a launching pad so he can do God’s work! Therefore, he does that work in mind of the bigger picture of God’s work in redemption.

This is why what job you do or what you choose to do (whether full-time Christian work or not) isn’t the big issue – if you can be a stunningly effective-gospel preacher as a policeman (witnessing to many) but being a compromising pastor, then the former is much more pleasing to God’s work of redemption. Thus, we are missionaries wherever we go, whether we are in the law firm, in the hospital, in the office, on the field. This therefore makes sense of Colossians 3:23, which has been so poorly misused – Colossians 3:23 describes how our work is to partake in GOD’s work. Thus, we work so we can be about God’s work, and we must never confuse the two – since working hard at being a lawyer and doctor and teacher has nothing to do (except to send mentally and physically healthier people to hell) with the clarity of redemption through the gospel of Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. Or, that we do work that provides us with enough flexibility to spread the gospel – indeed, our work must be related to the gospel. Are we providing our finances to God’s work? Are we providing our time to God’s work? Are we providing our work to God’s work? If not, then you have turned your work into works-salvation, a matter that is not edifying but only an emulation of Adam’s fallible choice in Genesis 3 to not keep or serve, but to reject the gift of the covenant of grace.

Genesis 2:15 – Salvation by works or faith alone?

Genesis 2:4-14 – The Four Rivers

There is some updated content (check below) – updated on 24-6-2008

So now chapter 2 of Genesis continues to describe the sixth day of creation in detail.

v. 4-9: Some particular things to note – we have here the man of “dust”, who had the breath of life by God’s breath/ruah, who was contending in man, which is merely flesh (Genesis 6:3). The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, where he “put” the man whom he had formed. I’ve spoken of this significance of Adam being made from dust outside of Eden, then to be placed in this garden of God (Ezekiel 28:13). There is no indication that Adam, had he not taken the fruit from the tree of good and evil, would then live on forever. No. Adam had a fleshly body even before his fall, and God here states that the Spirit cannot strive in man to maintain physical longevity, for we are only dust, and have not a newly created heavenly body. Regardless of Adam’s sin, the only way Adam could live ‘forever’ is by taking the fruit from the tree of life. So we are introduced to the two trees (amongst others which were pleasant to the sight and good for food), but more commentary on them come Genesis 3.

Another thing to note… is the mist/spring which was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground – a far cry from the post-Noahic period, and the anticipation of the global flood as preached on Day 2 and 5.

Before going on to the four rivers, I cannot help but note the self-sustaining nature of the garden of God at this point. Was there any necessity to introduce an outside source, Adam, into the garden? Yet, when Adam was created, God had to make special ‘concessions’ as it were for him – from creating beast-helpers (v.19), to creating woman, suitably made from Adam, to be suitable for Adam (v. 21-25). More on this come the next post on 2:21-25, and the significance of the woman being cut from her head, the man.

Four Rivers

Now a lot of people of geological, historical, geographical, scientific backgrounds will aim to deduce Eden’s location. This may ease the hearts of some, but I think we are missing on some pretty important theological significances that God is trying to tell us. Sure, we can try and deduce Eden’s location, but how does that edify God? Sure, we can bring the gospel back to Jerusalem, but God called us to preach to all nations without bias, rather than simply bring the gospel back to the Israelites? Have we fallen so hard as to forget that the physical Israel is not the saved nation, or the physical Eden, physical rivers themselves are not a source of blessing, a location to reach, an object or knowledge to possess in exclusivity? Why are we so obsessed with the physical, when there is so much more to be explained in the spiritual?

So while I concede there are many who obsess with the physics, I think the meaning of the Hebrew is equally if not more important for two reasons; firstly of course the meaning tends to reveal something of the place/person; and secondly, for biblical geographical locations, more than often what we now know can be very different from the geography of the world pre-flood:

Therefore one must not imagine that the source of these rivers is the same today as it was at that time; but the situation is the same today as in the case of the earth, which now exists and brings forth trees, herbs, etc. If you compare these with the uncorrupted creation, they are like wretched remnants of that wealth which the earth had when it was created. Thus these rivers remain like ruins, but, to be sure, not in the same place; much less do they have the same sources. – Luther on the four rivers in his lectures on Genesis

I compiled a table to quickly look @ some important meanings of the four rivers and where else they pop up in Scripture:

Rivers

Hebrew meaning

Other references in Scripture

Pishon

Associated with “the land of Havilah”. If this latter name is Hebrew, it means “sandy land”. The word “Pison” means “increase”. However the word is derived from a more fundamental root word which means “to spring about, to frisk, to be scattered, be spread, or figuratively to act proudly”. Thus we get an image of a river that spreads into a wide river or delta. It is from this idea of spreading, comes the figurative meaning. From spreading we get broad minded, cosmopolitan or sophisticated, and from thence, pride. Thus figuratively this river could mean pride, while literally we get a picture of a broad delta or river plain.

None other than Genesis 2

Gihon

The stem g-y-h means “to gush forth”. We get an idea of a river that flooded its banks, perhaps often and perhaps violently. The word that is translated in the king James Bible as Ethiopia is Cush. Cush was a grand son of Noah and his name means black, so it would seem likely that he was dark skinned. His descendants lived in Africa and the lands they lives in are referred to a Cush. Thus it is possible that this river is the Nile.

Gen 2:13; 1 King 1:33; 1 Kings 1:38; 1 Kings 1:45; 2 Chronicles 32:30; 2 Chronicles 33:14

Hiddekel

This river “flows east of Asshur” and generally identified as Tigris River. This is probably a foreign word that has been adopted into Hebrew, but it is known to mean “rapid, quick or sudden”. Thus we have an image of a fast flowing river.

Gen 2:14; Daniel 10:4

Perat

Generally associated with Euphrates – meaning “Fruitfulness”, we get a picture of a river that brings increase, or prosperity or possibly a river that floods periodically, either with the spring run off from the mountains or the winter rains. This flooding most likely would bring fertile silt down the river and provide a rich soil for crops within its flood plains. However this word is derived from a word meaning to break forth (not the same word as mentioned for the Gihon) or break out, but often with destructive consequences or results. Thus figuratively the Hebrew name for this river could be destruction.

Gen 2:14; 15:18; 31:21; 36:37; Ex 23:31; Deut 1:7; Josh 1:4; 24:2; 2 Samuel 8:3; 10:16; 1 Kings 4:21; 4:24; 14:15; 2 Kings 23:29; 24:7; 1 Chron 1:48; 5:9; 18:3; 19:16; 2 Chron 9:26; 35:20; Isaiah 27:12; Jeremiah 2:18; 13:4-7; 46:2-10; 51:63; Revelation 9:14; 16:12

The disappearance of the river Pison is of some significance – just as the Edomites were utterly destroyed by God (Obadiah), this river which represents ‘pride which increases’ (not so different from Lucifer’s pride c.f. Ezekiel 28 ) was not mentioned again throughout Scripture. Some have theorized that the Noahic flood enabled this disappearance as the river was absorbed into the waters of judgment. Perhaps this, again, is a divine implication and prophecy of God’s judgment on the proud? Although, like the other rivers, the exact geographical location of the rivers are not concretely proven, I think the real significance lies in the absolute silent treatment which the river deserved, concerning the negative symbolism offered by its Hebraic definition.

Gihon, on the other hand, is of positive significance – three in particular I wish to focus on. David’s son was anointed as king there (1 Kings 1:45) and numerous amounts of victorious works (in relation to Hezekiah and the Fish Gate) also occurred in close proximity (2 Chronicles 32:30 and 33:14). Thirdly, Gihon is also the name of the only natural spring of water in the vicinity of Jerusalem as it feeds the Pool of Siloam (John 9:7 – “Jesus answered:… “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he [the blind man] went and washed and came back seeing. This significance is particularly fitting, if Gishon is to be seen as a river symbolizing healing and anointing, in the Ethiopian regions of Cush – and I can’t help but be reminded of the Israel-Gentile marital relationship between Zipporah the Cushite and Moses, and the Israel-Gentile political relationship between the Queen of Ethiopia and Solomon, the theological and spiritual unity of the Gentiles and the Israelites which God had always intended to become the global international church.

Then we had Hiddekel (Tigris) which appears once again during Daniel’s prophecy. I can only understand that Hiddekel, meaning “rapid, quick or sudden” can relate to the spontaneity of Daniel’s prophecies? Or is something else at work? “Asshur” = Assyria – and we know what God thinks of the Ninevites and other people of Asshur (Isaiah 10:5). Perhaps “rapid, quick or suddenjudgment on these lands? After all, Daniel was in Babylonian captivity. Furthermore, “east” is a terminology often used in the Bible to connote dispersion from communion with God, much like Adam and Eve’s banishment to the east of Eden. Thus, Hiddekel seems to connote a sense of punishment in the physical lands not of Israel, representing the spiritual fallenness of all those not in Christ.

Finally, we have the river Perat, also known as Euphrates – and how aptly this river is named! This river in Assyria (2 Kings 23:29 – death of Josiah at Euphrates; Jeremiah 2:18; 51:63 – why drink from the waters of Euphrates?) has some significance in Jeremiah 51:63 and Revelations 9:14; 16:12:

When you finish reading this book, tie a stone to it and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates, and say, ‘Thus shall Babylon sink, to rise no more, because of the disaster that I am bringing upon her, and they shall become exhausted” – Jeremiah 51:63

Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind” – Revelations 9:13-15

The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east” (this bowl being one of the seven bowls of the wrath of God Rev 16:1) – Revelations 16:12

Can we deny the negative connotation of the ‘great’ river Euphrates? The descriptive remark is almost ironic. What surprise therefore to see that Perat signifies destruction.

So what are these four rivers doing in Eden? Again, it is a source of witness – a witness to God’s plan that his creation is good, but not perfect. He awaits the choice of man, just as the two trees provide that doctrine of choice, and His subsequent judgment on those who choose to stand by the rivers Pison, Hiddekel, and especially Perat – and those who choose to be washed by the waters of Gihon, which undoubtedly prophesy to the true river of the water of life (Revelations 22:1) in new Jerusalem. Matthew Henry puts it in this way:

The rivers with which this garden was watered, v. 10-14. These four rivers (or one river branched into four streams) contributed much both to the pleasantness and the fruitfulness of this garden. The land of Sodom is said to be well watered every where, as the garden of the Lord, ch. xiii. 10. Observe, That which God plants he will take care to keep watered. The trees of righteousness are set by the rivers, Ps. i. 3. In the heavenly paradise there is a river infinitely surpassing these; for it is a river of the water of life, not coming out of Eden, as this, but proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb (Rev. xxii. 1), a river that makes glad the city of our God, Ps. xlvi. 4. Hiddekel and Euphrates are rivers of Babylon, which we read of elsewhere. By these the captive Jews sat down and wept, when they remembered Sion (Ps. cxxxvii. 1); but methinks they had much more reason to weep (and so have we) at the remembrance of Eden. Adam’s paradise was their prison; such wretched work has sin made. Of the land of Havilah it is said (v. 12), The gold of that land is good, and there is bdellium and the onyx-stone: surely this is mentioned that the wealth of which the land of Havilah boasted might be as foil to that which was the glory of the land of Eden. Havilah had gold, and spices, and precious stones; but Eden had that which was infinitely better, the tree of life, and communion with God. So we may say of the Africans and Indians: “They have the gold, but we have the gospel. The gold of their land is good, but the riches of ours are infinitely better.”

Gathering my thoughts (24-6-2008 )

Prior to this update, I had thought that the four rivers represented four choices. But I want to develop on that. Firstly, I failed to ask – how and why are four rivers coming out from Eden (Genesis 2:10 – a river flowed from Eden)? Surely that is physically impossible if Eden is at the bottom of a hill, or on flat land – unless we take into account Ezekiel 28.

In Ezekiel 28 we see that the king of Tyre is spoken of as representative of Satan himself. In v. 13 He says that Satan was in Eden, the garden of God. Then, in v.14, God says he was on the holy mountain of God. Again, this is reinforced in v.16 (“so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God”).

Unless God is speaking of two separate locations, there is another title for the garden of God, the garden of Eden. Within Scripture, the garden, as revealed in Ezekiel 28, is also the holy mountain of God.

Why I’m looking at the contours of the area of Eden is quite important, because it reveals why there is so much focus on the holy hill spoken of throughout Scripture, especially throughout the Psalms. Even Mt. Sinai, the mountain of God, pales in comparison to the true holy mountain of God, which was Eden, a place called Paradise. Yes, Moses going up Mt. Sinai, the mountain of God, is meant to prophesy to Jesus’ going up to the true mountain of God, Eden. This of course is a picture of ascension, of the rapture of us being taken up to God.

Let’s look at two pieces of Scripture to support that point. Psalm 15 and Isaiah 2:2

Psalm 15:

1O LORD,(A) who shall sojourn in your(B) tent?
Who shall dwell on your(C) holy hill?

2He who(D) walks blamelessly and(E) does what is right
and(F) speaks truth in his heart;
3who(G) does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor(H) takes up a reproach against his friend;
4(I) in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the LORD;
who(J) swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5who(K) does not put out his money at interest
and(L) does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be(M) moved.

Isaiah 2:2-3:

2(A) It shall come to pass in the latter days
that(B) the mountain of the house of the LORD
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and(C) all the nations shall flow to it,
3and(D) many peoples shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For(E) out of Zion shall go the law,[a]
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

The thing about Psalm 15 is that it firstly speaks of the tent, which I think should be rendered as the tabernacle; and secondly, the question about who should dwell on the holy hill. The holy hill is in fact a reference to the holy mountain of God, as the word hill and mountain is used interchangeably throughout Scripture. One should not limit the semantic range just because the word ‘mountain’ is used. Psalm 15 is within the 1st book of the Psalms which refers to the events in Genesis; and this most definitely refers to the only holy hill referred to in Genesis, which is the mountain of God on which was the Edenic garden, the mount delight. However, Mount Eden is now seen as Mount Zion (meaning drought) – from Mount Delight to Mount Drought – as a result of Genesis 3, human sin. Eden was no longer a source of delight; rather, it is now similar to drought, because of the utter difficulty of reaching there, and the painful memories of Adam’s sin.

This is why there is the whole issue of who can dwell on the holy hill. Because man has been banished from the holy hill, once delightful. No one can even go up there anymore – the cherubim and the flaming sword are perfect reminders. The one who sojourns in the tabernacle knows that too – just take a look at the veil between the holy place and the Holy of Holies – there also is a picture of the cherubim, acting as protection for us from the holy hill.

Of course, the one who can dwell on the holy hill and sojourn in the Holy of Holies is Christ himself.

This should therefore shed light on the passage in Isaiah. On this mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established the highest of the mountains, and lifted above the hills. “All the nations shall flow to it” and “many peoples shall come”, saying “let us go up the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob”. For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem (because the tent, the tabernacle was moved there by David in 2 Samuel 6).


How does this relate to the four rivers?

Well, first we established that Eden is on a hill, on the holy mountain of God. So the rivers are flowing down from the hill. Then, in Psalm 15, the musician is singing of the only one who can go up that hill and dwell in the Holy of Holies – Jesus Christ himself. But then in Isaiah 2:2, the nations proclaim that they too can go up that holy hill. How? Of course, only in Christ can they go up that hill! Only by the Redeemer, the Sent One, the Mediator, can they even go up that hill!

But first, out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem, where the tabernacle/tent was located. Now this is extremely important – because it is a direct reflection of what the rivers represented. The rivers are merely a mock-up of the true river in Revelation 22 – the river of life where only the Tree of Life will stand with leaves for the healing of the nations. Here, in Isaiah 2:2, the nations will go up the holy hill in their rapture, to reach the river of life, true communion with the Trinity where the Tree of Life will have leaves which will heal them. So the river, the water of life (Psalm 1), must go out of Zion first. The law itself is embedded in this river spiritually speaking; but so is the gospel. This probably explains why each river has a different representation and has resulted in a variety of events occurring nearby.

This is very similar to what happened when the law went out of Zion. Some received it and repented (Nineveh); some rejected it (Babylon/Egypt); some accepted it (some Gentiles and Jews in the NT; and the remnant of Israel in Daniel). Because the law in itself is not sin, what it does is that it produces the conviction of sin, whereby the expected response is turning to Jesus Christ. However, not all turn to Christ, and some have resorted to works-righteousness, like the Pharisees and Sadducees. Let the rivers be a timely reminder that we must look to the true waters of life in Jesus Christ, so that we can ascend the holy hill in Him who went through the cherubim with flaming swords, to reside in the tent, the Holy of Holies!  Ultimately, we look forward to the day when the “earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea!” (Isaiah 11:9; Habbakuk 2:14).

Genesis 2:4-14 – The Four Rivers

Genesis 2:1-3 – Day Seven – the Sabbath

Let’s take a look @ Genesis 2:1-3

v.1-3: Day seven – a day representing (temporary) completion. God blessed this day specifically, in contrast to day 1-6. The Sabbath is especially important, and it is blessed because God rested from all his work. The theme in Hebrews 3 and 4 follows after this ‘rest’, a new creation which we strive for – the permanent Sabbath in the new heavenly and earthly kingdom. In John 5 we see the Father giving works to Christ for the sake of new creation.

Sabbath

Like the 7th Day Adventists, the Sabbath obsession of legalistic Pharisaism, it is easy for us to fall into the trap of somehow specifically setting aside one day for God (let alone argue over setting aside a “Saturday” or a “Sunday” for God) and that the other six days are days of secular labour. No — all days belong to God, all of our life belongs to God, all our works come from God (Colossians 3:23). Without diving too deep into the whole ‘good works/Godly works’ vs ‘the curse of work’ post-curse in Genesis 3 (to which I will come to in the next post), let us look firstly at why God specifically blessed day seven and the implications it has for man, who was created on day 6, simply to be whisked away to the Garden for rest on his very first day after his birth?

Exodus 16:23:

“This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.'”

Exodus 16:26:

Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.”

Exodus 20:10:

the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.

Exodus 31:13-16:

“You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you. You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever.

Deuteronomy 5:14:

…the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.

Nehemiah 13:15-17:

In those days I saw in Judah people treading winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in heaps of grain and loading them on donkeys, and also wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of loads, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them on the day when they sold food. Tyrians also, who lived in the city, brought in fish and all kinds of goods and sold them on the Sabbath to the people of Judah, in Jerusalem itself! Then I confronted the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day?

Ezekiel 20:12:

Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them.

Matthew 12:8:

For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.

John 5:18:

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Colossians 2:16:

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.

In the verses above, the holy Sabbath is treated with the absolute obedience it deserves. Why does one day of the week deserve such significance? Because it is a shadow that preaches the truth of perfection, which the six days thus far only preached in part. The goodness that is awaiting fulfillment – for the Sabbath was made for man, not man for Sabbath – this Sabbath which is a sign for all generations of all times of the covenant between Adam (men) and God – the covenant of grace.

Following this, can we exegetes get anything more out of the number 7, which seems to occur so often in Scripture as well, often connected with the Sabbath?

Significance of the number ‘7’

Lest we become secular numerologists, we should know that our Lord, who is Lord of everything, our Logos, who is the -logy of everything, would have unsurprisingly invoked much symbolism carried behind every number used consistently throughout the Bible – from Satan’s mockery of the Trinity with his 666 (6 being the day man was created, thus 666 as a ‘created’ version of the false Satanic Trinity as opposed to the uncreated Holy Trinity aptly 777) to Jewish gematria. E.M. Bullinger in his “Number in Scripture” has this to say on the number seven:

“We come now to the great number of spiritual perfection. A number which, therefore, occupies so large a place in the works, and especially in the Word of God as being inspired by the Holy Spirit. In the first part of this book we have enlarged somewhat on the importance of this number in Nature and in Grace, so that we need not here repeat many of the interesting facts already given. As a number the actual word and number “SEVEN” is used as no other number is. Seven and its compound occur in multiples of seven in the Old Testament… It is, however, when we come to consider its significance that the true glories of its spiritual perfection as revealed. We have just seen that six is the number which is stamped upon all things human, as being emphatically the number of man.”

In the same chapter he goes on to describe quickly:

“In the Creation we have the six days and the seven. The six of labour and the seventh of rest.”

Then, in considering the chiasm consistent throughout the Hebraic Scripture in Psalm 8:6-8; Isaiah 11:2; Joel 2:28-29; and Romans 9:4 – all of which show the pattern of an umbrella exclamation (in Psalm 8:6-8 ) “Thou hast put all things under his feet” (followed by 6 things); (in Isaiah 11:2) “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him” (followed by six explanations of this Spirit of the Lord); (in Joel 2:28-29) “I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh;” (followed by six types of flesh); (in Romans 9:4) “Who are the Israelites;” (followed by six descriptions of the Israelites). All 7 verses in which 6 are used for explanation – not very much unlike the 6 days of labour used to explain and look forward to day seven the Sabbath day of rest.

Side note:  Bullinger then also looks @ the pattern of the Golden Candlestick, of the six branches out of one central stem, making seven in all…

More importantly, Bullinger especially dissects the Hebrew of the word ‘Seven’:

“In the Hebrew, seven is shevah. It is from the root savah, to be full or satisfied, have enough of. Hence the meaning of the word ‘seven’ is dominated by this root, for on the seventh day God rested from the work of Creation. It was full and complete, and good and perfect. Nothing could be added to it or taken from it without marring it. Hence the word Shavath, to cease, desist, rest, and Shabbath, Sabbath, or day of rest. This root runs through various languages; e.g., Sanscrit, saptan; Zend., hapta; Greek, hepta; Latin, septem. All these preserve the ‘t’, which in the Semitic and Teutonic languages is dropped out; e.g. Gothic, sibun; Germ., sieben; Eng., seven.

It is seven, therefore, that stamps with perfection and completeness that in connection with which it is used. Of time, it tells of the Sabbath, and marks off the week of seventh days, which artificial as it may seem to be, is universal and immemorial in its observance amongst all nations and in all times. It tells of that eternal Sabbath-keeping which remains for the people of God in all its everlasting perfection.

Another meaning of the root Shavagh is to swear, or make an oath. It is clear from its first occurence in Genesis 21:31, “They sware both of them,” that this oath was based upon the “seven ewe lambs” (vv. 28, 29, 30), which point to the idea of satisfaction or fulness in an oath. It is security, satisfaction, and fulness of the obligation, or completeness of the bond, which caused the same word to be used for both the number seven and an oath; and hence it is written, “an oath for confirmation is an end of all strife,” Beer-sheba, the well of the oath, is the standing witness of the spiritual perfection of the number seven.”

In the creative works of God, seven completes the colours of the spectrum and rainbow, and satisfies in music the notes of the scale. In each of these the eighth is only a repetition of the first.

Thus makes sense of the Sabbath year and Jubilee in Leviticus 25/27: 7 years, and 7 x 7 years – 50th year = Jubilee year – with characteristics akin to the Sabbath – Leviticus 25:11-12:

That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy to you. You may eat the produce of the field.

So after the Sabbath day, the day of perfection and fulfillment, was Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath, resurrected and preparing for his ascension 40 days later and then return to his Father’s right hand. This very Sabbath, which is merely a shadow of the eternal rest which God is working towards on our behalf, until the finalities of his creations on the Day of resurrection when all creation is destroyed and also resurrected into new life, new heaven, new earth – not mere goodness but perfection as I emphasised in the previous post. The day itself is not important, the number itself is not important – the Israelites have given their 7th day as a shadow of fulfillment, and Christ has fulfilled all. Christ IS our Sabbath. He IS our eternal rest. David understood that truth when he ate the bread of presence which under the law he was forbidden to eat – that is because he saw through the legalism of Sabbath-idolaters, of Pharisaic worshippers, and knew that the true Bread of Life is Christ himself, that Christ himself is the Lord of Sabbath. Like the tabernacles and temples of yesteryear which were destroyed and rebuilt, an unending eternal Temple awaits; like the observations of the moons, suns and stars which in themselves provide only a fraction of God’s true glory and themselves will also be destroyed, so also the shadow of the Sabbath day will be destroyed only to be replaced by the truth of the eternal Day of rest.

Genesis 2:1-3 – Day Seven – the Sabbath

Genesis 1:9-13; 24-31 – Day 3 & 6 – Born Again

And so we reach Day 3 and 6!!!

If you’ve been following the previous entries, the framework is Day 1-3 (formation), Day 4-6 (filling). And of course, the last entry I’ve hinted that Day 1, 2 and 3 have some significance we shouldn’t overlook, and we’ve been dealing with the doctrine of choice. If Day 1= incarnation, Day 2 = death, then surely Day 3 must be of some significance (and that Day 6 will fill in on that significance, notably, the day that man was made, though I will look at the image of God specifically in the next entry).

Genesis 1:9-13 –

“And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth (or Land, ESV footnote), and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants (or small plants, ESV footnote) yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, day three.”

Genesis 1:24-31 –

“And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds – livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make man (Adam, the generic term for mankind in Hebrew) in our image; after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on earth.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply & fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to very beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, day six.”

Now, I’ve been hinting on the theology of the separation of waters, the sea, the river of life (Psalm 1), but what of the theology of the land, the plants, the earth? So on the third day we see the waters retreat to a place called the ‘Seas’ (nothing like the ‘seas’ as we see it today), so that it is in no way a threat to the land (Jeremiah 5:22). What is this in preparation of? The grass and herbage, the seed-bearing plants, the fruit & seeded (trees) – and everything according to its kind. Yet, none of these things have sun-light, and only the Light shining which is separated from darkness. How were these grass and herbage, the seed-bearing plants, the fruit & seeded (treets) to give new life?

Let’s look @ John 12:24 and 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 – for we had borne the image of man in dust, and will bear the image of man in glory. Who is this image of man in glory? Who is the glorious righteous man? Who is the blessed one? Christ (Psalm 1). Yet, there were different seeds, trees, herbage, each according to its kind – what fruit are we to bear? What tree are we to be part of? (Genesis 2:16-17; Leviticus 26:4; Deuteronomy 21:22; Judges 9:7-15; Matthew 3/7/12; Romans 11; Galatians 5; 1 Peter 2:24). Palm, broom, green, fig, balsam, cedar, tamarisk, olive, poplar, almond, plane, sycamore, lotus, laurel, fir, apple, fruit, cypress, dry, leafy, myrtle, wild, cultivated…tree of lebanon, tree of good and evil, tree of life. What are these but a display of the variety of which the Trinity accepts, and that all these trees must go through the cycle of death to have life, through the markings of the sun and moon and stars and seasons (Day 4, in cultivation of the seed sown on Day 3). It is a choice which we make, the inevitability of death that comes to every tree… yet which tree do we wish to be grafted into? Rebirth is absolutely necessary, and God laid down that formation, that framework, long before man was made. This is a peeking into the mind of the Trinity before creation, the preparation for a bride for Christ.

Day 6

Now we have (1) livestock (e.g. cattle), (2) creeping things, and (3) beasts of the earth (wild beast). In Jonah, we see that the beasts also repented; in Leviticus 11 we see a differentiation between clean and unclean animals, split hooves (being clean) and what their feet look like and the way they eat. These beasts which touched the earth, was like Christ in Psalm 8, made lower than angels like man. Do what we eat make us unclean? Of course not. Then what theology do we have of the unclean and clean animal? What can the creation on Day 6 witness to the creation on Day 3?

And these beasts were to be (1) fruitful, to (2) multiply, to (3) fill the earth. But man has to subdue them… and all of this is done in preparation of everything for the Lord.

Man

Note: Let “us” make man – this occurs again at the Tower of Babel when the Trinity goes down to confuse man’s understanding of one another. Is this an indication of the one yet many Elohim, the Trinity? Or JW’s explanation that whenever God speaks in plurality, he is referring to himself and angels? It is of course easy for us to explain it with angels… because that so conveniently fits the progressive revelatory view of the Trinity being preached without clarity until the NT saints. Why is it so hard to accept that the Trinity is preached here? As Dev states, why not assume Christ is in everything unless proven otherwise? Why start with extra-biblical non-Christological views as presupposition, rather than Christ our logos as the first assumption?

v. 27 – “he created them” — a contradiction? No… God created ‘them’ was an accurate way of speaking, even before the creation of Eve – for Eve was not made of the dust outside of Eden, but made and cut from her head, Adam, just as Levi had paid his tithes to Melchizedek when he was in Abraham’s loins (Heb 7:9). So Paul exegetically uses the same Christian logic in explanation of Adam’s sin being carried down to his descendants – it is not a question of nature vs. nurture even. That is a secular argument. It’s not that simple. It’s not that we ‘copied’ Adam from a clean slate @ birth, or that we inherit little bits of Adam further down the lineal line — we were actually IN Adam, all of us, and that when he sinned, we also sinned; even before the Mosaic law was given, when all the saints from Adam to Moses were supposedly without the law, they still died (Romans 5). For what other way can we then be grafted into the tree of life; that we are sinners because we were IN Adam, that we are righteous because we are IN Christ.

And what of the first Adam made to rule over earth, but a witness and a prophecy to the second Adam ruling over everything (Psalm 2:7-8)? How can there be two rulers? Of course not… Adam was merely a shadow and type; Christ was the truth and always has been and will be.

Image of God

This topic is not without its variety of interpretations. I will lend my small views – is the image of God a physical trait? Is it a character trait? Adam (man), who were without the Spirit, were then given the ruah of God… is it therefore both physical (dust) and character (Spirit) traits? Is it a matter of transfiguration then? Is it an anthropomorphic fare? WE look like the pre-incarnate God, the image is both male and female. It is not a far stretch to realise how the church, the bride of Christ, is the very image of God; that marriage, is a picture of this image of God. Can angels also be images of God? Unlikely… Christ did not die for angels, the genderless angels who won’t share in the eternal kingdom in the same manner.

Ephesians 5 states that Christ’s love for the church and the church’s submission to Christ is the truth which marriage points to. It is no surprise that man, the image of God, clothes the church, the bride of Christ in her wedding clothes in sanctification and preparation for the great Wedding feast, enveloping the woman to also be in the image of God. Of what surprise to then see that woman is also the image of God, yet also be called into the race of “Adam”? Is woman also in the image of God? Yes… only because she was cut from Adam, and destined to be with Adam. Is “Adam” also in the image of God? Yes… only because they were cut from Christ, and predestined to be with Christ (Ephesians 1). If Adam is to father his son Seth in his own likeness (Genesis 5), so also the Spirit will sanctify us into His (Christ)’s likeness. Will every person in the world ultimately choose Christ? A quote from one of All Souls Clubhouse’s talk (taken from You are the Christ blog):

Very many Christians argue that we should love someone because they are special,
i.e. they are walking image-bearers, thus they deserve respect and honour and love
He then continued to say this is a whole bunch of nonsense,
since at the fall, the image of God was utterly destroyed

The illustration he used was this:
Like an old Victorian house which they’ve kept the front or façade of it
but they have demolished everything within it for renovation,
so once you look past the shell, it is only dust and destruction

That seems to be a good analogy of what remains of the ‘Imago Dei’
All was lost at the fall, with only a shell remaining,
That image, that likeness corrupted, ruined, devastated by sin

Thus only in Christ is that image remade new, rebuilt,
that Victorian house is renovated with a stunning new interior,
and in fact we wait for the exterior to be destroyed and rebuilt as well
An unbeliever is like a thing that does not exist
broken pots waiting to be smashed
A shadow, destroyed by the sun
A nightmare, vanishing with like a dream
Whereas those in Christ are clay jars that hold burning torches within,
also waiting, except we long, groan for the day of revelation

Why then do we love our neighbour?
Not for anything that they are,
but rather for Who Christ is,
and what Christ has done for us on the cross,
We love because God loved us first…
We forgive others because our debts are forgiven
We honour others, because all authority is given to us by Christ
We are patient with others, because of the Father’s patience
We are generous with others, because He will supply all our needs
We are kind with others, because He showed pity on us
We suffer and bear others, because He suffered so that by the grace of God, none of us need taste death.

v. 29-30 – So man’s food is every herbage and every tree with seed – why do we have to eat things with seed in it? Genesis 3:15 – because we ultimately will feed and drink from that Seed and water which will cause us no more thirst or hunger.

Naturally we can see the link between the seed, the fruit, the new life which must come necessarily from death first, that everything which God created was good – but not perfected until the High Priest ascended into the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 9). So also, Adam made his choice which man had to go through – to die first, before gaining new life and getting caught in the rapture of the Day. But it is a choice we make: what kind of tree will we partake in? Will we also be nailed on the tree with Christ and die a physical first death, just to be reborn to be caught up into the Holy of Holies? Will we regain the true image of God, not the image of man in dust, but the image of man in glory of heavenly bodies? For indeed, the world was made good – but yet to be perfected.

John 10:17 – “The reason the Father loves me is that I lay down my life only to take it up again.”

So also, the death of the Seed will be taken up into a tree of life; the death of us will be taken up into a body of Christ; and the death of Christ will be taken up to be at the right hand of the Father where he belonged all along. Did Christ only take his place at the Father’s right hand after his death on the cross followed by his ascension? No – everything was accomplished before creation even began; and Day 3 and 6 were merely shadows and copies of what the Trinity had already established before creation. Creation was merely a theatre of his glory, visible through the death of seeds, trees, men and Christ – and proclaimed and shouted on the cross and on Ascension day. But the Son garnered the Father’s love when he laid down his life and took it up again… an indication that Christ had not only done this once but had done this already in the past, for the Father did not cease loving him pre or post-incarnation as the Messiah.

And we are still left with the doctrine of choice – just as Esau rejected his destiny to stand by Jacob’s side, so the Benjamites reverted their curse to rejoice in theirs by putting their faith in Christ. God did not elect some to be saved and some to be reprobate: he gave all of us a choice, a choice displayed through these days of creation. Will we choose the dry land, the inevitable death of seed and beasts, which will be reborn in a state of glory and not mere goodness but perfection? Or will we choose the seemingly peaceful waters, without foreseeing the heavenly waters crashing down on us ending not only in first but second death in the impending lake of fire? Are we Rahab, or are we the hardened Pharoah?

Nay, we are preaching something very simple. We were made to be in the true image of God – Christ, the Light incarnate of day one, whose death was preached on day two.
But if we reject the doctrine of resurrection preached by Day 3 and Day 6, then we, like all the unsaved men, will be stuck on Day 2 and 5… and will never see the glory of the blessed Day 7, the eternal Sabbath, the glorious unending Jubilee.

Genesis 1:9-13; 24-31 – Day 3 & 6 – Born Again

Genesis 1:6-8; 20-23: Day 2 & 5 – Father, father, why have you forsaken me?

We now turn to Day 2 and 5.

Now a big mistake most Christians make is use sweeping statements such as classifying the entire days of creation as “good” (a mistake I’ve made many times) when God does not state a “day” itself being good except for the Sabbath day seven. It is the ‘events’, the formations and fillings themselves which God describes as either good, or God says nothing at all.

In day one, God declares only one thing good – “light”. We have already examined the significance of light over darkness for the overview on 1:3-5;14-19.

What of day two? Are there any things which God declares as specifically good? What is the distinction between God declaring specific things as good as opposed to his entire creation as good? Is God trying to convey some special focus on something when he specifically says that thing is good? Genesis 1:6-8:

“And God said, “Let there be an expanse (a canopy in the ESV footnote) in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven (or Sky, ESV footnote). And there was evening and there was morning, the second day (day two)”.

If an illustration may help:

3rd Heavens (God) – (this may be slightly deceiving, because the 3rd heavens may be closer than we think (Acts 1:6-11). God’s construct of the universe is definitely a far cry from anything that modern science can even perceive.)

—————

WATER (cosmic; above the earthly Sky)

—————

EXPANSE (heavenly/Sky canopy)

—————

WATER (on earth) – note, the water hasn’t been gathered together into one place yet (Gen 1:9) – not until day 3.

And day 5, Genesis 1:20-23:

“And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds (or flying things, ESV footnote) fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

Day 2

And so also, we now move to Day 2 whereupon God is silent, except to form the separation of waters, to be filled with the water creatures on Day 5. Why this silence? In the previous entry I’ve looked at the pattern of Day 4 to 6 filling in the formation of Day 1 to 3; that the things in Day 4 – 6 merely witness to the things on Day 1 – 3. This helped us establish the witnessing of the lights, the sun/moon/stars/fire/lightning and the different functions they have in displaying the Christian gospel. Day 1 is a day of God incarnate as Christ entering the world of darkness as the light of the world, and we already established how the entrance of light into the world, yet separated from darkness, is in itself a declaration of Christ’s incarnation and hidden glory – but more still needs to be said by the following days to complete the gospel picture.

If Day 1 is true Light of lights incarnate, what does Day 2 preach? And for the matter what does Day 3 preach? What specifically does Day 1 to 3 preach that Day 4 to 6 witness to? If we can accept that Day 1 is Christ’s incarnation as Messiah, and that Day 2 is separation of waters, waters above the heavens and waters on earth, and that nothing is declared good, then God is silent for a very good reason. This will then help us understand the teaching of Day 3 which Day 6 witnesses to.

Expanse of Waters

Couple of verses for us to look at concerning separation of waters.

Baptism through Noah’s ark (1 Peter 3:18-22)

The separation of waters at the Red Sea and river Jordan (Exodus 14:21-31; Josh 3:10-17)

Peter’s view of the ark (2 Peter 3:1-7)

The Cross (Matthew 24:36-39; 27:45-66)

It is notable that Noah’s ark, the presence of the Angel of the Lord (which later dwells in the tabernacle upon the ark of the covenant – both separating the waters at the Red Sea and the River Jordan), and of course the Messiah himself, the living presence and radiance of God – were all the subject of the global punishment prophesied through God’s separation of waters on earth and waters above the heavens. Indeed, the separation of waters, as Peter viewed in 2 Peter, is a prophecy of global punishment. The global flood in Noah’s time is a foretelling of the judgment of fire which disciplines Christians but destroys non-Christians; and that this presence of God through Noah’s ark, the Angel of the Lord, the ark of the covenant – were all methods through which God’s chosen would pass through the valley of death without being inflicted the punishment of second death. And what do the “three arks” have in common, except to prophesy to Christ’s mediation from the global punishment which all people deserve? In all three circumstances, it is concerning the safety of the people passing through the waters onto dry land. If Peter describes Noah’s ark as a baptism that saves us, “not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”, then no doubt the protection from water onto dry land is a prophetic image of Christ’s death on the cross, as Christ himself was separated from his Father. “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” the Saviour cried out with a loud voice, he who is also our heavenly canopy, stretched in the heavens as he was stretched on the Cross to withhold God’s wrathful judgment from crashing onto Christians and non-Christians alike. So also, Christ split the waters of judgment, shielding us through the global flood, so that we can pass onto dry land heading in the direction of the spiritual promised land. This dry land we will (unsurprisingly!) return to on Day 3.

It is also quite important to observe that new creation has no sea (Rev 21:1) – that new creation is dry land with the river of the water of life (Psalm 1). The river poses no such threat of global punishment, but it is definitely benevolent in comparison to the malevolent force of the crashing sea, the “wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame” (Jude 13). No doubt, God has placed “the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it” (Jeremiah 5:22). So what is this, but a choice for Christians to see that God has placed the gospel for us to choose – whether to arrive at the dry promised land safely, or to die in the global punishment symbolised by the sea?

Day 5

And what is Day 5 but a filling of the events of Day 2? The sea dragons, the leviathans, the whale, the beasts arising from the sea littered throughout Job 41, Isaiah 27, Jonah, Revelation are no mere poetry, but true representations of the threat of God’s global punishment and what Christians should understand about God’s creation of the sea. Indeed, God never gave the express approval of everything in his creation being good – but the framework of Day 1-7 was used to proclaim the gospel of Christ’s incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension. Is darkness itself good? No. Is the separation of waters good? Definitely not. But God used these imageries to portray a gospel truth, and by that means, the framework and tools which God used to proclaim the gospel justifies his creation being made in this particular order.

What of the fish (and the flying creatures, but let’s look @ the fish now) which were commanded to reproduce, to multiply and be fruitful, a command specifically given to man as well? Indeed, God drew the connection between the two creations himself! We are indeed as Christians entitled as fishers of men, to save these fish from the sea and bring them to dry land; so also Habbakuk 1:14-17 preaches that men are like mindless fish in the sea, wicked and having no rest. And what of Christ eating fish after his ascension (Luke 24:42)? Nothing less than a proclamation of judgment against men, for sea creatures do not partake in new creation in the same way as the other beasts as prophesied in Isaiah. For sea creatures were made for entirely different purposes from creatures on dry land.

And the birds? The different kinds of birds, the dove at Christ’s baptism, the eagles and ravens as symbols of judgment, the sparrows, many of which resemble angels as winged creatures – that they are witnesses to the angels also sent from the heavens. Yet there are also angels, cherubim and seraphim of many types (Hebrews 1), some for judgment and reaping on the Day; some for healing and solace (Matthew 28:2).

Indeed, these creatures in heaven witness to the unseen creatures in heaven, the angels; and these creatures in the sea witness to the seen creatures on earth, the unsaved men. The heavenly canopy foretells of Christ’s death on the cross, as a saving act in propitiation of God’s wrath through the global punishment of the water, prophesying to the global destruction by fire; and the eventual rebuilding and renewal of his entire creation soon after the sent one returns like a thief in the night.

So we see that Day 1 prophesies to Christ’s incarnation. What surprise therefore to see that Day 2 speaks of the silent treatment of God on Christ’s death, the pain that the Father will inevitably experience just to redeem us from eternal destruction?! Then Day 3 should be a day of rejoicing, as should every third day be, in the patterns of Scripture?

Day 1

Incarnation; Light entering, and separated from darkness

Day 2

Death; the heavenly canopy stretched to protect those from the global judgment

Day 3

You fill the gap. A day of rejoice?

Genesis 1:6-8; 20-23: Day 2 & 5 – Father, father, why have you forsaken me?