Genesis 18-20: Abraham, Lot, and God’s faithfulness

1.  The LORD who eats with us (Genesis 18:1-21)

2.  Sodom and Gomorrah:  Character study of Lot (Genesis 18:22 – Genesis 19:38 )

3.  Abraham and Abimelech (Genesis 20)

1.  The LORD who eats with us (Genesis 18:1-20)

Jesus appears to Abraham again by the oaks of Mamre.  This place is very symbolic – where Abraham had previously built an altar to the LORD (Genesis 13:18), and where Abraham found Amorite and other brethren against the kings and rulers (Genesis 14:13).  However, this time, it is a bit different.  Not only does Jesus appear to give him promises, but here we have the Anointed One, appearing with two other sent ones, to have a meal with Abraham!

Some find this incredulous, to the point of saying that these three men are either human or just mere angels (thus it isn’t God himself manifestly present in the face of Abraham).  But the reason people find this chapter fantastic, is because of the common misconception that God doesn’t tabernacle, or dwell with us.  Rather, God is a goal we reach, and he is untouchable.  Is that a Scriptural understanding?  Not the kind of God whom I know.  I, like Abraham, look forward to the day when I can also have a meal with the LORD, the same LORD who broke bread and shared wine with 12 apostles; the same LORD who had fish with his disciples after his resurrection; the same wedding feast which the LORD will come down to earth to attend

2And I saw(A) the holy city,(B) new Jerusalem,(C) coming down out of heaven from God,(D) prepared(E) as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold,(F) the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will(G) dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] 4(H) He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and(I) death shall be no more,(J) neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Then, we have the Angel profess to Sarah that around 1 year later, he would visit Sarah again.  This is interesting – in Chapter 21:1, the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised.  Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, even after the “way of the woman” had ceased to be with Sarah.  This is interesting – and it parallels the story of the virgin birth.  Firstly, the re-establishment that one of the sent ones is the LORD himself; secondly, that the LORD is capable of doing the impossible, raising life when there should only have been death.  If the LORD is capable of raising Isaac out of the impossible, then how much more is the LORD capable of raising Isaac if he should ask Abraham to give Isaac as an offering to Him?  Surely this would justify Abraham’s behaviour in Genesis 22 – for Isaac was given completely from God, and to return his only son to God is more than acceptable (Job 1:21 – “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.  The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”)

2.  Sodom and Gomorrah:  Character study of Lot (Genesis 18:21 – Genesis 19:38 )

Then the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is very disturbing.  Abraham firstly intercedes for Sodom – yet he is very aware of the nature of the Sodomites.  Indeed, Abraham is burdened for the souls of the Sodomites – just as we all should be.  His constant plea, from 50, to 45, to 40, 30, 20, 10… and God is patient and loving and keeps to his promise.  How could Abraham be expecting 10-50 people righteous in the country?  Because he is not speaking of literally righteous people who are pleasing to the LORD.  Rather, he is speaking of those who are righteous by their faith in Christ.  It is quite evident why that is, when Lot and his two daughters are the only ones who escaped.  All those who failed to escape, being his sons in laws and his wife who turned into a pillar of salt, were all examples of those who are unrighteous – those who did not look to God, but looked back onto the city which they cherished.

(a)  The city

The city is something which Lot himself also cherished, but he failed to be the gospel witness that he should have been, compared to Abraham’s tent-like lifestyle.  Rather, as we saw in Genesis 13, he settled in the city.  Unlike Abraham, he did not look forward to the eternal kingdom (Hebrews 11) by living in tents, but only looked to his present comfort and lived in the city (Genesis 19:1; Proverbs 31:23).  Listen to him speak in verses Genesis 19:19-20:

“…But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. 20 Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one.  Let me escape there – is it not a little one? – and my life will be saved!”

What strange words to be coming from a man who is about to be saved from God himself.  He actually has PREFERENCES!  Yet, the LORD is patient, and grants him this favour also (Chapter 19:21).

(b)  Lot’s evangelism

There are a lot of problems with Lot’s evangelism.  Firstly, he failed to influence those around him – and he was a mere sojourner, who fully molded himself to the society’s culture.  Even the men wanted to rape the angels (Jude 7 – the men desired “strange” flesh), and Lot dared to even offer his two daughters, as if they are suitable substitutes.  It seems that Lot had completely back-fired from his rather ‘religious’ comment, that raping is ‘wicked’.  In only a matter of a few seconds, or minutes, he offers his own two daughters for rape!  Furthermore, he sounded unconvincing to his two sons-in-law when he sends the message of the imminent destruction of the city, the sons who no-doubt are not Jesus-fearers themselves.  The only people who did leave were Lot, his two daughters and his wife.  Even his wife looked back.  This is a clear example of the physical church – Lot, his two daughers, and his wife.  But only the true spiritual Israelites would pass through the fire; but the physical Israelite as it were, Lot’s wife, would not pass through.  The true church vs. the physical church.

Finally, it is pitiful to see that there weren’t even 10 righteous men.  Who are such ‘righteous’ men?  People who believed in God, for even God called Lot righteous (2 Peter 2:7), despite his compromises, his failure to evangelise and influence his neighbours, his lingering (Genesis 19:16), his offering of his daughers for rape… he is still considered as righteous.  So Abraham interceded for 10 men who had faith in Christ… and in all the time Lot had spent there, he still failed to influence even 10 men for Christ.  This shows that his time at Sodom was not for ministry; his time at Sodom was simply to be part of the family, possibly even marrying Sodomite men to his daughters.

(c)  The angels, and the Angel

Lot however is very aware of the angels – he even baked unleavened bread and made a feast for them which they ate, just as Abraham had done the same.  Both are aware of the angels’ awesomeness, but the latter failed to live up to his actions.  He knew the city centre is dangerous, hence he decides to welcome the angels into his house.  But, like an introvert Christian, he lives in a holy bubble yet slowly molded to the culture’s standards.

I would like to impute some meaning to the unleavened bread here, but the symbolism of the unleavened bread had not taken its effect until the time of Exodus.  Contrarily, look at Abraham’s actions – Genesis 18:8 says his wife had prepared curds, milk, calf… a full course meal, that took time to prepare.  But unleavened bread, which is hardly as tasty as leavened bread, was prepared for the angelic guest.  What kind of ‘feast’ Lot had offered is unknown (Genesis 19:3), but the way it was written displays a sense where Lot’s response to the angels is less convicting than Abraham’s response.  Abraham had displayed thorough family teamwork by asking his helper, his wife, to make the food; whereas Lot worked by himself, whilst his two daughters and his wife were unaware and uninvolved.  Lot not only had evangelistic problems outside his house; he had the same problems inside.

Genesis 19:7 – though the ESV translation says “And as they brought them out, one said”, the better translation is “And as they brought them out, the one (meaning the one standing OUTSIDE of the city) said, ‘Escape for your life… escape to the hills…”.  The reason why I make this distinction is because the same ONE Angel is referred to in v. 21.  “He said to him…” – it would be entirely difficult to know who “He” is, unless in the Hebrew, the Angel of the Lord had already been impliedly distinguished in v. 17.

Now, if you, like Trypho in his dialogue with Justin Martyr, have been assuming that this LORD is the Creator, the father Himself, let’s put the terminology “LORD” into context.  Genesis 19:24, the verse which stumps all non-Trinitarian doctrines in the Old Testament.  “The LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven”.  Which LORD are we speaking of?  Of course, the first LORD is the one who had awaited with Abraham, the LORD who warned Lot himself.  This is Jesus.  And the LORD out of heaven?  The Father himself.

(d)  The father of the Moabites and Ammonites

These are the Moabites and Ammonites that Moses himself knew, as chronicled in Deuteronomy 23:3-6 –

3(B) “No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the LORD. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the LORD forever, 4(C) because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came out of Egypt, and because they(D) hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of(E) Mesopotamia, to curse you. 5But the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam; instead the LORD your God turned(F) the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loved you. 6You(G) shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days forever.

And yet, we get a little side-story on how they came around – by the illegal and sinful incestuous conception of his two daughters.  Lot, not only did he fail to persuade his daughters NOT to make him drunk, in his drunkenness had sex with his two daughters.  Yet, this is the same righteous Lot Peter spoke about in his second letter.  Have I hammered the point enough that Lot is therefore not righteous by his own standards, but by Christ?

3.  Abraham and Abimelech (Genesis 20)

This is a repeat of Abraham’s sin in Genesis 12:10-20.  Yet, the LORD is continually faithful, despite his rather repetative inability to present his wife as his WIFE.  Here, Abraham feared men more than God – and yet God is still faithful to him.  This just enforces God’s faithfulness to Abraham; Abraham compromises his faith too often to be assured of his own salvation, had he relied on his ‘work’ – that is – faith.

Conclusion

In overview, we get a character study of Lot and the continual faithfulness of Jesus Christ, and his relationship with his Father is further revealed in Genesis 19:24.  So far, we have recorded several instances of the Trinity working; from Genesis 1-3 in creation and in Jesus walking throughout the garden; from the pre-Mosaic law sacrifices made; from the Noahic flood; from the Christophanic appearances to Abraham and Lot; from the Trinity going to confuse the people of their understanding in the making of Babel… these are merely the instances reeled off the top of my head.  If anything, the deity of Christ is far more focused here, in comparison to the New Testament.  This is why Jesus can say that he saw Abraham (John 8:57) – because he really did!  If we are ever going to look for the deity of Christ, why look in the NT when the OT is littered with other names which also described the same Son, when he is called LORD, the Angel of the LORD, the Blessed man, the Anointed One, the righteous One… which point so much more to his character and deity which the incarnate Christ had also embodied?

Genesis 18-20: Abraham, Lot, and God’s faithfulness

Genesis 15-17: His promise

Some important topics to cover!

1.  Christ in the Promise and Sacrifices:  Assurance of Salvation (Genesis 15)

2.  Ishmael and Isaac (Genesis 16)

3.  Circumcision and Infant Baptism (Genesis 17)

1.  Christ in the Promise and Sacrifices:  Assurance of Salvation (Genesis 15)

Chapter 15 begins with “the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision”. Odd expression? When was the last time some “words” came to visit you in a vision? A vision is something in which something is seen, not something heard. Yet, here, the “word of the LORD came to Abram”. This “word”, though not capitalized, should not have its meaning negated just because our trusty Bible translators failed to use the “word” with a capital W, or that the “word” did not subsequently speak with highlighted red-inked English letters. The Christophanies can speak for itself without these extra-biblical aids, especially now that the “word” of the Lord “brought” him outside to look to the heaven (v.5).

So here, we have Jesus, the son of God, the Word of the LORD, speaking to Abram in a vision. Visions are quite common – Paul himself entered apostleship by his vision of the word of the Lord as well.

v.6 – this is the model of the Christian faith.  Paul explains in Romans 4:13-14 –

“For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.  14  For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and promise is void.  15  For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.”

So Abraham’s salvation is not based on his “own faith” – no, even his own faith can become a work, can become a law in itself.  How many times have you wondered “oh how much faith have I got?”.  My answer would be, “I never have enough faith… it grows by the filling of the Spirit, but it will fluctuate and will merely be a taster of true things to come”.  Rather, Abraham’s salvation stems from God’s promise.  We’ll come to elaborate the content of such a promise in Genesis 17, the third point on circumcision and infant baptism.  Meanwhile, Glen Scrivener in his sermon on Genesis 17 notes this:

If there’s one Person who never needs to promise anything it’s God Almighty. Yet what does He do in this chapter? He makes 25 promises. 25 promises in the space of about 250 Hebrew words.

Already in this sermon, I have spoken about as many words as the LORD speaks in Genesis 17. Can you imagine if in the last couple of minute or two I’d made you 25 promises? The only human beings who act like that are people pleading for their lives or desperate for drugs or money. No human being makes promises like this unless they are in desperate need. But God Almighty appears and virtually everything He says is a promise. His sole topic of conversation is His covenant which He mentions 13 times. This covenant is a binding promise which flows from His unconditional love – it is a promise to be God to us.

This chapter is basically God saying over and over again ‘I promise I will be God to you, I promise I will be God to you.’ And you might think, this is backwards!

Surely it should be Abram who makes the promises to God Almighty. Surely in his position of total weakness Abram should come to God Almighty and say ‘I promise I’ll be good to You.

Thus, we must qualify and distinguish the ‘faith’ in v. 14 (which is coupled with the promise, without which faith is ‘null’) and the ‘faith’ which some Arminians use today.  It is not by our ‘free-will’, that we can decide to take up or reject salvation.  Rather, as Jonah rightly puts it, “Salvation belongs to the Lord!” (Jonah 2:9).  Which means that the ‘faith’ in v. 14 is in response to God’s promise — rather than us continuing in the “work” of faith that is not based on God’s promise of Christ’s victory.  Thus, the victory is not because WE are such great faith-bearers, because every act of sin is an act of faithlessness; rather, the victory is because HE is the great victor, and by the Truth and the Spirit do we stand next to him in persistence of faith.  This “patience” of well-doing, of faith (Romans 2:7) is in response to THE true persistence and eternal nature of our God.  “Patience” is normally a word used for waiting.  Contrarily, nothing, and rightly nothing, is given to our credit.  A further discourse on what ‘faith alone’ means can be found here.

v.7 – “I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans”. This pattern is followed continuously to identify the true God, and also to identify the SAME God.  Of course, this means that we are still speaking of Christ.  We will come back to this again when Jacob announces his blessings on his children, whereupon he notes the Son’s foundational contribution to the future of the multitude of nations, being the spiritual Israel.

Then something peculiar is at play here.  Why did the LORD suddenly introduce the sacrificial animals not to be introduced until Levicitus?  Of course, this is entirely part of the blueprint which I had mentioned in my last post.  These are just shadows of the things to come in the Old Testament, specifically Leviticus 1, 4, 5 and Numbers 15 and 19 for the specific animals referred to (turtledoves, pigeons, female goat, ram).  Luke 2:23-24 is especially interesting:

23(as it is written in(AK) the Law of the Lord,(AL) “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in(AM) the Law of the Lord,(AN) “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

(i)    Female goat = unintentional sin (Numbers 15:27-31)

(ii)   Ram = used as guilt/burnt/food/wave/sin/peace offering (throughout Levicitus)

(iii)  Turtledoves and pigeons = The male who first opens the womb (Leviticus 12/Luke 2:23-24)

(iv)  Heifer = sanctification/purification (Numbers 19/Hebrews 9:13)

3 years old = 2 Chronicles 31:11-17 –

11Then Hezekiah commanded them to prepare(M) chambers in the house of the LORD, and they prepared them. 12And they faithfully brought in the contributions, the tithes, and the dedicated things. The chief officer(N) in charge of them was Conaniah the Levite, with(O) Shimei his brother as second, 13(P) while Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah,(Q) Mahath, and Benaiah were overseers assisting Conaniah and Shimei his brother, by the appointment of Hezekiah the king and Azariah the chief officer of the house of God. 14And Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, keeper of the east gate, was over the freewill offerings to God, to apportion the contribution reserved for the LORD and the most holy offerings. 15(R) Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah were faithfully assisting him in(S) the cities of the priests, to distribute the portions to their brothers, old and young alike, by divisions, 16except those enrolled by genealogy, males from three years old and upward—all who entered the house of the LORD(T) as the duty of each day required—for their service according to their offices, by their divisions. 17The enrollment of the priests was according to their fathers’ houses; that of the Levites(U) from twenty years old and upward was according to their offices, by their divisions.

Then all the animals of three years old, except the three-year-old birds, are cut in half.  What is the significance of this?

My take is this.  What we see is both the priestly and non-priestly duties to the LORD accomplished in this one chapter of Genesis prior to the giving of the law.  This is to show the significance of what the law pointed towards, and the clarity in which the law should have been to Abraham.  Abraham saw the totality of Christ which these four sacrifices pointed towards – every facet of offering is complete through Christ.  And yet, the offerings are all cut in half.  My question is…

(a)  Why are they cut in half except the birds?

Glen in his Genesis 15 sermon stated something along the lines of Jeremiah 34:17-21.  Let’s take a look at that.

17“Therefore, thus says the LORD: You have not obeyed me(AB) by proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and to his neighbor;(AC) behold, I proclaim to you liberty(AD) to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine, declares the LORD.(AE) I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 18And the men who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of(AF) the covenant that they made before me, I will make them like[a](AG) the calf that they cut in two and passed between its parts— 19the officials of Judah, the officials of Jerusalem,(AH) the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf. 20And I will give them into the hand of their enemies(AI) and into the hand of those who seek their lives.(AJ) Their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth. 21And(AK) Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials I will give into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives, into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon(AL) which has withdrawn from you.

If the implications here are what I think they are, then they point to a significant truth – that the cutting in half is a symbolism of the “same kind of death happening to those walking through the two halves”.  In which case, when the heifer, female goat and ram were cut in half, the LORD is preparing a scenario where SOMEONE or SOMETHING will pass through the two halves to enforce the covenant.  Whomever breaks the covenant will, like the animals, be cut in half.

v. 17 consolidates the significance – a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passes between these pieces.  So the fire pot and flaming torch will be cut in half?  What on EARTH?

Actually, again, let’s look at how Moses would be looking at this.  In v. 13-16 we just hear the LORD speak of punishment, and Abraham’s offspring – referring directly to the Israelites captive in Egypt.  Moses will no doubt see the connection here.  But why suddenly speak of judgment?  Because the cutting of the animal sacrifices in half is speaking of judgment.  And what is the most recent divine “judgment” that Moses had witnessed?  The cutting of the waters in half.  And what passed through the water?  The pillar of cloud and fire, led by Jesus, the Angel, himself.

The detail given in Genesis 15 is amazing.  We have the sacrifices, we have the judgment, we have the cutting in half, we have the waters of judgment – there is a reason I speak of the waters of judgment.  In my entry on the two waters (Genesis Day 2), one on earth and one above the heavens, I have spoken of the expanse, the canopy, in between as representative of Christ keeping the space in between, until the waters of judgment come crashing down on Him.  This is effectively what happened on the cross – the waters, and fire, of judgment fell completely on Him. He experienced physical death, “when the sun had gone down” and the land was dark (Genesis 15:12-17 and Matthew 27:45).  Abraham experienced the darkness which Jesus would experience when he died on the cross, when he was cut in half.

So why were the birds uncut?  My take is that if the sacrifice of the birds is symbolised by the birth of the firstborn, then this is a sign that the first-born has not come yet.  The work of mediation is indeed occuring for all the saints prior to the incarnation (Hebrews 11), but the difference between us and Abraham is that he looked forward to Christ, whereas we look backwards to him.  This difference lies in the turtledove and the pigeon, both representing the first-born who is yet to be cut, who is yet to be born into this world as prophesied in Luke 2:23-25.  For us, the birds have already been cut; but for Abraham, Isaac, Israel, Moses, David, Daniel… all down to the time of Christ incarnate, the birds representing the birth of the firstborn from the virgin is waiting to be cut.

To conclude, what this also means is that the LORD is the one who makes the promises; and the LORD is the one who accepts the punishment.  Abraham is uninvolved in the promise-making and the punishment-receiving.  He is merely a partaker in God’s grace, and nothing of value is given in return, save an act of trust in the smoking torch which passed through the cut animals.

(b)  Why are they three years old?

I’ve quoted 2 Chronicles 31.  It seems to speak of those who are NOT part of the priestly services.  If I have to take an educated look, it seems to be a ‘remainder’ clause – whereupon things are provided for the priests and the Levites, those who are in the House is because they are part of the genealogy and are three or above.  Therefore, they entered by their duty, their division, and their genealogy.  Can we say that this is another sign of the non-priestly work being tied into the priestly work of the sacrifices which Abraham did all in one go?

2.  Ishmael and Isaac (Genesis 16)

This story is significant.  Muslims try to replace the importance of Isaac with Ishmael especially for the first-born sacrifice later in Genesis 22, but they sorely miss the point.  Ishmael was conceived out of sin — Abraham had tried to take God’s will into his own hands.  He awoke love before its right time (Song of Solomon 2:7; 3:5; 8:4).  Rather, should I say, he celebrated his 10th year anniversary in Canaan by having sex with his wife’s servant.  The crudeness of the last sentence should put things in perspective.

So Ishmael is conceived of sin – yet the Angel, Jesus, goes to comfort Hagar despite Abraham and Sarai’s poor treatment of her.  Even Abraham and Sarai’s poor gospel witnessing, poor evangelism, is sufficiently cured by the Angel’s words of comfort.  However, despite the resolution of sins made, the consequences of sin have already taken its toll.  By Abraham, have we now the Ishmaelites, the fathers of the Arab nation, some saying the father of Muslims today (though don’t quote me on that).

What is interesting is how much of a parallel this is to Cain’s story.  We had Eve, who said that she got a Lord-man Cain by the “help” of the LORD (as if the LORD only gives “partial” aid, and Eve should be given the remaining credit).  By the end of the story, we know that Cain spawns a race of godless men and women, and such a violent race they are with enemies against them, despite God’s ‘protection’ of Cain by leaving a mark on him.  The same is shown here with the Ishmaelites, and though they multiply into many nations (Genesis 17:20), their future is invariably grim, Psalm 83:1-8 –

1O God, do not keep silence;
(B) do not hold your peace or be still, O God!
2For behold, your enemies(C) make an uproar;
those who hate you have(D) raised their heads.
3They lay(E) crafty plans against your people;
they consult together against your(F) treasured ones.
4They say, “Come,(G) let us wipe them out as a nation;
let the name of Israel be remembered no more!”
5For they conspire with one accord;
against you they make a covenant—
6the tents of(H) Edom and(I) the Ishmaelites,
(J) Moab and(K) the Hagrites,
7(L) Gebal and(M) Ammon and(N) Amalek,
(O) Philistia with the inhabitants of(P) Tyre;
8(Q) Asshur also has joined them;
they are the strong arm of(R) the children of Lot.
Selah

Sure, Ishmael may even have 12 princes come from his line, but none of them are the promised Prince, and none of them have to do with the gospel plan, except to take part in it, just like how Lot was made righteous by the promise made to Abraham; just like how we are made righteous by the promise made to our spiritual forefather, Abraham.  The promise was made to our spiritual forefather, and we Gentiles are vicariously grafted into spiritual Israel.

3.  Circumcision and Infant Baptism (Genesis 17)

We reach the gruesome description of skin-cutting.

Circumcision involves the circumcision on the 8th day, and the cutting of the skin.  It is clearly an action for the household, and it is an expression of the covenant between God and Abraham.  Why the cutting of the foreskin?  Maybe I can further this entry with a few quotes, because the message would have been the same had I paraphrased them anyway.

Leon has this to say about the “seed” in his sermon on Hebrews 10:

That creation outside of Christ is dead and incapable of producing anything good is quickly illustrated by the fall of Adam and Eve. This principle was written into creation in Day 3. Seed bearing plants and trees will only produce according to their kinds. Only a good tree will bear good fruit and a bad tree will of course bear bad fruit. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

So to reiterate, or to further unfold this great plan, it is after the fall, when all creation is clearly cursed with death, that Christ proclaims in Genesis 3:15, that He, the only good seed of God would also become the seed of the woman i.e. a part of creation. The scene is set for Him to come and die out of love.

Another illustration of Creation being the stage that is set for Christ to assume a body is sex – Eve was cut out of Adam, but despite being bone of his bones and flesh of His flesh, despite being of the same material, Adam remains the life giver, and on her own, can never produce life. In fact she, as a picture of creation and outside Christ and thus representing humanity, produces death – i.e. the Fall. But, Adam, as a picture of Christ is to enter her, plant his seed in her and she would become the mother of all the living. Not much fuss at all from the Lord. Pure grace! And as mentioned, the seed that is Christ is planted to produce life for all creation.

Justin Martyr on the reason why the skin is cut on the 8th day


The command of circumcision, again, bidding [them] always circumcise the children on the eighth day, was a type of the true circumcision, by which we are circumcised from deceit and iniquity through Him who rose from the dead on the first day after the Sabbath, [namely through] our Lord Jesus Christ. For the first day after the Sabbath, remaining the first of all the days, is called, however, the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle, and [yet] remains the first.

Now both quotes come to this conclusion – the seed that comes from the male organ, where the Christ will come from, will be planted in the church, the wife, to give live to the church.  This is why the male organ is ‘cut’, just as a covenant is ‘cut’.  This covenant is not only established now though – but this circumcision is in reference to the eternal covenant that spanned all the way back to Adam, and all the way into the second coming (Hosea 6:7; Jeremiah 33:19-20; Hebrews 13:20-21).  When we establish why the skin is cut (because it represents the cutting of the Seed, the cutting of Christ as we have already established through the cutting of the sacrificial animals in half), then we ponder why the skin is cut on the 8th day.  Justin Martyr makes it quite clear – because it prophesies to the truth that the Saviour’s work from his cutting off will be complete on the 8th day, where he will stand as the one truly cut off from the world.  He will stand as the one truly sanctified, glorified and set apart as the firstfruit of all those who are born with new creation bodies.  And this happened, veribly, on the 8th day:  the first day after the Sabbath, the 7th day.

This is why the command of circumcision is taken seriously.  In Chapter 17v. 14 God says that anyone uncircumcised is cut off from Abraham.  Of course – what that means is that we will not be taken up in Christ in our Ascension day; rather, we will be left behind for the firey global judgment on the second coming.

But why do we not circumcise our infants anymore, if we wish to display the same promise made from God to us?  Because, again, we no longer look to the blood being shed.  The blood has already been shed – no longer do the sacrifical laws apply, because they are fulfilled in Christ, the true blood to which the shedding of the other blood witnessed to.  Rather, we look back to Christ and look upon John the Baptist’s work with confusion.  How did the act of ‘baptism’ come around?

As already stated, baptism is something that had already occured through the diluvian flood – Noah’s ark, the establishment of the eating of flesh and the eternal covenant of the rainbow.  As Dev rightly put it, it is the warrior-bow placed in heaven, to remind all of the global judgment to come; yet this bow is a reminder for all those who had taken refuge in Christ, through the baptism represented by the ark through the water, and the communion represented by the flesh after the water.

Similarly, once the blood of Christ is shed, we no longer need circumcision.  Rather, we go back to what God had always planned – the waters of baptism, which the Noahic flood foretold.  The giving of the Spirit in the baptism of our heart and the washing of our heart, mind and soul so that the law is now written on our hearts as it was written on Christ’s heart, when we were equally baptised into Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension (Jeremiah 31:33; Romans 6:3-4).  Circumcision is a temporary foretelling of baptism.  Both are covenant – are sacramants – of God’s promise to us, but both attest to the rainbow which smiles on believers, but a threat to non-believers, the rainbow which attest to God’s throne and his sovereignty over the eternal covenant with man.  Never once is it a ‘self-expression of faith’ like the Baptists proclaim.  Rather, it is his one-sided expression to us, and the sacrament should be kept within the Christian church to proclaim the wonders of a God who provides, mediates, and punishes within the bounds of the Three Persons.  This explains why Genesis 26:5 said that Abraham obeyed the LORD’s voice and kept His charge, commandments, statutes and laws even BEFORE the law was given.  Because it was all CREDITED to Abraham as righteousness, a gift much like the promises made from an unconditionally loving Triune God, to an utterly depraved and unholy sinner like us.

Genesis 15-17: His promise

Genesis 12-14: Blueprint of the Future

Before moving on to Chapter 12, some interesting things to note.

Haran, one of Terah’s sons, is the father of Lot – yet he died in the presence of his father in the land of his kindred, in Ur of the Chaldeans.  Abram took a wife called Sarai, whereas Nahor, Terah’s other son, took Milcah, who is the daughter of Haran.

Another table isn’t so necessary now, but just to make things clear:

Terah bore –> Abram/Nahor/Haran (d. in Ur)

Haran bore –> Milcah/Iscah/Lot

Abram married Sarai

Nahor married Milcah, Haran’s daughter (i.e. his niece).

Therefore, we have a family of three generations – Terah, with his son Abram and his daughter-in-law Sarai, and Lot his grandson — all together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan.  They then settled in Haran, where Terah died.  Meanwhile, Nahor, Milcah and Iscah are unaccounted for.  But we will come back to Nahor and Milcah (Genesis 22), but Iscah we will not hear about againt throughout Scripture.

My question – why were they going to Canaan?  Another thing is of course the self-explanatory nature of Scripture.  It is assumed that we know that Ur of the Chaldeans, the kindred of Haran.  What we do know, briefly, is that history teaches Chaldea will become a Hellenistic part of Babylonia, in connection with Babylon, and within Scripture will they become enemies of God’s chosen people (2 Kings 25; Jeremiah 22:25).  How odd, that Haran was a kinsmen of future Babylonians who would later hold Israel captive?

What I find most interesting is what Moses and the Israelites would have been thinking when they were listening to this story because they, also, are brought out of what they believed to be their ‘home’ land (Egypt) into the ‘foreign’ Promised Land (Canaan).  However, how odd things are — Abraham was already going to Canaan in the past.  Why the ‘repeat’ of history per se?  Surely the (physical) promised land of Canaan is the final dwelling place for the Israelites?  What happened between Abraham and Moses, the latter who is guiding the nation to Canaan AGAIN in the history of God’s chosen people?

I will hope to cover that in just a moment.  Meanwhile, onto Genesis 12.

1.  Significance of the locations

2.  The Angel of the Lord

3.  Pharaoh and Abimelech

4.  Abram and Lot separate

5.  Abram ‘saves’ Lot

6.  Melchizedek

7.  A mirror of the future – blueprint of the Old Testament

1.  Significance of the locations (Genesis 12 in general)

After the dispersion of the nations, God is now speaking of the fathers of the nations in which the Mosaic Israelites have been facing for a while.

(a)  Chaldea – the ‘home’ country from which Abraham hailed from (Gen 12:1-2: “Now the LORD (had) said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing”).  I’ve already spoken of Chaldea’s future in the above paragraphs.

(b)  Canaan – where Abraham eventually arrived (Gen 12v. 5-6) – whereupon in Gen 12v. 7 God makes a promise that to his offspring he will give this land.  I’m positive Moses is thrilled to hear this.

(c)  Bethel and Ai – the former being the place where Jacob gives an offering to the Father after struggling with Christ in Genesis 35:1 – “God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there.  Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau”.  The latter, Ai, is where Israel would eventually be defeated.  Some geography is offered concerning Ai in Joshua 7:2 – “Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.”  And the men went up and spied out Ai.”

(d)  Negeb – which is in Canaan

2.  The Angel of the LORD (Genesis 12:1-9)

Is this is the first time God conversed with men?  Of course not… but which “God” are we speaking of?  Let’s do a quick recap of everything up to Genesis 12.  It would help to understand why and how it is that people can ‘see’ God, when no one has ever ‘seen’ Him.  Who is “Him”?

Genesis 1 & 2 – the Creator God, I would say, is the Father in Heaven, who speaks to Adam and the Woman.

Genesis 3:8 – the ‘sound’ (voice) of the LORD God walking in the garden.  We established that this ‘voice’ is Jesus.

Genesis 4:6 – who is speaking to Cain?  v. 16 – “the presence of the LORD”.  Philo, rather, translates this as the FACE of the Lord.  Who is the face?  Jesus Christ, the visible of the invisible (Colossians 1).

Genesis 6:13 – God said to Noah — which God?

Genesis 7:1 – then the LORD said to Noah — who?

Genesis 9:1 – God blessed Noah — why the constant exchange between ‘God’ and LORD?

Genesis 9:8, 12-17 – God said to Noah and to his sons – back to “God” again

Genesis 12:1 – the Lord said to Abram – back to LORD again

Genesis 12:7 – the Lord APPEARED to him — this is a first we hear of the LORD explicitly appearing to anyone.  Again, and unsurprisingly, Abram builds an altar.  Why?  Because his ancestor Noah (Gen 8:20) had also done so.  This is mentioned again in v.7b – “So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had APPEARED to him”.

Can we assume that everytime the LORD or God speaks to men, that it is necessarily Jesus?

3.  Pharaoh and Abimelech, and the future re-produced? (Genesis 12:10-20)

What happens here in Genesis 12:10-20 is repeated again in Genesis 20.  Is there any meaning behind Abraham insisting on saying that his wife is his sister?  Yes – it is to display Abraham’s absolute weakness as a person who has ‘faith’ in God.  In some sense, we should find solace in that, because the LORD had already proclaimed the promise to him back in Genesis 12:1-3.  Was it because of Abraham’s righteousness?  Of course not.  His ‘faith’ in God was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).  But even Abraham has weak faith!  All the better – faith is not a type of works in itself.  Even we are expected to fluctuate – yet, we are also called to persist by the work of the Spirit.  Let us heed God’s call when He indeed speaks to us, and not rely on cheap grace (Psalm 95:7-11).

Now what is most interesting is what happens in this chapter.  It is almost as if the future is somewhat shown here!  Firstly, God pulls out a Chaldean into Canaan almost immediately.  Then he backtracks Abraham to Bethel where Jacob will later give his offering after struggling with Christ.  Then he backtracks Abraham further to Egypt, in a time of famine (think Joseph!).  Then there are huge plagues (Exodus territory) because of Sarai (Chapter 12v.7) whereupon he leaves Egypt and goes to Negeb (we know Negeb is in Canaan – c.f. Numbers 33:40, and Abraham had already been trying to get there in Genesis 12:9).

When he reaches Negeb, he journeys even further BACK to Bethel, to the altar between Bethel and Ai and calls upon the name of the LORD there.  This is kind of like saying Abraham, this is the land in which you will own, but not yet.  Not yet.

Let’s sum up so far:

(a)  He comes from Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan

–(b)  He built an altar near Shechem, to the oak of Moreh

—(c)  He pitches a tent on the east of Bethel between Bethel (on the west) and Ai (on the east)

—-(d)  He goes toward the Negeb (but not reaching there yet)

—–(e)  He went to Egypt to sojourn during the famine

—–(e)  He leaves Egypt because of his silly mistake

—-(d)  He returns to Negeb

—(c)  He goes back to Bethel to the place where he pitched the tent

–(b)  Then to the place where he built the altar at the first

(a)  He calls upon the name of the LORD (Chapter 13v.4) – yet now, Lot leaves Abram because of strife between Abram’s herdsmen of his livestock, and Lot’s herdsmen of his own livestock.  Instead, Lot sees the Jordan Valley, well watered like the GARDEN of the LORD, and like EGYPT, in the direction of Zoar.  We will later see Lot turning on his word, fearing to live in Zoar again (Genesis 19:30).

4.  Abram and Lot separate (Genesis 13:1-18 )

How weird it is that Lot desires the very things which God later takes away from him.  The Garden of the LORD, which has been taken away from Adam and Eve.  Egypt, which has been ‘taken away’ from the Israelites and from the Pharoah.  Zoar, which later Lot desires never to live there again.  Again, note — Lot journeys EAST, according to his own will and what caught the desire of his eye (Genesis 3:6 – a repeat of Eve’s sin).  Not only that, but Lot, being a clan member of Haran and Shem, could have taken part of this gift of Canaan (Genesis 9:26-27).  He was even so wise enough, after hearing God pronounce the blessing on Abram in Chapter 12:1-2, as to go ‘with him’ (Chapter 12:4).  Rather, now, he desires to establish his own livelihood.  However, we see that Lot still lives in a ‘tent’, but among cities as far as Sodom (Genesis 13:12).  Even God himself says it clearly – “the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD”.  Sodom, unsurprisingly, is where the Canaanites, the ‘cursed’ race, dwells.  Lot is a perfect example of a Christian who, having tasted the goodness of partaking in the church in his time of weakness, decides to leave the chosen remnant because he has ‘found better pastures’ as it were.  So he chose the ‘obvious’ worldly choice – a land which mock-represents the Garden of Eden.  Of course, it is nothing like it.

The irony then, in Chapter 13:14 for the LORD to announce to Abram almost immediately “after Lot had separated from him”, that from the place where Abram is, “northward/southward/eastward/westward”, all that he sees – will be given to his offspring forever.  An amazing claim from an amazing God.  The offspring will be so much as the ‘dust’ of the earth – just as God repeats that the offspring will be as much as the ‘stars’ in the sky (Genesis 15:5).  Again, a hint of Christological natural theology from God himself, for we are physical creatures needing physical things to help our understanding of the invisible God – the only physical thing which only represents God in the Highest being Jesus Christ himself.

5.  Abram ‘saves’ Lot (Genesis 14:1-16)

What is immediately noticeable is the number of locations referred to here – let’s class them into groups.

Group A

Shinar, Ellasar, Elam, Goiim, Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, Bela/Zoar – all of which joined forces.

Group B

Chedorlaomer (king of Elam) was the leader of Group A, which Group A eventually rebelled against after serving Chedorlaomer for 12 years, and rebelled in the 13th year.

Group C

Rephaim (in Ashteroth-karnaim), Zuzim in Ham, Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, Horites )in Seir as far as El-paran), Amalekites in Kadesh/En-mishpat, Amorites in Hazazon-tamar

Group D

Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, Bela/Zoar

Group E

Elam, Goiim, Shinar, Ellasar

Now let’s clarify.  We are introduced to Group A — then introduced to the leader of Group A which is Group B (the one king of Elam).  However, Group B defeats group C when the rest of A rebels against B.  Then, from v.8-12 in chapter 14, group D offshoots from group A, and fights against group E.  Thus, the final battle of 5 kings against four, is between Group D and Group E – at the Valley of Siddim where there are ‘bitumen pits’.  It appears that Sodom and Gomorrah lost, many falling into the bitumen pits, while (it is assumed) the fewer number of kings, Group E, was victorious.  Not much is mentioned of Admah, Zeboiim, or Bela.

Then we see an Amorite called Mamre, from the line of Canaan – who is an ALLY of Abram. Let’s now make an extra group.

Group F

Mamre, Eshcol, Aner, Abram, 318 men

He fought as far as Dan, dividing his forces against them by night and defeated them.  We are speaking of Group F – all 322 men – who defeated Group E, among whom is the king Chedorlaomer, the ex-leader of Group A.  Here we have what seems like true covenant hope, between Jews and Gentiles – Abraham the Hebrew with 3 Gentiles/Canaanites.  This, compared with the next verses in Chapter 14 shows the difference between a ‘treaty’ and true brotherhood between two different races/nations.

6.  Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-24)

What we have in the rest of chapter 14 is a juxtaposition of the treaty from a pagan and warring nation (Sodom) and the blessing, rather than mere ‘treaty’, from the king of Salem – a place that surely does not exist.  Hebrews 7:1 refers to him as the king of Salem, aka the king of peace.  Psalm 76:1-3 has this to say:

1In Judah God is(C) known;
his name is great in Israel.
2His(D) abode has been established in(E) Salem,
his(F) dwelling place in Zion.
3There he(G) broke the flashing arrows,
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.
Selah

Indeed, these are SELAH moments!  How can there be two places where God dwells, Zion and Salem?  Are they pointing to the same places, or are they symbolic of the true new creation kingdom to come?  Paul Blackham calls him the ‘king of rightousness’, rather than merely ‘peace’ (the name, Melchizedek, itself connotes this interpretation).  He is a priest of the God Most High.  How odd it is, that there is a priestly line when the Levitical line has not even been established yet?  This Melchizedek, who even blesses Abraham, is superior to Abraham the father of the chosen nation (Hebrews 7:4-10)!  Not only that, but the descendants in the LOINS of Abraham have been blessed and has given tithes to Melchizedek!  We see Melchizedek elsewhere in Scripture.

Psalm 110:

1(A) The LORD(Father) says to my Lord(Jesus):
(B) “Sit at my right hand,
(C) until I make your enemies your(D) footstool.”

2The LORD(Father) sends forth(E) from Zion
(F) your mighty scepter.
(G) Rule in the midst of your enemies!
3(H) Your people will(I) offer themselves freely
on the day of your(J) power,[a]
in(K) holy garments;[b]
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.[c]
4(L) The LORD(Father) has(M) sworn
and will(N) not change his mind,
(O)You are(P) a priest(Q) forever
after the order of(R) Melchizedek
.”

5The Lord(Jesus) is at your(S) right hand;
he will(T) shatter kings on(U) the day of his wrath.
6He will(V) execute judgment among the nations,
(W) filling them with corpses;
he will(X) shatter chiefs[d]
over the wide earth.
7He will(Y) drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.

If Psalm 110 hasn’t already sealed the deal, with the intra-Trinitarian conversation between the two Lords, the LORD saying to David’s Lord that the latter Lord will be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, here is a little extra topping for those who must rely on the New Testament to understand the truths which the OT saints held:

Hebrews 7:15-28:

15This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17For it is witnessed of him,

(M) “You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”

18For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside(N) because of its weakness and uselessness 19(for(O) the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand,(P) a better hope is introduced, through which(Q) we draw near to God.

20And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him:

(R) “The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest forever.'”

22This makes Jesus the guarantor of(S) a better covenant.

23The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues(T) forever. 25Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost[b](U) those who draw near to God(V) through him, since he always lives(W) to make intercession for them.

26For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest,(X) holy, innocent, unstained,(Y) separated from sinners, and(Z) exalted above the heavens. 27He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily,(AA) first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this(AB) once for all when he offered up himself. 28For the law appoints men(AC) in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made(AD) perfect forever.

Just to clarify – does this mean that Melchizedek is some ‘randomer’ who just slipped in and out of the New Testament like that?  Or is Melchizedek a ‘blueprint’ of the greater King to come?  Melchizedek who has no human ancestor or descendant?  I think something is at play here.  We are not looking at merely a real king of Salem who is a type of Christ.  Everything about him is mysterious – his genealogy, his kingdom, the place in which he rules — all of it has a divine ring to it.  He is not a type.  He IS Christ himself, in the various forms of the Sent One which he partook before he incarnated as THE Messiah, in fulfillment and progress of his actions as the Angel prior to the events in Nazareth.  Now I understand it says you are a priest forever ‘after’ the order of Melchizedek, but this does not necessarily negate the divinity of the person ‘masquerading’ as Melchizedek; rather, Jesus now fulfills the personage of the High Priest, just as he fulfills the personage of the Angel (again himself) who struggled with Jacob, just as he fulfills the personage of the Angel who fought with Joshua, just as he fulfills the personage of the Angel who guided Israel to Canaan.  Can we, therefore, say that Jesus is ‘after the order’ of Melchizedek, and the Angel of the Lord?  Surely, we can.  Does this mean they are different people?  Surely, we cannot, unless we propose that Melchizedek and the Angel are again, only TYPES of Christ.  I don’t know why you want to say that though, unless you want to heretically assume there are more than Three Persons claiming divinity.

7.  Mirror of the future – the blueprint of the Old Testament

What I find extremely odd is – why take Abraham to all those places?  Why the famine?  Why go through all these familiar locations?  Why did Lot go to Sodom, and why did Abraham save him from Sodom?  Why did Lot RETURN to Sodom?  Why the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?

With the (tens of) thousands of biblical archaeologists, Old Testament scholars who look on the actual, physical events, I still however believe in a God who is the Most High, the Creator of Heaven and Earth – and no doubt we have twice seen him provide a blueprint for the Garden of Eden, and the Ark, and no doubt later for the Tabernacle.  I think we can say the same about him about the plan he has for the events in this world.

What kind of plan am I saying?  What we see in these chapters, is a blue print of the rest of the events in the Old Testament.

Let’s work through this together:

(a)  Abraham aiming to reach Negeb = to receive the promises of Genesis 12/15 (reconfirmation of covenant with Adam).  I think this is literally speaking of the period of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob until Joseph. (Genesis 12:9)

(b)  Abraham entering and leaving Egypt, on account of the famine, sojourning there but leaving because of plagues = Covers the events of Joseph to the great Exodus (Genesis 12:10-20)

(c)  Finally reaching Negeb in Canaan = Israelites reaching Canaan (finally!) (Genesis 13:1-18 )

(d)  Separation of the brothers = Israel and Judah, though they are technically still ‘one nation’. (Genesis 13:8-13).. though it is noted that Abraham is Lot’s uncle, not his brother

(e)  5 kings against 4 = Judah involved unnecessarily in battles with pagans (book of kings/judges) (Genesis 14:1-16)

(f)   Abraham goes to the aid of Lot = Israel and Judah will help each other throughout these wars, though the numbers for both is small and weak compared with other nations.  But they will not be living together as ‘one nation’ but separated into two kingdoms.  Perhaps something here to reflect the friendship between Abraham and Mamre, as it is with Joshua and Rahab? (Genesis 14:13-16)

(g)  Appearance of Melchizedek = many times will Israel/Judah be offered an opportunity to ‘truce’ with other nations, but the LORD will always be the best truce and the Angel will keep reminding them of their true peace found in God the Highest.  (Genesis 14:17-24)

(h)  Isaac’s birth promised = prophecy of the coming Son re-confirmed (Genesis 17:15-19)

(i)   Lot and Sodom, the destruction of Sodom, Abraham intercedes by remininding God of the covenant, and The Angel of the Lord helps = Judah held captive in Babylon (due to continual spiritual compromises of the nation Israel) – resulting in the destruction of Babylon, Daniel interceding by remembering the covenant and the promises, and The Angel of the Lord helps (in the furnace) (Genesis 19)

(j)   Isaac’s birth = The Son incarnate (synoptic gospels begin here) (Genesis 21)

What say you?  I think this is a close-to-accurate portrayal of the future events prior to the true witness of Isaac’s birth (and of course Isaac’s sacrifice, which mirrors that of God sacrificing his firstborn Son on the cross).  I think some more things can be said about Ishmael’s birth, about Abraham saving Lot (twice), about the introduction of the sacrament of circumcision.

Now, why this blueprint?  No doubt, I am positive this is one of the methods through which the major and minor prophets achieved their Spirit-inspired prophecies concerning the future events of their kingdom to come.  God has warned them, through this story of Abraham.  Yet, they will still fall into their sins – Israel will make treaty with pagan nations; the nation will continue to be the spiritual prostitute and God knows that history will continually repeat itself, just as every Christian will continue to be a spiritually compromising prostitute.  But Christ will marry us nonetheless.  He will remind us, through the Angel, through Melchizedek, of the blessing we have already received.  The gift of true peace, the gift of true righteousness, the salvation by the Angel.  We need only remember the victory won.

Genesis 12-14: Blueprint of the Future

Genesis 9-11: The dispersion of nations

The Angel of the Lord by the ark

Chapter 8 ended on an interesting note, which I think I should cover v. briefly.

The maintenance of the seasonal changes and night/day should not be overlooked, in the same way we shouldn’t overlook Noah’s offering to the LORD. Noah had looked forward to Christ, because he himself is not the righteous one. If anything, the LORD looked upon him because of his faith in Christ shown through his meat offering. What is God trying to say here though? –

“While the earth remains, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Genesis 9:22).

We know that the testimony of ‘day’ and ‘night’ are respectively showing the truth of the light and darkness, the Light of lights as opposed to the prince of darkness who pretends to be light. The seasonal changes, the seed-time and harvest also preach the gospel in their own way – from winter, to fall (the American for ‘autumn’ is so much more befitting to the portrayal of the gospel), to spring and then to summer – all preaching the message of death to life and to death again. Such is our story – we rise from the dust, we live by the Spirit as our firstfruit of the new kingdom to come (Ephesians 1) and yet we return to dust again (Genesis 3:19). So while this earth remains, the gospel preached by Christo-centric natural theology will remain. But this forward-looking hope need no longer remain when creation is renewed.

Now to the meat of Chapter 9 to 11, just a few subheadings to make things clear.

1. Why are men allowed to eat meat now? (Genesis 9:3-7)

2. Re-establishment of the covenant? Progressive revelation? The origin of the rainbow (Genesis 9:8-17)

3. The fall of Noah and the future of his sons (Genesis 9:18-29)

4. The table of Nations (Genesis 10)

5. Works-salvation via the tower of Babel and the confusion of ‘tongue’ (Genesis 11:1-9)

6. The remnant via Shem (Genesis 11:10-32)


1. Why are men allowed to eat meat now? (Genesis 9:3-7)

Firstly, to counter any type of restriction of food, God’s mandate here is that all food is for our consumption. Paul’s argument in Romans and in 1 Timothy 4:4 clearly shows that all food is clean and for our sustenance.

Maybe looking at the pattern of events will help.

(a) Firstly, in the ending part of chapter 8, the animals left the ark in ‘families’ and it is Abraham who then offers a pleasing aroma to God – whereby the animals for the offering had been provided by God himself. This again happens later when Abraham sacrifices Isaac and a ram was provided by God. What is most important to notice is that this isn’t the first time the LORD has killed an animal for man. But this IS the first time the LORD has killed flesh on a global scale.

(b) This is followed by Noah’s meat offering of ‘pleasing aroma’ to God, and then God provides the similar pronouncement for men afterwards (chapter 9v.7). What are the implications of this? Why the lag?

(c) Then the re-establishment of the covenant by the rainbow (Genesis 9:8-17 – I will look at this under subtitle 2).

We must remember that what God said in his heart about the seasonal and daily changes (chapter 8v. 21-22) is not said directly to Noah immediately after his offering. What is immediately said is God preaching to Noah that man should not eat flesh with its life, but must eat flesh without blood. This is very interesting – why without blood?

Because the blood is for the Father, whereas the ‘living flesh’ is what we feed on. This concept of feeding on life is very important because it is meant to point to the feeding off the bread of life. This is why the Mosaic law has strict eating requirements – because it displays an aspect of the gospel. This is why God told us not to eat from the tree of good and evil, but the tree of life. But the key is not in the eating – the eating points to the truth.

Perhaps you need to read this in conjunction to the next section on the rainbow, but I believe the establishment of meat-eating is a result of the flood – the flood which is an expression of God killing the wicked flesh. For man to eat of flesh now (after the first time flesh has been killed on a global scale), in conjunction with the rainbow as a symbol of the covenant, it is a two fold witness. More on this after point number 2 which I turn to now.

2. Re-establishment of the covenant? Progressive revelation? The origin of the rainbow (Genesis 9:8-17)

This pattern follows that of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses… this whole business of God re-establishing the covenant is NOT and should NOT be a product of progressive revelation. The problem here is the assumption that Adam, Noah, Abraham and the other stooges had no conscious idea of the mediation of Christ. Something is at odd here. What of the animal sacrifices? What of the feeding of the flesh for life? What of the preaching on the blood? What of God’s provision for these animal sacrifices?

If anything, just like Christians today, the ‘re-establishment’ of the covenant is merely a ‘reminder’ of the covenant. When was the last time you went to an evangelistic Christian event and was refreshed, despite being a Christian for an odd 50+ years? How is this any different from re-establishing your ‘first love’? (Rev 2:4 a la church of Ephesus).

Therefore, this is not a ‘dispensation’; neither is this “a” covenant among many. This is merely a statement, confirming what had been stated in Genesis 3:15; what will be stated in Genesis 12; what is again stated in Genesis 15. Why in this way? There is a parallel between the establishment of the rainbow as a “sign of the covenant” and circumcision as a “sign of the covenant” (Genesis 17:9-14).

Before I talk about the rainbow and covenant theology, I want to clarify one thing. I am not saying that Adam knew where and when Christ would be born; I am not saying that Noah knew Christ would be a Nazarene and would wear a crown of thorns. What I am saying, however, is that Adam, Enoch, Noah are examples of Christians who have sufficient knowledge of the mediatorial work; of the God-man seed; of the blood necessary for the sacrifice; of the grace of God’s provision of this atoning sacrifice; of the Spirit of God who strives in all men. This, I would say, is far more clear, revealed and profound than the average Christian’s knowledge of God today.

Onto the rainbow – I’m not a big fan of natural sciences/theology, but provided a cross-centered theology can come from the natural sciences, then I’m the biggest fan, for all creation speaks his name (Psalm 19 and Romans 1). Why in particular did God choose to use a rainbow? In the covenant shown through circumcision, God shows that blood must be shed and cut from the flesh, from where the seed will come from (yes, the male genitalia, hence women are excluded from this rite). Then the covenant shown through baptism, to signal the baptism of the heart. Without going into the debate of whether baptism is a direct continuation from circumcision (..it is) and whether these covenant expressions relate to the same covenant (..they are), let us look at what Peter has to say about baptism for example:

“…because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Christ” (1 Peter 3:20-21)

How is it possible that baptism be something spoken of BEFORE the Spirit was given to all flesh? That is because the covenant of grace, the one covenant, has been established long before. Of what covenant did John speak of in 2 John 5? This is not a new commandment, “but the one we have had from the beginning – that we love one another”. Thus, each covenants merely re-confirm something old and in the past. The gospel has been provided to Noah, but this time the expression is shown through the expression of the rainbow. Does circumcision not apply? Does baptism not apply? I think both are applicable to Noah; in the same way, do we require baptism? Do we require circumcision? Indeed we don’t ‘require’ them to be saved; but they are marks of our salvation in this period of time, when Christ has fulfilled his work on the cross. Circumcision no longer carries the same weight. Baptism carries the new sacramental weight that circumcision once carried.

But the rainbow is especially wonderful – it is something that establishes God covenant with men throughout all ages; as if showing that the covenant made between Adam and him still endures to this day! What is most important about this covenant is that it is from God to us, rather than from us to him. Dr. Mike Reeves, the theological advisor for the UCCF, says that the problem of today’s view of the holy sacraments is that it is a ‘self-expression of faith’; contrarily, God never viewed the sacraments as such. Baptism, circumcision, the communion, and the rainbow – are all established and fulfilled by God himself. We are merely administers of what has been won; we are merely the messengers of the victory which we did not gain by our own strength. In the same way, the rainbow proclaims this truth. Can we control when and where the rainbow appears? No. Can the circumcised 8-day old infants control when and where they are to be circumcised? If not, I don’t see why suddenly we can control when to be baptised; when to have communion… the logic doesn’t follow (unless, of course, you don’t think these 4 covenantal expressions are different altogether?). It is, if anything, an expression from God to us – not from us to Him. The gospel is thrusted upon all men on earth without our choice; our choice lies in receiving it. It, however, is our choice to DENY the gospel being spread by the doctrine of credo-baptism; our choice to DENY communion being taken by those who don’t ‘appear’ to be Christians (e.g. young Christians are denied communion in several churches).

In the same way, paraphrasing C.S. Lewis, we all stand under the same sun-light, which witnesses the true light by which we see all things in their truth. Can we control how the sun’s rays are spread across the earth? … I think not. However, it is our choice to create pollution and stop the natural sun rays from reaching every corner of the earth. If it is unnatural for the rainbow not to be displayed through the devices of nature, then it should be equally unnatural for other sacraments to be denied its rightful expression just because WE are cautious about the gospel.

A little thing to say about the science of ‘light’ which consists of the colours of the rainbow. Perhaps you can tell me more about how rainbows come around, but as far as I remember, the combination of rain and the sunlight provide us with this wonderful imagery. Science in the gospel? Surely not!! Perhaps this would make some sense if we accept that Jesus is ‘the’ true rationale, ‘the’ true science’, ‘the’ true logic, as opposed to the overall-less-than-accurate logics and sciences this world provides. But even if we come to understand that rain and sun combines to disperse the rays of light into seven colours (maybe there is something here between dispersion of light into seven colours, and the dispersion of the people over the whole earth under Genesis 9:19?), it is easy to be idolatrous of the rainbow and forget the message of the diluvian judgment. How often it is for someone to look at the rainbow and be in awe; but forget the message of the gospel and the true global punishment to come? How often do we look at baptism and assume that we are looking at a now newly righteous Christian, but forget that the baptism points to the true righteous and blessed man (Psalm 1)?

Points 1 and 2 together – this two fold witness is akin to communion and baptism today. What we have is the ark, a symbol of the baptism; the rainbow being an everlasting covenant while the seasons last and while this earth remains; and the eating is the communion whereupon the flesh can only be eaten AFTER the blood has been shed. So here, the work of Christ is symbolically complete after the flood; blood symbolically has been shed (both literally of all flesh, and symbolically of Christ’s mediatorial offering through the ark). And now, we eat flesh in remembrance of the animals which have died innocently for man’s sake – through meat offering. What say you?

3. The fall of Canaan and the future of Noah’s sons (Genesis 9:18-29)

What is interesting here is a confirmation of Noah’s drunkenness as an establishment of his moral fallacy. Is this the same man that God had favour upon? Sure. Does he look like the righteous saint that some Jews and Muslims proclaim him to be? Hm… surely not. This helps to enforce the message of God’s graciousness and one-sided fulfillment of the covenant.

What is more important here is see how Canaan came to be the cursed nation. The interesting thing is how it is Ham who decided not to cover his father’s nakedness and subject him to embarassment. The story of v. 21-23 is that of a man who decided to gossip about his father’s nakedness to his brothers, rather than act as Shem and Japheth had rightly acted. They were respectful enough to turn backward, so as not to see their Father’s nakedness.

I think something can be said here about the father’s nakedness. The last we hear of nakedness is in the garden, whereupon the fig leaves were there to cover Adam and Eve’s respective ‘shame’. Prior to the fall they had been naked and without shame. God supported this veil through the expression of the animal skin, and through the cherubim with flaming swords. The veil is still there.

4. The table of Nations (Genesis 10)

Here is a version inspired by Bruce Waltke’s work on his Genesis commentary. I created a more comprehensive table compared to Walkte’s work here at http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=poyj8XlGljMoAoP6Vp63ZWg.

If you look at the more comprehensive table (if you are confused about the colour coding, press ‘Sheet 2’ on the comprehensive table above for the legend), you can see that God fulfills his promise from Adam, to Noah, to Shem, to Abram (and unsurprisingly to Isaac, then Jacob – until we reach David, Solomon then Christ. As for the other nations, God’s proclamation has maintained true – “cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers”. Indeed – look at the sons of Ham. Cush and Canaan both are fathers of the Ninevites, Babylonians, Assyrians, Sodomites… all with negative reputation throughout the rest of Scripture. Egypt (perhaps the father of Egypt, but Psalm 68:31 seems to imply that Cush is the father) is a father of the Philistines as well.

Why was the curse only on Canaan? It is unexplained but I offer two views. One, is that Cush, Egypt and Put had not been born yet; contrarily, Canaan is the eldest son – thus the original sin passing down to the children, and the eldest son bearing the name and the representation of the family. However, this sin clearly does not affect only Canaan; Cush, Egypt and Put have also been affected somewhat, by looking at the calibre of those from their genealogical lineage.

5. Works-salvation via the tower of Babel and the confusion of ‘tongue’ (Genesis 11:1-9)

Let’s clarify some points for this sub-section. There had already been different languages prior to Genesis 11. Look at Genesis 10:5 – “…From these the coastland peoples spread in their lands, each with his own language, by their clans, in their nations”. So it isn’t as if our situation now is somehow “worse” in terms of communication with the people then. Rather, God is trying to say something when there is a confusion of the language of all the earth (v. 9). What, therefore, does it mean when Chapter 11v.1 starts with ‘the whole earth had one language and the same words’?

Paul Blackham vouches that 11:1 in the Hebrew should be better understood as “the whole world had one mind and a common understanding”.

What I find most amusing about this chapter is that Psalm 2 almost corresponds directly to it. Whilst I have yet to cover the Psalms, Bullinger has credited the 5 books of Psalms directly to the 5 books of Moses, and the first book of Psalm, which includes Psalm 2, is inevitably a commentary of the events in Genesis. We have here the Lord saying in v. 7 – “come, let US go down and there confuse their language/common understanding”. A hint at the Trinity no doubt – but here is what David wrote concerning this particular type of event:

“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, 3 ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heaven laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill”. 7 I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You shall break/rule them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”” – Psalm 2:1-9

Does this look like David is ‘reading the Trinity into the Scriptures’, as many of my theological background have been accused of doing? I wonder how David could even have a working knowledge of the Trinity, where here the Father is speaking to the Son and the Jews, as Bullinger picked up, have once observed that the first book of the Psalm is a commentary of Genesis. Let me look at the semantics – ‘kings of the earth’, and ‘rulers’ – were there any ‘kings’ and ‘rulers’ before the time of the book of Kings and Judges?

Let’s look at the Hebrew for ‘king’ – which is malak. Malak, the root, means to take counsel, to give counsel or to rise to a throne. Psalm 2 is importantly about the ‘holy hill’. Is Psalm 2 simply speaking of ‘kings of the earth and rulers’? Does it not involve the wicked as well (Psalm 1:5)? As Psalm 1 and 2 have been traditionally read together as one Psalm, the ‘kings’ and ‘rulers’ can be interpreted as those who wish to ‘rise to the throne’ – and undoubtedly, their rebellion against God by ‘rising to’ the throne of God (Psalm 2:3 “Let us burst their (the Trinity) bonds apart”).  Even so, the concept of ‘kindship’ is not foreign to the nations at this point – Genesis 13 and 14 displays a knowledge of earthly kingdoms which Israel attempted to emulate against God’s wishes.

There is therefore a huge parallel between Psalm 2 and the story of the Tower. We have here nations, taking counsel together, building a tower, to rise to the throne where God resides. Coincidence? There is no other chapter in Genesis which speaks of the dispersion of nations across the earth. And what is the first thing they do as “the people migrated from the EAST… found a plain in the land of Shinar”? Three things to notice:

(a) Shinar is where the people of Cush’s genealogy, specifically the nation of Calneh, have settled (look at my Table of Nations). This is a fulfillment of God’s prophetic curse on the sons of Ham.

(b) ‘East’ has always had a negative connotation in Scripture (e.g. east of the garden/east of Eden).

(c) The confusion of the language is a punishment akin to ‘dashing them in pieces like a potter’s vessel’, whereupon they are now dispersed, incapable of joining together to rebel against God.

Why is the confusion of ‘tongues’ rather than ‘languages’ important? Because this is a direct contrast to Acts 2 – the Pentecost.

At the Pentecost everyone heard the gospel message in his or her own language. It wasn’t as if all languages suddenly became one. Rather, ‘all had a common understanding’ of the gospel in Acts 2:4-11! “The disciples addressed the whole crowd with the gift of tongues, and the whole crowd heard him in their own language” – as per Blackham’s Biblical Frameworks on The Biblical Spirit.

Therefore, the giving of the Spirit on all flesh is to unite the understanding of all men – Jews AND Gentiles. Contrast this to Genesis 11, which speaks of the dispersion (and undoubtedly the disconnection and disunity and discord) of the nations which rebel against God.

What does this have to do with works salvation? Well quite obviously, the nations are intending to usurp or reach God’s throne through their own hand and their own works. It’s not even a matter of God ‘helping’ me do something (a la Eve when she referred to her God-son Cain (Genesis 4:1)). Some may even admire the nations for attempting to reach God; Bullinger actually makes an interesting note in his ‘Witness of the Stars” introduction:

This is what is doubtless meant by Genesis 11:4, “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven.” The words “may reach” are in italics. There is nothing in the verse which relates to the height of this tower. It merely says, and his top with the heavens, i.e. with the pictures and the stars, just as we find them in the ancient temples of Denderah and Esneh in Egypt. This tower, with its planisphere and pictures of the signs and constellations, was to be erected like those temples were afterwards, in order to preserve the revelation, “lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”

This is corroborated by Lieut.-Gen. Chesney, well known for his learned researches and excavations among the ruins of Babylon, who, after describing his various discoveries, says, “About five miles S.W. of Hillah, the most remarkable of all the ruins, the Birs Nimroud of the Arabs, rises to a height of 153 feet above the plain from a base covering a square of 400 feet, or almost four acres. It was constructed of kiln-dried bricks in seven stages to correspond with the planets to which they were dedicated: the lowermost black, the colour of Saturn; the next orange, for Jupiter; the third red, for Mars; and so on. * These stages were surmounted by a lofty tower, on the summit of which, we are told, were the signs of the Zodiac and other astronomical figures; thus having (as it should have been translated) a representation of the heavens, instead of ‘a top which reached unto heaven.'”

* Fragments of these coloured glazed bricks are to be seen in the British Museum.

A word of warning about Bullinger – I, by no means, hold to his hyperdispensationalism, let alone dispensationalism in general. I respectfully disagree with all who hold to this as of yet, because it contradicts the Jesus-centered focus which the Scriptures provide. Progressive dispensationalism may seem like a milder version of dispensationalism, but it is still the same story of progress and misunderstanding of the relationship between the Old and New Testament, when the ‘New Testament’ has been so well-known in the Old, and the relationship between the law and the gospel has been so widely misunderstood by the general dispensationalism of today. Dev Menon has written an essay on the relationship between the law and gospel here. Please do come back to me on this point as I’m happy to engage in some Spirit-inspired discussions. Despite my theological convictions, I wouldn’t deny the possibility of Bullinger’s research on whether the tower is one trying to reach the throne of God, or a mock-representation of the throne. Either way, it involves a self-work centered rebellion against the Trinity, an attempt to mock the bond between the Father, Son and the Spirit. The full introduction of Bullinger’s “Witness of the Stars” can be found here: http://www.levendwater.org/books/witness/intro.htm

6. The remnant via Shem (Genesis 11:10-32)

Despite this, we end this chapter with hope – we now turn to the story of Abraham. Such is the pattern of the writing in Genesis so far: the portrayal of a problem, that is the sin of man – and a solution, as prophesied and fulfilled by the Trinity Himself.

Genesis 9-11: The dispersion of nations

Genesis 6-8: Noah and the Gospel

Genesis 6:1-8 – here we see the Nephilim who were on earth, while the sons of God mated with the daughters of man. Who are these sons of God? Job 1:6 implies that they are angels, like Satan. These angels have followed after the pattern of the first Deceiver and Murderer, and went against God’s will by choosing to “go into” these daughters of men.

Jude 5-7 seems to explain this in some detail:

“Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day — 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire (“other flesh” in the ESV footnote), served as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”

This verse reveals two things – the participation of the Son of God in saving people out of the land of Egypt and ‘other flesh’.

(1) The problem here is that people tend to imply that the faith of the Israelites in Jesus was vague here. That, ‘technically’, it is Christ who saved them, though they had no idea. I am not denying that there were plenty who failed to see the Angel of the Lord as the son of God, but that should not be a sweeping statement for all Israelites. Indeed, how is Jude capable of understanding the Angel as God’s son, except by understanding that this same Angel keeps on referring to himself as the Lord who brought them out of Egypt, the Second Person of the Trinity? Some scholars have had trouble understanding the different usages of “Lord” in the Pentateuch as to doubt the singular authorship of the 5 books, but I provide a simpler explanation. The different usages of “Lord” is because there are indeed two Lords mentioned – the Father, and the Son who brought the people out of Egypt.

(2) Secondly, is the issue of the “unnatural desire”, or “other flesh”. Here we see the term ‘sexual immorality’ coupled with ‘unnatural desire’. Surely, sexual immorality IS a type of unnatural desire? Why is Jude making himself redundant? It is because he is not referring to the same thing. The verses in Jude, in context, refer the ‘unnatural desire’, the ‘other flesh’ (or strange flesh as some translate it), refers to angelic flesh. The context of Sodom and Gomorrah sees men desiring to have sex with the guests of Lot – the angels. This tradition of course hails from the Noahic period, when women and angels mated and the Nephilim were the result of such mating. Even more so does it prophesy to the truth that the Son of God would not mate with any human on earth, but value his singleness for one bride alone – not because the bride is attractive as the angels saw it and succumb to their lustful desires, but because the Son loves the bride unconditionally and according to the time and plan of God the Father.

From v. 6-8, we see the LORD pained and sorry to have created men on earth, as the men have chosen to go freely against his will. We must remember that although God is sovereign, he is still easily pained by our actions, by our sins.

His decision to blot out all men/animals/creeping things and bird of heaven is very interesting. Why did he omit the sea creatures, which he had also made? Why did his punishment have to be in the form of a global flood, and not fire? Because Noah and the family is the church. Before we move on to that, Noah had found ‘favour’ in the eyes of God, so let’s look at this first.

Favour of Noah

Now it is important not to read this as if Noah was particularly pious, as some Muslims have read this (much the same way they read Enoch). Hebrews 11:7 –

“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”

This is the same faith as faith in Christ alone. That, in itself, was sufficient to find favour in the eyes of God. This is extremely important, that throughout Scripture, though there are periods in which it refers to personal ‘righteousness’, and imputed ‘righteousness’, most of the time it refers to the latter than the former if God is pleased with the ‘righteous’ person. It is most likely because that person has faith in Christ.

The Flood

A few things to note:

1. Why the sea creatures were not punished

Genesis 6:17 –

“For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven”.

and again, Genesis 7:15 –

“They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life.”

As I have previously noted, God has surprisingly left out the sea creatures. Why? Because the sea creatures, as I have stated in my post on Genesis Day 2 and 5, are symbolic of the lost men without the ‘breath of life’, the Spirit, dwelling inside of them. Genesis 6:17 seems to imply that all flesh on earth, save the fish, have the breath of life to sustain them. Yet, our role as Christians is to be fishers of men, and to bring the fish out onto the dry land and to give them a new Spirit and new physical body to remain alive on the dry land.

However, we mustn’t look at the picture of the sea creatures by themselves, for the gospel picture isn’t going to function by looking at the sea creatures here in the Noahic flood. We must merge the pieces of the puzzle together to see the gospel in entirety. By itself, it would be hard to understand why God DIDN’T punish the fish, if the fish is allegedly the representation of lost and unsaved men.

2. The creation of the ark and its symbolism

God is extremely precise – much the same way he was with the creation of the garden of God which houses the tree of life, again here we see God describing a ‘tabernacle’ in which the church of Christ would dwell throughout the prophetic global punishment, which though it is a global flood will become a global fire in the future. 2 Peter 3:3-7:

“…that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and the earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly”.

This is quite important. Enoch, being the great-grandfather of Noah, had prophesied to the second coming, of the tens of thousands of God’s angels coming to destroy all entities which have no faith in the Promised Seed. Noah, undoubtedly, had inherited his teachings (albeit not necessarily directly from Enoch, but very possibly from the very fact of being Enoch’s descendant, explaining his and his family’s faith in the Lord). Enoch knew quite well of the second coming – and Noah knew that this flood is NOT the second coming. Indeed, he must have known that Enoch was not referring to the global flood when all things on earth was destroyed, but Enoch was speaking of a period in the future when the hosts of heaven would come to destroy the ungodly. This flood was merely a foretaste, and Noah was still awaiting the true global punishment of the ungodly.

The detail or the ark here is of course similar to when the Tabernacle instructions were given in the latter chapters of Exodus. This, however, is the first time God asked man to create something under God’s instruction – the tabernacle being the second time. What is the importance of this ark? Couldn’t God have just asked Noah, in his own wisdom, to create an ark without God’s instructions? Or does God want us to see something extremely important, suggested through the details of the pairs of earthly creatures, male and female? Why 7 pairs of clean animals? And why a pair of animals that are unclean? 7 pairs of the birds of heaven to keep their offspring alive? God isn’t haphazard. This isn’t a ‘random’ salvation – he is trying to tell us something through Moses in this message.

To begin with, let’s see what the apostle Peter observed. 1 Peter 3:20-22 –

“…because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, 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, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.”

From here, it seems to maintain one truth – that the preparation of the ark needed to be complete before the flood, the global punishment. Peter here intimates that Jesus is what the ark, in itself, prophesied to – that the global flood judgment is a prophecy to the global fiery punishment in Christ’s second coming.

3. The clean and unclean animals

Some have said that there is contradiction in the language here concerning the animals, but it appears that Genesis 6:19-22 is focusing on the procreation of the animals in the ark (hence the male/female pairing), whereas Genesis 7:2-3 is focusing on the sacrificial aspects of the clean vs. unclean animals (and the number 7 should represent the perfection of God’s sovereignty over the Noahic flood affair). This is most interesting, for the Mosaic law has not been given. How did Abel know of sacrificing animals to God? As I have already mentioned, Abel knew because his father, Adam, understood the significance of the animal skins, that life had to be taken for another’s life. Furthermore, they did not eat meat – this is most odd then for Abel to provide an animal sacrifice (for most people provide the best of what they consume/eat to their gods, much like the sacrificial systems to the gods of the Orient). Here, again, God has provided not only animals, but CLEAN animals for Noah to sacrifice. This is all seemingly anachronistic, but it appears that Noah knew more about Christ and the sacrifices than we assume him to know, given the downside of some parts of the theology of progressive revelation.

The Gospel

Let’s sum up the bits above.

We have

(1) The ark = Christ

(2) Noah and family = the (believing) church

(3) Flood = global punishment

(4) Sea creatures = unsaved men without the Spirit

(5) The birds and the creatures on earth = also saved in Christ

So, what we have is the full gospel-image portrayed. Noah, who, with the 7 clean animals sacrificed to God, had in faith understood that there is going to be an even bigger believing church against a growing opposition of the ungodly as according to his great-grandfather’s teachings. He understood the flood as merely prophetic of the global punishment by the hosts of heaven, and that the birds and creatures on earth, like men, will also be saved unto heaven. Only the fish in the sea will be unsaved, for they represent the unsaved men on earth; whereas, the birds and creatures on earth, we can safely assume, already have the Spirit of life in them. Yet, what is most amazing is that man is given the privilege of ‘choice’ (mind you, NOT FREE WILL, for I am no Arminian as some may assume by my constant bantering on ‘choice’ in previous posts), that we choose to deny or accept the Spirit of life, either to remain in the ark/Christ, or the remain in the sea/punishment.

Post-flood

Here, we see again the prophetic work of the Spirit. Chapter 8v.1 states that “God made a ‘wind’ blow over the earth, and the waters subsided”. Many times, ‘wind’, the ruach of God, refers to the Spirit. This again occurred when God made a wind blow through the Red Sea. Here, it is by the Spirit that the waters of punishment subside and that the waters abate and the dry land is seen. This is the same message preached on Genesis day 3 and 6 – the dry land after the waters of punishment. For there will be no uncontrollable sea, but a river and stream of life in new Creation, much to the similarities of the rivers in Eden.

Yet, is this it? Can God be pleased with Noah and his family, as if everything is restored? I don’t think God intended for everything to be restored in this way. After the flood, there has been no more (known) instances of angels mating with women. But sin still persists. The picture is immediately grim. The world has immediately, again, fallen into sin. Surely the gospel shown in this flood still shows something yet to occur – and that the event in itself should not be given the attention it does NOT deserve. It wasn’t an awesome act of God compared to the true work of Christ. Even the parting of the Red Sea had been given non-proportional attention! All these things, all these acts of God, all these prophecies, look forward to the true work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Cross, indeed, is the center of what creation looks at, is the very meaning of the covenant with God re-affirms with Noah in Genesis 9, to which I will turn to in the next post.

Genesis 6-8: Noah and the Gospel

Genesis 4 & 5 – Death, sacrifice and life

A few things to highlight in these two chapters!

1. Cain

2. The relationship between Cain and Abel

3. The sacrifices

4. Blood

5. The mark on Cain

6. Cain’s lineage, the Kenites

7. “The name of the LORD”

8. Enoch (chapter 5)

1. Cain

In chapter 4v.1, “…Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” Paul Blackham renders a more faithful Hebrew interpretation, which is “I have brought forth the LORD-man” (pg. 29 Genesis book-by-book). John Calvin notes this interpretation which many have made before, and he admits to the possibility that Eve has mistaken her first son to be the Redeemer. Yet, much like the long wilderness which the Israelites had to suffer in the Exodus, the 400 years in Egypt, the 400 years of silence before incarnation of the Anointed One as Messiah… Eve has to look to the far future, in faith, for the Messiah to redeem her.

2. The relationship between Cain and Abel

Now Calvin here notes that Cain and Abel may be twins – what I find interesting however is that this story mirrors that of Jacob and Esau. Again, Esau, the first-born should be given the rights of inheritance and lineage, yet it is Jacob whom the Lord appointed as the one through whom the Messiah will be born as man. The pattern is shown firstly here, the Lord blessing the younger, just as he blessed Esau, just as he blessed Joseph within the book of Genesis. This speaks much truth in showing how physical lineage has nothing to do with salvation – it is only by faith that one is saved. v. 3-5 states, “In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard”. Cain was not deprived of the relationship with God just because Abel was favoured – Cain, too, could have gained the LORD’s favour by offering more than just corn from the cob.

3. The sacrifices

Just as Esau wanted the inheritance more than Jacob, here Abel displays his faith by honouring God with with the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. The funny thing is, the Mosaic law has not even been enforced! Why would Abel know about blood sacrifices? Some have said that this is a primitive form of sacrificing that the human mind has conjured from the blue. I have heard others say that God was not pleased with Cain’s offering because it wasn’t the firstfruits of his vegetable, that had he provided the firstfruits of his vegetable then it would be fine.

The problem with those assumptions is that they find no biblical support, save an a priori interpretation that God firstly worked differently because the Mosaic law was not in place; secondly an a priori interpretation that Cain and Abel had no idea what the Messiah’s saving work would be like.

Hebrews 11v.4-6 states it quite clearly:

4By faith(D) Abel offered to God(E) a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And(F) through his faith, though he died, he(G) still speaks.”

Now, my question is, how does the writer of Hebrews interpret this word “faith”? Now there is no real dispute as to the theology behind the letter as that of Paul’s (though it may or may not be written by him), and seeing that the authorship of Hebrews is later than Romans, how was “faith” defined in Romans?

Romans 4:4-5

“Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness”,

whereupon Paul then quotes David’s Psalm 32:1,2, whereby the King spoke also of how blessed is the man whose lawless deeds are forgiven. Our faith which emulates that of David and Abraham (spoken of in Romans 4), is no different from the faith of David and Abraham which emulates that of Abel. This is manifestly shown not through theological implication, but directly by Abel’s sacrifice. We saw that Adam and Eve were struck by the sacrifice of animals, the first physical death and blood which they witnessed and which the LORD had provided for them. This act in itself has displayed the core truth of the gospel – that the LORD will provide the animal sacrifice to save man. No surprise then to see that Eve made the mistake of thinking her son to be the LORD-man, but her anticipation is overturned by her over-enthusiasm (and perhaps impatience) for the LORD-man to redeem her and Adam.


4. Blood

The revelation lies in the blood. So while some have said that it is about sacrificing from the heart, the Lord isn’t merely pleased by our wholesome worship. Our worship must conform with his standards, not conform to our own. How often I have heard people attempting to worship God, without an ounce of repentance for their sexual sins, their pride, their self-centeredness? Are we to worship God only by our particular laws, and expect God to stoop down and accept our subjective forms of worship? No – faith is defined by faith in Christ alone, not by any other standard. Even for Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel, their faith is defined by faith in Christ alone. They did not believe in a generic God – Adam and Eve knew better. They knew that God would save them through their son, whom the Lord will provide. It is impliedly shown that Eve believed this son to be the “LORD-son”, the Chalcedonian definition of the son of God. Thus far, it is quite fair to say that Adam and Eve had a working (though probably not in the Nicene Creedal manner) knowledge of the Father, providing the Son as their Redeemer and mediator, whose work is manifestly shown in the animal sacrifice.

I think this is where Abel gets his knowledge of the animal sacrifice. Not through pagan culture. Not through human conjuring. Not through the convenience of his job (as sheep keeper). No – God’s standard, his laws, have been from alpha to omega the same! It is BLOOD which is needed for the covenant to be fulfilled. Hebrews 9:18, “Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated(AO) without blood.” I have said that the covenant between God and man had been established before creation in the last post, and the first covenant and the new covenant only occurred chronologically in terms of fulfillment, rather than revelation. This means that the old covenant, the law, was established to display God’s character; yet the new covenant, the gospel, was ALSO already established when the LORD provided Christ as mediator from the beginning of creation. Adam and Eve saw the display of God’s law through the sacrifice and blood – that is the Old Covenant displayed; and they had their faith in the God-son, the true God-son – and in that way, he already believed in the New Covenant. Yet, although the Old Covenant was inaugurated by blood, the first men and women already had faith in Christ, the mediator of the great gospel. The only difference between their faith and ours, is that they looked forward to the fulfillment of the New Covenant which they were already aware of; whereas we look back to the New Covenant which has already been fulfilled, and now look forward to new creation of heaven and earth to which even Moses and others also looked forward to.

Now, of course, Abel knows that this animal blood is insufficient! Why? Because he himself is not the God-son, and neither is Cain. They, like Adam and Eve, still look forward to that Seed (Gen 3:15) – but their works are merely foretellings of what that Seed will do. This BLOOD is the lifeblood through which life is sacrificed for another life. These are merely copies of heavenly things, as Hebrews 9 states:

“23Thus it was necessary for(AU) the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24For Christ has entered, not into holy places(AV) made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God(AW) on our behalf. 25Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as(AX) the high priest enters(AY) the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is,(AZ) he has appeared(BA) once for all(BB) at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27And just as(BC) it is appointed for man to die once, and(BD) after that comes judgment, 28so Christ, having been offered once(BE) to bear the sins of(BF) many, will appear(BG) a second time,(BH) not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly(BI) waiting for him.”

I think it is extremely important to see that without blood, no covenant could be represented. This theme is repeated continuously in Leviticus, and also in Exodus prior to the Mosaic law, as well as shown in the circumcision of the 8-year-old boys starting from Abraham’s days. This theme of blood did not only begin with Abraham, shown more clearly at Moses – the theme of BLOOD being the currency for life-giving is shown right when animals were sacrificed for Adam and Eve, and animal again was sacrificed to display Abel’s faith.

5. The mark on Cain

One can not only see Cain’s inability to see the truth of the gospel, but he has failed to respond to God’s favour and grace. God disciplines Cain by looking over his inability to provide an animal sacrifice; but Cain responds in hardened rebellion by killing Abel, whom he is meant to be the keeper of. What a dire situation of family politics! Again, this theme is repeated in the story of Moses vs. the Pharoah, whereupon God the graceful has been patient with the Pharoah prior to the hardening of his heart. Pharoah was blessed with the God-given responsibility to be the keeper of the Hebrews by the grace of Joseph’s influence on the Egyptian Empire in the latter chapters of Genesis; hereby, Cain was blessed with the God-given responsibility, as a family member to be his “brother’s keeper”. Here, we see the true form of Cain – he has taken on the form of Satan, who also turned on his role as the man’s keeper as the “guardian cherub” (Ezekiel 28), and decided to rebel and harden himself against God. Yet, it is again a mark of God’s grace that Cain is protected from others.

6. Cain’s lineage, the Kenites

The problem now is Lamech, one of Cain’s descendants, self-proclamation of divine protection. v. 24 states, “If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.” Really? The LORD has been silent during Lamech’s proclamation; it seems like Lamech has taken grace cheaply, and the Kenites have followed the tradition of their father’s sin while they settle in the land of Nod, east of Eden. What is peculiar here is the constant refrain of Cain’s son being a “father of those who…” dwell in tents and have livestock; play the lyre and piper; forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. It is not short to say that if this is literal historical ancestry, then it is in direct clash with evolutionary thoughts of the ‘bronze’ and ‘iron’ age – yet time is not accounted for here, and it is very possible that since the early humans lived up to 1000 years old, that this lineage could very well have encompassed many hundreds to thousands of years (but not more). Yet, in spite of all these physical gifts and blessings does Cain historical lineage end in the same pattern of human sin that is inescapable for all the glories of Cain’s history in this part of chapter 4.

7. “The name of the LORD”

In v. 26 we have people who “began to call upon the name of the LORD”. Here, I’m quite happy to say that those who think the ‘name of the LORD’ Jehovah has not been pronounced prior to Moses is quite mistaken. We see here that they have already begun worshipping God, after being banished from Eden, in faith of the Seed and in practice of the unofficial sacrificial system. The Mosaic law will indeed come along to display the fuller and more horrifying extent of their sins, sure – but the essence of the faith lies in the gospel of Christ’s blood sacrifice, not in the magnitude of their sin (though that is already displayed through the murderous tendencies of Lamech, and again later shown by the Noahic flood).

8. Enoch

While there is a lot to say concerning Seth and descendants, what is noted is that for all their longevity, all of them face the inevitability of death. This is the curse pronounced on all men – yet why was Enoch not found (e.g. taken up, like Elijah)? v. 24 says that God took him, but why?

I think the story here has a two-fold meaning. One, is the emphasis on death and a fulfillment of God’s proclamation of death on all ‘adam in Genesis 3. Secondly, is the story taught by Enoch. We hear about him twice more in the NT, the book of Jude and Hebrews:

14It was also about these that Enoch,(AL) the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying,(AM) “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15(AN) to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have(AO) committed in such an ungodly way, and of all(AP) the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16These are grumblers, malcontents,(AQ) following their own sinful desires;(AR) they are loud-mouthed boasters,(AS) showing favoritism to gain advantage. (Jude 14-16)

And again, in Hebrews 11:5-6:

5By faith(H) Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God(I) must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

The Pauline theology seems to imply that Enoch was taken up BECAUSE he had faith in God. Again, Enoch, the 7th from Adam, is prophesied to have clarity of how judgment is executed on all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness. Those who follow their own sinful desires. Again, I ask, that without the law being given – how would Enoch be aware of God’s standards? If anything, Enoch seems to display an amount of faith that rivals even those Christians today who have the entire Scripture, New and Old Testament allegedly written in their hearts.

Concluding thoughts

I think what is important to note here, however, is the silence on Cain’s wife, the silence on the land of Nod and those who would persecute Cain, the silence on the rest of Cain’s family, the silence on a lot of the biographies of these people. I think it is a literary vehicle through which God is asking us to focus on the important aspects of what is being preached, rather than being obsessed with the insignificant and possibly unedifying details of these people’s lives – the fact that certain names are not mentioned, that certain things are unexplained tend to lead to two conclusions. One, is the a priori skepticism which plagues so many non-Christian and Christian mindsets – leading to some seriously questionable leaps of interpretations (such as denying the coherence of Scripture because of a lack of autobiographical accounting of Cain’s wife, a common non-Christian argument especially in the Tennessee Evolution case) or even that Enoch, as in the view of some Jews and Muslims, was simply so righteous by his own standards that the Lord decided to whisk him up because he was better than the rest. These silences indeed allow the human mind and wander but lead to their own interpretation. What we can say, however, is that these a priori interpretations start on the wrong footing, because it fails to take into account the continuation of the covenant; continuation of the blood; continuation of the Trinity. If Jesus is the alpha and the omega, if he says Scripture is all about him (John 5:39), then surely in every bit of Scripture, we see marks of the gospel portrayed in these ancient people’s lives.

Furthermore, these wrong-footed interpretations also make several exegetical fallacies, from failing to understand the purpose of the book of Genesis as a book of salvation history, rather than verbatim autobiographical history; to failing to see that just because names are not mentioned does not mean they do not exist (e.g. Adam and Eve may have had several more other descendants, but it is the heads of the families which are mentioned). Just as the Israelite population had expanded to hundreds of thousands between the period of Genesis and Exodus, can one therefore charge the two books to be contradictory to be one another, or do we have the humility to accept that there can be safe theological implications that there is more which happened than that is written? Perhaps in this way, we won’t discredit nor disrespect our Father in heaven by asking for verbatim Scriptural support for every theological truth (though there are moments when that is necessary), when theological implications are just as important and necessary to understand the Trinitarian soundings of the Old Testament.

Genesis 4 & 5 – Death, sacrifice and life

Genesis 1-3: the Garden of God

Here are a few popular views of the Garden of Eden:

1. Eden itself is the garden (aka the garden isn’t ‘in’ Eden, but the garden ‘is’ Eden)

2. The garden is in the middle of a flat wasteland

3. The garden is just like any regular garden, except that it is a souped-up godly version of a beautiful garden (aka SUPER-beautiful garden).

Here is a picture to fuel more popular conception:

Notice how God (the Son) is speaking to Adam and Eve? And that 3rd heaven is in sight? There are SOME theological truths in Louis Cranach (the same man who painted Luther’s portrait)’s rendition of the garden, but let’s find some Scriptural support to disprove the popular conceptions of Eden which to me is not Christo-centric enough.

I think by saying the three are ‘popular’ conceptions it is a big give-away that they are not what I believe. Firstly, Eden is a place mentioned throughout the Bible, especially Isaiah 37:12 and 2 Kings 19:12 which speaks of the “people of Eden, who were in Telassar” which the fathers of the Assyrians destroyed, whereas the garden is IN this place. Yet, at the same time, Eden is given an image of blessing – Isaiah 51:3 speaks of the waste places and wilderness as changed to being like Eden and then “her desert being like the garden of the LORD”. Then there is the mentioning of the trees of Eden in Ezekiel 31 as the ‘choice and best of Lebanon’, but Ezekiel 31:9 speaks specifically of the trees of Eden which were in the “garden of God”. Later, we see in Genesis 4:16 that Cain is banished to the east of “Eden”, rather than east of the garden. Prior to this, in Genesis 2:8, we have already seen that God has planted a garden “in” Eden.

From what is mentioned, it seems that Eden is a place, when compared with other geographical locations, symbolically ‘better’ than the other places mentioned throughout the OT scripture. Why would God plant the garden IN Eden? Why was Cain banished to the EAST of Eden, after Adam and Eve were banished to the EAST of the Garden? Yet, the “garden of God” or the “garden of the LORD” is a recurring alternative to the garden in/of Eden, as already mentioned in Isaiah and Ezekiel, as well as Genesis 13:10; and alluded to several times in Song of Solomon chapters 4-6, 8 (though not specifically the garden “of God”, we understand the allegorical imagery of Solomon narrating as Christ, as the Shulammite woman is the church).

Why use the particular phrase “garden of God”? I think it is more important to consider that there is no other garden strictly termed the ‘garden of God’ (though of course everything on earth is strictly His, this garden retains his exclusive possession). This expression is found again in the MOUNTAIN “of God” – Exodus 3:1; 3:12; 4:27; 15:17; 18:5; 19:3; 24:13 – then in the Psalms, especially 68:15-18 which speaks of Christ’s ascension and the gift of the Spirit given to all men, both Jew and Gentile at the Pentecost:

15O mountain of God, mountain of Bashan;
O many-peaked[b] mountain, mountain of Bashan!
16Why do you look with hatred, O many-peaked mountain,
at the mount that God(AC) desired for his abode,
yes, where the LORD will dwell forever?
17(AD) The chariots of God are twice ten thousand,
thousands upon thousands;
the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary.
18(AE) You ascended on high,
(AF) leading a host of captives in your train
and(AG) receiving gifts among men,
even among(AH) the rebellious,(AI) that the LORD God may dwell there.”

This phrase “mountain of God”, like the “garden of God” doesn’t only speak specifically of the garden in Eden, the Mt. Sinai or the mounts of Bashan – though of course, God has specifically used these locations to speak strong theological truth, the passage here speaks of both literal and historical references to geographical places; yet the passages also tell us not to miss the even more important spiritual truth that God is preaching by using those places and their names. To be specific to the context, Eden, meaning pleasure in the Hebrew עדן, is both a place of Sabbath for man (as I mentioned in my post on work theology for Genesis 2) rather than a place of work; and it is (as already established) a place where God can communicate freely with men.

And why could Adam and the woman speak so freely to God prior to the curse in Chapter 3? Was the mediator only at work in Chapter 3 when he was walking in the garden, or prior to that? Some light may be shed from Barth in his chapter on “Heaven and Earth” in his ‘Dogmatics in Outline’:

“Man is the creature of the boundary between heaven and earth; he is on earth and under heaven. He is the being that conceives his environment, who can see, hear, understand and dominate it: ‘Thou hast put all things under his (Jesus’) feet’. He is the essence of a free being in this earthly world. And the same creature stands beneath heaven… Man knows about his earthly fellow creature, because he is so unknowing in face of the heavenly world. At this inner boundary of creation stands man, as though even as a creature he had to represent this above and below, and thus, as a creature, to signify his place in a relationship which penetrates into the heights and the depths in quite a different way from that of heaven and earth…

…But we would not have said the last decisive word about creation, if we did not add that the covenant between God and man is the meaning and the glory, the ground and the goal of heaven and earth and so of the whole creation. With this we seem, but only seem, to reach out beyond the realm of knowledge and of the first article of the Confession. For by covenant we mean Jesus Christ. But it is not the case that the covenant between God and man is so to speak a second fact, something additional, but the covenant is as old as creation itself. When the existence of creation begins, God’s dealing with man also begins. For all that exists points towards man, in so far as it makes God’s purpose visible, moving towards His revealed and effective action in the covenant with Jesus Christ. The covenant is not only quite as old as creation; it is older than it. Before the world was, before heaven and earth were, the resolve or decree of God exists in view of this event in which God willed to hold communion with man, as it became inconceivably true and real in Jesus Christ. And when we ask about the meaning of existence and creation, about their ground and goal, we have to think of this covenant between God and man.”

So we mustn’t think the work of the mediator only occurred post-fall/post-curse – the work of the mediator, through whom God would commune with men, has been a covenant established before creation, before heaven and earth.

Is there more Scriptural support for this that explains this covenant between man, who stands in between heaven and earth, who finds his image of God in Christ (where everything is placed under Christ’s feet), the Christ who is the true mediator between fallen men and the Father? The covenant between heaven and earth, the covenant between the invisible and the visible, the covenant between God and man? I think this ties in smoothly with the garden of Eden being also the garden of God, and we find this truth established in the book of Exodus where Mt. Sinai is synonymously the mountain of God.

So while I try not to tread too much on the grounds of exegetically understanding the Scripture concerning the tabernacle, here is a brief foretaste: we already know that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all lived in tents in hope of the heavenly home (Hebrews 11:8-16). The animal’s blood in the OT couldn’t actually atone for sin (and this Moses knew). Scripture consistently provides this ‘spiritual’ tangent to all the physical things. I’ve expressed that thoroughly in my handling of Barth’s interpretation of heaven and earth, as well as the obvious spiritual patterns behind the blood sacrifices, the spiritual pattern of leprosy (generically representing the overwhelming coverage of ‘sin’ in our life), the spiritual pattern of Jesus’ miraculous healings in the synoptic gospel to cure not merely physical, but spiritual blindness/sickness.

When we are sensitive to these spiritual patterns and implications, we are then ready to see the spiritual truths afforded by Adam (as Christ), by Woman (as church), by the relation of Heaven and Earth (as the covenant between God and Man), and the covenant between God and Man fulfilled in Christ alone. Why I want to focus in particular on the mountain of God, the only other time when a physical location is referred to as ‘of God’, is because it is the second time (after Adam) a man is shown the spiritual realities of heaven – through the pattern of the tabernacle.

The Tabernacle Instructions on the Mountain of God

This pattern is described TWICE (Exodus 25-31 and Exodus 35-40), which implies how utterly important it is. The instruction “Make this according to the pattern shown you on the mountain (of God)” is repeated continuously in these chapters. As this is a brief overview, I will jump straight to the relevant bits for this post.

In chapter 26:1-30, we notice that the tabernacle furniture has in the prior chapter become the focus of God’s intention (BEFORE the layout of the tabernacle was even considered!!! This theological depth we will consider when we return to Exodus 20+ in however many weeks/months time).

What is most important to note now is that the tabernacle is described in the first section, in Exodus 26, as a single undivided room. If this is a pattern that reveals heavenly realities, as according to the pattern shown on the mountain of God – then what can it show? Paul Blackham simply states that the tabernacle structure representing heaven and earth in his Exodus Book-by-book study. Later, we see that a curtain is hung to divide this single room into two rooms, but Exodus 26 starts with this undivided room. The intention here is quite clear and explains why the garden of Eden is ALSO called the garden of God — because we know that this veil, which separates our communion with God, was not there in the first place! The garden of Eden was a place of true harmony between heaven and earth!

Therefore, just as Moses was on the mountain of God (Mt. Sinai), receiving these instructions as he peered into 3rd heaven where God resides, the Father in return was telling Moses of the garden OF GOD. Thus, God is saying that creation was originally heaven and earth in harmony… according to Blackham, “one room, one ‘space’ without division”. What is this pattern/plan shown on the mountain? This seems to be another Selah moment for the Christians at the bottom of the mountain.

Then we have an ‘inner room’ sealed off by a dividing curtain, and put simply, this inner room is the cube which is symbolised by the heavenly city in Revelation 21:15-16. This is the Most Holy Place, representing heaven, divided from the Holy Place (the second, outer room). Now this curtain (NOTE this) had cherubim worked into it by a skilled craftsman. We know what the veil represents — it is a protection FOR man, so man does not dare to reach God and die.

Cherubim on a veiled protection for man so man does not dare enter a territory that is where God resides? Where have we heard that before? Genesis 3:24-

“24He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the(A) cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”

Wow. And who is the only person who can go through to the Holy of Holies? The High Priest, Christ, through whom (quoting Barth) the covenant of God’s grace to men was fulfilled. The covenant which was older than creation!!! And after the curtain was installed, then the altar of burnt offering was given and the book of Leviticus begins to explain the truth of the offerings. I don’t think it is coincidence that God decided to speak to Moses in this particular PLAN and PATTERN, especially in terms of priority of directing his way of building the tabernacle. Each step was thought out precisely. Each step had the spiritual pattern so common throughout Scripture.

Conclusion

To conclude on this post – the relationship of God and Adam had been established by the covenant fulfilled by Christ BEFORE Adam and creation even existed. This is the great plan that God had pre-creation, the plan that man be in communion with God through the fulfillment and mediation of Christ, whether pre or post fall. This is implied through the language garden “of God”, and we find that where Moses received instructions on the mountain “of God” where he met the Father (as if the mountain itself peaked into 3rd heaven!), so also the language used to describe the garden of Eden as garden “of God” should not be under-estimated. By taking that further, we’ve looked at the physical and spiritual truths of the basic layout of the tabernacle, and that it preaches the truth of God’s intention for the room to always have been undivided – for the room to be whole — and this plan is ultimately fulfilled in Christ’s second coming when the veil between heaven and earth is destroyed. So, for point (3) of the popular conceptions, the garden of God is not merely a souped-up garden – it is a garden that initially UNITED heaven and earth, but man was banished from this unity and guarded by the cherubim and their veil of flaming swords. Is it therefore for point (2) a garden on a flat plane? I can’t find enough Scriptural support to say that it was, but it seems certain that it is more a garden in a mysterious location, and I believe it is because it is the literal place where heaven joined with earth not merely allegorically but in actuality (compared with Moses’ experience on Mount Sinai). It is probably impossible for us to enter Mount Sinai and find God residing there, or the mount of Bashan, or even if we find the literal Eden, the uniting of heaven and earth will not be there. Perhaps those will indeed be the physical locations where Eden/Bashan/Sinai stood – but we are then missing the spiritual significance entirely. The true Eden, which even the garden of Eden was only a shadow of, is the city of Zion, where all Christians gather, where there is no division between heaven and earth; and that we can finally enjoy uncompromised and unwavering fellowship with our God in new creation.

Genesis 1-3: the Garden of God