Leviticus 17-20: You shall be a holy priesthood

Now we have come to what I deem the ‘second half’ of the book of Leviticus – not in the numbers of chapters, but in the manner of these commandments coming post-Day of Atonement.  We’ve looked at the importance of the Day, and thus every teaching now speaks not merely of cleanness, but something more about God’s holiness and our relation to His holiness.  We’ve looked at sacrifices, we’ve looked at priestly ordinations – but now, we turn to the holiness of every single aspect of our lives which Leviticus 17-27 offers to teach by the power of the Holy Spirit.

1.  It is in the blood (Leviticus 17)

2.  You are salt and light: sexual morality (Leviticus 18 )

3.  The holy intra-trinitarian community: Sermon on the Mt. Pt.2 (Leviticus 19)

4.  Punishments (Leviticus 20)

1.  It is in the blood (Leviticus 17)

Running directly from Leviticus 16, and from the previous 15 chapters on sacrifices and the priestly management of sacrifices, the picture of blood is vivid in the Israelites’ mind.  Through looking at the scapegoat and the sacrificial goat, we see how utterly painful it is for true remission of sins.  Without blood, there is no remission of sins.  It does not matter how hard we work; it does not matter how devout we are; it does not matter how much faith we have; it does not matter how many other types of sacrifices we give.  If we do not stand in the cleft of the Rock from Whom the waters of the Spirit flows, Whose blood is shed for the remission of all our sins so that all may come to repentance (2 Peter 3), then anything we do is empty.  It is, as the Teacher in Ecclesiastes called it, vain – in the Hebrew הבל, “hebel”, meaning transitory – like vapour.

So the lesson continues through to Leviticus 17 – it is therefore important not to read Leviticus in bits, but to read it continuously from chapter 1 down to 17 to see the importance of the lesson of blood.  The last few verses pulls out the central meaning of the chapter:

Lev 17:14-16  For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.  (15)  And every person who eats what dies of itself or what is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or a sojourner, shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening; then he shall be clean.  (16)  But if he does not wash them or bathe his flesh, he shall bear his iniquity.

Everything preceding it is teaching how the life of anything is in the blood.  The chapter begins with people bringing all the ox, lamb or goat they had intended to kill to the door of the tabernacle as an offering to the LORD.  The repercussions are serious if anyone fails to do that (including the sojourners – v.8 ), “bloodguilt shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood, and that man shall be cut off from among his people” (v.4).  Not only is he ostracised from the Israelite community, but he shall bear the bloodguilt of the animal.

If you had doubts that the LORD did not care for the animals – this chapter could not be more revealing of the LORD’s heart.  He absolutely detests the taking of life; yet, for our sake, our Creator God bears the dual role of also being our Redeemer God.  He is responsible, and not deistic, leaving us to our own devices.  And through Leviticus 17, he is teaching that because he detests the taking of life to save another, we should also learn to respect the work of the Son similarly.  The Father did not take joy in punishing the Son on the cross; like the Son, the Father was equally pained.  Yet, that is the mark of his love for the Bride of Christ.  This is no cosmic child abuse – to say that is to completely misunderstand the character of the 1st Person of the Trinity.

V.7-9 is also quite revealing of the mindset of those early Israelites – God had foreseen that they would be tempted to sacrifice to other idols, to other Gods, despite seeing these wonders.  Yet, are we so different?  The LORD teaches that even such heresy will result in them being cut from the church of Israel.  Let us heed Christ, and give to him wholeheartedly, for he detests idolaters and calls them whores (Hosea 3:3).  In the Mosaic time, it may have been a goat idol (which may cast some thought on the meaning of ‘Azazel’ in chapter 16).

Eating

There is something quite important that needs to be said about the blood.  If the life is in the blood, as established not only in Leviticus 17:11, but back in Genesis 9:4-6, and even implied strongly in Genesis 3 when an animal was slaughtered before Adam and Eve’s eyes just so they can have the righteous robes of the animal skin, the prototypical progression in displaying the righteous robes of Isaiah 61.  It is emphasised again in Acts 15:28-29; yet, listen to Christ’s word: we must eat his flesh and drink his blood.  Heresy? (John 6:53-57).

Rather, if life is in the blood, and the LORD is teaching us not to take the blood of other flesh, He is fundamentally teaching us not to eat and to receive life from an animal which is not given to God.  Jesus is teaching us that no other blood is suitable for us – only HIS blood.  To take the blood of other animals is to consume the life of something other than Christ!  Are we eating of the Lamb of the Passover, or are we eating of an animal we sacrifice elsewhere for ourselves?  This is the reason why we pray before we eat: to remember that life has been sacrificed for us, as we consume the flesh and live.  Every flesh we eat of is a pale comparison to the true flesh and Christ’s blood which we partake.  To pray before we eat is to ask for God’s blessing over the meal, and for God to remain faithful and remind us of the true flesh and blood which gives us life.  To merely give thanks for food is insufficient; it is as if we merely give thanks to Christ offhandedly, like Simon the Pharisee; but to think wholeheartedly about the blood of Christ even at the meal-table is to become akin to the woman with the alabaster flask (Luke 7) – to know the true meaning of the cleansing of sin by Christ’s blood alone (Revelation 12:11).

Yet so often we regress to our Adamic behaviour – for the first thing he ate is the forbidden fruit.  But the LORD asks us to eat from the tree of life.  Eating is an important theology to consider, and the greatest meaning found through the significance of the blood.  Let us not forsake our Christian theology at the dinner table, for there we are found most starved; yet, in moments of pitiful degrees of starvation, it is then that we realise how much we need Christ Whose shadow is only shown when we consume our meals.

2.  You are salt and light: sexual morality (Leviticus 18 )

There is much comparison between Leviticus 18-20 and Exodus 21-23.  Both symbolically occur after the “Day of Atonement”.  In Exodus 19-20, the Father and the Son were on Mt. Sinai on the third day, and rules of kingdom living were given shortly afterwards.  In Leviticus 16, the Christ was crucified and his work on the cross was completed – on the third day (although the word ‘third day’ is not used in Leviticus 16, we understand that the giving of the second Decalogue was symbolic of the work of the Son on the Day of Atonement, and the connection is easy to make between Leviticus 16 and Exodus 19-20).  Because of this, the following chapters of Leviticus refer to righteous kingdom living, and what a community with the Trinity would be like in heaven.

Unsurprisingly Exodus 20 ends with this verse (v.26):

And you shall not go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness be not exposed on it.

It is the very first exposition after the 10 commandments: that one should not expose one’s nakedness to the altar!  Then again, this connection is made between Leviticus 16-18.  We were taught about the Day of Atonement and the significance of blood and life (between chapters 16-17) – a message preached also when the Father descended to Mt. Sinai on the third day between Exodus 19-20.  And in both circumstances, the immediate message preached is – do not expose your nakedness in an ungodly manner!  Thus begins the message on sexual morality.

In a post-Ted Haggard climate where both Evangelicals and Catholics, just to name two of the biggest Christian denominations, are facing charges of abuse in leadership and hypocrisy over homosexuality, Leviticus 18 comes as a wake-up call.  The amount of detail which the LORD provides is fear-inducing.  Just how depraved can man be?  To read this and to simply deny the truth of it, is to laugh in the face of God’s anthropological assessment in comparison to what he intended us to be like.  Here is a quick break-down of the things listed in this chapter:

  1. Next of kin (18:6)
  2. Mother/step-mother (18:7-8 )
  3. Sister/stepsister (18:9)
  4. Grand-daughter (18:10)
  5. Daughter of step-mother (i.e. step-sister) (18:11)
  6. Aunt, by father or mother (18:12-13)
  7. Uncle’s wife (18:14)
  8. Daughter-in-law (18:15)
  9. Sister-in-law (18:16)
  10. A woman and her daughter; son’s daughter, or daughter’s daughter (18:17)
  11. Two sisters at the same time (18:18 )
  12. During Menstrual uncleanness (18:19)
  13. Neighbour’s wife (18:20)
  14. Offering of child to Molech (18:21)
  15. Lie with male as with woman (18:22)
  16. Lie with animal (whether man with animal or woman with animal) (18:23)

Yet, what is the significance of sexual purity and sexual morality?  The significance of sexual purity is found primarily in Genesis, when God made man on day six.  In Genesis 2:18, after man had witnessed that each beast had its own companion of the opposite gender, only he was alone.  God however doesn’t create a host of female companions for him – God created one, that was cut from Adam’s side.

The meaning of our sexuality, found in Genesis 1:26-27

The implications of this are vast, and I have covered it in my earlier posts on Genesis.  Primarily, the meaning of the rib taken from Adam’s side finds its meaning in both of them being in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).  The true of image of God is Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15-17), thus, for Adam to be asleep whilst the rib was taken from him is to imply that a new creation was made in the symbolic ‘death and resurrection’ of Adam.  The concept of sleep, as we know, is Christologically symbolic of death – and to be awake, in the morning, is to theologically rise again on the Resurrection Day.  Richard Baxter has this to say on the daily lifestyle of a Christian:

Therefore, when we read the 16 listed commandments concerning sexual relations, we may wonder: why those relationships?  Why don’t we succumb to the Muslim teaching of polygamy?  Or secular teaching of tolerance of bisexuality or homosexuality?  Indeed, my response would be – if Christ was preached in those sexual relationships, then yes, they are indeed pleasing to God.  My response however, would not simply be – those relationships are morally repulsive; or will cause genetic, scientific defects and diseases (though, this is partially a consequence of many sinful types of sexual relationships; this may explain why the earlier humans, with the Spirit striving in them (Genesis 6:3), may have had less problems with genetic defects given the impossibility of having sexual relations with anyone who isn’t a next of kin).  The primary response nonetheless is – can their sexual relationships preach the gospel?  Can it show the relationship in Ephesians 5, that Christ would love the church, his bride?  In the Hebrew, this is stronger: would the male heavens unite with the female terra as a proclamation of new creation when heaven and earth are renewed and conjoined as in the time of the Garden?  The usage of the gender in Hebrew often relates to the role of the female in relation to the male to display some Spiritual truth, so we should not under-estimate the role of Hebrew gender in preaching the gospel either.

To reach that conclusion however, we must dissect some things.

To begin with, in Colossians 1:15-17, we see that Jesus is the visible God of the unseen God.  The divine nature shown is his relationship within the Triune God of Father Son and Holy Spirit.  To understand therefore what God meant when he preached the gospel of creation is to understand that his Trinitarian nature is imprinted in creation (Psalm 19, Romans 1) – especially in man, where we are the image of him as I formerly mentioned (Genesis 1:27).  Only in this “image” can the Trinitarian divinity become visible – but only in Christ do we find the true meaning of this visible image.

And this Trinitarian nature gives much meaning to say, for example, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16.  The concept of headship finds its only meaning in Fatherhood and Sonship – and nothing else.  To assume a merely cultural understanding of 1 Cor 11:1-16 is to fail to understand that the Trinity is not only cultural in a divine way – it is eternal.

Paul’s Argument in Romans 1:18-32

Which brings us back to Romans 1.  Paul’s argument of our fallen nature starts with ‘sexual immorality’ and the human body.  This begs the question: why?  Why did he not start with pride, as it seemed to be one of the first sins of Satan (Ezekiel 28 )?  Why focus on man’s nature, his image in God?  In fact, the corruption of this image is the very reason why Paul starts his argument of sin in this way.  He states in Romans 1:28 – God gave them up to debased minds.  We’ve looked at just how sinful man can be, and Leviticus chapters 1-16 could not have spoken a truer picture.  The ESV in Romans 1:21 is strong – it says we have “futile” thinking, outside of Christ.

In essence, what this means is that the male and female image of God no longer proclaims the truth that God had intended through Christ.  No longer is the message of the gospel, of the Trinity, preached in the inter-sexual relationships, because we now preach all types of sexuality – from gender ‘neutrality’, to the war of the sexes, to homosexuality, to celibacy (not for godly purposes) and so on.  Thus, to look upon sexual immorality (which includes homosexuality, and this sexual immorality does not include a specific type of sexuality), which is clearly spelt out in verses 26-28:

Rom 1:26-28  For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;  (27)  and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.  (28 )  And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

v.28 explains it well: they did not see fit to acknowledge God.  BECAUSE they did not want to preach God, they expressed their idolatry THROUGH these debased relationships.  It is important therefore to understand what it means when I say it isn’t about gender neutrality: what I mean is that there is indeed a significant division in terms of role for each gender.  Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 2:14, 1 Corinthians 11, just to name a few, are not patriarchal teachings in terms of chauvinism.  In fact, many of the teachings were difficult for the irresponsible males in the Greek society.  It had nothing to do with chauvinism – but everything to do with leadership, responsibility, and perfect love.  For, in response, the woman in a submissive state is to not only ‘submit’ – but the Greek hupotasso ὑποτάσσω, is actually saying “under obedience”.  But without the husband’s unconditional love, then the obedience will become one of fear – and only in God’s perfect love (1 John 4:18 ), will our fear of him be a godly fear, and not one of fear of punishment.

Therefore, not only homosexuality – but every type of sexual intimacy OUTSIDE of heterosexual marriage is a rejection of the doctrine of God!  It is a rejection of Christ’s marriage proposal, sealed with the engagement of the Holy Spirit as our ‘wedding band’ (Esther 8 ), that he awaits until New Creation to enjoy true intimacy with us, his female bride on the female terra (earth), whilst he resides in the male heavens!  Similarly, that the woman, cut from Adam, preaching the message of Genesis 1:1 that the heavens and the earth are cut-down from Christ!

This means that every homosexual relationship preaches the message of Christ marrying himself or something identical – this is a periphery of self-idolatry.  Or perhaps a relationship subsumed of headship, preaches the message of the church, teaching Jesus what to do!  How ridiculous does that sound?  Or a heterosexual relationship outside of marriage, teaches that one can have the same intimacy outside or within marriage.  But that is not true either, for we, in engagement to Christ, await Christ’s second advent because of the very reason of such small glimpses of the true intimacy we have on this side of creation!

Back to Leviticus 18 – the message preached therefore is one of gospel.  Natural relations is a way that humanity was created as male and female, and what is ‘natural’ is found in the image of God, in Jesus’ sonship to the Father’s fatherhood.  To define ‘natural’ as anything else is to be merely anthropological – and not biblical nor Christological.

Romans 1:28 says that to be even further etched into the world’s definition of ‘nature’ and ‘sexuality’ is to be in further alienation from God.  This is why God gave them over to a depraved mind – expressed strongly through their sexuality.

Therefore, matching this truth with the 16 commandments of sexuality, we must understand how Christ would not propose himself to sexual intimacy with beasts or other creatures, for he died for man alone (Hebrews 2:16).  Christ would not marry someone who belongs to someone else, because that is adultery.  What this means is that he requires us to wholeheartedly follow HIM and HIM alone, leaving our adulterous life (Hosea 3).  Nor does he want there to be a rivalry in relationships, which is why he requires a personal relationship with one figure, because he is marrying only one Church that proclaims his name! (Psalm 148 ) – Thus, the message of marriage is preached the best when you witness a leading husband, sanctifying and loving his submissive wife – and there, you see the picture of Christ loving the church.  Sexuality should have no other meaning – even sexual intimacy finds its only meaning in Christ’s intimacy with the church!

Two anomalies?  Abortion of Children and Menstrual Uncleanness

Under my numerical labelling, commandment 12 and 14 stand out like sore thumbs.  However, they are in fact tied very much to sexual relationships – what kind of sexual relationships only concern the husband and the wife, and not of the children?  What kind of sexual relationships concern only the husband or only the wife?  Commandment 12 states that to have intimacy during menstrual uncleanness is a sin – because menstrual uncleanness is a period of groaning and pain, akin to the groaning and pain of creation.  To enter the woman in that period is to preach that Christ’s return and the filling of his seed in the woman causes pain and blood!  Rather, the filling of Christ’s seed and his intimacy with his church is a time of rejoicing and NOT a time of creation’s groaning.

Secondly, commandment 14 seems also to be quite irrelevant, but this is akin to the modern practice of abortion.  Molech (meaning “king”) is a pagan God, some saying that he is synonymous with Baal.  The reason why this commandment is sandwiched within the commandments of abomination is because every children we bear is dedicated to the LORD, not to some pagan-king, most likely finding its symbolism and derivation from Satan who wants to be the LORD himself (Ezekiel 28 ).  Deuteronomy 6:7 teaches that every commandment of the law is taught to the children diligently.  Not only that – Malachi 2:15 teaches that the church is to bear godly offspring.  Are we going to dedicate our children to secular education and secular teachings, and leave him or her to their own devices in knowing God?  Are we going to raise up a child in God’s holy commandments, or kill him for our own glory and our own plans and convenience?  Or are we going to practise the role of loving parents, and imprint in their hearts God’s commandments so they learn to turn from God’s law to the gospel?  As children, they must be taught the law, so they can spiritually remove their childhood under the devilish rulers of the elements by the power of the Spirit and become mature in the gospel (Galatians 4:3).

Word of Warning

It is very important not to judge homosexuals or bisexuals over extra-marital heterosexual relationships.  Paul Blackham states it quite nicely, and I paraphrase – to discern and rebuke a man who is living with another man, is to be biased and to be self-righteous if we fail to equally discern and rebuke a man who is living with a woman.  The greatest message of discernment and rebuking comes in our relationships.  Are WE preaching the gospel with our sexuality?  Are WE preaching the gospel with our sexual purity?  If not, then what right do we have to force others to follow these sexual codes and morals?  Leviticus 18 is a chapter of hate and love amongst Christians and politicians.  Let us not preach it, unless we bring also the message of the gospel alongside it.  Without the gospel, we are only creating better heterosexual Pharisees who appear righteous – but in their heart, their relationships speak nothing of Jesus Christ.  It is most important to remember Christ’s attitude in handling these situations: he hates the sin and the sinner, but he is careful not to be biased (c.f. John 8:1-11) and is just.

Additionally, these teachings are hard to bear – but so is every other commandment that challenges our world-view to the core.  This is because we were saved from death to life, from depraved, futile non-gospel thinking to a new world of gospel and Christ-focused glory.  Let us bring our sorrows and sins to Jesus Christ, and remember that even he is looking forward to the great intimate moment on the Resurrection Day:

Rev 21:4  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

3.  The holy intra-trinitarian community: Sermon on the “Mount” Pt.2 (Leviticus 19)

As aforementioned, Leviticus 17-20 are chapters which expose the truths of the Ten Commandments, like Exodus 21-23.  Both Exodus and Leviticus start with ‘nakedness’, for we began in the Garden naked, and left with the necessity to hide our nakedness with animal skin; and so we hide under the skin of Christ to be presentable to our Father in heaven.  Leviticus 19:2 sets the tone:

You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

Then the commandments move from ‘nakedness’ to other areas of kingdom living.  There are several commandments in chapter 19 and Adam Clarke is helpful in listing as he usually is:

Exhortations to holiness, and a repetition of various laws, Lev_19:1, Lev_19:2

Duty to parents, and observance of the Sabbath, Lev_19:3.

Against idolatry, Lev_19:4.

Concerning peace-offerings, Lev_19:5-8.

The gleanings of the harvest and vintage to be left for the poor, Lev_19:9, Lev_19:10.

Against stealing and lying, Lev_19:11; false swearing, Lev_19:12; defrauding the hireling, Lev_19:13.

Laws in behalf of the deaf and the blind, Lev_19:14.

Against respect of persons in judgment, Lev_19:15; tale-bearing, Lev_19:16; hatred and uncharitableness, Lev_19:17; revenge, Lev_19:18; unlawful mixtures in cattle, seed, and garments, Lev_19:19.

Laws relative to the bondmaid that is betrothed, Lev_19:20-22.

The fruit of the trees of the land not to be eaten for the first three years, Lev_19:23; but this is lawful in the fourth and fifth years, Lev_19:24, Lev_19:25.

Against eating of blood, and using incantations, Lev_19:26; superstitious cutting of the hair, Lev_19:27; and cutting of the flesh in the times of mourning, Lev_19:28; prostitution, Lev_19:29. Sabbaths to be reverenced, Lev_19:30.

Against consulting those who are wizards, and have familiar spirits, Lev_19:31.

Respect must be shown to the aged, Lev_19:32.

The stranger shall not be oppressed, Lev_19:33, Lev_19:34.

They shall keep just measures, weights, and balances, Lev_19:35, Lev_19:36.

Conclusion, Lev_19:37.

While there is merit in divulging the truth of every single law, two things must be stated: the Spirit behind the law, and the expositional nature of these commandments in relation to the law.

Scripture witnesses within itself

Firstly, the expositional nature of these commandments.  The 10 commandments did not leave itself to be interpreted widely and openly to the anthropological desires of these depraved men and women; rather, the LORD interprets it for them.  This is most important and is not the first time this has occurred.  What this indicates is that Scriptural interpretation comes from the power of the Spirit, and not from our personal experiences and cultures!  Above all, it is even above what theologians have to say who twist Scripture to their personal opinions of God.  In other words – let the written Word witness to the eternal Word.  When we find ourselves reading Scripture, and the 10 commandments, we often (if we are Catholic) leave it to the Magisterium or the Pope; or if we are Protestant, we leave it to Don Carson or John Piper.  This is what Luther has to say when he was exposing Genesis 1-3:

“If then we do not understand the nature of the days or have no insight into why God wanted to make use of these intervals of time, let us confess our lack of understanding rather than distort the words, contrary to their context, into a foreign meaning… If we do not comprehend the reason for this, let us remain pupils and leave the job of teacher to the Holy Spirit”.

Indeed, what we witnessed in Exodus 21-23, and now in Leviticus 17-20 is the work of the Spirit in interpreting the meaning of the third day, and/or the Day of Atonement – followed by explicit teachings on kingdom living framed by the 10 commandments. Here is an example:

Lev 19:9-10  “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest.  (10)  And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.

If I found myself reaping the harvest of the land, I may have forgotten what it means to love my neighbour and to provide for the sojourners – and God is teaching in v.10 about compassion to our neighbours.  I think we should not exclude v.9-10 from v.11, which I believe reads on from v.10.  “You shall not steal” and “You shall not deal falsely”.  If the actions in v.9-10 teaches that we are ‘stealing’ and ‘dealing falsely’ simply by being overly economically rigorous, it means that we are not completely possessed by true Christian kingdom living.

Leviticus 19:31 is also explained in some manner too: that one would be defiled if they communicate with dead spirits.  Why?  Because, it is akin to touching the dead – it defiles us (Leviticus 21:11-12).  This is followed closely by v.32 about respect for the elderly, which is explained in the form of the colour of the hair.  Grey hair is a mark of the elderly, and within Scripture it witnesses to this truth (Proverbs 16:31; 20:29 and Daniel 7:9 where the Father is shown to have white hair).  To disregard the elderly is to indirectly disregard the living God.  These, again are merely examples of how the Scriptures testify within itself to provide its sufficient meaning in relation to the living Trinity.

Spirit behind the law

Secondly, is the dichotomy between gospel and law.  As stated, the law in Exodus 20 is related somewhat to the land of Canaan, making it partially abolished and partially fulfilled when Christ came (I am careful not to divide the law into the three-fold Aquinian definitions c.f. Galatians 5:3).  What this also means however is that we should dissect between the law which relates to the land, Canaan, which is merely temporary; and the law which relates to the future kingdom, new Jerusalem.  For example:

Lev 19:23-25  “When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, then you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it must not be eaten.  (24)  And in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD.  (25)  But in the fifth year you may eat of its fruit, to increase its yield for you: I am the LORD your God.

v.23-25 clearly relates not to new Jerusalem, but it is saying something about new Jerusalem.  Three years it is forbidden to eat of the tree for food, and only afterwards will its fruit be given firstly as offering to the LORD as holy fruit; and THEN it will increase its yield.  Considering the significance of the number three, in terms of the crucifixion and resurrection, and as well as creation – where day 1 – 3 is one of formation, and day 4 – 6 is one of filling, day 4 also represents the first day of filling the formations of God’s creation.  Thus, the fourth year is one which speaks of offering to Christ; and fifth year speaks of the increase in its yield for us.  These numbers of years speak entirely of Jesus’ death for us, eventually leading to true holy offering of his blood to the Holy of Holies, while we reap the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5).

What this also implies is that wherever they go, INCLUDING Canaan, they are facing all types of pagan worship.  Canaan was never the destination – it is a temporary location to signify the grand macrocosmic scheme of the world’s Christians making our way to the spiritual Canaan – the true New Jerusalem.  That is why the Old Testament saints lived in tents (Hebrews 11).  Canaan, like any other land, as v.23-25 implies, bears forbidden fruit.  Where else is forbidden fruit mentioned?  In Genesis 3, where the tree was rooted in the Garden with the tree of wisdom.  This shows the Garden for what it is:  it is merely a pale image of the true New Kingdom, thus explaining the existence of the tree of knowledge and wisdom in the Garden (and its removal in the new heavens and earth), just as Adam was a pale image of the true image of God, Christ.   Thus, to plant a tree in any land is to remember that the fruit which first came out was forbidden, for Adam first ate of forbidden fruit.  Leviticus 19:19 adds colour to these verses:

You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.

There is much purity to be implied in these commandments, and the theology of the Seed is mentioned here – whether it is the true Seed of Christ that bears Spiritual fruit?  Or the seed of Satan?  Whether we wear linen, or linen mixed with wool?  Whether we eat the blood of other flesh, as if feeding NOT on Christ’s blood alone?  Whether we are spiritual Israelites, or spiritually allegiant to both Israel and Canaan/Ammon/Hong Kong/London/world?  But the Second Adam, after the third day, offered his holy fruit to the Father, and afterwards presented himself to be eaten so we partake in his pure holiness and bear fruit in return and present the true spiritual meaning behind the law entirely as displayed by the lifestyle of the Christian when they understand the true meaning of the law (c.f. David eating the shewbread “against” the law:  Matthew 12).

It is therefore easy to see that there is no such thing as ‘new’ commandments per se when Christ’s work fulfilled and abolished the law.  Rather, the true meaning of the law is exposed – and Moses and others understood that.  Even the Spirit interpreted that in the final few verses of chapter 19:

Lev 19:33-34  “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.  (34)  You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

The teaching of “loving thy neighbour as thyself” was etched in the Israelite mind at such an early stage.  Thus, what Christ taught in the NT is not “new” – it is merely a fulfillment of what the law taught.  The fulfillment of true kingdom living, not on this earth, but in new Jerusalem! How great it would be if Israel DID commit to these teachings: but they clearly did not.  Was it a failure on God’s part to introduce these teachings?  Again: NO.  It was God’s intention to show what true new Jerusalem living is all about, and how far away these Israelites are from such righteous living.

Let thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

The problem we therefore reach is: how did the Israelites interpret these commandments?  Did they know that it related BOTH to the bondage of the law and the gospel of Christ?

It is the same question we ask ourselves when we read the Old Testament.  My conviction, by the Spirit, is that anyone filled with the Spirit in the Old Testament would not have come to any conclusion of works-salvation.  Neither would they have come to the conclusion of not seeing Christ, such as just worshipping a ‘generic’ God shown through the kingdom living.  Nor even a matter of waiting for the NT ‘revelation’, so they can read the NT back onto the OT and “re-interpret” Christ in the OT.  The matter is, whether Christ is inherently spoken of in the OT, and already revealed.  Jesus seems to have said so in John 5:39, BEFORE he was crucified.

Instead, the most Spirit-filled Israelite would see the Trinity, working within itself, interpreting the 10 Commandments within the Triune body; the Spirit teaching us the truth of God, after the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ (an implication of the giving of the Spirit after the ascension of Christ).  The Father being revered by both Son and Spirit.  Leviticus 16-20 therefore speak very strongly of the work of the Trinity and the community and none else.

It is however a shame when people twist the law and attempt to fuse these teachings into politics.  1 Corinthians 5:12-13 is exactly what the Spirit is behind the law: it is used to judge those within the church, NOT outside.  What matter does the law have outside the context of Christ?  What matter is there to infuse it into the national law?  What they fail to realise is that Christ’s coming abolished any land-based teachings: and fulfilled the true meaning of the Mosaic law which was only introduced temporarily.  Many times, “let thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”, is misinterpreted as establishing a “Christian Kingdom” on earth.  Rather, we are not establishing Christian “factions” or “states”.  We are establishing a church family, looking forward to the true Christian Kingdom after the Second Advent of Christ!  Only there can we commit to true Spirit-led kingdom living without compromise!  That is exactly why kingdom living is preached AFTER the ASCENSION of Christ.  That is why the Day of Atonement is on the same day as the Second giving of the Decalogue.  Because in both cases, we look forward to new creation!  And there, we will not find a community of spirit and law-less beings.  There, our lives will be led by these laws but we will commit to them perfectly in the true Christian Kingdom with the Lamb as the Light!

4.  Punishments (Leviticus 20)

And the inclusion of Leviticus 20 grounds us back onto the fact that we are not now establishing a holy Christian Kingdom par excellence and without blemish.  Why?  Because of the existence of punishment: only in a world of sin is there any punishment.  The outline of Leviticus 20 goes like this (with Paul Blackham’s additions of the punishment in italics):

Of giving seed to Molech, and the punishment of this crime, Lev_20:1-5. death by stoning

Of consulting wizards, etc., Lev_20:6-8. exile from the people

Of disrespect to parents, Lev_20:9. death

Of adultery, Lev_20:10. death

Of sexual intercourse with step-mother or daughter-in-law, Lev_20:11, Lev_20:12. death

Homosexual intercourse Lev 20:13. death

Marrying a mother and a daughter Lev 20:14. death by burning

Bestiality, Lev_20:15. death for human and animal

Incest Lev_20:17 shame and exile

Sexual intercourse during menstrual flow Lev 20:18 exile

Sexual intercourse with aunt/uncle Lev 20:19-20 infertility

Marriage to brother’s wife Lev 20:21 infertility

Exhortations and promises, Lev_20:22-24.

The difference between clean and unclean animals to be carefully observed, Lev_20:25.

The Israelites are separated from other nations, that they may be holy, Lev_20:26.

A repetition of the law against wizards and them that have familiar spirits, Lev_20:27. death by stoning

As the beginning of Leviticus 19 spoke of God’s holiness and Israel’s response to God’s holiness, so Leviticus 20 ends with the same holiness of the Israelites from other nations.  Chapter 20 therefore, like 19, focuses on the purity of Christian living.  The repetition of wizards, spirits and sorcery throughout Leviticus 20 is not out of place either – for the desire to be a sorcerer is a manifestation of the desire to be like God, in control of the spirits (Acts 8:9-25).

We must continually remember that throughout the Mosaic law, not one has it taught anything about works-salvation.  Everything has been following a pattern of heaven from Exodus 20 onwards (Hebrews 8:5) – not only the tabernacle, which is still at the centre of attention while these laws were taught when the Angel spoke from the tabernacle.  It is entirely symbolic that the Angel in the tabernacle is teaching the Israelites while they were either standing or sitting outside – for they also are taken up to the heavenly patterns and understand what true Christian, holistic living is when it is uncompromised.  The standards are extremely strict – to maintain true spiritual purity.  The refrain “death“, “exile” and “infertility” all stem from the same source of corruption and lack of sanctification.  Without true anger against both sin and sinner, the LORD is not proven righteous, but proven a biased God.  Such ‘extreme’ hatred against sin is entirely justified, for only God the Son himself could bear this burden to carry these repulsions on his shoulders.

Therefore, let Leviticus 20 speak the final word to us: that without Christ, there is no room for us to be self-righteous.  If you thought Leviticus 16 bombarded the message of dependence on Christ’s work, the Angel hammered the point again and again through the commandments of holistic living from chapters 17-20.  And if Leviticus 17-19 did not speak enough of true uncompromised holistic living in New Jerusalem, Leviticus 20 reminds us that there will be people who are punished for their sins. And their punishment is death, infertility, and exile.  Their punishment is simply exclusion from the community of God. Leviticus 20:3 says it best:

I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.

Do you want to be excluded for your own decision to rebel against the Holy God who knows true Justice?  Or do you want to know the meaning of true Christian freedom, and partake in the Holy Community of the Holy Trinity now, taken up in Christ, so that we can experience it physically as well as spiritually in Zion?

Leviticus 17-20: You shall be a holy priesthood

Leviticus 11-15: Holy, Clean and Unclean

We have dealt so slightly with the understanding of what it means to be ‘holy’, ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’.  I had initially made the mistake of thinking that ‘holy’ and ‘clean’ were synonymous – but that isn’t the case.  It is almost as if that assumption is true of our sinful fallen minds, which is why God provides through Leviticus 11-15 an extremely detailed and clear explanation of true holiness being more than just ‘clean’.

1.  Food (Leviticus 11)

2.  Birth of a child and menstruation (Leviticus 12)

3.  Leprosy: a spiritual truth (Leviticus 13-14)

4.  Bodily discharges (Leviticus 15)

Intro:  What is Holy, Clean and Unclean?

Paul Blackham created a helpful table in his Book-by-Book series.  Here is just a quick rendition:

Holy

Clean

Unclean

LORD God, heaven, new creation, Garden of Eden, Tabernacle, Tabernacle furniture, anointed priests, sacrificed animals

Israel (the congregation), the camp, ordinary equipment/utensils, a clean Israelite, clean animals

Outside of Israel, outside of the camp, defiled & decaying buildings, defiled equipment, unclean animals, unclean Israelites, Gentiles (who have not joined Israel), hell, disease, death, devil

Some have used a different diagram to help understand the distinctions of holy, clean, unclean.  Here is my rendition of what was used in the New Bible Commentary’s Leviticus commentary (with Gordon Wenham as a guide):

1.  Food (Leviticus 11)

Concerning Holy and Clean and Unclean categories, you have the sacrificial animals, the clean animals, and unclean animals; and then you move onto the separate categories within the three – creatures on earth, water and sky (the distinctions made in Genesis 1:20-30).  Finally, everything we know about these animals relate not only to animals – they also relate to men.  Exodus 3:2, and v.12-13 strongly imply this:

Exo 13:2  “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.” …

… 12 you shall set apart to the LORD all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the LORD’s. 13  Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.

So we begin, again, with the Angel, Son of God, speaking to them starting at v.2 concerning the:

(a)  Edible Animals on Earth (v.2-8 )

v.3 – whatever parts the hoof, and cloven-footed, chews the cud:  but, among those which chew the cud/part the hoof – you cannot eat: CAMEL – because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof (v.4);

ROCK BADGER (v.5) and HARE (v.6) for the same reasons; PIG (v.7) because it parts the hoof but doesn’t chew the cud.

So camel, rock badger, hare and pig are the exceptional animals.  Thus, v.2 & 8 act as the bookends for the edible animals on earth.  Not only can they not eat from them, but they are unclean and their carcasses should not be touched (v.8 ).

(b)  Edible creatures in the waters (v.9-12)

Edible: v.9 – Everything that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or rivers, you may eat! By contrast, everything without fins and scales, of the swarming and living creatures in the waters is detestable to us (v.10-11) – again, none of their flesh should be eaten, and their carcasses detested.  v. 12 AGAIN re-iterates this point (in a space of 4 verses this is stated three times!).

(c)  Edible creatures of the heavens/skies (v.13-25)

Detestable (i.e. inedible)  and edible birds (v.13-19)

Lev 11:13  “And these you shall detest among the birds; they shall not be eaten; they are detestable: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture,
Lev 11:14  the kite, the falcon of any kind,
Lev 11:15  every raven of any kind,
Lev 11:16  the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind,
Lev 11:17  the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl,
Lev 11:18  the barn owl, the tawny owl, the carrion vulture,
Lev 11:19  the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.

Detestable and edible insects (v.20-25)

v.20 – All winged insects on all fours are detestable, v.21 – among these, you may eat those that have jointed legs above their feet, with which to hop on the ground; of them, you may eat (v.22) the locust of any kind, the bald locust of any kind, the cricket of any kind, and the grasshopper of any kind (all of which have jointed legs above their feet).

But v.23 reiterates v.20 – all winged insects on all fours are detestable.  Again, v.24 states what has been stated with the other creatures: whoever touches their carcass shall be unclean until the evening, and v.25 – whoever carries any part of their carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.

(d) Flesh on Skeleton of v.1-25, and the contagious nature of the unclean creatures (v.26-47)

v.26 doesn’t exactly start on a new note, but we are given flesh to the skeleton of the previous 25 verses.

Again, v.27 now states that for all that walk on their paws, anything on all fours is unclean to man.

Then for the swarming things:

Lev 11:29  “And these are unclean to you among the swarming things that swarm on the ground: the mole rat, the mouse, the great lizard of any kind,
Lev 11:30  the gecko, the monitor lizard, the lizard, the sand lizard, and the chameleon.

After these further explanations, Adam Clarke’s commentary provides a good summary of the contagious nature of the unclean creatures from v.31-44:

All that touch them shall be unclean, Lev_11:31; and the things touched by their dead carcasses are unclean also, Lev_11:32-35. Large fountains, or pits of water, are not defiled by their carcasses, provided a part of the water be drawn out, Lev_11:36. Nor do they defile seed by accidentally touching it, provided the water which has touched their flesh do not touch or moisten the seed, Lev_11:37, Lev_11:38. A beast that dieth of itself is unclean, and may not be touched or eaten, Lev_11:39, Lev_11:40. All creeping things are abominable, Lev_11:41-44.

There is much necessity in understanding the creeping things of Lev 11:41-44. v.41-42 acts as if they are summary verses for everything spoken of in Leviticus 11:

Lev 11:41  “Every swarming thing that swarms on the ground is detestable; it shall not be eaten.
Lev 11:42  Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, any swarming thing that swarms on the ground, you shall not eat, for they are detestable.

And then Leviticus 11:45 is the famous verse explaining the purpose of the law.  “For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” This verse is interesting.  The word representing God changes firstly between LORD (“Jehovah”), and then says “to be your God” which in Hebrew is Elohim.  It is the LORD, Jesus, who brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt to be our GOD, Elohim, the GOD who created the heavens and the earth.  I have gone through the implications of the word “Elohim” for it is a plural word indicating two implications: one of the Trinity, and one of magnificence.  I think both are applicable, it would be arrogant to restrict the semantic range to the meaning of ‘magnificence’ because it may lead to mono-theistic implications when the Trinity has been so clearly shown up to this point.

Christological expressions of food, ‘creeping things’, ‘unclean until evening’, and Leviticus 11:45

The problem with Leviticus 11 is that people primarily see it as a set of commandments concerning hygiene.  I believe that argument holds little water – there is no explanation why certain creatures are seen as unclean; furthermore there is no explanation why being cloven footed is a requirement for land animals.  However, that is the implication of Leviticus 11 – that there are certain creatures, good for food, which are completely clean under any circumstance!  This brings me to verses like Romans 1:23, in the ESV which says that we exchanged the glory of the immortal God for “mortal man, and birds and animals and creeping things”.  Yet, I like the KJV’s faithfulness to the Greek here: “uncorruptible (aphthartos meaning immortal and non-decaying) God into an image made like to corruptible man (phthartos meaning decaying), and to birds, and fourfooted beasts (tetrapous meaning quadruped), and creeping things.”  These two details are crucial in understanding what Paul is writing.  The juxtaposition of exchanging a undying, eternal God for a decaying man, birds, fourfooted beasts and creeping things seem to relate directly to Leviticus 11.

Exodus 3:2 and 3:12-13 already self-explanatory in the sense that man and beast are treated alike, in the symbolism of the latter.  Thus, the birds of v.13-19 make much sense.  These are all birds of prey, which eat carrion and insects and flesh from which blood is not properly drained.

Contrarily, the clean land animals were those that chew the cud, meaning that they are vegetarian.  These clean land animals should ALSO be cloven-footed, and not only chew the cud, rather than having claws/talons.  Finally, the clean water creatures are those with fins and scales.  I stumbled across an interesting comment on a dietary website commenting on the Jewish laws:

Interestingly kosher dietary laws prohibit the eating of fish without both scales and fins. That eliminates a number of delicious sea foods, including shellfish, shrimp, catfish, lobster, mussels, eels, sharks, sturgeons, and swordfish, just to name a few.

Clearly their law-giver knew something that has taken scientists years to discover. Now we know that fish with scales AND fins are equipped with a digestive system that prevents the absorption of poisons and toxins into their flesh from the waters they call home. Flounder, cod, haddock, and salmon are a few examples of fish with scales and fins.

Catfish have fins, but do not have scales. These scavengers are primarily bottom feeders and have digestive systems designed to absorb toxins from the water. Clams, lobster, shrimp, crabs, mussels and squid do not have scales or fins and are believed to be highly toxic. They naturally absorb all the toxins in the water they live in. Interestingly, lobster and crabs are crustaceans and are a part of the arthropod family, which include caterpillars, cockroaches, and spiders!

For the comment in the second paragraph, the logic is undoubtedly inverted (the assumption being that the ‘scientists’ know better).  Other than that, I find the rest of the writer’s observations very interesting, and no doubt this supports much truth behind the cleanness of the animals thus far.  God doesn’t want us to eat of birds of prey which eat flesh without the blood drained properly; and similarly, he doesn’t want us to eat fish without scales and fins, lest we consume fish without a proper digestive system and eat of all types of carcasses underwater.  Finally, only certain vegetarian insects are clean, and anything four-footed (on all fours) is unclean except those which have jointed legs and hop (thus not remaining on the ground).

There is much to be said about these three categories which tie them together – the model of Genesis 1:27.  Only green plants were given as food for all animals.  Furthermore, in the Garden, there was no death, no predatory behaviour, no bloodshed, no disease, no dead bodies (v.24-25 and Numbers 5:2 indicates that any touching of dead carcasses renders the toucher unclean) above all, and no decay.  This isn’t the only model of unfallen creation – but also of new creation (Isaiah 11).  However, Leviticus 11 deals exactly with all these themes, all of which symbolise the parallelling truth to men.

An animal which is cloven-footed and chews the cud is an example of the Edenic animal – both vegetarian and without capacity to harm (unlike the ones with claws or talons).  Not only that, they are not on all fours, which is a mock-representation of the snake, the animal epitomising the Fallen Angel who crawls not only on all fours but entirely swarming and slithering on the ground cursed by God (Genesis 3).  This emphasises the importance of animals not being on all fours, but being joint-legged so they can hop or at least not remain on the ground entirely.  This explains Paul’s reason for writing Romans 1, who most likely refers to corruptible man; corruptible birds (i.e. birds of prey), and corruptible quadruped beasts.  He was referring to the uncleanness represented by each animal.  Romans 1:23 thus no longer is making the normal comparison between God and the common and clean.  He is saying that our fallen minds naturally turn away from the most holy, and turn to the most DEBASED.  Any Catholic thought of not having an entire corruption of natural powers is immediately revoked: Paul is essentially saying that without the Spirit, we are entirely useless and Godless.

This finally brings me to v.45.  The significance of the usage of the term is important: Jesus is defining himself in two offices.  One – that of Jehovah, of LORD, who brought the Israelites out of Egypt; and then becoming the God, the Elohim, the one who partook with the Creator Father and the Powerful Spirit.  This is akin to Philippians 2:9-11:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father

Yet, Christ has already been at the right hand of the Father, and has been slain before the foundations of the world, as explained by the seemingly mysterious verse in Revelation 13:8.  This therefore intrigues me to the most, that God’s identity has been eternal and true, but revealed to us in his becoming.  That we must be portrayed a process of death, decay and resurrection before we fully understand the truth of Jesus Christ on the cross.  This presentation has already been portrayed in Genesis 1 in the days of creation, and fleshed out in different ways in their dispensations but they refer very much to the same covenant established in Genesis 3:15, which was true even prior to Genesis 3:15.  Thus, as the events in OT play out to the NT, we learn how God’s usage of Israel as a priesthood, a holy nation (Exodus 19:6) never meant for the Gentiles to be seen as ‘unclean’ either – hence the implications of Acts 10:

Act 10:9  The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.
Act 10:10  And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance
Act 10:11  and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth.
Act 10:12  In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air.
Act 10:13  And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
Act 10:14  But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”
Act 10:15  And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.

After the ascension of Christ, when the Spirit was given to the world, Christ’s identity was cemented a la Philippians 2.  But was the Spirit not given in the OT?  He was! but restricted to the physical land of Israel.  Was Christ not given in the OT to the OT saints?  He was!  But again, the LORD appeared to the saints of Israel.  But remember that the land of Israel is merely a physical restriction of Exodus 20, a covenant on Sinai, represented by Hagar (Galatians 4) – but the true covenant was not made at Sinai, but to Abraham (Genesis 12).  Because Genesis 12 precedes Exodus 20, the physical boundaries between Israel and the world were always going to be destroyed.  Yet, Jonah 3 displays that unless the sign of Jonah is complete (i.e. the success of Jonah’s evangelism is symbolically shown after he was in the “pit” of the whale for 3 days, only to ‘resurrect’ and rise again on the third day), the division would still be there – until the giving of the Spirit, there is no physical manifestation of the Gentiles being included.  Thus, Peter’s conversation with God is important:   “What God has made clean (i.e. what was ‘unclean food’ prior to the cross and the Pentecost), do not call common (in the Greek, ‘common’ is koinos which can mean defiled and polluted, whereas the Hebrew word “tahor” which is translated to ‘common’ in the English actually means pure and clean).  What God really means is that the division between the Gentiles and the Israelites is now destroyed – to fulfill the true meaning of Genesis 12, that the law and the gospel is no longer restricted to the physical land of Israel!  In the NT, both Jews and Gentiles, wherever they are, stand before God as clean men.  The symbolism of Gentiles as unclean in the OT is due to the awaiting of the fulfillment of the covenental law of Exodus 20, completed on the cross.

There is much to be said about God’s being in becoming, yet that is the implication of Leviticus 11:45, which in turn is the true implication of the food.  What you eat is really what you are – and what we are is clean, and what we need to be is more than just clean.  We need to be holy, and sanctified like the priests in the preceding chapters (Leviticus 8-10) – and only the blood of CHRIST, not any other blood can do that.  This is why touching the carcasses and eating flesh which consumed other flesh without drained blood has such huge implications.  Are we to becomes creatures of uncleanness by nailing our God to the cross and causing him to bleed?  Indeed, that is who we were.  But we are to be in Him, so we no longer crucify Him but to partake in His holy glory.

2.  Birth of a child and menstruation (Leviticus 12)

Son:  Lev 12:1; after the birth of a son, who is to be circumcised the eighth day, (Lev 12:2, Lev 12:3) the mother is seen as unclean for forty days, Lev 12:4.

Daughter:  After the birth of a daughter, eighty days, Lev 12:5.

Menstruation:  this isn’t strictly related to children, but it also concerns the flow of the woman’s blood – and this is also seen as unclean (Lev 12:2).

When the days of her purifying were ended, she must bring a lamb for a burnt-offering, and a young pigeon or a turtle-dove for a sin-offering, Lev 12:6-7. If she is too poor to bring a lamb, she must bring either two turtle-doves or two pigeons v.8.

What is implied in v.7 is that she is unclean from the flow of her blood whether she bears a male or a female child, or is in the time of menstruation.

Christological expressions of the flow of the blood and birth of children

The importance of blood is again emphasised in Leviticus 12.  Genesis 3:15-19 states that one of the curses of woman is that child-bearing is now painful, and in this pain will the Promised Seed come.  In these very verses, the coming of the Son of God is already implicated to be one where he will suffer by incarnating into this world – the Second Adam suffering by the sin contributed by First Adam.

Again, like the way we look at food, even the way we look at childbirth affects man, beast AND creation.  Romans 8:19-22 reminds us that this curse is not restricted to man, for man’s sin has wrought such a turbulent effect on whole of creation.  It is worth quoting the section from Romans 8 here:

Rom 8:18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Rom 8:19  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
Rom 8:20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope
Rom 8:21  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Rom 8:22  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
Rom 8:23  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Rom 8:24  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?

Thus, the pain of childbirth, represented most well by the flow of the blood, is an example of this groaning.  Romans 8:23 expresses it best: us, with the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit, also groan inwardly awaiting eagerly for adoption as sons and redemption of our bodies.  We are now physically adopted and redeemed?  Not yet.  Yet, every law laid down in Leviticus 11 and 12 pertaining to blood is to point to that groaning, point to that pain since Genesis 3 thus pointing towards a renewal and a re-creation by the Seed born from pain and blood, but conquered death with His blood.

There are two smaller details we should not overlook – the fact that only the male are circumcised; and secondly, the difference of being unclean for 40 days (for male) and 80 days (for female).  The latter has an implication of the woman not needed for work for 40 days and 80 days respectively (thus resting and awaiting to be established as ‘clean’ once again), making it especially fortunate if she bore a female.  Yet, if the distinctions of men and women remain clear – that men represent Christ the Head, and women represent the church.  That men represent the heavens from which Christ was sent, and women represent the terra which receives the Seed.  That Jesus Christ, the Seed, is sent by the power of the Spirit into Virgin Mary, who received the Seed.  So, the bearing of the male in one set of forty days represents the suffering and the temptation of Christ for forty days, a theme explored when it rained for forty days and forty nights in the story of Noah and the flood.  Yet, 80 days – twice of forty, is to look further on.  Bearing the male represents Second Adam; bearing the FEMALE represents Second Eve – the second mother of all living.  And this will leave the mother 80 days unclean – thus the time of TESTING is longer than the awaiting of Christ fulfilling his work on the cross.  40 days represent the first advent of Christ; and 80 days represent the second advent of Christ when creation will no longer groan and will bear NEW creation, represented by the “second female ‘terra'”, born of the “first female ‘terra'”.

The former I have already explained: menstruation of the woman preaches the message of creation, of the groaning female terra (c.f. my commentary on Genesis 1 – the creation of heavens and earth).  It is the female terra that has been groaning from Day 8, and will continue to groan until our Resurrection Day.  If the menstruation of women preaches that message (and indeed, that sign of the curse remains on them in both Old and New Testament, meaning the message preached by menstruation is NOT yet fulfilled until creation ceases its groaning), then the circumcision of men preaches a message already fulfilled (hence the lack of necessity to circumcise; and instead, to baptise infants today after the cross and the giving of the Spirit).  It is important not to view sacraments as more important than they are – menstruation can be seen also as a sacrament from God, a sign of his curse, just as the rainbow (or more biblically, the “bow”) is a warrior bow preaching the truth of God’s judgment on everyone not in the ark of Jesus.  The monthly menstrual cycle which makes a woman unclean for 7 days also preaches the truth of the first creation, which lasted 6 days plus 1 day of Sabbath.  But she is clean after the 7 days.  So we look forward to new creation born of the groaning creation (Romans 8 ), that meanwhile we look forward to the eighth day of cleanness, and we’ve passed through the 40 days leading to the first advent, and we await the new city after the symbolic second advent after 80 days of testing.  The significance of the birth of the boy leading to a 7 day uncleanness, and awaiting further purification for 33 days, versus 14 days of uncleanness, and further purification for 66 days should not be overlooked either.

We are now in the symbolic second week of creation.  The first seven days saw the heavens and earth as we know it now.  The second seven days, since the first 8th day, involves the LORD working towards new creation (John 5:17) in this new week.  But in this second week, while the LORD is working towards new creation, the world is still groaning.  We now look forward to the symbolic second 8th day of the second new week, working from the 1st advent to the 2nd advent of Jesus.

3.  Leprosy: a spiritual truth (Leviticus 13-14)

When one approaches chapters 13 and 14 of Leviticus, it is quite easy to be discouraged on two levels: the detail given for the handling of leprosy and the seeming lack of mercy for those who are unclean and leprous (the two are not synonymous as you will later find).  This is unsurprisingly, given the spiritual significance of leprosy overweighing the ‘hygienic’ and purely physical and material significances.  This is especially shown in v.12-13, where the most common form of infectious skin diseases would not have been classified as unclean!

Leprosy, some have said, is an example of sin spreading in our hearts to the neighbouring factions – and indeed, that is the overarching principle of this skin disease (and leprosy does not refer to one type, but many types of skin diseases).  The example of decay is manifested in not only the diseases on the body, but diseases spread to the clothes and the buildings causing their decay.  This is where the English translation is especially unhelpful: in the Hebrew tsaah’rath, while it refers to the decaying flesh for the skin, it is actually translated as ‘mildew’ if found on clothing and buildings.  Thus, “leprosy” is inappropriately limited in the English translation of the Hebrew word.

The two chapters are relatively long, so it is important to summarise each segment.

Chapter 13:1-59 – speaks of the different types of skin diseases on both humans and clothing

14:1-32 – the cleansing of the skin diseases

14:33-57 – Disease in buildings

There are also several refrains in these two chapters:

“Symptoms are displayed on the surface” (13:3, 49; 14:37)

“but more than skin deep” (13:3, 14:37)

“in a specific area” (13:9-13; 14:37, 42, 55)

“but spreading further” (13:7, 51; 14:44)

On that note, let’s start with chapter 13.

Leviticus 13:  Different Skin Diseases on both Humans and Clothing

Clarke is unsurprisingly helpful here and I’ve edited it for better reading:

13:1-2 It is to be known by a rising in the flesh, a scab, or a bright spot

13:3  When the priest sees these signs he shall pronounce the man unclean, infected with the leprosy, and unfit for society

13:4-8  Dubious or equivocal signs of this disorder, and how the person is to be treated in whom they appear

The interesting thing about v. 2-8 is the way of dealing with the potential leprous disease:  the treatment and waiting is always in sets of weeks, in sets of 7 days.  And on the 7th day, the priest checks whether the disease is leprous or temporary.  If the disease is ‘checked’ and not spread in the skin, then the man/woman is locked up for seven days again.  v. 6 explains it quite clearly – if the diseased area has faded and disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him as clean.  Contrarily, if this ‘eruption’ does not subside, but spreads in the skin, he is now seen as unclean with a leprous disease.

Firstly – it is the priest who announces one as unclean, and NOT the person himself.  This shows something of the truth of Christ – HE is the one who announces whether we are righteous or not.  Leprosy is not something we can control.  The sets of 7-day waiting is a good example of exactly what we can do nothing about.  Rather, these 7-day waiting periods are again to show the progression between the initial creation in the first 7 day week, awaiting new creation with a new week starting on the 8th day.  Something similar is of course preached here: the priest is awaiting a new week before making a new discernment of leprosy.  Ideally, the leprosy will be gone by the end of the second week; and also, for us, our leprosy will be gone by the end of the second week when we look forward to the second advent of Christ.

13:9-13  In what state of this disorder the priest may pronounce a man clean or unclean

13:14-15  Of the raw flesh, the sign of the unclean leprosy

13:16-17  Of the white flesh, the sign of the leprosy called clean

I find the parallel between ‘raw flesh’ and ‘white flesh’ quite interesting.  Raw flesh is a sign of flesh uncooked – for the Israelites never sacrifice any flesh without fire; it must be burnt!  Similarly, food must be cooked with its blood properly drained.  The message here clearly relates to blood.  If it is raw flesh, then there is blood and there is sign of life being drained.  It is thus unclean – for in God’s future kingdom, there is no life being drained.  Which is why, if the leprosy spreads to the whole body then it is no longer seen as ‘unclean’.  Which is why, when the raw flesh recovers and turns white again (v.16), it is pronounced clean once more.  The ‘white flesh’ and ‘raw flesh’ are thus the points of comparison.

13:18-20  Of the leprosy which succeeds a boil

13:21-22  Equivocal marks relative to this kind of leprosy

13:23  Of the burning boil

13:24-25  Of the leprosy arising out of the burning boil

13:26-28  Equivocal marks relative to this kind of leprosy

With boils, the comparison is now different: either the boil leads to a spreading of the disease, or whether there is white hair and it appears deeper than the skin, and this will lead to the priest announcing his uncleanness.  On the contrary, everything else is seen as clean.

There is quite a bit to be said here.  Why the ‘white hair’ and the ‘deeper than the skin’ and the ‘spreading of the disease’?  Because all relate to the same truth – death, and the progression towards it.  White hair is a sign of aging and otherwise caused by skin diseases; if the sign of ‘sin’ and ‘death’ is deeper than the skin and it is spreading, it is undoubtedly seen as unclean.  Everything else points to new life, new creation and regeneration, which is why they are pronounced as clean.  In the healing of the boil, we see Jesus’ rejoicing in the regneration of the skin – which points to the regeneration of our soul and our flesh.

13:29  Of the plague on the head or in the beard

13:30-37  Of the itch, and how it is to be treated

The same truth is preached here – the 7-day periods of waiting, and the regeneration of the black hair as opposed to thin yellow hair.  If the itch is healed, unchanged and not more than skin-deep, it is seen as clean.  The ESV translation says “itch”, but the KJV says “scall or scurff” which is the original Hebrew.

13:38-39  Of the plague of the bright white spots

13:40-41  Of the bald head

13:42-44  Of the white reddish sore in the bald head

If the spots on the skin of the body are of a dull white, it is leukoderma that has broken out.  He is clean.  This again, is not seen by the LORD as unclean – what the LORD considers unclean is very specific: again, listen to the refrain.  “More than skin-deep”, “spreading disease”, “reddish-white”, “raw flesh”, “white hair”, “yellow hair”.  In comparison, a breaking out of white-spots is not seen as unclean.

13:45  The leper shall rend his clothes, put a patch on his upper lip, and cry unclean

13:46  He shall be obliged to avoid society, and live by himself without the camp

Verses 45-46 serves as a summary for everyone classified in the last 44 verses to be ‘unclean’.  They live alone, they wear torn clothes, hair is hung loose, covered upper lip, crying out “Unclean, unclean“, and he shall dwell outside of the camp.

Can you imagine the pain and the suffering of being obliged to avoid society?  Yet – that is the truth of skin-disease; it points to what sin does to you and what God will not tolerate.  In New Jerusalem, we will be dwelling outside of the camp of Zion if we continue to bear these skin diseases.  If our Jesus Christ, our Priest, does not pronounce his righteousness upon us, so that we gain a spiritual regeneration and sanctification and renewed bodies, then we will remain outside the camp.  Yet, in Christ, we recover new bodies which will not decay, nor degenerate, and is better than ‘clean’ flesh.  The passages in v.1-46 clearly preach that even clean flesh can have outbreak of white-spots and other deformities; but only the sanctified flesh and spirit can withstand the holiness of the LORD and partake in the intimacy of the Trinity without mourning outside the camp which is forever proclaimed as unclean.

13:47-52  Of the garments infected by the leprosy, and the signs of this infection

13:53-58  Equivocal marks relative to this infection, and how the garment is to be treated, by washing or by burning

13:59  Conclusion relative to the foregoing particulars

There is of course much distinction between ‘garments’ and ‘men’ with leprous diseases.  The 7-day lock-up period still persists, even with garments, ever so proving that this theme is possibly the most concurrent theme throughout Leviticus – the theme of first creation, then new creation.  The specific different of garments is that if the disease has not faded from the garment, it shall be burnt up (v.52-57).  Only if the diseased area has faded after being washed, and then washed a second time will it be seen as clean (v.58 ).

This is quite interesting – the first and second waiting periods.  This has occurred throughout the other parts of Leviticus 13.  I believe this undoubtedly refers to the first advent and second advent of Christ again; the first advent, which leads to some renewal and giving of the Spirit to the world; and the second advent where true cleansing and restoration occurs.  We are in the period of the firstfruit of the Spirit; but some people may lapse and return to the dog faeces from which they came.  Some may continue to look to Christ and persist in the fight of faith to see the second advent and to be washed anew with new bodies.

Leviticus 14:1-32  The Cleansing

When a leprous person is healed, after being outside the camp however long it takes for the healing to occur, then the priest will command the person to be cleansed with two live clean birds and cedarwood and scarlet yarn and hyssop.

Scarlet yarn is one of the materials used in the tabernacle (Exodus 26:1, v.31), and the purging by the hyssop is symbolic of cleansing (Psalm 51:7).  Cedarwood is seen as a material for kings: read 1 Kings and you realise how much ‘cedar’ is the centre of the story, then Ezekiel 17:23, 31:3, and the house of Solomon in Songs of Solomon is made of cedar (Songs of Sol 1:17; 8:9).

The command is then to kill one of the birds in an earthenware vessel over fresh water; and take live bird with the cedarwood and scarlet yan and hyssop, dipping the bird in blood of the bird killed over fresh water. (v.1-6)

Fresh water is symbolically of new creation water which is not salty.  The waters of punishment were salty (the waters above the heavens) – but the waters in new Jerusalem will be fresh (Ezekiel 47:9); earthenware vessels, besides the focus on the ‘earth‘ (i.e. naturally made), is a vessel for good preservation (Jeremiah 32:14).  Whatever is in the vessel will last for a long time.  The implications of v.1-6 of Leviticus 14 is therefore one of the gospel re-displayed.  The death of the bird, representing an Angel of God, in an earthenware vessel over fresh water, meaning the preservation of such a sacrifice over new creation waters – in exchange for the life of the other bird with the material of kings, the tabernacle and of purification.  The living bird is then escaped to the open field, granted new life by the blood of the first bird, now free from decay.  This is a picture of Christ’s preserved and persisting death for us so we can live in new waters, partake in purification and to be imputed the blood and righteousness of the King.

This is sprinkled seven times on him who is cleansed of leprous disease – he is then pronounced as CLEAN and the living bird goes to the open field. (v.7)

The cleansed person shall wash his clothes, shave off all his hair and bathe himself in water (v.8 ).  He will stand outside his tent seven days; he must then shave all the hair off his head/beard/eyebrows, and wash again in water.  The SHAVING is important: so that nothing growing from the time of decay would be brought forth to new creation of the eighth day, and from the eighth day forward everything that stems from our flesh will be new and clean.

The following procedure is akin to the anointing of the priest prior to priestly work.

Lev 14:10  “And on the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb a year old without blemish, and a grain offering of three tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, and one log of oil.
Lev 14:11  And the priest who cleanses him shall set the man who is to be cleansed and these things before the LORD, at the entrance of the tent of meeting.
Lev 14:12  And the priest shall take one of the male lambs and offer it for a guilt offering, along with the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before the LORD.
Lev 14:13  And he shall kill the lamb in the place where they kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the place of the sanctuary. For the guilt offering, like the sin offering, belongs to the priest; it is most holy.
Lev 14:14  The priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering, and the priest shall put it on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot.
Lev 14:15  Then the priest shall take some of the log of oil and pour it into the palm of his own left hand
Lev 14:16  and dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand and sprinkle some oil with his finger seven times before the LORD.
Lev 14:17  And some of the oil that remains in his hand the priest shall put on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering.
Lev 14:18  And the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed. Then the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD.
Lev 14:19  The priest shall offer the sin offering, to make atonement for him who is to be cleansed from his uncleanness. And afterward he shall kill the burnt offering.
Lev 14:20  And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean.

Notice again the focus on the 8th day, and the focus on the right-hand-side.  Leviticus 14 thus shows the sanctification of the clean man – he isn’t merely cleansed.  He is made like a priest!  And that is the picture of Exodus 19:6.  We are not to leave some as priests, and some as ‘clean’.  No – the symbolism of sin spreading in our lives, will be healed not by merely waiting.  On the symbolic 8th day of new creation, we too will become exactly like Christ – the High Priest of all ages.

v.21-32 covers the same procedure, but with two pigeons/turtledoves and one male lamb.  The male lamb seems to be the concurrent sacrificial animal whether you are poor or rich – same as Christ is to us, whether we are either poor or rich.

Leviticus 14:33-57 Disease in Buildings

This part of Leviticus is actually one of the most intriguing aspects of the book.  v.53 says it all: “So he shall make atonement for the house”.  One can make atonement for a house?

The procedures in v.33-57 actually resembles the cleansing of the leprous person in v.1-33.  The LORD is actually teaching us that one cannot over-spiritualise the truth of Leviticus 14; whatever happens to man will spread to creation, whether birds, animals, swarming things or even to apparently ‘dead’ things like buildings.  This supports the truth of new creation being physical.  We are not entering a merely spiritual heaven; but we are entering a heaven of new buildings, of new roads, of a new river of fresh water, of new trees which do not die, of new animals who will sleep alongside men.  If these are the truths preached in Revelation, then undoubtedly, the disease on tents and buildings represents the renewal necessary of ALL things within God’s kingdom.

Isaiah 6:3-5 displays it clearly – God’s presence with his people is dependent on uncleanness being excluded from Israel:

Isa 6:3  And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
Isa 6:4  And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
Isa 6:5  And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

4.  Bodily discharges (Leviticus 15)

Leviticus 15:31-33 summarises this chapter.  Ultimately, the LORD’s dwelling-place must be clean.  Any truth of God joining us in the community of holiness must start with the renewal of everything – the buildings, the city, the animals, the people (Revelation 21).  Paul Blackham gives the structure for this chapter:

Male bodily discharges (15:2-18 )

Female bodily discharges (15:19-30)

Long term discharge (15:2-12)

Menstrual cycle (15:19-23)

Cleansing by sacrifice (15:13-15)

Sexual intercourse (15:24)

Temporary discharge (15:16-17)

Long term (15:25-27)

Sexual intercourse (15:18 )

Cleansing by sacrifice (15:29-30)

What is clear from this chapter is the uncleanness is transferred to people, even beds and even chairs.  We have already established that this is no personal matter – sin spreads everything and everything.

Natural bodily discharges makes a person unclean, but the passage of time will remove the uncleanness, therefore no sacrifices are needed for such discharges.  Our bodies which leak fluids of semen and blood is an example of life falling from our flesh.  Our bodies should be given immortality and corruption (1 Corinthians 15), and our bodies now preach anything but.

Which brings me to ‘sexual intercourse’ which is seen as unclean.  Why?  Firstly, because of the curse of Genesis 3, which shows that we have disordered sexual desires (c.f. Romans 1 and Paul’s argument which starts with sexual immorality).  Secondly is the loss of bodily fluids when having sexual intercourse, and Genesis 9:4 and Leviticus 17:11 show that there is life in blood and semen.  The life comes as a Seed, and in Christ, the Seed of all seeds, can we have true eternal life.  Most importantly it is a temporary period of washing, and the period of impurity is short, for this is the body which we inherit from Adam’s sin which we committed in his loins (Hebrews 7:9-10).

What say you about the distinction between sacrifices made for leprous flesh, but none needed for the uncleanness of our leaking bodies?

Conclusion

Throughout this chapter, we see that human sin has huge implications for both mankind and creation (Genesis 3:17-18, Deuteronomy 28:25, Amos 4:7, Romans 8:20); the Israelites had recognised in the OT that healing from such diseases should be coupld with the same offerings made to sinners.  The connection therefore between the man with skin disease and the man with sin becomes synonymous, for both need the same sacrifice – Christ.  Even before this Levitical law was given, skin diseases may already have been prevalent; and no doubt, this would have already stirred much thinking concerning the truth behind skin diseases.  What the Mosaic law does is display our transgressions with a beamlight, yet at the same time pointing out with much clarity the cure for such scrutinised transgressions.  It is important to remember time and time again that diseases is not necessarily a cause of our sins (John 9:1-3) – many times, it is simply a result of our fallen flesh and nature.  Praise be to God for these ordinances which point out our utter fallenness, and his magnificent holiness and grace in dealing with our corruption and decay, wrought by the first Deceiver Satan, and first man Adam.  It is by his Son, who was also thrown outside the camp (Hebrews 13:12-13) that he can sympathise and die for us sinners for he became the representation of the one cursed on the tree (Deut 21:22-23), thrown outside the city, made unclean for oursake so we can be the bird who escapes from decay.

Leviticus 11-15: Holy, Clean and Unclean

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 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 3 – the True Hope

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

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

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

6 issues to pick up for sake of easier reading:

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

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

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

Why the distinction and differentiation? 2 points:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 14:12-20:

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

and Ezekiel 28:12-19:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Curses against Satan, Eve and Adam

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

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

Creatures

Pre-curse

Post-curse

Serpent

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

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

Woman

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

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

Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Blessing-in-disguise – a new hope

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

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

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

Genesis 3 – the True Hope