Genesis: The Book of God’s Kingdom – 15 (“Adam: The Covenant of Commencement”)
A couple of weeks ago I said that there are several covenants spoken of in Genesis and we’ve already looked at the first Covenant, namely the Covenant of Creation with its three ordinances (the ordinance of the Sabbath, of Labour, and of Marriage). Then we looked at the Fall of man; the “Original sin”; Imputed sin and Personal sin as well as the results of these sins. We also discovered the blessings and grace that went with these curses. We are now going to look at the Covenant of Redemption which includes the covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and lastly, the consummation of these covenants, with the covenant with Christ.
The first of these covenants followed immediately after the Fall, while man – Adam, was still under the Covenant of Creation. God had bound Himself to man by the special orderings of creation. Man destroyed that relationship by eating the forbidden fruit.
A very important fact however, is that God’s relationship with man did not end, or was not terminated with man’s sin. The wonder of the gracious character of the Creator manifests itself immediately. Judgement indeed must fall. But even in the midst of judgment, hope for restoration appears. God binds himself now to redeem a people to Himself. The very words that pronounce the curse of the covenant of creation also inaugurate the covenant of redemption.
This inseparable connection of the Covenant of Creation with the Covenant of Redemption stresses the restoration goal of the Covenant of Redemption. From the very outset, God intends by the Covenant of Redemption to realise for man those blessings originally defaulted under the Covenant of Creation.
2. SCRIPTURE READING:
Gen.3:8–21 (ESV) ~ “8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 The LORD God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. 16 To the woman he said, ‘I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.’ 17 And to Adam he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’ 20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”
3. ADAM – THE COVENANT OF COMMENCEMENT:
Although man has sinned and God cursed him for that, it is important to keep in mind that man was still responsible to keep to his original responsibilities given to him at the time of his creation. Also, important to note, is that the particular test of probation (Afrikaans: “proefbevel”) is present no longer. Yet man still remains responsible to consecrate (Afrikaans: “toewy”) the whole of creation to the Creator. Marriage, labour, and the ordinance of the Sabbath continue as principal responsibilities for man despite his fallen character.
As already mentioned, in spite of the fallen state of man, God made provision for the ultimate salvation of man. As history progresses, the fuller implications of the Covenant of Redemption manifest itself. Ultimately this redemptive purpose teaches its consummation (Afrikaans: “volvoering”) in the appearance of Jesus Christ, which is known as … ~ “…the fullness of time” (Gal.4:4).
The first declaration of the Covenant of Redemption contains in seed form every basic principle which manifests itself subsequently. God reveals the various elements constituting His commitment to redeem His fallen creation and we find these elements of His commitment in vss.14-19 of Genesis 3.
· God addresses Satan (vss.14-15): It is very interesting to note that the very first word concerning man’s redemption is addressed to the serpent (Satan) ~ “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (vs.15). Here God already told Satan, that he will eventually be conquered and that God’s elect will be saved.
Initially, both man and his environment – plant and animal, had suffered the effects of the Fall, but man’s eventual redemption, will not only involve his redemption, but also the rest of man’s created environment. We must however, realise that God’s ultimate enemy – Satan, is not part of the animal world, although he appeared to Eve in the form of a snake. Eventually, also the snakes will experience God’s redemption, but Satan does not reside in the material creation (or if you want, in snakes). Paul says in Eph.6:12 ~ “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
It is also very important to remember that man’s redemption is not a man-centred affair. God’s glory as the Creator has been assaulted. His handiwork has been dis-harmonised and therefore, the Covenant of Redemption is initiated by God, not simply for the sake of man, but primarily for the glory of God.
The curse that was directed at Satan is spelled out in vs.15 ~ “I will put enmity between you and the woman…” – I will. God is the initiator; He is the One that fights this war; He is the One who will perpetuate this war (Afrikaans: “voortsetting”) – not man, because, during the Fall, man has sided with Satan against God. Eventually however, God shall intervene sovereignly to end the conflict between Satan and mankind.
More than that, vs.15 also says ~ “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Here God said to Satan that he will ultimately be destroyed by the seed of the woman – by her offspring. Who is this “seed of the woman,” or what does it mean?
– First, we must realise the fact of mentioning seed. There is an implication of a struggle – this will be a long fight; it is not something that will happen overnight.
– Second, who is the woman’s offspring (or seed)? As in the case with the Satan’s offspring, we see that the Hebrew pronoun for “he” is masculine in gender and singular in number. The implication is that a single being – offspring of Satan, will be defeated by one offspring of the woman. According to Rom.16:20, the woman’s offspring or seed, is Jesus Christ ~ “…the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet…” This, however leaves us with a problem. According to Paul and Gen.3:15, we see that Satan’s offspring – His seed, will be destroyed by Jesus. What about Satan himself? In other words, Jesus will destroy one of Satan’s offspring. Is that possible? If we say that Satan is the representative (singular masculine) of all evil people and or demons and Eve’s offspring, Jesus (singular masculine) is the representative of all believers, then the implication is that Christians will eventually destroy the evil ones. Is that what the Bible teaches? What is our understanding of this?
Let us first look at the term, “seed of the woman.” This refers initially to redeemed humanity and then ultimately to Jesus Christ. Therefore, the seed of the woman began with Abel, the second son of Adam and Eve. Cain, the first son, would not qualify because he was a murderer. The comment of Eve, upon the birth of the third son mentioned, Seth, seems to show that she understood Abel as part of the fulfilment of the promised seed ~ “And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him’” (Gen.4:25).
When we look at the term “seed of the serpent,” we must realise that Satan had no offspring. The “seed of the serpent,” refers to Satan himself.
The meaning of vs.15 therefore, shows us that Jesus Christ will eventually crush Satan ~ “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen.3:15). Hebr.2:14 also confirms this ~ “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” This is one of the reasons why the eternal Son of God had to become a man – because it was the offspring of the woman who would crush Satan.
Paul, in Col.2:14-15, describes what God did for those who trust His Son, when He died on the cross ~ “…by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” When Christ died for our sins, Satan was disarmed and defeated. The one eternally destructive weapon that he had was stripped from his hand, namely, his accusation before God that we are guilty and should perish with him. When Christ died that accusation was nullified. All those who entrust themselves to Christ will never perish. Satan cannot separate them from the love of God in Christ (see Rom.8:37-39).
Just one last remark about vs.15 which says ~ “I will put enmity between you and the woman.” When God said that there will be enmity between the woman and Satan, He referred to womankind in general rather than Eve in particular. This means that womankind will have a very specific and significant role in the cosmic struggle – why and how, was not revealed to us and therefore we don’t know, it is not something to have sleepless nights over.
· God addresses the woman (vs.16): The word to the woman includes both curse and blessing. We saw last week that the woman shall have children, which constitutes a most significant blessing. The beneficent word to the woman should not be understood simply in terms of an assurance of fruitfulness in a domestic setting. A seed will be provided for the sake of entering into conflict with the satanic seed. God’s promise to bless the woman relates to her role in God’s redemptive program.
Yet, a curse is also involved. The woman is cursed, in particular by all the various sorrows associated with her bringing children into the world ~ “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children” (vs.16a). The curse pronounced on the woman also affects her marital relationship toward her husband ~ “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you” (vs.16b). The fact that the woman’s desire will be to her husband is a curse, because the woman will be dependent or a longing in an excessive way to her husband. That is why the “Woman’s Lib movement” is a sinful fight against God’s ordination as stated in vs.16b.
The woman’s desire will be to possess him, to control him, to dominate him. Why is this a part of the woman’s curse? Because the original woman (Eve) did not submit to her husband (Adam) by taking the fruit from the serpent. Christian women must be aware of this. Many a time, they tend to not submit to their husbands; they try to control their husbands, or to dominate him – they tend to challenge his God-given authority over them – that is sin and it originates with the curse that was announced over the first woman.
The problem with this part of the woman’s curse, is that her attempts to possess her husband, is that he responds by dominating her excessively.
· God addresses the man (vss.17-19): The word to the man also contains curse and blessing. As God introduces His covenantal commitment to redeem a people to Himself, He simultaneously pronounces the curses of the Covenant of Creation.
The blessing is found in the fact that man will eat bread (vs.17). The sustenance is essential for maintaining life shall be provided. In the shadows of death hanging over man and his descendants, God is still blessing man with the provision of food. This is what we call God’s common grace. In Matt.5:45 ~ “For He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” In the shadows of death and in the sweat of man’s face (vs.19) and all sorts of hardships ~ “…thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field” (vs.18). In spite of all these hardships, there is common grace available to man – he will eat ~ “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread…” And in the end, God said ~ “…(you will) return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Man was created by God in order to rule over the earth, but now, due to the Fall, earth’s dust will rule man.
4. CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION:
The main problem with man in this world, is evil; sin; hardship and all due to Satan’s temptation in the Garden of Eden. I’ve already quoted Eph.6:12 ~ “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” In a sermon on this topic, John Piper shared eight things that Christians should do with evil and four things never to do with evil and I would like to share these points with you so that we can know how to act in moments of temptation and attacks of evil:
· Eight things to do with evil:
o Expect evil ~ “Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Pet.4:12).
o Endure evil ~ “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor.13:7 see also Mark 13:13).
o Give thanks for the refining effect of evil that comes against you ~ “Give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph.5:20 see also 1 Thes.5:18; Rom.5:3-5).
o Hate evil ~ “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Rom.12:9).
o Pray for escape from evil ~ “Lead us not into temptatio but deliver us from evil” (Matt.6:13).
o Expose evil ~ “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Eph.5:11).
o Overcome evil with good ~ “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good” (Rom.12:21).
o Resist evil ~ “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
· Four Things Never to Do with Evil:
o Never despair that this evil world is out of God’s control ~ “[He] works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph.1:11).
o Never give in to the sense that because of random evil life is absurd and meaningless ~ “How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!… For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever” (Rom.11:33,36).
o Never yield to the thought that God sins or is ever unjust or unrighteous in the way he governs the universe ~ “The Lord is righteous in all his ways” (Ps.145:17).
o Never doubt that God is totally for you in Christ. If you trust him with your life, you are in Christ. Never doubt that all the evil that befalls you – even if it takes your life — is God’s loving, purifying, saving, fatherly discipline. It is not an expression of his punishment in wrath. That fell on Jesus Christ our substitute ~ “The Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son whom he receives” (Hebr.12:6).
When we renounce the designs of the devil, trust the power, wisdom and goodness of God through Christ, we fulfil God’s purpose in letting Satan live. We glorify the infinitely superior worth of Jesus.
Redemption cannot be understood in a man-centred fashion. God’s glory has been assaulted. His handiwork has been dis-harmonised. Not simply for the sake of man, but for the glory of God, redemption is undertaken.