Proto-Evangelium and the Two Seeds

Proto-Evangelium means “First Gospel” and it refers to Genesis 3:15 which is the first hint of the gospel we find in our Bibles. In our last post on the Proto-Evangelium, we discovered that in the midst of pronouncing a curse on Satan for his role in the fall of man, we find that God has a plan to crush Satan and foil his rebellion.

I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.   (Gen 3:15)

In Genesis 3:15, “God assures the devil that a son of Eve will do battle with him, defeat him, and destroy him, even though the devil will wound him in this conflict” [Covenant Theology, Greg Nichols, pg 125].

But before the final climax, in which Satan and his works are destroyed, God has ordained that there will be a period of “enmity” between “thy seed” (Satan’s offspring) and “her seed” (Eve’s offspring). According to Strongs and Eastons Dictionaries, the Hebrew root that underlies this word “enmity” means: deep-rooted hatred.

Is it any wonder the Christian faith is under attack from every quarter. The Scripture teaches that the offspring of Satan will have a “deep-rooted hatred” for the children of God.

Christ is the Seed of the Woman

The seed of the woman is ultimately Christ, who alone destroys the devil and his work – in his work on the cross and finally at his return. But we, also, are the chosen seed in that we are “in Christ” and share in his sonship and position. This is why the Apostle Paul can conlude the letter to Romans this way – “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom 16:20).

So what distinguishes those who are the chosen to be in and with Christ as the elect seed?

Who Are the Seed of the Woman and the Seed of Satan?

We see the two seeds principle (good vs. evil) immediately at work in the first family – “Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him” (Gen 4:8). Righteous Able (Gen 4:4) was hated by his (evil) brother Cain.

Cain and Able were of the same family and had the same physical descent. What distinguished them?

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
(1 John 3:10-13)

According to the Apostle John, we distinguish the seed of God and the seed of Satan by their works of righteousness. Murderous Cain went on to have sons who built cities names after themselves and commit polygamy and murder (Gen 4:17-24). Eve bore another son, Seth (“…For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel in the place of Abel…”) who would raise godly sons who would “call on the name of the Lord” (vs 26). According to the Apostle Paul, “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Ro 10:13).  True faith (a faith which leads to a life of righteousness) in the heart, confessed with the mouth (Rom 10:9), distinguishes Eve’s spiritual seed.

And how are the seed of Satan known? They are known as those who do not love Christ and do not recognize him as the Son of God.

I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.

They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father.

Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father.

Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.

Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.

(John 8:38-44)

Proto-Evangelium and Tribulation

First Gospel

Genesis 3:15 is known as the Proto-Evangelium – First Gospel. This very first hint of the gospel was proclaimed in Scripture even before the punishment was pronounced for the very first sin. Imagine that! Even before God announced his punishments for Adam and Eve (and their descendants), He pronounced final victory over sin and death through the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider the following simple outline of Genesis 3:

  • Gen 3:1-5 – Satan subtly beguiles Eve by tempting her to doubt God’s word
  • Gen 3:6 – Eve falls to temptation and immediately tempts Adam to sin. Adam chooses to side with his wife in rebellion against God.
  • Gen 3:7 – Immediately upon his rebellion, Adam and all his posterity fall under the curse of sin. They are immediately made aware of the crushing weight and misery of sin.
  • Gen 3:8 – Adam and Eve’s first instinct, as fallen sinners, was to flee from the presence of Holy God
  • Gen 3:9-13 – Adam and Eve are found by God, tried for their sin, and confess their guilt before God
  • Gen 3:14-15 – God curses the serpent and prophecies a battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, which will climax in an extraordinary battle in which both will be wounded – the snake fatally
  • Gen 3:16-20 – Mankind is punished for sin and removed from the garden sanctuary

So, here we have it. Even before Adam and Eve receive the curse do them for sin, they hear the first preaching of the gospel promise that one day a man, the seed of the woman, will crush the serpent and his kingdom. Can we imagine a human court where the pardon is offered even before a sentence is given?

The Promise

If we look closely at this first promise from God, we see that it contains bad news news of fear and good news a proclamation of hope for believers.

Providence of God

First, we learn that there will be spiritual battles in this world and that they are ordained by God!

*I* will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed…

God has placed the seed of the woman (true believers) and the seed of Satan (unbelievers) at war! We need only watch our evening news to see that this is true. It is no wonder, for the Scriptures declare that all true followers of Jesus will suffer persecution:

  • Jn 15:20 – If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you
  • 2 Tim 3:12 – Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

But we can have hope, because this has been ordained of the Father and it is for His purpose and glory – “…according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Eph 1:11).

The Victory of Christ

…it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Before our Saviour went to the cross, he spent is final an evening in the Garden of Gethsemane teaching and encouraging his disciples and praying. John 16 contains the final instructions from the Lord to his disciples before his death. He closes that chapter with these words:

In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:30)

Here we have it stated again, believers will have tribulation in this life. But we also have great words of hope! Jesus has already overcome the world. Even though Christ had not yet gone to the cross and overcome sin and death, His work was ordained before the foundation of the Earth (Rev 13:8) and was as sure as if it had already occurred.


In the next post we’ll look more closely at the two seeds mentioned in Gen 3:15 – the woman’s seed and the seed of the serpent.

The Fall of Man, part 1

Overview of Genesis 3

The Fall of Man is chiefly recorded in Genesis chapter 3 and it is one of the most profound chapters of all of Holy Scripture. Lee Irons provides the following helpful outline of the fall. I will use this outline for a 3-part blog series on the Fall of Adam (Man).

  1. vss 1-7 : The Fall (Crime, breaking of the law and the covenant)
  2. vss 8-13: The Trial and Conviction
  3. vss 14-24: The Sentence

Review: The Covenant Between God and Adam (Man)

As to the question about whether there was actually a covenant between God and Adam, see Objections to The Adamic Covenant.

According to Irons, a covenant is an agreement between two parties with a stipulation, a sanction, and a promise. A helpful definition of ‘stipulation’ is provided by the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary below –

STIPULATION, n. [L.]

1. The act of agreeing and covenanting; a contracting or bargaining.

2. An agreement or covenant made by one person with another for the performance or forbearance of some act; a contract or bargain

A useful modern definition of how the word SANCTION is used in our present context is provided by the online Merriam Webster dictionary –

SANCTION, n. [L. sanctio, from sanctus, holy, solemn, established.]

3. The detriment, loss of reward, or coercive intervention annexed to a violation of a law as a means of enforcing the law

These basic elements are found in the Adamic Covenant of Genesis 2 in the following way:

  • Stipulation – Do not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17a)
  • Sanction – You shall surely die (Genesis 2:17b)
  • Promise – Tree of Life, a seal of eternal life (see Genesis 3:22)

Q: Who is the Serpent?

A: Satan – compare Genesis 3:15 with Rom 16:20 and Revelation 20:2.

But, can demons posses animals? Yes! See Mark 5:12-13.

And [Satan] Said Unto the Woman

Why the woman? Where is the covenant head? Where is Adam, the one who was given the stewardship of guarding and keeping (Gen 2:15) the garden? Why is Eve taking on the authority of the spiritual leader of the family? It is very interesting to note that Adam and Satan never directly confront one another. Rather, Satan uses Eve, in the absence of Adam, to get to Adam and to undermine Adam’s authoritative role and to bring him into bondage.

As Adam had kingly dominion over all of God’s creatures, he should have rebuked the snake. But in the end Adam capitulates to the desires of his wife and thereby the snake exercises dominion over the man.

Yea, Hath God Said?

The fall of man begins with doubting God’s Word. The sufficiency, authority, and perspicuity of God’s Word is attack in every generation. The doubting of God’s Word was the first tool Satan used (and continues to use) to ruin men and plunge them deeper and deeper into rebellion.

Modern Manifestations of this Error

Romanist objections to the Word of God are based on perspicuity and sufficiency; whereas liberal objections are based on higher criticism and skepticism.

Ye Shall Not Eat of Every Tree of the Garden

Satan begins his assault by attacking the stipulation of the covenant. He attempts to provoke Eve to discontentment and doubting the goodness of God. What a wicked sin is discontentment! Discontentment is a lack of faith. Discontentment is doubting the goodness of God. Discontentment is mistrust of the Sovereign Providence of God (note the apt title of Thomas Boston’s book on contentment: ‘The Hellish Sin of Discontentment‘).

Note again the absurdity! Of all God gave Eve, and she could be discontent over one small thing held back?! The audacity! The pride! It is as though Eve now saw God as an arbitrary despot. Eve begins to resent God’s law because of her pride.

Neither Shall Ye Touch It!

Did Eve lie here? Most Bible commentators believe Eve lied because Genesis 2 doesn’t specifically record God’s stipulation against touching the tree. I disagree. If Eve lied before the fall, this would have been the first sin and at this point, Eve had not yet fallen and had no sin nature prompting her to sin. It is possible that God, in his daily discourse with Adam, had warned him to stay clear of the tree. Perhaps this is why Adam is not present when Satan confronts Eve. Perhaps God told Adam not to eat of it or he would die – indeed, don’t even so much as touch it – put a hedge, as it were, about the tree and yourself in order to be safe. Perhaps this was relayed to Eve. Whatever the case, we don’t know and I don’t care to speculate that Eve sinned in relaying what she believed to be truth.

Ye Shall Not Surely Die!

Is God Trustworthy?

Next, having attacked the stipulation, Satan attacks the sanction – “ye shall not surely die!” Satan tries to place doubt in Eve’s mind about the trustworthiness of God’s word. He portrays himself as the one who has their best interest at heart as opposed to the despotic jealous and hallow threatening of God. He presents the case as though he were actually the one who is kind and jealous and wants their best, whereas God’s commandments only stand to stifle their full enjoyment of God’s creation.

Is God Sovereign?

Another aspect of this sin is that Satan challenges God’s Sovereignty. Does the Creator have Sovereign authority over His Creation? Does the Supreme Authority have the right to make laws that govern the behavior of those He rules over? Man, as a created being has no self-autonomy – no inherent self will to determine for himself what is right and wrong and to place himself as judge over what is right and wrong! Why would the Creator be so arbitrary as to create human-kind so ‘happy and free’ and in perfect communion with His Creator, only to hold back something from which would contribute to his happiness? Like a devious despot dangling a piece of cheese in front of a mouse.

Ye Shall Be As God

Isn’t this ultimately what all sin is about? What Satan offers man, and what every man longs for, is freedom – freedom from serving God and obeying His law. What man wants is not to serve a god, but to BE a god. What man actually gets is not freedom, but bondage – bondage to sin. In fact, the harder man struggles to be free, the further in bondage he is! This is the very root and essence of all sin – pride.

Says Geneva Bible note: ‘As though he said, God forbids you to eat of the fruit, only because he knows that if you eat of it, you will be like him.’

Temptation

Note the progress of temptation here: 1) Eve draws near to the forbidden tree, 2) Eve considers Satan’s contradictions against God’s Word, 3) She gazes at what is forbidden, 4) She desires it, and 5) She partakes.

Genesis 3:6 – And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

compare this with

1 John 2:16 – For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

In Eve’s day, everything that existed was made perfect. All was designed to reflect God’s amazing glory. After the fall, the world system, being under the curse, is depraved with sin and is driven by lust. ‘All that is in the world’ today steers our eyes away from Christ and to ourselves.

And Gave Also Unto Her Husband

It is interesting to note that the very first thing that Eve did after she fell into sin, was to tempt her husband to sin. What a lesson on the corrupting influence of sin!

The Fall

Adam and Eve did not incur the guilt of sin until Adam ate. When Adam ate, they were fallen. Immediately they suffered the consequences of sin, loss of innocence, guilt, and separation from God – and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked…”

The Adamic Covenant

Adam

In the last post we learned that our father Adam was not only the first man, prototype, and progenitor of our race, but was also the representative head of ‘all mankind’. Adam embodied within himself both physically (seed) and Federally (in representation) all men.

Federal Theology

According to AW Pink, the Adamic Covenant is:

This primordial compact or covenant of works was that agreement into which the Lord God entered with Adam as the federal head and representative of the entire human family. It was made with him in a state of innocency, holiness, and righteousness. The terms of that covenant consisted in perfect and continuous obedience on man’s part, and the promise of confirming him in immutable holiness and happiness on God’s part. A test was given whereby his obedience or disobedience should be evidenced. That test consisted of a single positive ordinance: abstinence from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so named because so long as Adam remained dutiful and faithful, he enjoyed that inestimable “good” which issued from communion with his maker, and because as soon as he disobeyed he tasted the bitter “evil” which followed the loss of communion with Him.

This testing of Adam is referred to, by theologians, as the Covenant of Works (CoW). This is to indicate that man was able to stand in the estate in which he was created by his own effort of will. This nomenclature is to distinguish it from God’s Plan of Grace, by which no man can stand before God based on his own works, because man is already fallen and all his works are corrupt. The CoW contained within it no mediator, no repentance, no grace, no second chance – “the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die”!

Scriptural Support

Romans 5:12-19

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Summary:

Sin entered the world by Adam and sin brings death. As sin passed from Adam to all men, death has conquered all men. This death passed onto all men, even those who didn’t commit the sin of Adam and even before the law was given at Sinai. Why? Because they were the sons of Adam and he was their representative. But, as Adam brought death to all those he represented, so Christ brought life to all those he represented. The fact of the matter is this, all men are born sinners. We sin because we are sinners. We do not become sinners when we sin. We are born sinners, enemies of God (Eph 2:3), and under his just condemnation.

Confer 1 Cor 15:22 – For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

On 1 Cor 15:22, AW Pink says,

“The language of 1 Corinthians 15:22 is unintelligible except on the supposition that both Adam and Christ sustained a representative character, …the one involved the race in guilt and ruin, and the other, by His obedience unto death, secured the justification and salvation of ell who believe in Him.”

Understanding the Federal headship of Adam is of extreme importance for the Bible student. In his work on the Divine Covenants, AW Pink says:

Adam acted not for himself alone, but he transacted for all who were to spring from him. Unless this basic fact be definitely apprehended, much that ought to be relatively clear to us will be shrouded in impenetrable mystery. Yea, we go further, and affirm that, until the federal headship of Adam and God’s covenant with him in that office be actually perceived, we are without the key to God’s dealings with the human race, we are unable to discern man’s relation to the divine law, and we appreciate not the fundamental principles upon which the atonement of Christ proceeded.

The doctrine briefly summarized:

  • There are only two representatives – Adam and Christ (the Second Adam)
  • Adam represented all men born by natural generation
  • Christ represented all those who had been given Him in eternity
  • When Adam sinned, all his posterity fell in and with him
  • All Adam’s natural posterity are born in, and are slaves to, sin
  • When Christ conquered sin and death, He acted on behalf of all those given Him from eternity
  • Christ bore away the curse of our sin (1 Cor 5:21, Gal 3:13)
  • ALL MEN either stand in Christ or fall in Adam

Adam’s Probation

When theologians refer to the testing of man in our father Adam, they refer to ‘Adam’s Probation’. This is simply another way of referencing the ‘testing/proving’ of mankind in Adam. According to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, a probation is:

PROBA’TION, n. [L. probatio.] The act of proving; proof.

5. In general, trial for proof, or satisfactory evidence, or the time of trial.

Adam’s Obligation

According to Pink, man was originally constituted being subject to a three-fold law: natural, moral, and positive.

  • Natural Law– Being subject to natural law simply means that as a creature, Adam was naturally created subject to his Creator. He was created to live to the honor and glory of his Creator. Adam, in particular, was made in the very image of God, and so was uniquely designed to reproduce the righteousness and holiness of that design.EXAMPLE: Marriage (Gen 2:24). Any infraction of the divine institution of marriage is a violation of the law of nature (Rom 1:26-27).
  • Moral Law– By moral law, it is meant that man was created a moral being. It is a part of the basic fabric of every human being. Morally, men are required to love God and to love their fellow men as themselves. This is the law under which every human being is guilty before God (Rom 3:19).EXAMPLE: Violation of any of the Ten Commandments. Every man has a moral conscience and is aware of the sins of idolatry and hate in his own heart, but we suppress our guilt (read Romans 1-3). This is the moral law under which Christ was born, the guilt of which was atoned for by animal sacrifices under the Old Covenant, which were types and shadows which point to Christ who would atone for the guilt of the violation of the moral law – Gal 4:4-6 (note that Paul is writing to Gentiles!).
  • Positive Law – Adam was given one single stipulation which could never have occurred to him by the light of nature or by his moral conscience. It was Sovereignly appointed by God as a test of man’s loyalty to his Creator.

These three branches of law teach man: (1) what he owes God, (2) what he owes his fellow man, and (3) what he owes himself. These laws cover every sphere in which man exists: (1) natural, (2) moral, and (3) spiritual.

What was Adam to Gain

The reformed teach that as Adam was to be rewarded with death upon failure to keep his estate (Gen 2:17), he surely must have been given eternal life had he kept it (Gal 3:12). Pink does not disagree with this per se, but he believes the inheritance of Adam would not be the heavenly paradise merited by Christ, but rather the eternal privilege to enjoy God in the Eden paradise. As proof, Pink offers Heb 8:16 which states that Christ brings a ‘new’ covenant which is “established upon better promises.” Says Pink, “The last Adam has secured, both for God and for His people, more than was lost by the defection of the first Adam.”

Objections to the Covenant of Works

The Adamic Covenant is frequently called the ‘Covenant of Works’ by theologians. They call it that because Adam had the capability, in his created nature, to keep his estate of Holiness and fellowship with God based on human effort and will. Unlike us today, Adam was capable of not sinning based on power of will.

Those that object to Federal Theology do primarily on the grounds that that exact phrase is not used in Scripture and that no formal compact between God and Adam is recorded.

Is there a Covenant to be found in Genesis 2?

Objection Stated: – “…since the word covenant is not to be found in the historical account of Genesis, therefore to speak of the Adamic covenant is naught but a theological invention.”

Answer:
What does it matter if the phrase is used, if the concept is clearly found? So, our work is to see if we can find, not a phrase, but a compact between God and Adam.

AW Pink defines a covenant as “..a mutual agreement entered into by two or more parties, whereby they stand solemnly bound to each other to perform the conditions contracted for.”

In other words, there is an agreement on a stipulation and a penalty for non-compliance. Do we find these components in Genesis?

<code>Genesis 2:15-17</code>

And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

  1. Contracting parties – God and Man
  2. Stipulation – not to eat from the tree
  3. Penalty – “thou shalt surely die”

It is, of course, a frequent argument that there can be no Covenant here since Adam never formally gave his consent to any such compact with God. In other words, a covenant must be made between two consenting parties, and we find no consent given by Adam. My answer to this is that not everything that transpired between God and Adam is recorded in Scripture. From Genesis 3:2 we find that Adam clearly understood the stipulation regarding the tree. In Eve’s response to the serpent, we see that she clearly understood her responsibility, also.

Did Adam consent unto God’s law? How could he not? Adam was made in conformance to God’s righteousness and fully compliant with all holiness, how could he not have given his full consent? Besides, had Adam not agreed to this arrangement, he would have sinned ignorantly or he may have pleaded his case before God. Instead, we find him left without any valid excuse other than that he was tempted by the woman whom God made. Finally, to deny Adam’s consent unto God’s law may lead one to impugn the righteousness of God. Would a just God hold Adam accountable for a violation against a prohibition which Adam did not consent to obey?

The most clear evidence that a covenant was made With Adam is the fact that his downfall brought ruin upon the entire race (Rom 5:12). Given this, it MUST be that all men were legally united to Adam in his probation, as of those that are Christ’s are united to Him in his death and resurrection.

But, Is it Fair?

A final common, and most un-humble, rejection of the CoW is that the principle of representation is not fair. We may, at times, in our sinful flesh, flatter ourselves into believing that we may have stood where Adam fell. Worse yet, we may be led to believe that we can stand now, even today, like the wicked Pelagians and Papists. In fact, God was gracious in giving us a representative who was eminently fit for the office. In fact Adam was an outstanding representation of mankind. No better person, outside of God Himself, could be supplied.

Adam was:

  • Sinless in his original estate
  • Bore no sin nature (no disobedient will) and had no example of sinful man about him
  • Made in the image of God
  • Indued with godly knowledge
  • Knew God ‘face-to-face’
  • Given dominion over all creation
  • Surrounded by beauty and loveliness (no excuse to covet)
  • He was made good (Gen 1:31)

I am none of these things. How can I begrudge the All-wise God for giving me such a well supplied representative to stand in my place? If Adam fell after a space of time, I would have fallen much sooner.

The Trees of the Garden

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

The prohibition from eating from this tree was a positive command from God. There was nothing inherently immoral in it. Had God not commanded it, it would not be sin. But, God did command it by it He tested man with respect to his loyalty to his Creator, his faith in God’s words, and his obedience. Even though Adam was righteous, he was mutable, and therefore, he was dependent on God’s sustaining grace to continue in that estate. Adams’ probation was a test of whether Adam would continue to depend on God or seek independence.

The Tree of Life – A Seal

The tree of life may be thought of as a seal – a token or symbol of God’s pledge to Adam to sustain him as long as he lives in obedience to God’s command. According to Princeton theologian AA Hodge, a seal (of a covenant) is: ‘an outward visible sign, appointed by God as a pledge of His faithfulness, and as an earnest of the blessings promised…”

Seals are used in conjunction with covenants in several places in the Scriptures:

Covenant Seal
Abrahamic Covenant Circumcision; Genesis 17:9-11 – “…it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.” Circumcision was given as a token of God’s promise to make Abraham a father of many nations.
Noahic Covenant Rainbow; Genesis 9:12-13 – “This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you…” The rainbow was given as a token of God’s promise not to destroy the earth with a flood again.
New Covenant Holy Spirit; Eph 1:13 – “…ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise…” (see also 2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 4:30). The Holy Spirit was given to seal us until the day of our redemption.

The Apostle Paul helps us understand the Bible use of seals in Romans 4 –

ROMANS 4:11

“And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircum­cised; that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.”

Further, Herman Witsius, the great systematizer of Covenant Theology writes as follows concerning seals:

“It hath pleased the blessed and almighty God, in every economy of His covenants, to confirm, by some sacred symbols, the certainty of His promises and at the same time to remind man in covenant with Him of his duty” (H. Witsius).

The seal of the Adamic Covenant was the tree of life. As further proof, consider how that man was refused the tree after he violated the covenant and fell into sin. Perhaps Adam was refused so that he would not presume upon God’s grace, blessing, and continued favor after he fell. Matthew Henry, the great Puritan commentator had the following to say regarding this tree:

“It [the tree] was chiefly intended to be a sign and seal to Adam, assuring him of the continuance of life and happiness, even to immortality and everlasting bliss, through the grace and favor of his Maker, upon condition of his perseverance in his state of innocency and obedience”

(M. Henry).

If the tree of life is a seal of Adam’s covenant with God, then the fruit of this tree was a visible sign or symbol to strengthen faith and bring remembrance to God’s Promise. This is very much akin to the eating of the bread and wine at the Lord’s Table. Ritualists make this to be a means to confer grace, but the Scriptures intend the seal to be a symbol of our faith in God’s promise. See Romans 4:11 above, a seal is given as a token of God’s pledge that He will keep his promise and it is received by faith.

Misconceptions About the Tree of Life

Does Genesis teach that the Tree of Life had the power to impart regeneration? Some modern believers think so. In so doing, they invest the tree with a sort of sacramental power to confer the grace of God and to be a means of works-salvation. Says Pink:

God banished Adam from Eden “lest” the poor, blinded, deceived man—now open to every error—should suppose that by eating of the tree of life, he might regain what he had irrevocably lost. God banished Adam so prevent the exact error of Rome – that of sacramental ritualism.

Tree of Life Was a Foreshadowing of Christ

The tree points toward Christ. The tree was the tree of Life; and Life is only found in Christ (John 1:4, etc.). Just as wicked sinful Adam had no part in the tree of life after he was fallen (Gen 3:24); so wicked fallen men have no place in Christ at the last day, and will be eternally separated “from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thes 1:7-9). Finally, the tree points to Christ, because all seals point to Christ. Only in Christ are all the promises fulfilled – “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen.”

The Tree of Life Foreshadows Heaven

Compare:

“And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden…” (Genesis 2:9)

with

“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Rev 2:7)

and

“In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. …Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. “ (Rev 22:2, 14)

What Baptists Believe

What do Baptists historically believe about the Covenant made with Adam? According to the Baptist Confession:

London Baptist Confession

Chapter 6: Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof

  • 1. Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof, yet he did not long abide in this honour; Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them, in eating the forbidden fruit, which God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.
  • 2. Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
  • 3. They being the root, and by God’s appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free.
  • 4. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.

1677 Baptist Catechism

Q15. What special act of providence did God exercise towards man, in the estate wherein he was created?
A. When God had created man, He entered into a covenant of works with him, upon condition of perfect obedience, forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death.
(Gen. 2:16,17; Gal. 3:12; Rom. 5:12)

Q19. Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself but for his posterity, all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first transgression.
(1 Cor. 15:21,22; Rom. 5:12,18,19)

Summary

In summary, we turn again to the words to AW Pink:

All the essential elements of a formal covenant between God and Adam are clearly to be seen in the Genesis record. A requirement was made – obedience; a penal sanction was attached—death as the penalty of disobedience; a reward was promised upon his obedience—confirmation in life. Adam con­sented to its terms; the whole was divinely sealed by the tree of life—so called because it was the outward sign of that life promised in the covenant, from which Adam was excluded because of his apostasy, and to which the redeemed are restored by the last Adam (Rev. 2:7). Thus Scripture presents all the prime features of a covenant as co­existing in that constitution under which our first parent was orig­inally placed.


AW Pink

Life in the Garden

Adam

The word ‘Adam’ in our English Bibles is a transliteration of a Hebrew word that is spelled very similarly and sounds very nearly the same: אָדָם

According to the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, the English work ‘Adam’ means:

AD’AM, n. In Heb., Man; primarily, the name of the human species, mankind; appropriately, the first Man, the progenitor of the human race…

According to Strong’s Concordance, the definition of the Hebrew word אָדָם is:

a) man, human being
b) man, mankind (much more frequently intended sense in OT)
c) Adam, first man
d) city in Jordan valley

The following is from Gesenius’s Hebrew Lexicon:

In summary, ‘Adam’ very simply means ‘man’. Our father Adam was not only the first man, prototype, and progenitor of our race, but was also the representative head of ‘all mankind’. Adam embodied within himself both physically (seed) and Federally (in representation) all men.

The Woman


Genesis 2:22-23
And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This [is] now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

The woman was specifically designed for the man – not to rule over him, but to be a help to him. In a passage touching on authority and the origin and relation of men and women, the Apostle Paul stated –

1 Cor 11:8-12

For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. …Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.

The human race is perpetuated by birth through women, yet the first woman was taken from the man.

Life in the Garden

Adam was placed in God’s garden temple to serve as God’s image bearer – His royal vice regent over His Earthly Kingdom. Adam named all the animals and ruled and subdued the earth to suit his own purposes – “let them [humans] have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (1:26).

In the Garden, God (1) instituted marriage, (2) gave human beings authority to exercise dominion over all creation, and (3) subjected man to one simple rule.

Marriage


Genesis 2:18-25

And the LORD God said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. ...Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Note the following when Jesus was questioned about marriage and divorce…


Matthew 19:3-6

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made [them] at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

From what Moses reveals to us above, and based on the exposition given by our Savior, we can state the following about the institution of marriage which was instated in the garden:

  • It is not good for a man to be alone
  • A woman is to be a helper to the man
  • The husband/wife relationship constitutes the closest intimacy that can exist amongst humans
  • A marriage is a bond between one man and one woman only
  • The marriage bond is created by God only
  • The marriage bond is indissoluble

Often marriage is referred to as a ‘sacrament.’ In Roman Catholic theology, this act ‘merits’ the grace of God – a use foreign to the pages of Scripture. In legal jargon, the word sacrament means (according to 1828 Webster) an “oath; a ceremony producing an obligation”, and this use is far closer to its Scriptural background.

Dominion


Genesis 1:28

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Families have been given the responsibility to increase numbers (‘…be fruitful and multiply…’) and spread out over the Earth.

Additionally, human beings are not only the top of the food chain, they are to be rulers of the Earth. Man’s responsibility to God is to exercise dominion over all creation and to subdue it for man’s purpose and use.


Genesis 2:15
"...the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

According to Strong’s Concordance, the Hebrew word translated ‘dress’ here means:

עָבַד `abad (aw-bad’) v.

1. to work (in any sense)
2. (by implication) to serve, till
3. (causatively) to enslave, etc

Some of the words used in the KJV to translate this word are: “keep in bondage, be bondmen, bond-service, compel, do, dress, keep, labour, serve, till, be wrought”. The word conveys a meaning of working the land – subduing it for human use. God has created a beautiful domain and put man in the middle of it to rule it, subdue it, and to exercise kingly dominion.

Strong gives the following definition for ‘keep’:

שָׁמַר shamar (shaw-mar’) v.

1. (properly) to hedge about (as with thorns), i.e. guard
2. (generally) to protect, attend to, etc

This combination of words conveys the sense that man is both to rule the dominion God has given him, but is to guard and protect it.

Obedience

In a future post, we shall discuss the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – the one provision given to man. God gave Adam just this one rule to obey. Adam exercises authority over the Earth, not based on any inherent authority or power in himself, but only in so far as that authority has been invested in him by his Creator. In other words, Adam rules as a regent. According to Webster, a regent exercises ‘vicarious authority’. In other words, he is invested with power to govern in the ‘absence of the king.’ In order for a regent to maintain his authority, he must remain loyal to his king – “it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Cor 4:2). Adam’s continuing stewardship is contingent upon obedience. This relationship is very similar to that between Herod the Great (King of the Jews) and the Roman Emperor. Herod had authority to rule over Judea, as long as he remained obedient to the Emperor. Thus Adam, by exercising rebellion against the great King, was deposed from his garden paradise and was exiled. The Earth now refuses to submit to his authority, and man has since struggled to retain his kingship over the uncooperative earth.

Creation of Man

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”   (Gen 1:26-27)

Introduction

In six days, the LORD has meticulously crafted a beautiful kingdom and all His work crescendos  on the sixth day when he creates a vice regent, made in his own image, to govern it and care for it.

Man, obviously, is very important in the scriptures. A few bulleted notes from Berkhof’s Systematic Theology, Section 2, Chapter 1, The Origin of Man follows:

  • Man is the crown of God’s Creation
  • Scriptures are:
    • God’s revelation to man
    • History of God’s dealing with man
    • Record of God’s redemption of man

CI Scofield describes man’s unique role this way:

Man in OUR image

“Let us make man in our image…”

It is striking to hear God decree that man would be created in ‘our’ image.  Who are the we that comprise the ‘our’ here? The church has traditionally seen this as strong evidence for the Trinity. According to Berkhof, several non-Trinitarian solutions have been offered:

Plural of majesty (aka the ‘royal’ we) Impossible. This manner of speaking originated at a later time
‘Our’ refers to God and the angels Impossible. The angels were not co-creators with God.

  • Jesus and the Spirit were co-creators (See ‘In the Beginning‘).
  • Man was not made in the image of angels
A plural self-exhortation (??) Ridiculous. How could God make a plural exhortation, except He were a plurality

 

Thomas Watson had the following to say regarding this noble we:

It is the manner of artificers to be more than ordinarily accurate when they are about their masterpieces. Man was to be the masterpiece of this visible world, therefore God consulted about making so rare a piece. A solemn council of the sacred persons in the Trinity was called. ‘Let us make man, and let us make him in our own image.’

Psalm 139:14

I will praise thee;

for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:

marvellous are thy works;

and that my soul knoweth right well.

Made in the ‘image’ of God

What exactly is the ‘image’ of God? According to Keach’s Baptist Catechism:

Q. How did God create man?
A. God created man male and female, after His own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.

According to the Baptist Catechism and Confession (LBC, para 4.3), the image of God into which man was created represents God’s knowledge, righteousness, and holiness.

  • “…ye have put off the old man with his deeds;  And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col 3:9-10)
  • “…That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Eph 4:22-24)

In the writing of the Apostle Paul, the ‘old man’ represents the sinful flesh.  The natural man who is born in and lives in sin.  The ‘new man’ represents the man whose spirit is renewed by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit who turns from sin and follows Christ by faith.  This new man is renewed (restored to what was lost) in ‘knowledge’ after the image of God and ‘after God’ is ‘righteousness and true holiness’.  We can’t point to these two verses as an exhaustive summary of what it means to be made (or re-made) in the image of God, but we can find a glimpse of what part of that image has been lost (and restored in salvation) by sin: knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness.

Regarding the role of Adam as bearing God’s image in God’s earthly garden temple, see Garden Temple by GK Beale.

The Making of Man

When God created plants, animals, birds, and fish, he spoke them into existence –

  • And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. (Gen 1:20)
  • And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. (Gen 1:24)

But when God created man, he reached down and created him especially as though with His own hands, and breathed life into him, as though with his own mouth.

  • And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Gen 2:7)

The Composition of Man

According to CI Scofield, and most dispensationalist Bible students, man is tri-partite: body, soul, and spirit.

  • Body – The part of man distinguished from spirit and soul, the only part susceptible to death, and subject to the resurrection. We have a physical nature in common with animals, but only humans are raised again to life.
  • Soul – The soul is ‘self conscience life’ as opposed to unconscious life (plants). The soul is synonymous with ‘heart’ in scripture and is the source of ’emotions, desires, affections’.
  • Spirit – The spirit is the God-conscience part of man

Dispensationalists insist on the 3 part division based on 1 Thes 5:23 – “…I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

For a defense of the bipartite constitution, see Berkhof, Part 2, Chapter 2 – summary to be added soon.

It is amazing that such an obvious and straight forward question like “what am I” (i.e. how am I constituted?)  requires such deep thought and study. The answer will never be fully apprehended in this life and our observations and the light given by Scripture (though sufficient) only give us as much as we presently need. One day we will know in full. It is certain though, that a right comprehension of what little we know of ourselves should cause us to magnify God in our hearts just as a right understanding of God should give us humility and shows us our weakness and dependance on God.

The Spiritual State of Man

The spiritual state of man was, in his original constitution, one of holiness and righteousness; but man’s spiritual state was mutable, as he was capable of falling. Man was sinless, but capable of sin. Since the fall of Adam, man is the exact opposite. Today, he is both unholy and sinful, and incapable of sinless-ness. In the resurrection, regenerated man will again be sinless and holy, but incapable of falling again. In Christ, the renewed man will be capable of a state of existance higher than that possible in Adam!

What the above means is that Adam was created mutable – his nature was subject to change. Only God is immutable – There is only One “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17)’. According to AW Pink, ‘it is clear that the Covenant of Works proceeded on the assumption that man in his original condition-though “made upright” – was capable of falling, just as the Covenant of Grace proceeds on the assumption that man, though fallen and depraved, is – through Christ – capable of being restored’.

On this, the Baptists of old agreed. The Baptist Confession of Faith speaks to the original state of man in Chapter 4, paragraph 2:

After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female, with reasoning and immortal souls, rendering them fit to live that life for Him for which they were created;

– being made in the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and having the power to fulfil it;

– and yet living under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will which was subject to change.

Man’s Dominion

God has given man a dominion – a realm to rule over, a stewardship, a responsibility.  The World that God created is to be (1) populated, (2) subdued, (3) and managed.  The resources of this world are at the disposal of man.

According to Webster, dominion is:

DOMINION

1. Sovereign or supreme authority; the power of governing and controlling.
The dominion of the Most High is an everlasting dominion. Daniel 4.2. Power to direct, control, use and dispose of at pleasure; right of possession and use without being accountable; as the private dominion of individuals.

Says Berkhof:

Man is represented as standing at the apex of all the created orders. He is crowned king of the lower creation, and is given dominion over all the inferior creatures. As such it was his duty and privlege to make all nature and all the created beings that were placed under his rule, subservient to his will and purpose, in order that he and his whole glorious dominion might magnify the almighty Creator and Lord of the universe.

(Psalm 8:3-9)

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,

the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

What is man, that thou art mindful of him?

and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,

and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands;

thou hast put all things under his feet:

All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea,

and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

The Dominion of man over God’s creation has strong ethical implications. We tend to think of God’s physical world as temporary and irrelevant. We think of God’s realm and concern as relating to Spiritual things, but forget God’s concern in his physical creation. God is not only concerned that we are holy, but also that we are faithful stewards in all that He has intrusted us.  Our Creator is a God of organization and beauty and the stewardship he has given us is one of spreading out, subduing, building, organizing, and making the world fit for human use. This should be impetus enough for us to pull weeds, cut our grass, sweep our sidewalks, etc. Our God is not a God of confusion and decay. He would not have us to subdue and exercise dominion over His creation in any way that reflects laziness, disorder, decay and indifference. Even the most mundane of tasks can be carried out in joy as a service to the King, as this world is His and He has given it to us to take care of and to enjoy.

Application

Implications of being made in image of God are many and obvious.  Our views on abortion, evolution, and the meaning and value of life should be heavily influenced by the fact that man has value, because man was made in the image of God.


CI Scofield
Louis Berkhof
Thomas Watson
AW Pink

Creation

In the beginning …the earth was without form, and void…And [then] God said

And God said…

The land had no shape and it was covered with water and empty and formless, but then ‘God said’. Those two words changed everything. When ‘God said’ things changed, a habitable environment formed, lands and seas appeared. When ‘God said’ light and life came into existence and everything was different. It is the Word of God that gives light and life to men.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

(Psalms 33:6)

What happened when ‘God said’?

(1) ‘Let there be light’ ‘and there was light’ ‘it was good’
(2) ‘Let there be a firmament’ ‘and it was so’
(3) ‘Let the waters be gathered’ ‘and it was so’ ‘it was good’
(4) ‘Let there be lights’ ‘and it was so’ ‘it was good’
(5) ‘Let the waters bring forth’ ‘And God created’
(6) ‘Let the earth bring forth’ ‘and it was so’ ‘it was good’

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, [it was] very good.”

It Was Good

Formerly the land was formless and empty, but God spoke, and now it is good. Everything God does is good. God is good.

“And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth… (Ex 34:6)

Everything God did was good and so everything God saw was good; but after man fell into sin – “GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

What is Creation

According to the Baptist Catechism, God’s work of creation is:

The work of creation is God’s making all things of nothing (1), by the Word of His power (2), in the space of six days (3), and all very good. (4)

  1. Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
  2. Hebrews 11:3 – “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God”
  3. Exodus 20:11 – “For [in] six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is”
  4. Genesis 1:31 – “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, [it was] very good.”

God completed His work of Creation in 6 days. On each of the first 3 days, God created a realm and on each of the succeeding 3 days God filled that realm with items which correspond to it.

Day 1

Light

Day 4

Sun, Moon, and Stars

Day 2

Sky and Seas

Day 5

Birds and Fish

Day 3

Land, Grass, and Trees

Day 6

Animals and Man


Day 1 – Light

2Cor 4:6 – For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Says Gill:

…this was the first thing made out of the dark chaos; as in the new creation, or work of grace in the heart, light is the first thing produced there…

Were heavenly bodies that give light created in day 1? If there was no sun, how could the Earth have day and night? Is it possible the sun was created on day 1, but was not visible from Earth until Day 4, after God had separated the waters above and below the Earth with an expanse, as per Scofield?

Day 2 – Sea and Sky

Psalm 19:1 – The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

The word ‘firmament’ here in verse 6 comes from the Latin Vulgate: ‘firmamentum’.

According to Webster, firmament means:

The region of the air; the sky or heavens. In scripture, the word denotes an expanse, a wide extent; for such is the signification of the Hebrew word, coinciding with regio, region, and reach. The original therefore does not convey the sense of solidity, but of stretching, extension; the great arch or expanse over our heads, in which are placed the atmosphere and the clouds, and in which the stars appear to be placed, and are really seen.

The expanse here forms the atmosphere of Earth – the humid air (waters above) and clouds above the Earth – the space where the birds fly (Gen 1:20) – and on up to the space occupied by celestial bodies (Gen 1:17) are all the ‘firmament’ or ‘expanse’.

Ps 148:4 – Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.

God does not say ‘it was good’ on this day. Gill quotes Jarchi who postulates that ‘because the work of the waters was not finished; it was begun on the second day, and perfected on the third; and therefore the phrase is twice used in the account of the third day’s work.’ This may be true – the Septuagint does include the phrase, though. Perhaps the phrase is not used because nothing was completed on this day that is benefiting for God’s people to dwell in His good land.

Day 3 – Dry Land

Ps 33:7 – He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.

Two ‘good’ acts are performed on this day: (1) preparation of dry land and (2) furnishing of that land – seed bearing plants and fruit bearing trees. These items are suitable and essential for animal life.

Preparation of the Land is key in Genesis: see 12:7, 13:15, 15:18, and 26:4, for example.

Somehow, God made mature (already having seeds and fruit) living plants and trees before the sun existed. Though there was no sun (Day 4), there was light (Day 1). The sun was put in place on the next day. When God created the first trees with their seeds, He created not only this first generation, but all those that would exist throughout history, because they would descend from them.

Says Calvin:

he [Moses] signifies not only that herbs and trees were then created, but that, at the same time, both were endued with the power of propagation, in order that their several species might be perpetuated. Since, therefore, we daily see the earth pouring forth to us such riches from its lap, since we see the herbs producing seed, and this seed received and cherished in the bosom of the earth till it springs forth, and since we see trees shooting from other trees; all this flows from the same Word. If therefore we inquire, how it happens that the earth is fruitful, that the germ is produced from the seed, that fruits come to maturity, and their various kinds are annually reproduced; no other cause will be found, but that God has once spoken, that is, has issued his eternal decree; and that the earth, and all things proceeding from it, yield obedience to the command of God, which they always hear.

Day 4 – Sun, Moon, and Stars

According to Scofield, there is no creative act on this day. The lights from the heavens were allowed to reach the dry land on this day, merely. John Gill says on this verse:

…some writers, both Jewish and Christian, and even modern astronomers, understand this only of the appearance of them [sun, moon, and stars], and not of the formation of them; they suppose they were made on the first day, but did not appear or shine out so clearly and visibly as now on the fourth day: but it seems rather, that the body of fire and light produced on the first day was now distributed and formed into several luminous bodies of sun, moon, and stars…

“…let them be for signs, and for seasons…”

The phrase ‘let them be for signs’ is clearly NOT an endorsement for astrology, given other things the Scriptures have to say regarding diviners. Rather, the sun and moon were given the role of marking out ‘seasons, days, and years’.

Is this a Biblical mandate to follow a lunar calendar?

O give thanks to the Lord of lords: …To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever: The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever: The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Ps 136:3-9)

Days 5 & 6

‘Let the waters bring forth…’

All fowl and water life derive their being from water. On this, Calvin says:

Why should it not be lawful for him, who created the world out of nothing, to bring forth the birds out of water? And what greater absurdity, I pray, has the origin of birds from the water, than that of the light from darkness? Therefore, let those who so arrogantly assail their Creator, look for the Judge who shall reduce them to nothing. Nevertheless if we must use physical reasoning in the contest, we know that the water has greater affinity with the air than the earth has.

‘Let the earth bring forth…’

It is interesting to note that land animals were taken from the Earth. Animal creatures are made up of Earthly materials – they are taken from the Earth and return to it in death.

We will consider the creation of man in a separate article…

Why Did God Create the World?

Says Thomas Watson:

God made the world to demonstrate his own glory. The world is a looking glass, in which we may see the power and goodness of God shine forth. …The world is like a curious piece of tapestry, in which we may see the skill and wisdom of him that made it.

Psalm 19:1-3
The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Day unto day uttereth speech,
and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

There is no speech nor language,
where their voice is not heard.


John Gill
John Calvin
John Sailhamer
Thomas Watson

In The Beginning

In the beginning…

What is the beginning?

Genesis is the book of beginnings and the beginning of the book of Genesis begins with these words about the beginning. But what is the beginning referenced here? Is it the beginning of the natural universe perhaps? Is it the beginning of space and time and matter maybe? Or perhaps, Moses simply means the beginning of God’s work of creation or that this is the beginning of history. After all, all history begins in the first moment God created.

Note carefully the way the opening of the book of John reads:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

(John 1:1-3)

Note that the ‘Word’ is Jesus Christ (John 1:14). Jesus was ‘with’ God and He ‘was’ God. He (already) was ‘in the beginning’.

In the beginning, God…

The Existance of God

It is interesting that the Bible does not begin by defining God or by proving his existence. He is just assumed. The following is from AW Pink on God’s existance:

No argument is entered into to prove the existence of God: instead, His existence is affirmed as a fact to be believed. And yet, sufficient is expressed in this one brief sentence to expose every fallacy which man has invented concerning the Deity. This opening sentence of the Bible repudiates atheism, for it postulates the existence of God. It refutes materialism, for it distinguishes between God and His material creation. It abolishes pantheism, for it predicates that which necessitates a personal God. “In the beginning God created,” tells us that He was Himself before the beginning, and hence, Eternal…

Perhaps Moses doesn’t prove God’s existence because the people for whom Moses composed this work were already in covenant relationship with Jehovah and needed no formal introduction. Perhaps it is because at this point in the narrative, it is enough to simply state that He is and that He is the Creator of all things. It may also be that as man was made in the image of God, His existence and attributes are so undeniably certain that the Creator cannot be denied by any rational/reasonable creature. Or, perhaps it may be that God only makes himself known to His own and they only can know and love him:

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Cor 2:10-14

According to the Baptist Catechism, there is no excuse not to believe in God, but only His Word and Works reveal Him to our souls –

Q3. How do we know there is a God?

A. The light of nature in man, and the works of God, plainly declare that there is a God; but His Word and Spirit only, do effectually reveal Him unto us for our salvation.
(Rom. 1:18-20; Psalm 19:1,2; 2 Tim. 3:15; 1 Cor. 1:21-24; 1 Cor. 2:9,10)

…God created…

The Trinity and Ex Nihilo

The Hebrew word used here for God is Elohim. According to Gill:

The word used is “Elohim” …which signifies power, creation being an act of almighty power: but it is rather to be derived from the root in the Arabic language, which signifies to worship, God being the object of all religious worship and adoration; and very properly does Moses make use of this appellation here, to teach us, that he who is the Creator of the heavens and the earth is the sole object of worship

According to the Scofield Reference Bible:

It is explicitly stated here that ‘God’ created the heaven and the earth. Looking back at John 1:3, we see that all things were made by the ‘Word’ (i.e. Christ, cf. Heb 1:2) – an explicit and stunning proclamation of the deity of Christ in the opening of John’s gospel.

Ex Nihilo

It is here that we recognize that all God created was out of nothing (ex nihilo). Before the beginning there was nothing, or the beginning wouldn’t be the beginning. See Hebrews 11:3 – Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Gill sums up this section in this way:

From hence we learn, that the world was not eternal, either as to the matter or form of it, as Aristotle, and some other philosophers, have asserted, but had a beginning; and that its being is not owing to the fortuitous motion and conjunction of atoms, but to the power and wisdom of God, the first cause and sole author of all things; and that there was not any thing created before the heaven and the earth were…

See also Worldview Implications of Creation Ex Nihilo for 15 implications of ‘creation out of nothing.’

…the heaven and the earth…

The Land and Sky

The beginning of the Bible begins with the story of the creation of the ‘land’ (אֶרֶץ in Hebrew, γῆν in Greek) and the ‘sky’. Land is a key recurring theme in the Pentateuch – God’s Chosen People in God’s Chosen Land. As the Pentateuch was composed for the children of Israel by Moses as they were about to debark on their journey into the promised land, what greater comfort could Moses provide than to remind them here that God is the Creator of ‘all’ the land and as Creator it is in his purview and power to decide who occupies it. It was not Canaanite land, but God’s Land and He decides who occupies it. However, according to John Gill the ‘Earth’ signified here is not ‘the dry land’ but the ‘whole mass of earth and water before their separation, and when in their unformed and unadorned state …the terraqueous globe, in their chaotic state, as they were first brought into being by almighty power.’

As Gill comments, we are here told that the land God created was in its original composition ‘without form’ (shapeless?) and ‘void’ (empty). Does this mean that God created the materials of the universe before he shaped them into their present form in the six days?

…And the Spirit of God moved…

The Trinity

It is interesting to note that the Hebrew word used for God (Elohim) here is plural. Is this a ‘royal’ plurality or an early hint at the Trinity? Does this name, Elohim, represent God’s revelation of Himself as Creator and Lord over his creation? Gill states:

It (Elohim) is in the plural number, and …is thought by many to be designed to point unto us the mystery of a plurality, or trinity of persons in the unity of the divine essence: but whether or no this is sufficient to support that doctrine, which is to be established without it; yet there is no doubt to be made, that all the three Persons in the Godhead were concerned in the creation of all things…

In this verse we find a reference to the ‘Spirit of God’ moving upon the waters. This is not a clear definition of the Trinity, but even in the first two verses of the Bible, the nature of God is hinted at. We see in these first two verses the working of God The Father (Gen 1:1), The Son (John 1:3), and the Holy Spirit (Gen 1:2) in the Creation of the Wold.

The New Creation

God’s work of creation here is a reminder of God’s greater work of creation yet to take place. Isaiah prophecies:

For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.

(Isaiah 65:17-25)

This passage is often erroneously applied to the Millennium, but we see in verse 17 above, that the Lord is describing His work of creation – His creation of a ‘new’ sky and a ‘new’ land – the old will pass away from memory. In that land will be joy and peace and it will be inhabited by God’s ‘elect’, those that are the true Jerusalemites – ‘the seed of the blessed of the LORD’.

Compare the passage above with the following from John:

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.

(Revelation 21:1-5)


Bibliography

Sailhamer
Calvin
Gill
Pink
Scofield