Man's Purpose: The Fall
Understanding the Old Testament Lesson #004
January 23, 2000
Father, we thank you for Your Word that You have revealed so much to us. We thank you for the incredible depth of Your revelation and that the more we study the more there is to learn and the more there is exposed to us. And You promised in Your Word that the more we learn and are obedient to You, the more You disclose Yourself to us. Now Father, as we study Your Word under the teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit, Who indwells us and fills us, we pray that we will be responsive to the challenge of Your Word. We pray this in Jesus Name, Amen.
Well we are in our fourth session this morning in our study of the Old Testament (OT), "How to Understand the OT"; and we have seen how important the OT is. Even in the New Testament (NT), the writers of the NT teach us that it is important for us to study these things. That in our studies of this OT Scriptures, Paul said to Timothy, in 2 Timothy 3:15, that it was by the study of the Holy Writings that one would come to salvation. Paul also tells us in 1 Corinthians 10 that we are to study these things because they happen as "an example" to us. Unfortunately many people get the idea somehow that the OT is not as relevant as the NT. And yet the Scripture says that "all Scripture," which primarily had a reference to the OT is profitable.
So, we begin with just an overview; seeing that the OT is divided up into three sections, of five sections really in our English Bible:
1. The Law
2. Historical Books
4. Major Prophets
5. Minor Prophets
The Law was written by Moses and includes five Books, the Pentateuch, and that was written approximately 1440 BC in the Plains of Moab as the Israelites were on the verge of entering into the Promised Land and conquering the Canaanites. The second is the Historical division, which covers the period of the United Kingdom up until about the early 931 BC, when the Northern and Southern Kingdom were divided into Northern Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Northern Kingdom of Israel goes out under discipline in 722 BC when they are defeated by the Assyrians and those Ten Northern Tribes are scattered. The South goes out under discipline when they are conquered by Nebuchadnezzar on the third invasion in 586 BC. Following the exile a number returned to the land and the Books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther cover that post-exilic period.
Now if you look at this chart on the board as you see it, that gives you the framework for understanding the OT. This is the broad categories. This is the historical overview of everything in the OT. The other books, Poetry Books, Major and Minor Prophets, all fit within this historical framework. So if you can understand this historical framework, then you will be able to put the details together and begin to make sense of the OT.
Job was probably the first OT book written, we do not know when it was, sometime probably between the flood and Abraham, but we're uncertain as to its exact time. The Psalms were written by various authors, primarily David, but Moses wrote one Psalm at least; some other Psalms were written in the postexilic period and during the exile for they cover a period of time. The Solomonic books include Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon; those were written during Solomon's lifetime. Isaiah was written in the 7th century BC. Jeremiah lived before the exile. Jeremiah went with the group to Egypt. Ezekiel lived before and during the exile and he went to Babylon. Daniel as well went to Babylon. Then you have the Twelve Minor Prophets composed of pre-exilic, exilic, and three post-exilic prophets, Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi. Now that shows you how everything in the OT fits together. We pasted out that chart so you can look at that and begin to orient yourself.
Now we saw last time that there is a theme, a major thematic structure in the OT. This is centered around the verse in Exodus, Exodus 19:5-6a. We have seen in our study how you have a fast progression of time through Genesis. Genesis 1-11 covers approximately 2,000 years of history on the earth. Then you slow down form Abraham to the end of Genesis; that covers approximately 360 years. From Exodus 1 up to Exodus 19 also covers approximately 360 years.
Then things come to a screeching halt and from Exodus 19 through Exodus 40; all of those events take place in under a year. So that tells us time wise that this is what the focus is of the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch must be taken as one whole document, the theme of which is related to the verb in Exodus 19:5-6. God is speaking to Moses, "Because if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant then you shall be My own possession among all the people. For all the earth is mine and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." In terms of God's plan for history in the OT He had chosen the nation Israel and they were to serve as a priest nation in relation to all the other nations. We saw that the primary purpose of the priest is an intercessor and as a mediator. So it would be through Israel that all the other nations would come to a knowledge of God and be able to worship God in the central place of worship.
The first Book, Genesis, which in the Hebrew is bərēšīṯ, which means "Beginning" and if you want to understand Genesis, to have a good overview of the structure of Genesis, just remember that it involves four events and four people. The four events are: Creation, Fall, Flood and Babel. We are in the midst of studying the Creation. We will finish with the Fall this morning. The four people are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, the Patriarchs of the nation Israel.
Now last time we saw that if we study this it is helpful to have some isogogical background; and one of the things that has been studied in recent years, because of archeological studies, the various ancient documents. And we learned that the Pentateuch is written in the form of an ancient secular contract form called a Suzerain-Vassal treaty form. Now Suzerain, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, means first of all:
1. A nation that controls another nation in international affairs, but allows it a measure of domestic sovereignty; like a satellite nation, like the Eastern Block were to the Soviet Union during that time.
2 A reference to a feudal lord, this would be a term usually used in feudalism during the Middle Ages; the feudal lords to who obedience is due.
The sense in which we are using this in the treaty is that there is a great king of an empire who has a satellite nation who enters into a certain contract with that king or that nation. And in that contract describes the roles and responsibilities of the vassal to the Suzerain, who is a great lord; and how the great lord will benefit him in terms of blessing and what will happen if he violates the contract in terms of persons. And this is the basic structure we see in terms of the Pentateuch.
The term vassal refers first of all to a person who held land from a feudal lord and received protection in return for homage and allegiance. It can also refer to a bondman or slave, or a subordinate or a dependent. So here we are using it in the sense of a nation that is in a subordinate role to a greater nation, king or empire. The Suzerain-Vassal treaty refers to a mid-second millennium, that is about 1500 BC, the time frame in which we are speaking, when Moses wrote the Pentateuch – refers to a mid-second millennium treaty form between a powerful king or empire and its vassal states for client nation.
The point I want to make is that it is not so much that God has modeled His covenants on a human model, but that the human models, as we are going to see in our studies this morning in Genesis 1, the human concept of a covenant, a contract or treaty is rooted in God's original declaration to Adam in the Garden. God sets the standard and then man imitates it in his contractual agreement. Man came along and said we need to enter into a contract so let me see, God did this to Adam, so let's model what we are going to do on what God did. So God set the standard and man imitates that and even though the term covenant is not used in Genesis 1, as we will see, it is a covenant agreement and this is about where we ended last time. That the original account of the creation of man in Genesis 1:26-27 is a covenant establishing situation related to God's statement to Noah.
So, as we get started, open your Bibles to Genesis 6:18 and we will look at what God says to Noah. We will look at Genesis 6:18 and then shift over briefly to look at Genesis 9 before we get into Genesis 1. It is so important to lay the foundation for everything else that happens in the OT. If you can understand God's covenant to Moses and its significance to Israel. Because Israel is the center point of the OT. It is not the purpose of the OT, remember, I said last time, the purpose of the OT is not Israel. Israel is a mediator as a means to an end. So the overall purpose has to do with the nation in salvation. But salvation itself is a means to an end. It is not the end itself. You are saved from something to something. So the overall purpose of the OT must have a meaning, a purpose that is greater than simply Israel or salvation. And so, it is expressed in terms of ultimately glorifying God in the angelic conflict.
Now in Genesis 6:18 we read, God speaking to Noah now, "But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife, and your sons' wives with you." Now what we saw last time is the question is God establishing a new covenant with Noah or is this a reference to older covenant? Because at this particular time this is the first time that the word berith, which means covenant is used in the OT. And God does not establish a covenant. I always like the original Hebrew idiom that means to "cut a covenant;" it is a term; it does not mean to make a covenant or enter a contract; it literally to "cut a covenant." And God does not come down and cut a covenant with Noah until Genesis 9. But Genesis 6:18 establishes the fact that God is going to make a covenant with Noah. Following the flood, which was a worldwide deluge; following the flood, when they come off the ark God enters into a new contractual arrangement with the human race. We see this in Genesis 9.
What you should do when you are taking notes, is draw a circle in Genesis 6:18 around "My covenant;" then, draw a line out to the margin and put the reference to see Genesis 9:1ff. In Genesis 9:1 we see the provisions of the Noahic covenant laid out by God. God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth." Now I want you to take note of some of the provisions here, because we are going to see the parallel in Genesis 1. Just as God told Noah and his sons to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. So God tells Adam and Ishah in the Garden before the Fall to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Genesis 9:2 reads, "The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given."
Now this is going to be a slightly different view of man's relationship to the animal kingdom that we find in the pre-Fall pristine perfect environment of the Garden. There Adam is to rule, but there is no hint of fear or domination. In Genesis 9 there is also the institution of meat eating for the human race, which was not true prior to the flood. Prior to the flood man was a vegetarian.
At the time of the Noahic covenant God established with man that he must eat meat. Genesis 9:3 "Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant." That clause, "as I gave the green plant" goes back to what God said in Genesis 1 when God said, "I have given all the plants in the field for your food." So God's ultimate provision for this goes back again showing the similarity between the Noahic covenant and what takes place in Genesis 1.
Genesis 9:7 "As for you, be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it … Genesis 9:8b "…behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you…" This is a worldwide covenant between Noah and God; so this covenant, the Noahic covenant is still in effect today. We still look outside at times when a storm is coming up and we see a rainbow. That rainbow is a sign of the Noahic covenant. It is not changed and will not change until God destroys the earth by fire at the end of the Millennial Kingdom.
Now let's go to our passage in Genesis 1:26-27 to understand the significance of the human race.
"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over (notice it is "rule" over as oppose to "fear" being upon) the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it.' " Notice the similarity with Genesis 9. If Genesis 9 is a covenant, this is all that I am saying, if Genesis 9 is a covenant, then Genesis1:26-30 is a covenant.
Even though the term covenant is not used; because of the similarity to parallel and terminology, what we have here is the first covenant between God and man. It is a contractual relationship that God enters into with man. And this is, because we will see in Genesis 2, the one test, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it is a covenant conditioned on man's obedience to the prohibition. In Genesis 1:28 God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it." So man's role, we'll come back to this, is to "rule the earth and to subdue the earth." That puts man in a unique relationship to everything else in the creative order. Why is that significant? The reason that that is significant is that it tells us that everything on the earth was made for man. Everything on the earth was made for man. Man is not just another cog in the animal kingdom. Everything was made for him. Plants were made for man; animals were made for man. Everything is made for man. That sets man up as distinct from everything else in the creative order. Everything is made for him. This shows us that the entire creation is anthropocentric.
Now I think certain implications follow from that:
1. It has tremendous implications for the Creation-Evolution debate.
2. It has implications to the significance of man.
3. It has implications to the entire environmental debate because man is not part of nature, according to pantheism, but "rules" over nature; and even though we live in a fallen environment that relationship will continue.
4. I think another implication here is that on the issue of population explosion; everyone gets worried every now and then about how populous the earth is getting.
We forget that God is in control and that the original mandate was reiterated in Genesis 9, "to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" and God has not stopped that. Remember, if the rainbow is the sign of the covenant, "to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" is just as much a part of that covenant. What is still in effect as is everything else in the Noahic covenant including capital punishment. So, as long as you go outside and see a rainbow, these things are still in effect. God is the Sovereign in control. So we don't need to be concerned, obsessed, or punch a panic button over these environmentalist issues, and population explosion, and all of this. Because the only reason you do that is if you have rejected at the beginning a Divine Viewpoint view of the purpose of the human and the purpose of human history.
Let's go onto Genesis 9:29, Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you." And this just shows that God has supplied abundantly for man. That God in His Grace always supplies everything man needs. This is a principle that we will see again and again and again throughout the Scriptures. God is sufficient for man; He always supplies everything man needs. The problem is not that God hasn't supplied everything that man needs, but that man continuously rejects that provision and wants something else. He wants to redefine everything. So that brings us to point one this morning:
The Creation account of man, as the image of God, in Genesis 1:26-27. The creation of mankind occurs on the 6th day in Genesis 1 and that then is picked up as the scene for Genesis 2. Genesis 2 focuses on everything that takes place on that 6th day. This is a stylistic device in Hebrew narrative that is very common; it is called "pearling," like a pearl that you find in an oyster. What you will do is you will have a series of events, a string of events, a string of pearls, and then you will go back and pick one of them and that becomes the subject that is expounded upon and developed in more detail in the next section. So you have the string of events as seven days, six of God's creative activities and a seventh day of rest, and the next step you come back and take one event, primarily on day 6 and that is expanded and developed in the second chapter.
But first we have to look at what takes place here in Genesis 1:26-27. God says, "Let Us," Elohim, indicating a plurality in the Godhead and this is further emphasized by the plural pronoun "Us." God says, "Let Us make man," Adam, which is often just a word used not for the particular individual Adam, but for the human race, mankind. "Let Us make man, Adam, in Our image, according to Our likeness. Let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth." Now what is going on here is crucial to understanding the unique position of man in the creative order.
1. First of all we see that man is made in the "image and according to the likeness to God." The term for image is bəṣelem, "in Our image," from ṣelem, meaning an image or representation and according to the likeness. Now the question we have to ask when we look at this is: In what sense are we in the image and likeness of God? Is this an immaterial shadow image or is this a physical image, a physical representation; this thing that man looks like God; God has a form of a bipedal hominoid? Or is the answer a little bit of both?
We are helped in answering this by understanding some of the verbiage that is used in the Suzerain-Vassal treaty form. Because what we discover in that treaty form is the vassal is described as the image and the likeness of the Great King. What does that mean? That means that this vassal king that is set up to rule this country is the representative of the Great King. He represents the King in all He is. So if you want to know what the Great King is like, then you look at the vassal king. He is to be the image, the reflection of the Great Sovereign. So man is to represent God. All of these are a part of this package of image and likeness. So that image, first of all, is going to describe man's immaterial make-up, his soul, his mentality, everything that is comprised of the immaterial nature because that is what makes man unique from all the other creatures.
2. Many people think that it is primarily located in man's intellectual ability because that allows man to function as the overlord. So what we see here is that the image, boiled down in a nutshell, all I am saying is that the image is a little bit of both, primarily it's in the immaterial aspects because that relates to who man is. But what we are also going to see is when you look at the text, and you look at Genesis 1:26-27, the image is specifically related to function, to what man does. So image and likeness are not just static concepts of His immaterial soul, but it is that immaterial soul as it relates to its function as to what man is to do in relation to the Creation; why God has placed him on the earth, that there is a specific purpose.
So image first of all describes man's immaterial make-up and composition of his soul. Now support for this is found in the fact that Adam's descendants, who have been marred by sin, are said to be in the image of Adam. In fact, when you come to Genesis 5:1 and you begin to see Adam procreate; Adam and Eve have descendants, then those children are said to be in the image of Adam and according to his likeness. Then when you get to Genesis 9 and God gives the reason why a man who killed someone, someone who commits homicide; why a murderer is to be punished with capital punishment, have his life taken, it is because man is created in the image of God.
Now think about this a minute. Man is said to be created in the image and likeness of God in Genesis 1:26-27. Then in Genesis 5, when Adam procreates, his children are in the image and according to the likeness of Adam, not God, Adam. That emphasizes the fact that something happened to this image. It has been marred by sin, but it is still the image of God. That is the reason why murder is wrong and why capital punishment is necessary in Genesis 9. So the image is not lost by sin; it is simply marred.
3. These terms, 'image' and 'likeness,' explain not merely that man is "in the image of God," but that he is "the image of God." He is the representative of God. One term that is used is that he is the vice-regent; he is the representative of God. He is to rule all the created order on earth as God's under-lord. He is serving God. This is typical terminology in the ancient secular treaty.
4. Man was thus created to fulfill the role of God's vice-regent; God's personal representative and ruler over creation. That is why man is created higher than all the other creatures. That is what sets man apart is that he is "in the image and according to the likeness of God." So what is in terms of his immaterial make-up is inseparably linked to what he is to do. Man is to rule the creation. He is set over creation.
I want you to notice the terms that are used in the text. In Genesis 1:26 we see that man is to "rule over" the animal creation. This is repeated in Genesis 1:28, man is to "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it." Now this is not a terminology or verbiage that is going to win tremendous friends in the Greenie movement, or with the environmental activists; because they think that man is just another cog in the machine of nature. And what I will develop in this, what you need to understand, is that is pure pagan thought; that is the same kind of thinking, which should be obvious, and all pantheist think that man is just another piece of nature. The implications of this are profound; because if man is just another cog in the machine, then man's primary purpose is to make sure the machine continues to run smoothly and change.
Now think about that, if you are an Apache Indian living out there communing with nature in southern Arizona or if you are in India, a Hindu, then you are living in and with nature and you do not want to change nature. Because if you do much to change nature then you are going to upset the harmony and the balance of nature; and now you've got major problems because that represents ultimate reality. Nature is god and god is nature in a pantheistic theme.
In contrast to that, biblical Christianity says man is to rule over nature; he is distinct from nature. So that God has given him all of these resources and man's responsibility is to develop them, to do something with them, and that is going to change and transform nature. He's not simply to be static; he is to build and develop and to grow; he is to get involved in mining operations and logging operations. Man is supposed to get involved in agriculture and farming, all of which is going to transform nature. Because man is over nature; God created everything in nature to be utilized by men. Now it should be utilized responsibly; the land should not be raped.
But you see, as a Christian we should have a biblical view of ecology and responsible use of our resources and not a pagan view, and there is a difference. Even though there may be a lot of similarities, there are vast differences. And if you operate on a pagan view, on a pantheistic concept that man is a part of nature, then you will be anti-technology; you will be anti-development; you will be anti-logging because my, my, my, we might affect a spotted owl or some other creature without recognizing the fact that all this is created for man to rule and to subdue. That is what the terminology means.
So this is very important to understand, all these aspects and its implications. Now, when we come to looking at the image, one of the things we need to notice, a few principles:
1. Man is created in this image to fulfill his role as the vice-regent and the physical body is to house the immaterial representation of God.
Now, what I am getting at here is that it is not just a physical image; I mean it is not just an immaterial image. It is not simply the soul. Your physical body, the physical body, by the way in which man is made and shaped and formed physically is related to his function. So, God designed man physically to be the perfect physical machine in order to fulfill the responsibilities of being in the image and likeness of God.
Let me make that more clear. In order to have a creature fulfill the responsibilities that God intended; God could not devise a better way to do it than the way you and I look. That is profound; especially when you think about all these idol creatures like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, and Rod Berry and everybody else try to imagine. Of course, they are restricted because they are actors and all bipedal hominoids. But God created us this way for a reason. So the physical body is not just by chance. Man's physical make-up is not secondary or just a chance thing. It is specifically designed by an omniscient God to be the best form in which the immaterial image of God could express itself.
2. Secondly, our physical body was known by God to be what would eventually house the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ; therefore for God, eternal infinite God, thinking in eternity past, "Now what is going to be the best physical form for Me to take in order to express My nature to mankind? What is that (physical body) going to look like?" So when God designs the human body He knows eventually that He is going to be incarnate in that human body. So it is going to be a physical form that will be the best and highest representation of His Essence. Once again, we don't look the way we do by chance. There is a specific design to that; our physical body is to be the highest and best possible home in which and through which the immaterial image will function.
3. Conclusion, human physical design is not by chance or simply a functional design, but it is specifically designed the way it is to express God's will and to house God's Son and to fulfill man's destiny. God is intimately involved in not just the immaterial creation of the soul, but there is purpose and significance to the physical house in which the soul lives.
Now when we look at Genesis 1 we are told that man is to "rule." "Rule" comes from the Hebrew word rada', which means to have dominion, to rule, or to dominate. This is not a passive term. This shows that man is supposed to take initiative and he is to plan; he is to develop; he is to utilize nature for his own purposes; he is to exercise control and inventiveness. The word "subdue" is from the Hebrew kabash, which means to 'subdue' a foreign army; it means to bring something under control, to bring it into bondage. So what man is to do is to go out and bring nature under his control. This is in contrast to pantheism, which says that man just lives and goes with the flow. He just lives with nature, as a part of nature. But we are to bring nature under our control. That means that we are to learn everything there is to learn about the creation.
So all of science should have its roots in understanding, this is sometimes called the Dominion Mandate, that man is to go out and control his environment. That means we have to learn everything there is to learn about the environment. We categorize and classify everything and that includes, of course, theology and doctrine. We have the Word of God and we have to bring it under our control and we do that by studying every detail.
There is a tremendous analogy here, that just as God creates the animals, and you have all these animals, and all this random data, so to speak, out there; and then He begins to bring them to the man and the man has to name them. Well, in order to name them he has to observe all the details and be able to distinguish the kind, categorize and classify. He has to take notes; he has to start controlling an enormous amount of information about the entire animal kingdom; and then simplify it and categorize it and name these animals.
The same thing goes on in doctrine. I can't understand why people say all I want to do is go to church and hear some nice little Bible stories and stay moral, moral. That is failing to fulfill the Dominion Mandate in relation to Bible study. Bible study is where we have this tremendous amount of data in the Bible and we have to go through and be able to control all that data and then categorize and classify it for the purpose of ordering our lives according to the plan and purpose of God so that He is honored. And if we don't do that then we have failed in our mission. So there is a lot to learn here in terms of implications and applications.
In conclusion, all pagan thought is inherently pantheistic, making man a part of nature; thus man stands in nature and is not to harm nature. In fact, man begins to worship nature, and that produces ecstatic culture that goes no place. That is why you go out and you look at the Aborigines in Australia; you look at the Aborigines tribes in Africa; the American Aborigines here; and that is why their cultures never advance from century to century. There is no technological development. It is because of their religious view; religion makes a difference. In fact, the difference is that when biblical Christianity merges with some of the Greek philosophical concepts is when you get the birth of real science in the Middle Ages; but it is only Greek philosophy on its own could not do it. It is only when it was merged with and built on a foundation of biblical truth. So it makes a difference. That is why these original chapters in Genesis are so foundational to our thinking.
Christianity says that man is over nature and is to utilize nature in order to improve his life. And only on the basis of Christianity can you produce a dynamic growing culture. Culture doesn't just happen folks. Culture is the result of your religious and philosophical assumption. That is why in postmodernism everybody is against the Western civilization.
Think about it, Western civilization as we know it is the product of Greek and Roman thought, although that has a big influence, I am not denying that. But Western civilization as we know it is the result of Christianity. Christianity changed the pantheism of the barbarian tribes, the pantheism and the polytheism of the Greek and Roman thought. So Christianity radically transformed. When you hear people wanting go against Western thought and take the Western canon out of the study of the curriculums in the schools; this is a very subtle attack on Christianity, because that is what made Western civilization what it is. I am not saying that it is perfect (Western civilization) or that there are not any serious problems, or anything like that. I am just saying that what made it (Western civilization) distinct from all the other cultures; because if you go back in history to all the other cultures, look at the way things were before Christ; you look at what was going on in Europe; it was no different from anywhere else in the world and it was just barbarous.
Now, we need to move on; this is just a survey to kind of help you understand the OT. But we have to understand these initial passages and what is going on in the creation of man or what happened later won't make sense. In the image of God it is man and woman together that represent God on the earth. God makes the image male and female. It's not male; so this shows that there is an essential identity and equality between male and female. So this destroys any kind of view of male dominance in terms of man as inherently better. He is different; he has a distinct role as we will see. Woman has a distinct role; but as image-bearers of God they are to work together as team to fulfill the Dominion Mandate. But in that team, as in any team, there is a distinction of roles.
And finally, the believer, being conformed to the image of Christ is to represent Christ as ambassador on the earth. You see, what has happened is that man is created in the image of God. Then that image is marred and distorted by sin. So man procreates and replicates according to the image and likeness of Adam. Then, when you come into the NT with regeneration and sanctification by means of God the Holy Spirit, we are being renewed according to the image of Jesus Christ.
As a believer grows and matures on the basis of doctrine and his thinking is transformed, he moves back to where he can have that same kind of Divine Viewpoint look on history and on nature that characterized Adam, so that he can begin to fulfill the role that God originally assigned to man. Because the human race in human history has moved from normality before the Fall to abnormality after the Fall. It is only through sanctification that we begin to return to normality and to be able to fulfill the original condition that God laid out for the creation of man. And in the church this defines man as the image of Christ as the ambassador, just as Adam was to represent God to the creation as the vice-regent, so the believer is to represent Christ to the earth as the ambassador of Christ.
Now we come to Genesis 2; Genesis 2 is going to expand the concepts that we hinted at in Genesis 1:26-27. In Genesis 2:15 we read, "And the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and to keep it." And then if you will look down at Genesis 2:19-20 we read, "Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he could call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him."
So there is a method to the procedure here and that is not only to give man the opportunity to start fulfilling his role as the ruler of the earth, but he is to realize that there is something missing. That there was a pair of everything. But there is no creature that corresponds to himself. So God is creating in Adam a sense of absence, a sense of need for the creation of the woman. Now we look at Genesis 2, just to give you a brief overview of the chapter. In the first nine verses we see the vegetative condition of the earth. There is no rain on the earth at this time, the plants have not sprouted, the seeds are there; and we are told that there is no man to cultivate. So we see right away that one of the things we'll emphasize is that man is designed to work. Work is not a consequence of the Fall. Work changes its nature after the Fall, but from the very beginning man was to cultivate. He was to work in the garden. It did not rain at this time. It says that the earth at that time was watered by a mist.
We see in Genesis 2:7-8 the creation of man. That man is made from the dust of the soil, the chemicals of the ground are mixed together and God formed the physical house of man. Genesis 2:7 "Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground…," so that is the physical formation of the biological life. "…and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life…," and here that emphasizes the impartation of soul and human spirit. God takes the immaterial part of man and breathes it in.
So you have two facets, the biological life and you have soul life. But it is not until the two come together in one that you have full human life. What the Scriptures teach is that God immediately or directly creates the soul of each individual and imparts that at the moment of physical birth. At the moment of conception God indirectly creates each human body through procreation. So through procreation you have the development of physical life from this point on, but not soul life. Soul life cannot be created through a physical process. It is only by God's direct intervention.
What we see from this point on in Psalm 139 and other passages is that does not give us the right to somehow denigrate or reduce the significance of the formation of biological life in the womb. Because God is infinitely involved with the formation of biological life in the womb in Psalm 139; and this biological life is significant because it is designed to be the physical home of the image of God. So this elevates it to not merely a mass of flesh. It is not merely a collection of biological cells and DNA and blood and bone. It is more than that; God is directly involved in its development, Psalm 139. And that has tremendous implications in many different areas related to human life, the abortion debate, and other things like that.
Genesis 2:8 "The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden…" There is a distinction made in the text between Eden and the garden. Eden is where God dwelled. The garden is separate, it is a distinct area. And then there is the planting of the two trees, the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. When we see these things throughout Scripture, in fact, when you come to the end of Scripture, in the New Heavens and New Earth and New Jerusalem, what is in the center of the New Jerusalem? The Tree of Life. Ultimately this portrays or foreshadows the Cross, which is the Tree of Life of Salvation.
Now Genesis 2:10-17 describes the geography. Just a couple of points to observe:
1. The rivers flow out of Eden and divide; there are four rivers. They do not converge, they diverge. There is no place like that on planet Earth.
2. There is a vast amount of minerals on the earth. Genesis 2:12 "The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there." So there is a rich mineral deposit here. I think that the geography, the structure, and some of the physical laws that characterize the pre-flood earth would make us think that we'd gone to another planet if we were to go there today. It looked different and in some ways it functioned differently. There was a perfect environment beyond anything we could ever imagine and that was completely destroyed and all traces of it except for fossil remains were eradicated by that one-year deluge of the water judgment in Genesis 6-9.
Then we have the prohibition given, the test given in Genesis 2:16-17 "The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." Instant death indicates that what happened when they disobeyed God was spiritual death and separation from God. This is the warning.
Then from Genesis 2:18-25 we see the creation of the woman, ishshah, who was designed to be a helper for man. The word for "helper" is ezer. God is considered to be an ezer to man, a helper to man. This is not some insignificant role, some secondary lesser function. If God takes on that role to man then we can't say anything or think anything that being a helpmate, being a helper, being a assistant is somehow less significant. To say that the role of being a helper, an assistant to the husband is somehow less significant is blasphemy, folks. Because what you are saying is that God Himself, when He takes on that role is less significant. I mean we have to take the Bible at its Word and use that to transform our relationships.
This in essence is what a marriage is all about; that the man and woman together function as the image of God in ruling. The man has a primary role in carrying out certain tasks and the woman is created to come alongside him to help him in his tasks. And what happens so often and what causes such problems in marriages, as a result of the feminist movement, is women say, 'Okay, I have my job and I am going this way;' and the man is going this way, and they are like two cars driving down the highway at 80 mph in two separate lanes. You see the picture in Scripture is that they are both in the same car going the same way one helping the other.
As I have said over the years, "Ladies, one of the most important things you need to do before you get married is find out where God is taking that man you are going to marry, because your job, if you are going to fulfill God's plan and purpose and destiny for your life; your job is to help him get there. Your job is not to go in the direction you think God wants you to go. You think God is taking you in a different direction then that man, then you better not get married. That is not the design. The design is your role is to help him get to where God is taking him. It is not for y'all to get together and have a good time going your separate directions. For the woman is designed to be a 'helper' an ezer to help the man.
Genesis 2:19-20 go on to describe the function of man in terms of the work he is carrying out. But I want to go back and look at Genesis 2:15 "Then the LORD GOD took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it." And here we have the word for 'cultivate' is the word avedah in the Hebrew. It means to work, to serve, to carry out responsibility. So, a lot of times people get the idea, 'Well, all they did in Eden was sit around and eat fruit and just had a great time.' But what we see here is a responsibility. They are designed to work, avedah, and incidentally, the same word is used of 'worship' to serve God. Their work their entire life was in service and worship to God. The two terms here are related to 'worship.'
What we can begin to do, if we had time, is to begin to develop a theology of worship by looking at this verse. Ultimately, worship is carrying out the responsibilities that God gives us. Now, in order to carry out the responsibilities that God gives us, first of all we have to understand what they are, don't we? The only way we can understand who we are and what our responsibilities are is to study the Word of God. We don't get that by going out and doing the empirical studies in sociology. We get it by doing detailed study in the Word of God. Then we find out who man is. He is the image and likeness of God. And what his problems are because of sin and God's solution in terms of salvation. So that the starting point of worship is Bible study, Bible study. The out work of worship is the fulfilling our responsibilities in terms of the plan of God.
The second word that is used here to keep the garden is the word shamar, which also means to guard, or to watch, to keep. So man is to work the garden and to guard the garden. He has a watchman's position here. Now we know when Satan comes along in the serpent that there was something to guard the garden from, don't we? And man failed to fulfill that responsibility. So part of our responsibility is to guard, to be a protector over that which God has delegated to us. Here is an obvious application, parents, for your role and responsibility in relationship to your children. Remember having children is part of the function for being in the image and likeness of God, to multiply and fill the earth. So, conclusion, work itself is not a curse. It is the essence of what man is supposed to do.
This leads us to develop the idea that work means fulfilling God's role as he is created to do, as he is intended. We are beginning to develop a whole theology here of work and labor. Work is honorable; work is something that we are to be engaged in. We are always going to have responsibilities. It is only after the Fall that works becomes toilsome, laborious, that it becomes the sweat of the brow. But prior to the Fall it is wonderful and forms our basic purpose on the earth. Work only becomes burdensome and toilsome when the creation itself is cursed because of man's sin. Then after this, the first real function of the image of God is when Adam is naming the animals. His naming is tantamount to exercising his control and dominion over something. The way we control things is through classification and categorization.
And now we come to Genesis 3, the Fall of man. In Genesis 3 we see the test that they have to take. Whether they will obey God, this prohibition, to stay away from and not eat from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; whether they will not eat or whether they will disobey God. The serpent, which is Satan, who comes in the form of a serpent, and it is said that he is the most subtle of all the beasts of the field. This means that he understood all the implications of what he was doing and he knew just what to do in order to trap the woman. He had been observing them and he made a decision that perhaps this is the weak link here; and so he raised the question in such a way that however she answers it is wrong. Sort of like asking the question, "Have you quit beating your wife?" However you answer you are in trouble. If she answers the question she has to make a judgment on the truthfulness of God. Did God really say? Is this really not a good idea to eat from this tree? Is this really the thing that God has done? By answering this she has to judge God and therein lies the basis or the root problem.
Now, she doesn't sin. It is not sin unless she actually eats. But once she starts thinking independently, the dye is set. So the woman thinks first and then the man. But because the woman is deceived and not the man, that has tremendous implications later on for leadership and for the role of women in the church; the role of man in the church and in leadership in 1 Timothy 2. So they fail the test and the result is knowledge of sin. They are told that they know 'good and evil.' This is human good. This is not good in terms of righteousness; they already knew that. This is good in terms of counterfeit good. This is good in terms of human good. This is not good in terms of perfect righteousness.
So, we read in Genesis 3:7 "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked." Now they are exposed; they are vulnerable, and they try to solve their problem on their own by sewing fig leaves. This is typical of mankind; he tries to solve his problems from his own resources, rather than upon God's resources. And then God comes to walk in the garden they hid. They hid from the LORD and the LORD seeks them out. And again, we see this consistent pattern that God seeks out man. This is the grace of God. God does not leave man in a fallen condition. He continually reaches out. God does everything necessary for man all the time. He's continuous, but the issue is man's volition. And then He calls man; He locates man and He pronounces the curse. And we see this laid out in Genesis 3:14-18.
In Genesis 3:14-15 we see the curse on nature. The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all the cattle." What is the implication there? The cattle are cursed too; to curse more than the cattle, all nature is going to be cursed. The entire animal kingdom, the entire vegetative kingdom is going to resound with the consequences of Adam's sin. For you serpent, and more than all the others and "more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life…" Look at the implications of that. It is that the created order moved from perfect environment to fallen environment once removed. We are going to get environment twice removed after the flood. So they had a better environment before the flood than we have now. It was only once removed from a perfect environment.
Genesis 3:15 "And I will put enmity between you and the woman (for her talking to the serpent and Satan who is in the serpent) and between your seed and her Seed (an illusion to a future Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who would be true humanity and undiminished deity); He shall bruise you on the head (a fatal wound which took place on the Cross), and you shall bruise Him on the heel" (also took place on the Cross, so it was not a fatal wound because our Lord was raised from the dead on the third day.) So this is the first mention of the Gospel, the proto, meaning first, protoevangelium, the first indication of God's grace provision of a Savior.
Then the woman is cursed. Remember that the curse of the woman is related to her function in the Adamic Covenant. She was to be fruitful and multiply. Now, Genesis 3:16 "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth." So in terms of her original purpose, there is now going to be pain associated with it. There is going to be pain, a menstrual cycle; none of that was there. Biology changed, folks. I have heard some people say, "Well they would not have been able to procreate in the garden because in perfect environment women would not have had a monthly cycle." But think about it, there were no carnivores in the garden either. Their whole biology changed. Their whole digestive system had to change from being a gramnivorous mammal. So their biology changed. The digestive changed; the entrails system changed; everything was transformed because of sin. So now there is going to be pain in childbirth; and not only is there going to be a problem in childbirth, but the second aspect of the curse on the woman is also related to her role and function. She was created to be an ezer, a helper, an assistant to the husband, and now her desire, and the word is teshuqah, which does not mean sexual desire as some have taught, but it means a desire to control, to dominate. So instead of wanting to help her husband, she wants to have her way and do things and go in her direction, and set the agenda for the marriage.
So this sets up the whole pattern for the war between the sexes. The only way this is reversed is through regeneration and sanctification. When as a result of learning and applying doctrine the elements of the curse begin to be thrown back as we walk by means of the Holy Spirit. So you see the conflict, she wants to run things in the home and wear the pants, but he is going to dominate her. This is a very negative term here; this is of course why men are dominating and subjugating women all through the years. And why women are in rebellion and feminism now. Mostly it is the man's fault because they misunderstood the biblical teaching of what it truly means for a husband to "love your wives as Christ loved the church." So all this takes precedence for understanding all the Bible says about marriage and family from this point on.
Then to Adam, to the man, Genesis 3:17 He says, "Because you listened to the voice of your wife," wide implications there, but I will not go there this morning; "and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground" now man is right in the arena of his originally covenanted responsibilities. Now nature is going to fight you. Before it was cooperative, but now it is going to be antagonistic. "Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it." There was work before the Fall, but it wasn't toil. Now it is toil. "All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;" antagonism. "And you will eat the plants of the field;" notice, vegetative, he is a vegetarian; he is not eating the animals yet.
Genesis 3:19 "By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return."
So finally, what we see here is:
1. That man was to cultivate the garden, now the land is hostile. The man's responsibilities had become burdensome to him.
2. The woman who was designed to help him now desires to control him.
3. Painless procreation becomes painful labor.
4. The animal kingdom is affected, transformed.
5. And the botanical kingdom is affected.
6. But God is still redemptive and the LORD God, implications for the "animal's rights" crowd, is profound in this verse, Genesis 3:21.
Notice, the first One to take the life of an animal is God. The whole environmentalist movement today wants to blame man for the problem. But they do not want to blame man for the problem to the degree the Bible blames for the problem. You see how profoundly the Bible blames man. The reason being, you are right, the environment is screwed up. Your wife is screwed up. It is really screwed up! Much worse than you think it is! I mean there is no Green Peace advocate out there who thinks that the environment is as screwed up as the Bible says it is screwed up. You can't live with that. He just thinks that it is uncomfortable for him.
So, the LORD kills the first animal. Why? To indicate the seriousness of the devastating consequences of sin; and to give the visual image picture of what has to be done to solve the problem. This is serious; this is profound. Life has to be taken. And so He kills these animals and of course He taught them about sacrifice and He clothed them. We are clothed with the righteousness of Christ that we might have salvation, faith alone in Christ alone, so He solved the problem. They could not solve it with fig leaves. God is the One and the only One Who can solve our problem. And if God can solve the greatest problem we ever faced then God can solve any other problem that we face.
With our heads bowed and our eyes closed; Father, we do thank you for the privilege to look to Your Word and to see, to be reminded of Your grace continuously, no matter how man rebels and disobeys. Time and time again You continuously reach out; You grace initiate, and You provide the perfect solution to all our problems. Father, we pray if there is anyone here this morning who is uncertain of their salvation, without eternal life, that they would take the opportunity right now to make that choice. The issue is very simple, Jesus Christ came to solve the sin problem; He died on the Cross as the ultimate sacrifice. He Who knew no sin was made sin for us. All our sins were poured out on Him on the Cross that we might be made the righteousness of God. Father, we thank You that You have this salvation and we pray that at this time anyone unsaved would make that decision to trust Christ. All that is necessary is faith alone in Christ alone. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Now Father, we pray that You will help us to understand the implications of what we have studied as we medicate upon them in the coming weeks; as pray in Jesus' Name, Amen.