Category Archives: Genesis

An Old New Year

 

As I began my Bible reading plan for this year, I came across a passage that I had read multiple times before and one that most people are familiar with as well, the story of Noah’s Flood (Why don’t we call it God’s Flood?).  The historical account of the global flood begins in Genesis 6 with an observation made by God:

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:5-8

We arrive at Noah, whose birth brought eager expectations (Gen. 5:28-29) in the next verse (9) and read of God’s command for him to build an ark.  Recounting the familiar details of this passage, we see the ark’s dimensions given to Noah, the promise of the global flood to destroy all flesh, the promise of a covenant, the two by two requirement, clean vs. unclean animals (ever thought about this one?), and the promise of rain for forty days and forty nights.  As we know, the rains did come though Noah and his family along with all the animals were safe inside the ark.

In Genesis 7:11 we see a summary statement of the initiation of the flood, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened” followed by several additional summary verses of the event (remember Moses is writing the record of this about a 1500 years after the fact).

As chapter 7 continues, we are given details of the expansiveness and depth of the flood along with the duration, 150 days.  This last statement is expounded upon in Chapter 8 of Genesis and leads me to an interesting observation that I had not seen before.

13 In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry.” Genesis 8:13

Did you catch that?

The 601st year (presumably of Noah’s life), in the first month, the first day of the month the flood ended and dry ground appeared.

Now I know there are many people who know far more about calendars, dating, etc. than I do, but my initial observation from this passage is that it is talking about New Years day and I think it is a significant detail.  Moses, under divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is very specific about the days and time in the flood account.  It’s no accident or mere coincidence that the flood ended at the introduction of the New Year.  It is a precise date 1) To show the historicity of the flood and 2) To symbolize the introduction of a new creation.  In this way, Noah acts as a type of Adam (Be fruitful and Multiply – Gen. 9:1,7) in a post-flood Eden.

Barnes’ Notes offer the following commentary on this passage:

“Noah delays apparently another month, and, on the first day of the new year, ventures to remove the covering of the ark and look around. The date of the complete drying of the land is then given. The interval from the entrance to the exit consists of the following periods:

Rain continued 40 days; Waters prevailed 150 days; Waters subside 99 days; Noah delays 40 days; Sending of the raven and the dove 20 days; Another month 29 days; Interval until the 27th of the 2nd month 57 days; Sum-total of days 365 days

Hence, it appears that the interval was a lunar year of three hundred and fifty-six days nearly, and ten days; that is, as nearly as possible, a solar year. This passage is important on account of the divisions of time which it brings out at this early epoch. The week of seven days is plainly intimated. The lunar month and year are evidently known. It is remarkable that the ten additional days bring up the lunar year in whole numbers to the solar. It seems a tacit agreement with the real order of nature. According to the Hebrew text, the deluge commenced in the 1656th year of the race of man. According to all texts it occurred in the time of Noah, the ninth in descent from Adam.”

A fascinating detail in the midst of a familiar Bible passage.  That is why reading and re-reading the Bible year after year is so beneficial.  We will never mine the depths of revelation that God has provided in His Holy Word.

So how did you spend your New Year’s? Noah spent his resting in the promises of God, rejoicing in the faithfulness of God, and anticipating the unfolding of a new creation.

In a sense, that old new year anticipated the second coming of Christ and the unfolding of The New Creation, when Christ establishes His earthly kingdom.  Every New Year that we celebrate should be one  filled with hope that this may be the year that the promises of God are fulfilled in Christ when he returns.

“He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20

Who is Israel – The Composition

 

While I’m slowly unfolding my understanding of covenants, beginning with a very brief and general overview of the doctrinal history and hopefully progressing to definition and discussion of each biblical covenant, there are far too many related issues that are coming up in my personal study and as well as two ongoing teaching ministries through Hosea and Hebrews that I simply can’t put off writing down.

One particular issue, heavily related to the covenants, is the identity of Israel, first in the Old Testament and then in the New. Naturally, understanding this and properly identifying the Israel of Scripture lends itself to how one interprets such covenants as the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and even the New Covenant. Likewise, it has a profound impact on ecclesiology and eschatology as well. In our modern, America-centered theology, it also impacts how we relate to the current state of Israel politically, as seen in many of the questions from recent electoral debates. As we’ve seen in our historical survey, one of the contrary positions to covenant theology, dispensationalism, defines itself by seeing a rigid distinction between Israel and the Church. So it is simply not a question that we can put off answering. Due to the complexity and associated confusion over this subject, it’ll be necessary to run this post a little longer than usual. So hang in there with me as we look at who the Bible identifies as Israel.

If one were to ask the question of 10 self-identifying evangelicals, you would likely get 10 different responses. Why? Because most of what evangelicals, if I can even use that term anymore, know and understand about Scripture comes not from personal study, but from what they have either read in pop-Christian books, seen in Christian films, and heard from televangelists, and perhaps to a lesser extent, their local pulpit. This is especially true as it relates to the identity of Israel. It would not be a shock to see that the vast majority of self-identifying evangelicals believe that unconditional support of the modern state of Israel is a biblical mandate.

Driven largely by the dispensational theology explosion and her daughter Christian Zionism, the distinction between Israel and the Church has been maintained to such a degree that the test of orthodoxy today is not based on one’s Christology or Soteriology, but whether one pledges their unequivocal allegiance to the modern state Israel, established by treaty in 1948. For many, this has become the confessing position of their church.

Before one can even begin to throw his or her hat in the ring of support for the state of Israel, it would serve us well to find out who Israel is and if the modern state is in fact a continuation of biblical Israel as so many would have us to believe. Keep in mind when answering this we are not determining whether Israel should receive political support from the U.S., that’s not the intention. Rather, the goal is to let Scripture define who constitutes Israel to 1) Better understand redemptive history 2) Rightly determine who the people of God are and 3) Understand whether political support for the current State has its foundational support in the Bible; in other words, is the modern state of Israel the result of fulfilled prophecy.

While in some respects, this post gets the cart before the horse in our unfolding discussion of covenant theology, nevertheless its pressing on me from both sides from Hosea and Hebrews and demands that I hash out my thoughts now, rather than to wait for an overview of the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, which are the obvious places to turn for the beginning of Israel’s definition. That said, we turn now to the birth of the nation in Genesis 12.

Here we read of Abram who is called by God out of idolatry in Ur and commanded to go to a land that God would show him. This call is accompanied by several promises, namely the promise of a nation, blessing, and land, which we will discuss in more detail at a later time. The basis for these promises comes by way of a genealogical principle reestablished in Abram, but introduced to Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:15) and continued through Noah (Gen. 9:9).

As this covenant is progressively unfolded to Abram, we see repetition and enlargement of the promises. We find woven through the narrative Abram’s faithfulness and failures, perhaps culminating with his own self-efforts to bring about the promises of God. With Abram’s wife, Sarai, beyond child-bearing age, she encourages Abram to lie with her Egyptian servant Hagar, which he does, and she bears him a son whom she names Ishmael. At first blush, it would seem Ishmael, being from the lineage of Abram, would be in line to receive the promises of God.

But it was not to be. In Genesis 17, 13 years after the birth of Ishmael, God instructs Abram to “walk before [him] and be blameless, that [He] may make [His] covenant between” He and Abram. Upon Abram’s posture of worship, God changes his name to Abraham, meaning “father of a multitude [of nations]”.

Here we should note that although the genealogical principle is clearly in place, association with the promises is not strictly based on this. If inheritance of the promises had been strictly based on genealogical descent, then by all rights Ishmael would have been heir to the promises given to his father Abram. Grasping this point will be key for our identification of Israel. Again, we’ll look at the details of the Abrahamic covenant more closely in a future post, but for now we must turn our attention to the covenant of circumcision that is given to Abraham in this chapter of Genesis.

Following the promise of nations, kings, and land, the conditional requirements of this covenant were to circumcise every male offspring descended from the loins of Abraham. Contrary to most explanations of this passage, the instructions do not stop there. In fact, circumcision was to be given even to those OUTSIDE of the loins of Abraham. “He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Gen. 17:12-13 Here, in the midst of the promises to Abraham, we see a much neglected passage of Scripture delineating the boundaries for entrance into the Covenant of Circumcision.

It should be stated that many commentators, theologians, and preachers see the Abrahamic Covenant as the overriding covenant of all Scripture. Additionally, it is widely considered (especially by dispensationalists) to be a covenant with Israel (see Dwight Pentecost, et.al.). While those assertions may be debatable, this aspect of the covenant, the element which serves as the definitive sign of the covenant (Gen. 17:11) clearly states that it is not limited to the posterity of Abraham. Furthermore, in verse 14 we read that those who are from Abraham’s posterity who do not receive the sign of circumcision “shall be cut off from his people.” Summarizing these two points, we have requirements for entrance into the covenant and expulsion from the covenant; the former independent of those having Abraham’s DNA and the latter expressly applied to those who would carry the DNA of Abraham. IF (and certainly this is a big if) this is a covenant made with Israel as so many dispensationalists assert, then Israel is defined not primarily by genetics, but by obedience to the covenant of circumcision, i.e. a commandment from God. This would mean that Israel may be composed of non-Abrahamic people AND Abrahamic people. Additionally, the gentile world may be composed of non-Abrahamic people AND those Abrahamic people that have been cut-off for refusing to obey the covenant sign.

On this point O. Palmer Robertson cites Jewish commentator Benno Jacob, “‘Circumcision is a national and religious symbol and remains such beyond the people that are descended from Abraham by birth.  Every stranger who submits to it receives Abraham as his father and becomes and Israelite.’  The circumcised Gentile ‘becomes an Israelite.’  Since this is the case, obviously ‘Israel’ cannot be defined simply in terms of racial distinctives.  As Jacob further states” ‘Indeed, differences of race have never been an obstacle to joining Israel which did not know the concept of purity of blood….  Circumcision turned a man of foreign origin into an Israelite (Exod. 12:38). (Christ of the Covenants, pg. 154-155) 

Continuing on, in Genesis 17:22-27 we read of Abraham’s unquestioned obedience to the covenant conditions through his circumcision of Ishmael (age 13) and “all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.” Gen. 17:23-24 At minimum it would seem this number of men who comprised “infant Israel” were at least 318 in number (Gen. 14:14), but likely more by this point. Additionally we may note that those who were circumcised also included Ishmael.

But would Ishmael ever be considered an Israelite?

When we turn to the birth of the promised seed, Isaac, we find our answer. In Genesis 21, and at 100 years old by this point, Abraham becomes a father again as the long awaited (25 years?) promise of the son is fulfilled. As the two sons of Abraham grew, it becomes obvious that tension arises and Sarah demands the removal of both Hagar and Ishmael from the house of Abraham. However, Ishmael is not cast aside altogether but specifically because he is Abraham’s son, God grants him the promise of a great nation through his own seed, distinct and separate from what would be Israel.

Let’s pause again to observe that the offspring of Abraham should not be considered unimportant. As becomes apparent in the New Testament, the genealogical principle under the Old Covenant was for the purpose of establishing the lineage of Christ (see Gal. 3:16), not for the exclusivity of one ethnicity over another or even for the restriction of specific entrance into the nation of Israel, as we will continue to see. These points are made clear in the continuation of the promise to Isaac and not Ishmael. (See Gen. 26:2-5).  Additionally, it must be remembered that the geneaological principle does not originate with Abraham, but reaches all the way back to the Garden in Gen. 3:15.

Progressing through the history of Israel’s roots and identity we arrive at the birth of Isaac’s twin sons, Jacob and Esau. Whereas with Isaac and Ishmael, the promise of God was given to Isaac, regardless of a common father, with Jacob and Esau we see the promise given to Jacob regardless of common parents or birth order. Since neither son was “cut-off” and Isaac was not threatened with discipline, we may presume that he circumcised both of his sons. Despite once again the participation in the covenant of circumcision, we have no reason to believe that Esau would be considered a patriarch of Israel. As with Ishmael, neither of whom are children of promise, Esau too would form his own nation, the Edomites.

Likewise, it becomes evident from these two examples of Ishamel and Esau, that there was a duality in the Abrahamic Covenant that distinguished the promise from obedience to the commandment of circumcision.  A distinction that the Apostle Paul recognizes and unpacks in Romans 9 and Galatians 3 &4. That principle doesn’t simply disappear with the continued formation of the young nation. Moving on, from Jacob, whose name would later be changed to Israel upon conferrence of the Abrahamic promises to him, would descend the 12 tribes of Israel.

With this progress in mind, we turn to the formation of the nation at the great redemption from Egypt. We will examine in detail at a later date the organic relationship and also discontinuity between the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants, for now we are simply interested in the composition of Israel. Our significant passage for this era can be found in Exodus 12. Here, several noteworthy comments may be made regarding Israel, upon their precipice of deliverance from Egypt.

First is the passage stipulating the requirements for the Passover and the threat of expulsion for eating leavened bread during observance of this feast, “On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.” Recall that God has commanded Moses to repeatedly confront Pharaoh over the slavery of the Israelites and to demand their release. Time and again, Pharaoh refused, even after God sent 9 different plagues. The tenth and final plague was the death of the firstborn for all those who did not obey God’s command to spread the blood of a lamb on their doorposts such that the Destroyer would “pass over” their house.

The Passover was to be considered the covenant meal for the nation of Israel. It was to be a time for remembrance of their miraculous deliverance from Egypt and it was not to be treated irreverently, thus the threat of excommunication. This is emphasized further in vs. 19, “For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land.” Again we have a clear example that the ranks of Israel could not be assumed on either the basis of Abrahamic genealogy nor on the basis of entrance via circumcision for a non-Abrahamic person, rather it was the expectation of continued obedience.  Either a native born Israelite or a sojourner that did not display continued obedience to the commands and statutes of God would be cut off from the Israelite community.

Our second passage from this chapter (12:38) details the Exodus and specifically mentions a “mixed multitude” left Egypt with them. While some debate exists over who comprised this mixed multitude and perhaps whether they continued on with Israel after her Exodus, general consensus seems to be that this group likely included slaves from other nations, some Egyptians, and perhaps others who seized an opportunity to escape the oppression of Pharaoh. Nevertheless, it would again seem problematic to assume that Israel was comprised of strictly Abrahamic DNA.

Finally we have in this chapter the institution of Passover building off of the requirements outlined earlier in Exodus 12,

“43 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. 45 No foreigner or hired worker may eat of it. 46 It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. 49 There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.”

In the passage quoted above we see a distinction in peoples, those who were of the congregation of Israel, foreigners, purchased slaves, hired workers, strangers or sojourners, natives of the land, and uncircumcised people. Despite the variations, there are in reality three groups being identified: the congregation of Israel, outsiders who become circumcised, outsiders who remained uncircumcised. Again, the consistency of this passage with others in this chapter and the truths gleaned from the originating sign of the Abrahamic Covenant, circumcision, which as we will see is continued under the Mosaic Covenant, it would be faulty to assume any notion of strict genealogical principle for the purpose of identifying the constituents of Israel.

Commenting on this passage, Robertson writes,

“Exodus 12:43-49 presents the requirement that non-Israelites must be circumcised to participate in the passover.  The existence of such a requirement should not be interpreted as evidence of a sense of superiority within the Israelite nation.  Exactly the opposite implication must be concluded.  Any Gentile might participate in the highest privilege of Judaism, if he should indicate willingness to meet the same requirements laid on the Jew himself.” (Christ of the Covenants, pg 154)

One additional comment needs to be made regarding the identity of those who are of non-Abrahamic descent that submit to circumcision and the law of God as given to Israel.  By embracing the community of Israel and the God of Israel, these people denounce their identity and embrace the identity of the Israel, for all intents and purposes become an Israelite, thus “one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.”  To use common vernacular, Gentiles could become Jewish by embracing the law of God and joining the community of God’s people.

From these passages we have further confirmation that the nation of Israel, rightly called by this point (Ex. 19:6), was legitimately and legally compromised of other people besides those of strict, 100% genealogical descent/DNA from Abraham (if that was even possible by this point).  Space prevents a discussion on the admittance of females to Israel, ala Ruth and Rahab, apart from the Covenant of Circumcision.  It probably goes without saying that this happened far more frequently than the two examples just mentioned (see also Tamar and Bathsheba), yet this truth should continue to dispel any reasonable argument of pure racial identity.  One thing we do know, however, is that Christ descended from Tamar, Ruth, Rahab and Bathsheba, so even our Lord was not of pure, unmixed Abrahamic DNA, though he too was an Israelite (Matt. 1:3-5).  For Ruth as an example of a non-Abrahamic woman joining Israel see her covenant oath in Ruth 1:16-17.

Understanding the composition of Old Testament Israel and the addition of sojourners and foreigners will go a long way towards a proper interpretation of Old Testament prophecy, including that which describes the land, restoration of the nation, millennium, and the relationship between Israel and the Church.  Perhaps an analogy for summarizing this discussion is that National Israel was the shell which God created to protect and preserve the Promised Seed, Jesus Christ, until His arrival.  Is the shell necessary?  Of course, but is it needed once the seed takes root?  No.

Much remains to be discussed in formulating our biblical definition of Israel, namely discussions on the Remnant, “Not my People”, and who is Israel according to the New Testament.  But those topics for another day, Lord willing.

 

***Update, I’ve revised the post to remove erroneous uses of the words ethnic and ethnicity and modified the post to reflect a proper use of these words based on the meaning of these words to include culture, language, nationality, ancestral, and social experiences.  Certainly that was the case with national Israel.  Initially, I had used the term incorrectly to refer to genealogical descent, rather than the more inclusive term that reflects the intent of this post.***

The Exclusivity of Christ

The history of Christianity has held without apology to the exclusivity of Christ, namely that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, being God Himself is the only, i.e. exclusive, path to God. In short, familiar language it might be phrased, “Jesus is the only way to heaven.” To see this, we needn’t immediately jump to the New Testament, though we could. Instead, we may turn to the beginning, of creation that is, to see Jesus, the Promised seed of God as the only hope for mankind to be redeemed from their sin and have their relationship with God restored.

Many people today have given themselves over to the view that “All paths lead to God” arguing that you’re ok and I’m ok as long as we do good and live right. But this assumes a variety of errant thoughts not the least of which is a denial of the authority and truthfulness of Scripture. It is here we must turn if we are rightly to understand the exclusivity of Christ.

In Genesis 3 we read of the familiar account of Adam and Eve in the garden.

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool[c] of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:1-15

Immediately, it is important to come to terms with the truthfulness that Scripture establishes concerning the historical reality of Adam and Eve. It’s clear that they were actual people whom God created and that all mankind can trace their lineage back to them. This is the elementary truth that secularism tries to destroy in the name of science in order to avoid accountability for sin and the judgment of God, but it simply cannot be denied. The historicity of Adam can be readily found in the numerous genealogies of Scripture (which is why they are there, to establish the validity of the line of Messiah); see Genesis 5; 1 Chronicles 1-9; Luke 3:23-38.

Additionally, the prophet Hosea through the divine inspiration of the Spirit, draws a relationship between Adam’s disobedience and the disobedience of Israel and Judah, “But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me.” Hosea 6:7 If Adam is not real, then one has to arrive at a different origin for the entire nation of Israel and has to then make sense of the correlation made between Adam’s covenant unfaithfulness in the garden and Israel’s covenant unfaithfulness as a nation. In similar fashion, Romans 5 provides yet another example of the historicity of Adam and again shows a parallel relationship with Adam’s sin though this time the counterpoint is Christ

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Here we see that because of Adam’s sin, condemnation came to all men and this is an inclusive term to include all mankind. That means every single individual person who has ever lived, because of their relationship to Adam, are condemned. Though alive, are spiritually dead, alienated from God and under His wrath of God. All people, regardless of the religion with which they identify or the race/origin/color/sex that they claim, all. All are condemned in Adam. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Secularists, Atheists, Agnostics, Nominal (in-name only) Christians, Villagers on a remote island. All. In Adam. Condemned.

With this in mind, we now return to our original passage from Genesis 3 and can better feel the weight of the actions committed by Adam and Eve in the garden. Literally billions of people condemned because of a single act of rebellion against a holy God. Let that sink in the next time you think God doesn’t take the “smallest” of sins seriously. He is infinitely holy and the slightest of sins is enough to condemn the entirety of mankind.

Certainly God knew the outcome, that so many would be born condemned because of this treasonous act. Certainly God would have been just to simply destroy creation at the fall, never to allow sin’s progression or its guilt and condemnation to advance beyond the Garden. But this was not the plan of God. As He justly delivers the sentence to the serpent and Adam and Eve, we read the following verse:

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”

As has been noted before, here in Genesis 3:15 is the “first Gospel”, the first message of good news. It is hope in the midst of despair because God 1) Lets Adam and Eve know they will have offspring, not suffering immediate physical death and 2) Lets them know that there will be retribution and redemption that comes through the offspring of the woman. This is precisely what we read about in Romans 5 above and precisely what we likewise see in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”

The only hope for all of mankind is the seed of the woman, namely the Lord Jesus Christ. The only hope to overcome the condemnation that came to man through Adam, is by way of the second Adam, the Messiah who perfectly obeyed the commands of God, suffered death on the cross under the wrath of God for sinners, and overcame death through His resurrection, now ascended into heaven and seated with power and glory at the right hand of the Father. The hope is exclusively His. All authority has been granted unto Him and He alone commands the way to God “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes unto the Father but by me” John 14:6

There is simply no other way. Not through Islam, nor Buddhism, nor Judaism, nor Atheism, nor Secularism, nor any other works based religious system, but exclusively through Christ by faith in Him alone. This message is offensive because it assaults the independency of man and his innate desire to earn his own righteousness. It is offensive because we live in an age of tolerance and “Coexist” stickers that wants to see everyone make it to “heaven” through whatever path they choose, ultimately not for their own good but spun out of a self-preservation mentality that takes comfort in saying “my way is ok, so yours must be too.” Either that is a lie or the Son of God is lying when He claims exclusivity. Perish the thought. It is in Christ alone that salvation comes through repentance of sin and faith in Him. There is only one path to God and it is entered into by the narrow gate of Christ. This path is narrow, difficult, and blazed by Christ Himself. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36

Solus Christus!