In another blog, I talked about the first covenant with Adam. A covenant at its base is an agreement with a condition. This could be enough, when both parties consent, to form the covenant. However ‘covenant’ also has the idea that it is not casual consent. Each party pledges themselves and all they are, their honor, their name, and their possessions to one another.
The partaking of a meal, the exchanging of gifts or names can further signify a covenant. It is an agreement full of honor. However honorable a covenant may be though, it can still be broken.
Sometimes when we read a familiar writing or hear a familiar song we know so well, we no longer hear what is being said. Take the children’s nursery rhyme ‘Ring Around the Rosie’. As a young person growing up, I know I recited this poem, dancing around in a circle of friends, to see who would be the last to ‘fall down’. It wasn’t until I was an adult and heard there was another meaning to this rhyme, did I really examine the words and realize the macabre reality behind it.
With this in mind, I would suggest we take a look at the first part of the Book of Genesis from a new vantage point. For some of you, it will be to get behind each word and imagine the scenery, the awesomeness of Adam’s position and the incredible relationship he had with the Creator of the universe. For others, you will need to lay aside the skeptical view you have fostered, maybe for many years, and imagine (for just a moment) it could all be written exactly as it happened. Imagine that a loving awesome all-powerful God decided to create a world where He could interact and have a deep friendship with His creation. Imagine.
We know from the Bible that God gave the earth and all living creatures to Adam to rule over. (Genesis 1:26-28) Then in Genesis 2:16-17 God draws a line. God has created Adam in His own image. God has been in relationship with Adam. He has given him the position of authority over all creation with one caveat: Adam must respect God’s boundary. All creation depends on this fact: Adam must remain in harmony with God. This harmony rests on one condition. Adam must not eat of this one single tree in the garden.
But, without this condition, Adam is just a slave. He has no free will. A true friendship, a love relationship, is not free if it is forced. If I say “YOU MUST LOVE ME!” there is no love.
And, at just the right moment, if God jumped in to beat back Satan, He would be in violation of His covenant with Adam. He can’t say, (not Bible–my thoughts) “Well Adam, I am sorry, I take it back, you cannot be the ruler of the Garden. I can see you are not capable. Sorry, I made a mistake.” If He does this He is not true to His nature as God. He would be faithless. The garden was a gift to Adam. Your life is a gift to you. He had to allow Adam to choose.
And choose Adam does. (me again) “Sorry God, not this time. I know you said I would die, that’s why I let Eve eat first. And really, ‘Good’ is so ‘yesterday’. Been there, done that.”
Is your heart breaking? Mine is. Do you have children? Do you know a loved one or friend who is making/has made bad choices? Did you warn them? Did you watch and realize the choice was not yours?
I wonder what God felt? He knew. And yet, He made us with free will. He wanted a real relationship: a real love relationship. Genesis 3:8 says “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’”
God, all-knowing, all-loving, all-merciful, is searching for Adam. Maybe He is searching Adam. Maybe He is ready to forgive. But, Adam and Eve are not ready to repent. He did, she did, it did, not me! Mercy cannot be received without acknowledgement of the transgression.
So God starts the process. The way of salvation is begun. How can a holy, perfect, sinless Being commune with rebellion? Only sacred life-blood can cover sin. God sheds the blood of an animal, one He has lovingly created, and takes its skin as a sign that the shame of Adam and Eve’s nakedness (rebellion) is covered. With the covering comes a partial restoration of their relationship. It is just an ‘atonement’. The Hebrew word atonement means covering. It can only cover their transgression. God teaches them to continue this tradition to remain in relationship to Him. (We know this because later in Genesis, Abel offers an animal sacrifice to God. Genesis 4:3)
Many years later, after Mankind is ready to ask for forgiveness, a true offering will be made. When Mankind becomes weary of sacrifices and traditions.
Then and only then, an offering that is a perfect representation of Man will be offered as a sacrifice for sin. Once this perfect sacrifice is offered…it will be finished. The atonement will not be a covering; it will be a propitiation…a perfect substitution for the sin of every man. This perfect sacrifice—Jesus—will once and for all shed His blood so that Man can be forgiven.
I woke up this morning with the words to an old Isaac Watts hymn on my mind:
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Jesus, the NAME above all NAMES, thank you. What can I say? How do I express my thanks for what you were willing to do? And WHY? I know there are times when the ‘apple’ still looks good to me. Even though, like Adam and Eve, I have known you. It could have been me instead of Eve, or Judas, or Peter; I could just as easily have betrayed you. But, you always hang in there with me. You continually extend your hand of friendship towards me. You don’t turn your back on me. Your name is Faithful and True. All I can offer is a humble thank you.