Moses recounted the origin of kingdom and the covenant with Adam in the first chapter. Then in chapter 2 Moses recounts the covenant probation. God placed Adam in the midst of the garden of Eden. This was the starting place for Adam’s work. Adam was to multiply and subdue the whole of the earth as the kingdom of God. Moses summarizes Adam’s commission, “Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” (Gen 2:15). Adam was to work the ground and have vassal dominion. God created the animals. Adam would name them. But not only would Adam be the vassal king, he would “keep” the garden.
The word translated “keep” (shamar) is actually a word often used for the work of the priest in Israel. The priest was responsible to guard the holy things of God. Shamar is sometimes translated “guard” (Num 1:53; 3:8, 10, 32; 8:26; 18:3ff; 31:30, 47; 1 Sam 7:1; 2 Kings 12:9; 1 Chron 23:32; 2 Chron 34:9; Ezek 44:15:f; 48:11; Zech 3:7). Reflecting God who is King in heaven, Adam would be the priest-king on earth building and guarding the holy kingdom of God. The covenant with Adam was presented in chapter 1. Adam was commissioned as the vassal image to subdue, build, and rule the kingdom of God to the ends of the earth. In giving Adam the weekly Sabbath, God promised Adam consummate glorification with God. He was to be like God in dominion, righteous rule, and glory. These elements of the covenant are again taken up in the covenant probation in chapter 2.
Adam, the priest-king, is placed in the garden with two trees. One, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, represents the stipulations of the covenant. Adam was to know good and evil. That was the essence of his commissioned righteous rule. When the two women presented the baby to Solomon, each claiming the child was hers, Solomon ruled righteously, knowing good and evil. 1 Kings 3:9 says Solomon prayed to God, “So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, to discern between good and evil.” Adam was to know, discern, what God said was good and what God said was evil. The wicked do not (Isa 5:20, 23; Mal 2:17). The servant of the Lord knows and judges good from evil (2 Samuel 14:17). The covenant required Adam image the righteous rule of God. That was the stipulation.
The second tree, The Tree of Life, presented the eschatological promise. Upon keeping the covenant stipulations, Adam would partake in the sacramental tree, symbolizing participation in the eternal life God promised in Sabbath enthroned glory. Adam did not eat of this tree. In fact, once he broke the covenant, God stationed the angels of heaven to keep Adam from eating of this tree (Gen 3:24). Man had become like God, not imaging God, but like God, claiming to be a god knowing for himself what he himself would say was good and evil. Not an image of the King, ruling in unrighteousness, he was barred from glory and life.
God warned Adam not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam ate. The sanction for breaking the stipulation was death. Adam knew he was guilty. He tried to hide his shame with fig leaves. When he heard God, he hid. It was judgment day. Moses writes, “they heard the sound of the Lord God coming (halak) in the garden as the Spirit (le ruach) of the day” (Gen 3:8). God wasn’t coming for an evening stroll in the “cool” of the day. He was coming to adjudicate the covenant breach. It was infinitely worse than the fear Tim felt when he saw and heard the footsteps of the Tyrannosaurus Rex in Jurassic Park. Adam was trying to hide from God!
God pronounced the judgments. Satan would eat the dust like the serpent (Gen 3:14). The woman would experience great pain in child birth, and she would experience frustration as she tried to dominate her authoritarian husband (Gen 3:16). And Adam would die. God told Adam,
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
With hard labor you shall eat from it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
Yet you shall eat the plants of the field;
19 By the sweat of your face
You shall eat bread,
Until you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:17-19).
Adam would not be vassal king building the kingdom of God over all the earth. He would be overcome by weeds and die. The earth would not be the kingdom of God; it would be the graveyard of man.
But Adam heard something else, words of incredible promise! God did not pronounce final judgment. The serpent would crawl. The woman would give birth, and she would have a husband. The man would work and eat bread! God was delaying the final judgment! Though there would be the curses common to man, this would not be the end! And not only would it not be the end, God promised life! Adam heard God’s words to the serpent,
“And I will make enemies
Of you and the woman,
And of your offspring and her Descendant;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise Him on the heel” (Gen 3:15).
Though in sin, the woman was anything but the enemy of Satan, God would redeem and make them enemies. In fact, she would have a Descendant who would crush the serpent, though he would be wounded. This one would be the Victor where Adam had been defeated and bring redemption and life instead of death. Adam heard and believed the promise. He named his wife, “Eve (Chavvah, meaning ‘life'), because she was the mother of all living” (Gen 3:20; trans). She would give birth to the Descendant who would redeem. Adam so named her! Then God symbolically clothed Adam and Eve. They would not be naked and ashamed, for there would be a Redeemer!
T. Jeff Taylor, More Than Heaven
Meredith G. Kline, Images of the Spirit
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Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from NASB. Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org
trans. indicates my translation
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