Saturday, July 31, 2010


Loving God and ones’ neighbour as oneself is the outward expression of the character of God and is the summary of the moral aspect of the everlasting covenant. As such God’s covenant is morally binding upon all moral beings. Moral beings include mankind and angels – both of which God created as good.

The first four of the Ten Commandments show one’s duty toward God, and the last six express one’s duty toward one’s neighbour. It was this love for God and love for neighbour that God wrote on man’s heart upon his creation. Thus the covenant law (also known as the Ten Commandments) was stamped, albeit in positive terms, upon man’s innermost being (Romans 2:14-15).

Upon creating Adam God entered into a covenant with him. Adam is the head of mankind’s household. God gave Adam an outward test: ‘Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree in the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you may not eat, for in the day that you eat of eat, you will surely die”’ Genesis 2:15-17.

God’s revealed His everlasting covenant to Adam when He entered into this pre-Fall covenant with him. Which is to say that God graciously promised Adam (on behalf of mankind as its federal or covenant head) the yet to be consummated creation and all the benefits of everlasting life in it – upon condition of Adam’s perfect covenantal obedience to God.

Adam (with the help of his wife) was to obey God’s ‘Cultural Mandate’, which means that he was to keep on loving God and his neighbour as himself for an unspecified period in all his daily activities. Thus the pre-Fall Adam was on probation.

The Cultural or Dominion Mandate is included in the following: ‘Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth”’ Genesis 1:26-28.

This pre-Fall administration of God’s everlasting covenant is commonly referred to by theologians as the Covenant of Works (sometimes as the Covenant of Life), whereby God by His grace enters into a covenant with Adam (against the devil), threatening death to Adam for disobedience to its conditions (and conversely life should Adam fulfil its conditions). This is what Christ as the second Adam came to fulfil after Adam failed to keep the covenant law. Christ came also to pay the covenant’s death penalty. Thus His death on the cross.

Says Francis Nigel Lee,
“The possibility of man’s apostasy was first foreshadowed in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9). Man was required to abstain from it (Genesis 2:17). Again, such a possibility of apostasy was also emphasized by the requirement that man “keep” or guard the garden – guard it against Satan (Genesis 2:15). For God made a covenantal treaty of life with the first men, whereby God and men were to be allied together with one another and against Satan and death (Genesis 2:15-17 & 3:1-5).

“The everlasting life which God promised men, He signified by the tree of life (Genesis 2:9,16 & 3:22). And the threatened death if man broke the covenant, God signified by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17 & 3:3-5,11,17-19). When man broke this covenant with God and against the devil, he treasonously allied himself with Satan and death against God. But God was still honour-bound to come to the aid of man as His traitorous ally. And this God did, by promising that He Himself would come as man, and destroy man's covenant with death and hell – by liberating mankind from the cruel clutches of Satan (Isaiah28:15-18), For God’s true enemy is Satan – not man!” Thus Francis Nigel Lee, Word & World, p.381.

The Serpent/Satan used the woman to help convince Adam that he should break his covenant with God against Satan and join with him in his rebellion against God. It was when Adam deserted God and joined himself to the Serpent/Satan in a covenant against God, that ‘The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel”’ Genesis 3:14-14.

Christ is the Seed of the woman (Galatians 3:16). He crushed the serpent’s head at the Place of the Skull when He was crucified and subsequently resurrected. Thus Christ (as the new or replacement Adam) kept the covenant the old Adam failed to keep and He also paid the price of death that humanity owed God for breaking the everlasting covenant.

Scripture says that ‘The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant’ Isaiah 24:5.And ‘Like Adam, they have broken the covenant’ Hosea 6:7. Thus Adam and mankind have broken God’s everlasting covenant.

The institution of marriage is a vivid expression of the everlasting covenant. Marriage between a man and a woman is morally binding. Fidelity is expected in the covenant. In other words, moral obedience to the covenant conditions is expected. Should either party cease to actively love the other party the covenant bond is broken. However, ‘a threefold cord is not quickly broken’ Ecclesiastes 4:12b. Therefore there ought to be three parties in the marriage-covenant: a husband, a wife, and God.

The first marriage on earth took place when God married Adam and Eve in the beautiful Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:22-24). Trouble began in the marriage-covenant when Adam (and Eve) sought to exclude God by instead joining with Satan. Adam, as our covenant representative, subsequently broke the everlasting covenant by eating the forbidden fruit. Thus God ejected Adam and his wife from His house (i.e., the Garden of Eden). Adam and Eve, by leaving the garden, entered a hostile environment – the world that would be held under the sway of the devil.

On account of Adam being the head of the household of mankind meant that when he sinned his whole household became morally corrupt in and with him: ‘Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned’ Romans 5:12.

The Apostle Paul is referring to Christ and His Church and to the time when God married Adam and Eve when he says, ‘For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church’ Ephesians 5:30-32. God formed Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. She was part of him. She was one with him – as in the covenant of marriage. Thus Adam was to love God and Eve as he loved himself.

Christ married humanity. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ John 1:14. ‘But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born [or made] of a woman’ Galatians 4:4. Thus though He continued to be the middle Person in the Trinity Christ as it were left His Father and joined Himself to His church and the two become one flesh, i.e., members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.

Christ shares God’s divinity while sharing our humanity. Therefore Christ is God and Man in one divine Person forever. He shares His divinity equally with the Father and the Spirit. And He shares His humanity with all mankind. However, just as the old Adam was married only to one bride (Eve), so the new Adam Jesus Christ is married only to one bride, i.e., His church.

What is the church? In its simplest definition the church is the covenant community of God. It consists of believers and their children. To be sure there are visible and invisible aspects of the same church. The church is one. Heaven and earth are united in the church. However, unlike the heavenly aspect of the church which comprises only of the truly redeemed, the church on earth is made up of regenerate and unregenerate individuals. Which is to say that on earth there is an admixture of those who are truly in Christ and those who are not.

When Adam broke the everlasting covenant he divorced himself and Eve from God to join with the devil against God. Adam broke the everlasting covenant by eating the forbidden fruit and thus formed another covenant with death and the Serpent Satan.

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