February 27, 2011

Gen 2-3: ‘Image Bearers in Disgrace’:


The Grace Of Shared Dominion: Gen 2:
(Note: This post outlines my ‘brief notes’ from the second talk by Peter Jensen at the launch of the Priscilla and Aquila Foundation’. See also my notes from talk 1- ‘Image Bearers in Grace’).

Gen 2:24 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh”
We find here at the end of Gen 2, man and woman beginning to move from ‘working together in partnership’ into  marriage relationship together. We find  that marriage is to become the central case of mankind’s shared dominion. It is central (though not essential) to the task of being human. This Picture at the end of Gen 2 has a great deal to commend in contrast to the culture in which we now live in the 21st century.

In the very next verse we are told that,the man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame”. In other words, it was a relationship of transparency, of innocence without guilt. Their ‘nakedness’ is symbolic of this guiltless, unashamed state.

There are certain principles to note here:

* Marriage of ‘a man and a woman’ is the definition and principle of marriage.
* To the exclusion of all others (polygamy and adultery)
* There's to be a priority of marriage over the closest of other relationships. For there's to be a ‘leaving and cleaving’ (e.g.parents must now take 2nd place to the husband/wife relationship).
* There is permanence, a ‘one flesh-ness’ that creates ‘kindred-ness’ despite there not being a genetic relationship.
* One of the tasks is procreation.

The end of Gen 2 is a powerful and potent picture, and it actually has a great deal to commend in contrast to the culture in which we now live. All of these things are demonstrably better than contemporary arrangements. Demonstrably better for men, for women, and for children.

There is also a responsibility in the man, in initiating and sustaining marriage- he ‘leaves’ his parents and he ‘clings’ to his wife. We can describe this as a ‘singularity’ of responsibility, there is a definite ‘initiative taking’ for the man in making and sustaining the marriage which belongs to him. A responsibility that is not co-terminate with the responsibilities the woman has, but rather, is unique to man.

The Disgrace Of Disobedience: Gen 3:

When we get to chapter 3 we no longer find order but disorder, and the passage most certainly shows the wrongfulness of this disorder. 
But is that what the passage teaches?

As the roles and responsibilities of man and woman are different, so too we find that the sin of the man and woman are not the same. There's a clear discrimination of sins between the man and the woman in their role of ‘ruling’.

In 3:13 the deception of the woman is contrasted with the arrogance of the man…
Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” 
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Here Adam ‘listens’ (Hebrew=obedience) to the voice of his wife, as opposed to the voice of God. In listening to his wife’s suggestion, Adam’s sin is an arrogant disregard of the word of God as it was given specifically to him.
Paul picks up the same distinction between the different sins of Adam and of Eve in 1Tim 2:14: “And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner”.
And he does so again in 2Cor 11:13: But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ”Here Paul refers to the deception of Eve and then applies it to the Corinthian church, which though a bride, is comprised of both men and women vulnerable to sin.
In Corinthians, the deception of the evil one is paralleled to the danger of  deception that one could likewise happen to the Corinthians themselves if they’re not careful. This is a clear reference to salvation history, where Christians are reminded of what has gone before and then called upon to ‘remember' this history and therefore ‘avoid it’.
It’s important that we note that the purpose of the writer here is to draw a distinction between the sin of Adam and that of Eve. This is the real point of 3:13, it is NOT saying that women ‘by nature’ are always ‘easily deceived’.


We also note that it’s true that the words of the woman DO indicate something significant, but it is actually Adam who bears the chief responsibility here in his ‘representative’ capacity. 

There's a sinfulness in Adam, which is entirely peculiar to him. It’s not that the woman hasn’t sinned for clearly she has, but Adam stands as the representative of our race. It is Adam who receives the word of God in the garden while the woman was yet to be formed (2:16,cf Acts 17:26). Adam receives the word of God in his representative capacity, and it is therefore his sin that seals the fall of humanity.
1 Cor 15 picks up this reality as it relates to a renewed image for humanity, recreated by the new ‘Adam’, the Christ. In vs47 we find the first Adam, of the dust of the earth,’ contrasted with the new Adam, the last Adam, Jesus the ‘man from heaven’in whom we now bear His image. Rom 5 describes humanity as now existing in two possible states. We are either in Adam’ or ‘Adamites’, or we are in Christ’.
Consequences of the fall: East of Eden:
* We find both man and woman suffering the terrible indignity of banishment from Eden (v24) and re-entry into Eden forever barred from them. The original ‘image bearers’ are thoroughly punished for their rebellion against God and death befalls both as the wages of their sin.
* A ‘particular’ punishment is also given to each. Each one is given an indignity of pain in a peculiar way to each. For the woman, pain is in childbearing (v16), joy that will also carry with it pain and suffering as a reminder that she is living under the judgment of God. So too, will be her power struggle with her own husband, a 'desire/rule’. 

Is this a distorted desire? …possibly? A desire to rule over him?... possibly? But whatever the right reading, what is clear is that there will be a punishment of tremendous marital discord. There will forever be trouble, pain and suffering in their relationship.
For the man there will be pain in work, there will be pain and suffering in his efforts to bring things to life. And the punishment that ultimately he is doomed to return to the dust he came from (v17-19). Death is an end to the curse of life toil as we have lived it.
As we move into chapter 4 of Genesis it becomes clear what life is like for humanity under the curse. The pain and suffering of Adam and Eve is passed on to their children, and so down through the rest of humanity.
God’s grace for the disgraced:
And yet, as we read this devastating chapter we also find…
* The Lord seeking Adam and Eve out in the cool of the garden (v8). Even knowing the truth God does not abandon them. He does not bring about their immediate destruction.
* v20 God names her ‘Eve’ the “mother of all living” (1Cor 11) indicating that there will be a future for this guilty pair.
* The Lord also makes garments for them and ‘clothes’ them (v21). By doing this he has not taken away their ‘shame’ (2:25, 3:7-11) for only the cross can truly cover their shame. 
As a prelude to the work of the cross there are clothes provided for them so that Adam and Eve didn’t have to walk around in their shame and nakedness. These ‘skins’ are a sign that God has not finished with them.
Before, Adam and Eve lived under God’s ‘common grace’, now they live under his grace to the thoroughly undeserving, just as we do today.
* In the promise to the serpent in v15 we also see a word of hope. From the offspring of the woman would come the victory of God and the triumph over evil.
* Image is not lost but retained, though defaced (Col 3:9-10).
* Adam’s name is not lost either, for Jesus himself is then called the ‘Son of Adam’ (Lk 3:38).
The New Adam:
* Through the ‘Son of Adam’ humanity is to learn the proper way of relationships. Headship must be exercised for the proper benefit of the other (Eph 5). The N.T passages call upon men as men to exercise headship in a way that reflects the true Adam, that is, Christ.
* For Eve, the ‘mother of all living’ (Gen 3:15) she is given the privilege of being a model for the church. The son who died for her- the ‘bride of Christ’ is her model. We also see that from a virgin woman comes a Saviour (Lk 1:34f), thereby exalting woman, for from her will come the one who will finally crush the serpents head (Lk 1:48, Heb 2:14).

To Conclude:
It is clear that both man and woman are to partner each other in living for Christ in righteousness and holiness. And what is that work that we are to do together?
- to be fruitful and multiply
- to rule the world for the benefit of the world
- to live in the good works we are called upon to walk in day by day (e.g. to rule the world by the good works of prayer, the greatest work we can do to fulfill our ‘image bearing’ role in the world. Col 3:5-11).

4 comments:

James said...

Just read all of your Feb posts Sarie. So concise. Brilliantly helpful. Uber thanks. Can't wait for #3

Renee said...

I love your blogs too...just wish you could deliver them in person, at bible study, with tim tams and a whole bunch of argumentative boarders...sigh. Thanks for the old days, how I miss them...

James said...

‎'argumentative boarders' sounds like a great name for a MAC rock band. Celia could be on bass.

Maggie O said...

Just wanted thank you for your blog...very helpful...I am always passing into to others...so thrilled to hear that you will be here in July. Can't wait for the convention.....will be praying for all

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