Unveiling the Cross: Thoughts on Genesis 1-3 (Part 1)

It’s incredible how much affect the account in Genesis 1 to 3 has on our understanding of Christian doctrine. An attentive and thoughtful reading of the creation account, institution of man and woman in the garden, and of the subsequent fall is essential to understanding the entire redemptive fabric of the canon (redemptive=story of salvation). The creation account offers us cosmic truth. The garden shows us God’s intention with his creation. We so often need to remember that the current world we live in, as we will see, is cursed. But, because of the death and resurrection of Christ, the cosmos are awaiting a great and grand redemption with us. See Romans 8:18-23.

Further, we need to understand that this garden paradise was a  sanctuary. This was a place where God spoke directly to Adam  and Eve (cf. Gen. 1:28, 29; 2:16, 18; 3:9, 13-14). We are also  told that God walked in this garden (3:8). This same verbal  expression is used to describe God’s presence (lit. ‘walking’) in  the Temple (see Lev. 26:12; Dt. 23:14; 2 Sam. 7:6-7). The  imagery indicates that God’s presence was in the garden. Its  interesting to note that the Temple walls, which ‘contained’ the presence of God were inlaid with pictures of open flowers and gourds. The innermost part of the Temple, the Holy of Holies, was symbolically guarded by two cherubim whose wings stretched the entire breadth of the room (compare Genesis 3:24). Further, in Genesis 2:15 Adam is told to “cultivate and keep” the garden. These same verbs are used to describe the work of the priests’ in the temple: “to serve and keep” (see Num. 3:7-8; I Chr. 23:32). This is imagery reflective of Genesis 1-2. Its important to see that later Old Testament revelation reveals that Adam was a kind of priest, who was to keep charge of the garden sanctuary. This was more than paradise, this was where God and man dwelt together on earth.

This is why we are told in Genesis 3:23 that God “sent” Adam out of the garden. God cannot fellowship with sin! Isaiah’s reaction in Isaiah 6:5 when he sees God sitting on his throne is very instructive, “And I said: Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Seeing God did not cause Isaiah to become a sinner. Instead, seeing God made Isaiah acutely aware of his sinfulness. This sin problem is the continuing problem of mankind.

But, here’s the big question? Did Adam sin? What’s going on in this story of the Fall? Many think that the serpent testing Eve is simply a fictional story that represents the existences of both good and evil in the world. Although I’d love to spend time on these kind of theories, we must take the narrative of Scripture as historical reality. There really was a serpent and Adam and Eve were truly the first human beings. Paul himself recognizes this and prescribes Adam’s sinful actions in the garden as the reason that we are all born into sin: “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” (Rom. 5:12). The role of Adam as priest in the garden sanctuary sheds light on his representative role for all humanity. There are many theories on how Adam’s sin has past down to us. I think these are silly and useless. The point is, that’s what happened and that is the condition we are all now in: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps. 51:5).

So what was this sin? Next time we shall have a closer look at the temptation of Eve and the resultant Fall. Until next time…




Filed under Christian Theology, Cross, Old Testament

5 responses to “Unveiling the Cross: Thoughts on Genesis 1-3 (Part 1)

  1. Brandy

    Thank you so much for your insight Randall. I really appreciate your pointing out these intricate connections between the Temple and the Garden that I would probably not have ever realized otherwise! And I also really admired your consistent Scripture references. I love that now I can take the journey through Scripture confirming your insight directly from God’s Word itself!

    I’ll look forward to your next post!

  2. crandallbreland

    Hmm…well I hope you do ‘confirm’ my ‘insight.’ I am thankful to the Lord for how much he has taught me, my goal is to see others such as yourself grow in the knowledge of the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). So, when’s that post from the bright Brandy going to be revealed for all to behold?

  3. “There are many theories on how Adam’s sin has past down to us. I think these are silly and useless. The point is, that’s what happened and that is the condition we are all now in.”

    I would have to say that this statement is sort of silly. The better we understand how Adam’s sin is passed on to us the better we will be able to see the beauty of Christ’s righteousness passed on to those who believe. And not only that, but a sick and dieing world is going to want to know why they are born enemies of God and not just neutral or good. I wouldn’t say any quest into the knowledge of God’s word and His actions are silly, but good post over all.

  4. crandallbreland

    :-). Possibly I spoke too quickly. My intention, although I fear this came across, was to simply point out that because of Adam’s sin, we are all in sin and rebellion against God. That’s the entire reason I am talking about Genesis 3. If we don’t realize the awful state we are all in, then why do we need the cross or Jesus? I said that all these theories are “silly” because I really think they can become silly and useless. I don’t want our readers that may benefit from thinking on Genesis 3 to get caught up in speculation that they can never know. The truth is, it doesn’t matter whether you hold to “Federal Headship” or “Covenantal Representative,” etc. I do think the Federal Headship is the model that most closely represents the Scriptures, but the truth is, we are not told, so we should not push it.

    Pushing it in the theology classroom is wise, and its good to think about these things. I am writing to Christians who may be just beginning to grow in these things. When I first started realizing what exactly happened in the Garden and what that meant for me, it was tough. If somebody would have started telling me to figure out how that sin was passed, I would have been smothered out. I would have felt like I wasn’t a smart enough Christian to think about it.

    If you will read the last paragraph closely, I ground the current state of universal human depravity with Romans 5:12. Truthfully, that verse says all we need to know. Further, pulling from the priestly role that Adam served, I noted that he served as our representative. So, although I did not explicitly state “I think Federal Headship” is best here, I began to hint at the idea.

    However, I wish to offer a point of concession. Thinking about how Adam’s sin was passed to us is important for our understanding of Christ. Just as Adam’s sin passed down to us, now by faith Christ’s righteousness is passed down to us. This latter “imputation” carries with it much more biblical explanation, and we will look at that in turn. Further, a big picture overview and exposition of Ephesians 2:1-3 and Romans 1:18-3:20 is coming.

    I will certainly be more careful with my words, Mike. Thinking on these things for fruitfulness of understanding is not silly or useless. Giving meat to babes who are not ready for it is my fear. Maybe better words could have been, “We should not worry about the various theories that attempt to describe how Adam’s sin was passed down to us. The key point to understand, however it happened, is that with Adam all of humanity, including you and me, fell into a state of sinfulness, separation, and enmity before God”?

    If you would like to write a post about imputation I would welcome it and think it would add a lot of depth to our thinking about the cross.


  5. Brad

    Good stuff Randall. I was thinking about how these things could be preached as a sermon series. What do you think; what sort of applications can be drawn out?

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