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Christian Biblical Studies
Scripture citations are to the NIV-UK (1984)
To Adam [the LORD God] said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, “You must not eat of it,” ‘Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.’
- Genesis 3: 17-19 -
The death sentence that God pronounced on Adam is what we might term the umbrella curse – that is, it affects the entire human family, who from then on laboured under hardship, in a regime of toil, fatigue, disease and disaster. Ever since father Adam’s teeth were ‘set on edge’, the children have had toothache (Ezek. 18: 2).
The Scriptures say nothing about Adam’s state of mind, or that of his wife, Eve, as the appalling gravity of his offence sunk in, but we can surmise that he lived with bitter regret, especially after the tragic murder of his younger son, Abel, by the older, Cain. Paradise was well and truly lost, and the memory of it has lodged intuitively and uncomfortably in the collective human mind ever since.
The curse was the choking off of the human race before it even got started. Or it would have been, had not the termination of life been delayed by the process of dying. Henceforth, every human being would live his or her life in the certainty they would one day cease to exist – an inevitability which has both tempered mankind’s confidence and simultaneously introduced an element of recklessness.
Some have been stimulated by
their recognition of the shortness of life to spend such time as they have in
the service of others. Others, a minority, use their allotted portion in
extracting as much pleasure from it as they can – their theme, ‘Before my
numbers up, I’m gonna fill my cup,
I’m gonna live, live, live, live, live until I die!’ [Lyrics by Al Hoffman (1902-1960)]
Because of the long history of the curse, the spectrum of accumulated human experience is vast. Contrary to what one might have expected, the curse has both retarded and stimulated the progress of mankind, assisted by Providential interference at strategic points, for God always rules in the affairs of Man. History is nothing less than the playing out of the Adamic curse. Its wars, tragedies and triumphs can all be traced back to the fall of Man in Eden.
One could imagine that God might simply have obliterated the species and started again. But out of the Fall of Man, the Creator fashioned a recovery. Indeed, the Scriptures refer to Jesus as a sacrificial lamb ‘chosen before the creation of the world’ (1 Peter 1: 20). That is, the plan for redemption was already laid down, even before the race got into difficulty.
The link between the fallen man, Adam, and his deliverer Jesus, is unique. The Scriptures reveal many similarities between them. A discussion of Jesus as Ransomer generally splits along two lines:
1. Those who believe that Jesus is a Person in the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), and therefore eternally Divine; and
2. Those, comparatively few in number, who hold that Jesus was a human being, and separate from the Father.
Within these two viewpoints there exists a range of interpretations. Those who hold that Man has evolved from other forms of life will find this subject irrelevant and absurd. But the analogy of Adam and Jesus cannot hold up within a framework of human evolution. Indeed, the doctrine of human evolution entirely negates the theology of salvation which runs through the biblical text. The fact is, if there’s no Adam, there’s no Jesus.
As progenitor of the entire human race, Adam stands in for humanity. And Jesus, the one who purchases the human race from death, stands in as the representative of the future restored humanity. Adam bestows death on mankind; Jesus bestows life on mankind, as enunciated in 1 Cor. 15: 22:
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
And Rom. 5: 18, 19:
18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
The parallel illuminates the necessity of the Cross. Jesus surrendered His life (Himself) as an equivalent offset to the life of Adam, who had forfeited his by disobedience. In this life-for-life transaction Jesus technically buys Adam and Adam’s condemned race: ‘[Jesus] gave himself as a ransom for all men’ (1 Tim. 2: 6). ‘Ransom’ is here the translation of the Greek antilutron, and carries the thought of a full legal payment for something; that is, a price equivalent to the thing purchased.
The first part of the parallel: Adam was directly created by God, morally and physically perfect.
The second part of the parallel: Jesus was the only-begotten son of God, with no contamination from Adam’s stock, morally and physically perfect.
In this way, all of Adam’s race is purchased by the payment of the ransom, when Jesus gave Himself on the cross.
10/19 – ukbiblestudents.co.uk – no copyright