THREE COVENANTAL RELATIONSHIPS #39

I see Genesis 2 as the inspired account of God revealing the three Covenantal Relationships of mankind created in the image of God.  This is a bit lengthy, but it seems best to me to keep  it all together so that you can see the scope of God’s amazing work here: 

Root #2: The Splendor of Our Three Covenantal Relationships -Genesis 2

Though Genesis 2 covers a variety of subjects, I want to focus on a particular phenomenon that deserves more attention than it seems to have received to date. That phenomenon is the pattern of Covenantal Personal Relationships which I believe we should regard as key to this chapter. There are three of these, all of them characterized by God’s great love for His people.  These relationships occur in an order that is important in itself.  We will note this order as we study these Covenantal Relationships revealed in chapter 2.  The diagram on the facing page corresponds to the three Covenantal Relationships described here.

  1. Covenantal Relationship #1 – Covenantal Communion With God: 2:2-3

            “By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work.  And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done” 

            God’s completion of creation called for a Celebration – a day of celebrative rest. Though Adam is not even mentioned in this text, it is unthinkable that God would have ignored him and left Adam out of His life on this 7th Day, the first day after God had created him.  We are fully justified in assuming that this God who “is love” (I John 4:8 and 16) would have, in effect, taken Adam by the hand on this seventh day and led him into the awesome joy of keeping the Sabbath holy with Him.

Though the full meaning of this wonderful reality is only implied in this passage, later scripture such as Exodus 20: 11-18 and the whole 23rd chapter of Leviticus make this implication abundantly clear: On the first full day of his life, Adam is drawn into celebration of Sabbath life and joy right alongside God Himself.  This is an absolutely remarkable reality.  Clearly, at this point, Adam is already in Covenantal Communion with God!  That means that God’s love for Adam and Adam’s love for God are the key dynamics in their relationship with one another.

This is a wonder of absolutely immense proportions. For a mere creature to live in loving Communion with God is the highest privilege imaginable. God had lifted this creature made of dirt into the heavenly realms! From creation onward Adam was promoted into the eternal glory. What a wonder of God’s infinite love!

Surely we should see this as an important part of God’s plan, impressing Adam/Mankind with the grand reality that COVENANTAL COMMUNION WITH GOD was the very foundation on which his whole life would be built. This is an important measure of God’s love for mankind.  For God Himself is recognizing man as the primary object of His love and therefore a central figure in the whole of Creation. For fuller treatment of this important truth, I heartily recommend the reading of chapter 12 of Creation and Change, Dr. Douglas Kelly’s excellent study of the “incomparable significance of the Sabbath day.”  By drawing mankind into His Sabbath, God is distinguishing man from everything else he created, crowning man with this key COVENANTAL RELATIONSHIP.

  1. Covenantal Relationship #2 – Covenantal Dominion For God: 2:15, 19-20

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it…

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

In this passage of scripture we see God assigning Adam his key task – DOMINION over the earth.  Because Adam lives in COMMUNION WITH GOD, he can be trusted to exercise DOMINION FOR GOD. In his book Far as the Curse Is Found, Dr. Michael Williams repeatedly refers to mankind as God’s “steward” *18.  Williams also frequently uses the word “Priest” (pages 113, 138, et. al.) to describe the role God has given mankind in relation to the world *19.  As God’s designated Steward, he is more than a farmer.  He is a Priest

mediating the glory and majesty of God to every creature and to every part of the world, making our world into a Temple filled with the awesome presence of God .

With these considerations in mind it becomes clear to us that mankind’s DOMINION task is the logical extension of the COMMUNION WITH GOD dynamic at work in the heart and life of Adam/Mankind.   The Garden of Eden would have been the perfect work environment.  Collins remarks, “such work under suchconditions must have been sheer delight for the man!”*20.  Adam’s work of naming the animals and cultivating the garden would be a great pleasure to him – something like an extension of the Sabbath, a different kind of celebration, but still a celebration. We might say that Adam moved from CLEBRATIVE REST to CLEBRATIVE WORK.  Life without sin was a continuous celebration of the pure joy of living in the presence of God and finding pleasure in doing the will of this high and holy Being, the living God.  Sabbath set the tone and Work extended the celebration into every day of Adam’s week.

Living, as WE do in this period after the moral disaster of Adam’s Fall into sin, we tend to paint work with a tar brush, seeing it only in terms of the frustration and drudgery that characterize work since the Fall.  This was not God’s original idea of work.  God intended Adam’s work to be the means of beautifying Eden first and then to continue what we might call the “Edenizing” process throughout the world.  God’s command to “have dominion, vs 26” and “subdue the earth” in vs 28 was not limited to Eden, but extended to the whole world which could become God’s Temple under the sinless Adam.

  1. Covenantal Relationship #3- Covenantal Marriage between Man and Woman: 2:23-24

23 The man said,“This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.”24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

                The marriage of Adam and Eve is a fitting climax to chapter 2 of Genesis. It may even be seen as the climax of God’s entire work of Creation. As the first chapter rises to a kind of preparatory climax in the creation of man in God’s image, so the second chapter rises even higher to a full climax in the uniting of Adam and Eve in marriage. Though the word “covenant” is not used here, the Bible identifies marriage as a covenantal relationship in a text like Malachi 2:14, rebuking a man for forsaking his marriage partner because she is “the wife of your marriage covenant.”  We are pleased to recognize, therefore that Adam and Eve were joined in that beautiful covenantal relationship which we call marriage and that God Himself presided over this grand event.
There can be no question that the marriage of the man and the woman was a part of God’s original plan.             Covenantal Marriage between Man and Woman was necessary to complete the “Covenantal Relationships Plan” evident in Genesis 2. We should see “marriage love” as a unique creation of God.  This love establishes a bond between the genders and personalities of man and woman that goes beyond human ability to define.  It is another one of the mysterious wonders that God has created for us to celebrate with joy, though there is no way we can fully understand it.

As wonderful and mysterious as marriage love is, moreover, we should see it as a cornerstone of all human society. Families are the building blocks in all human culture.  It is the quality of love that exists in Biblical marriage that gives grace to our relationships in all of civil society – schools, governments, industry, science, art, music and athletics, all our endeavors that include human relationships. This God-created wonder of  “marriage love” then reaches out from the family and embraces the whole world, creating in turn all the tenderness, gentle care and thoughtfulness that characterizes Godly people and ennobles all human life.

In a beautiful and powerful way, “marriage love” speaks to us two other remarkable realities which God reveals to us in scripture.

First: We should see human marriage as A Reflection of Trinitarian Relationships.

            Relationships within the Trinity are relationships of perfect love enduring through all eternity. John 17 is a beautiful statement of this kind of love. The love of God the Father for God the Son, and of God the Son for God the Father.  In verse 24 of this chapter Jesus is telling his Father in Heaven that he wants his disciples “…to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”  That glory that Jesus wants his disciples to see is the glory of that perfect love between the members of the Godhead.

Though the Holy Spirit is not mentioned here, there is every Biblical reason to believe that the love the Father and Son shared was normative for all three members of the blessed Trinity.  I John 4:9 and 16 both tell us that God IS Loveand this obviously includes all three persons within the Godhead.  We may conclude that the three persons of the Trinity are bound together in an eternal bond of perfect Love.  What a wonderful, truly glorious model this is for human relationships as reflected in the quote from Anthony Hoekema  (footnote 16 above).  And this is exactly what God intended to be the keynote of marriage.

Yes, there are 3 persons in the Trinity and only 2 in Marriage.  But we are not saying that there is anything like identity between Biblical marriage and Trinitarian love, only that there is similarity.  And this similarity is the grand reality of that eternal love that binds Father, Son and Holy Spirit together.  This kind of loving marriage is the cornerstone of human society and a model not just for marriage but for all relationships throughout the world.  It is the reason why God says in Malachi 2:16, “I hate divorce”.  The fact is that God hates not only divorce but all distortions of Biblical marriage.

The first reason, therefore, that marriage is the climax to this second chapter is because it is such a beautiful picture of God’s loving COVENANTAL relationship with man.

Second: We should see human marriage as An Eschatological Model.

            Sorry, but I cannot apologize for using that long theological word – Eschatological.  Rather than apologize, I want to explain it as another “theological shorthand term”.  It really isn’t hard to learn what it means. Eschatological – is theological shorthand for “the doctrines of last things, all the things that are going to happen because the Kingdom of God is coming.”  Writers and speakers use the word Eschatological so they will not have to constantly repeat everything included in the bold print between the quotation marks. I hope that explanation helps to show the value of using this word.

Then I am ready to say that marriage which we find in this 2nd chapter of Genesis is given a truly grand eschatological significance in the 19th chapter of Revelation.  The point is that the gift of marriage which God gave to Adam and Eve at the very beginning of history is once again featured in a most beautiful way at the very end of human history. These two uses are like book-ends around history!!  What a wonder this is!  When God needed his highest and best symbolic language to communicate the glories of Heaven, he chose marriage to convey his meaning. .  This is why we must recognize marriage between a man and a woman  as so unspeakably grand and agree with all our hearts that it is the great climax, not only of Genesis 2 but of the whole of creation and finally of the whole of history.  We read in Revelation 19, verses 6-8:

“Then I heard what seemed like the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, Hallelujah!

            For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns.Let us rejoice and exult and give him glory, For the MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB has come,   And his bride has made herself ready; It was granted her to clothe herself with white linen, bright and pure”

Then and angel appears to John the Apostle who is writing these amazing words and says to John:  “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.”

But history does not end with the wedding invitation mentioned here.  History ends with the wedding itself and the marriage supper of the lamb that lasts for all eternity.  This is the glorious future of all who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  All the wars, all the troubles and sorrows of history, all the pain and grief and even all the joyful occasions of our earthly lives are completely swallowed up in this grand ESCHATOLOGICAL occasion. We will enter the fabulous “city foursquare” (Revelation 21) with its pearly gates, its golden streets, its bejeweled walls and then we will and spend all eternity delighting ourselves in the company of our great God, three in one, one in three. HALLELUJAH!

            There are no words in any human language that can even approximate the grandeur and the glory of our eternal sojourn in that city of eternal Joy.

(Next blog will be my conclusion of this third chapter)

 

2 thoughts on “THREE COVENANTAL RELATIONSHIPS #39

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