Letters to Our Dear Children #3
Dear Junia, Charysse, DeAnn and Greg,
I believe that all four of you will remember that family worship at our house was often a rollicking-frolicking good time. We worshiped God together as a joyful celebration, not as a legalistic duty. We would, for instance, sing scripture songs like “I May Never March in the Infantry” and the four of you would march from the living room through the dining room and kitchen back into the living room.
We often read straight through the Bible but skipped chapters that were beyond your maturity level. We liked to memorize both scripture and catechisms during devotions, but we tried to make that a part of our celebration rather than a heavy-duty obligation.
Your mother and I were convinced that all children are born into a worshiping relationship before the God of the Bible. Worshiping Him is a key part of the fundamental joy of being born in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:26-28). Mom and I believed that God had created us as parents so that we could lead you into this joyful, basic relationship with God. As scripture teaches we were “prophets, priests and kings” serving you gladly in those offices which God gave us as your parents.
Our study of scripture persuaded us that God gave us three of these basic Covenantal relationships with Himself. These three relationships are first revealed in the second chapter of Genesis. They are three basic relationships with God that give beauty, meaning and purpose to our lives. They are (1) Worship, (2) Work, and (3) Wedlock. Notice those three “W’s”. I discovered that helpful “3 W” way of outlining our Covenant relationships in a book titled Genesis 1-4 by Dr. C. John Collins.1
God’s infinite love for us is marvelously displayed in these three Covenantal relationships. God is actively loving us throughout our lives, meeting all our needs through these relationships which He has established with us and for us. It is so very important to see that God did this right at the time of our creation in His image. My fear is that some make the serious mistake of thinking God did not start loving us until Jesus came and redeemed us through His death and resurrection.
As important as the redeeming work of Jesus is, we should see that God has always loved us and has always been providing for our needs since the moment He created us. He has always been “our Father, who art in heaven”. He has always loved us supremely, and that began wonderfully when He established us in those three amazing Covenantal relationships. The redeeming work of Christ simply restores us to those relationships. Studying them in their original Biblical setting is a helpful reminder of the beautiful shape God gave to our lives through those Covenantal relationships.
So, let’s review them briefly as God first gave them to us. Hopefully the diagram above may help you visualize God’s great plan for us. His three-relationship plan is designed to lead us into ever deepening delight in God Himself and in His fabulous purposes for our lives and our world.
With this diagram, I am also giving you a brief survey of those three Covenantal relationships in our Reflexions below.
With all our Love,
Mom and Dad Alexander
(1) WORSHIP: Genesis 2:2-3: COVENANTAL RELATIONSHIP #1
COVENANTAL COMMUNION WITH GOD
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 able to enjoy the eternal glory of God. 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.2
(2) WORK: Genesis 2:15 & 19-20: COVENANTAL RELATIONSHIP #2
COVENANTAL DOMINION FOR GOD
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”.3 Williams also frequently uses the word “Priest” (pages 113, 138, etc.) to describe the role God has given mankind in relation to the world.4 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 such conditions must have been sheer delight for the man!”.5 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 CELEBRATIVE REST to CELEBRATIVE 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.
(3) WEDLOCK: Genesis 2:23-24 COVENANTAL RELATIONSHIP #3
COVENANTAL MARRIAGE BETWEEN MAN AND WOMAN
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, marriage love reflects the love within the Trinity, and second, marriage love is prophetic of the love we will experience throughout eternity. I plan to speak of these two grand realities in my next letter.
Feel free to comment on the diagram I am giving you above. I am always open to improvements and I enjoy your responses.
- Collins, C. John. Genesis 1-4. Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. 2006, Phillipsburg, New Jersey.
- By drawing mankind into His Sabbath, God is distinguishing man from everything else He created, crowning man with this key Covenantal Relationship. For fuller treatment of this important truth, I heartily recommend the reading of chapter 12 of Creation and Change, page 237, Dr. Douglas Kelly’s excellent study of the “incomparable significance of the Sabbath day.”
- Page 60, Williams, Michael D. Far as the Curse Is Found, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 2005.
- Ibid., pages 113, 138, etc.
- Op. cit. page 138.