This is #18 in Crossing the Threshold series.
Genesis the “Backstory”
Our story starts with a hero of course and before we step out on the journey with him we have to understand one of the many titles given to him in scripture. In First Corinthians 15:45 Jesus Christ is referred to as “The Last Adam”; what does this mean? We find the answer by going to the Genesis account and looking at the First Adam, the son of God (Luke3:37). This back-story is vitally important to all that follows in the biblical narrative.
In Genesis on the 6th day of creation God created man in his own image and gave him the vocation of ruling over the plant and animal kingdoms, as well as commissioning him to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. In ordinary everyday terms God was making man his “vice-regent”; someone he would uniquely empower to rule the earth along with him. We have a great distortion and perversion of this idea when we see ruthless dictators setting up their own images all over their countries, as a reminder of just who rules the place. Man (Adam) created in God’s image was to be a reflector of God; of his glory, giving an exact representation of who God is by exercising benevolent dominion over the earth. Being fruitful, he would multiply and fill the earth with the glory of God.
In Chapter Two of Genesis this vocation is more clearly defined when in verse fifteen God takes man and places him into the Garden of Eden “to cultivate it and to keep it”. Adam is given the priest-king role of serving (to cultivate) and guarding (to keep) God’s first temple Eden. This includes keeping out all uncleanness. In “journey” language Adam leaves his Ordinary World, the ground from which he was created, and enters the Special World of the garden. When he is placed in Eden he is confronted with a test; will he obey the one command God gave him? Only one stipulation: “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Adam failed the test; he failed to love and trust His Creator.
Do you remember our definition of Hero in Chapter Two? The word hero comes from the Greek root of the word that means “to protect and to serve”; a hero is someone who is willing to sacrifice his own needs on behalf of others, like a shepherd who will sacrifice to protect and serve his flock. Protect and serve was Adam’s Genesis vocation, he was called to be God’s shepherd over creation. Adam did not reflect God when he allowed the unclean “serpent” into the garden, he was not willing to lay his life down to protect his flock instead he willingly chose to sin. He turned in on self and became the first tragic hero.
What was God to do? Scrap the whole project of filling the earth with glory by using his image bearers; his priest kings? No, he had spoken his word. Did he know Adam would fail? Absolutely, and he already had a plan for the great rescue operation. God’s salvation is not about saving some people so they can go to “heaven” when they die. His salvation encompasses rescuing his entire creation; of restoring the earth and reuniting it to heaven, of restoring his images bearers to be his royal priesthood, and of saving the plant and animal kingdoms that have been subjected in bondage to corruption
For the task of saving God’s creation, another Adam had to be found. The Last Adam would be one that would not fail the test but be obedient even to the point of death; one who would be the true hero by sacrificing his own life to protect and serve his flock and in so doing defeat all the powers of evil unleashed by the first Adam’s disobedience.