Text: Genesis 1:26-31; 2:15-17
Why do people tend to commit things that are told not to do so? Example: “do not touch the pot, it’s hot”—then, we still touch it and say, “oo nga, mainit.” Or my mom would say to me before, “do come home late at night,” so I would follow her, I go home after midnight around 2am or 3am. Another one, in the Philippines, there is a sign that says, “do not cross, use the footbridge.” Yet, people still cross and do jaywalk.
Why talk about this? Because this attitude is not only true today but also during the time of Adam and Eve. Let us dive deeper into God’s covenantal pursuit and humanity’s response.
God established a covenantal relationship with humanity—of course, with Adam and Eve as the image of God. Take note of this, the mere fact that imago Dei signifies “likeness” or in Ancient Near East understanding— “sonship,” points that humanity can relate to God. Indeed, God communicates to humanity, he relates with them, appoints them, calls them, and established promises and stipulations with them. In fact, God created them to join Him in the grand narrative of His creation. This covenantal relationship is both vertical and horizontal. Vertical, our relationship with God (1:27); horizontal, our relationship with the whole creation (1:26, 28).
As preached last Sunday, a covenant entails a relationship. Adam and Eve have a relationship with God as the image of God. A covenant also is somewhat an agreement, a stipulation, between two parties. But it is the stronger party that initiates a covenant. Hence, our subtitle God’s Pursuit, Man’s response.
To this though also, as usually debated, and sadly often causing a division, is the false dichotomy of the sovereignty of God and man’s freewill. Let me reiterate a term that is biblically sound and theology accurate. The term is “antinomy” meaning two things that seem to contradict but are inseparable and reasonable.
Let us check chapter 2 verses 15-17:
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Verse 15, covenant purpose is to labor in God’s creation with Him for His glory. We talked about this a while ago in chapter 1 verses 26 and 28—to rule over, to be fruitful, and subdue the earth.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;
Verse 16 is the covenant provision, Adam and Eve are provided with all their needs to live and enjoy God’s creation. This is in fact important to note that they could have treasured this benefit from God instead of taking it for granted.
17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
BUT!!! In verse 17, this is a covenant condition/ stipulation. Meaning, they are to enjoy everything, to live and worship God by keeping His commandment, following the covenant purpose to subdue earth and rule over it, to enjoy their lives as husband and wife. But they should not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Again, God is sovereign, yet He permits His creation to express their love. Remember that there is no genuine love in coercion. You cannot force someone to love you, if then, it is out of fear and untrue.
for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
So, what happens, if they eat it? The next phrase in verse 17 states the covenant consequence or curse. We already know the story, in chapter 3, Eve then Adam ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
God’s Amazing Grace: His Pursuit
Despite man’s corruption, rejection, and rebellion against God, God’s grace abounds, and His steadfast love endures forever. Right after Adam and Eve sinned—covered their sin, hid it, and blamed others even God—God has already prepared and established a plan to redeem His creation.
In Genesis 3:14-15, God tells that in His covenant, He will still fulfill it and be faithful to His words. He even showed compassion to them by making garments for them and God, himself, clothed them (3:21). He was one step ahead with His creation; indeed, He is the author of this grand narrative. Wherein, the fulfillment of this Gen 3:15, the seed of the woman who will crush the head of the serpent is embodied in Christ.
Remember that in a covenant, there is a curse and a blessing. You will receive a consequence if you fail to keep the covenant, but you will receive the covenant blessing if you have kept the covenant. In chapter 3:22, they could have lived forever in the Garden of Eden with God.
Providentially, it is not too late for us, remember Christ as the last Adam, He is also the only way towards these promises: flourishing life, a promise of eternal life, and a being with His new creation—no more pain, cry—just pure joy and love.
After learning about the creation covenant and God’s amazing grace, we indeed know that both relationships are important—vertical and horizontal. To that, let us also balance these relationships that we have. First, a vertical relationship with God, our very priority in our life. He deserves our number one service, faithfulness, and love—worshipping Him and dedicating our lives to Him. Second, our horizontal relationship with our family, church, friends, and neighbors. Exemplify Christ’s love to these people and show them God’s grace.
Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jesey
May 23, 2021
*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.