Adam and Israel

We will be starting a sermon series on the book of Genesis in a couple of weeks. To pave the way for that, we will spend a couple of weeks in Sunday school tackling introductory questions related to the book of Genesis. Last week, we looked at the question: who wrote the book of Genesis? I argued that the evidence favors the view that Moses wrote the book of Genesis. But we might wonder why Moses would write a book that gives so much attention to the creation of the world and the first man and woman? How would that be relevant to Israel as they entered the Promised Land? The following quote brings to light some very interesting connections between Adam’s situation and Israel’s situation, and shows part of the relevance of the story of Adam for Israel.

These first three chapters of Genesis were of particular significance to Israel on the borders of the Promised Land because Israel shared many similarities with Adam. William Dumbrell explains:

“Significant for biblical eschatology are the several analogies that can be drawn between the man Adam and the nation Israel: Israel was created, as was Adam, outside the divine space to be occupied–Israel outside of Canaan and Adam outside of the garden. Both Israel and Adam were placed in divine space: Israel in Canaan and Adam in Eden. Israel was given, as was Adam, law by which the divine space could be retained.”

The question for Israel was simple. Would she obey the law, or would she, like Adam, disobey and be exiled from the land? If Adam proved unfaithful to God in the perfect environment, could Israel hope to keep the law in a land surrounded by idolaters?

Keith Mathison, From Age to Age (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2009), 27.

As Reformed Christians, we also see important discontinuity between Adam and Israel. God had entered into a Covenant of Works with Adam in the garden (see WCF 7.2), but Israel was under the Covenant of Grace (WCF 7.3-5). Nevertheless, the above quotation shows the importance of the story of Adam for Israel as they entered the good land.