The beginning of mankind has been compared to a sunny morning. Coming out of eternity, time, as it were, was holding happiness in its hands. In the blessedness of Paradise God had united heaven and earth. But then came sin. As a tempest black as night it broke in devastatingly and drove all this morning splendour out of the history of time. Thenceforth the earth stood under the shadow of death.
Severe were the consequences of the Divine judgment. By his disobedience man had denied the sovereignty of God and had thrust the Lord of all from the throne of his heart. Sin is mutiny against God, revolt against the Highest, rebellion of the individual will of the creature against the Divine universal order. The human "I" now stepped into the place of the dethroned God and became the king on the throne. According to God's plan man was to be, so to say, a spiritual Copernicus, like a point on the circumference, dependent upon God as his sun and centre. But instead of this, he had now fallen into the error of the Ptolemaic system, and set his own "Ego" in the centre of his life, around which everything else, God and the world, must rotate. "Therefore has God given him over to his Ego. Man is now wholly captive to his Ego. He expects his happiness, his redemption to come from his Ego. He justifies his Ego. He lauds his Ego, and all his thoughts circle around his Ego."
"And with this Ego there links itself the world which man in his delusion has preferred to God. With the Ego the world at the same time mounts the throne in him, and god gives men over to thc world also. And because the Ego and the world cannot fill in man the empty place of God there sets in this raging hunger of the human soul, which torments itself, the hunger for selfassertion and for the world, for possessions and pleasure. This boundless insatiable hunger is a standing proof that at some time God had satisfied the human heart, that the human heart is intended for God."
i. In detail also God extends the judgment over the sinner.
The woman was included as to her highest calling, as mother and wife (Gen. 3: 16). Her smaller circle of family and house stood henceforth under the pressure of all kinds of cares.
The punishment struck the man in his masculine calling, in the wider circle of the work and his breadwinning (Gen. 3: 17-19), But in the man the calling of the human race in itself was simultaneously involved, for Adam, as head also of the woman, was at the same time the representative of the whole race. Laborious work, sickness, suffering, and death were from that time onwar the sorrowful lot of all men. At the moment of the sin spiritual death entered (Gen.2:17), and with it also, under the Divine judgment, freedom from bodily death was forfeited. The spiri having severed itself from its centre, God, the life powers of body and soul, in consequence of the judgment of God, tore themselves loose from their centre, the spirit, and the end of the separation of body, soul, and spirit is the death of the boa, (Rom. 6: 23). Forthwith "life" is merely a gradual dying, and birth is the beginning of death.
Before the Fall the human body, if not strictly immortal, we at least only capable of mortality, but not mortal. To die was no impossibility, but also no necessity. As Augustine put it, man possessed both the possibility not to sin and not to die (posse' non peccare et mori), and also the possibility to sin and to me (posse peccare et mori). Through victory in temptation he was to ascend to the impossibility of sinning and dying (out of the posse non peccare et mori into the non posse peccare et mori). But after his overthrow he finds himself in the impossibility not to sin and to die, that is, he must sin (he is in the non posse non peccare et non mori).
But because Adam, as the ancestor of mankind, was at the same time also its organic representative, death established itself upon all his descendants as well. The fall was universal (Rom. 5 : 12-21; I Cor. 15: 21).
Because of the propagation of mankind as spirit, soul, and body there exists a mysterious organic connexion between each individual and the whole human race, and by consequence with Adam as the ancestor and original type of the whole. Each individual is a part of his progenitors and a part of his progeny, a point of transit of the blood stream of his parents and ancestors. "The soul of all flesh is in the blood" (Lev. 17: 11, 14).
Hence the emphasis upon the genealogical trees in the Scripture (e.g. Gen. 5; I Chron. 1-9), and the significance of the laws of inheritance in family and people. Therefore also arise the characteristic similarities and differences of nations and races and the corresponding and yet distinguishable inheritance of thought and feeling from people to people, that is, from soul to soul. Hence also the transmission of the imperfections and failings in character of the ancestors, the advance of evil from generation to generation, the radical, central, total corruption of all, the root-sickness of the human soul, the lost state of each individual, and the poisoned condition of the entire organism that is, original sin. "There is none who does good, not even one" (Psa. 14: 3; comp. 51: 7; John 3: 6; Gen. 8: 2l).
The sum total of all natural men forms an enormous racially articulated organism, and each individual, through his mere birth, is inescapably a member thereof. He is " in " Adam (I Cor. 15:22). Humanity is not simply a numerical total of many distinct individual persons, but one single colossal "body," which, according to its origin and nature, in a myriad manifold and differentiated branches, sets forth its first father, Adam. This involves the all-inclusiveness of the fall and the universality of sin (Rom. 5: 12; 3:10-12, 23), with the necessity of the new birth of each individual (John 3: 3), and the incarnation of Christ as the Saviour and Redeemer (Rom. 5: 12-21).
ii. Nature. But inasmuch as Adam through his disobedience had denied the lordship of his Creator over himself, he had at the same time shattered his own lordship over the creation. It is true that his lordship in itself continued to exist (for man's vocation as ruler forms part of his unforfeitable likeness to God) (see pp. 41, 42, and p. 65); but the exercise and enhancement of this lordship plunges man thus severed from God into ever new difficulties. What should have been to him a blessing becomes his destruction. One has only to think of the effects of many new inventions. Thus the very height of his calling results in so much the deeper ruin.
And yet more. The earthly creation in itself had become involved. "Is the head with God, so are the members also. Does the crown of creation fall in the dust, so will the subjects also be thrown down in the crash." This is demanded by the organic connexion between spirit and Nature. From that there follows, with the entrance of the Fall, a " fixed association between spiritual and bodily distress, between inward and outward injury, between world-guilt and world-sorrow, between human sin and groaning creation."
With this corresponds also the diagnosis of modern medical science and psychotherapy; " Severe injury in the psychical [soulish] realm effects parallel conditions in the physical realm, as also psychical [soulish] relief can assist in releasing bodily restraints."
The material object of the temptation was taken from the vegetable kinadom, the instrument of the tempter from the animal kingdom. Therefore on account of man both of these realms, vegetable and animal, remain under the curse (Gen. 3: 17); and the creation, which through man should have advanced to redemption and perfection, remains until now subject to vanity.
Thus creation presents today that mysterious hybrid disharmonious condition, which in its conflict between happiness and unhappiness, wisdom and absurdity, purposeful adaptation and confusion, seems to render equally impossible both faith in God and denial of God.
" The world is so beautiful that for a time we can forget God and our guilt before Him, and the world is so terrible that we might on this account often despair of God."
" The world speaks to us as a revelation of God; it also stands rigidly before us as a riddle of God." Hence also the discord in the common human experience of nature, and man's wavering between glorifying nature and despising it, between happiness in nature and alienation from it, between worship of nature and treating it with contempt. The gospel first relaxes this tension by its message of the transfiguration of Nature, through the resolving of all the dissonances which now vibrate throughout Nature, by the bringing in of world-perfection and the coming of the spiritual body.
Jubilation and lamentation, kindness and cruelty, the jov of life, and the grief of death-this all now convulses the whole world-organism. At present Nature is like a sublime temple in a ruined condition, whose deeply significant inscriptions have been maliciously caricatured by a hostile hand. And man, the ruler of the earth, is doubly degenerate: " Either, in his beastliness, he becomes to the creature a Satan; or in servile fear, he kneels before the creature in worship. The deification of Nature begins where the knowledge of God disappears," and the " lord " becomes both slave and tyrant.
But throughout the creation there sounds a painful groaning, as it were a softly-spoken prayer. " With its melancholy inspired charm it is like a bride who, already completely adorned for the marriage hour, has seen her bridegroom die on the appointed day. There she now stands, with the fresh garland on her head in bridal attire, but her eyes are full of tears" (Schelling, in his Lecture on the Philosophy of the Revelation).
And yet not without hope is she subjected to her groaning (Rom. 8:20). Like a captive but expectant virgin, who stands on the seashore with uplifted head watching for her deliverer from a distant land, so does she yearn "in tense expectation" for redemption from her bondage to vanity.1 "We know that the whole creation groans together and until now lies together in birth pangs" (Rom. 8: 22).
1The Greek word apokaradokia, rendered [A.V. earnest expectation}, by Luther "anxious waiting", signified literally an intense gaze with uplifted head(kara=head), the Greek prefix apo emphasizing the intensity. Paul compares the creation to a human form keeping watch with strained expectation--an ingenious basis for an artistic delineation of the hope.
But what, then, shall she bring forth? The new heaven and the new earth!
Then all her longings will be stilled and her dumb prayer be answered. "In that day I will answer, saith Jehovah. I will answer the heaven, and this will answer the earth, and the earth will answer the corn and the new wine, and they, they will answer Jezreel" (Hosea 2: 21,22).
But the very sorrow of the earth joins to serve the redemption of man. For just because it cannot offer him what he expects from it; it sets him free from his false hopes and fosters his yearning after the lost paradise. Thus shall the disappointments of the earthly help to liberate man for the longing after the heavenly, so that in the end he can confess: "See, to my health there came bitter grief" (Isa. 38:17).
iii. The Judgment upon the Serpent. The dawn of salvation displays itself most clearly of all in the sentence upon the serpent (Gen. 3: 15). In this passage the first promise of the gospel shows how grace, streaming through the gloom of wrath, has turned the curse upon the serpent into the promise for man. At the moment when the sinner [Adam] stands before God, as the accused awaiting sentence of condemnation, no direct promise can, of course, be given. Nevertheless to him, listening and trembling, the sentence of destruction upon his destroyer must be a ray of hope for himself. Thus indeed was " the front aspect of the original gospel, judgment, but the reverse signified promise for mankind.
At first the meaning of the prophecy is still obscure; for if Satan is represented by the serpent, then the serpent's " seed " can be nothine else than the totality of all demonic and human beings who, as the God-resisting " brood of vipers" (Matt. 3: 7; 12: 34; 23: 33), would stand on the side of the Devil-thus not an individual but a plurality of beings. But then the harmony of the parallel and opposed clause demands that the seed of the woman also shall not be a single person but likewise a plurality of descendants, namely, the totality of all those who, believing, would stand on the ground of the promise given to the woman.
Only indirectly could the earliest of mankind gain the idea that the posterity of the woman would some day head up in a single individual. For the final sentence of the prophecy said that the seed of the woman would crush not only the seeds of the serpent but its very head, the serpent itself, which perhaps allowed it to be discerned that the woman's seed itself would also at some time culminate in a head, an individual.
Only today, looking backwards, and instructed through the interpretation of later prophecies and fulfilments (especially Isa. 7. 14, Matt. 1:21-23; Mic.5:2; Gal. 4: 4), do we see that God here, for the first time-although not exclusively, yet inclusively, indeed chiefly-spake of Christ His Son (Rom. 16:20; I John 3: 8). He, as the centre of humanity, is at the same time the centre of the woman's seed. Only from this do we understand why God did not speak of a man's seed but of a woman's seed (comp. Matt. 1: 78): and at the same time, by this prophetic word concerning the stinging of the heel and the crushing of the head, commenced that wonderful series of Divine utterances which declared beforehand "the sufferings appointed for Messiah (comp. the 'stinging of the heel') and His glories to follow thereupon" (comp. the "crushing of the head") (I Pet. 1:11). Therefore there is already present here the double character of all 1ater prophetic perspective-namely, the first and the second comings of Christ seen together in one picture (e.g. Isa. 61: 1-3, comp. with Luke 4: 17-20); and in this sense the original gospel is not only the original root but also the original type of all Messianic prophecy.
Thus the first word of promise is at once the most comprehensive and the deepest. In it is hidden the whole history and order of salvation. " General, indefinite, dark as the remote antiquity to which it belongs, like an awe-inspiring sphinx before the ruins of a temple full of mystery, so it lies, wonderful and sacred, at the threshold of the lost Paradise. Not till late in Israelitish prophecy does its solution begin to dawn.1 But only the Son of Mary, the virgin, who endured for us all the stinging of the heel by the serpent, so as to crush for us all its head-He only has solved the riddle of this sphinx which was much too hard for saints and prophets (Matt. 13: 17; I Pet. 1: 10-12), in that He has fullfilled it." Only the culmination of the promise-Immanuel Himself-has set in the full light the scope of the promise. "It is only the New Testament which is the key to this hieroglyph of the Old Testament: it is only the gospel which is the exposition of the original gospel."
1First in the Immanuel prophecy(Isa. 7:14, comp. Mic 5:2), and thus about 750 B.C., and therefore 3500 years after the first announcement of the original gospel.
Immediately upon this first announcement of the redemption there followed
iv. The Clothing of the Man and the Woman with the Skins of animals. For the first time the death of an innocent creature by bloodshed entered for the benefit of fallen man. The principle of sacrifice was established (Gen. 3: 21). And as the inadequate fig leaves were the expression and beginning of all human attempts at self-redemption, so now the first human beings, believing the Divine word and being thereupon clothed by God Himself, at the price of innocent shed blood, are the original type of all those who, through faith in the sacrifice of the Lamb of God (John 1:29), have allowed themselves to be covered with the garments of salvation and the ornament of etemal purity and holiness (Isa. 61:10; Matt. 22: 11, 12; Col. 3: 12; Gal. 3: 27).
Thus that clothing at the outset of human history became a prophecy in symbol of the central point of the history of salvation, of the cross of Golgotha, and at the same time a suggestion of the blessed end when God will at last have clothed His chosen with the resurrection body and the wedding garment of glory (Phil. 3: 20,21; II Cor. 5: 2-4; Rev. 19: 8).
v. The Expulsion from Paradise. Henceforth only outside of Paradise can man again find his paradise. For sin is separation from God. But God is the original source of all life. Thus sin is separation from life, which means death in spirit, soul, and body (Rom. 6: 23).
But if redemption is to be made possible, there must be expiation for sin; and, in order that it shall be righteous, this expiation must correspond to the guilt, and therefore consist likewise in separation from the Creator and from life, that is, it must consist m death (Heb. 9:22). Only so can true life be restored. Redemption must consist in this, that death, the great enemy of man, must be made the means of his deliverance, and that which is the penalty of sin must at the same time become the way of escape from sin. Only through death can "death" be put to death (Num. 21: 6, 9; John 3: 14).
Thus did Christ " through his death" take away the might " of him who had the authority of death, the devil" (Heb.2:14); His death on the cross has slain the enmity (Eph. 2: 16).
To serve this end death must be possible to mankind in general, and hence also the necessity of expulsion from Paradise and the cutting off of sinful humanity from the tree of life (Gen. 3: 13, 24). To abide further in Paradise, with a continuous renewing of his outward life-power, would have meant nothing less for man than the eternal perpetuation of his sin, his condernnation to an irredeemable condition and so to a neverending destruction. The sinner's bodily deathlessness would be eternal death to his soul and Paradise would have become Hell. Therefore however negative the expulsion from the Garden may appear, its purpose is nevertheless positive. In all His taking God was giving. He assigned the sinner to bodily death so as to save him from eternal death; and so the act of judgment is at the same time a gracious act of redeeming love.
Thus the door of Paradise had shut in a threefold sense; in the judgment on the man, the woman, and the creation; but also in a threefold sense the door of redemption had opened:
as the promise of salvation-in the first good news;
as a foreshadowing of salvation-in the reclothing of the first pair; and
as making salvation possible-in their expulsion from paradise.
Threefold, too, is the inward possession which man after the Fall took with him on his earthly course:
Looking back on the past-the sorrowful remembrance, which still, thousands of years later, forms the historical background and remote framework of all folk-lore as to the lost Paradise;
Looking at the present-the confident belief, which gazes at the rock and the star given in the promise of the original gospel; 1
1From the first Adam believed in the original good news of the coming seed of the worman(Gen. 3:15). This is proved by the name Eve(Heb. Chavva, Life), which he gave to his wife(Isha, fem. of Ish, man, Gen. 2:23), directly after the original promise, and immediately before the expulsion from Paradise(Gen 3:20 and context). "Sunken in death he nevertheless gave his wife so proud a name" (Calvin), and thereby expressed his faith in the conquest of death by life. So it was "an act of faith that Adam named his wife Eve" (Franz Delitzsch), and from that time the new name of his wife was for man the "reminder of the promise of God's grace"(mnemosymon gratiae Dei promissae, Melancthon). Or as Luther says of the original good news: "On this Adam trusted and thereby was saved from his fall." That Eve also in faith took her stand on the ground of the word of promise is shown by her statement in Gen. 4:1.
Looking forward to the future--the hopeful yearning, a daughter as it were born of remembrance and faith. And now this yearning floats before the wanderer as a heavenly angel over the desert path. It shows him oases in the arid sands, quickens his strength, gives wings to his steps and joyfully directs his gaze to the goal:
"Blessed are they that yearn for home,
for to their home shall they come."
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