Posts Tagged ‘Unity of flesh’

Mankind was created in God’s image to rule over creation under his headship. Given mankind’s place of authority in the union of creation (all things), Adam’s union could not self-destruct in isolation. In Genesis 3 the Bible describes how the unity of creation fractured under the rebellion of man (against God).

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

(Genesis 3:1-6, ESV)

THE SERPENT
The first indication that there was a problem with unity (in God) in the garden is the appearance of the serpent. There are three contextual pieces of information given about him (vs1):
• He was created by God,
• He is a beast of the field,
• He is more cunning than any other beast of the field.

Firstly, to say that the serpent was created by God places him under God’s authority and judgement. This means when God described the unity of creation as “very good”, the serpent was included. Secondly, saying that the serpent is a beast of the field places it firmly under the authority of man within the order of creation. Finally, the serpent is described as crafty. This could mean anything from being astute to scheming/calculating. No matter the exact meaning of the word, it soon becomes clear that the serpent is not to be trusted. The first thing he does when he opens his mouth to speak is question a decree given to man by God. It is clear he acting in conflict with the order (unity) of creation in three ways:
1. Questioning a human. the role of the serpent is to be in submission to the authority of mankind (abuse of power was not a worry at this time),
2. Questioning an order from God. This is worse than questioning a human decree. God is head of all things and as such demands complete obedience,
3. The decree not to eat did not even concern the serpent, so his questioning can only be seen as a successful attempt to sow discord between those with authority over him.

The correct response (to the serpent’s questioning) would have been to remind the serpent of his place, condemning him (standing in judgement as his head) for his divisive behaviour in questioning the good decrees of God-given to mankind. Instead of doing this Eve submits to his questioning entering into a discussion about the integrity of God (his headship). Therefore Eve accepted the judgement and conclusions of the serpent over God’s judgement and proven character.

MANKIND
After Eve submitted herself to the questioning and judgement of the serpent Adam silently submits to Eve’s judgment concerning the fruit (vs6). Therefore this means that all humanity (in Adam) became subject to a creature they were created to rule over (the serpent).

This represents a fundamental shift in mankind’s assessment of its place in the universe, away from God’s good order and judgements. This means that mankind’s distinctive roles within marriage and the universe were dismissed by humanity as “not good”. By ignoring the commands of God, who has authority over all things, mankind seeks to usurp his rule and replace his order with their own (or none at all).

By judging the fruit as “good” (opposed to “not good”) Adam and Eve took it upon themselves to determine right and wrong/good and bad in the universe. Therefore their subsequent shame in their flesh is a reassessment of the “goodness” of their nudity and a clear indication of their disunity with God and one another. Adam and Eve felt no shame in their naked bodies (Genesis 2:25) because God created them naked and judged it to be “good”. The flesh of Adam was given to mankind by God so that all humanity would be one (united).

After Adam and Eve had eaten they tried to conceal themselves from God to hide the shame of their broken union. When confronted by God Adam explains the situation, to which God asked “Who told you that you were naked?” (vs11). This is not because he didn’t know, rather he asks this to show that this knowledge/judgement didn’t come from him. This knowledge/judgement was not present in creation when God looked at all he had made (the whole order of creation) and declared it to be “very good”. It is God’s role as creator and head of all things to provide all good things for his creatures who he is responsible for (all creation). It is the role of mankind to use all the good things they receive from God for the good of creation, which God had placed in their care. For Adam and Eve to possess knowledge that God didn’t give them represents a break from the order of their union (all good things come from God).

GOD
God himself is unaffected by the sin and disunity of man because he is not part of creation, and as such isn’t subject to the headship of man. God is not subject to anything (except himself) yet all things are defined by their relationship to him (for or against). The relationship (unity) between man and God was broken and in response God stands in judgement over his creation once again. However this time he judges it to be “bad” (inconsistent with himself).

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What about Eve? She was not in Adam’s body (unborn) at the time of his sin. While it is clear that she broke God’s command before Adam, it was Adam’s sin that broke unity between God and humanity. Yet at the same time they disobeyed God together (it was a united rebellion).

Now Eve had already been taken from the flesh of Adam before the fall, that is to say that she was no longer physically in Adam at the time of the fall. The rest of mankind existed in Adam at the time of the fall and were born subsiquently into disunity, Eve was not. This means that the sin of Eve needs to be understood a little differently from the sin of later humans, i.e. she chose to become sinful (disunity).

Some important things to note about the role of Eve in the fall include:
• While she was deceived by the serpent, her reassessment of the fruit (as good for food) and her choice to eat were her own (Genesis 3:6), making her responsible for her own sin.
• She did not deceive/lie to Adam. Therefore Eve can’t be held responsible for the sin of Adam and the disunity of humanity. Adam’s sin was his own and the fall of humanity was his fault.
• She was not dragged unwillingly into rebellion due to Adam’s sin because she had already sinned (i.e. Adam and Eve were united in their rebellion).

Therefore there is no question about whether the fall of the human race was complete. Both Adam and Eve rejected their union with God (a unified rejection of unity). However this divisive behaviour meant that they also rejected their union with one another (and the rest of creation). Without the presence of God (in union) in their lives they could not continue relating as they did before (love in unity).

Any union apart from God is not real unity. Instead of growing and strengthening the human union, mankind have perpetuated the disunity and corruption started in the fall (they couldn’t do any different). Self-interest coupled with a strong desire of to hide and conceal replaced unity marked by freedom of relationship (unity).

The link between the sin of the first man (Adam) and the continued sinfulness of the human race has been described as a riddle of sin, however understanding it as a riddle of unity produces significant insights into the profound connection between all humans.

What needs to be understood is that the sin of Adam cut the human race off from God who is the source of life and love. Relationship (unity) with God is an important part of the human environment, without it life as God intended is impossible. Therefore the life lived apart from God is not life, but is in fact death (Genesis 2).

The living dead
Because the flesh of Adam has been removed from its natural environment (unity in God) it will slowly deteriorate until it dies. No matter how much life in disunity looks like the real thing it is only a shadow of true life (unity) in God.

When God first gave Adam the command not to eat, God warned him that if he ate of the fruit (of the knowledge of good and evil) he would die (Genesis 2:15-17). Because the fruit did not prove to be poisonous, as they did not expire immediately after they ate, death needs to be viewed as more than just a physical event. What becomes clear is that the flesh of Adam will continue on, for a time, until it expires. Which essentially means that for a time Adam will live on as a dead man.

Adam’s status as “living dead” is ultimately confirmed when God curses him “…in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;” (Genesis 3:17) “…till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (vs19)

Original sin (love lost)
As previously mentioned Adam and Eve still share the same flesh and they are still married, what did change was their attitude to both (their marriage and flesh). What mankind lost in the fall is in fact the self-sacrificial love of God required for unity (this will be expanded on in later posts). Meaning that Adam and Eve (all humanity) are incapable of relating to God, one another and creation properly (love in unity).

If God truely is love (1 John 4:7-8), there can be no love apart from unity with him. While Adam and Eve’s new nature seems to have become exclusively human, it is still in fact defined with respect to the nature of God (only now in the negative sense,i.e. not like God). Therefore the nature of mankind is “not love” (not good, sinful and evil).

By breaking unity with God Adam cut himself/humanity off from the source of love and life. If the break in the union were to have no effect on the life force and nature of mankind then it would be right to say that unity with God is superfluous (non-essential). However given that sin and death are so pervasive in humanity it is safe to conclude that unity with God is essential for true life to exist.

This is how the sin of Adam was transmitted to all humanity:
1. To be human is to share in the flesh of Adam through the process of marriage, sex, conception and birth.
2. At the time of the fall all mankind was yet unborn and still in Adam’s flesh when he rebelled against God.
3. Therefore each new human is born into a state (relationship) of disunity with God, cut off from life and love himself (God). Unable to please God because they do not have access to (Godly) love in unity. In this way Adam cut his entire race off from God condemning them to a perpetual state of sin and death.

The writer of Hebrews seems to understand how the union of the flesh of Adam works. In speaking of Melchizadek and Abraham he says:

See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.
(Hebrews 7:4-10 ESV)

Seeing that there is still some small semblance of unity in the flesh (of Adam), Levi yet unborn and still residing in the flesh of Abraham can be seen to be tithing to Melchizedek. This is how it was with all mankind, who were united in the flesh of Adam when he broke union with God (who is love and life itself). Therefore because of the sin of Adam all who are born into his flesh are destined to share in his fate and live apart from God (unable to please him).

In Genesis 2 Adam searches creation for a helper, judging all creatures to be unsuitable (under his authority as head). This poses an interesting question, what was Adam looking for in a helper?

The key to answering this question lies in God’s solution to Adam’s problem, Eve. As previously stated (last post), Eve (woman) is not a separate species of creature to Adam, this is because God created her from Adam’s flesh (vs23-24). All the different species God put on the earth (including Adam, human) were created from the dust of the earth, Eve wasn’t. As the Bible says:

Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.
(Genesis 2:19 ESV)

If Eve had been created from the dust of the earth then she would have represented a distinct/separate species to Adam (human). This would have made her just as unsuitable to be his helper as the rest of the animals/creatures that populate the earth. Therefore it is the simple fact that she shared in Adam’s flesh that makes her suitable for him.

As if it couldn’t be clearer, Adam’s reaction to Eve makes the link plain. When God brings Eve to Adam there is no description of what she looks like or her personality, other than the fact that she was created from Adam’s flesh. So Adam says:

This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
(Genesis 2:23 ESV)

At last! Adam found what he was searching for, a suitable helper, a human helper. She is called helper because she is a good thing that added to (improved) him. It is through their union that they more fully reflected the image of God. So Adam called her woman, to reflect their union in his flesh (she was made from man).

Therefore to be human is to share in the flesh of Adam. Consequently every human is united in the flesh of Adam through the union of their parents. Which means that the only way to become a member of this human union is to be born into the flesh of Adam, through the union of the flesh of a man and a woman. Adam is the head and progenitor of the human race; this is why mankind bears his God given name (Adam means man).

If Eve had been created from the ground her marriage to Adam would not have been a human union but a union between two distinct species/types of creatures.

In my next post I will discuss the importance of marriage for the human union.