Search RJ's Blog

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Abrahamic Reversal of the Adamic Curse Fulfilled In the Messiah Jesus

I was totally caught off guard starting my NT Theology class in the OT since it is a class about the NT in general. In a Spirit led way, my first lecture ministered to me as I closely analyze the OT historical-salvation timeline through the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 12) and its promised reversal of the Adamic curse (Gen. 3) which is fulfilled in the Messiah Jesus. I find this fascinating, and cannot wait to read up on it more in Thomas Schreiner's new theology book this summer called, The King and His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of Old & New Testaments. Another great book that makes these connections is T. Desmond Alexander's theology book called, From Paradise to the Promised Land: An Introduction to the Pentateuch, which provides a great picture of how God fulfills his saving promises in the Pentateuch through the Messiah in the NT. Below are some thoughts on this topic that I had to post in a forum for my course.

The Adamic Curse
In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve sin. They violated the creation covenant God made with him in the garden and ate what was forbidden. They were cursed and ushered out of the Garden of Eden (i.e. removed from God's presence). The Fall of Adam and Eve brought distinct curses upon the earth:

1. The Curse of the serpent (Gen. 3:14-15)
2. The Curse of the woman (Gen. 3:16)
3. The Curse of the man (Gen. 3:17-19)

Three so-called battles emerged because of the Fall. These conflicts are revisited throughout the rest of the OT meta-narrative of Scripture until the fulfillment of the Jesus the Messiah in the NT:

A. The battle of the seed beginning with the curse against the serpent. God promised to put enmity between the offspring of the serpent and the offspring of the woman. Thus, from the offspring of the woman will be "one" who will rise up and crush the serpent. The relationship between man and woman is stressful now because of their shame. There is tension between the male and female relationship both physically and spiritually. The loss of harmony between the man and the woman started because of the Fall, which is ironic because only through a relationship of one man and one woman could a seed exist. This conflict intensifies through the barrenness of many women in the Scriptures, from which offspring were suppose to come through them to reverse the curse and bring harmony for Israel and all nations.

B. The battle of the land beginning with the curse of the ground against Adam. God's presence was associated with sacred space throughout the Bible, and began in the Garden of Eden. Man was suppose to manage it, but instead dishonored the garden by not subduing the serpent. God ushered man out of the garden to authorize their removal from his presence because of sin. This theme is revisited also as God promises land to Abraham-Israelites called the Promised Land of Canaan, where God will rule and his people will follow him. The land is blessed and preserved wherever God's presence is among his people as along as they are without allowing wickedness to reign in the land. Israel rebels multiple times and God removes his presence from them because of their sinfulness. God's people are called to rule the land with him, but the curse distorted that reality.

C. The battle of the blessing beginning with the curse of childbearing against Eve. The offspring of the woman is in constant distress throughout the OT narratives. All of the Patriarchs face the death of their firstborn. Moses faced death as an infant just as Jesus did when he was born. The prophetic nature of this curse is continuously revisited through the generations of Adam-to-Abraham-to-David. The prophetic fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 speaks of victory and utter defeat over the serpent to relieve all suffering, pain, and anguish for all nations who bless Abraham's descendants.

The Abrahamic Covenant
Abraham was promised three things: seed, land, and blessing. From Genesis 12-17 the covenant is outlined and defined. Nevertheless, the initial unconditional promises evoke a reversal of the Adamic curse. The Covenant was given to Abraham unconditionally, but it was to obeyed conditionally by him and his descendants.

Abrahamic covenant is revealed and is promises are ready to be fulfilled. The promises consistently faces tension during the Patriarchal narratives and is revisited throughout the OT because of disobedience (e.g. Israel, Saul, David, Solomon, wicked kings, etc.). All of the failures mimic the same failure and curse of Adam and Eve all over again in which the covenant would reverse if fulfilled. Sometimes in the OT only two of the promises are partially fulfilled, but disobedience enters the narrative and breaks the covenant in order to fulfill all that was promised to Abraham.

Seed, Land, Blessing 
The promise of seed overcomes the cursed difficulty of childbearing and the loss of harmony between the man and the woman. The promise of land hints at a place where God will once again dwell with his people. The promise of blessing heralds the triumph of the seed of the woman over the seed of the serpent, which would result in salvation. None of these promises were realized until the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ the Lord!

What Are the Reversals of the Adamic Curses of Seed, Land, and Blessing?
1. The reversal of the curse of seed between serpent and woman is promised to end the conflict and disunity between the relationships between man and woman and eventually God - this is realized in the Messiah. The defeat of the seed of the serpent preserves a nation of many people who are of the same seed of promise.

2. The reversal of the curse of land is promised to Abraham and realized in the Messiah. Jesus, who was God in the flesh, dwelt among his people in the land, and signified the eschatological meaning of land as the final and new restoration of the Edenic state through the second coming of Jesus Christ. This promised grants all believers to once again reign and dwell with God in the garden (i.e. heaven, paradise, eternal life).

3. The reversal of curse of childbearing is promised to Abraham and realized in the Messiah. The battle of seed is victorious and triumphant in the birth of Jesus Christ, who came to forgive sin, reconcile sinners, relieve pain and suffering, redeem lives, and reign over all things as the Savior of all nations as the seed of Abraham (the seed of promise).

The NT Showcases the Reversal of the Abrahamic Covenant Fulfilled in the Messiah Jesus 
Jim Hamilton, author of God's Glory In Salvation Through Judgement: A Biblical Theology, does a great job explaining the NT perspective on the Abrahamic reversal of the Adamic curse fulfilled in the Messiah Jesus:
"Paul interprets what has taken place in Jesus as the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham given in Genesis 12:3. He writes in Galatians 3:8, ‘But the Scripture, having foreseen that God would justify the nations from faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham that "all the nations will be blessed in you.”’ Paul returns to this idea in 3:14, making the connection between Jesus and the promise to Abraham explicit with the words, ‘in order that the blessing of Abraham might come to the nations in Messiah Jesus, in order that we might receive the promise through faith.’ It would seem, then, Paul interpreted the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 that all nations of the earth would be blessed in him as being fulfilled in Jesus. 
The many statements in the NT that the enemies of Jesus will be placed under his feet might also reflect imagery from Genesis 3:15 through the lens of Psalm 110 [Jesus crushes the serpent/Satan, blesses all who are in him, and rules as Savior and Lord of all nations] (Matt. 22:44 and parallels; Acts 2:35; 1 Cor. 15:25; Eph. 1:20-22; Heb. 2:5-9, 14-15; 10:13)."
I also like the way Walter Kaiser, Jr. put it in his biblical theology called, The Promise-Plan of God: A Biblical Theology of Old & New Testaments, regarding Abraham's covenant and the realized fulfillment in the Messiah Jesus:
"[The Promise-Plan of God] The Promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Christ' (Gal. 3:16). Paul's gospel, as it turns out, was no different than what God had originally given for persons to be saved in the OT. Paul was not introducing something that was brand-new! God's promise-plan was the same original plan still be advocated by Paul [and fulfilled in the Messiah, Jesus Christ]."
Jesus is the true seed of Abraham who crushes and defeats the serpent. As the Abrahamic covenant was intentional to reverse the Adamic curse, the new Adam came to fulfill the reversal with finality. Jesus as the seed harmonies all relationships through his dominion over the seed of the serpent. He grants future dominion over a new promised land that is not of this world, and blesses all nations in him with eternal life. God fulfills his saving promises through Jesus Christ!

No comments:

What is your favorite subject in Christian Studies?