Adam and Eve: Jesus' Love for His Church
It's not much of a stretch to see the parallel between the first couple (Adam and Eve) and husbands and wives. However, I'd like to take it a step further and compare these two sets of couples to Christ and mankind –particularly His church. It's my desire to show just how secure we are (and can feel) in our relationship with God.
In the Beginning: Adam and Eve
Genesis chapter one tells us that God created Adam on the sixth day. "Then God said, let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness and let them rule over all the earth" (Genesis 1:26). Chapter two gives more details about the account, saying that He made Adam before anything else was on the surface of the earth. After creating all the plants and animals, God told Adam about the two trees in the middle of the garden. There was the tree of life and also the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The fruit of that second tree was forbidden –and the penalty for eating it was death (Genesis 2:4-9; 2:16-17).
Yet, with all of those magnificent creatures around him, Adam was lonely. He longed someone to share his life –and not one of them was suitable. So God formed Eve. He put Adam into a deep sleep and took a rib. That word rib is an architectural term meaning side –like a large wing of a building. The implication is that He took a significant part of him to make her.
Adam woke up and was pleased to see her (Genesis 2:21-23). He said "she is bone of my bone" –meaning she had the same structural form– and "flesh of my flesh" –meaning she had the same inner human makeup as he did. God breathed life into Adam's nostrils –so when He formed Eve, there was no need to breathe life into her. She was already alive. Up to that time they had shared the same body and same soul. The point is that when God told Adam "don't eat the fruit from that tree or you will surely die," He told them both.
Adam's desire was fulfilled –he had someone to share life. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).
Then the Fall
Along came Satan, saying "You won't really die if you eat that fruit. Instead your eyes will be opened and you'll be like God, knowing good from evil" (Genesis 3:1-5).
This idea of knowing what's good and what's evil is about judging between them. When she ate that fruit, Eve became the judge of what's right and wrong for everything in her life. She was supposed to depend on God for deciding what's important and not, what's acceptable and not, what's healthy and not, what's beneficial and not. But she was deceived and took over God's role in her life.
I must pause here for a moment and explain. Jesus told the parable about praying persistently (Luke 18:1-8). It's about a widow who appealed to an unrighteous judge for relief from her adversary. What's usually missed is that the parable is about end-time judgment (that's the lead-in from the previous chapter). At the end of the parable He says that God will bring about justice and it will come suddenly (that's Judgment Day). Then He concludes with a barbed question to His listeners. "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" Jesus made a distinction between the only two possible ways of living. One is by justice –living according to what's good and evil (right and wrong). That's the way of this world. The other is by faith –trusting God that He is working out everything for our benefit.
To be clear, our flesh –that part of us that continues to doubt God even after our salvation– revels in justice. However, our spirit trusts Him. And it's a battle that wages on in our minds until the end of this life. Meanwhile, we can rest assured that God has already sentenced our flesh –its destination has been determined –it will not accompany us to meet Him. He's also promised our reward –we've been granted eternal life in glory with Him.
So, just what were Adam's choices after she did what God told her not to do?
Well, he could have refused to eat it and lived in the garden all alone like he was before –empty –even worse off than before because she became the love of his life. His only other choice was to join her –and that's what he did. He intentionally ate the fruit and took on the punishment so that he could be with her.
Please indulge me for a moment –I hope you'll see the application. Within a plant's fruit is its seed –the part that perpetuates the plant's existence. When Eve ate the fruit, she ingested the seed of "wanting to be the judge of good and evil –taking over God's role." That seed has been passed down to all of her children –us. It's part of our natural thinking processes.
Then the curses were pronounced.
Satan was told that he would "crawl on his belly and eat dust all the days of his life" (Genesis 3:14). He had been an angel above others; but he would be despised as the lowest of all created beings.
And he would "strike Eve's descendent in the heel; but he would crush Satan's head" (Genesis 3:15). Striking him in the heel is a reference to his influencing men to reject and crucify Jesus. Crushing Satan's head describes the results of Jesus' resurrection. It destroyed Satan's power over us (the fear of death).
Eve's (Wives', Mankind's) Curse
Eve's rebellion has also affected the successive generations of wives (women) –and even all of mankind.
First, Eve would have "trouble in child birth." (It's Genesis 3:16.)
- Wives' curse: The trouble sounds like it's talking about labor pains –that's part of it. But there's more. Typically, a woman produces about 400 eggs in her lifetime. Beginning in her early teens, one egg drops into her womb –and if it isn't fertilized, that egg dies and it's flushed out with blood. That happens every 28 days, more or less, for thirty years. So even if she has two or three children, that means that there were still nearly four hundred that didn't live. And there's another part to the trouble –tragic complications can develop such that the baby dies before it's born.
- Mankind's curse: These troubles with giving birth reflect the problems with mankind becoming born-again. Jesus talked about it to Nicodemus. He said "you have to be born-again [born spiritually] in order to enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:1-7). And like the failures to reach fruition through birth, most people choose to not be born-again. There's significance to the 400 eggs –there's a limited number of days that we have to choose new life. Hebrews chapter three says "As long as today is called today, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion. Enter My rest." At some point, we won't have an opportunity –death will catch up and it will overcome us. His plea is to pay attention to His call and respond to His offer of salvation.
Second, she would "desire her husband, but he would rule over her."
- Wives' curse: This desire isn't about satisfying a sexual or emotional need. She and Adam were equal rulers of the earth in the beginning. As a result of the fall, God set the man over her. The curse says that she would attempt to take over his position –and she wouldn't be able to truly accomplish that goal. We've seen how that's worked out in the physical realm with women replacing men in their traditional roles as executives and also in their becoming heads of households. Somehow, neither has quite worked according to plan. But that isn't really the point.
- Mankind's curse: What we see physically is a representation of the spiritual realm. Eve also describes mankind. As her children, we follow her pattern of trying to take over God's role by deciding what's right and wrong. Although we might gain some amount of position and power among people, God is still sovereign over us.
Adam's (Husbands', Jesus') Curse
Now then, we've come to Adam's curse. It too has affected the successive generations –of husbands (men) and of Jesus.
First, Adam was told that he would have to "work the soil all the days of his life." That work would be the source of life. But even "the soil was cursed –it would produce thorns and thistles making his work even harder" (Genesis 3:17-19).
- Husband's curse: The husband was established as the wife's provider. Sure, she was to help; but it was his responsibility to work for their livelihood. And by design, his work would deeply affect him with its difficulties. (And Eve's curse makes it worse by the wife trying to take over what God has set up.)
- Jesus' curse: The Bible uses the word soil metaphorically as a reference to the heart. Jesus works in our hearts to bring us to salvation –and to grow us to maturity. There's the parable about the farmer planting seed on four different types of soil. It's where some seeds die right away, some grow a bit and then die, some get stolen by birds and other grow into a fine crop. That seed is God's offer of eternal life that is sown in every person's heart. But few allow it to take root and grow. (It's in Matthew 13:3-9; 13:18-23.)
There's also the parable of the field that contains both wheat and the tares –both good and bad in it. Jesus waits until the end of a person's life to remove the earthly, rebellious contents of the heart. He saves that person so that he can live with Him forever (Matthew 13:24-30).
Second, at the end of Adam's life, he would "return to dust." It's talking about his physical death.
- Husband's curse: Not only will a man live a relatively few years, whatever good work or reputation that he builds during his lifetime only lasts for a little while. Solomon described it in Ecclesiastes after he had created magnificent architectural achievements –after he gained great knowledge and wisdom –after he made grand political alliances. He said that it's all vanity –empty –void of lasting worth. Some unappreciative person will follow and tear it all down –it too returns to dust.
- Jesus' curse: He talked about His legacy in John 16:7-11. After He went away to be with His Father, and the Comforter was sent in His place, His life's work would be mocked. "The world's sin is that they do not believe in me."
Did you notice that Adam was told that he would die –but Eve wasn't? It's telling us that Jesus had to die the spiritual death –and we (mankind) don't. He followed us into this world and took on the punishment for our rebellion so that we don't have to experience that death. Earlier I mentioned that "a man must leave his father, and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." Jesus fulfilled that by leaving His Father behind in order to be joined with us –joined as one single-minded being –His bride.
Death –Then Life
Was Adam a rebellious sinner? Before convicting him, we should review his case. Of particular interest are two New Testament passages where his story also sheds light on Jesus' relationship with us: Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 .
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (Romans 5:12-14)
This says "through one man sin entered into the world." There are only two people named in the section –both male. Since Jesus certainly didn't bring sin into the world, for years I assumed that it must be referring to Adam. But this word man means human being and that human being is actually Eve (1 Timothy 2:13-14).
Here's more context to build an understanding. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…" We know that death was the penalty for trying to become the judge of good and evil. But this Romans passage basically says that all sinned and therefore spread death. It set me to wondering. "How did I spread death?" The answer is in what happened in the garden.
Eve rebelled by eating the fruit –and Adam followed her. (That's straight forward.) Then God made his own sacrificial offering (probably a lamb) to temporarily hold off their punishment –death –eternal separation from Him. He took an innocent being's life and covered them with it. But the fall wasn't caused by an animal; it was caused by a person. So the permanent remedy –the one needed to restore mankind to life with God like it was before– had to be the death of a sinless person.
The crux of the matter is that no one was able to stop the spread of death –no one was sinless. But that changed when Jesus came. He was God's sinless Lamb who would cover everyone seeking Him –like that first sacrifice. He made eternal life with God attainable.
It goes on to say "for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned." God gave Moses the law; but breaking those commandments didn't cause mankind's condition. Sin wasn't our problem –death was. We were dead –dead to God –without His eternal life.
Being stubborn people –thinking we were just fine, although we were dead– God gave the law to show our condition. (The Hebrews had Moses' law; the Gentiles have its equivalent written on their hearts.) Without the life that Jesus gives, we're not fine, we're anything but fine. We're rotting corpses just waiting for our to time to expire and then to be buried.
This passage also talks about "Adam's offense." He did what God told him not to do. (I hope this isn't getting too repetitious –it's the theme of his story.) Adam's dedication to Eve brought about his life of hard work in the soil, his physical death and his separation from God.
The last words of this passage say "…Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come." It alludes to the wondrous fact that Adam's pursuit of his bride is a pattern (a type) of Jesus' pursuit of us.
We've gone over that tree of death; but what about that other tree –the tree of life? When Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden God said "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" (Genesis 3:22-24).
The first opportunity to eat its fruit was lost but God has given us another. He has set both of those trees in front of us again in the form of the cross. It was for Jesus like it was for Adam –the tree of death. He ate its fruit –not to be rebellious– but to obtain His bride. But for us, it's the tree of life. Jesus told us to eat of its fruit –His flesh– so that we can live forever with Him (John 6:53-58).
We've heard and read that sin is what brought about our death. That sin is simply our wanting to be God –at least over our own lives. Chapters four and five (still in Romans) say that He has offered us the free gift of grace. With that grace comes justification –and with that justification comes righteousness –and with righteousness comes a new eternal life (Romans 5:18, 21).
It's all because Jesus came to us where we were –dead –in our unbelieving, distrusting ways –outside of the kingdom.
First Corinthians Fifteen
There's a section in 1 Corinthians 15 that has similar wording to Romans 5 –about Adam. It says "For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead" (1 Corinthians 15:21). Once again, the word man is not about the male gender, but about the first human who was deceived and fell into transgression –Eve. (That's from 1 Timothy 2 mentioned above.)
It's the next verse though that some stumble over. It says "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22). This is merely stating the physical fate of every one of us. Adam died physically (to be with his love, Eve) and so we will die. He couldn't bring life to mankind. On the other hand, Jesus too died for His bride; but He is also the source of eternal life.
About That New Life
Ephesians chapter five explains how to satisfy the deepest needs of a man and a woman –a husband and his wife –Christ and His bride, the church (Ephesians 5:22-33).
Her need is to be loved –that translates to being secure. A woman wants to be absolutely certain that her husband loves her more than anyone and anything else –and will do everything possible to provide and care for her.
This little passage tells us how God the Father and His Son see us. We are perfect, blameless, spotless, and without blemish. We're covered in His righteousness. At the end of the chapter we're told that it's a picture of Jesus and His bride –but husbands should consider and treat their wives in the same way.
What does it say about the man's need?
It's to be respected. Nothing more. By the way, respect won't naturally come from the wife. First she has to be comfortable in her relationship. Only then will she begin to show her respect for him. It's that way with us and God too. That's why the Bible says "we love God because He first loved us" (1 John 4:7-10). He wants us to know that "there's no condemnation for us" (Romans 8:1). It's because of what His Son did to make us perfect –"washed, sanctified and justified" (1 Corinthians 6:11).
When we recognize our natural tendency is to live by good and evil (right and wrong), and we learn that He is indeed worthy of our trust, we will grow more secure in our relationship with God. That leads to more and more trust –faith in Him –respect of Him –love for Him. But it began with His love for us.
Ephesians 3 describes Jesus' desire for us to know Him deeply.
"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:14-19)
A Few More Notes
When Abel made his offering to God, it was the life of one of his flock. And when Cain made his offering, it was some produce from his field. Do you see the problem? Abel presented the same kind of sacrifice that God Himself made in order to delay death from taking Adam and Eve. Cain's offering came from the ground that was cursed –an untrusting heart.
On another, yet similar topic, have you asked yourself what was so bad about the fig tree that Jesus cursed it (Mark chapter eleven)? Its leaves are what that first couple used to cover themselves with when they saw their condition. It represents self-righteousness –anything we do to improve ourselves before God. And He was the Lamb of God –the only One that could provide true righteousness.
Your Identity In Christ
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27 - NIV)