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kight and princess

Bridefall (Chris Marley)

I here resume a series (part one, two, three, and four) on the Bride of Christ in Genesis. Now comes the greatest devastation of Scripture, The Fall. It is the flap of the butterfly wings that destroyed the world. It is the sin of the ancestor that bent the nature and bound the will of all generations to come. Chapter three is where creation stops, and decay begins. Our treatise is short and primarily focused on aspects that tie in to the Bride metaphor.

When examining the doctrine of The Fall, it is important to take note of some of the pitfalls into which others have fallen. There are men in history who set their blame on Eve alone. John Milton, in his epic poem Paradise Lost, fictionalizes the historical account, strays extensively from Scripture’s account, and essentially blames Eve for rebellion against her husband and disobedience to God.[1] Dante falls into a similar trap, blaming Eve for The Fall in his Purgatorio.[2]

It is important that Eve is neither dismissed entirely nor given the full weight of the blame. The fact that Eve sinned first in the narrative does not increase her guilt. The text itself actually addresses Adam and Eve with equal harshness, indicating that they are equals before God. They may have different roles, different strengths, different weaknesses, and different sins, but they are held to the same standard as image-bearers who have violated the law of God.

If there is any prejudice in Scripture itself, it is actually against Adam. There is some sense of Eve’s being a victim, though again, she is not considered innocent. Paul tells Timothy, “Because Adam was formed first, then Eve, and Adam was not deceived but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”[3] In the midst of Paul’s reasoning for why women should not serve in the eldership of the church, he roots it in women’s susceptibility for deception, by example of Eve. What this should teach us regarding the Genesis narrative is that Eve was deceived, believing a half-truth presented to her by Satan as the serpent.

Nowhere in Scripture do we have any indication that Adam was likewise deceived, and given the treatment of Paul in 1st Timothy, it is only logical to assume he knowingly and willingly sinned against God’s command. This adds to the gravity of Adam’s sin. Indeed, if either is treated as being the greater transgressor, it is Adam. He was to tend the garden and lead his wife. He was the head of his household. He would be blamed, not Eve, as the source of The Fall in Romans.[4]

In all of these things, Christ is contrasted to Adam. Where Adam failed as the Federal Head of humanity, Christ succeeded as the second Adam and Federal Head of his church. Where Adam failed to lead his wife, Christ succeeded in guiding his bride. Indeed, Adam permitted his wife to pass from life to death, while Christ brought his from death to life. When Adam saw his bride in sin, he simply joined her. When Christ beheld his bride in sin, he clothed her in his righteousness, and took the curse meant for her upon himself.

An exceptional thing takes place when Adam and Eve both eat of the fruit. Verse seven tells us that after eating, they realized they were naked and tried to clothe themselves. It seems almost ludicrous to the reader, as if the two of them had never before in their lives looked down. How can they have not known they were naked? The full understanding does not come until Adam speaks with God.[5] He admits that he hid because he was naked. He was ashamed of his nakedness. This is in contrast to when they were created naked and were unashamed.[6] The shame of nakedness was just an outward show of their shame and guilt for sinning against God. It was God’s piercing eye that would no longer allow Adam to hide his guilt. Hebrews 4:13 says that no creature is hidden from the sight of God, but naked and exposed to his judgment.[7] We see many passages of Scripture that deal with nakedness, and with the exception of birth, they are always tied to concepts of poverty and shame.[8] Here, both are present. Adam once walked with God unashamed as the image-bearer. He had peace and glorified God with his life. Now Adam was spiritually bankrupt, impoverished, and guilty.

Adam’s reaction to the nakedness is one that is all too common. Adam sought to cover himself. He and Eve made the first organic clothing line from fig leaves, and sought to hide their shame, guilt, and spiritual poverty in an external way. When people are confronted with their sin, they do everything they can to cover it up. They will list the works of their hands in their lives that they believe are commendable. They want to prove their worth to hide their guilt. People will convey in body language when they are lying, their crossed arms and reclusive posture just more fig leaves to cover sin. The problem is our works are always insufficient when it comes to the omniscient God who requires absolute perfection, just as Adam’s fig leaf loincloth was insufficient to hide his sin from God.

It was necessary for Adam to understand his guilt before he could be forgiven. He had to see himself as “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked”[9] in order to understand his need for God’s covering. The same thing is seen in Hosea chapter two, where God says that he will take his bride out into the wilderness and strip her naked. God had come, in his omniscience, to accomplish this.

For Adam’s sin to be done away with, it would require the shed blood of Christ. This is included in the term often heard but not fully understood, atonement. Atonement literally means “covering.” It covers the nakedness, shame, and guilt of the sinner. Blood had to be shed for Adam’s sin, whether it was Christ’s or his own. So God clothed both Adam and Eve in the skins of animals.[10] God provides the image of Christ for Adam to trust in.

Chris J. Marley is the Senior Pastor of Miller Valley Baptist Church in Prescott, Arizona.  He holds an M. Div. from Westminster Seminary California (2009).

[1] Milton, John. Paradise Lost. IX, 205-999

[2] Alighieri, Dante. The Purgatorio. Canto XXIX, 19-30

[3] 1 Timothy 2:13-14

[4] Romans 5:12ff

[5] Genesis 3:10

[6] Genesis 2:25

[7] For the account of day of judgment, see Revelation 3:17

[8] For poverty, see Job 24:5-10 and Ezekiel 18:16. For guilt, the dominant image, see Isaiah 20:4, 47:3, Ezekiel 16:37-39, Micah 1:11, and Nahum 3:5. For birth, which is essentially about poverty, see Job 1:21 and Ecclesiastes 5:15

[9] Revelation 3:17

[10] Genesis 3:21

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