Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Terms Of The Covenant (part 2 of 2)

What the Creator God is presumed to have said to Judah through Jeremiah, the same God effectively and presumably said to Adam, which was “Obey me and carry out the terms of the agreement exactly as I commanded you.  If you do, you will be My people and I will be your God” (Jeremiah 11:4b).  Had Adam been faithful to the covenant conditions that had been delivered to him, death would not have come upon him and (again, presumably) the creation over which he was given dominion. 

The Scriptural narrative suggests that Eden and the covenant God’s creation would have remained in the state of perfection in which it was delivered to man.  If His chosen people were faithful, Israel’s God promised to “keep the promise I swore on oath to your ancestors to give them a land flowing with milk and honey” (11:5a).  “Milk and honey” could certainly also be rendered as “fertile fields and fine pastures,” which could also serve as a description of the land into which man had been placed before the curse of his covenant failure caused it to be overrun with thorns and thistles.

It is possible to hear the Creator God not only speaking to the people of Judah, but to all that would eventually come to be His covenant people, as He says, “I solemnly warned your ancestors (Israel & Adam respectively) to obey Me.  I warned them again and again, every since I delivered the out of Egypt until this very day” (11:7).  Obviously, Adam was not personally delivered out of Egypt, though He was placed, as Israel would eventually be, in a land of the Creator God’s choosing. 

The described paths of Adam and Israel converge again, as one reads “But they did not listen to Me or pay any attention to Me!” (11:8a).  Clearly, this could be said of both, which lends credence to seeing Adam as the embodiment of Israel in the creation narrative.  “Each one of them,” the Creator God says, “followed the stubborn inclinations of his own wicked heart.  So I brought on them all the punishments threatened in the covenant because they did not carry out its terms as I commanded them to do” (11:8b). 

For His covenant people, the punishment was the curse that Jeremiah insisted was on its way; and for Adam and all of humankind, the punishment was death.  Why?  Because the Creator God is faithful to His covenants, even if and when those that are charged to be His image-bearers are not.  The Creator God of Israel demanded and expected trust, but the story of Scripture indicates that He did not receive it.  He expected these creatures that had been made in His image to reflect His glory, but they failed.        

For Israel and for Adam (and all the descendants of Adam), it could be said, “The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem have plotted rebellion against Me…  They too have paid allegiance to other gods and worshiped them” (11:9,10b).  Both rebelled and, for all practical purposes, fell into idolatry.  Israel found itself bowing to the gods of the surrounding nations, whether by choice or through force, whereas Adam, beginning the idolatry with which each of his progeny (according to the Scriptures) is afflicted, seems to have bowed down to and worshiped himself, making himself the measure of all things, in trustful worship of the creature rather than the Creator.  The sovereign Lord’s response to this is consistent, as He says, “those gods will by no means be able to save them when disaster strikes them” (11:12b).  A redeemer would be necessary.    

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