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Pre-History

The Bible begins with the sto­ry of cre­ation and the mak­ing of man. Although the Bible often lists the gen­er­a­tions of men from the cre­ation of Adam (Chron 1:1, Lk 4:38), the his­to­ry of sal­va­tion, in the most prop­er sense, begins with Abra­ham, the fore­fa­ther of Israel and the first ances­tor of Christ, “accord­ing to the flesh.”

The sto­ry of cre­ation, and specif­i­cal­ly of Adam and Eve, gives the divine rev­e­la­tion about the absolute sov­er­eign­ty of God over all of cre­ation. It tells of the good­ness of all things that exist, and the supe­ri­or­i­ty of man over oth­er beings. It shows how the ori­gin of evil does not lie in God but in His most per­fect crea­ture whose free act of sin brought wicked­ness and death to the world.

The chap­ters of Gen­e­sis 1–11 are called the “pre­his­to­ry” of sal­va­tion because with lit­tle excep­tion, such as that of the right­eous Noah, these chap­ters are almost exclu­sive­ly the record of sin. They begin with man’s orig­i­nal rebel­lion against God, and tell of the first act of man’s chil­dren as being broth­er­ly mur­der. They record God’s sad­ness in cre­at­ing the world when He “saw that the wicked­ness of man was great in the earth, and that every imag­i­na­tion of his heart was only evil con­tin­u­al­ly,” and that the earth was “corrupt…‘filled with vio­lence… for all flesh had cor­rupt­ed their way upon the earth” (Gen 6:5–12). They end with the sym­bol­ic account of the ulti­mate impu­dence of men who sought “to make a name for them­selves” by build­ing “a tow­er with its top in the heav­ens” (Gen 11:4). Through the sto­ry of the tow­er of Babel is shown the pride­ful arro­gance of man which results in the divi­sion of the nations and the scat­ter­ing of men “over the face of all the earth” (Gen 11:9).

The pre-his­to­ry of sal­va­tion, the sto­ry of sin, is the orig­i­nal counter-sym­bol of sal­va­tion in Christ. The events of these first chap­ters of the Bible, before the call­ing of Abra­ham, find their prop­er inter­pre­ta­tion in the sav­ing events of the com­ing of Christ and the Holy Spir­it in the new and final covenant of God with His People.

Christ is the True Adam. The orig­i­nal Adam was mere­ly “a type of him who was to come” (Rom 5:14).

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. Thus it is writ­ten, “The first man Adam became a liv­ing soul;” the last Adam [Christ] became a life-giv­ing spir­it. But it is not the spir­i­tu­al which is first but the phys­i­cal, and then the spir­i­tu­al. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the sec­ond man is from heav­en. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heav­en, so are those who are of heav­en. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heav­en (1 Cor 15:21–22, 45–49).

The word Adam in Hebrew comes from “adamah” which means earth. The word Christ, in Hebrew, Mes­si­ah, means the “anoint­ed” of God. As Christ is the new Adam, so His moth­er Mary is the new Eve, for she is the true “moth­er of all liv­ing,” which is the mean­ing of the name giv­en to the orig­i­nal “helper” of man (Gen 3:20). The bib­li­cal sym­bol­ism con­tin­ues with the Church of Christ being the true “ark of sal­va­tion” in which “every liv­ing thing” is saved (Gen 6:14, 1 Pet 3:20–22). And the events of Pen­te­cost reverse the tragedy of Babel, when through the descent of the Holy Spir­it upon the Church of Christ, all nation­al divi­sions are over­come and all men “from over the face of all the earth” are brought into uni­ty by God in Christ.

Thus the pre-his­to­ry of man’s sin is the counter-sym­bol of his right­eous­ness in God which is real­ized in Christ, the “child of Abra­ham” in whose chil­dren all of the fam­i­lies of the earth are blessed by God (Gen 12:3).