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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).