The circumstance of Adam, the son of God (Luke 3:38), is replicated in God’s “firstborn son” Israel (Exodus 4:22-23). The people of Israel were brought into being by the gracious hand of God. They were released from the bondage of Egypt through his power and made a nation because of his grace. Again and again the people of Israel were reminded that God did not make them a nation because they were better or more numerous than others but because of his gracious covenant love. The children of Israel are likewise placed in a position of caretakers over the earth. They were to be a kingdom of priests leading the rest of humanity into a relationship with Jehovah. This is like Adam’s responsibility of dominion over the earth. Like Adam, Israel was given law which they were expected to obey. Failure to obey God’s law would bring the same punishment which was visited upon Adam: to be cast out of the land (garden). Their disobedience would cause the ground to be cursed just as the ground was cursed for Adam because of his disobedience (Deuteronomy 28:23-24 and etc.). Also, like Adam, the children of Israel were expected to look toward the future and raise their children in the knowledge of God and his covenant (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
Adam and Israel were in the same position before God as representative of Mankind as well. Indeed, both were types of that perfect representative the eternal son Jesus Christ. Hence, if Adam related to God on the basis of a works, then Israel did as well. In either case we must reject the notion that God maintained relationship with his people by a covenant of works. Clearly both Adam and Israel enjoyed a covenant of grace with the Creator. “True we cannot …speak about Adam as living in grace by which his trespasses were forgiven (prior to the Fall). But he was called to acknowledge God in everything, and to be totally dependent on him. Today we call this: living by grace.” 1 God has always dealt with humanity on the basis of grace. It is wrong for us to assume that Adam was expected to work his way to salvation. Thus,
Adam did nothing to merit his creation.
Israel did nothing to merit his creation.
We do nothing to merit our re-creation.
Adam was expected to obey God.
Israel was expected to obey God.
We are expected to obey God.
Adam was thrown out of the garden/land for disobedience.
Israel was thrown out of the land for disobedience.
We can be thrown out of the “land” for disobedience (Revelation 3:16). 2
1. C. van der Waal, The Covenantal Gospel , (Alberta: Inheritance Publications, 1990), 55, parenthesis added.
2. Also note, on the eve of Israel’s return to the “garden” it is their creation story that is cited as the basis for the fourth commandment (Deuteronomy 5:12-15). Likewise it is our new creation in Christ that is celebrated in the new covenant’s “8th day” Sabbath (Matt. 28:1 etc.).