Throughout the old covenant era there were distinct administrations of the covenant of grace. We will examine two other transitional administrations only.
With the creation of Israel as a people and the new administration of the covenant, there was a step toward restoring the mediatory function of man. Moses was installed as the head of the newly made nation and later the priesthood was established to allow Mankind back into the special sanctuary – if only a copy and only on an annual basis. However, all was not well. Like Adam, Moses failed to fulfill his mediative function properly and so was not allowed entrance into the land (corresponding to Adam’s expulsion from the land). 1
Later the administration of the covenant was altered again with the establishment of the kingship and the location of the special sanctuary in the city of Jerusalem (indeed, Jerusalem itself became a symbol of the special sanctuary). The priesthood remained but the Mosaic headship and mediatory function (that had continued through the time of the Judges), was replaced by the kingly, Davidic dynasty. Nevertheless, the Mediator failed in his responsibility and so the king and the people were eventually expelled from the land and the special sanctuary was destroyed.
Thus, Adam confirmed a legal, covenantal relationship which every human being willingly participates in apart from the special intervention of the Holy Spirit. In the old covenant, God’s wrath was held at bay and man was directed to prepare for the permanent alteration of that adversarial relationship in the ritual of sacrifice. Those who refused to do so remained in direct opposition to God. Those who took part did so in the power of the Holy Spirit and yet without the law written upon their heart. The entire sacrificial system was a constant reminder that without the intervention of the Creator no man desires emancipation from that Adamic bond. For the heirs of Adam, God’s law is an external pressure to be avoided.
Without the inner working of the Holy Spirit no man willingly submits to the Creator. The effect of the new creation is to enable the individual to freely choose to obey God. This obedience is not the cause of salvation but is the result of salvation. The new birth takes place – the law is internalized – and that enables a man to freely choose to do right. Under no circumstance is the will of man coerced.
Jesus Christ, the second Adam, the true Israel, the true son of God, came to establish a new legal, covenantal relationship. He recognized his heavenly father as the sovereign Lord of the universe. He willingly shouldered his responsibility as the new covenant head and mediator between God and man. He lived a life of obedience to God’s law and taught his followers the true meaning of that law, expecting those who came to him to submit to the law of God as well. Additionally, Jesus said anyone who obeyed him would be blessed and those who disregarded his words would be punished. Finally, Jesus made provision for the continuity of the covenant, commanding his followers to go into all the world and preach the gospel. Furthermore, it was expected that God’s people would continue to raise their children in the fear in instruction of the Lord.
Therefore, Jesus assumed the mantle of covenant headship, broke the legal and covenantal power of the Adamic failure and abolished the condemnation of the law for the Believer. All who are in Jesus Christ have the Spirit of God poured out upon them and the law written on their hearts just as the law of God is written on the heart of the new federal head himself. Indeed, he is the Word made flesh, the fulfillment of all the law and prophets, the true (last) Adam, the true Israel, the true Davidic king. As the last Adam, true Israel and Davidic king, Jesus accomplished what the types were unable to do and invites Humanity to join Him in fellowship with the Father in the garden/land.
In conclusion, we must accept the fact that Adam related to God on the basis of a covenant of grace. The difference between his relationship to God and ours did not revolve around the need to maintain a relationship through works; the difference was far more profound. From the time of Adam until the completed work of Jesus Christ the law was external and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit withheld; even those who followed the Lord God did so without the advantage of the internalized law that they should not be made perfect apart from us (Hebrews 11:40). Only with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the law written upon the hearts of God’s people.
1. “Indeed, the establishment of Israel as a royal priesthood over Canaan was in a figure a reinstatement of man as viceregent of God over paradise.” Meridith G. Kline , The Structure Of Biblical Authority , (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978) 148.