From Adam to Jesus: The Rainbow

Priestly Service

Last week, in our lesson at least, God finished creating the world.  We also saw how Moses described the world’s creation in much the same way as the Tabernacle/Temple’s construction.  What was God doing through such crafted literary accounts?  He wanted His people to see, after further meditation, that the Garden of Eden was something akin to the sanctuary of the Temple.

At first blush, we may think such a tie-in is a stretch.  Yet, in the Old Covenant, in the form of His Shekinah, God was present in His Temple.   God was also present with Adam and Eve in the Garden.

And like God’s Temple, you can’t have a temple without a priest to watch over it and to offer sacrifices.  And that’s also the task that God gave to Adam.  God told Adam in the Garden “to work and keep it” (Genesis 2:15).  His sacrifice, however, would not be shedding the blood of animals, but watching over the Garden.

How doe we know this?  The words for “work” (In Hebrew, avodah) and “keep” (shamar) are also the same words the Old Testament uses for priestly service.  The only other place in the Bible where you find those two words used together are in the Book of Numbers.  There, when Scripture uses those words in concert with each other, they describe the duties of the Levites, the appointed priests of Israel (Numbers 3:7-8, 8:26, and 18:5-6)!

Again, what’s the point?  God wants us to see that what He gave Adam to do in the Garden was serving as a “priest.”  In Adam, we see the beginnings of the doctrine of vocation, where our priestly service is not what we do during worship but, instead, during our everyday lives.  In other words, like Adam, our God-given tasks are primarily lived out during our everyday lives.

Writing to the congregation in Asia Minor, the Apostle Peter wrote: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people who are God’s own possession, so you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

–          How do we live out our calling as priests in the New Covenant?


Peter further explains how this declaring the praises of God happens in our everyday lives.

Read 1 Peter 2:10-18

–          How then do we “declare the praises of [God]”?


Adam Serving as Priest

Well, back to Adam.  God had charged Adam to serve as priest and husband to Eve.  God also told Adam, not Eve, “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17).

But we know the rest of the story: along came the serpent!  What we may not know is the grammar the serpent used.  In the Hebrew, every time the serpent said the word “you” (as in “you will be like God”), he was speaking in the second-person plural.  In other words, he was saying, “y’all.”  So, when the serpent was speaking to, and tempting, Eve, Adam was there the whole time.

So, why didn’t Adam speak up?  Why didn’t he challenge the serpent?  We don’t know.  But we do know that Adam left his wife to fend for herself.  He was not the husband or priest that God had called him to be.  Adam had been unfaithful to Eve and to God.

In response to both Adam and Eve’s unfaithfulness, God barred them from the Garden.  Was God being petty?  No, for a son who distrusts his Father and joins with his Father’s enemies shouldn’t stay living in the family home.  In the same way, a priest who doesn’t have faith in the words of his God shouldn’t stay serving in the Temple.


God Provides

God said that when Adam and Eve ate of the tree they would die.  And from that time forward, death entered the world.  Adam and Eve did eventually die–as have all their offspring (unless God intervened in some miraculous way).

Genesis: 3:21: “The Lord God made clothing out of skins for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”

Instead of killing them outright, God simply lets the results of the Fall into sin have its effects, which would kill them in the end.  Yet, out of love, clothed Adam and Eve in animal skins, which made much better clothing than the leaves they had been using.

Of course, skins have to come from somewhere.  You can’t get skins without killing an animal, which makes an often-overlooked part of the story.  Something else dies in their place, and they put on the skin of the dead animal.  (Hmmm, do you see any New Testament parallels?)

Again, we see a foreshadowing.  When God clothes Adam and Eve in the skin of an animal, God was pointing forward to what would have to happen for Adam and Eve’s disobedience to be fully fixed.  Of course, it would have to be a different Sacrifice that would die to take away the sins of the world and clothe humans in a permanent righteousness (Isaiah 53:7, 61:10).


The Fall Deepens

The course of human history continues.  We sin more openly and without shame.  In Genesis 6:5, we read, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

God’s response was to back up and start over.  The evil actions of these notorious descendants provoked God to clean the earth with a flood and begin again, almost from scratch.  In a sense, God allowed the world to return to its earlier “tohu wabohu.”  We again see God’s Spirit moving over the face of the waters, like during creation (compare Genesis 1:2 with 8:1).  And so, for a second time, God pulls the dry land out of the water in an act of re-creation.


God’s Covenant with Noah

Genesis recounts the flood (Genesis 7-9) as a new, creation story, with many subtle and obvious references to Genesis 1.  Within the “story line” of Genesis, the flood shows God giving the world a new start, starting His family anew.

Noah is like a new Adam.  Like Adam, Noah is given authority over the animals (compare Genesis 1:26 and 9:2-3).  God also gave Noah the same command to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (compare Genesis 1:28 and 9:1).  Finally, as God did with Adam, He made a covenant with Noah–and through him, with all living beings (compare Genesis 2:1-2 and 9:13).

Read Genesis 9:8-13

In this covenant with Noah, God renewed the covenant He made with creation in the beginning.  The rainbow sign is like the Sabbath.  It’s a symbol of God’s communion with His creation.

–          How did God keep faith in the promised Messiah from dying out in the flood?


–          Through the waters, who was killed and who was saved?


Read 1 Peter 3:18-22

–          What did God drown in baptism?


–          Because of that, what does baptism do?


–          What does a “good conscience” have to do with baptism?


The covenant God made with Noah does not stop with God’s promise never to the flood the entire world again.  It points us to Christ and New-Covenant baptism.  The flood is a foreshadowing (or type) of baptism.  Like the flood, baptism cleanses us from sin.  As a new creation emerged from the flood, so those who are baptized in Christ are new creations in Him.

In pointing forward to our baptismal salvation, Scripture challenges us to reject the sin that characterized our old pre-baptismal life and continues to characterize the world.  When Noah and his family emerged from the Ark into the new world, they were cut off from the old, for God through the flood had destroyed that old world.

In the same way, the Apostle Paul urges us to consider ourselves as cut off from our old ways.  He writes: “Our old self was crucified with [Jesus Christ], so the body of sin might be brought to nothing, that we should no longer be slaves to sin….  In the same way, consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:6, 11).

For us, as with Noah, there is no going back.  That’s why Christ commanded His baptized to be taught (as the counterpart of baptism)–to help keep us in our baptismal covenant (Matthew 29:18-20).



–          What does the flood account teach us about mercy and justice?


–          What can we understand about God in the flood account and Matthew 25:31-46?


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