Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Here I sit with my cup of tea, pondering.

I was reading in Genesis and my curiosity got snagged on 3:22. “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us: and now, lest he put forth his hand and take of the fruit of the tree of life and live forever . . .” and the account goes on about Adam and his wife being driven out of the garden so that they would not be able to access this tree, which deprivation consequently caused them to succumb to death.

The verbs are what intrigue me in this passage. It is a pivotal passage in the overall story of redemption.

So I did what I always do. I got my Hebrew Old Testament, and a reading lexicon and an analytical lexicon and Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar and I began to work through the passage. I just love this kind of study. I live on it. I’m a nurd.

The reading is not that difficult. I am no Hebrew scholar, but I can read if I have a lexicon handy. But what engages me in this particular passage is a phenomenon called “the consequence of the verb” which, according to Gesenius, is a peculiarity of ancient Hebrew. Verb consequence has to do with the way the tenses work together in a narrative. It was fun. I was at this for hours, reading the lexicons and all of their comparitive references for the structure, and Gesenius’ pages of text with notes and cross references and notes and references about the notes and references -- on and on.

Now I know this is getting boring. But I am telling you this to tell you the upshot of all of it. I was intrigued that Adam, according to the story, was not immortal, that is, he was not immune to death (because he was threatened with it); and that God deprived him from access to the tree, the fruit of which would have enabled him to go on living indefinitely, which is what the word “forever” means in this context. His “forever” would have eventually been limited by his mortality which would have been held at bay by continuing to eat from this tree of life.

But even if he had not eaten of the forbidden tree, and if he had continued to have access to the tree of life and had gone on in an ever-living condition, he still would have been unable to inherit the kingdom of God, because he was a mortal -- just flesh and blood.

I Corinthians 15 teaches us that this cannot be. Adam still, at some time how ever long, would have had to undergo the immortalization that is now promised to believers in Jesus Christ in the resurrection to immortality and incorruption -- the beginning of a forever life that really will go on endlessly (because we will then be immune to death) in a world that has been put back right. All this has been made possible through the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ as a sin offering for His people.

Adam sinned. (Genesis 3)

We sinned in him. (Romans 5:12)

We sin on our own. (Romans 3:23)

Christ died on behalf of sinners. (Romans 5:8)

Christ’s righteousness is imputed to sinners who cast themselves on His mercy. (Romans 3:23-24)

By this, even though we die in this world, we are given the gift of resurrection to immortality and eternal life in the world to come . (John 11:25-26).

Well I have pondered myself past midnight, and the clothes are finished in the dryer. Enough pondering for one day.

1 comment:

John Cowart said...

Deep thoughts, Wes.

You are a natural for this kind of study.