SHORT NOTES ON THE BIBLE (2)
Q. & A. ON GENESIS
The book of Genesis tells us that Adam sinned (Chapter 3), but we see that Adam was driven out of heaven and also all his descendants. The Bible says (Genesis 3:24) "He drove the man out" i.e. not only Adam but all his descendants. Why does God punish all Adam's descendants by keeping them out of heaven and by death? Note that Adam was the only one that offended God, and the Bible says "The soul who sins is the one who will die." Ezek 18:4.
It appears that the person asking this question is concerned with the topic of introduction of sin to humanity, and he is asking how this can be compatible with God's justice. Several of the church fathers have written on this subject, and the following gives briefly the most important points that they wrote for us, especially those interpreting the words of the Holy Bible.
1. Whereas many people see only a severe punishment in the expulsion of Adam and his descendants from heaven, many others see the mercy of God also in this same act. The expulsion prevented human beings from living for ever (by eating from the tree of life) in sin and death. The words of the Lord our God "lest he put forth his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." (Gen 3:22) were quoted to show that this was God's purpose from Adam's expulsion. Also, to explicitly show the mercy of God in this act "The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them." (Gen 3:21) when He drove them out of heaven.
The love of God is made clearer when we know that the tree of life is a symbol of the Son of God, the Word Himself, because "In Him was life" (John 1:4). And now, after fulfillment of the salvation that was promised by God to Adam and Eve when He said "her seed (i.e. Eve's offspring)... shall bruise your head (i.e. the head of the serpent)" (Gen 3:15), we became invited to eat of the bread of life. So, God gave us eternal life in His Son by eating His living body (i.e. in communion) "he that eats me, even he shall live by me" (John 6:57).
2. It is true that the Bible says "the soul that sins, it shall die", and that is why Adam died, because he disobeyed by eating from the tree of Good and evil (Gen 2:17: for when you eat of it you will surely die). Death, the punishment of sin, or the fruit of sin (James 1:15: and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death), is not just the death of the body and its destruction, but it is also the spiritual death i.e. the separation from God, which is accomplished in the second death of the body, soul and spirit, which is also eternal death (Rev 2:11: He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death).
And just as Adam died because of his sin, so also all his descendants after him. "This way death came to all men, because all sinned" (Rom 5:12). It is clear from Rom 5:16 that by saying "all sinned", Saint Paul means the numerous sins that Adam's descendants have done and not just Adams' sin. There is no doubt that human beings sin as the Bible says "All have turned aside, together they have gone wrong; no one does good, not even one." (Rom 3:12, Ps 14:3, Ps 53:3). So humanity did not inherit Adam's sin, but inherited death which is the fruit of sin (1 Cor 15:22: in Adam all die), i.e. humanity became susceptible to death and lost God's grace that protects against sin.
3. Is that the end or the beginning? Though that may appear to be the pitiful end for humanity, the sons and daughters of Adam, it is not necessarily the end for all of humanity (this is incompatible with God's purpose in the creation of Adam, because He created Adam to enjoy His everlasting love). Indeed, this was the beginning of the magnificent plan of salvation and revelation of God's love which is beyond imagination (Rom 5:6-7) by the appearance of the second Adam - the Word who became flesh - to give humanity a new life, so they become the sons of God "heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ" (Rom 8:17).
Saint Paul explains this to us through the grace given to him comparing our inheritance from Adam to the inheritance from Jesus saying: "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.... But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! ... For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. ..., just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 5:12-21).
In conclusion, we can summarize what has been said in the following:
1. Adam sinned and his nature became corrupt, and therefore death entered in his life and was inherited by humanity.
2. The expulsion of Adam was an act of mercy from God for him, lest he would live for ever in his corrupted nature.
3. Even if we concede that humanity does not deserve the punishment of God because of Adam's sin, it should be admitted also that the righteousness of Christ and his salvation were given to humanity as a free gift, an act of grace for the unworthy and undeserving.
So, man, any man (or woman), has become without any excuse that he does not accept the righteousness of Christ through faith.
THE BOOK OF EXODUS
The book of Exodus is the second book of the five books of the Torah that were written by the prophet Moses. It was titled "Exodus" in the Septuagint translation (285 BC). The word "Exodus" was used in the New Testament to mean departure from the world and salvation (Lk 9:31, 2 Pet 1:15).
Summary of the Book: The book of Exodus covers the period from the birth of Moses to the end of the first year after the departure of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt. The book ends with the events of the first day of the second year of departure (exodus) from Egypt. At that time the Tabernacle was completed and Moses assembled it as God has commanded him and anointed the tent and its contents with anointing oil.
Date of exodus of Israel from Egypt: Most probably it occurred in the year 1447 BC in the reign of the eighteenth dynasty during the days of Tohotmoss the third or Amnophiss the second. This period and dates could be verified by referring to Judges 11:26 and 1 Kings 6:1. Also, this agrees with tablets of Tel El-Amarna.
Subjects of the Book: The book contain 40 chapters and can be divided into two main sections:
The first section: [chapters 1 to 18]; Describes departure from Egypt, and its subjects are:
1- Israel in Egypt: the birth of Moses and his upbringing in the house of Pharaoh, the escape of Moses to the wilderness (land of Midian), appearance of God to Moses in the burning bush, and the return of Moses to Egypt and meeting with Pharaoh [1-7:13].
2- The 10 Plagues, and details of the Passover ordinance [7:14-13:16].
3- Departure (Exodus) from Egypt, crossing of the Red Sea, and the Song of Miriam [13:17-15:21].
4- The journey of Israel in the wilderness, the bitter water at Marah, the raining of manna, the outpouring of water from the rock, the fight with the Amalekites, and the meeting of Moses with his father in law, Jethro [15:22-18:27].
The second section: [chapters 19 to 40]; Describes the Law and Ordinances, and its subjects are:
1- Moses ascent on the mountain to meet with God .
2- The ten commandments [20-23].
3- The ritual ordinances and order of worship as received by Moses from God [24-31].
4- The golden calf, Moses' anger because of the unfaithfulness of the people, and the breaking of the tablets of the covenant [32-34].
5- Making the tabernacle, its erection and sanctification. [35-40].
Exodus in the light of the New testament:
The book of Exodus represents the journey of the believer from the day he is born of water and the Holy Spirit to the day of his arrival to heavenly Jerusalem, passing by crucifixion with Jesus, resurrection from the dead in Christ, and the inheritance of the eternal glory that God has prepared for his children:
1- The salvation plan, from the beginning till the end, is God's plan. It's unfolding begins by God saying to Moses "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying ...So I have come down to rescue them .." (Ex 3:7-8). Likewise, "in the fullness of time" (Gal 4:4), God came down in truth when He "sent His Son, born of a woman" to save His people from their sins.
2- The Passover lamb with its blood that was sprinkled on the doors of houses of Israel remains as an ancient story, without any effectiveness in our present life, until we see that it is a depiction of "the lamb of God" (John 1:36) crucified for the redemption of humanity and his blood shed on the cross for the justification of all who believe in Him. Furthermore, to show the accuracy of the representation, we are told that the sprinkling of the blood was not enough for saving Israel but they had to meet and eat the Passover lamb. Is not this exactly what we learned in the New Testament: that faith in the blood of Jesus and union with Him by eating his body and drinking his blood in the holy communion are, both together, the mystery of our eternal life? (Jn 6:53: Jesus said to them, I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.)
3- The Journey of Israelites started by crossing the Red Sea to the wilderness as a symbol of baptism (1 Cor 10:2: They were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea). The Journey continued in the wilderness for 40 years struggling against the Amalekites (the troops of evil) by prayers (Ex 17:8-13). They struggled also against the lusts of the body: when they were hungry and murmured against Moses, God gave them the manna from heaven, a symbol of the body of Christ, the true manna (John 6), and when they were thirsty, He gave them water from the rock, and that rock was Christ (1 Cor 10:4).
4- God was with them during their travelling and camping in the wilderness, and He was among them in the Tabernacle (=tent) which is "the dwelling of God with his people", a symbol of the presence of the incarnate Word of God in the "tent" of the human body, when He became visible to every eye, exactly as He was named: "Emmanuel" which means "God with us".
5- At the end of the exodus trip (Num 14), most of them that left Egypt did not enter the promised land, and that was "because of their unbelief" (Heb 3:19). Therefore, St. Paul warns us saying: "While the promise of entering His rest remains, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it." (Heb 4:1).
Exodus in the liturgy of the Coptic Church:
Because of its importance, the Book of Exodus is used by the Coptic Church around the year in many occasions including the following:
1- Midnight praise: The first Howse (Ex 15:1-12), and the second Howse (Ps 135 Coptic = Ps 136 English) that praises God for his deeds in book of Exodus.
2- The praises of Kiyahk: The burning bush and the Tabernacle and its contents referring to the virgin Mary and explaining the mystery of the incarnation of the Son.
3- The readings of the great Lent: The lent season starts on the first Monday Morning with the reading about exodus from the country of slavery, so that we may exit with the children of God to the wilderness (and with the Lord Jesus to the wilderness of temptation) on our way to the heavenly Canaan and the glory of the cross and resurrection.
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