THE EDENIC COVENANT:  The Covenant of Creation

B. Childress
Mar 28 2008 08:00AM

Genesis 1 and 2 not only record the creation of the heaven and earth but also some of the reasons why God made
them.  The prophet Isaiah stated that when God created the heaven and earth He did not create it in vain, but "He
formed it to be inhabited, "
...God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in
vain, he formed it to be inhabited...
"  Isaiah 45:18.

In Genesis, 1:1-19 God, as the wise master-builder prepared "the house" of the heaven and earth.  In Genesis 1:20-31,
God created animals to live in "the house" and man to rule over them as the masterpiece of creation.  Verses 26-31
indicate that man was the focal point of God's creation. All of God's purposes were to centre in him.  Thus, the first
covenant was given to the first man and woman to reveal God's purpose in creating them.  This Edenic Covenant was
the first expression on earth of the pre-existent Everlasting Covenant in heaven.  The fact that man was the recipient but
not the originator of the first covenant illustrates God's desire and purpose that man be in covenantal relationship with
Himself.  There could be no relationship with God apart from covenant.  Thus, while God was creating man, He was also
declaring His covenant purposes over man (Genesis 1:26,27).  Man, made in the image of God as a free-will creation,
was placed on a period of probation to test his voluntary commitment to the covenant.

NOTE:  Though the word "covenant" is not used until Genesis 6:18, there is enough covenantal language and
covenantal elements in Genesis 1 and 2 as well as subsequent Scriptural support to confirm the integrity of the Edenic
Covenant (See Jeremiah 31:35-37; 33:19-25; Genesis 8:22 with Genesis 1:14-19 and Psalms 89:34-37).

I.  The WORDS of the Covenant

A.  The Promises of the Covenant

    The promises of the Edenic Covenant are expressions of God's purposes in creating man.  Thus they are worded
    more as statements of purpose and command than as statements of promise.

    1.  Promises of Blessing (Genesis 1:28)

    a.  Made in God's image, after His likeness (Genesis 1:26,27)

    This image was spiritual, mental and volitional.  It involved the very character and nature of God (Romans 8:
    28,29; Hebrews 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49; II Corinthians 3:18; 4:1; Colossians 3:10).

    b.  Fruitfulness and multiplicity (Genesis 1:28)

    This fruitfulness involved both natural and spiritual reproduction.  It involved populating the earth with a race
    of beings that would know God, be like Him and serve Him.  Adam and Eve were to reproduce after their kind
    (Genesis 1:11, 12; 5:1-3; John 15:16; Acts 6:1; 9:31; after their kind.

    c.  To subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28)

    This subduing denotes warfare in that it means "to tread down, to conquer and to subjugate."  This implied
    the existence of an enemy that Adam was to conquer.  Adam was to conquer Satan, the only enemy then in
    existence, as well as to make the whole earth as the Garden of Eden (Joshua 18:1; Numbers 32:22,29;
    Ezekiel 36:34,35; Romans 16:20; I John 2:13,14; Revelation 3:21).

    d.  To have dominion (Genesis 1:28)

    This dominion involved rulership over the earthly creation and would also include spiritual authority.  Adam
    would be king under God (Genesis 2:19,20; Psalms 8:3-9; Revelation 1:6; 5:9,10; Luke 10:19; Hebrews 2:5-

    e.  To eat herbs and fruit (Genesis 1:29)

    This involved the sustenance for man's physical existence (Genesis 2:9; Matthew 11:19; John 4:32-34).  
    Eating meats was not allowed until the Noahic Covenant.

    f.  To till the ground (Genesis 2:5,15)

    This involved man's occupation.  He was created to work (II Thessalonians 3:6-12; Proverbs 24:30-34; John
    9:4; 14:12).

    2.  Promises of Cursing (Genesis 2:17)

    God promised Adam that if he disobeyed God's command and partook of the forbidden fruit, he would suffer the
    curse of death.  This involved both spiritual and physical death (Deuteronomy 30:19; Romans 6:23; 5:12-21; I
    Corinthians 15:21,22).

The Terms of the Covenant

    The blessings of the covenant were made available to man on the basis of the term of trusting obedience or, faith
    and obedience.  Adam was given only one commandment of prohibition.  He was forbidden to partake of the fruit of
    the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9,16,17; Romans 5:12-21; Revelation 22:14; Deuteronomy 11:

 The Oath of the Covenant

    There is no Biblical record of an oath being attached to the Edenic Covenant.  

The Book of the Covenant

    Although no book was written at that time, this covenant was later recorded in the Book of Genesis.

II.  The BLOOD of the Covenant  

A.  The Sacrifice of the Covenant

The preparation for the fulfillment of the covenant involved Adam giving of his own life.  His sacrificial giving involved his
laying down in a deep sleep, the opening of his side, the giving of his body from which God built a bride.  This may have
also involved the shedding of sinless blood.  Adam's recognition of this sacrifice is found in the statement that his bride
was "bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh" (Genesis 2:18-25).  The first bride and bridegroom of creation typified the
bride and bridegroom of redemption.  Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:23-33).

The Mediator of the Covenant

It is evident from Genesis 2:21,22 that God himself acted as the mediator of this covenant.  He put Adam to sleep,
opened Adam's side and prepared his bride.  Genesis 1:26,27, in using the Hebrew uni-plural title for God, Elohim,
implies the involvement of the Godhead as the covenantors, even the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  In this passage both
a plural image ("our image"), and a singular image ("his image") are referred to.  Subsequent Scripture substantiates that
Christ is the express image of God as well as the mediatorial person of the Godhead (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:15; II
Corinthians 4:4; Hebrews 8:6; 12:24; Galatians 3:20 Amplified;  Romans 5:14).

The Sanctuary of the Covenant

The place where the covenant was given, the sacrifice made and the mediatorial work of the covenantors performed was
the Garden of Eden, the earthly Paradise.  This was the place where God's presence appeared on earth fellowshipping
with man in the cool of the evening.  This was God's earthly sanctuary containing the tree of life.  This truth is confirmed
by later Scriptures which reveal that the heavenly Paradise (the eternal dwelling place of God) contains the tree of
eternal life (Genesis 3:24; II Corinthians 12:3-5; Revelation 2:7; 22:14).

III. The SEAL of the Covenant

The visible sign or token of the covenant was the tree of life.  Of all the trees in the garden, only two were named and
were placed "in the midst" of it.  Of these two Adam was allowed to partake of only one, the tree of life.  When he broke
the terms of the covenant, God's judgment focused on withholding this tree from Adam.  These facts indicate the tree of
life to be the unique, tangible sign of the Edenic Covenant.

The final witness to man's full redemption and being restored to full covenantal relationship is his being given freedom of
access to the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God (Genesis 2:17; 3:22-24; John 5:56-58; Revelation 2:7; 22:14).

This covenant stands unique as it is the only covenant made with man before the entrance of sin.  It declared God's
creative purpose for man including covenantal relationship, character, dominion, fruitfulness, and eternal life upon
obedience and faith.  The fall of man necessitated the revelation of the redemptive covenants to bring this covenant to
fulfillment.  This was particularly made possible by the New Covenant, which restores to man all that was lost in the
Edenic Covenant.

The Covenant of Creation

By the very act of creating man in his own likeness and image, God established a unique relationship between Himself
and creation.  In addition to this sovereign creation-act, God spoke to man, thus determining precisely the role of man in

Through this creating/speaking relationship, God established sovereignly a life-and-death bond.  This original bond
between God and man may be called the covenant of creation.

The general aspect of the covenant of creation relates to the broader responsibilities of man to his Creator.  The focal
aspect of the covenant of creation relates to the more specific responsibility of man arising from the special point of
probation or testing instituted by God.

The recognition of both these aspects in the covenant of creation has far-reaching implications.  Because of an exclusive
concentration on the specific test concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the broader responsibilities of
man as created in God's image frequently have been ignored.  This narrowed perspective has been extended into
considerations of the redemptive purposes of God.

The Covenant of Creation: It's General Aspect

Man, as part of creation, is responsible to obey the ordinances embedded in creation's structure.  Three ordinances,
inherent in God's creational orderings, deserve particular attention.  They are the
Sabbath, marriage, and labor.  Each
of these creational orderings stands as an inviolable principle inherent in the structure of the world as God has ordained

The Sabbath

The institution of the Sabbath roots in the pattern of God's creative activity.  By following the order of six and one in his
making of the world, God established a structural pattern for his creation.

The significance of the Sabbath principle for the ordering of creation appears not only in the pattern of six days of
creative  activity followed by a day of rest.  It also appears explicitly in the statement that God "blessed the seventh day
and sanctified it" (Genesis 2:3).

When Scripture records that God "blessed" the Sabbath day in conjunction with his creational activity, it obviously cannot
mean that God spoke meaninglessly into a vacuum. His blessing of this day had a significant effect on the world.  
Furthermore, the reference to God's blessing the day should not be interpreted as meaning that God blessed the day
with respect to Himself.  It was with respect to his creation, and with respect to man in particular that God blessed the
Sabbath day.  As Jesus indicated pointedly, "
...The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath." Mark 2:
27.  Because it was for the good of man and the whole of creation, God instituted the Sabbath.

Dispensationalism may remove the obligation of the Christian today to observe the creation ordinance of the Sabbath.  
The absence of any explicit command concerning Sabbath-observance prior to Moses does not relegate the Sabbath
principle to temporary legislation of the law-epoch.  The creational character of God's sabbath-blessing must be
remembered from the very beginning, God set a distinctive blessing on the Sabbath.

Because of the Lord's work-and-rest pattern in creation, man must "
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy."  Exodus
20:8.  Even the beasts of the field are to participate in this rest (Exodus 20:10), indicating God's intention to bless the
whole of creation by this institution.

God blessed man through the sabbath by delivering him from slavery to work.  By the grace of God, provision for seven
days of livelihood would come from only six days of labor.  Freely God gave relief from work 52 days out of the year, one
and one-half months out of the 12. Just as God chose to rest from his labor on the seventh day, so man must choose to
cease from his.  On this day, the Lord rested from all his creational labors, and "refreshed himself" in them (Exodus 31:
17).  In the same way, God's people are to "refresh themselves" in association with this day (Exodus 23:12).

The sanctifying of the Sabbath indicates that the Lord of creation has established the pattern by which He is to be
honored as Creator.  Certainly it is appropriate that times should be appointed for men to worship God. By sanctifying
the Sabbath, God has indicated that He expects men regularly to bring themselves as well as the fruit of their labor to be
consecrated before Him.  The reason for Sabbath-observance relates not only to creation but also to redemption.

When the place of the Sabbath under the new covenant is considered, this perspective must not be forgotten.  By his
resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ consummated God's redemptive purposes.  His coming forth into new life must
be understood as an event as significant as the creation of the world.  By his resurrection, a new creation occurred.

To be more precise, the resurrection of Christ signified an event which even surpassed God's original creative activity.  
In the resurrection, God brought to final fulfillment his creative/redemptive program.  The original creation launched the
world.  But the resurrection-creation brought the world to its destined perfection.

For this reason, the Christian perceives history differently.  He does not only look forward to a redemption yet to come.  
He does not merely hope for a future Sabbath rest.  He looks back on a redemption fully accomplished.  He stands
confidently on the basis of what the past already has brought.  

Therefore, it is fitting that the new covenant radically alters the Sabbath perspective.  The current believer in Christ does
not follow the Sabbath pattern of the people of the old covenant.  He does not first labor six days, looking hopefully
toward rest.  Instead, he begins the week by rejoicing in the rest already accomplished by the cosmic event of Christ's
resurrection.  Then he enters joyfully into his six days of labor, confident of success through the victory which Christ
already has won.  Because of its position in the substance of the "Ten Commandments," the weekly Sabbath retains its
binding character on the recipient of the new covenant, although the day on which the celebration is to be held has been
changed from the seventh to the first day of the week.  The Christian is obligated to remember the Sabbath day, to keep
it holy, to refrain from work, and to restrain himself from employing others.  The "ten words" derive their binding power
from the fact that they reflect the nature of God Himself.  As the central core of the Mosaic phase of the covenant of
redemption, the "Ten Commandments" retain just as binding a character on the new covenant believer as does the
principle of faith which formed the central core of the Abrahamic phase of the covenant of redemption.

At the consummation, God's people shall enter completely into the rest that shall experience no interruption.  There "yet
remains" a rest for the people of God.  As they enter into the resurrection state with Christ, they shall know the
consummational Sabbath of the new creation (Hebrews 4:9,10).  Having been blessed of God in creation, the Sabbath
consummates God's purposes in redemption.


In the ordering of creation, God himself indicated, "It is not good that man should be alone;..." Genesis 2:18.  So God
created a helper who corresponded appropriately to the man.

The creational origin of the marriage relationship has far-reaching implications. By tracing this ordinance to the
sovereign creative act of God himself, Scripture removes all doubt with respect to the sanctity of marriage.  The Lord-
Creator ordained marriage from the time of man's creation.

First, the wonder of interpersonal fusion involved in the marriage bond should be noted.  The oneness realized in
marriage relates to the intimate process by which the woman came into being.  Because the original woman was formed
from a part of her husband, each subsequent man must leave his parents and cleave to his wife, thus constituting these
two people as one (Genesis 2:22-24).  The "being one flesh" described in Scripture does not refer simply to the various
moments of marital consummation.  Instead, this oneness describes the abiding condition of union achieved in marriage.

Implicit in this interpersonal fusion as ordered in creation is the fact that two and only two may enter such a relationship.  
The text in Genesis says that a man shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh (Genesis 2:24).  The most
obvious sense of this statement is "that one man is to be joined to one woman and that the two become one flesh."

While the Genesis text itself does not insert the term "two," Jesus interprets the passage explicitly as conveying precisely
this thought.  In dealing with the question of divorce, Jesus appeals to the order established by the Creator,
"Have ye not
read, that he which made them at the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE...FOR THIS CAUSE SHALL A MAN
Matthew 19:4,5.  Jesus explains that the man and the woman are no longer two, but one flesh, because God the Creator
has joined them together (Matthew 19:6).

Secondly, creation's ordering determines the internal structuring that characterizes God's institution of marriage.  
Because it is not good for the man to be alone, God declares that he shall make "a helper corresponding to him"  
(Genesis 2:18).  According to this phrase, the woman was created by God to be a helper to the man in the marriage
relationship.  This internal order of the marriage relationship finds explicit confirmation in the New Testament.  Paul states
that the man was not created for the woman.  Instead, the woman was created for the man (I Corinthians 11:9).  The
purpose of the man's existence as created is not to be a help to the woman.  But the purpose of the woman's existence
as created is to glorify God in being a help to the man.  

A significant balancing element must be noticed in the scriptural presentation of the role of the woman in marriage.  
Indeed, the woman is to be helper to the man.  But she is to be a helper "corresponding to him."  The whole of God's
creation could serve as help to the man in one way or another.  But nowhere in creation could be found a helper
"corresponding to" the man (Genesis 2:20)  [
NOTE:The term "corresponding to him "derives from the word which conveys the idea of
something that is "in front of" or "face to face with" something else.  In this context, the term suggests the idea of equality of person
].  Only the woman as
created from the man corresponded to him in a way that made her the appropriate help he needed.

This distinctiveness of the woman indicates that she is no less significant than the man with respect to her person.  
Equally with the man she bears in herself the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27).  Only as equal in personhood
could the woman "correspond to" the man.  Further revelation in Scripture seems to indicate that the woman is helper to
the man specifically for the purpose of bringing all creation to its consummation-goal.  In heaven, men neither marry nor
are given in marriage (Matthew 22:30).  Once the consummate state has been realized, the woman's role as helper to
the man will come to an end.  Bearing God's image in her own person, the woman shall enjoy consummation in her own
completeness.  for the present, the woman shares with the man the responsibility to subdue the earth to the glory of
God.  She joins with him in his task of forming a culture glorifying to God the Creator.

At creation, God admonished man to multiply and to fill the earth.  This commandment contains significant implications
about the role of the man in the marriage relationship.  The man must love and cherish his wife.  He must care for her,
particularly as she fulfills her role in bearing children.  As Paul the apostle subsequently admonishes, the husband is to
love his wife, even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25).  He indeed has the responsibility
of functioning as head in the marriage relationship.  Yet he must function not as a "bloated" head or a "domineering"
head, but as a "saving" head.  Particularly, he must remember that, "
Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman,
neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.  For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman;
but all things of God.

Far from being independent of the woman, the man owes his existence to her.  In the Lord, these two forms of man's
being merge in a mutual dependence which acknowledges that all of creation originates from God.

In any case, the internal order for the marriage relationship is determined by creation.  The woman is "helper
corresponding to" the man.  The man is head over the wife, loving her as himself.  

Thirdly, the effect of the creational ordinance of marriage on various sexual aberrations ought to be noticed.  Because
an order has been established for the relation of men and women by creation, this order cannot be ignored or

Polygamy contradicts the creational order of marriage.  The creation of a single woman from the original man
emphasizes the wholeness and exclusiveness of the union achieved in the marriage relationship.  A third party never can
be introduced without destroying the union which already exists.  "From the beginning,"  God indicated that the two, and
only two, should be one flesh.

Divorce contradicts the creational order of marriage.  The Creator yokes men and women together.  No one may break
asunder what God has joined.  Only in cases of unchasitity, in which the marriage union already has been broken
(Matthew 5:32).

Homosexuality contradicts the creational order of marriage.  According to the ordinances of creation, a man is to leave
father and mother that he may cleave to his wife.  No latitude for cleaving to someone of the same sex may be found in
this creational structure.  Only as one man joins to one woman has God's ordering been observed.  The apostle Paul
does not hesitate to condemn sexual aberrations both as originating and as resulting in judicial abandonment by God:

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that
which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust
one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that
recompense of their error which was meet.
"  Romans 1:26,27

God's creational orderings for marriage and the family have continuing significance in the purposes of redemption. The
propagation of the race through the institution of marriage indicates a primary means by which God's purposes in
redemption find realization.  Not by a method contrary to the structures of creation, but by a method in conformity with
creation, God accomplishes his purposes of redemption.

Marriage, therefore, may be regarded as a most significant dimension in God's creational ordering.  This ordinance
continues to have binding significance on man-in-redemption.


The solidarity of God's ordinance of labor with the creation order may be seen in its immediate connection with the
Sabbath principle.  Meaningful rest may be experienced by the creation only in the context of meaningful labor.  One
day's rest in seven clearly implies six days of labor.  By God's own pattern of creation, and by his blessing the creation in
terms of this pattern, man's order for labor is established. It should be noted well that it is not merely labor in rather
undefined terms that God commands.  Instead, it is six days of labor, according to the pattern of creation.

The explicit commands given to man concerning his responsibility toward the creation enforces the implication
concerning labor in the Sabbath ordinance.  Made in God's own image, man has a unique responsibility to "subdue" the
earth and rule over every living creature (Genesis 1:27, 28).  This subduing involves the bringing out of all the potential
within the creation which might offer glory to the Creator.  Such an ordinance, embedded in the creational responsibilities
of man, clearly intends to affect his entire life-pattern.

Even more specifically, the charge given to man to cultivate and to keep the garden underscores the role of the
creational ordinance of labor (Genesis 2:15).  Indeed, man is to enjoy his life in the context of God's creation.  But as a
matter of fact, labor is to be seen as a principal means by which man's enjoyment of the creation is assured.  The
creational ordinance of labor finds specific support in the legislation of the new covenant.  The apostle Paul made it quite
plain that good standing within the Christian community hinged in part on a proper respect for work:

"For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.  
For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not  at all, but are busy bodies.  Now
them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat
their own bread.
"  II Thessalonians 3:10-12.

Instead of being a legal aspect of the old covenant, labor belongs integrally to the role of man made in God's image.  
This creation- ordinance joins with the Sabbath and marriage to provide  meaningful structure to man's existence under
the general provisions of the covenant of creation.

The Covenant of Creation:  Its Focal Aspect

In addition to these general provisions of the covenant of creation, man made in God's image also had responsibility for
a more specific command addressed to him.  He was not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:
16,17).  The requirement concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil must not be conceived of as a somewhat
arbitrary stipulation without integral relation to the total life of man.  Instead, this particular prohibition must be seen as
the focal point of man's testing.

Lacking this awareness of the total unity of man's responsibilities under the covenant of creation, an extremely
dangerous dualism will develop between man's "religious" or "spiritual" responsibilities and his "cultural" or "work-a-day"
responsibilities.  Adam under the covenant of creation did not have one set of duties relating to the created world, and
another more specific duty of an entirely different nature which could be designated as "spiritual."  All that Adam did had
direct bearing on his relation to the covenant God of creation.  The creational ordinances of marriage, labor, and
Sabbath did not have a distinctive existence separated from Adam's responsibility to refrain from eating of the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil.  His life as a covenant creature must be viewed as a unified whole.  Covenant-relationship
involves total-life relationship.  Rather than addressing itself to some ill-conceived "religious" aspect of man, the
covenant of God is all-inclusive.

The total life-involvement of the covenant relationship provides the framework for considering the connection between
the "great commission" and the "cultural mandate."  Entrance into God's kingdom may occur only by repentance and
faith, which requires the preaching of the gospel.  This "gospel," however, must not be conceived of in the narrowest
possible terms.  It is the gospel of the "kingdom."  It involves discipling men to Jesus Christ.  Integral to that discipling
process is the awakening of an awareness of the obligations of man to the totality of God's creation.  Redeemed man,
remade in God's image, must fulfill-even surpass-the role originally determined for the first man.  In such a manner, the
mandate to preach the gospel and the mandate to form a culture glorifying to God merge with one another.

In a somewhat similar fashion, the prohibition concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the more
general demands on man must be seen to relate to one another.  It is not that man had fulfilled all his obligations under
the covenant of creation by refusing to eat of the tree.  He had larger demands on his life as well.  Yet the response to
the particular prohibition concerning the tree was crucially determinative.  The focal point of the covenant rested
specifically on this single test.  If Adam succeeded in submitting to God at this point, his blessing under the larger
provisions of the covenant of creation was assured.  As the test concerning the tree is examined, the radicalness of
obedience demanded stands out boldly.  Contrary to the normal order which pervaded the garden scene, man was not to
eat of this single tree.

Man had been given the privilege of eating from every tree of the garden.  As God's vice-gerent all was his.  Yet now,
one marked exception is introduced.  One tree stands in the midst of the garden as symbolic reminder than man is not
God.  All has been given to him graciously; but the one exception reminds him that he must not confuse his bountiful
blessedness with the state of the Creator.  He is creature; God is Creator.

In this particular situation, man had nothing to indicate the exceptional nature of this one tree other than the word of
God.  This point emphasizes the radical nature of the obedience required.  Acting as a free agent, endued with natural
powers beyond all of God's creation, man nonetheless must humble himself beneath the word once spoken by his
sovereign Creator.

As has been indicated, man was required to do many things under the provision of the covenant of creation.  But the
probationary test concerning the tree established a focal point at which man's submission to the Creator could be
scrutinized.  Now the point of testing reduces itself to man's willingness to choose obedience for the sake of obedience
alone.  The raw word of God in itself must become the basis of man's action.  

When this focal character of the probationary test is appreciated, something of the reality of the entire scene becomes
apparent.  The narrative does not recount a silly story about a stolen apple. Instead, a most radical test of the original
man's willingness to submit to the specific word of the Creator is involved.  Additional insight into this crucial point of
man's testing may be found in the parallel experience of God's people under the covenant of redemption. Israel, the
prophetic shadow of the second Adam, underwent testing regarding eating during its wandering in the wilderness.  The
purpose of this testing was to teach man that he does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds from the
mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3).  Even the providential ordering of God which deprives of bread may become a source
of life if Israel will learn that existence does not depend primarily on the consumption of the material substance of the
creation.  It depends instead on fellowship with the Creator, which arises from an acceptance in joyful trust of all that he
orders for life.

Similarly, Christ the second Adam, experienced deprivation of material sustenance in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1).  
Satan tempted him to exercise his rightful powers in order to alleviate his discomfort arising from God's providential
orderings.  Christ repulsed this temptation by reaffirming the principle indicated in Deuteronomy.  Man does not live by
bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.  Even the divine word that deprives will be a
source of life, since it awakens the creature to full awareness that life depends always on the Creator.

Radical obedience therefore provides the key to blessing under the covenant of creation.  If man will acknowledge fully
the lordship of the Creator by obeying His word purely for the sake of obedience, he shall experience the consummate
blessing of the covenant.  Life in perpetuity shall be his. A comparable emphasis on the role of obedience is found in
association with the covenant of redemption.  Restoration of fallen man hinges on the one act of obedience of Christ, the
second Adam:

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness
of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.  For as by one man's disobedience many were
made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
" Romans 5:18,19

Only radical obedience may provide a proper basis for restoration of men guilty of radical disobedience.  Herein lies the
significance of the ultra-drama enacted in Gethsemane.  Christ, the second Adam, genuinely grappled with the demand
for radical obedience.  Three times in great agony Christ struggled with this ultimate of decisions (Matthew 26:39; 26:42;
John 18;11).  In evident progress of obedience he moves from: "If it is possible, let this cup pass from me," to "If this
cannot pass away unless I drink it, thy will be done."   Though he was a son, he learned obedience through the things
which he suffered (Hebrews 5:8).  As obedient unto death, he is able to save all that come to God by him.  Clearly this
relationship between man and his Creator may be described as a "bond of life and death sovereignly administered."

Cursing and blessing, life and death - these are the alternatives faced by man under the covenant of creation.  The
outcome focuses on the probation test.  In the day that man eats of the forbidden fruit, he shall surely die (Genesis 2:
17).  Violation of the stipulations of the covenant of creation cannot but result in death.

Apparently, the tree of life symbolized the possibility of being sustained in the condition of covenantal blessing and life.  If
man would pass the test of probation, he would live forever.  This sign of perpetual blessing reappears in the biblical
imagery of consummation.  The tree of life appears once more. This time 12 different varieties of fruit appear, providing
freshness of life according to each month of the year:

In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare
twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the
healing of the nations.
"  Revelation 22:2


The Christ of the Covenants, by O. Palmer Robertson, Copyright 1980, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing

The Covenants, by Kevin J. Conner and Ken Malmin, Copyright 1983, Bible Temple Publishing.