Guests: Douglas Clark and Zdravko Stefanovic
Relevant Biblical Passages: Genesis 1-3
What Happened? Our lessons for this quarter center on the idea of God’s everlasting covenant. Interestingly enough, the official Sabbath School study guide begins this new series of lessons on “covenant” by focusing on the same three chapters of Scripture which were used in the opening lesson last quarter when the lessons were on “Living the Advent Hope.” Yet neither the word “advent” nor the word “covenant” appear in the first three chapters of the Bible. Indeed, unless one is familiar with the whole Bible and with Christian tradition, introducing the idea of “Advent Hope” or the idea of “Everlasting Covenant” into Genesis 1-3 probably would be quite puzzling to someone who simply happens to read these particular chapters for their own value.
- Why should we start our discussion of “Advent” and our discussion “Everlasting Covenant” with a biblical passage that doesn’t make either idea explicit? Is there something in our Christian heritage that drives us back to the beginning of time, regardless of the particular aspect of biblical truth we might be studying at the moment?
- Creation, Fall, Covenant. The creation portfolio in Scripture is rich and varied: In Genesis 1, the Holy Sovereign of the universe speaks the world into existence through His creative Word; In Genesis 2, the Master Craftsman is presented as gently forming and shaping living beings out of dust with His own hands; In Proverbs 8, a feminine figure, Wisdom, is Yahweh’s intimate and constant companion as the Cosmic Designer designs, molds, and shapes the universe.By contrast, Genesis 3 is the only narrative describing the “Fall,” the entry of human sin into God’s fresh, new world. In that fateful chapter the Serpent seduces Eve, Eve convinces her husband to join her in transgression, and all three are judged and sentenced by the One who comes looking for Adam in the cool of the day.” Covenant” suggests the idea of an agreement; “everlasting covenant” implies a permanent agreement negotiated between two personal entities. So what do Creation and Fall have to do with “covenant”? Why should the conversation about “covenant” begin here?
- Created in the image of God, but the earthy companions of the animals. In Genesis 1:27 humans are created in the image of God; in Genesis 2:7, God personally forms them from dust and breathes into them the breath of life. Genesis 2 records how this same Yahweh forms the animals from dust, but brings them to the “man” for naming. So where does humanity fit in the spectrum between divinity on the one hand and creatureliness on the other? And how does this relate to the “covenant” which God will make with humans after sin enters God’s perfect world?
- Interaction between God and humankind. In Genesis 1:28-29, God places Adam in charge of the creation, commanding him to “have dominion” over creation; in Genesis 2:15-17 God sets up the test of the forbidden tree, then brings the animals to Adam to name, then personally puts Adam to sleep in order to prepare a female counterpart for him; in Genesis 3 God returns to pronounce judgment. To what extent does Genesis 3:15 foreshadow the “covenant”? Does its good news overshadow the bad news which surrounds it? Does this verse help us understand why the lessons on Advent and the lessons on Covenant both begin with Genesis 1-3?