To avoid another global judgment, the Lord established a substitutionary, sacrificial “creation” in Abram, a man who bore the Edenic curses upon land and womb and overcame them by faith.
Just as God established a “social creation” in Adam in Genesis 21See Covenant Structure in Genesis 2., so the second age of Covenant history saw the establishment of a new Covenant Hierarchy over the world. In this case, however, the Land promised to Abram would become the “legal representative” of all the other nations on the “dry land,” that for the time being God might “overlook” their sins (Acts 17:30).
This helps us to make sense of the various events early in the account of Abraham and why Genesis 12 shifts the narrative from a global outlook to a local one. These local events were not random occurrences but in fact a recapitulation of global events earlier in the book. As local events, the blessings promised to Abram and the curses which came to pass upon the Canaanites under Joshua were global judgments “in miniature” that “all flesh” might be saved. Moreover, this understanding enables us to interpret the narratives with greater insight as part of a literary architecture.
Although the Abrahamic narrative consists of smaller cycles, in the overall pattern Abram faced three tests of faith before God actually “cut” the Covenant with him. This corresponds with the failure of Adam to qualify as a Covenant administrator, and Noah’s qualification as the first Priest-King.
Attack on the bride
|Adam, Eve and the serpent
|Abram, Sarai and Pharaoh
Dispute over firstfruits
|Cain and Abel, Lamech
|Abram and Lot, Sodom
Nations and judgment
|The mighty men vs.
the ark of Noah
|The united kings vs.
the household of Abram
|God blesses Noah and establishes
his ministry as a Priest-King
|Priest-king Melchizedek blesses
Abram over bread and wine
Land and Womb
|Noah in a deep sleep /
Ham sins and Canaan’s seed is cursed
|Abram in a deep sleep /
Egypt (the land of Ham) sins and
the land of Canaan is given to
Abram’s seed (Genesis 15)
The word “covenant” is not mentioned until the story of Noah, and not again until the story of Abraham. However, whereas the Noahic Covenant finally united priesthood (Oath: Man under the sword of God) and kingdom (Sanctions: the world under the sword of Man) the Abrahamic Covenant actually split the two offices once again. It was necessary that Mankind be “divided” in circumcision that Mankind might be “conquered” in Christ.
Now, if we zoom in on Genesis 15, we can see that the strange rite of the “new covenant” made with Abram is also a recapitulation of the Adamic/Noahic era.
|Adam’s sin, barrenness
in land and womb
|God promises Abram a son|
|Cain (who works the ground) fails to rule over sin and slays Abel the shepherd||Abram’s servant is rejected. The Lord reiterates the promise concerning “land and womb,” numbering Abram’s seed as the stars of heaven|
|Lamech substitutes vengeance for atonement (Priesthood)||The Lord calls for sacrifices to cover the sins of Canaan (Priesthood)|
|Seth’s priesthood is corrupted through intermarriage with the Cainite line (Kingdom)||Israel suffers in Egypt and
worships Egyptian gods but remains
|Noah witnesses and musters representatives of all kinds into a microcosmic house (Prophecy)||Under Moses, God sends plagues. Israel plunders and abandons Egypt (Prophecy)|
|God kills all flesh, the dry land
is rendered clean of bloodshed
by a global flood. Noah offers the first “ascension-by-fire”
|Israel passes through the waters and returns to Canaan. The blazing torch passes through the sacrifices, prefiguring the pillar of fire|
|Worship is re-established
in a “new earth”
| Worship is re-established
in the Promised Land
Now, it must be said here that Israel’s failure to enter the Land required a delay of one generation, ruining the pattern and requiring not only a new “washing” in the Jordan but also a “second” circumcision.
Finally, it is interesting that since the promise and conquest of Canaan moved Covenant history into its “Day 2” stage, the parting of the waters was not vertical like the physical heavens and earth. Instead it was horizontal, like the division between brothers, Abel’s priesthood before heaven (Oath) and Cain’s kingdom upon the earth (Sanctions).
If you are new to this method of interpretation, please visit the Welcome page for some help to get you up to speed.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||See Covenant Structure in Genesis 2.|