The Adam Pattern

The Church is a second version of Israel. It repeats Israel’s history and calling. Throughout the Bible, a pattern exists of a failed first version and a second version which is like it. Adam failed by choosing sin over the commandment of God, whereas Christ chose to die to atone for his future bride’s sins. Abraham initially failed to believe in God for his lineage, attempting to fulfill the promises of God by the means the woman recommended (essentially the same mistake Adam made with Eve), and Ishmael resulted. Abraham was given a chance to right this wrong, and chose not to withhold his only son in pursuance of that.

How do we justify this claim that the Church is new Israel? Jesus makes many statements to the effect that he and his disciples’ mission was first to Israel:

[Mat 10:5-6 ESV] 5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

[Mat 15:24 ESV] 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

[Mat 19:27-28 ESV] 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

[Luk 22:28-30 ESV] 28 “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Jesus’ mission was to Israel, but many times he conveys via parables and even in direct word that those who were invited to the kingdom did not come, so it will be given to others:

[Mat 21:43-45 ESV] 43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them.

Israel was the first to be offered Abraham’s promise of being a “blessing to all nations”:

[Deu 26:18-19 ESV] 18 And the LORD has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments, 19 and that he will set you in praise and in fame and in honor high above all nations that he has made, and that you shall be a people holy to the LORD your God, as he promised.”

However, Paul explains that Israel failed in this in relying on the law because they rejected the lawgiver in whom they were to have faith:

[Gal 3:7-8, 13-14 ESV] 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” … 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”– 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

So Israel was offered a covenant and did not meet its terms. This meant there needed to be a liquidation of that covenant and that it be replaced by a new covenant. Obviously this was foreseen by God – no less than the fact that he knew Adam would sin and therefore need to be liquidated by death – as covenants are effective until death (Hebrew 9:16-17) – but that it would see a fulfillment and the establishment of a new covenant in the Christ, the last Adam.

Israel’s split from Judah through Jeroboam is an interesting quirk to the events along the timeline of the first Adam – God allowed the split even if he did not directly desire it. His words to Jeroboam were along the lines of “this is going to happen to you. If you’re not faithful to what you’re given, this is what I will do.” Jeroboam was given the 10 tribes and told if he did not follow God his house would be destroyed. The root cause of this was Solomon’s abject failure to adhere to the covenant given to him by God and to the words of the law for Israelite kings.

The worldly power of the house of David was reduced substantially by this, but the small kingdom was left mostly unscathed by the surrounding nations due to its irrelevancy to ancient geopolitics until the people were mostly carried away to Babylon after repeated rebellions against Nebuchadnezzar.

As the old covenant and Adam was to Israel, so the new Covenant and Christ are to the Church. Those are the only two entities in which God vested his presence – in Israel via the Tabernacle/Temple structures and practices, specifically the “Bread of the presence” and the Holy of Holies in which the Ark of the Covenant resided – and in the church through the body and blood (the communion host), and through the gathering of two or three in his name. Most Christians are at least somewhat familiar with the Israel-Church pattern, but many are not familiar with the notion that Abram bears many of the same qualities as Adam. This “Middle Adam” theory helps illuminate the first and last Adams. More on that another time.

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