Mother of the Free

Here, Doug Wilson explains why the accusation that he is “mono-covenantal” is false.

It seems to me that if any distinction is to be made, it is not between pre- and postlapsarian history. The dichotomy Paul describes in Galatians is not between God’s Covenant with Adam and His Covenant in Christ, but between the Mosaic Covenant and the Adamic Covenant.

The Adamic Covenant was a Covenant of grace, as Doug describes, but the Mosaic Law “was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.” Galatians 3:19 (NKJV)

So what was the Adamic Covenant? It was a command to take dominion, a dominion given by grace. The prohibition of the Tree of Judicial knowledge was a temporary measure until Adam was ready, mature enough, to rule. It was like driving lessons before he got his license. Priesthood first (bread: just follows the rules, do what you are told) and then the Kingly cup (wine – tough decisions, ie. have I had enough?).

There is a typological correspondence between the temporary prohibition on the Tree of Judicial Knowledge, and the temporary nature of the Mosaic Law. Adam was anointed as “light.” He received the Law at Ascension. Moses was anointed on the mountain at the burning bush. He ascended Sinai to receive the Law. The restriction on the fruit of the second tree correlates to the Mosaic dietary restrictions. It and they were trainer wheels. [1] If Adam ruled wisely over the Garden, he would be given dominion over the Land. That is grace. He failed in the Garden, at the temporary measure. He failed to bind the serpent (Revelation 20) and loose Eve from his grasp. The purpose of the Law was never so he could earn dominion. It was to qualify him to rule.

Adam failed to rule in the Garden and the next generation failed to rule in the Land.

So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? [2] If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

The purpose of the Law was to make Adam Word incarnate, an enthroned Solomon. If Adam had ruled wisely over the Land, he would have been given dominion over the world. All he had to do was take it.

The “moving outward” continued, but with failure at every step. Adam’s failure became a curse for all nations. Noah was given a judicial dominion. There was greater success in Noah’s generations, but it was attended by similar failures. After the compromise at Babel, God did something new. He called Abram.

Paul corresponds Sinai to Hagar. Judicial maturity is corresponded with godly offspring, again and again, throughout the Bible (Tabernacles). At the end of many a cycle of Testing comes a genealogy: after obedience, a godly line; after disobedience, well, kids like the ones in my Year 7 Bible class this morning.

Hagar’s son is natural. Sarah’s son is miraculous. God delayed sending Isaac, and Abram failed in exactly the way Adam did. Isaac’s delay was a temporary prohibition. Ishmael was Abram’s stop-gap measure, seizing kingdom before time, taking the trainer wheels off before he was truly ready to rule/mediate for the Gentile kingdoms. Abraham eventually learned obedience through suffering, even to the point of killing that miraculous son, and God gave him dominion (as Covenant head) on a platter. His offspring, the Body, inherited the Land that was promised.

The call of Abram was the institution of a temporary people (Division) and later, in Moses, a temporary Law (Ascension). This is where history would stay until the Christ came for Testing. Keeping this temporary Law would qualify Him to rule, to be given dominion by the grace of the Father. Jesus finished the driving lessons and passed the test. The Father then gave Him the Covenant kingdom keys.

The Aaronic priesthood was thus temporary. Contrary to what is taught by dispensationalists, we will never, ever see it, its pedagogical laws or its “temp” Temple again. Jesus is a High Priest after the order of, not Aaron, but Melchizedek (and Jethro), the kind of high priest that was around before God ripped the human race in two temporarily through circumcision. The Jeru-Salem (City of Peace) of the Aaronic priesthood was only ever a temporary measure, a temporary robe, a temporary city. It was the clothing (covering) of childhood, a school uniform.

“Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar — for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children…”

Those who wish to see earthly Jerusalem rebuilt misunderstand the promise. They are resting under a Covenant that was a temporary, pedagogical measure, was fulfilled and passed away. The Salem of Melchizedek, a priesthood of all nations, a world dominion centralised in heaven, was always the permanent Covenant. The temporary peace of the bloody Aaronic priesthood died for the life of the world.

but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.”

Jesus talked about labour pains heralding the end of the age. It was the labour of a Jerusalem who thought she was fruitful and ruled over the Gentiles. But all she brought forth was a man of sin, a Herodian line of murderous stillborn Cains. The true Jerusalem, the heavenly country to which Abraham bowed and paid his tithe, was a priesthood of all believers, the Covenant body. The ascension of Christ reaffirmed the Covenant with Adam, a Covenant with no centre of worship on earth. But it was better than Adam’s proto-covenant. It also included judicial authority over the heavenly country.

Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Jesus’ judicial authority over heaven and earth is mediated to us. We are to rule over it. How? By temporary prohibitions, like fasting. Whatever we bind or loose on earth is bound or loosed in heaven. Binding and loosing are Hagar and Sarah, slave and free. The job of the apostles was to unleash the Word and divide Judaism in two, the circumcised, and the circumcised in heart. They bound the serpent and loosed the Bride.

The trainer wheels came off, fell off like old Adamic skins, forever in AD70. Jesus’s obedience fulfilled the Law and brought an end to the centralised worship established in the Mosaic Covenant. The Revelation describes Sinai, a burning mountain, tumbling into the Gentile Sea. All the high places of the Jews on the Land (mountains) and the Gentiles on the Sea (islands) fled away. There is only one high place now, and it is the throne of Christ, the Temple raised up in three days. And there is a priesthood of all nations, as there was before Abraham, only better.

No more pilgrimmages, no more “coming ins.” Only missions, only “going outs.” This is the Adamic Covenant of grace. Kingdom given to us on a platter (Melchizedek’s bread and wine), and an Eve who is the mother of the free. [3]

[1] See Touch Not, Taste Not, Handle Not.
[2] For the typological significance of Cain’s face, see The Face of the Deep.
[3] See Fighting Over the Children and Emancipation of Eve.

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One Response to “Mother of the Free”

  • Robert Murphy Says:

    I remember years ago when I first read “To a Thousand Generations”, I found Wilson’s explanation of the difference between the covenants very persuasive. Since reading Rob Rayburn’s dissertation, however, I have reread it and am unimpressed. Galatians 3:15-29 is the explanation, not of Abraham vs Moses, but of faith vs works. 2 Cor 3 says the letter kills. So, it’s not possible to say what most evangelicals say, that The-Old-Covenant/The-Old-Testament/Moses is not as good and The-New-Covenant/The-New-Testament/Jesus. What Hebrews and other places say is that one covenant is death and the other life.
    The key is to see that “law” as it is used in the NT context, refers not always to Moses, but often to the “law as it is taken” i.e. legalism.