World Stuff

jimjordantbynr

“In Genesis 1, God creates the world in six days, through certain steps. Then He creates human beings out of ‘world,’ and human beings made out of world are going to live like ‘world’ does. They are going to go from darkness to light, formlessness to form; they are going to marry and take dominion. They are going to become like lights ruling over the earth. They’re going to live in 24 hour cycles. They will undergo times when God pulls them apart and puts them back together in new ways–all because they are made out of world. And these are all steps of glorification.” — James B. Jordan (The Bible You Never Read)

Some Christians assert that Adam was not the first man, only the first man in Covenant with God. [1] This means that the judgments upon such a Covenant could only be social, not “Creational.” They could only fall upon those under Covenant, not the “pre-Adamic” people from which this Covenant separated Adam. This assertion must be made to support the view that the Great Flood was only a local event, destroying only the “Adamites,” not all people on the planet. Does this assertion have any support in Scripture? Apparently yes, but factually no.

The problem is that, although all Covenants are social in one sense, that is, between God and people, there are differences in the domains. Covenant history looks like this:

CREATIONAL

SOCIAL

PERSONAL

SOCIAL

CREATIONAL

This first Covenant was between God and the world. World stuff was shaped, brought to life, and walked and talked in Adam. This Covenant was Creational.

ALL FLESH

The Covenant-making in Genesis 1 was not a Covenant made with heaven and earth. It was a Covenant that made heaven and earth, and the final step in its glorification was the Creation of Man. This was a Covenant made with “all flesh,” and if all flesh failed, all flesh would die. Did all flesh sin? No, but its representative did.

The phrase “all died in Adam” wasn’t limited to people. Animals died too. What would be the point–Covenantally, let alone practically– of the Lord gathering animals into an ark if the animals were not under Covenant. Adam had named them as their global representative.

The flood judgment involved the entire physical world because Adam was the representative of the entire physical world. He was not simply the representative of “the Adamites.” His Creation was a part of the Creation, which is not the case if the Adamic Covenant was not only ceremonial (as all later Covenants were) but also Creational.

Adam was made of world. He was the world “doing Covenantal stuff.” He was not only in the world but of the world. So, when the time came for judgment, the entire world had to be destroyed.

Adam’s sin was temporarily covered. Cain’s sin was temporarily covered. But the time came when sin could no longer be covered. When all domains (Garden, Land and World) were corrupted, the world, not just the people, had come to maturity. The world, not just the people, was fruit ripe for judgment. Was it good to eat?

The Great Flood was the end of Adam’s representative role of the physical creation. Noah was invested as the new representative, again, not merely over a certain people among other nations, but over the world. The Flood was not simply a local judgment of a certain people. A local flood means that all did not die in Adam.

Noah’s Covenant was also a Covenant made with all flesh. As Adam’s Covenant failed in Garden, Land and World, Noah’s succeeded in the Garden (judging Ham’s offspring) but failed in the Land (Babel). Before another Flood could occur (World), God stepped in and tore humanity in half. By His word, he called a Man out of the world. Abram would be in the world but not of the world.

IN THE FLESH

Just as the Sethites and Cainites were divided, so now Jew and Gentile would be divided. This time, God would keep the Covenant carriers from intermarrying with unbelief and abdicating their Covenant office.

This calling out put a temporary barrier, a veil, a wall, between Adam and the physical Creation. The first Covenant not made with “all flesh” was not until Genesis 12. Instead of cutting off all flesh, the flesh of Abram was cut off. It began the process of putting sin to death in the flesh. The Covenant scope was narrowed from the created order to a social order. Humanity was put into a deep sleep, and blood was spilt.

THE POINT OF CIRCUMCISION

Unlike the first two Covenants, the Abrahamic Covenant is what I call “social” because it set one nation, one genealogy, apart from all the others. Abram was called out from other men. That is what some Christians want to do with Adam. But was Adam simply called out from other men? No. We can’t take the traits of the Abrahamic Covenant and apply them to the Adamic and Noahic Covenants. The latter two were global in scale. They were not social divisions, otherwise circumcision has no significance whatsoever.

Circumcision, the cutting of Abraham’s flesh, was the “division” of Adam on a global scale. Being a bloodied, sacrificial wanderer meant there was a pure Adam mediating between heaven and earth, a place that was set apart between the throne of God and the physical world, moving about like the Tabernacle, a flying scroll, a bit of physical world stuff cut off–quarantined–from the physical world. In the grand scheme of things, Covenant had moved from the court of the Gentiles (nations) to the Holy Place. The Creation Temple was protected from judgment by a substitutionary, microcosmic Temple, a veil of flesh.

SOCIAL FLOODS

The prophets often used Creational terminology for this Holy Place which represented the Creation and kept it from being destroyed. When Israel’s sins were filled up, mature, it was the Tabernacle and Temple, not the physical world, that were torn apart. The “floods” under this social Covenant were floods of Gentiles: Babylonians and Romans. To conclude that because these “social” floods were local the Great Flood was also localĀ  is to miss the “mediatory” point entirely. Israel was the bulkhead between God’s wrath and a physical, Creational judgment.

Adam’s and Noah’s Covenants were global. They concerned dominion of the physical Land and Sea. Abraham’s Covenant was social. This social, symbolic “Land and Sea” (Jews and Gentiles) didn’t begin in Adam but in Abraham. And it ended in AD70. AD70 was the end of Israel’s representative role for the nations, and the end of a “social” Land and Sea.

ALL THINGS NEW

The substitutionary structures were fulfilled eventually in the body of Jesus, in a deep sleep. In Jesus, the Covenant moved from the Holy Place into the Most Holy, from a social Covenant to a personal one.

In Jesus, all Creation was legally slain and legally resurrected–not just Adam, and the people, but the physical order also. He is a three level ark. At Jesus’ ascension, the “world stuff” was now in heaven, the physical body of Christ, justified flesh doing “three-level” Covenant stuff on our behalf, and on behalf of not just the people but of the entire Created order.

Now that those “social” substitutes are gone, as well as the body of Jesus (“personal”), all men everywhere are commanded to repent, but the outcome will not be limited to the world of men.

At Pentecost, Christians began representing the social (Jew-Gentile) world in the courtroom of God. This new Creation broke down the old social divide, the “wall of enmity,” until the Covenantal “Land and Sea” were again the physical land and sea. The world groaned until its firstfruits–the first resurrection, the revealing of the true sons of God, the Christians. Yet it groans still, because the harvest is not complete.

The new physical world, contained in Jesus, created a new social order. This Spirit-filled social order will mature eventually into a new physical order. As mediators, we are in the world but not of the world, yet the world will be ours. The CREATIONAL – SOCIAL – PERSONAL – SOCIAL – CREATIONAL chiasm will be finished in the physical world at the second resurrection. [2] The remaining physical disconnect is temporary. One day, the often venomous physical world will no longer be trying to kill us. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

History will end as history began, with a Creational judgment. The entire physical realm will again be ripe, mature. The Lord will taste it and see that it is good. In fact, He will judge it to be very, very good.

“…in the chiasm of redemption
the first shall be last, and the last first.”

Peter J. Leithart.

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[1] See also Biologos’ Jenga Bible.
[2] See A New Heavens and a New Earth.

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