What Lies Beneath

or The Architecture of Abraham’s Bosom

“For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of [Adam] be three days and three nights in the heart of the [Land].”
(Matthew 12:40)

There was some to and fro recently between Doug Wilson and Andrew Perriman on the use of Greek terms for the grave and hell used by the New Testament writers. [1] Each makes some very good points (I lean more towards Perriman), concerning “what lies beneath.” When Jesus speaks of a “divided hell,” should we be overly concerned about Greek mythology? It seems to me that those who focus on the references to pagan literature in the Bible fail to see the biblical sources of many things, even if these biblical things pick up Greek names along the way.

However, neither Wilson nor Perriman really deals with the architecture of God’s work in the world, which is what actually lies beneath. As with Shakespeare, an understanding of God’s “global theatre” enlightens us concerning the shape of His stories.

Early Genesis sets the stage for the rest of the Bible. The architecture set up by God shapes the rest of the Bible. The cosmos is a Temple, and the Man is to be a temple within that Temple. Later in biblical history, the Tabernacle was built as a mediator between the macrocosmic Creational temple and the microcosmic human one. We watch this house move through many cycles of death and resurrection, taking it from glory to glory, throughout the Bible. Like Adam, the Tabernacle was clothed with animal skins. Like Eve, the Temple, decked with precious stones and metals, “multiplied” the priestly function of the Adamic house into a “bridal army” (i.e. ten tables, ten lampstands, ten chariot-lavers).

So, the architecture of the Cosmos and the Man are illustrated for us in the architecture and ministry of the House of God, in both its sacrifices of blood and its sacrifices of praise. Man is to become “cosmic.” [2] Those whose eyes gazed at the stars are to shine like stars, and perhaps even colonize them at some point. [3] Greater glory is only bought with greater sacrifice. As suffering saints fill up the sufferings of Christ, a glorious Church fills up the world.

In Genesis 2, Eve was taken from Adam’s bosom. His was the first circumcised heart. It was a circumcision “without hands,” that is, carried out by the Spirit of God. As the Man came out of the “feminine” Land (eretz), so the Woman came out of the Man. Though she was now separate from him, he was still to be a safe place, a shelter, for her.

Adam possessed twenty-four ribs. They were a structure, a framework. Eve was literally “constructed” from that structure. As flesh glorified Adam’s rib, so Eve glorified Adam’s house. We see this echoed in the clothing of the High Priest. He wore the names of the twelves tribes in “childhood” form on his shoulders, and in glorious “adult” or bridal form on his bosom. The rainbow stripes in the black onyx shoulders were fulfilled in the fire-filled gemstones on his breastplate.

The twelve of the priestly tribes was doubled in the twelve of the apostolic witness. The New Jerusalem is a twenty-four, a complete structure, a bridal house to be filled. But how does all this relate to the “bosom of Abraham”?

When Adam died, his body was “scattered.” The work of the Spirit in “knitting” him together was undone. He returned to the dust. Due to his ethical lack of integrity, he disintegrated physically. Later on, when saints died, they were described as being “gathered” to their fathers. Although they were returning to dust, a scattering, they were still being gathered as one somewhere. In a sense, Eve was being put back into the bosom of Adam, but a faithful Adam. It was the bosom of Abraham, a justified Adam, an Adam who, though returning to the dust, would not be eaten by the serpent. The saints were still buried, but Abraham’s integrity made him a safe place to be buried.

The era of an earthly Promised Land stretched from the call of Abraham to the end of the Abrahamic divide, that is, from the institution of circumcision to its end in AD70. Abraham himself became a “Land promise.” His faith would reverse the “womb and tomb” sterility curses of Genesis 3.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:1-2)

To be buried in the Land carried the promise of resurrection. When Sarah was buried in the cave in Machpelah, she was buried, by promise, in the bosom of Abraham, her faithful Adam. The faith of Abraham made the grave a safe place. Abraham’s faith “circumcised” the grave and made his part of it clean. All the faithful, though in the grave, were “deposited” into the body of an Adam who was dead, but an Adam who embodied all the promises because he believed them. Abraham himself was the “earnest” of the heavenly country, not just for Jews but also for Gentiles. So Matthew refers to Jesus being in “the heart of the Land” (Matthew 12:40).

The significance of Canaan as “clean dust” is reflected in the request to Elisha the prophet by Naaman the Syrian for a load of promised “Adamah.”

Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mules’ load of earth (adamah), for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord.” (2 Kings 5:17) [4]

But the Abrahamic Covenant came to an end, and with it, the significance of an earthly (Adamic) country. Architecturally, this was the destruction of the bloody Bronze Altar and the resurrection of the fragrant Golden Altar, a heavenly country. God’s action in history was moving from outside the tent to inside the tent, from the Bronze Altar-Land to the Incense Altar-House. Abraham, and all those sheltering “in him,” needed the perfect Man to enter the heavenly country first.

This is what is happening in the Revelation. Jesus ascends as the head of the sacrifice. In AD30, Jesus, our High Priest, made His first approach on the Day of Coverings as Covenant Head. He then returned “in like manner” for the Covenant Body. This was the events leading up to AD70, fulfilling the vision in Daniel 7. The saints under the altar, all the martyroi (witnesses), from Abel to the apostles, entered heaven, as fiery bridal gemstones on Jesus’ breastplate, to sit on thrones, and call down the curses upon the old order. The last days are only ever the last days of the old order. [5] These were the “firstfruits” to God and the Lamb.

So, the division in Hades was between those inside the bosom of Abraham and those outside it. The bosom of Abraham was a circumcised heart, a circumcision “without hands.” Abraham himself was the promise of resurrection, of a “bridal body.” When he buried Sarah in the Land, she was resting in the promises made to Abraham, in his own bosom, until God constructed the Bridal Body and “closed up the flesh,” that is, the division between Jew and Gentile.

As an important aside, this is another reason why paedobaptism cuts against the liturgical order of Bible history. A tribal “cutting” does not belong in the Holy Place, but outside in the courts. The sounds of the cutting of stones for Solomon’s Temple were not to be heard at the Temple site. Jesus was “cut” outside the camp, outside the tent, but “knitted back together” as a new Tabernacle in the Most Holy Place to make the grave a safe place for those who believe. The Covenant sign was moving from bloody circumcision (Bronze Altar-Land) to a baptism of water (Laver) and access to the place of the advising elders (Incense Altar), from genealogy (external Law: Moses) to ethics (internal Law: Christ). Paedobaptism has no place in the heavenly country. It is for those born from the tomb, not the womb. As with the bosom of Abraham, the bosom of Jesus is not about physical succession. It is not a promise of salvation but a promise of resurrection to those who have already believed. [6] Eventually, the grave itself will be cut off. [7]

Interestingly, we see the two-fold “head and body” approach in Abraham’s life as well.

Abraham entered Canaan briefly to sacrifice Isaac (first approach of the High Priest – sins of priesthood – Adam). This priestly, tribal “cutting off,” a ceremonial sterility, made Canaan safe. Abraham then entered again briefly to bury Sarah (second approach – sins of people – Eve). The structure of the surrounding events follows the Mosaic festal calendar, and it places these two approaches at “Atonement,” the Day of Coverings (see Bible Matrix: An Introduction to the DNA of the Scriptures, p. 95).

So, the shape of events in Abraham’s ministry and life prefigured the entire Abrahamic age, circumcision to uncircumcision, Melchizedek to Greater Melchizedek. We are no longer gathered into the bosom of our father as a “cut around” spiritual tribe, but into the glorious bosom of his resurrected Son as a priesthood of all nations.

“Now there was [lying back] on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.” (John 13:23 KJV)

COMING 2013: Bible Matrix III: The House of God.

[1] Doug Wilson: Hell and Hellenism; Andrew Perriman: Some Quick Notes on Doug Wilson’s Argument; Doug Wilson: Just What Siddhartha Wanted. I think Greek mythology owes far more to the Hebrew Scriptures than the New Testament owes to Greek mythology. See Did Plato Read Moses? I believe that both Wilson and Perriman are wrong about Jesus preaching to the antediluvians. See The Spirits in Prison.
[2] See Cosmic Language.
[3] See Barren Worlds.
[4] Elisha tells Naaman to “go in peace.” As horses speak of war, donkeys and mules speak of peace but also of believing Gentiles. Ishmael was to be a wild donkey (Genesis 16:12), yet a “Gentile sponsor” for Israel’s sacrificial worship. Abraham saddled a donkey for his trip to Moriah. Ishmaelites “carried” Isaac as the Gentile Sea “carried” the Israelite Land. Ishmaelites carried Joseph “out of the ground” to Egypt, saving him from his murderous brothers (whether they knew this or not). Balaam rode a donkey to convince that he came in peace when he came to curse. The donkey spoke “with the tongue of angels” to warn him. Same thing happens after Pentecost, when believing Gentiles speak to Jewish Balaamites as a warning. And of course, Jesus rode a donkey as the Prince of Peace.
[5] See One Taken, One Left Behind and The Last Trumpet.
[6] Paedobaptism is indefensible from Scripture at every level, an odious distortion of Covenant theology, liturgical sequence, biblical architecture and the work of Jesus.
[7] See The Circumcision of Satan.

Art: Duccio di Buoninsegna, The Harrowing of Hell.

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