Unbelief, the First Sin

Continuing with the discussion of the fall, Calvin writes:

It is now asked, What was the sin of both of them? The opinion of some of the ancients, that they were allured by intemperance of appetite, is puerile. For when there was such an abundance of the choicest fruits what daintiness could there be about one particular kind? Augustine is more correct, who says, that pride was the beginning of all evils, and that by pride the human race was ruined. Yet a fuller definition of the sin may be drawn from the kind of temptation which Moses describes. For first the woman is led away from the word of God by the wiles of Satan, through unbelief…

Therefore, unbelief was the root of defection; just as faith alone unites us to God. Hence flowed ambition and pride, so that the woman first, and then her husband, desired to exalt themselves against God. For truly they did exalt themselves against God, when, honor having been divinely conferred upon them, they not contented with such excellence, desired to know more than was lawful, in order that they might become equal with God. Here also monstrous ingratitude betrays itself.

Again, we see that the root of all obedience is and was always faith. As long as Adam and Eve were delighting in God, temptation was powerless. It was only when the turned their gaze from God’s majesty and contemplated their own abilities that sin crept it.

Their unbelief also exhibited ingratitude, as they failed to note what good they had been given. They wanted more.

And in doing so, they went crazy.

Jacob’s Exodus and Sinai

In Genesis 31, Jacob (soon to be named Israel), steals away from his oppressive task-master under cover of secrecy. Rachel takes Laban’s riches with her as spoils, and the whole house of Israel begins its trek back to the land of Canaan.

Laban, realizing how much money he’s going to lose in all of this, decides to pursue Jacob, perhaps to win him back, but God intervenes, warning him to do Jacob no harm.

When Laban sees that he has no claim on Jacob or his house, he asks for a covenant of peace. The process involves stones, oaths, and a sacrifice on the mountain.

From there angels of God lead Jacob’s camp along the way back to the land. They cross a river as they enter Canaan (Gen. 32:22).

Eden and Exodus

Genesis 29:1-14 exudes Edenic imagery right from the beginning. Jacob has just left “the house of God,” where he saw heaven and earth united, and he proceeds east-ward. This is the direction of the garden (Gen. 2:8), and it should come as no surprise that Jacob encounters water, livestock, and of course, a woman who will be his bride.

This story is a clear parallel to the earlier account of Isaac’s servant meeting Rebekah (which is also a new Adam and Eve story), but this time Laban (who we have also met before) is no longer a friend. Like the Pharaohs and Emperors who always forget the good guys, so too does Laban turn on Jacob. Our new Eden becomes a new Egypt, and an Exodus will be required.

New Men

Noah is clearly a new Adam, with charge over the animals, the sole fatherhood of mankind, and the repeated dominion mandate. He comes out of the waters and enters into a new creation.  He ends his life sleeping in a garden.  To top it off, his sons have a conflict with one another.

Abraham is a new Noah. He emerges, from nowhere, amidst genealogies, to serve as the father of the people of God, his company being a sort of Ark of salvation to the flooded world.

Isaac becomes a new Abraham, as he (re)deceives Abimelech through his sister/wife and takes over the headship of the promised line. He has two sons, a natural and a spiritual one, who fight with one another.

Jacob becomes a new Isaac, as I mentioned in the previous post, and I believe we’ve got ourselves a pattern.

There are other ways in which each of these men is a new Adam. Certainly Abraham’s task is to begin solving the Adamic problem. Isaac and Rebekah become a new Adam and Eve. Jacob at Bethel begins the entrance back into Eden, as he lays the first stone for the temple.

Perhaps we’ll see Joseph redeeming some part of the Adamic fall…

New Isaac, New Abraham

Jacob’s meeting Rachel at a well in Gen. 29 is a direct recapitulation of Isaac’s servant’s encounter with Rebekah just five chapters earlier. In both accounts the promised son is taking his cousin for a wife, and in both accounts the woman is very beautiful.

Unfortunately for Jacob, Laban deceives him, giving him the wrong daughter in marriage. Jacob wanted the younger, but the older, weaker daughter would have been skipped, and this was not something Laban could allow for. Laban, like Isaac, wants the firstborn to receive the blessing.

The two wives begin competing with each other, however, and as they employ their own cunning, as well as their handmaidens to produce children, we see that Jacob is a new and accelerated Abraham. He will also go on to be the “big daddy” of the tribes of Israel with the promised son who is persecuted by the other siblings.