More than just naked people…

 

Typically when I think of Adam and Eve the first thing that comes to my mind is that they were “the first naked people.” Because every time I read the story of Adam and Eve from a picture Bible to my kids, one of them giggles and says, “their naked.” And now sadly I can’t get that out of my head.

But Adam and Eve were more than just “the first naked people”.  Adam and Eve were the first King and Queen of Earth.

Early Christian depiction Early Christian depictions of Adam and Eve in the Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter
Early Christian depiction of Adam and Eve in the Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter

This is different than how we often picture them. But for the original audience, the language of Genesis 1 made this very clear.

In Genesis 1: 26-28 we read,

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground

 

First, Adam and Eve were made in the image of God. This was significant. As Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke points out, in ancient Near Eastern literature only kings were made in the image of God.

Waltke writes,

‘Image’ entails more than human form and the capability of social relationships, it confers the functional notion of duty and authority. The ancient New Eastern literature validates this inferences. For example, in Assyria only kings were thought to be in the image of god.

[An Assyrian proverb states] ‘A (free) man is as the shadow of God, the slave as the shadow of a (free) man; but the king, he is like unto the (very) image of god.”[1]

Second we see from Genesis 1:26-28 that God commanded Adam and Eve to “rule” and “subdue” the land and its inhabitants. These words shouted to the reader that Adam and Eve were to act as King and Queen over all that God had put before them. Old Testament scholar Peter Leithart summarizes Genesis 1:26-28 this way,

“As God is king of the whole creation, so Adam is to be king of the animals and birds, with Eve the queen at his side”[2]

That Adam and Eve were described as royalty is very relevant for us today. Waltke writes,

“Genesis 1 confers this authoritative status of God’s image to all human beings, so that we are all kings given the responsibility to rule as God’s vice-regents over the earth.”[3]

Every decedent of Adam was made like Adam, and therefore is part of his royal lineage. We are given the same responsibilities to be little kings and queens serving the great King, God himself.

Now this is at once both good and sobering news. For as a king Adam fell. He rebelled against God and sought to exalt his kingdom over God’s kingdom. And in Adam we all fell as well. And have been little rebel kings and queens ever since.

Because of this, many years after Adam and Eve a new son of Adam would come. He too was a king. But he was not like his earthy ancestor. He was like his heavenly Father. He would bring a new kingdom. A perfect kingdom. He would bring to earth the kingdom of God.

And he would invite every son and daughter of Adam to lay down his or her own kingdom and instead come under his rule.

Why would we do this?

Because his kingdom, the Kingdom of God is not only a better Kingdom, it is the only everlasting kingdom. And unlike Adam, this king, Jesus, is the perfect king.

Like Adam and Eve, we too are more than just naked people. We are royalty.

But the question we royals face everyday is, will we use our royal status to work for our own kingdoms? Or will we submit our kingdom to the rule and authority of God’s kingdom and to its king Jesus Christ?

 

 

 

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[1] Bruce K Waltke. An Old Testament Theology: an exegetical, canonical, and thematic approach.

[2] Peter J. Leithart. A House For My Name: A survey of the Old Testament

[3] Bruce K Waltke. An Old Testament Theology: an exegetical, canonical, and thematic approach.