Adam and Israel

Like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me” (v. 7).

- Hosea 6

Genesis 3:14–19 tells us Adam and Eve fell from grace when they ate the forbidden fruit, but what might be less clear is that they also broke covenant with the creator God. The term covenant is never used in Genesis 1–3, but the idea is present throughout this section of God’s Word. A covenant is an agreement God makes with a people in the context of a relationship, an agreement in which both God and the people have certain obligations. As His created stewards, Adam and Eve were in a filial relationship to the Lord and were not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (2:16–17). God committed Himself to preserving the lives of our first parents as long as they upheld their end of the covenant. This “covenant of works” is central to biblical theology, and we will return to it in due time.

If this were not enough to show that Adam was in covenant with the Creator, O. Palmer Robertson notes that Hosea 6:7 applies “covenantal terminology to the relation of God to man established by creation” (The Christ of the Covenants, p. 24). In the prophet’s further development of the theme of Adam and the fall first introduced in Genesis 3, we see in Israel’s repeated failure to obey the terms of the Mosaic covenant a repetition of sorts of Adam’s fall. Like the father of the human race, the ancient Israelites were bound to the Lord in a covenant that they also failed to keep (2 Kings 17:7–23): “Like Adam they [Israel] transgressed the covenant” (Hos. 6:7).

From this close relationship between Adam and the people of Israel, we also infer that God created Israel to be, in a sense, a new Adam. This is confirmed when we see that the blessings pledged to Israel are nearly identical to the commands given to our first parents. Adam and Eve were ordered to tend the garden, and Israel would have had fruitful fields if they had kept covenant (Gen. 2:15; Deut. 28:4–5). Our first parents were also told to multiply and take dominion, and Israel would have had an abundance of offspring and would have dominated her enemies if the people had been faithful (Gen. 1:28; Deut. 28:7–14).

Adam failed to take righteous dominion and Israel followed suit. That is why it took a Messiah who was a new Israel and, therefore, a new Adam to fulfill God’s purposes for mankind.

Coram Deo

God was exceedingly gracious when He did not utterly destroy Israel or Adam when they sinned but preserved them so that His original purpose for them might one day be fulfilled. Today God is gracious to us when He freely forgives us of all our sin and continues to favor us even though we do not obey Him perfectly (1 John 1:8–10). Let us therefore never take advantage of this grace, always treating others in a similar manner by overlooking their minor faults.

Passages for Further Study

Hosea 11:1
Luke 3:23–38

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343