April 12, 2024

Created for Glory

Sinclair Ferguson
Created for Glory

Adam was a prophet, priest, and king over creation, but he failed in his calling and fell short of God’s glory. Today, Sinclair Ferguson looks to Christ, the second Adam, who will bring redeemed humanity into everlasting glory.


All this week on Things Unseen, we’ve been thinking about the Christian view of man, and especially the way God created man as His image, male and female. Today I want us to notice a pattern that’s embedded in this biblical account of our original creation, and I’m not the only person to notice this. It’s that Adam was created to be the prophet, and the priest, and the king of creation—marvelous dignity.

A prophet is someone who speaks God’s Word. I think people often think of prophets as men who foretell the future. But if you reflect on it, you’ll realize that much biblical prophecy is not so much foretelling, but forthtelling—applying God’s truth to every situation. It’s about the present as much as about the future. So, in the Genesis narrative, we find Adam being called to the prophetic task of naming the animals, and of course, to pass on, first of all to Eve, and then to his family, what God had revealed to him.

And then Adam was a priest. Again, we tend to think of a priest as someone who makes a sacrifice for sin, and that’s true. But a priest was also a person who representatively led the people in worship. Adam, in that sense, was the priest of the original creation, the one who supremely and representatively led and expressed the worship of God that the whole animal creation expressed in their own beautiful, but limited, way. As you may know, the later tabernacle and the temple were built in a way that reflected the beauty of the garden of Eden. And the Levitical family had the responsibility to “look after” them—the very same expression, incidentally, that describes Adam’s priestly ministry in the garden in Genesis 2:15.

And then, most obvious of all, Adam was called to be the king of creation. He was explicitly given dominion. He was, in his own sphere, a miniature reflection of what God is to the whole created cosmos. Like a father who is a gardener, God gave his child, Adam, a miniature garden of his own to take care of and to expand: the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve, and presumably their family line through the generations, were to extend that garden until it filled the whole earth with beauty and order. Perhaps if there had been no fall, Adam and his many descendants would’ve discovered modern technology much more quickly than the human race has actually done. But in any event, Adam was king. Authority on earth was given to him, and he was to express it lovingly, creatively, as creation’s prophet and priest, as well as king, and to do so to the ends of the earth. But then what?

Well, he was a human son of God, a child of God. So, surely, he would have come to his heavenly Father, leading the whole created order as its prophet, priest, and king, and said to his Father, “Father, we finished the work,” and then, like a child, would’ve handed it all back to God as the love gift of an obedient creation.

That reminds me of the first question and answer to the shorter catechism: Adam was made for God’s glory and to enjoy him. The picture we’re given in Genesis 3 is of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, calling out: “Adam, Adam, where are you today? I’m here.” That invites us to think of a daily conversation between the Father, who has been upholding the whole cosmos, and the human son, who has been working away at his own little garden: “What have you been doing in the garden today, Adam? How much more have you and the family expanded it?”

Alas, we don’t know how it all would’ve developed. The fall intervened. But I think the way Paul puts things in Romans 3:23 is especially telling. He says there that all have sinned. Adam and Eve sinned. Their descendants sinned. You and I have sinned. But then he goes on to say something I think I might not have said, because I think I would’ve written, “All have sinned and broken the commands of God.” But no, what Paul says is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

You see, there is wickedness and perversity in our sin, but in some ways, there is an even greater tragedy in it. Created for enjoyment, even for glory, we have forfeited it all by our sin. But thankfully that’s not where the story ends, is it? Because another Prophet, Priest, and King has come, a better One—the proper Man whom God Himself hath bidden, and He has dealt with Adam’s sin and ours. He has finished the work His Father gave Him to do, and He is able to restore us to the pattern God originally intended for us. One day, He will cover the entire cosmos in His glory. Thanks be to God.