Posted by Pastoral Musings on 1st March 2013
When the Creator spoke to Adam and warned him against eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, He warned him that he would die if he at of it. Some have looked at the statement and wondered how a father could tell his child, “If you do this thing, I’ll kill you”. The reality is that something vastly different was taking place. The man would surely die, but he was not being warned of it by one who was solely his father.
The relationship between the LORD (YHWH) and Adam was that of a King and his vassal. There is a covenant that is being established. The covenant is that man is to rule the world as YHWH rules it. He is to take dominion, fill the earth, and enjoy the fruits God gave him. There is one point which is a breaking point: if man does not worship God as evidenced by his enjoying Him through His gifts, but decides to turn aside and worship in his own way by disobeying in the partaking of the forbidden fruit, he will be a covenant breaker who is subject to death.
This is not about a father telling his son that he will kill him for disobeying. This is about the King of kings telling his subjects the consequences of treason. It is about the gracious, Covenant making God declaring the results of man’s failing to worship according to the covenant rules.
That is why there is no discrepancy between the warning that death will come and the fact that they did not immediately die. Though mankind was plunged into sin and was spiritually dead (I.e. he was alienated from God.), there was a sense in which he worshiped God and became covenantally alive by means of the death of an animal in his place ( Genesis 3:21). Man’s shame was covered and man lived a while longer due to the provisional nature of the blood sacrifice.
Thankfully we are aware that there is now a sacrifice that does not need to be repeated- that of the lamb of God ( John 1:29;Hebrews 10:11-14).