The central idea of an officebearer is that he is God’s friend-servant, authorized to function as God’s representative, as His vice-regent, in the visible world.
In this general sense of the word Adam in the state of rectitude was very really an officebearer, for in virtue of the covenant relation in which he was placed by his Creator, he was God’s friend-servant. For, as we have seen before, the covenant of God with Adam in Paradise was not a sort of pact or agreement, did not consist in “condition, a promise, and a penalty,” but was a living relationship and fellowship between God and him. Adam was the friend of God. And since Adam, even in that relation of friendship with God, remained, nevertheless, a creature, in subjection to his Creator as the Sovereign of heaven and earth, he was also servant of the Lord. Friend-servant he was. He was not a slave in the house of God. Nor was he a wage-earner who served God for the remuneration connected with such service. He was free, and served his God in voluntary friendship. It was his delight to do God’s will. And as God’s friend-servant he stood at the head of all the earthy creation, authorized and empowered to have dominion over all creatures, and in the midst of them all to represent his God. True, he was not the head and king of the entire creation. He was made a little lower than the angels. But all earthly creatures found their focus, their climax, their head and representative m him, and he was their lord. For he was created after the very image of God, in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, and in his heart the whole creation was united with the heart of God. Hence, Adam, the friend of God, was servant of the Lord, not only in as far as he himself was concerned, but as the head of the visible world. He was chief steward in the house of God’s creation, with the calling to keep and tend to that house before the face of God, cultivate it, and bring the glory of it all in loving service to his Creator.
Such was Adam’s office.
And this office, although essentially one, was threefold, presented three aspects. For man was God’s friend-servant with his whole being, with all his heart, and mind, and soul, and strength. He was God’s officebearer in his entire life and with relation to the whole creation. He was God’s friend-servant with the intellectual side of his nature, to know His God and declare His praises; with the volitional side of his life, to will the will of God and consecrate himself and all things to Him; and with all his power and might over all the earthly creation, to subject himself and all things to the living God and to rule over the visible world in the name of God. His one office of servant of the Lord was differentiated according to these three aspects as the prophetic, the priestly, and the royal office. He was prophet, priest, and king.
In the light of these general observations we must try to understand the significance of the prophetic office. In the popular mind, a prophet is one that is capable of foretelling future events. The idea of predicting the future is regarded as essential to the prophetic office. However, this is hardly correct. It is true that it belongs to the work of a prophet to speak of things to come with relation to the kingdom of God, but this is quite different from saying that foretelling the future is the main and one calling and task of a prophet. In general, a prophet is one that has the knowledge of God, speaks in His name, and thus declares His praises. The Hebrew word for prophet is picturesque, and rich in meaning. It is derived from a word meaning to overflow, to boil over. The idea seems to be that a prophet is one that is so filled with the true knowledge of God that his mouth overflows, that he is impelled to speak of Him, and to show forth His glorious praises. God reveals Himself to him. He puts His mighty Word in the prophet’s heart, and this Word of God becomes a fire in his bones, urging him to speak of that God Who revealed Himself to him. Thus the matter is presented repeatedly in the prophetical books of the Old Testament. The Word of God overpowers the prophets. They eat His Word and fill their whole being with it. They are wholly in subjection to that Word, so that they cannot keep silent, but must speak of Him, His covenant, His will, whether the revelation they thus received had reference to the past, the present, or the future. A prophet is one who knows God, and speaks in His name and of Him, as the friend-servant of the Most High.
In this general sense, Adam was prophet of God in the original state of rectitude. He was created after the image of God. This implies that also in his intellectual life he stood entirely in the service of God. He was capable of knowing God with a true knowledge, that is, with the knowledge of love, and thus to enter into His intimate fellowship. And not only was he capable of receiving this true knowledge of God, but from the very first moment of his existence he was filled with the light of this knowledge. It is true that this knowledge of God in the first man Adam functioned on a lower plane than that which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, and is not to be compared to the glorious knowledge that is the heritage of the elect in the final realization of God’s covenant, when His tabernacle shall be with men in heavenly perfection. For Adam was of the earth earthy, and his knowledge of God was the reflection of God’s glory in his consciousness through the mirror of the earthly creation. He did not as yet see face to face. But the fact remains that Adam possessed the true knowledge of God as soon as he opened his eyes upon the wonder of God’s creation round about him. God revealed Himself to him. And Adam’s receptivity was perfect. There was a perfect contact between the Word of God that spoke to him through the things that were made, and his own consciousness. For all things were made through the Word of God, and as such it was God’s revelation of Himself. Creation was God’s speech concerning Himself. Every creature had its own name. That name was its essence. And that essence of every creature was the Word of God. And all these creatures together spelled the Name, the glorious Name of Him that had called the things that were not as if they were. And in the midst of this speech of God, addressing him on every side, day and night, stood Adam, hearing this Word of God, and receiving it in his pure consciousness, and through his consciousness into his heart filled and moved by the love of God. Besides, God revealed Himself to Adam in the garden, and spoke to him as a friend with his friend. And as Adam was the recipient of this true knowledge of God, hearing and interpreting the speech of God through all creation, he would prostrate himself in the dust before his Creator, and in loving adoration declare His wonderful virtues. Adam was in the true sense God’s prophet.
The fall of man caused a radical change. The knowledge of God was completely lost not only, but was subverted into its very opposite: darkness, the love of the lie. Man became by nature the false prophet, a prophet in the service of the devil.
For, on the one hand, we must certainly maintain, that in a certain sense man remained a prophet. His light was not changed into darkness in the sense that he ceased to be an intellectual and volitional, a rational and moral being. Even though also from a natural viewpoint the light of his knowledge does not shine any more in its original brilliancy, he does retain some remnants of natural light, by which he has some knowledge of God and of the difference between good and evil, remnants of light that are sufficient to leave him without excuse. Even though he does no longer clearly discern the Word of God in creation, by the light of the remnants of his natural knowledge, he knows that God is, and that He must be thanked and glorified, and that man is called to declare the praises of the Most High. For, on the other hand, creation remained a medium of revelation of the glorious power and wisdom of God. The invisible things of God are clearly seen, being understood through the things that are made. The light shines in the darkness, even though the darkness comprehendeth it not. God does not leave Himself without witness, even in the conscience of the natural man. Because of this continued speech of God concerning Himself in the works of His hands, and this work of the law written in man’s, heart, and the remnants of natural light, man is still a prophet, even though through sin he became a false prophet.
But it may not be forgotten, that with all his natural light fallen man has become a servant of sin. From a spiritual-ethical viewpoint all the light that k; in him is very really darkness. He is no longer a prophet of the living God in the true sense of the word. He has forfeited the privilege, he has neither the ability nor the will and desire, he is no longer authorized to appear as the representative of God in the visible world, to know Him and to speak in His name and in His behalf. For he is guilty before God, the object of His wrath and condemnation, an exile from the house and fellowship of God. He is darkened in his understanding, so that he loves the lie, and prefers the word of the devil to the knowledge of God. And he is perverse of will and obdurate in heart, so that he stands in enmity against God, and always holds the truth under in unrighteousness. In as far as he still has knowledge of God through the remnants of natural light, and the speech of God through the things that are made, he does not know God in love, but hate Him, oppose Him, contradict Him, and make gods after his own imagination. For the carnal mind is enmity against God. It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.. God is not in all his thoughts, and being foolish in the spiritual-ethical sense of the word, he always says within his heart that there is no God. Although, therefore, he is still a prophet, he is in no sense of the word a prophet of God. Through sin he has become a false prophet, who lies about the living God.
This cannot be too strongly emphasized, lest, as is frequently done in our day, we ascribe the remnants of natural light to the operation of a certain common grace of God, even as did the old Remonstrants. They that thus philosophize about fallen man’s natural knowledge enlarge upon these remnants until they are presented as possessing true spiritual ethical value, so that the natural man in virtue of these “sparks” from the hearth of his original righteousness, does actually seek after God. Even the old and well-known hereby of the Arminians that these remnants of natural light are a kind of seed of religion, which, even though in itself not pure, are capable of leading him on to the true and spiritual knowledge of God if they are only used aright, is being revived by those that are supposed to be Reformed in their thinking and convictions. On this basis one dare no longer evaluate the philosophy of the world for what it truly is: foolishness with God. On the contrary, it is presented as true wisdom, and regarded with profound respect and admiration. And this lack of proper distinction and discernment, this confusion of darkness and light, more and more threatens with destruction the whole system of what is supposedly Christian education, higher and lower. It is this fundamental error, this pernicious fallacy of presenting as true wisdom what is essentially nothing but foolishness, that makes many in our day loudly proclaim and enthusiastically worship as Calvinism what is principally nothing but modernism. That all philosophy is false prophecy is no longer understood. That all the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God is often laughed to scorn, even by those that present themselves as advocates of Christian education. That Christ is the only true prophet, and that all that is not of Him is only darkness, is no longer recognized. And, therefore, the theory that through a certain operation of common grace man’s natural light represents a remnant of his original wisdom and knowledge, is not only a theoretical error, but from a practical viewpoint a damnable heresy and pernicious fallacy. Over against this error one cannot stress too strongly that through sin man is become a liar, a false prophet, that holds the truth in unrighteousness. He is not a fool in a natural sense. He has the light of reason. He is often possessed of a keen mind. But in a spiritual ethical sense he is a fool. He is an enemy of God. And he presses the remnants of natural light into the service of sin. Man, having rejected the Word of God, is become a prophet of the devil.
If we bear this in mind, we can also understand that in the world, and throughout history, there is a development of the lie in the direction of, and culminating in the false prophet that is pictured to us in the book of Revelation. For the natural man that stands in enmity against God works out his own philosophy, the wisdom of the world, which, according to James, is from below, is natural, earthly, devilish, and is foolishness with God. This philosophy of the world, although in the wisdom of God it does not know God, and does not want to know Him, develops its own conception of God, of man, of the world and its origin, of religion and ethics, of society and the State; and it is always chiefly characterized by the fact that it rejects and opposes God’s revelation. It speaks of itself and closes its ears to the speech of God. The line of this philosophy in the pagan world of the old dispensation is clearly traced in the first chapter of the epistle to the Romans. For there we are taught that the invisible things of God are, indeed, clearly seen from the beginning of the world, being understood from the things that are made; and that what is known of God is manifest in the natural man. But man deliberately opposes this revelation of God. He holds the truth of God’s eternal power and divinity in unrighteousness. Knowing God, he does not want to acknowledge Him as God, neither glorify Him. He revealed that he loved the darkness rather than the light. Rejecting the Word of God, he followed his own philosophy of the Most High, and changed the glory of the incorruptible One into the image of a corruptible creature, and bowed himself before man and beast and creeping things. Thus man’s philosophy gave birth, first of all, to the pagan religion and its polytheism. And, secondly, this false philosophy and pagan religion, operating under the wrath of God that was revealed from heaven, proved its destructive character in the demoralization and degradation of all life in the pagan world, its corruption and bestiality. For God gave them up through the lust of their own wicked heart unto uncleanness and vile affections, unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient. It is true, of course, that this false prophecy in the pagan world appeared in different forms, according as the nations moved on different levels of culture and civilization. But even in its most polished and cultural form, as in that of Greek philosophy at the time of Plato and Aristotle, it was false prophecy nevertheless, the wisdom of the world that is foolishness with God. There is none that seeketh after God, no not one!
It stands to reason that this spirit of false prophecy reveals itself, not only in the pagan world, but also in the line of the generations of the people of God, with whom God establishes His covenant, and to whom He reveals His counsel of redemption. In fact, within the scope of the historical realization of God’s covenant in the world, the false prophet expresses himself much more boldly and directly. For there the Word of God is heard much more distinctly, arid; accordingly, is contradicted by the flesh much more sharply and vehemently. There shines, not only the light of revelation as it radiates through the things that are made, but as it shines in the face of Christ Jesus. In the pagan world the light of the Logos shines in the darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not; in the sphere of the covenant the judgment applies that He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. It is Israel that gives rise to the false prophets in their worst form, in their most hateful opposition of the truth of God. It is Israel that, accordingly, commits more idolatry than any nation under the sun, that tramples God’s covenant under foot, despises His precepts, kills the prophets and stones them that are sent to them by God. It is Israel that finally develops a false conception of the Messiah that was to come, and that rejects and crucifies the Christ of God. It is among the people in whose true prophets the Spirit of Christ dwells and operates, that the false prophets appear in their most determined and wicked’ opposition to the Word of God.
Thus it was in the old dispensation.
And in the new dispensation it is no different. Even today there still is the pagan world, whose millions upon millions prefer the darkness of their own philosophy and false prophecy to the light of the gospel, and who fast become prepared to play their own part in the final scene of the drama of God’s program for the world’s history. But also in the days of the new dispensation it is true that the false prophet must not be sought primarily in the heathen world, but rather within the scope of what is known as Christendom. There he reveals and expresses himself in the more refined forms of culture and civilization, of science and philosophy, of religion and philanthropy; there he appears as an angel of light, as the true Christ Himself; but there he exerts his most profound and pernicious influence. It is within the scope of Christendom that the antichrist is developing, and that the false prophet, the combination and culmination of all false religion and false science and false philosophy must be expected to appear. Let no one be deceived by his marvelous display of intellect and power, nor by his deceitful appearance of religiousness and piety. For he already does great things, and will do greater and mightier works in the future. And, no doubt, he will deceive many. But it should not be difficult to know and distinguish him as the false prophet in spite of his glittering display of culture and power. For he lies about God, and about His Anointed. He opposes the word of the true Prophet of God. He denies that Jesus Christ is come into the flesh. And “hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come into the flesh, is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come into the flesh is not of God: and his is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now is already in the world.” And the spirit of antichrist is the false prophet, that will speak great things and blasphemies, and perform signs and wonders, but whom Christ will cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone..