Previous article in this series: April 1, 2013, p. 302.
On the pages of the Old Testament Scriptures we find evidence aplenty that Christ’s shadow figured prominently in the history of the old dispensation (cf., for example,).
Implied, surely, is that the types would have failed in their purpose had the believer not, by them, been in fact led to Christ.
Instinctively, as it were, we simply dismiss any thought that they could have failed. God, we might say, would see to it that they did not. He said as much in, with respect to all of His purposes: “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” The question, therefore, is not, and may never be, whether the types led the Old Testament believer to Christ, but how, or, perhaps better, to what extent—especially in light of the testimony of Scripture that even the prophets themselves had to “search diligently” to comprehend the meaning of the Spirit in their own prophecies ( ), and in light of the “blunders” of Jesus’ disciples, who gave abundant evidence that the significance of, for example, had gone right past them.
Hence the question of Rev. Ophoff: “Were the devout [in the old dispensation], so it is asked, capable of looking beyond the lamb to behold Christ?” His answer to his own question (“This, we reply, is a matter of conjecture”) is of course correct—because nowhere do the Scriptures state, in so many words, what the saints of old were able to understand concerning the types. There are, however, clues in Old Testament history, and, for the benefit of readers of this periodical back in 1927, Ophoff searched the Scriptures to uncover those clues and to articulate them in that series of articles on the types of Scripture to which we referred earlier. In our own “searching of the Scriptures” we are therefore much indebted to his research.
We do well to begin with Genesis 3. There we find recorded for us man’s fall from the state of rectitude, and there also is the mother of all promises, the protevangel, the good news of salvation for sinners.
In the way of shed blood.
Did our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise I, understand that?
Let’s consider that for a moment.
Scripture’s account of Adam and Eve’s eating of the forbidden fruit is followed at once by this notice, that “the eyes of them both were opened” (). We can well imagine that there came then a flood of emotions, feelings that they had never known before: guilt surely, but also shame, grief, and a feeling of utter helplessness. Grief and shame they must have felt, for, though they had indeed fallen, they “fell upon Christ, who stood behind them” (Rev. Hoeksema), and who would not let them rest easy in their rebellion. The Lord God opened their eyes, in order that they might be able to see themselves for what they were, namely, depraved sinners who by their rebellion against God richly deserved to be shut out of His presence forever.
The first evidence that they did indeed see themselves thus is the notice that “they knew that they were naked” (). They had, of course, been without clothing all along, but up till now their knowledge of that had brought them no shame (see ). The immediate effect of the opening of their eyes after their fall, however, was that their nakedness became a cause for embarrassment. They began, first of all, to “feel ill at ease in each other’s presence” (Rev. Ophoff). Not so much as a trace of lust had ever before been part of the physical attraction that they had always had for each other. With the corruption of their natures, however, that kind of purity of affections would be forever impossible. They sensed the difference at once. Hence the need for clothing.
But that was not all. Nor, for that matter, was this new feeling of embarrassment in each other’s presence the most important reason for their awareness of nakedness. It became clear soon enough that they felt naked before God (see). So, what did Adam wish to cover? Writes Rev. Ophoff, “He feels the need of a covering of his entire person. And, for the want of something better, he covers himself with fig leaves sewed together.”
That is what Adam and Eve did. Intertwining a few of the large leaves of the fig tree, they made themselves aprons, and then waited in great fear for the moment when they would be confronted by the Lord God. In the “cool of the day” (that is, probably, in the early evening) they heard the voice of the Lord God, as He approached, walking in the garden ().
No sooner did they hear the sound of God’s approach than they realized what a flimsy covering fig leaves are…for sin. The penetrating eye of the omniscient God will surely pierce those leaves, and see the corruption within, which they had foolishly tried to conceal. So it was that, rather than going to meet Him as they had always otherwise done, or even waiting for Him to come to them, they turned instead away and hid themselves among the trees of the garden.
That is evidence, by the way, that Adam and Eve experienced, actually felt, the death that God had warned would be inflicted upon them on the day that they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It might seem as if they were still alive, for they were still walking and talking and breathing. But the essence of life is not to be found in the beating of the heart. Rather, it is fellowship with God. It is the enjoyment of His friendship and favor. The essence of death, then, is not the separation of soul and body, but separation from that favor of God. This death Adam died—not some 900 years after the fall, but, as Rev. Hoeksema put it, “on the spot, in that day, according to the word of God.” Adam and Eve, more than likely, did not become immediately aware of any physical change in themselves; but the essence of death, separation from the favor of God, was unmistakably and terribly real to them. For what other reason would they have made their aprons? For what other reason would they have hid themselves from the presence of God? And why else would they, shortly, be driven from the garden and its tree of life, where God dwelt?
For Adam, however, all is not lost. He had indeed, by an act of his own free will, rebelled against God, choosing rather the friendship of the devil. But the counsel of God stands, when Adam falls. For it was according to the good pleasure of God that the fall of Adam would as it were pave the way for the coming of Him who would redeem His people, deliver them from sin, and lead all things to a higher state of glory than could ever have been reached had the Fall not occurred. There was therefore an immediate operation of regenerating grace in the hearts of Adam and Eve. Had that not been the case, says Rev. Hoeksema, “they would have perished immediately.” But they did not. Instead, their eyes were opened—“not by sin, for sin is blinding and hardening, but by the power of God’s own grace in Christ. The tie of God’s covenant in Christ becomes effective at once” (Rev. Hoeksema).
But, if that is really so, if the regenerating grace of God was already operative in their hearts, how then do we account for the fact that they tried to cover their nakedness before God with fig leaves? How do we account for their futile attempt to hide from the face of God among the trees of the garden? Is this the behavior of sinners who have been as it were revived by the Spirit of regeneration? Interestingly, Rev. Ophoff calls their actions here “hopeful signs.” Let us see why.
In describing Adam’s spiritual condition immediately after the Fall, Rev. Ophoff says this: “He was deeply conscious of his defilement. He realized that the God with whom he had to do was a being of matchless purity whose sense of justice did not permit him to trifle with sin.” Why, then, we might ask, did Adam not prostrate himself before the Lord in repentance and sorrow of heart, and pray for forgiveness? Why do we not hear from the lips of Adam, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner”? To that, Rev. Ophoff responds as follows:
He knew the divine threat, The day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. However, as yet not a single symbol of divine mercy had been unveiled; the promise of a seed which should triumph over the malice of the devil had as yet not been given. Small wonder that this sinner in the garden trembles at the sound of God’s voice, flees from His presence, and looks about for a garment to cover his vile person. The gospel of peace had not yet been proclaimed. Could Adam surmise then that the holy and just God, in whose face he had shaken his dirty fist, had come to feed his soul with mercy? The idea of a holy God, lovingly embracing the sinner without defiling Himself or lowering His standard of justice, is an idea which cannot enter the heart of man…. Thus, in view of the fact that Adam is ignorant of the things which God hath prepared for those who love Him, it must be expected that he will hide when he hears God calling…. He knows not otherwise but that he is the object of God’s wrath.
But, wonder of wonders, and no doubt to the great surprise and disappointment of Satan, the Lord God did not come to that sinful pair in His wrath. To be sure, God did not tell Adam that he had no need to be afraid. Adam had every reason to tremble before God. But God comes with a remedy. He brings the gospel, the good news of salvation for sinners.
“And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (). Knowing full well that the Lord was asking, in effect, for a reason for his hiding, Adam responded by saying, “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked.” In reality, of course, his nakedness as such could not cause fear. The sense of nakedness was the result of sin, which was the real cause of his fear. It may be true, therefore, as Jamieson suggests, that there was here a feeble attempt at evasion—that Adam “tried to evade any reference to the cause, by attracting attention to the effect.” And yet, we cannot help but think that there is here rather a confession from Adam that he is “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” ( ).
In what follows, the Lord led Adam to understand that he was exactly right in seeing himself as a vile sinner who needed a covering, but that fig leaves and a hiding place in the garden will not at all suffice. What he needs is a covering provided by a sacrifice of One who was to come. This “dawn of grace,” says Rev. Hoeksema, “glimmers in all we read of God’s dealing with sinful man immediately after the fall.”
Still, however, the question: How much was Adam able to see—in the glimmering light of the dawn? On that—more next time.
… to be continued.