The Last and the First

As this is the last day of the year, it is a fitting time to post on some thoughts on one of the "firsts" in the Bible.

I have recently finished another two year journey through the Scriptures (a few days ahead of schedule :-)), and have promptly embarked upon another such journey of instruction and revelation. No matter how many times you read the word, there is always more to learn. So with the year, and with my reading plan, the end becomes a new beginning.

So it is too in the purpose of God. He is the eternal Alpha and Omega the beginning and the end. There are no dispensations in the one eternal plan of God, but there are times and seasons and years. When God brings something to an end, he is really bringing something else to a new beginning. We see this clearly in the days of creation...

And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

The end of one day leads straight into the beginning of the next. These were not disconnected isolated periods in creation, but stages in an overall plan. Thus ends and beginnings are interwoven and integrally connected in the single unfolding kingdom purpose of God.

As I have been reading and mediating again on the first few chapters of Genesis I have spotted another such "end-beginning" which (for me) was quite fresh! It centres on what I believe is the first prophecy in the Bible...

The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. (Ge 3:20)

It occurred to me that Eve was not called "Eve" before the fall! (You can verify this for yourself if you like.) Before this she was called "Ishshah" - "Woman", corresponding to "Adam" - "Man". So it is only after the fall that "Man" and "Woman" become Adam and Eve.

However, although the fall was a catastrophic "end" in the innocent untarnished relationship between man and God, it was not the end to God's plan for man. It did not even cause him to dig out a plan 'B'! It was just a dark "evening" after which a new morning was coming.

God immediately lays out his redemption plan for mankind. Even in the darkness of the curse we see the good news of the Gospel shine forth...

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.” (Ge 3:15)

God promises an offspring of the woman who will crush the serpent's head, and reverse the curse that has only just been invoked. A promise of a new beginning of life even amidst the self-inflicted consequences of death.

And this is where this first preaching of the gospel is followed by the first response to the gospel. For Adam, who had only just failed so badly in his relationship to both his wife and God, now grasps hold of the hope in God's plan for his kind. He prophetically changes his wife's name from Ishshah - "Woman" to Eve - "Life", on the basis that she "was the mother of all living," before she had ever given birth.

And so the evening of death is followed swiftly by a new dawn of life. And prophetically foreshadowing the resurrection dawn of Christ himself, God responds to Adam's faith in the midst of his sin, by a substitutionary sacrifice that makes a covering for both him and his wife.

So Adam ensured that his wife went forwards from that day, not under a cloud of condemnation of her role in the past, but with a new name and a new hope of her part in God's plan for the future.

Ephesians tells us that the relationship between a man and his wife, (thus in inception between Adam and Eve) is symbolic of a deeper mystery - that of Christ and the Church. As we go from the end of this year into the beginning of the next, let us do so with a prophetic sense of purpose of our part, as Christ's bride, in the eternal plan of God to bring his life to this world.

Happy New Year!