Reformation 2013, Volume XXII, Number 4
Table of Contents
(A feature article from the journal: Adam, Aaron, and the Garden Sanctuary by Robert Hinckley)
A number of significant parallels exist between the garden of Eden and the tabernacle. The contour, substance, and meaning of the garden inform the tabernacle and its service. The reverse also is true; understanding the tabernacle helps one conceptualize the garden. The biblical texts provide a discourse between the two “sanctuaries.” Former studies of the garden as a prototype sanctuary have been topical in approach and more focused on the Temple in Jerusalem. This article will follow the narrative of Genesis 2-3, purposely examining how the garden and Adam’s vocation point to the tabernacle and its service, especially noting the work of Aaron in the holy places.
THE CREATION OF ADAM
Adam is created unlike any other creature. He is the consummate work of God, the crown of creation. With regal-like terms, he is made in the “image of God” (Gen 1:27) and is to “subdue” the earth and “rule” over every living thing (Gen 1:28). He is woven into the very design of creation, yet set apart: God has a special task for him, and all creation through him. Where will Adam execute his task? It will begin in a unique place. The Lord planted a garden in Eden, and he put Adam to serve there.
It is not stated exactly where Adam was created, only that “a mist was going up from the land and watering the whole face of the ground” and “the LORD God formed the man” from the soil of this ground (Gen 2:5-7). The ground from which Adam was formed was previously bathed in water. After he was formed, the Lord God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gen 2:7). Directly inspirited by God himself, Adam becomes a “living creature,” the only one whose creation is described in this fashion. Concerning his singular character, Bonhoeffer writes, “Man does not ‘have’ a body; he does not ‘have’ a soul; rather he ‘is’ body and soul.” Adam’s formation immediately precedes the garden narrative, and in this context the divine name first appears (Gen 2:4-7). In lieu of the garden, the introduction of the personal name for God coupled with the unique forming of Adam further illustrates that the man is set apart for a divine purpose.
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