And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Gen. 2:16-17)
Question 12: What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the state wherein he was created?
Answer: When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death. (Genesis 2:17; Galatians 3:12)
In Hoses 6:7 God condemns the Israelites for their unfaithfulness and says, “But like Adam they [the nation of Israel] transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me.” What we learn from this is that in the garden there was a covenant established between God and Adam. Theologians typically refer to this as the covenant of works. A covenant, in the Bible, is a chosen relationship between two parties consisting of binding promises to one another. What is clear from scripture is that God always relates to his people through means of covenant relationship and God is moving redemptive history forward by means of covenants. The first covenant we see in the Bible is the covenant of work between God and Adam, recorded in Genesis 2:16-17. There, essentially the terms of the covenant are that God will provide for Adam and sustain him eternally, if Adam will obey the one command which God has given. Of course, Adam violates the covenant bringing sin into the human race and causing death to spread to all people (Rom 5:12-14). What is interesting to note is that the Bible describes Christ as the second Adam who came to do and accomplish on behalf of humanity what Adam failed to do (Rom 5:15-21; 1 Cor 15:45-49). Christ lived a perfect life of obedience to not just one law, but to all of the laws prescribed in the Old Testament, thereby earning righteousness and eternal life for all those who are in union with him by faith. Praise God for Christ, the second Adam!
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