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Volume 14, Issue 4: Presbyterion

Two Trees

Douglas Wilson

In the greatest calamity that ever befell our race, our father Adam abdicated his assigned role as the guardian of his wife and family. This took place when Adam was standing in the shade of a particular tree in a particular garden, and it was not that long ago. Our mother Eve was there too, and as she reached for the fruit, she did so in the grip of the lust of the eyes (1 John 2:16; Gen. 3:6), the lust of the flesh (1 John 2:16; Gen. 3:6), and the pride of life (1 John; Gen. 3:6). She was deceived, and this is not surprising because she had not yet been brought out of Adam's side when God had given him the prohibition. Adam, however, knew of the restriction directly from God, and still Adam stood by, mute. He was close enough to take fruit from Eve's hand once she had eaten it (Gen. 3:6). He was with her. And this is why Scripture says that sin entered the world through one man, and not through one woman (Rom. 5:17).

In this calamity, at this fateful tree, we all rebelled against God. When Adam sinned, we sinned in him and through him (Rom. 5:12). God in His wisdom has created mankind (or, to use the Hebrew word for mankind, Adam) in such a way that we were all covenantally connected in one man. When it comes to sin, we are all close cousins. We are mankind. We are Adam. And we all sinned at the tree.
God determined to provide us with a salvation that works in the same covenantal way. Just as the disobedience of our father Adam (at a tree) plunged us into darkness, so the obedience of our father the last Adam (at another tree) resulted in our salvation.
But there are differences. In the first instance, God gave Eve to Adam, and then the disobedience followed. In our salvation, this order is reversed. God gave the last Adam a bitter cup to drink, and He drank it while hanging on a tree under the curse of God. And at that moment, a soldier on the ground took another piece of wood—the shaft of a spear—and became the instrumental cause of the creation of a bride for the second Adam. An Adam is not an Adam without an Eve, and this second Eve is the Christian church. And the second Eve came from the side of her Adam, just as the first Eve had done.
The first Adam was put into a deep sleep (amounting to a coma) in order for Eve to be taken from his side. This sleep is an obvious type of death. When the Lord Jesus died, He fulfilled this type—He had fallen into His deep "sleep." And at that moment, a spear was rammed into his side, and the apostle John takes great pains to explain how important this moment was. "But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe" (John 19:34-35). Mark it well, John says—there was blood and water that came from the Lord's side.
Blood and water came from His side, and the Spirit bore witness to this through John, and in that blood and water we find the formation of the Christian Church. "This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood" (1 John 5:6). This water and blood is very important—it is the basis of our witness and identity. Christ came by water and blood, and this is why we come by water and blood. And this is also why we as believers must testify to it in this way. "And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one" (1 John 5:8; cf. John 3:5).
Christ is our last Adam—Scripture is explicit on this point. Christ is a bridegroom—there is no room for discussion here either. So whom does an Adam marry? She shall be called Eve, because she is mother of all the living (Gen. 3:20). Who is this woman, this new Eve? She too is the mother of us all—the glorious Christian church. "But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband" (Gal. 4:26-27).
Individually, we believers are the sons and daughters of the last Adam and second Eve. The Church is our mother, and Christ is our Father (Is. 9:6). Corporately, gathered together in worship we are the bride of Christ, and He is our husband. Unlike our first husband, unlike our first father, the Lord Jesus has not abdicated. He has not abandoned the priestly duty that was assigned to Him—the priestly duty of guarding and protecting His wife, and all the children God gave to Him. Collectively, we are that wife, and individually, we are those children. And this is why the Lord is able to say, "Behold I and the children which God hath given me" (Heb. 2:13).
As pastors, these are the things we must declare and preach if we are to recover an understanding of our proper identity as the Church. Adam stood by when Eve was deceived because he had forgotten where she came from. The last Adam will never do this—but the second Eve periodically does forget precisely this. We forget where we came from. We forget our birthplace. We were created when the Lord Jesus died on a beam of wood, and another shaft of wood drove a spearhead into Him.
That spearhead was the culmination of a grotesque judicial murder. But the folly of man is wisdom to God, and so when the spear went in, the Bride of the Lord came out. And at this second tree, the treachery of our race was undone forever.

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