Soon after Adam and Eve had fallen into sin, God himself came down to earth and met with them. Even while he sustained our first parents in their spiritually dead state, God came and dealt with them in the Garden of Eden—instead of summoning them to stand before him in the “high court” of heaven.
God did not bring down the full spiritual, physical and eternal death1 upon them that day. But when God himself visited them he taught them how to make an animal sacrifice—in which the animals were killed instead of mankind’s first parents. And God clothed them with simple coats made from the animal skins.
These animals of course, like the prescribed sacrifices in the ceremonial law that was given later, were symbolic types2 of the Lord Jesus Christ, the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13.8). And as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews3 affirms, “…it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10.4).
So then, was Christ’s blood shed for the remission of their sins?
God also promised to Adam and Eve that the “seed of the woman,” a man who was yet to come, would deal a crushing, totally defeating blow to the head of the serpent; and that in this great battle the seed of the woman would himself suffer the “bruis[ing] of his heel”—a lesser wound that would not be the end of him (Genesis 3.14-15).
Theologians call these verses the protoevangelion.4
Did God send the Holy Spirit to convince Adam and Eve of their sins, of his righteousness and of the judgment that they deserved? Did he grant them faith in the Saviour, and repentance unto life? And did he translate them from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of his dear Son (John 16.8; Acts 11.18; Colossians 1.13)? Did they believe the protoevengelion?
Adam gave his wife her name: Eve,5 the “mother of all living” (Genesis 3.20). It seems that Adam gave this name to his wife even though, only a short while before, they had both “surely died” as God had solemnly promised. (However, sometimes Old Testament historical events are not recorded in chronological order, so maybe we can’t be sure whether it was before or after.)
Was this a profession of faith from a born-again man, assured that his wife had also been born again? Did Adam now believe that God would indeed, as he had promised, raise up a “seed” to the woman who would defeat the Devil, that “old serpent,” that “murderer from the beginning” (Genesis 3.15; John 8.44; Revelation 12.9)?
Was Eve’s naming of her son Cain6 a testimony of her faith? “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD” (Genesis 4.1). Did Eve wonder whether her firstborn, whom God had providentially enabled her to bear, would be that promised God-provided “seed”? But what sadness must have been in the hearts of both his parents when Cain went his evil, murderous way (see Genesis 4.12-16; compare Jude 11.)
Maybe we can only hope that Adam and Eve trusted “the LORD,” the covenant-keeping Jehovah,7 to save their souls when he visited them himself and sacramentally clothed them with coats of skins.
But what of yourself? Do you believe the gospel promised in the protoevangelion?
The Biblical doctrine we call typology identifies persons, events, or institutions in the Old Testament that prefigure and teach us concerning the corresponding reality in the New Testament. Usually types have to do with the Person, offices or work of the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, the Passover lamb in Exodus served as a type or symbol of our Saviour, who would later come as a sacrifice for the atonement of our sins. We get our word type in this connection from Romans 5:14, where the word is translated “figure” in the phrase “[Adam] is the figure of him who was to come [i.e. Christ]” translates The New Testament Greek word τύπος, tupos (Strong’s Concordance, Greek Dictionary, number 5179). Other words used to describe the same method of interpretation are “example” (Hebrews 8:5), “shadow” (Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 8:5; 10:1), “signifying” (Hebrews 9:8), and “figure” (Hebrews 9:9)—here figure translates the Greek word more often transliterated parable (παραβολή, Greek 3850). ↩︎
The word protoevangelion means the original proclamation of the gospel. This promise in Genesis is a brief summary of the gospel of Christ in figurative language. ↩︎
The Hebrew name Eve means life, living (הוח, Chavvah; Strong’s _Concordance), Hebrew Dictionary, number 2332). ↩︎
The Hebrew name Cain means possession, acquisition, gotten (ןיק, Qayin; Strong’s Concordance, Hebrew Dictionary, number 7014). ↩︎
Jehovah (or, as some people prefer to pronounce it, Yahweh) is the name by which God made himself known to Moses and the people of Israel (Hebrew יהוה; see Strong’s Concordance, Hebrew Dictionary, #3068). The name Jehovah means “I AM” (Exodus 3.13-15). By this name, God declares that he is present in every moment—from eternity past to eternity future. This same eternality is true of the Lord Jesus Christ—see Revelation 1.4-5,11-18; 21.5-6; 22.12-13,20. ↩︎