In this sermon JE introduces the three main divisions of his overview of the Work of Redemption (WoR). The first is from the Fall to Christ’s incarnation, during which God was preparing for Christ’s arrival. The second is from Christ’s incarnation to his resurrection, during which Christ purchases redemption. The third is from Christ’s resurrection to the end of the world, during which God brings about the effects of Christ’s redemption.
In the interest of greater clarity JE then further divides the first period (fall to incarnation) into six periods: (1) Fall to the flood; (2) Flood to the call of Abraham; (3) Abraham to Moses; (4) Moses to David; (5) David to the Babylonian captivity; (6) Babylonian captivity to the incarnation.
The remainder of this sermon lays out the first four observations from the period from the Fall to the Flood. JE begins by noting that the mediatorial work of Christ began the moment man fell into sin. This claim stems from JE’s assertion that “there is no mercy towards man but what is obtained through Christ’s intercession” (130). From that point forward God would deal with man only through the agency of the mediator Jesus Christ.
Second, God gives the first announcement of the gospel in the so-called protoevangelium of Gen 3:15. JE admits that this is “an obscure revelation of the gospel” like the “first glimmerings of the light of the sun in the east” (133). In this promise God makes clear his intention to subdue all his enemies under the feet of his Son. The revelation of this promise was the first act of Christ in his prophetic office.
Third, God instituted the custom of sacrificing as a type of Christ’s sacrifice that was to come. Although Scripture does not indicate this, JE claims that this custom had to be God-given, since only worship offered in faith can please him. Since faith has no foundation without divine appointment, God must have revealed this custom to Adam and Eve. God did this by offering the very first sacrifice to provide skins to cover Adam and Eve. These skins are a type of the righteousness of Christ that clothes believers. The entire sacrificial system that pervades the rest of the OT is the chief type of Christ, as it establishes the need for a propitiatory sacrifice for God’s people.
Fourth, God very soon after the Fall begins saving souls through Christ’s redemption. Adam and Eve were likely the first recipients, as they embraced the promise of the seed that would crush the serpent.
I admire the way JE explains the entire work of redemption as an outworking of the protoevangelium. In doing so JE manages to hold together two crucial aspects of the atonement that are too often separated: (1) Christ’s defeat of Satan and his forces of wickedness and (2) Christ’s substitutionary death for our sins. Both of these aspects flow out of the promise of Gen 3:15. And how beautiful is the imagery of the animal skins that covered Adam and Eve as a type of the righteousness of Christ that clothes believers!