In The Beginning Bible Study, Lesson 6
The Sacrifice That Covers Us
After Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, their eyes were opened and the glory of God stripped them bare, and in their shame they covered themselves with fig leaves. But God showed mercy and sacrificed animals to clothe them.
So, if Adam and Eve made garments from the fig leaves, then why did God have to clothe them? And why did He have to sacrifice animals to do it? I mean, didn’t God just speak the world into existence? Why didn’t He just speak garments into being and have them appear on the spot? I guess the answer is that this was a foreshadowing of what God told the serpent in Genesis 3:14-15,
So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
The Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Genesis 3:15 interprets this verse as a prophecy about the Messiah, although not in quite the same way as it would come to be understood in Christianity:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between the seed of thy son, and the seed of her sons; and it shall be when the sons of the woman keep the commandments of the law, they will be prepared to smite thee upon thy head; but when they forsake the commandments of the law, thou wilt be ready to wound them in their heel. Nevertheless for them there shall be a medicine, but for thee there will be no medicine; and they shall make a remedy for the heel in the days of the King Messiah.
In this interpretation the serpent, rather than being the devil as we understand it, instead represents the evil inclination. The Targum says that evil desires can be conquered by submitting to God’s commandments. Ultimately, however, it promises the ultimate victory only when the Messiah comes.
We know that this was fulfilled when Yeshua came. Yeshua was the one who was going to crush Satan’s head, and in so doing Satan was going to bruise His heel. We know that this is what serpents do, because they slither upon the ground and when they lift their heads they snap at your heels. But our Messiah is high and lifted up, and He was able, and so He did crush his head.
Yeshua’s sacrifice was a sin offering that made atonement for sin. The sin offering was made for sins committed in ignorance, or unintentional sins. This is interesting, because we see here that it may be committed out of ignorance. We see in Genesis 3:13 that God asks Eve this question: “Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’”
As you see, He did not say, “You should have known better,” or “I told you.” The question was asked as if she didn’t realize what she had done. But God demonstrated that He would send someone who would make this sacrifice on our behalf once and for all.
So let’s look at the crucifixion, after Yeshua had died. John 19:34 tells us this: “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” If Yeshua was already dead, then why did the soldier thrust His side? It was to show us that Yeshua died for the sin that took place at the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve was created from the rib of Adam, and Yeshua was thrust through at His ribs. It was truly finished! Yeshua’s sacrifice on God’s altar, where He shed His blood for our sin, now covers us. The Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world, which was in the spiritual realm, now fulfilled it in the physical realm, and it was now truly finished.
Genesis 3:24 goes on to tell us, “So He drove the man out; and at the east of the Garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the Tree of Life.”
To understand this better we must look at the whole scenario. Adam and Eve, who had been immortal with the glory of God all around them, now faced imminent death.
They could no longer come into God’s presence. You must realize the pain that Adam and Eve felt, and this is exactly what sin brings—pain, abandonment, and death. There would be no more walking with God in the cool of the evening. There would be no more garden with all of God’s provisions, but only toil and hard work and hardships.
So we see that cherubs now guard the garden of Eden with flaming swords. We know that Satan was the “Arch-Cherub,” like the archangels that covered the Ark of the Presence in the Tent of Meeting. And what was in the Ark of the Presence? The Ten Commandments, the Tree of Life, as Proverbs 3:13-18 tells us,
Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.
Scripture also tells us that the Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, a Tree of Life for those who take hold of it. The Garden of Eden, which was peaceful and bountiful and held the Tree of Life which was for all those who would receive her, was now barred and guarded with flaming swords. This is the same Garden of Eden that was believed to have existed before the foundation of the world. It was now off limits to mankind. We know that the Mishkan, the Tent of Meeting, represented the Garden of Eden. We know that the most inner court, which was called the Holy of Holies, was where the presence of God resided, and it was so holy that even the High Priest could not enter it except for once a year, as Hebrews 9:6-7 tells us,
Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, but into the second, only the High Priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.
Hebrews 9:11-12 tells us .
But when Messiah appeared as a High Priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
We see that the second Adam, Yeshua our Messiah, was also immortal and became like one of us, mortal. He was the glory of God, and became a servant. He too was cast out from the presence of God when He who knew no sin took upon Himself the sins of the world. He became our High Priest through His shed blood by which He became our atonement, and His shed blood now covers us.
We find another High Priest, named Melchizedek. He too is a mystery.
Who was this man, and where did he come from? We read about a story where Abraham and Melchizedek meet after Abraham wins a great victory.
Genesis 14:17-23 says,
Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” He gave him a tenth of all. The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.” Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have sworn to the Lord God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’”
There have been many theories about who this High Priest was. In Jewish tradition it is believed that Melchizedek was Noah’s son, Shem. Some people believe that it was Yeshua, but let’s see if that is really true.
Hebrews 7:1-17 tells us this:
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him. Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of Him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”
So we see that Melchizedek is the king of righteousness, king of Salem, and the king of peace. We know that the meaning of Jerusalem is “city of peace (shalom).” In Hebrew it is Yerushalayim. David writes in Psalm 76:2, “His tabernacle is in Salem; His dwelling place also is in Zion.”
We know that Melchizedek was in Jerusalem. So what was he doing there? We know that he had no genealogy, which means he was not a mortal man. He was a heavenly being resembling the Son of God. Now, people think this means that he was Yeshua, but this is not so, because the angels were also referred to as sons of God. One example of this is in Genesis 6:1-2, “When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.”
So we know that Melchizedek was a heavenly being in Jerusalem and that he was a High Priest. Now, we know that angels surrounded the Tree of Life in Jerusalem with flaming swords. The location of the Tree of Life had to be the place where the temple would one day be built—in fact, right where the Holy of Holies would be. This place was so holy that Melchizedek the High Priest was ministering to the Lord there.
Abraham knew to give him a tenth, maybe because Abraham knew of him. Before the Torah was given on Mount Sinai, we see in the Scriptures many of the commandments being kept—for instance, Cain and Abel giving offerings to God, and here with Abraham giving a tithe. We know that the Torah is like the Tree of Life to all who take hold of it, and when God gave the Torah to His people at Mt. Sinai it was like releasing the Tree of Life from those flaming swords. That is why over the Ark of the Covenant the angels’ wings are arched: for man (the High Priest) to come into God’s presence once again.
When Yeshua died, the last and final offering for sin, He made the way for all of us to enter into God’s presence and partake of the Tree of Life. By His sacrifice Yeshua tore the veil, as Matthew 27:50-51 tells us, “And Messiah cried again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. And at once the curtain of the sanctuary of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; the earth shook and the rocks were split.” Melchizedek was the foreshadowing of all of that which was fulfilled in Yeshua.
Abraham was given that revelation in part with Melchizedek and in full at the binding of Issac. John 8:56-58 tells us, “’Abraham your father rejoiced to see My day; he saw it and was glad.’ So the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old and You have seen Abraham?’ Yeshua said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.’”
Yeshua made the way for us to once again eat from the fruit of the Tree of Life and walk with our creator in the cool of the evening.
So after all of that, we now see why God clothed Adam and Eve: for only in Messiah are we really clothed. Before Messiah, only the blood of bulls and goats could cover us, but now our righteousness in Messiah surpasses any animal sacrifice.
One thing we must understand is that when Adam and Eve were told to leave the garden, the world entered into a dark period. With the presence of God removed from Adam and Eve, all mankind would now suffer. Only a few people would hear God’s voice. Only a few people had a revelation, and for the most part God only allowed this to happen after the flood, starting when He called Abraham.
But then God, on Mount Sinai, gave His chosen people His revelation in the giving of the Torah, and with that God came down on the mountain with fire, as Exodus 19:18 tells us. “Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently.”
But we see that Israel falls short and the darkness continues. Time and time again God has to remind His people through a word given by a prophet. But then there arose a prophet that Scripture said would be the light to the nations. Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” This was fulfilled by Yeshua’s ministry, as he quotes this verse in Matthew 4:16, “The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a Light dawned.” Yeshua came and He was the long awaited Light. He brought us the revelation that was lost at Eden, for He was the Word made flesh and dwelt among us.
Galatians 3:26-27 tells us, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Messiah Yeshua. For all of you who were baptized into Messiah have clothed yourselves with Messiah.”
Ephesians 2:13 tells us, “But now in Messiah Yeshua you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Messiah.” Now we can be clothed in His righteousness
In Yeshua, the fulfillment spoken of in the garden was now complete. The serpent’s head has been crushed after the Redeemer’s heel was bruised, and the flaming swords which guarded the Tree of Life are now laid aside so all can come once again to eat from the Tree of Life.
The Mark of Cain
Adam and Eve now find themselves living outside of the garden. They have two sons, Cain and Abel. We are going to pick up the story at Genesis 4:9-15, where we find Cain just after he kills his brother.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, You have driven me today away from the ground, and from Your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.
God comes and asks Cain where his brother is. We know from verses 6-7 that God had warned Cain, something different than happened with Eve: “The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.’”
God punishes Cain for His sin. We see no sin offering here because Cain was warned, and the deed could no longer have been done in ignorance. God cursed Cain and sent him off to be a fugitive, a wanderer. But Cain, who just killed his brother, now fears his own death. Now, you would have thought that Adam would have been the one to lament to God that he would no longer see His face after the exile from Eden, but here Cain does so, although he already was a fugitive and was hidden from God. Cain is just being a little hypocritical here with God, because he is only thinking of himself and not what he had just done to his brother.
So what was this mark that God placed on Cain’s forehead? Well, we have to think about what Cain had just done: he killed his brother. The Torah teaches this regarding the cities of refuge in Deuteronomy 19:11-13:
However, suppose a person hates someone else and stalks him, attacks him, kills him, and then flees to one of these cities. The elders of his own city must send for him and remove him from there to deliver him over to the blood avenger to die. You must not pity him, but purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent blood, so that it may go well with you.
The Code of Hammurabi, which is one of the oldest sets of laws, basically says, “An eye for an eye.” So we see why Cain was afraid that someone would kill him. This mark had to have been something that people would recognize and know meant that they were to leave Cain untouched. Remember what the Scripture tells us about Satan: he was the seal of perfection. So we can only imagine that the mark was some kind of seal.
Let’s look at some Scriptures to back this up. First of all, we see that we too are sealed, as we read in Ephesians 1:13-14,
And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)—when you believed in Messiah—you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
And again in Revelation 7:2-3,
Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, who had the seal of the living God. He shouted out with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given permission to damage the earth and the sea: “Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees until we have put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”
We see that the Israelites put the blood on their doorposts as a sign, as Exodus 12:22-23 tells us,
Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.
(As an aside, the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Genesis 4:3 says that the sacrifice of Cain and Abel was a Passover sacrifice: “And it was at the end of days, on the fourteenth of Nisan, that Cain brought of the produce of the earth . . . ”. If this is true, then it adds an interesting dimension to Yeshua’s crucifixion, which also took place on Passover. The author of Hebrews notes that the blood of Yeshua “speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24), and maybe there is more to this comparison than has previously been recognized. While the blood of righteous Abel cried out to God in condemnation, Yeshua’s blood speaks forgiveness and cleansing for all those who come to be washed by Him.)
We see the rainbow was a sign in Genesis 9:13, “I have set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.”
Circumcision was a sign, as Genesis 17:11 tells us, “You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.”
Even the letter “A” was put upon people who committed adultery. This is in fact what the Pirkei de Rabbi Eliezer says the mark was: one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. “What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He took one letter from the twenty-two letters, and put it upon Cain’s arm that he should not be killed, as it is said, ‘And the Lord appointed a sign for Cain’” (Pirkei de Rabbi Eliezer 21). Alternatively, another tradition said that the word “Sabbath” was inscribed on him:
There are some who say that the word “Sabbath” was placed as a sign upon his countenance, as it is said: ‘My Sabbaths, for it is the sign between Me and you, throughout your generations’ (Exodus 31:13), and that just as the Sabbath pleaded in behalf of Adam, it pleaded in behalf of Cain. Others, however, insist that He fastened a horn upon his forehead. (Midrash Tanchuma, Bereshit 10.1)
We do know that Cain was not sealed or marked as one of God’s servants, but in fact as one of God’s enemies—an enemy who had God’s protection from his enemies. Why would God do this? Maybe God hoped he would repent, or maybe God showed mercy, or maybe He wanted Cain to live out his punishment.
We also see in Revelation 13:15-18,
The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He also caused everyone (small and great, rich and poor, free and slave) to obtain a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. Thus no one was allowed to buy or sell things unless he bore the mark of the beast—that is, his name or his number. This calls for wisdom: Let the one who has insight calculate the beast’s number, for it is man’s number, and his number is 666.
Maybe Cain was branded with a mark or a letter, but either way we see that this was common.
Some traditions were passed down which tried to explain that eventually justice was served to Cain in the end. One tradition said that Cain was accidentally killed by Lamech, based on his outburst in Genesis 4:24, “If Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” Here is the tradition as explained in the Midrash Tanchuma. This story is dependent on the tradition that the mark of Cain was a horn that grew out of his forehead:
For one hundred and thirty years, Cain became an angel of death, wandering and roaming about, accursed. Lamech, his descendant in the seventh generation, who was blind, would go hunting led about by his young son. At the sight of game, the lad would apprise his father of its whereabouts. One time the lad said to his father: “I see some kind of beast in the distance.” Lamech sent his arrow in that direction, and Cain was slain. As they approached the corpse, the lad saw a horn protruding from the forehead of the slain creature, and he said to his father: “The corpse resembles a man, but a horn protrudes from its forehead.” Thereupon, Lamech cried out: “Woe is me, it is my grandfather.” In his grief, he clasped his hands together, and accidentally struck the child’s head, killing him. As it is said: I can slay a man by a wound of mine and a child by a strike of mine (Genesis. 4:23)” (Midrash Tanchuma, Bereshit 11.2).
While this tradition interprets Lamech’s declaration as one of mourning, it is also possible to interpret it as one of triumph, where Lamech is boasting of his capacity for violence in response to minor infractions, killing a man for merely hitting him. Yeshua reverses this declaration of vengeance, from avenging seventy-seven fold to forgiving even to seventy-seven times: “Then Peter came up and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Yeshua said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times’” (Matthew 18:22).
An alternative tradition about Cain’s death is found in the book of Jubilees. This story emphasizes the idea of “measure for measure”, and Cain is killed with the same object he used to kill his brother:
At the close of this jubilee Cain was killed after him [Adam] in the same year; for his house fell upon him and he died in the midst of his house, and he was killed by its stones; for with a stone he had killed Abel, and by a stone was he killed in righteous judgment. (Jubilees 4:31)