Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” scene from the Sistine Chapel ceiling (circa 1511)
The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.
– St. Paul the Apostle
Advent has been fulfilled, Messiah has come. Hallelujah!
Today’s essay commemorates the First Coming of Jesus Christ and looks forward with hope and great anticipation towards Christ’s Second Coming. Why did Jesus come to Earth? To redeem mankind and all humanity back to God’s eternal love which He foreordained for each of us to enjoy “before the foundations of the world were discovered.” How did our sacred fellowship with God get broken? The prophet Isaiah (53:6) answered in this manner, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
On this Christmas Day, I hear two calls like the clarion trumpet of the Archangel proclaiming four words that resound through the ages. One says – Let us make man … (Gen. 1:26) and the other says – Let us reason together … (Isa. 1:18).
Regarding the first Adam, the book of Genesis reads: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Admittedly, this verse isn’t normally associated with the coming of Christ, yet for some inexplicable reason I am drawn toward it. This is God’s first created son, Adam, the pinnacle of His creation whom God loved more than all creation and gave him dominion (authority) over all the earth.
Adam’s fall caused all mankind and creation to fall into sin, perversion, destruction and death and gave Adam’s dominion and rulership over the earth into the hands of Satan, yet the leitmotiv of redemption reigns throughout the Bible. The messianic prophet Isaiah wrote: Come now and let us reason together saith the LORD though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson. Although the first Adam fell, the second Adam (Jesus) would triumph over sin, redeeming all mankind onto Himself.
There is another enduring leitmotiv throughout the biblical narrative whereby the natural blessings due to the first son is given to the second son:
- The first messianic prophecy (Gen. 3:15): And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. This astounding passage hearkens back to Satan before the fall when as Lucifer he was the chief archangel and musician whose glory illuminated all of heaven, now his glory has been usurped by a mere man (Adam) through whose seed (Christ) would come down through the Ages to strike a fatal blow against Satan and against all his demonic forces;
- Regarding Adam’s first two sons, Cain and Abel, God favored Abel’s offering over Cain because Abel’s offered a blood sacrifice of an innocent lamb, whereby Cain’s offering (fruits, vegetables) contained no blood and was rejected. That lamb’s blood sacrifice would be spectacularly fulfilled 4,000 years later with the birth of Jesus Christ, “the lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.”
- Abraham had two sons: Ishmael and Isaac. God’s promise would descend through Isaac’s genealogical line.
- Isaac had two sons: Esau and Jacob. God chose Jacob above Esau. Jacob’s genealogy birthed the 12 tribes of Israel, who through the fourth son (2×2), Judah would descend David and ultimately Jesus Christ.
- Gen. 38:27-30: Judah birthed two sons, Zerah and Pharez who although Zerah’s arm appeared first, Pharez eventually was birthed first and was included in the genealogy of Christ;
- Gen. 48:9-20: Joseph had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, who at the time of Jacob’s death, Joseph’s father crossed his hands and gave the chief blessing to the second son above the first.
Of course there are many, many more examples in the Bible of the second son being favored by God’s omniscient will above the first-born son, who was favored by man’s traditions. The most notable being God’s only begotten son, Jesus Christ, being favored above humanity’s first son, Adam.
It was exactly 500 years ago that God’s artist, Michelangelo, was so inspired by God to paint his immortal masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Carefully examine the painting above. From the beginning, it demonstrates God’s enduring love was always reaching out to humanity to redeem mankind back onto Himself. Look at the love in God’s eyes toward the pinnacle of his creation, Adam, who in return looks to God in reverential awe. Look at the iconic touching of God’s hand to Adam’s the very moment after He created him. That’s the traditional interpretation of that famous fresco.
However, there is another interpretation of the master’s work which you may not have considered. Is God pulling away from Adam after granting him life, or is God giving Adam something else – but what?
Dr. Frank Lynn Meshberger of St. John’s Medical Center in Anderson, Ind., believes that the famous “creation” panel contains an image that reflects Michelangelo’s private life, his deep religious beliefs he used to dissect cadavers to study the human form for his art. See the drawing Dr. Meshberger uses to illustrate how Michelangelo identifies many of the brain’s structures contained inside the image of God’s swirling cloak and the surrounding angels.”
God is not giving Adam life, but intellect, reason, knowledge, a computer – a brain.
The millennia that separates the first call of God: Let us make man … to the second call of God: Let us reason together … is the eternal mystery of the second Son, Jesus Christ redeeming the apocalyptic catastrophe caused by the first son, Adam.
This Christmas Day, let us rejoice with psalmist David, who, in Psalm 24, asked and answer mankind’s eternal question of the ages regarding the second Son – Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is the King of glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of glory!