Biblicool Patterns in ScriptureBlog
When I was in college, I worked at a Christian summer camp in Texas. It was a very fruitful time for my faith and one of the first places that I really began engaging with God’s Word. One of my friends was very “punny” and wanted to show that scripture was intentional and cool to the campers. He enjoyed highlighting the comparison between Exodus 32 and Acts 2. In Exodus 32, Moses comes down from the mountain, having just received the 10 commandments, and finds the Israelites worshipping a golden calf. On that day, Moses has the Levites go through the crowds and strike down 3,000 people for the sin they committed against God. In Acts 2, Peter gives his first sermon, and the Spirit falls on the earth and 3,000 people are saved immediately. My friend liked to point out that the law brought death because we could not obey it, but the Spirit brought life through faith in the work of Jesus Christ. He called this comparison “biblicool.” I have adopted this term as a part of my vocabulary and apply it to any patterns or language that link texts throughout the Bible.
During Holy Week, we interviewed Peter Williams, PhD and he talked about patterns that we find throughout scripture if we are spending time in the Word. He argues that these patterns provide evidence that the text is trustworthy because the OT was written by Jews hundreds of years prior to the NT, which was written by Christians, and yet these texts fit perfectly together in the person of Jesus. He then blew my mind with a pattern. Check it out below!
“If you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall surely die” Genesis 2:17
The pattern Peter describes begins in the garden with two humans and two trees. We all know this story. Adam and Eve are told that they can eat from any tree that they desire except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God tells them that if they eat this tree, they will surely die. The crafty serpent twists God’s words and tempts humanity to disobey God, and Adam and Eve partake of the tree that brings the curse of death to humanity. Some read this story and believe that the serpent was telling the truth because Adam and Eve did not die that day. What is missed by these readers is the fact that Adam and Eve are separated from the tree of life. This tree provides eternal life for all who partake of it. It is the exact opposite of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree of life is what God desired for humanity to experience, because without it, humanity is incapable of dwelling with their creator.
“Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree” Galatians 3:13
Let’s follow the pattern of the tree and the curse of death. Galatians 3:13 reads “cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree.” I have heard people say that Christ hung on a tree, but I always felt like they meant symbolically, because in my mind a cross is not technically a tree. Peter exposes my fallacy in a twitter thread that you must see. He walks us through the evolution of the English meaning of tree. Galatians cites Deuteronomy 21:22 which says that a man "hanged on a tree is cursed by God." Peter shows us that the article “a” is added in both verses as English becomes more modern. The first English translations read “cursed is everyone that hangeth on tree” and “a man hanged on tree is cursed by God.” Some might think that this is a typo, but Peter explains that originally, the word "tree" described physical trees in the ground and wood. Therefore, Christ really was hung on a tree. And by hanging on a tree, He was cursed for the sins of humanity.
“Take, eat; this is my body” Matt 26:26
The comparison between the tree and curse is very biblicool, but this last piece shows us what Peter means by the OT and NT knitted perfectly in Christ. We discussed the cursed tree and how its fruit brought death to humanity, and God’s desire was for humanity to eat of the tree of life. Prior to Christ’s work on the cross, he celebrates the Passover with his disciples. At this meal he institutes a new celebration. We call it the Lord’s supper. He gives his disciples bread and wine, symbolic of His body and blood, and tells them to eat and drink for this is His new covenant: That Christ’s blood would be poured out for the forgiveness of sins. Do you see the pattern? Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and received death for their sin. Here at the Lord’s supper, Jesus is saying eat this for the forgiveness of sin. What does He mean? Remember He is headed to the cross, that cursed tree, where He experiences death, but makes a pathway for life. Jesus turns the cursed cross into the tree of life. For all who partake (believe) from this tree will experience everlasting life.
The story of the Bible begins with humanity being separated from God because of their sin. They receive the curse of death from the forbidden tree. But God sends His Son, who loves us so much, that He experiences the curse on our behalf, so that if we eat from His tree, the tree of life, we will live eternally with the Father. The tree of life that we are separated from in Genesis 3 now sits in the middle of New Jerusalem in Revelation 22, where God is worshipped by His Church that He has redeemed through the Son.
That is biblicool.