J. V. Fesko
Reviewed by: Brett A. McNeill
Date posted: 01/20/2008
Last Things First: Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology, by J. V. Fesko. Published by Mentor (Christian Focus Publications), 2007. Paperback, 222 pages, list price $18.99. Reviewed by OP pastor Brett A. McNeill.
In seminary we used to say that you can preach Christ from a text, but not necessarily get it right, but if you don't preach Christ from it, you could be certain you got it wrong. That's because all the Scriptures speak of him (cf. Luke 24: 25-27). It is this principle of the Christ-centered nature of Scripture that John Fesko, pastor of Geneva OPC in Woodstock, Georgia, seeks to demonstrate in the first three chapters of the Bible. Frustrated because so much of the dialogue and debate about this section of Scripture is about secondary issues, Fesko seeks to bring a corrective voice to the conversation—"the Bible is about Christ first."
Fesko looks at what it means that Adam and Eve were made in the image of God, focusing on Adam's kingly role as God's ruler in creation, who was to extend the kingdom established in the Garden of Eden. Accordingly, he shows in chapter 2 that the Garden of Eden was the holy sanctuary of God, where his Presence and his Name were made known.
The next three chapters look at the parallels between Adam and Christ, the second Adam. Fesko reminds us of the historic understanding of the covenant of works and roots it firmly in Scripture. Since John Murray sought to "recast covenant theology" fifty years ago, this important doctrine has been neglected and even attacked. The so-called Federal Vision has brought an all-out offensive against this precious truth. Fesko deftly argues that if the covenant of works is not clearly understood in the life of the first Adam, the work of the second Adam will necessarily be obscured. Jesus succeeded where Adam failed. In other words, this is a matter of getting the gospel right. Fesko's treatment is to be commended and revisited regularly.
This focus on the work of Christ pervades the book and is summarized in the final chapter. While there are many things in the Garden of Eden that tell us that the ultimate goal of creation was glorification and enjoyment of God in heaven, there is none so clear as the institution of the Sabbath. Adam had a goal of entering into God's rest, and this was to be obtained through his obedience. It is this goal that Christ accomplished (not a mere restoration to the position that Adam had before the Fall). This understanding of the Sabbath reflects the thrust of the whole book: creation can only be rightly understood in terms of Christ and the heavenly goal of creation (eschatology).
This book is not without its faults, however. More time could have been spent rounding out the concept of "image of God" by developing the priestly and prophetic aspects, along with the kingly. Also, a few post-Fall texts are misused to describe the pre-Fall estate. Nevertheless, these weaknesses are far outweighed by the valuable contribution this book makes (on a very accessible level) to the discussion of the significance of Genesis 1-3. This rigorous application of a Christ-centered interpretive method should be emulated in all our studies of Scripture.