The Great Exchange

by Paul and Bunty Collins

The young shepherd boy stepped out into the arena of battle. It was an absurd sight. Dressed only in his rough shepherd's clothes, with a sling at his side, he was a laughable contrast to the war-hardened, armour-covered champion in front of him. The warrior walked out towards the youth, sneering in contempt.

'Am I a dog,' he roared, 'that you come at me with a stick?'

The nation of Israel was at war. The Philistine enemy had camped across the valley, but instead of using the normal tactic of combat, the Philistines had sent their champion to challenge a representative of the Israeli army. Their plan was for each man to fight on behalf of his army. Whoever won, won the war for his nation; whoever lost, would bring his whole nation into defeat and slavery to the conquerors. For days the Philistine champion had bellowed the challenge across the valley to Israel. Fear and shame had filled the heart of every Israeli. The Philistine was a giant of a man, about nine feet tall with a physique to match. No one, not even the king, had had the courage to accept the challenge. Then, suddenly, the camp had buzzed with excitement. A teenager, not even old enough to join the army, had accepted the challenge.

'Who is he? What's his name?' everyone had asked.

But no one had known.

As the youth stood there, facing the Philistine champion, the whole camp of Israel watched on in terror, convinced he had no chance against the Philistines' champion and that this was the end of them.

The young boy shouted his reply to the sneer of the Philistine.

'You come to me with a sword and a spear, but I come to you in the name of the Lord!'

Then, quick as a wink and before the man had time to raise his spear, the youth twirled his sling and the stone found its target. The warrior crashed to the ground. The boy jumped on him, and, drawing out the fallen Philistine's sword, finished him off.

A cheer rose in the Israeli camp. 'We've won! We've won!' they shouted with joy and disbelief, and down they swooped after the fleeing, defeated Philistine army.

Two Representative Men

David, the young shepherd boy, stood alone to face Goliath. But he wasn't facing him for himself. He was facing him as a representative man. He was facing him for the whole of the Israeli nation. In the same way, there are two men in world history whose actions have affected the whole of mankind. Each set a course that millions followed. Each stood alone as the representative of the human race.

'For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive' 1 Corinthians 15:22 (NIV).

The first man who represented us all was the very first man created - Adam. He was the father of the human race. He was created to be like God. There was no evil in him at all. God gave him the rulership over every other creature on the earth, and told him he could enjoy everything God had created. There was only one thing God told him not to touch. It was a particular tree in the cultivated area where Adam and his wife, Eve, lived. God called it 'the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.' That tree symbolised to Adam the ultimate authority of God over his life. Its presence was a constant reminder to him that, though he had rulership over the whole earth, God had rulership over him.

God's warning "when you eat of it you will surely die" was the warning of a loving father.

When a mother tells her young child not to play in the rain on a winter's day or he will catch cold, she is not saying, "If I catch you playing in the rain I'm going to 'zap' you with a cold." She is simply stating a fact, and because of her love for the child is warning him of the consequences of getting wet on a cold day. That was what God was doing when he told Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He was not threatening Adam. But because he loved him, he was warning him of the inevitable consequences of disobedience. God is the source of life. To rebel against him meant being cut off from God himself. The unavoidable result, then, was death.

Lucifer, the great angelic being who had rebelled against God, lied to Adam and Eve and told them that to eat the fruit of the tree meant they would find complete freedom, and be gods in their own right. They fell for it. In the horror of their act the glory of God's presence lifted from their being and they were left naked, ashamed and banished from their regal position. What they hadn't realised was, that by committing high treason against God, they had also put themselves under the control of Lucifer, or Satan as he is now known.

Back in history, when a man and woman committed treason against their nation, they were banished to an island in the middle of the ocean. There they were cut off from all contact with their homeland. Their whole world became that small island. Children born to them after their banishment, would grow up on that island never knowing what life was like anywhere else. They, too, would suffer the consequences of their parents' act.

In the same way, all humanity has experienced the consequences of Adam's action. The fallout of his sin has affected all of mankind. None has escaped its devastating effect. All the succeeding generations have inherited a rebellious and diseased nature and have been alienated from God. Fear, hate, guilt, and loneliness and are evidences of its reality.

Pollution is one of the greatest problems modern society is facing. Air pollution, food pollution, water pollution and noise pollution are just some of the hazards facing ecologists today. But as serious as this may be, it only serves as a picture of a far more serious problem. Man has not only polluted the earth he lives on, but he has also polluted the earth he lives in. The Bible tells us...

"The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being" Genesis 2:7 (NIV).

Scientists tell us that our physical bodies are made up of the same ingredients as the earth we walk on. What we have done to our world, we have done to our own lives as well. The earth began with clean air, pure water, uncontaminated food and vegetation. Man, too, began pure and uncontaminated, but through his act of rebellion, Adam polluted the human race and every man, woman and child since has been contaminated.

The Bible puts it this way:

"Sin came into the world through one man, and his sin brought death with it. As a result, death spread to the whole human race, because all men sinned" Romans 5:12 (Good News Bible).

Go to[ Part 2].


Copyright 1983, 1996 Paul Collins. All rights reserved. This study may be freely used and reproduced, wholly or in part, by the Christian Church for the non-profit purposes of study and training only, provided copyright and contact information is included.

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