Sketching HIStory #11

Gen 4, 5 – Cain and Abel2nd-death-w

Even before Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden, God had a plan for mankind’s salvation… that is, salvation from mankind’s ultimate demise, the 2nd Death or Hell.

The problem is that mankind had sinned and upon their expulsion from the protective environment of Eden, they had to contend with surviving the wilds of the earth… ON THEIR OWN! This means that because of sin, they were not entitled to the protection of God and the reality of Adam and Eve’s situation in being thrust into the wild is guaranteed to lead to their quick death. So, since God’s plan require that they survive and multiply, I feel safe enough to theorize on what may have happened between Genesis 3 and 4.

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I believe that God caused Adam and Eve to go through… this is the part of me who loves science fiction… some kind of dimensional gateway to arrive in a part of the earth where they will not easily become prey. I don’t think they would end up in an Amazonian like jungle. Have you ever watched the Discovery Channel’s ‘Naked & Afraid’? Imagine Adam and Eve in that same situation except they have no tools and no survival skills. After one night there, the accompanying camera crew would probably be calling in for body bags. I think the Lord would have made sure that they would have ended up in a savanna-like environment. They would first find a shallow cave for shelter. Through trial and error, they would get a fire built and develop primitive stone tools. (Talking about the ‘stone age’.) Eventually, they would leave their cave dwelling and seek out a land that they can till and farm of which by the start of Genesis 4, the Lord made sure they were successful.

Once they were secured, they were now free to proceed with God’s plan (whether they knew it or not).

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Adam had relations with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. [Gen 4:1-5a]

Let us look closely at the offering. Both young men, farmers in their own right, were delighted in their respective fruitful endeavors and had decided to bring a thanksgiving offering to God. For Cain, he brought some of the crops that he successfully grew. Abel, whose vocation was in animal husbandry, brought in the firstborn of his flock and offered the fattest of portions to the Lord. Let us assume that both young men were genuinely sincere in their offerings. So, why did God reject Cain’s?

There are strong beliefs that God commanded Adam, after the fall, that if anyone seeking God’s favor, they are to shed the blood of innocent animals, and after their death to burn part or the whole of their bodies by fire. This lesson would have been passed on to his children. Cain, though sincere, should have known better.

You are probably wondering why there is a Crimson Thread symbol over Abel’s offering. This image of Abel holding a firstborn lamb for the purpose of sacrifice is representative of Jesus being called the ‘Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29 KJV). We will see more of this representation in the Old Testament.

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So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” [Gen 4:5b-7]

The rejection of Cain’s offering, does not mean that God rejected Cain himself. In truth, Cain only made an assumptive mistake. However, God did see the pride in him which was feeding his anger. So, God reached out to show him the way. Unfortunately, pride won out over reason and sin did not just claim Cain only…

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Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. [Gen 4:8]

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” [Gen 4:9-12]

There is much to cover on what happened to Cain in our next post.

Malice in the heart ends in murder by the hands. Cain slew Abel, his own brother, his own mother’s son, whom he ought to have loved; his younger brother, whom he ought to have protected; a good brother, who had never done him any wrong. What fatal effects were these of our first parents’ sin, and how must their hearts have been filled with anguish! Observe the pride, unbelief, and impenitence of Cain. He denies the crime, as if he could conceal it from God. He tries to cover a deliberate murder with a deliberate lie.

Murder is a crying sin. Blood calls for blood, the blood of the murdered for the blood of the murderer. Who knows the extent and weight of a Divine curse, how far it reaches, how deep it pierces?

Cain was cursed from the earth. He found his punishment there where he chose his portion, and set his heart. Every creature is to us what God makes it, a comfort or a cross, a blessing or a curse. The wickedness of the wicked brings a curse upon all they do, and all they have.

Cain slew his brother, because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous (1 John 3:12). In consequence of the enmity put between the Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, the war broke out, which has been waged ever since. In this war we are all concerned, none are neuter; our Captain has declared, He that is not with me is against me. Let us decidedly, yet in meekness, support the cause of truth and righteousness against Satan. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

But the Lord will not allow evil thwart His plan. Hope continues…

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Adam had relations with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.” [Gen 4:25]

From the birth of Seth as we will see in Genesis chapter 5, God (in the background) kept close watch with a specific family line.

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This line is a direct Crimson Thread to Jesus Himself, the Son of God which is listed out in His genealogy.

Here is a Worthy Note for you.

When ever I am reading Scripture and I come to a passage that clearly stuck out, I tend to flag it for further study. Near the tail end of Genesis 5 is one of those interesting flags. There are times that Scripture can be monotonous by patterns of repetition. In this fifth chapter, we have one of those patterns that when read out loud on the pulpit, the preacher might notice a number of nodding heads. In this case, what would be read is the genealogy of Adam family line with each one giving birth to a son and after living close to an eon, and then they die, except when the repetition is interrupted with Enoch who only lived for less than 400 year and he did not die. You heard me right. Enoch, to this date, had not died!

After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. [Gen 5:22-24]

Enoch was the seventh from Adam. Godliness is walking with God: which shows reconciliation to God, for two cannot walk together except they be agreed, Am 3:3. It includes all the parts of a godly, righteous, and sober life. To walk with God, is to set God always before us, to act as always under his eye. It is constantly to care, in all things to please God, and in nothing to offend him. It is to be followers of him as dear children. The Holy Spirit, instead of saying, Enoch lived, says, Enoch walked with God. This was his constant care and work; while others lived to themselves and the world, he lived to God. It was the joy of his life. Enoch was removed to a better world. As he did not live like the rest of mankind, so he did not leave the world by death as they did. He was not found, because God had translated him.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. [Hebrew 11:5]

He had lived but 365 years, which, as men’s ages were then, was but the midst of a man’s days. God often takes those soonest whom he loves best; the time they lose on earth, is gained in heaven, to their unspeakable advantage. See how Enoch’s removal is expressed: he was not, for God took him. He was not any longer in this world; he was changed, as the saints shall be, who are alive at Christ’s second coming. Those who begin to walk with God when young, may expect to walk with him long, comfortably, and usefully. The true christian’s steady walk in holiness, through many a year, till God takes him, will best recommend that religion which many oppose and many abuse. And walking with God well agrees with the cares, comforts, and duties of life. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

In our next post, we will cover the descendants of Cain and what they have done to move God to judge mankind with a devastating effect.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch14 – part 4

THE OPPOSITION – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

That night, Cornelius was summoned to the residence of Pilate which occupied two levels of the northeastern tower. The summons was by the Lady Procula. A servant let him into the spacious living quarters where a party of guest can be easily entertained. He was guided to a small curtained off room with a tall embrasure that faced north. The room was plush with hanging fabric covering the stark stone walls. In the center of the room was a small round table surrounded by pillows on a rich woven carpet. There was fruit, cheese and bread on a silver platter with two goblets and a container of chilled wine. Cornelius was staring out the window lost in thought when she entered.

“Cornelius,” she quietly said.

“Pheobe!” he startlingly said. “I mean Lady Pheobe… I ah… I was summoned here by the Lady Procula.”

“The Lady Procula and the governor went out to another party somewhere at the upper city. She felt that you and I would like to be alone.”

She demurely sat on one of the pillows by the low table and started to pour some wine. Then she invited him to sit opposite her.

“You have changed since we saw each other last.” She was teasingly referring to his beard.

“Oh yes,” he said somewhat embarrassed, rubbing his scraggy beard. “I blend better with the locals as I continue to follow my maste… I mean… my subject… the man I’m following.” He quickly popped a couple of grapes into his mouth and hastingly drank some wine to hide his blunder.

“Well, I like it. Tell me about this man… about this Nazarene that you have been following.” When she saw his surprise, she lightly laughed and said, “The Lady Procula and myself have been keeping up with your reports. Of course, we think your reports are somewhat too martial. Good enough for the Governor and Generals, but there is much, we think, you have left out. The Lady had asked me to wheedle more out of you. We want to know more of Jesus of Nazareth.”

“Why is she… and you, at that matter… so interested in him?”

“My mistress met this Jewish man in Rome two years back. Joseph of Arimethea was his name. He is a member of the Sanhedrin, their ruling body, and a Pharisee. It was him that got the Lady interested in the Jewish beliefs and the advent of a king. She had surmised that this wandering teacher performing miracles might be him. So, for now, you are my prisoner. And I will get the truth from you,” she said giggling lightly. “In truth, I’ve been wanting to be alone with you for some time.”

Cornelius smiled at that and was thinking on how much he was going to reveal. Will he endanger the Master by giving all that he knew to the wife of the Governor who might just as well of having Jesus arrested and executed him as an expedient solution to any possible rebellion. But as he gazed at this pretty woman preparing a plate for him, somehow he knew what he revealed this night would not alter Jesus’ destiny. So, Cornelius told her of his travels with Jesus. He told her of the wondrous miracles that he witnessed. He shared his insights of his teachings and he even offered his own feelings of both fears and joys in regards to him.

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The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q

Sketching HIStory #10

Gen 3 – Judgement & Hope

Let us recap Genesis 3:6-15.

Adam and Eve willfully* ate the forbidden fruit. Both their eyes were opened. And shame and guilt hit them in the gutt like a brick. They covered their shames with fig leaves. When they heard the Lord walking in the garden, they tried to hide from Him. God asked them what they have done and instead of admitting their faults, they played the blame game. Seeing that, God had no choice but to be true to Himself and JUDGE.

[* Willfully – with a stubborn and determined intention to do as one wants, regardless of the consequences.]

gen-3-eve-judgemnt-w.jpgTo the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” [Gen 3:16]

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To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” [vs 17-19]

In my Bible study class, it never fails when a few of the male members begin to ask, ‘why is it that Adam, that is, the guy (only) is getting the worst of God’s judgment?’ Their claim, of course, was that, since the woman was the first one to eat the forbidden fruit, she should have gotten more judgment. Usually, after I chuckle a little, I would first ask them if any of them have ever experienced giving birth? Most of the time, they get the point. But the reason is very clear. Consider first man God is a righteous judge. So, let us look at the verses from the point of view of righteousness. Adam was created first and he spent the longest time in fellowship with God. Adam, from God’s perspective, should have known better. He could have just not eaten.

thorns-w.jpgNow, let us look at the judgment, the cursing of the ground. Mankind was meant to take ownership all of the earth. Everything and that includes the soil would have answered to his will. But because of what they did, the ground will not so easily yield its fruits. Mankind would have to sweat to break up the soil, till it, water it and hope that what was planted will sprout. But that is not all. Nature’s cards will be stacked up high against mankind. In other words, creation/nature will fight back; hence the literal as well as metaphorical meaning of the ‘thorns and thistles’ in verse 18. If you don’t know what I mean, then try surviving in a jungle were a few days without tools, food, shelter and weapons. Keep this in mind, all of creation was affected by SIN. I am sure you have asked yourselves, “why is life so hard? Why do we have war? Crime? Violence? Disease? Natural disasters? Plain hatred? And so on…” The answer of all of that started here in Genesis 3.

So, the cursing of the ground will go on until we return to the ground as dust.

Let us talk about DEATH. God’s commandment said that ‘if you eat of this fruit, you will surely die!’ The one obvious aspect of death that we know of is what we will all experience and that is ‘physical death’. This is when our physical body will cease to go on. We will decompose and return to dust. For mankind (by their own power), there is no escape. The Bible also talks about two other kinds of death. The first one is more inclined than written down. While Adam and Eve were in the garden, they were privileged to be physically present before His Holy Presence which gave them a spiritual connection. But as soon as they both bit into the forbidden fruit, that connection they had with God was severed. Though they were physically alive, they became spiritually dead.

The consequence of sin does not end here. There is another aspect of death which is more devastating and eternal. Ironically, though it is not found in the beginning of the Bible, it is strongly narrated in the New Testament by Jesus himself; most especially in the book of Revelation. It is called the 2nd Death. The 2nd Death has another name – HELL.

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Revelation 20:14
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

Revelation 21:8
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.

It is here that lies mankind’s greatest doom – the eternal separation from God. This is our BAD NEWS but there is HOPE.

Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. [vs 20]

At least, after God gave His hard judgement on the man, a part of Adam that is of the image of God moved him to recognize something about his wife.

God named the man, and called him Adam, which signifies red earth; Adam named the woman, and called her Eve, that is, life. Adam bears the name of the dying body, Eve of the living soul. Adam probably had regard to the blessing of a Redeemer, the promised Seed, in calling his wife Eve, or life; for He should be the life of all believers, and in Him all the families of the earth should be blessed.

[Matthew Henry Commentary]

Adam’s condition was now one of death, but his wife thereby attained a higher value in his sight. Through her alone could human life be continued, and the “woman’s seed” be obtained who was to raise up man from his fall.

[Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers]

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. [vs 21]

Here, in verse 21, is not just a matter of the Lord God providing both Adam and Eve with better protective clothing. For one thing, I truly believe that God did not just make appear ‘garments of skin’ from thin air. Mind you, God could do it but then why not give them a set of modern clothing instead of animal skins. Again, I believe God is going to teach a hard spiritual lesson.

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When after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they tried to hide their nakedness by sewing fig leaves to cover their shame. In God’s eyes, mankind’s effort to hide their sin their way is inadequate by His standard. God is going to show them a hard lesson for what is the cost for redemption. Imagine, if you will, God summoning a pair of deer. To their shock, He commands an angel to slaughter these innocent creatures and have their skins removed to be made into garments. Why this bloody illustration? Believe it or not, in this lesson is a clue for mankind’s salvation. Repeated time after time in the Bible is this spiritual truth that without shedding of innocent blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). Of course, the shedding of animal blood is just a temporary solution which we will learn more as we continue to read through Scriptures.

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And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. [vs 22-24]

The casting out of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden is not just a matter of being kicked out of Paradise. The Garden was not just a beautiful place. It represented where mankind walked hand in hand with God. But now, there is a separation… a wide chasm between us and God. Everyone born outside the garden has this separation (spiritual death). And there is no other way to get back in by themselves for an Angel of the Lord blocks the way.

There is HOPE, however. Here is my next…

CRIMSON THREAD

crimson-thread-wGod, in His wisdom, had set into motion a plan to save mankind from their ultimate demise. Interestingly enough, the Lord revealed a little bit of His plan in His curse to the serpent.

“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.” [Gen 3:15]

Jesus is the offspring that will crush the serpent’s head. The serpent also struck back and Jesus died, but he was foiled when Jesus resurrected.

As an added point to the crimson thread, I also offer this verse:

Romans 5:19
For just as through the disobedience of the one man (Adam) the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man (Jesus) the many will be made righteous.

 

In my next post, we will find God reaching out to us in a harsh world.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch14 – part 3

THE OPPOSITION – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

At the gate, Cornelius was about to show his insignia to the gate guards when his name was called, “Hail, Cornelius!”

Cornelius turns to see a big man coming out of a single door built into the big gate. “Bragga! You old war horse”, he returned the greeting. They grasped their fore arms and gave each other a bear hug. “I would think that the Twenty fifth had retired your old hulking self by now?” He jokingly said.

“Tribune Marcianus would not have it so,” Bragga said laughingly. “The Twenty-fifth has been bolstered by mostly veterans from Gaul. Their many victories have made them complacent and unruly. He told me to put the fear of the gods in them.”

“Now, what brings you here?”

“I am on special assignment for Pilate. I have come to report to him since I found myself in the city.”

“Ah, yes! How is the spy work?” He laughed again. “Come! Let us go in.”

They followed Bragga through the gate portico into a small courtyard. There were three ramps before them, two narrow ones going down into the underground stables. They both flanked a wider ramp that went up to a bigger courtyard. The upper courtyard was busy with soldiers doing drill work.

Pointing at the far end of courtyard, he said, “Over there, you will find the baths. I am sure you would want to make yourself more presentable before you meet with the General.” He said this amusingly as he looked Cornelius up and down shaking his head. “For a Centurion Primus, you sure are a slovenly soldier.” He again laughed.

Cornelius realized that he was still dressed like a local and that he had not shaved for months.

“Fret not! I am sure we can scrounge around for something for you to wear.”

An hour later, scrubbed clean of the dirt of the road, Cornelius waited outside Pontus Pilate’s private office located on the fourth level of one of the towers. Bragga had found him a faded red soldier’s tunic and a studded leather belt to wear. He decided not to shave since the beard helps him blend in with the locals. The door opened and Cornelius was ordered to come in. Cornelius crisply marched in and stood at attention before Pilate’s desk which was thickly strewn with parchments. Pilate was busy reading dispatches from an outlying post. When he lifted his eyes to look at Cornelius, he stood up with an amused look on his face.

“Well… well, Centurion. I see that you have truly gone native on us.” Pilate chuckled as Tribune Marcianus looked on disapprovingly because he was unshaven.

“Sir, please forgive my appearance. Coming to Jerusalem was a last minute decision and we decided to travel light.”

“You need not apologize, Centurion. So, what brought you to Jerusalem? I had been informed that this Nazarene was suppose to be still in Galilee and was not expected to be here for the festivities. I heard that Caiaphas and members of their ruling class wanted to get their hands on him. But then, word came to me this morning that he snuck in under their noses and was openly preaching down there at the temple.”

Cornelius told them of Jesus’ earlier decision of not coming to Jerusalem. He also reported of his conversation with his brothers and his reason.

Tribune Marcianus had that suspicious look and said, “What did he mean, ‘it is not yet my time’? Sir, this man from Nazareth may still have plans to lead the populace to revolt against us! He is after all very popular.”

“That is true,” Pilate said contemplatively. “However, we have to ask why he refused the support of the Zealots? And then, considering the Centurion’s report, he is making enemies of the ruling class. No, it does not make sense. To claim the crown and lead a revolt with out the support of the ruling and religious class is political suicide.”

“Sir! He must be getting financial support for his activities.” Marcianus interjected, “Twice he fed thousands of people. I cannot believe it was a miracle of sorts or some kind of magic. The Centurion even reported that he did not actually see the food appear from thin air. It must be some trick and all that food to feed thousands mean ‘money’!”

“Well, Centurion,” Pilate asked, “what say you to this?”

“Sir, I admit that I did not see it happen because his disciples surrounded him both times. However, the food that was distributed was warm to the touch. When I broke the loaf, it was still steaming; the feel and taste suggest that it came straight from an oven. There was no oven, much more an even larger oven that can bake thousands of loaves. It would also be impossible for it to be underground because both times we were on solid rock. If, what the Tribune suggests is a trick, then the ability and organization to pull it through twice in different locations would be formidable indeed. But, sir, I have been with him for months. At no time have I observed him communicate nor received any financial support from any organization. He lives like a vagabond. He is always on the move. Any wealth he received, he freely gave away. When he preaches, not once have he ever cited the populace to raise up arms against us.”

Marcianus interrupts, “In one of your dispatches, you reported that he taught of an up and coming kingdom!”

“Yes sir! But I believe that the kingdom he spoke of was of a kingdom with no existing borders; where Jews and Romans can co-exist. The teacher spoke of loving ones enemies than hating them.”

“What non-sense is this?” Marcianus said angrily. “He is like all these Jewish dogs. Fanatics!”

“He is an idealist!” Pilate said. “He is not necessarily a fanatic. Whatever forces are working here, I believe he will be the center of it. Regardless, we must stay vigil. Centurion, you are in a unique position. Continue to keep me abreast. Dismissed!”

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The story continues on in my next post.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

If you want to support my writing, you can donate by clicking below…

DONATE TO MY PAYPAL

Thank you

Johann Q

Sketching HIStory #9

Gen 3 – Broken Relationship

Before we delve into Genesis 3:6-15, I invite you to watch the video below and get a basic definition of SIN.

Now, let us see mankind’s first act of SIN.

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When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. [Gen 3:6]

Biblically speaking, temptation is not sin, but it does lead you to a trap that ‘plunge people into ruin and destruction’ (1 Timothy 6:9). Let’s recap. The serpent had told Eve that God had lied about the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He then enticed her to focus on the fruit; especially on how by eating it, she would be exactly like God. Now, the Bible doesn’t say this, but I surmised that after the serpent pointed her toward the tree with a curious Adam not far behind, slinked away. That left Eve to get a lot closer to the tree, than she had ever been. I’m almost sure she was feeling a sense that she had never experienced before – apprehension. That feeling is built into all of us when God created us in His image. What triggered that feeling is our…

Conscience

But the serpent’s wiles had a slight advantage over Eve’s conscience. Do you recall what Eve said to the serpent? Eve believed that if she even touched the forbidden fruit, she would die. This was, of course, erroneous. But imagine, if you will, Eve hesitatingly approach the tree, then she saw that the fruit looked quite delectable. She reaches out, then hesitates again, remembering that if she touches it, she dies. Then she remembers what the serpent said. With one finger, she gingerly touches the fruit and nothing happens. She’s now convinced. She pulls the fruit off the tree and took a bite. Adam saw that Eve was enjoying the fruit. She beckoned for him to join her and he took a bite.

Why didn’t the conscience take control of their action? One other aspect of being in the image of God is our free will. And both Adam and Eve chose to ignore their consciences or more directly chose not to believe God and ate the fruit.

For every action taken, there are circumstances.

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Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. [vs 7]

There is nothing like the gut-feeling pain of realizing you have done something really wrong. Adam and Eve knew they committed the fatal deed and the innocent feelings that they had was replaced by a sense of foreboding. That same guilt feeling made them look at each other closely and they realized each other’s nakedness. They both did not like it. To alleviate their shame, they tried to hide behind some sewn fig leaves to hide their private parts. But this experience of foreboding does not end there.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” [vs 8-11]

When I first read these verses, I had that nagging question of why would God ask Adam, ‘where was he?’ or ‘did he eat from the forbidden tree?’. If He is all-seeing and all-knowing, then how was it that He didn’t know? Of course, God knew. So, why would He confront Adam with those questions? Let me put this question in another way. Why not would a forgiving God ask such questions if not to give opportunity for Adam to clear his conscience of guilt? I truly believe that God would have forgiven Adam and Eve at that time… if they confessed rightly. And when I say rightly, I mean speaking the simple truth.

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The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” [vs 12]

It is said that confession is good for the soul. I have experienced it myself. Whenever I confessed my wrong doings, it always feel like a heavy weight was lifted off my chest. Imagine what our world would be like if Adam just confessed, but he didn’t! Instead, he took the route of what we call the ‘blame game’. He blamed Eve for his action, but that is not all. He also blamed God for putting Eve with him. Here is a thought for everyone. When you are angry with life, do you eventually blame God? If truth be told, is that really fair?

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Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” [vs 13]

Eve was right to say of what the serpent did. However, this is no excuse. She can not claim that ‘the devil made me do it’.

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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.” [vs 14-15]

Did you notice that God did not ask the serpent what he did? I will not get into it much except to say, that God’s standard of justice to us is a lot more lenient than what those spiritual creatures get in their rebellion. There is no trial, but judgement… and no hope of pardon.

Now, I hope you understand why I aesthetically chose the Komodo Dragon to represent the Serpent of Eden. My original idea was to use the Velociraptor as the serpent but I changed my mind mainly because… well, it could have been way too much Jurasic World… if you know what I mean. Anyway, I wish I could have presented an animation of this scene.

By the way, this depiction of the serpent’s fate is not an actual representation of snakes having no limbs. What Genesis 3:14 describe may be more figurative on the fall of an angel who once was an anointed cherub on the holy mount of God but was expelled; then cast to the earth [Ezekiel 28:12-19].

But here is the clincher in God’s curse on the serpent. Hidden in the devil’s fate is a sliver of prophetic hope for us which we will cover in my next post.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch14 – part 2

THE OPPOSITION – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

Jesus continued to teach for another hour, and then he and the disciples left the temple by way of the south gate. Because many of the crowd followed him out, they were not harassed by any of the religious leaders nor temple guards. They followed the columned corridor to the south-west corner of the Temple Mount; went down a short flight of stairs unto a vaulted portico. As they emerged, Cornelius was again treated to a panoramic view of Jerusalem. They stood at the top of a wide avenue of marble steps built to accommodate the incomings and outgoings of large crowds. The marble steps descended about forty feet down to the base of the Temple mount. He went over to the balustrade to get a better view. The first thing that caught his eye was a huge coliseum like structure which was directly below him. Unlike the Great Coliseum in Rome which was round, this one was elongated and was not as high. He estimated that this arena can sit about five thousand spectators. Chariot races are probably the most watched spectacles.

To the left of the arena were the high walls of the City of David. To the right across a deep ditch rose hundreds of dirty white squared buildings of the lower city. His eyes could clearly see the evidence of over population and squalid living conditions. About the same level of where he is standing beyond the lower city are the rich ornately decorated buildings of the upper city. One in particular that stood out was a large Greco-Roman Amphitheater.

Cornelius then followed the others down the wide marble steps to the bottom where they found a busy and noisy market place. Taking advantage of the busy market place, Jesus and his small groups of followers snuck away from the larger crowd that followed him down from the temple.

When they found a reasonably deserted alley, Cornelius went up to Jesus and said, “Lord, I have to go to the Praetorium and report to my superiors.”

“That is alright,” Jesus said. “We will be going to Bethany, to the home of a friend. You may find us at the temple courts in the morrow.”

After receiving directions from Judas Iscariot who knew the city well, he, Jacob, Trax and Cestus worked their way up-hill through the busy narrow streets of the lower city, always keeping the massive western wall of the Temple Mount on their right. The route they took brought them eventually to the low retainer wall of the upper city. They headed towards one of the six gates where there was a long line of people waiting to be questioned by Roman guards. Brandishing his cohort’s insignia and rank that was hidden under his robe, they were able to pass through the gate without being questioned or searched. Again the distinction between the upper city and the lower city was obvious. From dirty smelly narrow streets, they were now walking on clean wide flag-stone streets. The avenue that they were on was mostly lined with merchant shops. Richly robed patrons haggled with merchants over exotic materials from the east, intricately woven rugs from Persia, jewelry, aromatic perfumes and other trinkets. Jacob elatedly found a merchant selling scroll manuscripts of Greek poets and philosophers that the trader have bragged were elaborately copied by the scribes of the Great Library of Alexandria.

After pulling away a much disappointed Jacob from the shop, they eventually reached a tall wall structure with multiple arches. Bolted on one of the arches was a carved sign that read ‘TYROPOEON’ in Greek. As they were walking under one of the arches, Jacob told them that the Tyropoeon^ was originally a deep rugged ravine that in ancient times separated Mount Moriah from Mount Zion. This was one of depressed valleys that were filled in during the time of Solomon. The structure that they were walking under is actually the Zion Bridge that span from the western wall of the Temple Mount to the shiny palaces on Mount Zion. Cornelius also saw that the bridge separated the relatively new buildings of the upper city from what was before them, the old city, original site of Salem. The old city was built on a rolling plain. The streets were narrow and not always going on a straight line. A few times, they found the street that they were walking on stopped abruptly where they would either climb or descend a steep set of rough steps. Eventually, they finally came out onto an open plaza across of which rose the Fortress Antonia.

[ ^ Tyropoeon Valley – (i.e., “Valley of the Cheese mongers”), the name given by Josephus the historian to the valley or rugged ravine which in ancient times separated Mount Moriah from Mount Zion. This valley, now filled up with a vast accumulation of rubbish, and almost a plain, was spanned by bridges, the most noted of which was Zion Bridge, which was probably the ordinary means of communication between the royal palace on Zion and the temple. A fragment of the arch (q.v.) of this bridge (called “Robinson’s Arch”), where it projects from the sanctuary wall, was discovered by Robinson in 1839. This arch was destroyed by the Romans when Jerusalem was taken.
The western wall of the temple area rose up from the bottom of this valley to the height of 84 feet, where it was on a level with the area, and above this, and as a continuance of it, the wall of Solomon’s cloister rose to the height of about 50 feet, “so that this section of the wall would originally present to view a stupendous mass of masonry scarcely to be surpassed by any mural masonry in the world.” ]

Cornelius can appreciate the strategic placement of the fortress which was up against the north part of the city walls. If this city is to come under siege, it can only be here at the north wall. The east, south and west walls are very much protected by inaccessible terrain for large armies and siege machines. Connecting battlements from the north wall to the fortress make it easy for the defenders to quickly take their positions. The fortress itself was a large rectangular keep where the walls and battlements rose just slightly higher than the massive walls of the Temple Mount. But what were even higher were the four large towers built into the four corners of the keep.

They crossed the plaza, and then climbed two sets of wide steps to the top landing. There were two main gates which were on another landing a few more steps up. Before they approached the main gate, Cornelius paused and said to Jacob and Trax, “I am afraid that when we enter there, decorum requires that you both again must give the appearance of being my slaves.”

Jacob was again amused while Trax pouted his disappointment, because as a slave he could not freely explore the whole fortress which he so desired.

Cestus laughed out loud and clapped Trax on the shoulder. “You need not fret, lad. You can accompany me.” Trax beamed with delight.
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The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q

Sketching HIStory #8

Gen 3 – The Antagonist

Let us open our Bibles and read Genesis 3:1-5 or click on Bible Gateway links below.

NIV    GNT     KJV

In every story, there are always three character elements that makes all stories GOOD; the protagonist, the victim and antagonist. In the Bible, the protagonist is God and the victim is humanity. Who is the bad guy (antagonist)? Well, let us see.

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Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. [Gen 3:1a]

You are probably wondering why the drawing is depicting a Komodo Dragon rather than a snake. Well, in the tail end of the Bible, in the book of Revelation, the serpent is figuratively described as the dragon. Originally, this dragon was enormous, red, had seven heads, ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Frankly, if I drew that dragon as described, it would probably had freaked Eve out of her wits… hahaha. So, I chose to use a komodo… a rather enormous looking komodo, that is. You’ll understand why in my next following post. For now, it’s an aesthetic call.

Who is this serpent? In the same book of Revelation, it also identified the ‘ancient serpent’ as the devil or the Satan [Rev 20:2]. Now, I will not get into the full semantics of the title of Satan which is quite extensive biblically. For our context in this part of Genesis, the serpent represents a spiritual being who had taken a guise of an animal to cunningly entice God’s favored beings – Adam and Eve. If you want to learn more about these spiritual beings, at the bottom of this post are Youtube links to The Bible Project video presentations. I hope you check them out.

Meanwhile, Genesis 3 described the serpent as being crafty; a trait worthy of one that hunts. He sized up his targets which were Adam and Eve. Then, he chose Eve as the easiest opportunity for his scheme to bring them both down.

Now, before any of you ladies send me hate mail, this is not because Eve is just a woman and the weaker sex. I’m a fan of Sigourney Weaver kicking Alien butt and Demi Moore in GI Jane. Ability is not the issue. Eve, in this context, would be the serpent’s likely target because she, unlike Adam, had the least face to face time with God. I offer this, by the way Eve responded to the serpent’s question.

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He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’?” [vs1b-3]

Compare her response to what the Lord actually commanded in Genesis 2.

“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” [Gen 2:15-17]

Do you see it? Eve was right to say that it was okay to eat the fruit from the trees in the garden but they must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden. The error is when she also said something that the Lord had never said; that if you even ‘touch’ the fruit, you will die!. We’ll see how much of a problem this will cause in a sec. (By the way, Adam dropped the ball here by not teaching Eve properly. We’ll cover this in my next post.)

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“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [vs 4-5]

In the New Testament, Jesus said the devil “was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” [John 8:44] The serpent had always represented liars. Native Americans accused those that frequently lie as ‘one with forked tongue’ just like a reptile. In Genesis 3:4-5, we find the ultimate lie which whom Jesus had branded him as the ‘murderer from the beginning’. How can lying end up equating to murder? Intent is the key. So, let us look closely at the serpent’s true intent.

When the serpent said “You will not certainly die”, he was beguiling Eve with the notion that God was telling a lie and the reason is in what he said next. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” What he was implying here was that God did not care for either her nor Adam to the point that God did not want them to be like Him and know what is good and evil. The serpent’s intention was first to mar God’s credibility and then drive a wedge between them and God.

What drove the serpent’s animosity? Genesis does not offer the reason, but in the poetry of two great Prophets*, we are enlightened more of the serpent’s past. In Isaiah, he is identified as ‘morning star, son of the dawn’ aka Lucifer. Lucifer was an anointed cherub (angel) of the Lord God and he was appointed as Eden’s guardian. From among the other cherubs, he held the highest position and was blameless in his ways from the day he was created… ‘until wickedness was found in him’.*

Lucifer became proud in his heart on account of his beauty; and he had corrupted the wisdom in him because of his splendor. So much so, that he aimed to ascend to the heavens and establish a throne high ‘above the stars of God’ to make himself ‘like the Most High’! * But the position of the Most High, the Lord God Almighty is forever unattainable by him. So, he sets his sights to victimize us whom the Lord loves.

[* Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14]

His method, like what happened to Eve, had not changed in time. The Bible is filled with examples of the serpent’s lying schemes. And to illustrate this, I offer my next crimson thread.

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One other thing I have to add. As part of his schemes, he always works in the background. At most, he is a subtle whisper in your mind telling you that God is either non-existent or He just does not care. Warning! If he succeeds, according to Jesus, the murderer had taken another victim. We will explore ‘how’ later.

In my next post, we will explore the very nature of SIN and how mankind broke God’s heart.

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The Crimson Thread are markers that points to a connection between Old Testament passages to Jesus Christ.

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The Bible Project

Intro to Spiritual Beings

The Satan and Demons

Angels and Cherubim