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.

gen-3-fruit-w.jpg

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.

gen-3-shame-w.jpg

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.

gen-3-blame1-w.jpg
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?

gen-3-blame2-w.jpg
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’.

gen-3-serpents-fate-w.jpg

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.
—————————————————————————————-

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 #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.

gen-3-serpent-w.jpg

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.

gen-3-temptation-w.jpg

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.)

gen-3-temptation-2-w.jpg
“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.

CT-JC-tempted-w.jpg
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.

——————————————————

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

——————————————————-

The Bible Project

Intro to Spiritual Beings

The Satan and Demons

Angels and Cherubim

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch14 – part 1

THE OPPOSITION – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

As soon as Jesus revealed himself and started to teach, many quickly recognized him and they flocked to listen to him. Cornelius and the disciples struggled to keep the excited crowd from overwhelming him. It was a good thirty minutes before the priests realized what was happening. It was not long until Cornelius and the other disciples noted a delegate of priests and scribes making their way through the crowd towards them. They paused at the edge of the crowd and listened to what Jesus had to teach for another twenty minutes.

“Teacher,” called out one of the scribes somewhat disdainfully. “Tell us by what authority do you do these things, or who gave you this authority?”

“I shall also ask you a question, and you tell me what your answer is. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?”

The delegation started whispering among themselves. Cornelius almost laughed out loud. He knew that they were caught in their own trap. If they answered, ‘from heaven’ then Jesus could ask them, ‘why did you not believe him?’ But if they say, ‘from men’, then all the people around them who believe that John was a prophet could raise up against them and even stone them.

Then the same scribe who was not so smug anymore, answered him, “We do not know!”

Then Jesus said, “So, neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Some in the crowd started to laugh but quieted down as some of the scribes scowled at them. So, Jesus addressed the crowd with a parable about a rich man who planted a vineyard and rented it out to a group of vine-growers. This rich man then went off on a long journey leaving the tenants a long time thinking that they were the sole owners. When the rich man returned he sent his servants to the tenants to receive some of the produce of the vineyard that was due him. The tenants refused and beaten the servant and sent him away empty handed. They did the same thing to every servant he sent. Finally the rich man decided to send his own beloved son in the hopes that they may respect him. When the tenants heard that he was sending his son they reasoned among themselves that if they killed the heir then the inheritance would be theirs. So, when the son arrived they killed him.

Then Jesus looked at the scribes and the priests and loudly asked, “What, therefore, will the owner of the vineyard do to them?”

Some of the scribes started to nervously look around. Someone from the crowd boldly called out and said, “He will rightly destroy the vine-growers!”

Jesus looked at the delegation again and said, “What then is this that is written, ‘the stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone?’ Everyone who falls on that stone will the broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” [Matthew 21:42-44 NASB]

—————————————————————————————-

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 #7

Gen 2 – The Close RelationshipSketching-HIStory-2-w

Let us open our Bibles and read Genesis 2:4-22 or click on Bible Gateway links below.

 

NIV   GNT   KJV

This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. [Gen 2:4-6]

In Genesis 2, we press the rewind button and go back in time to just before the plant life appeared. Take note that this passage mentions ‘the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth’. Do you recall that God had placed a water layer in the earth’s stratosphere in Genesis 1? Well, that protective layer was quite effective against the sun’s radiation and actually caused a greenhouse effect which gave our planet a moisture rich environment. Rain was non-existent. God provided a better system to keep the soil saturated. It was because of this environment that the animals were larger and life expectancy was longer. But we’re getting ahead of our story. Again, put this tidbit of Bible trivia at the back of your mind for later use when we get to Genesis 6.

By the way, Genesis 2 like the chapter before was also written in prose and you’ll probably notice that the creative aspects do not jive as well. No… the Bible is not contradicting itself. Genesis 2’s theme is not so much focused on creation but more on the Creator’s personality.

We first see this, in how chapter 2 addresses God as Lord God. Again, we have to look at the original language of Hebrew. God (in chapter 1) is ELOHIM, while Lord God, in chapter 2 & 3, is YAHWEH ELOHIM. Again, I am not a scholar and Sketching HIStory is not meant to provide in-depth scholarly work. All I can say is that the Israelite found it more comfortable in writing and even speaking out ‘Elohim’ more in than ‘Yahweh’. In fact, in most scriptural manuscripts His proper name is always spelled out as YHWH. My understanding is that to name Him so is to relate to Him in so casual of a way that it could be construed as disrespect of One so mighty. So, how why is Chapter 2 using ‘Lord God’? I can only offer a guess that Moses who had a very close relationship with God (to be revealed in Exodus) used His proper name to reveal God’s desire to be intimate with us.

gen-2-adam-w.jpg

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. [vs 7]

In my sketch above, I could not help but be inspired by Michelangelo’s depiction of the creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel. As a Renaissance artist, when he read the passages of Genesis 2, probably in High Latin, he saw the passion in God’s final act of creation and reflected it in his renderings on a ceiling about thirty feet above the Vatican’s famed Sistine Chapel where the papal conclave* is held.

[* The papal conclave is a meeting of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a Bishop of Rome, also known as the pope.]

Seeing the Lord God’s hand reaching out to bring Adam to life like that… well, it never fails to remind me of what my place should always be in His eyes. I just wish that I could have depicted an inspiring drawing rendition of ‘breathing into his nostrils the breath of life’… other than the Lord giving Adam mouth to mouth, of course.

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. [vs 8-14]

Now, I will not get into the perpetual debate of where the garden of Eden is located. Allow me, instead, to highlight that as soon as Adam was brought to life, our Lord God did not immediately placed him in the wilds of our world. Rather, He placed him in a garden… a very safe place.

I heard it said many times that the rich and lush jungles of the Amazon can be compared to Eden. However, if you watch the Discovery Channel, their cast of expert survivalists would argue the absolute opposite. I myself, though I’ve never been there, know with absolute certainty that I could not get out of there alive. I would probably end up in the belly of an anaconda. By definition, a garden is a planned space, usually outdoors, set aside for the display, cultivation, or enjoyment of plants and other forms of nature. Now, what was described is how a human would plant a garden, but the garden that our Lord God had planted is The Garden of all gardens. It is literally ‘Paradise’. And if I, a sci-fi buff, can offer a conjecture, this garden is outside the purview of both physical space and time. And it was prepared specifically for us.

Now, Eden was not only a place of safety. It was a place of learning and training. Training for what? Remember this?

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may RULE over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” [Gen 1:26]

God intended to train us in this garden, so training requires instruction.

gen-2-eden-w

And the Lord God commanded the man, “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]

Many have argued that it was because of this specific commandment is the reason why we are in our present predicament. In my Bible class, I am always asked whether God was right to give us such a command.

Lesson 1 – God never make mistakes.
Lesson 2 – Based on His sovereignty, God can do anything and give any commands He so desires… and the truth of the matter is… we can not do anything about it.

I could never prove to you about the lessons above. I accept it as true mainly because of His Word, the Bible. I have read, believed and applied His precepts to my life as best as I could. And the Lord had showed me… well… MUCH… that convinced me.

Anyway, let us look at the command itself. It had been suggested that the commandment was difficult and designed to tempt mankind to fail.

Let’s tackle the ‘TEMPTING’ part.

Lesson 3 – God does not tempt us to sin. It is not in His character.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone… [James 1:13]

As to the DIFFICULT aspect of the commandment, consider the wording of the instruction and break it down.

1st part – You are free to EAT from ANY tree in the garden,

2nd part – but you must NOT EAT from ONE specific tree.

Lesson 4 – When the Lord God gives you a task, He always intended that you can accomplish it.

Now, let us talk a little bit about the tree that was forbidden, ‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’.

I will cover the WHAT aspect of the tree in my next post when we tackle Genesis 3. Instead, allow me to reply to a common question asked in my Bible classes. Why would a loving God place such a dangerous tree in the garden? (The common assumption, of course, is that if you can die from it then it is dangerous.)

Let me say first, when it comes to WHY questions, I tend to counter it with a WHY NOT.

Why NOT would God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden? It’s HIS garden, after all. Remember Lesson #2.

If you again recall Lesson #1 – since God never errs, then it is more than likely that the error is in our assumption that the tree is dangerous. In fact, the only part in the assumption that is true is that God is a LOVING GOD. And if our loving God placed that specific tree in the garden with us, then there must be a good reason. We will pause this argument here for now and bring it up again Genesis 3.

Speaking of a Loving God…

gen-2-adam-animals-w.jpg

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. [vs 18-20a]

It is no stretch of the imagination to think about how beneficial animals are to us. You just have to turn on your TV animal show and categorize how each one were helpful to us. Instead, focus on the image of God bringing the animals to Adam.  Did He do it just to see what names Adam would give them? Imagine, if you will, a father bringing his infant son to the zoo for the very first time. The father would lead him to each critter and explain what they did. The child, fascinated, would ask him question after question and the father would answer him back no matter how ludicrous they were. I believe this is exactly what God did here. This was a bonding moment. Let me also add that there are thousands of animal species identified today. In the beginning, it was probably three times that amount. Now, imagine how much time it would take for Adam to learn about each animal and then give them each a name. That would be a lot of bonding time.

gen-2-eve-w.jpg
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. [vs 20b-25]

Normally, this subject of the creation of Eve would have been dedicated in one or two chapters or even an entire book. There is just so much to cover. Allow me instead to address directly to all the women reading this blog; at the same time, I ask the men to pay close attention.

Men & women were equally created in God’s image but when you look at how God created you… well, in my book, this makes you very very (and a lot more ‘verys’ after it) SPECIAL.

Here is what a Bible commentator said… From Adam’s rib, God built up into a woman. Her formation is described as requiring both time and care on the heavenly artificer’s part. Thus woman is no casual or hasty production of nature, but is the finished result of labour and skill. Finally, she is brought with special honour to the man as the Creator’s last and most perfect work**.

It is no wonder that when Adam awoke from his deep sleep, his eyes fell upon a created being much like himself (yet different in so many ways), demurely walking up to him, that he probably first gulped and then said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”

Okay, ladies, this does not sound exactly like the stuff of romantic novels, but consider…

Adam had long studied the natural world, and while, with their confidence as yet unmarred by human cruelty, they came to his call, grew tame, and joined his company, he found none that answered to his wants, and replied to him with articulate speech. At last, on waking from his trance, he found one standing by him in whom he recognized a second self, and he welcomed her joyfully, and exclaimed, “This at last is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh:” that is, she is man’s counterpart, not merely in feeling and sense – his flesh – but in his solid qualities**.

[** Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers]

So, we come to final part of God’s creative act. Based on this chapter, there is one final piece of truth that I must impart.

In the beginning, we had it MADE, because of our very close relationship with God.

rev4-11-w

The stage has been set and in my next post we will cover where it all went wrong.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch13 – part 6

TO JERUSALEM – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

The main Temple complex was built on a four foot height base platform about the same height of the platform that the columns were sitting on. This gave Cornelius a chance to see above the crowd’s heads all the way into the complex. The Temple itself, sitting on another raised platform, was flanked by two battlement walls with three watch along both sides. The main entrance of the complex were three arches; two small ones flanking a larger one. His eyes can only see as far as what Jacob explained to be the Court of Israel. Clearly he saw that only the men of Israel were allowed there. However, he can see women in a sectioned part of the Court of Israel which is referred to the Court of Women.

At the far end of the men’s courtyard was a line of columns and three doors; two single doors flanking a much larger double doors, which were all open. He could just make out another courtyard in the other side. Jacob pointing said that inner courtyard was called the Court of the Priests. Cornelius could just make out two prominent large objects which dwarf the priests near them. One of them was a giant bronze bowl sitting on twelve bronze oxen. It was called the Sea. Water is said to be piped in to keep it filled to the brim which the priests would use for ritualistic cleansing. The other was the bronze altar where the priests have to climb seven steps to offer the butchered animal for sacrifice; laying the meat pieces on a grill over the fire which is kept alive by the priests through out the year. Because today was also considered the Feast of First Fruits, priests can be seen casting baskets of grain into the fire. Behind the working priests, up twelve marble steps is the temple foyer with its beautifully carved doors inlaid with gold trimmings. The doors were closed for only the High Priest and other high ranking are allowed to see the inside.

Cornelius was experiencing mixed feelings. Since he was a child, this temple was just stories to him and yet every one of those stories told him that this temple represented a promise of closeness to their God; a closeness that was not offered in any of the temples back in Rome. Cornelius then realized that he was standing here, a stone’s throw away, he too desperately wanted to get close to God. But then seeing the many signs along the balustrade in both Greek and Latin that no Gentiles are allowed to go further than the entrance, he felt cheated and even more longing. His eyes began to water but he quickly wiped it away as he felt that there were eyes upon him. Then he noticed that Jesus was looking at him.

John, the brother of James, came to Jesus from the crowd. They all retreated deeper into the columns to talk.

“I spoke to a relative of mine who is a priest. He said that the High Priest and the chief priests were looking for you since yesterday. They gave orders to the temple guards to separate you from the crowd and bring you to them. They now think that you are not in Jerusalem.”

Peter pleaded, “Master, it is as you said. Our religious leaders have plans to do you harm. We must be away from here.”

Jesus listened to all the other disciples’ arguments silently then nodded his ascent. So, they started to walk towards the nearest exit. As Jesus came out of the columns into the sunlight, he paused and looked around at the milling crowd. Cornelius knew that he had a change of heart. To the visible dismay written on Peter’s face, Jesus removes his prayer shawl that hid his face then stood at the top of the steps of Solomon’s Colonnades and started to teach to the crowd.

—————————————————————————————-

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 #6

Gen 1 – God made the Creatures of the Air, Sea, Land & Us

Let us open our Bibles and read Genesis 1:20 – Genesis 2:3 or click on Bible Gateway links below.

NIV    GNT    KJV

As we read the last part of Genesis chapter 1 (& part of chapter 2), we come to what Bible commentators refer to as the third creative act. The Creator had already prepared our world with all sorts of plant life. From this plant life, God had emplaced an ecological system that will keep our planet with the crucial supply of oxygen gas and it was to provide even more. To what end? Let us see.

gen-1-fish-birds-w.jpg

And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day. [Gen 1:20-23]

gen-1-animals-w.jpg

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. [Gen 1:24-25]

In my last blog, I talked a little bit about doubt in the Bible especially when acclaimed people presented their observations contrary to Genesis accounts. In this case, I’m talking about the Theory of Evolution. Now, I am neither a scientist nor one who had spent years digging and studying through fossils. So, I am in no academic position to refute evolutionists’ claims. However, I can ask certain questions. For instance, if evolution is true, then why is it still considered a THEORY? Frankly, I have no desire to debate this issue, but I will say this. I believe and appreciate in everything that they had observed, so far. I say ‘so far’ because of the fact that scientists are still making new discoveries today that changes even their own conclusions. In truth, I know that they do not have a complete enough picture to make factual conclusions. I don’t think any human being can, in all humility, claim they know it all. Allow me to illustrate this to you. Pick up a sheet of standard size bond paper and a pencil. Let us say that one side of the sheet represents the total accumulated knowledge of the entire universe. Take your pencil and shade on the sheet how much of that knowledge you have achieved. Frankly, if you did more than a tiny tiny dot on the sheet, you are not being truly honest to yourself. By the way, in my first time, I shaded about a quarter of the sheet. At that time, my head was little too big. Ha ha…

One popular question that is frequently asked of me when I teach on the creation story is always in reference to dinosaurs. I always respond with these verses from the book of Job. It is actually God talking to a man named Job and He was describing them. (Oh, by the way, this too was written in prose.)

Brachiosaurus-w.jpg“Look at Behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox. What strength it has in its loins, what power in the muscles of its belly! Its tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of its thighs are close-knit. Its bones are tubes of bronze, its limbs like rods of iron. It ranks first among the works of God, yet its Maker can approach it with his sword. The hills bring it their produce, and all the wild animals play nearby. Under the lotus plants it lies, hidden among the reeds in the marsh. The lotuses conceal it in their shadow; the poplars by the stream surround it. A raging river does not alarm it; it is secure, though the Jordan should surge against its mouth. Can anyone capture it by the eyes, or trap it and pierce its nose? [Job 40:15-24]

What God was describing was a poetic but somewhat accurate depiction of either a Brachiosaurus or a Brontosaurus. All I will say is that this description was in a manuscript written thousands of years ago. Meanwhile, the first recording of the fossils of these behemoths was published just about 300 years or so ago; and analysis of how these animals lived was hypothesized by scientists just about a hundred years ago.

So now, let’s recap. God had filled the seas with a great variety of marine life and also filled the sky with creatures that can take wing; that was on the fifth ‘Day’. Then, every creature that crawled with and without legs were roaming the lands of the supercontinent. That was on the beginning of the sixth ‘Day’.

And the ‘Day’ is not yet over.

gen-1-mankind-w.jpg

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. [Gen 1:26-27]

You have heard the saying, ‘Last, but not least.’ Well, God creating mankind is so ushered in as to show that at length the work of creation had reached its perfection and ultimate goal*. Since mankind was made last of all the creatures, I am in agreement with a certain Bible commentator when he said, ‘this was both an honour and a favour to us.’** All in all, God had intended mankind… that is, US… to be different from all that had been formerly made even with those animals that share certain physiological similarities with us. I am talking about apes. Regardless what people have considered a possibility that the Planet of the Apes movie could happen, it is still an entertaining piece of science fiction film. Besides, based on the wording of God – “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…” – I would think that the suggestion that apes are our cousins (in an evolutionary scale) is contrary to the Creator’s will.

[* Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers; ** Matthew Henry Commentary]

Most teachers would probably focus in defining on what being made in His image would entail. I was tempted to do the same. But if I was to write a complete Bible word study on ‘image’ and ‘likeness’, I think it would take up at least 2-3 pages worth of text content and you would lose interest in reading on. So, I opted to show you what I consider is more relative to Sketching HIStory’s goal.

First, as Jesus said, ‘God is Spirit!’ [John 4] That is, in our obvious plain of existence, we are unable to see Him in any form. We may have been created in His image, but He does not have a physical body complete with skin, bones and blood flowing through veins… yet. (I’ll tell you about the ‘yet’ part later… much much later.) At the time of creation, He had no need of such a frail physical form. Since God is Spirit then what He had bestowed to us has to be ‘spiritual’. The term itself from a biblical sense is still quite broad, so, we will explore this subject matter in later segments as we learn more of our connection with God.

For now, let us focus on how God uttered His desire to make us in His image.

“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule…” [vs 26]

Look at the intent of the declaration. God not only wanted us to be significantly different from all other creatures, He wanted (& still want) us to be more like Him. He desired a close relationship with us. How close? Well, to all that He created (including ourselves), He is the Creator and sole Owner. As we go further into the Bible, we will encounter the concept of the sovereignty of God. As He is the Owner of all things, then He has sovereign right to do anything to it and no one can stop Him. But then God chose to treat humanity different. He chose to treat us as…

…FAMILY

As family, we were given privileges, most of which we will discover again in my upcoming posts. However, in the next verse, God shows us what one of those privileges are.

gen-1-mankind-veg-fruits-w.jpg

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” [vs 28]

Do you see it yet? God had given mankind the authority to RULE. Of course, it does not seem like that today. The reason of which will come into light in Genesis 3 which we will cover in about 2 or 3 posts from now.

Meanwhile, God is not finish yet.

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. [vs 29-30]

Reading the verses above, is it so much to ask of everyone to give our God the Provider praise and thanksgiving when you have salad, fruits from a tree or even picking berries? Thank you, Lord.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. [vs 31]

The work of the six days’ Creation having been completed, God, as it were, contemplates the universe both in its details and in its entirety. That which He saw to be “good,” on each separate day, was but a fragment; that which He sees to be “very good,” on the sixth day, is the vast ordered whole, in which the separate parts are combined. The Divine approval of the material universe constitutes one of the most instructive traits of the Hebrew cosmogony. According to it, matter is not something hostile to God, independent of Him, or inherently evil, but made by Him, ordered by Him, good in itself, and good in its relation to the purpose and plan of the Creator. The adjective “good” should not therefore be limited in meaning to the sense of “suitable,” or “fitting.” There is nothing “evil” in the Divinely-created universe: it is “very good” [The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges]

Finally…

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. [Gen 2:1-3]

Biblically, seven is an extremely important number. From the first three verses of Genesis 2, Seven is the number of completeness and perfection so much so that God had declared the 7th day of the week as Holy; and after every 7 years, God commanded debtors to forgive people’s debts. Seven is also linked with God’s annual Feast Days. For instance, there are 7 annual Holy Days, beginning with Passover and ending with the Last Great Day (the day after the Feast of Tabernacles ends in the fall). The cycle of the holy days is completed in 3 festival seasons by the 7th month of the sacred calendar: Passover and Unleavened Bread, 1st month; Pentecost, 3rd month; and Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles and Last Great Day, 7th month. [www.biblestudy.org]

crimson-exo31-14.jpg

We have seen God create the universe from nothing. He formed our world and separated the waters to make our skies. He burst into life our sun to rule our day. The moon He placed on a course around our world to provide us with a gentle night light. Then there are the stars that He laid out for us like a blanket to awe us of His magnificence. He brought the land unto surface and caused the grass, the bush and trees of all variety to sprout and grow. In the sea, He caused life to appear and filled the depths with all sorts of marine life. In the sky, He let loose all creatures that can take wing. On the land, He brought forth crawling creatures from the giant lumbering behemoths to the minuscule protozoans. Then, as if to to place a crown on His creation, He created us and placed us on a pedestal above all other creatures and was very pleased.

In my next post, we’re going to step back in time to see God in a more intimate light. To see Him relate to us as a Father would to a son. See you then.
———————————————————

crimson-thread-wThe Crimson Thread are markers that points to a connection between Old Testament passages to Jesus Christ.

Crimson Thread added tidbit:
Jesus performed seven miracles on God’s holy Sabbath Day (which ran from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset), thus affirming its continued sacredness to God and necessity in the life of the believer.
[1] Matthew 12:9; [2] Mark 1:21; [3] Mark 1:29; [4] Luke 13:11;
[5] Luke 14:2; [6] John 5:8-9; [7] John 9:14