Sketching HIStory #13

Gen 6,7 – God’s Ark – Image of Christ

Noah had been walking the earth for 500 years. As a young man, he was taught about the Creator by his father and his paternal grandfather, Methuselah. They probably had faithfully related to him the story of creation, the legendary garden of Eden and the fall which was passed down from father to son. His family was very close. I can well imagine a young Noah being brought to the eldest of the clan, Seth himself, who would be around 900 years old. As the lad was presented, Seth’s aged hand would reach out and rest on Noah’s head to give him both a blessing and a warning. The blessing is that the eyes of God is watching the family. The warning is that any of them could easily take the path of Cain.

Noah had seen the descendants of Cain in their great city. He saw their great evil and turned away lest he be tempted. Five hundred years had past and he probably wondered what else he could do with his life. Again, I can well imagine him casting his eyes upon a starry night sky pleading like he had done many times but not expecting any response… until God spoke to him.

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So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.

I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. [Gen 6:13,17]

Some would wonder whether God was right to condemn that generation. Consider, if you 2nd-death-wwill, the Lord not doing anything. Remember, there are two great influences that are ruling the hearts of men in those days, SIN and the evil whispering of the devil (not forgetting the example of the Nephilim). If unchecked, the chances of more of mankind ultimately ending up in the image on the right would become a certainty. Fortunately, for us, the Lord God sees and knows all and always know what is right to do. And by the way, God so love the world, He so desires that none should perish. This is always forefront in the Lord’s plan.

And His plan is dependent on Noah’s building capability… (and Him helping out, of course.)

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“So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.” [Gen 6:14-16]

Most people thought the ark was the shape of a boat, but biblically, the ark was in actuality a very long and large rectangular barn with extremely thick walls and a barge-like base heavily coated in some kind of waterproofing resin. Why this basic shape? I believe the reason is that God gave Noah the simplest design for him to build. How could a barn-shaped vessel survive a tempestuous ocean? For myself, the answer is simple. God gave the design. However, for those with unsure faiths, a scientist built a scale model of the ark and in a large indoor pool designed to test ship designs, it was put into gen-6-cubit-w.jpgtrials under simulated waves of a stage 5 hurricane. It surpassed all expectations.

What is a cubit? The cubit is the length of the arm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. As, further, it was regarded as one-fourth of a man’s height, we may safely compute it at eighteen inches more or less. Thus the ark was 450 feet long, 75 feet broad, and 45 feet in depth.

Put yourself in Noah’s shoes. God just instructed him to construct a humongous structure. He was probably wondering why.

But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.” [Gen 6:18-21]

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Noah did everything just as God commanded him. [Gen 6:22]

Noah did not hesitate. He and probably members of the clan moved to an area which was heavily forested with the trees required. They cleared the land and prepared it for the build. Now, God gave no deadline but the build took about 100 years.

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The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.” [Gen 7:1-4]

On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in. [Gen 7:13-16]

‘It was God Himself that shut and sealed the door, to secure Noah and keep him safe in the ark; also to keep all others for ever out. In what manner this was done, God has not been pleased to make known’. [commented by a Bible commentary]

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CRIMSON THREAD

There are 2 images that are representative of Christ.gen-6-ark-door-w.jpg

The first one is the ark itself. The ark is like Christ because only those that are in it are saved (reflected in 1 John 5:11-12).

The second image is the ark’s only door. How? Here is Jesus’ own words.

“I am the gate (door); whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” [John 10:9]

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In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth… [Gen 7:11-12]

We leave you here until our next post. See you then.

Sketching HIStory #12

Gen 6 – Regret and the Troubled Heart of God

Almost sixteen hundred years had past since Adam was cast out of Eden. In that time, mankind’s population grew significantly.

When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” [Gen 6:1-3]

I just recently watched some news about some woman who celebrated her 122nd birthday and I thought about the verse above of God shortening our life expectancy to 120 years.

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As you can see in the illustration of chapter 5, Adam/Seth’s family line lived an average of over 900 years. At first, I thought their long life was due to the earth’s pre-flood atmosphere because of the Genesis 1 water shell protecting the earth from the sun’s radiation. But by the words of God, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever…”, it was He that undeservedly sustained their extremely long life for almost 2 eons. Why? My educated guess is because it is part of His grand plan. Of course, from the perspective of those in that era, God’s plan for salvation was unfathomable.

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The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. [Gen 6:4]

The Nephilim is loosely translated as giants in some Bibles and left untranslated in others. How did these giants come about? According to traditional Jewish beliefs, the Nephilim are the produced offsprings of the ‘sons of God’ (fallen angels) and human females. The children were then endowed with some kind of supernatural power that the other population of that time would consider them as heroes of old. It is funny that Hollywood in the 80s actually put out several movies of that particular era. One of which is the legend of ‘Conan the Barbarian’ starring, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger. In that movie, though the character of Conan was the hero of the story by saving the damsel in distress, his personality depiction is still that of a crude uncaring uncivilized barbarian who would later gain the throne. Interestingly enough, sequel movies of this character, in my opinion, made him less a hero and more a liability to mankind. Of course, this was just a movie. In reality, however, will the heroes of old were not really men of renown but men who had gained such great corruptive power that influence the rest of the population.

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The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” [Gen 6:5-7]

Who ever said that God cannot be affected by our actions? God may be ‘all seeing’ and can never be caught unaware, but he can still regret. Keep this in mind. For God to regret, it would have to be that we have to display such great wickedness for him to act on. This is just my opinion but I believe, throughout our history, God had also intervened somewhat destructively to correct mankind’s evilness. The Bible gave us a number of examples which we will explore in later Bible studies. But I wanted to site a mystery of a great vast Mayan city that is now being discovered and explored by archaeologists today in the jungles of South America. What is the mystery? Why was this vast city which once had millions but had abandoned it? And what happened to the people? Again, this is my opinion. I think that because these people worshiped their Serpent god and showed similar wickedness depicted in Genesis 6, God… ahem… took a hand.

Going back to Genesis 6, a question has to be asked of how is it that mankind had so greatly follow the path of wickedness? To answer this, we have to go back to Genesis 4 and follow the history of Cain.

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Now, in my illustration, I laid out the timeline of both Seth and Cain.

Just before Seth was born, Cain had murdered his brother Abel. Because of his murderous deed, the Lord God put an unknown mark on him so that anyone who finds him will not kill him. So, he took with him his wife (who is obviously one of many daughters of Adam and Eve) and settled in the land called Nod supposedly East of Eden. If you look at my illustration, I have laid out the massive land mass with the suggestive outlines of our respective continents today. There are three areas where Cain may have settled (take note the three question marks in red). In one theory, archaeology suggest that mankind came into the picture in the African region. Some have suggested India while other scholars believe that the land of Nod may be in Asia or China to be more specific, which boasts the oldest known civilization. It was there that Cain built a city named after his first son, Enoch. As the population grew, so did the city.

From Genesis 4, Cain sired Enoch to Irad to Mehujael to Methushael to Lamech. From Lamech (took two wives), he sired 4 offsprings one of which became the father of a nomadic tribe that raised livestock. The other became the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes. One who is named, Tubal-Cain, advanced the society by becoming the father of the forge and probably brought in the age of bronze and iron. Interestingly enough, the Bible also mentions a sister of Tubal-Cain named Naamah. But her biblical significance is lost to me except that she was named.

What about the wickedness? It is quite apparent that the callous wickedness of Genesis 6 started with Cain murdering his brother but is multiplied in the life of his great great grandson, Lamech who boasted to both his wives and said, “Adah and Zillah, listen to me; hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.”

Mankind is doomed! Thank the Lord for His plan.

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But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. [Gen 6:8-14]

In my next post, we will cover more on what God required of Noah.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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

Sketching HIStory #5

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Gen 1 – God Formed Our World

Again, go ahead, open your Bibles and read Genesis 1:6-19 or click on Bible Gateway links below.

NIV     GNT    KJV

[GNT for Catholics]

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Like the Prophet Jeremiah, Albert Einstein (being Jewish himself) had no problem recognizing God’s hand in the creation of the universe. I recall reading somewhere that Einstein commented that when mankind probes the very recesses of space, they will find God staring back at them (something like that). Anyway, as spectacular as the creation of the cosmos was from Genesis 1:1-5, the verses after gave us no indication of how our own planet was developed. At that matter, verses 6-10 started up with our planet already formed and ready for seeding. Also, if we are to take verse 6 just a little bit literal, our entire planet may have been completely covered with water.

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And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.”
So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault
from the water above it.
And it was so.
God called the vault “sky.”
[vs 6-8a]

What is the vault? And what does it mean ‘separate water from water’? Well, a vault is defined as a sloped ceiling like what you find in high domed cathedrals. The vault that God made is, of course, our own ‘sky’. Scientifically speaking, the sky is our planet’s atmosphere and it is made up of several layers. The most outer layer is the Ozone Layer which protects us from the sun’s radiation today. Ozone is a gas, but once upon a time, it was quite different.

God separated the water under the vault… that is the sea… from the water above it… that is the Earth’s stratosphere. God had placed a protective shell of water around our planet. Can you imagine the ‘greenhouse’ long term effect this will have on our planet? For later posts, I ask that you keep this primordial atmospheric condition in mind. For it will explain away a lot of the spectacular phenomenon we will observe until we get to Genesis 6.

And there was evening, and there was morning, the second day. [vs 8b]

Again, this is not an indication that the making of the sky took 24 hours. This part of the narrative is a poetic transition from one creation event to another.

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And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place,
and let dry ground appear.” And it was so.
God called the dry ground “land,” and
the gathered waters he called “seas.”
And God saw that it was good. [vs 9-10]

I think the verses above is quite obvious, God caused the land to be raised above the sea. But if you look at the words closely, in the beginning, our world only had one massive land mass not like the seven continents and thousands of islands we know today. This contiguous land mass is known by scientists as the super-continent, Pangaea or Pangea. Pangea, in early geologic time, incorporated almost all the landmasses on Earth.

Now, let me say, that this concept of Pangea was proposed by a German scientist* in the early 20th century. It is interesting to note that this concept was FIRST introduced in a book written thousands of years ago.

[* Alfred Wegener, the originator of the scientific theory of continental drift, in his 1912 publication, ‘The Origin of Continents’]

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Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation:
seed-bearing plants and trees on the land
that bear fruit with seed in it,
according to their various kinds.” And it was so.
The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed
according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit
with seed in it according to their kinds.
And God saw that it was good.
And there was evening, and there was morning, the third day.
[vs 11-13]

According to a Bible commentator, these verses refer to the second creative act. I think I’ll let you read the rest of the commentary.

The first creative act was the calling of matter into existence, which, by the operation of mechanical and chemical laws, imposed upon it by the Creator, was arranged and digested into a cosmos, that is, an orderly and harmonious whole. These laws are now and ever in perpetual activity, but no secondary or derived agency can either add one atom to the world-mass or diminish aught from it. The second creative act was the introduction of life, first vegetable, and then animal; and for this nothing less than an Almighty power would suffice.

Vegetation, therefore, did not reach its perfection until the sixth day, when animals were created which needed these seeds and fruits for their food. But so far from there being anything in the creative record to require us to believe that the development of vegetation was not gradual, it is absolutely described as being so; and with that first streak of green God gave also the law of vegetation, and under His fostering hand all in due time came to pass which that first bestowal of vegetable life contained.

It is the constant rule of Holy Scripture to include in a narrative the ultimate as well as the immediate results of an act; and moreover, in the record of these creative days we are told what on each day was new, while the continuance of all that preceded is understood.

[Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers]

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And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky
to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs
to mark sacred times, and days and years
and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.”
And it was so. [vs 14]

God made two great lights…
the greater light to govern the day
and the lesser light to govern the night.
He also made the stars.
God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth,
to govern the day and the night,
and to separate light from darkness.
And God saw that it was good.
And there was evening, and there was morning – the fourth day. [vs 15-19]

I feel that I have to reiterate to you that in these passages, God had not literally created the sun, moon and most especially the stars at that particular time period. We already read in verses 1-5, that the stars including our very own sun, our planet and moon were in the process of development. But doubt in the Bible have a tendency of naggingly creep into our minds. I should know, I had those same doubts, at first. But then, I was prompted to look at the literature a little bit closely.

As a rule, when it came to Scriptures, I have been trained to apply the inductive method of reading the Bible as a discipline. Part of that training was to look at the passage to see what it really ‘said’ before I can figure out what it ‘meant’. Keeping in mind that this part of Genesis was meant to be read as part poetry and part prose, I focused on the language style. Let us look at the first part of verse 14, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky”. Whenever, I read this verse out loud, my theater skills kick in. Always, at the words of ‘lights in the vault of the sky’, I instinctly look up. In other words, in a none-poetic way, this could almost be read this way, ‘let the sun, moon and stars be seen upon the sky from where you stand’. Perspective is the key! So, if I was to show God’s intention, I would paraphrase verses 14-19, this way.

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Behold! Look up in the sky! In the beginning, I have set there two great lights to separate the day from the night. The sun is the greater light and will light up your day. The moon which is a lesser light so that you would not stumble in the dark. To help the moon, you will also see in the night sky a blanket of stars laid out from horizon to horizon. Now, from these lights, you will mark your days, years and seasons some of which will become sacred for those who believe. You will read in them signs that will influence your agriculture, navigation, and yes, even your history.

Now, I probably did not do it justice with my paraphrase, but I hope you would look at the Bible in the same inductive method that I used and apply it to the rest of Genesis and the whole Bible.

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Having read how God formed our world, I think it best we have the right attitude toward our Creator, so far. The Prophet Isaiah said it best in his book.

Isaiah 40:26
Lift up your eyes on high: Who created all these? He leads forth the starry host by number; He calls each one by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

In my next post, we complete the Genesis 1 narrative with God bringing life into our world.

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Note: The Crimson Thread points to a connection between Old Testament passages to Jesus Christ.

Sketching HIStory #4

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Gen 1 – Creation of the Universe

I welcome you first to open and read your Bibles: Genesis chapter 1. For those who want to read online below are links to Bible Gateway in 3 English translations.

New International Version NIV
Good News Translation GNT  (for Catholics)     King James Version KJV

Here is an observation. Have you noticed that the account of the creation of the universe is covered only in one chapter of Genesis? In my old college library, I recalled seeing 5-6 tall book shelves dedicated to the sciences of our universe. In this age of computers, I’m sure you can find several terrabytes of the same research available in the world wide net. My point is, how is it that the most spectacular cosmological event was limited to less than a thousand words in the Bible? Keeping in mind that God inspired Moses to write it this way, I believe God intended Genesis 1 to be read so that the focus is not so much on the created but more on the CREATOR. This is after all HIS story.

As a storyteller, I always believe that Genesis was meant to be read out loud with a slight theatrical flair. Imagine those times when the Israelites wanted to hear more about Him from their leader, Moses. Besides preaching to the entire congregation from on top of a mountain, I think he would from time to time, join them in smaller groups at their open fires and regale them under the stars, strengthening their faith in God. So, let’s get on with… HIStory.

“Once upon a time…”

Hold on! I know that this is how most bedtime stories usually start. However, God’s story does not start this way.

In the beginning, God… [vs 1a]

As a matter of truth, God’s story didn’t start in Time, but way… way before it, in… Eternity!

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In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was formless and empty,
and darkness covered the deep waters.
And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. [vs 1-2]

You know, I would have loved to present to you this part of the creation story from inside my old college planetarium. If I can get my hands on the planetarium’s animation generator, you… while resting in a reclined position, will be looking up into the dome ceiling and will see God’s spiritual hands laying out the heavens, in this case, the blackness of space.

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And in that vast expanse, He also made from nothing the earth. No, I do not mean our planet Earth with a capital ‘E’, but earth or ‘erets’ which means dirt in Hebrew (language of the Old Testament). This dirt is not the same you find on the ground. What is described in verse 2 as being formless and empty implies that this material, being so primordial, is in actuality an integral building block for all existing matter. Take note, so far, we have SPACE and MATTER. There is an acknowledged scientific process that when you take these two then add ENERGY, you get an ATOM. (Who said that the Bible and science can’t go hand in hand?)

And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. [vs 2b]

What is God doing over the surface of the waters (by the way, this is not referring to a literal body of water)? He was ‘hovering’!? In other Bible translations, the word ‘moving’ was also used. Can anybody say… Kinetic ENERGY?!

It is right about here that something BIG is going to happen!

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. [vs 3]

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What is bigger than WOW!?

W O W ! ! !

Now, when God turns the light on, we’re not talking about Him flicking a switch and a light bulb comes on. No sir! This light probably and spectacularly lit up the entire universe. By the way, this almost sounds like what scientists call the Big Bang Theory (and I am not talking about the popular TV sitcom).

The Big Bang theory represents cosmologists’ best attempts to reconstruct the 14 billion year story of the universe based on the sliver of existence visible today. Most generally, it illustrates the arc of the observable universe as it thinned out and cooled down from an initially dense, hot state. The Big Bang theory found widespread acceptance for its unparalleled ability to explain what we see. [content from www.livescience.com]

And God saw that the light was good. [vs 4a]

In the Genesis creation story, God saw that what was created was good. In the surface, God was pleased that what He created and set into motion – will do what it was meant to do.

When He created the light (that I’m convinced was the BIG BANG), that event explosively pushed all that cosmological materials out into space forming gas clouds, dark matter, black holes, nebulas and galaxies.

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Imagine again, you sitting in the planetorium blinking rapidly after the effect of that bright flash of light from the Big Bang. Then you watch in wonder, blurred lights slowly float away from where the explosion subsided down to a distant glow. Those lights, as they come closer to you become swirling galaxies. Imagine 14 billion years of moving and expanding universe compressed into about a 10 minute planetarium presentation. I always loved those effects.

Anyway, one galaxy… a familiar one, at that… seem to be getting bigger than the rest. It is our own Milky Way Galaxy. And if it is like every planetarium show I’ve ever watched, we majesticall fly in toward one of our galaxy’s swirling arms to where God is preparing our world. However, before we fly in, let us finish our understanding the rest of Genesis 1:4-5.

Then He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”

And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day. [vs 4b-5]

The passage of where God separated the light from the darkness, besides the obvious, actually have spiritual implications which I will cover more in-depth in later studies. For now, let me explain that the usage of ‘day and night’ which is repeated 6 other times, by the way, in the creation narrative were not meant to represent a 24 hour Earth time period. In other words, God did not create everything in just 6 days. However, I am not saying that God Almighty can not do it in 6 days. Frankly, He could probably flick His fingers and create everything instantly. But His words reflect differently. Remember, Genesis 1-3 was meant to be read as an Exalted Prose – that is, it is neither pure narrative nor pure poetry, but tells a story using a number of poetic features and a clear literary framework like the usage of the transition from night to day. Consider again Moses, as he told each of the creation event at the end of which, he theatrically swung his arm, east to west, with his fingers spread wide open uttering “And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day”.

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The purpose of Sketching HIStory is so that you can get to know Him more personally. We have just read the biblical account of how the universe was made but besides the claim that it was He that created it (which should be enough reason to praise Him), how else can we know Him more? How can we go beyond the intellectual knowledge to the faith building way of knowing Him? I mean that we may experience Him… feel Him deep inside. The answer was already provided to us by God when He created the universe.

The Apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, said that what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. [Roman 1:19-20]

Do you want to experience Him closely? Then open your eyes and look closely at what He created. Go out where you can escape the light pollution of the city and find a field where you can cast your eyes at the spectacular view of the Milky Way. Or go to the nearest planetarium. Then, I encourage you to believe the words of the Psalmist below.

Psalm 19:1-4
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

In the next post, we will see how God formed our world. See you then.

Sketching HIStory #3

Sketching-HIStory-2-wIntroduction – The Bible is God-breathed

home-altar-w.jpgWhen I was growing up, we lived in the Philippines which was mostly Roman Catholic. In our home, like in many Filipino houses, we had an alcove that was traditionally reserved for family religious icons. On the wall panel, we had a statue image of Jesus as he was ascending into heaven. Underneath was an altar, a narrow table laid out with a beautiful white table cover intricately knitted by my grandmother (on my mother’s side). On the two ends of the table were a pair of candles on silver sticks. At the center, sitting on a slight tilted easel, was our large family Bible. I still remember it well. From a child’s perspective, it was massive and looked quite heavy. I remember my grandmother would scare my siblings and especially me that if we were bad, we’d have to kneel before the altar holding that heavy book up. As the naughtiest, she would dramatically point at it whenever she was annoyed by me. Funny thing though, she never did carry it out.

Anyway, I can still see it in my mind’s eye. It’s thick fabric cover was faded white (almost beige) with the words THE HOLY BIBLE and the cross embossed in whitish-gold on it. Just under the cover, on the second page, are the names of my family and our respective birth dates. I considered it quite sacred, though at that time I didn’t really understand what it meant. As a kid, I was always attracted to that book. Little did I know that written in it were words that would eventually change my life. It was almost three decades later that I got myself a smaller Bible that guided me through my greatest challenges in life and even beyond. Can you believe it?

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However, before I get to that part of my own history, allow me to put out this unmistakable statistic. The Bible is still the best-selling book of all time.

Did you know that when the printing press was invented, the Gutenberg Bible was the first printed book to hit the market? The Bible has been a massive influence on literature and history, especially in the Western World. According to the March 2007 edition of Time, the Bible “has done more to shape literature, history, entertainment, and culture than any book ever written. Its influence on world history is unparalleled, and shows no signs of abating.” [content from Wikipedia]

Of course, it was not statistics nor its influences that impressed me. You see, during my ‘wild and rebellious’ years, the sacredness of the Bible had less an effect on me. Mainly, I got into my head that it was outdated and probably was not relevant to my life. Keep in mind, though, that the only Scriptures I knew were those that were more or less taught in Catholic catechism. The catechism was promulgated by the Catholic Church to reinforce principles and beliefs of the Catholic faithful. I was a kid then and I must admit, I was a lousy student.

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fr-peyton-w.jpgBesides that, what else I knew about the Bible and God was from stories told by family and… believe it or not… from Cecil B. de Mille movies like The Ten Commandments, Samson and Delilah and The King of Kings.

Oh, I almost forgot about the 1960s TV series, Father Patrick Peyton’s Family Theatre which showed dramatized episodes of the Gospel.

That was the extent of my knowledge of God which, looking back, was superficial at best.

I say superficial because I had my own ideas of God. It was either incomplete or most of the time, downright wrong and not based on knowledge (Romans 10:2). How did I know? In hindsight, my little knowledge of Him had not stirred my life to fruition. Even with my college education, I felt empty, unfulfilled and a man with no direction. Like a ship with no rudder, I was subject to the winds and tides (trials & problems of life) that would eventually push me to the rocks and destruction. But then the Bible miraculously opened up to me. What do I mean? Before, others tried to get me to read the Bible but every time I tried… nothing! The words didn’t move me. Today, I know why. During those times, I had no real desire to get to know God. It was only when I came to the realization that I really needed to find out more about Him was when His Word breathed life into me (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

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I became inspired. As 2nd Timothy 3 says above, the Bible, even after 25 years since I thoughtfully opened the book, is still teaching me. I can never exhaust learning from His word. His word is truly living especially when it rebukes, corrects and trains me in righteousness.

So, how did I discover the true God when my eyes first open to His Word?

road-to-emmaus-4-wLet’s go back to the road to Emmaus. Jesus, who those two disciples were still prevented to recognize, took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. [Luke 24:27 NLT] The master teacher of all time brought them back to the beginning of the only Bible they had at that time, the Old Testament. Luke 24 verse 27 mentions first the writings of Moses. Moses wrote five crucial books the first of which is the Book of Genesis. This is the beginning of the Bible. This was where the Lord started me on more than 25 years ago.

Sketching HIStory (SH) will follow the same chronological path through the Bible and I will take on the role of a storyteller. In those stories, I will include my own thoughts and questions I had at that time. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I will also provide related illustrations sketched out either by me or from other sources. My goal is that you will get to know HIM intimately like the way I did. But this blog will only highlight the Scriptural mile stones. It is not an adequate substitution for you to read His words on your own. In fact, I would encourage you to not take my word on face value but seek out what Scripture actually says. Then, you would be prepared and equipped to do every good work, like I have witnessed time after time from those that read and believed.

crimson-thread-wOne other thing that I want to emphasize as we walk together along the chronological trail of God’s story. I believe I will not be committing ‘spoiler alert’ violations when I stipulate what is widely taught that the Old Testament ultimately pointed to Jesus Christ. This is what Jesus was talking about on the road to Emmaus. As a storyteller and follower, I can do no less than try to emulate the Teacher. So, as I post my SH blog entry, I will layout a… CRIMSON THREAD. When you see this symbol, I hope you can see the connection. The rest is up to you.

Well, this is the end of the Introduction. In my next post, let us meet God in the beginning.