THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch15 – part 3

GOING HEAD TO HEAD – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

Nicodemus chuckled, “This boy stood there confused when Gamaliel said you were a sinner. He answered him, ‘Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.’ So again Gamaliel demanded that he repeat what you did to him and how you opened his eyes. The scene was somewhat comical. There stood Gamaliel, looking so self-righteous, blustering away, while this young man just stood there somewhat amused about this room filled with the wisest of men and yet they could not comprehend the simplicity of what you did.

“He answered them, ‘I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again?’ And then he asked of the whole room with such sincerity, ‘You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?’

“I tell you the room erupted and they reviled him saying that he was your disciple, and they were disciples of Moses. Gamaliel started to angrily point at him and say out loud, ‘We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from.’

“Do you know what he finally said to them?”

The disciples nodded their heads expectantly while Jesus just smiled. But Cornelius was sure that he saw a gleam in his eyes.

Not able to hold it in any longer, Nicodemus blurted it out laughingly, “Well, this young man answered and said to them, ‘Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.’

“Gamaliel was about to rip his coat but instead he screamed angrily, ‘You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?’ Two of us had to escort him out lest they all fall upon him. I am afraid that young man will not be welcomed into any of the synagogues within a twenty mile radius.” [John 9: 1-34 NASB]

An hour later, Jesus and the disciples were walking the streets of the city. He was determined to find that young man. Interestingly enough to Cornelius, he did not inquire of anybody of his whereabouts. From the upper city, they followed him down the narrow streets of the lower city, across one of the bridges then up into the walled in City of David. They found the young man standing in the very same spot where he was healed. He seems to be waiting expectantly. Cornelius realized that he did not know what Jesus looked like.

Jesus told most of the disciples to wait at a distance, as he with Peter, James and John approached the young man. They both talked for awhile. Cornelius knew not of what. Then the young man fell to the ground before Jesus and kissed his feet. Jesus bent down to help him up and the young hugged Jesus in gratitude. He followed Jesus and the others back to the waiting disciples. By then, a small crowd gathered and Cornelius noted there were Pharisees among them. Jesus seem to have noticed them too for he addressed them and said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”

Sure enough, the Pharisees responded, “We are not blind too, are we?”

Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” But before they could respond again, Jesus was already climbing the stairs to the temple. [John 9: 35-41 NASB]
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The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q

Sketching HIStory #14

Gen 7, 8 – God Protected the Ark; God’s Promise

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For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits.

Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days. [Gen 7:17-24]

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After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him. [Gen 8:6-12]

 

Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”

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So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though a every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” [Gen 8:13-22]

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You probably noticed that I did not include any commentaries. I do this from time to time and leave you with an opportunity to seek the Lord’s wisdom by just asking Him (in prayer). My only advice for you is to ask Him hard questions and please share them in the comments.

See you in my next post.

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.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch15 – part 1

GOING HEAD TO HEAD – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

Cornelius was concerned. The Pharisees, scribes, priests and even the Herodians have stepped up their confrontations with Jesus. The reason was quite obvious. Jesus’ popularity has increased in the city while theirs have waned due to the fact that his teachings lately had focused on their collective hypocrisies.

To the crowd he would say, “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and yet do not do them.” [Matthew 23:2 NASB]

So far, Cornelius saw that the religious hierarchy has only been sending their lackeys to try to trap Jesus. Two weeks after the festival, Jesus had continued to teach and work miracles in the Temple court, but yet no sign of the High Priest or any of the leadership to offer challenge. But Cornelius knew it was just a matter of time.

One day, as Jesus lounged in the shade of the columns and the crowd have dispersed, he noticed another group of men loudly debating among themselves not too far away. Jesus went over to listen. Cornelius saw that the men who heatedly argued among themselves actually belonged to separate factions in the ruling class. The distinction between them was quite obvious. One group was obviously Pharisees who tend to be long bearded and traditionally garbed. The other group was more cosmopolitan and younger. A number of them sported the Greek look; that is short hair and clean shaven. This group belongs to the faction called the Sadducees.

The Sadducees as Jacob at one time explained is actually a political group that have gained control of the priesthood at about a time of Rome’s conquest of Palestine. Their views are totally opposite of the Pharisees. Much of Scripture they believe has to be interpreted literally. One of their favorites is the literal interpretation of ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth’. They also do not believe in the resurrection, hence the source of the argument that Cornelius is watching right now.

One of the Sadducees, a young arrogant priest who did most of the talking saw that Jesus was watching them. In his excitement he called out to Jesus, asking, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, and raise up children for his brother.’ “

Cornelius again noticed that Jesus had an amused look. He nodded his ascent. Arrogantly, the young priest approached Jesus and the rest of the men gathered around them.

“Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother; so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. Last of all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her.”

The young priest strutted around like a proud rooster of the chicken coop thinking that he had the upper hand. The other Sadducees applauded him as the Pharisees jeered.

Jesus stood up and positioned himself in between the two factions. When they quieted down, he faced the young Sadducee and answered him, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

Astonishment was on the faces of both factions as Jesus calmly walked away. Even the young Sadducee appeared unsure of himself. The Pharisees who were pleased in Jesus’ answer talked among themselves, a few of which kept gazing towards Jesus. They all seem to come to an agreement and approach him again.

One of them, a Pharisee named Nicodemus, asked Him a question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 

And Jesus said to him, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

As they consulted among themselves, Jesus asks them a question: “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?”

Nicodemus was quick to answer him, “The son of David.” 

Then he said to them, “Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until i put your enemies beneath your feet’? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?”  [Matthew 22:23-45 NASB]

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The story continues on in my next post.

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

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Thank you

Johann Q

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.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch14 – part 3

THE OPPOSITION – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

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

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

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

“Now, what brings you here?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q