ADVENT Story Revealed part 5

The Dark Side – The Consequence of the Original Sin

Now, I know that to many folks, Christmas time is all about smiles, gift giving and having a jolly good time. I promise you it will be and even more. For if you truly understand the reason why Jesus Christ was born, you will celebrate this holiday with a joy beyond comprehension.

So, we come to Adam & Eve eating the forbidden fruit.

Genesis 3:6-10
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”

When God made mankind in His image, He built into all of us an early warning system. I’m talking, of course, about our conscience. When Adam & Eve’s eyes opened (so to speak), that was really their consciences kicking into gear and telling them that they sinned! Like cockroaches not wanting to be seen, they hid from God.

Of course, God sees all.

Genesis 3:9-11
Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” Adam said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And the LORD God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
Jeremiah 23:24a
“Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?” declares the Lord.

So, if God sees all, why did He ask, ‘Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’

Here is something about God that you should always know:

Our Lord God wants to FORGIVE.

2 Chronicles 30:9b
For the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate, and will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

But mankind blew it again and BIG TIME. Instead of confessing, they played the ‘blame game’.

Genesis 3:12-13
The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Eve basically said that “the Devil made me do it!” As to Adam, he implied that it was not just the woman to blame. He was really putting the whole blame on God.

Genesis 3:16-19
To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

You ever wonder why life is so hard. Well, the origin of that started here. The rest of the Adam & Eve story will show that they were cast out of Eden into a harsh and hostile world. And you only have to look at our history to see what sufferings humanity went through. But being kicked out of Eden to die was not the worst thing to happen to us.

Genesis 3:22-23
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden…

We were created to be with God for eternity but because of SIN, what we all face when we die eternal damnation seperated from Him in the fires of HELL. That is, in essence, the BAD NEWS of the Christmas story.

In my next post, we will look at the GOOD NEWS part which will start with this verse:

Deuteronomy 4:31
For the LORD your God is a merciful God; He will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers, which He swore to them by oath.

ADVENT Story Revealed part 3

The Dark Side

In every story ever told, you will always find in it a ‘dark side’. We see this in fairy tales and fantasies. In Cinderella, it is the greedy step mother; in Sleeping Beauty, there is Malificent; in Star Wars, there is Darth Vader, in Harry Potter, there is Voldemort; and so on. In real life stories and yes, even in our history, it is the same.

And in this Christmas story, to better appreciate why we need a savior is to better understand the dark side… the bad news.

If you can recall, in the beginning, we had it made. But then something went wrong. Mankind sinned.

I am quite sure that everyone know a little bit about how Adam and Eve fell from Paradise. They fell because they disobeyed God’s one and only restrictive commandment

Genesis 2:17
The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

Many have questioned God’s wisdom in giving such a command. Why did He have to give it and why so harsh a consequence? At that matter, if the Garden of Eden is suppose to be a safe haven, why would He place such a dangerous tree in it? Let’s tackle first the commandment.

Is the commandment unjust? …unfair? Why give such a command?

The answer is simple enough. God does what He wants.

Psalm 115:3
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
Romans 9:21
Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

Now, let us tackle the fairness of the commandment. What is so hard about it? Think about it. From the tens of thousands of delicious mouth-watering fruit bearing trees to eat from, only one tree is forbidden. This is clearly no hard task.

How about the forbidden tree itself? Was it really dangerous? If so, why was it in the Garden?

Romans 8:28
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Everything in the Garden was meant for our good, that included the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I believe that Adam & Eve were immature and not ready to handle the responsibility of having God-like knowledge of good and evil. I believe, in God’s own timing, He would have eventually allowed the eating of that fruit (Acts 10:10-15) when they reached a level of maturity.

For a certain time (though time was irrelevant in the Garden), both Adam & Eve were succesful in keeping the commandment. Until…

In every good story, there is always a bad guy. In the Bible, the villain is the Devil who comes and goes in many guises. In the Garden, he took on the form of the serpent.

Genesis 3:1
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.

The Devil became the bad guy because he aspired to be greater than God.

Isaiah 14:13-14
You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

Because we were lovingly created by God, the Devil set into motion the fall of mankind.

We will continue on the dark side of the Advent story in my next post. Don’t be disheartened by the dark side. Here is a verse to remind you of hope.

1 John 4:4
You (those who are born again) are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He (Jesus) who is in you than he (the Devil) who is in the world.

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I really hope we can have a conversation. Please contact me here at Facebook MESSENGER by audio from 3-5pm Monday to Friday. Scheduled small group chats can be organized as well. Or send me a message HERE.

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]

gen-3-adam-judgemnt-w.jpg

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.

2nd-death-w.jpg

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.

gen-3-skins-w.jpg

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.

gen-3-cast-out-w.jpg

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.

gen-3-fruit-w.jpg

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

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

Conscience

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

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

For every action taken, there are circumstances.

gen-3-shame-w.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

gen-3-blame1-w.jpg
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” [vs 12]

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

gen-3-blame2-w.jpg
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” [vs 13]

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

gen-3-serpents-fate-w.jpg

So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” [vs 14-15]

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

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

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

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

Sketching HIStory #8

Gen 3 – The Antagonist

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

NIV    GNT     KJV

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

gen-3-serpent-w.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

gen-3-temptation-w.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

gen-3-temptation-2-w.jpg
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [vs 4-5]

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

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

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

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

[* Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14]

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

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

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

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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.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch2 – part 9

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God called out to them as they hid among the trees of the garden asking where they were. As they came out of hiding, Adam admitted that they both hid because of their fear and shame. When Adam was confronted whether he ate forbidden fruit, he said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.’ Eve herself said that the serpent deceived her. Clearly, Cornelius have seen this typical behavior before. They did not want to get in trouble, so they passed the blame to another. In fact, Cornelius realized, Adam so wanted to be righteous that he actually blamed God more than Eve. But God could not be fooled. First, God cursed the Serpent for his action. To the woman, God would multiply her pain in childbirth and that she will ever be dependent on her husband. To the man, God cursed the ground and man will have to toil to eat all the days of their lives until they return to it as dust. Then, after God made them clothing from skins, he cast them out of the garden into the world so that they will not eat from the tree of life and live for ever.
“Hold on, John… Let me clarify this for a moment,” Cornelius said as he process the story in his head. “If this story is true, then all the problems of the world stems from this point. My search on why things are the way they are have its beginning here in the Garden of Eden. This is difficult to accept.”

The Baptist nods his head and said, “Cornelius, I know that you are from a much different religion as mine. I do not expect you to believe right away. However, you grew up learning about my people and my God. So, I will ask you to temporarily assume that it is true and hear out the rest.”

“Very well,” Cornelius agreed. “I’ll concede, for the moment, that the story of what happened to Adam & Eve is right. I still don’t understand the connection between what happened to them and why I need salvation? Salvation from what?”

“Eternal damnation,” whispered the Baptist.

There was silence for a while, then he went on. “You gleaned that in the beginning, mankind had a close relationship with God. Do you remember that God created us in His image? Having the image or likeness of God means, in the simplest terms, that we were made to resemble God. Of course, Adam did not look like God in the sense of God’s having flesh and blood. ‘God is Spirit’ as it is written and therefore exists without a body. Adam’s body, however, did reflect the life of God in so far as his body was created in perfect health and was not subject to death. In the beginning, we were meant to live eternally with God… for as long as humanity had direct access to the Tree of Life, which if you recall is found only in the Garden of Eden.”

“But… because Adam and Eve were cast out of Paradise, we all eventually die,” Cornelius concluded. “Well, does not dying release us from pain and suffering?”

“Yes and no…”, the Baptist said. “Since, God is spirit, then as we are in His image, we too have spirits. The question is – where does our spirit go when our bodies die?”

“Well… we Romans, like the Greeks believe that the after-life is the under-world of Hades.”

“For us, we call it Sheol. The difference is that Sheol is devoid of love, hate, envy, work, thought, knowledge, and wisdom. Scriptures says that there is no light, no remembrance, no praise of God, in fact, no sound at all. All goes there and become weak, trembling shades who can never hope to escape from its gates.

“So, this place may seem to be to your liking thinking that you are forever free from pain and suffering. But I tell you, Sheol is temporary. Our time there would be like a blink of the eye. Then, we all face judgment where our sins will be accounted for. From there, the fiery pit of Hell where unimaginable suffering await us forever. Unless…” The Baptist stayed quiet and looked intently into Cornelius’ eyes.

“Unless… Unless God sends a Messiah!” Cornelius completed the sentence. “A savior to bring about a way for mankind to escape eternal damnation.”

“Yes… and that savior is walking here now. The time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” [Isaiah 9:1-2 NASB]

Cornelius recognized the words of Isaiah again.

“You have seen him, haven’t you? Who is he?”
The night was getting later. The guards and the two followers of the Baptist were asleep. Aroused by slight noise, one of the followers stirred and woke up. He looked around in the dimly lit chamber and heard that the sound was coming from the cell. He stood and peered through the door’s small portal. He could just make out his master sitting on the floor talking quietly to the strange Roman officer. He wondered what they were talking about. After awhile, he yawned and went back to where his companion was sound asleep. His last thought before he drifted away was what good will come about this encounter between the holiest and an unclean gentile.

End of Chapter 2

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The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

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.

Thank you

Johann Q

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch2 – part 8

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“Before we start, Centurion… Ah, may I call you by your name?”

“Please… by all means.”

“Thank you, Cornelius. Please call me John. Now, let me clarify that it is true that Israel awaits the coming of a savior who will lead them to freedom. I will even say so boldly that they wait for the Messiah to push you Romans out of Israel forever.” When he saw the concern on Cornelius’ face, he chuckled a little and said, “Be not too alarmed, Cornelius. When the Messiah comes, I believe the salvation he brings will not be limited for my people alone but for all man… for you, Cornelius.”

Cornelius blinked and sat up straight. At first, deep inside, he resented the notion. How is it the he needed to be saved? Saved from what? But before he could ask, John the Baptist asked his question first.

“You are seeking meaning in your life, are you not?” Then he continued saying, “You are a soldier who have seen much death and suffering. You yourself have killed. You desire answers especially on the question on why you need salvation by our Messiah.”

Cornelius nodded.

“When one seeks meaning… answers, then that one must go back to the very beginning for perspective.”

“Where?”

“I think you know.”

How would he know? He thought to himself. Then an old childhood tale of a garden, a tree, a man, a woman and a serpent that can talk came to mind. A story he thought was made for children.

“Creation story of Adam and Eve?”

The Baptist nodded then said, “Think about it. What did they have?”
The creation story is the beginning of Moses’ five books of the Torah. It tells in prose how God created the world by voicing into the darkness and just said ‘Let there be light’ and there was light. That was the first day! In the course of five more days, God called into being the sky, land, vegetation, and every kind of living creatures including mankind. Then the story focused on how God fashioned the first man and named him Adam. From the way the story goes, Cornelius imagined God carefully and lovingly mold Adam from the dust of the earth then breathed life into his lungs. Then God placed Adam in a protective environment, the Garden of Eden, where even the natural law of survival was suspended. God provided everything for man; purpose, companionship, joy and life eternal.

“In the beginning, everything was perfect for man,” Cornelius answered.

“Why?”

“Because in the start, mankind had a very close relationship with God, their Creator… like family. But they lost it!”

“How?”

“God gave them one commandment, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat…’ But the Serpent enticed Eve to eat the fruit, then she gave it to Adam who knowingly ate the same. Then something in them changed. I never understood what really happened.” [Genesis 2:16-17 NASB]

After Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, their eyes were open. In other words, they became acutely aware of their nakedness and experienced shame for the first time. They covered their nakedness with fig leaves. Then when they heard the sound of God walking in the Garden, they both hid.

“There is a word… SIN. Do you know what it means?”

Cornelius frowned. It is a word strewn through out every book in the Scriptures. But for some reason, he never delved into it closely.

“By the look of your frown, you are not too sure of its actual meaning nor its significance.”

“My understanding is that sin is when you do wrong in God’s sight.”

“Yes but there is more. Isaiah wrote, ‘But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.’ ” [Isaiah 59:2 NASB]

“So, when they ate the fruit, they sinned and was separated from God. How does their sin entail for mankind?… at that matter, for me?”

Again, Cornelius saw the glint in the Baptist’s eyes. “Cornelius, if my own people would ask such questions as yours, well… never mind. The answer is what happened next in the story.”
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The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

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.

Thank you

Johann Q