Monday, January 31, 2011

Genesis 5

Good morning, dear friends!

I'm not sure where exactly we'll go with this chapter about Adam's line of progeny. Chapters 6 through 9 concern Noah and the flood, which will take us a while, so I don't feel the need to arbitrarily assign a full week to this genealogy. However, I'm so glad I looked at Jon Courson's commentary on this chapter, because it was illuminating. This genealogy skips right past Cain and Abel and focuses on the continuing, righteous line of Adam. Right at the beginning, we see something curious, as we get a summary of the creation of man. Verse 2 says of this act of creation, He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them "man." Courson points out that Adam and Eve had become one, and that's how God saw them - He called them, not him, "man." That's why no one is to divide a husband and wife. What God has joined let no one divide!

We're told in verse 3 that Adam had Seth (meaning "appointed") at the age of 130. He had more sons and daughters, lived 800 years longer, then died at 930 years of age. Remember that many believe that, prior to the flood, the earth was surrounded by a water canopy that blocked the harmful rays of the sun. So we see here that man lived for many more years. However, each of the men mentioned in this chapter, except for Enoch, have this punctuation point at the end of their time: "...and then he died." God had warned Adam and Eve in the Garden, that on the day that they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would die. Now, they apparently lived longer than that day, but spiritually, they died. Courson points out, however, that in God's time, according to 2 Peter 3:8, a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as a day. So, looks like Adam died on the "day" he ate the fruit! :)

Adam was 235 before he became a grandfather through Seth - and you thought you had to wait a long time! Seth was the father of Enosh, or Enos in the KJV version [I point that out to my daughters, because Enos is their paternal grandmother's middle name]. It means "subject to death." And don't we all believe somehow that we AREN'T subject to death??? It seems to take us all by surprise!

I heard a sermon online the other day in which the speaker talked of eternity. He used the illustration of a rope that wrapped around the earth a few times then went way out into space on into eternity. The beginning of that rope had about a 5 inch segment that was painted red. He said that the red part was our life on earth - and the rest of the rope represented our eternal life. His point was that we spend so much time worrying about our life here on earth instead of planning for eternity! So true! We need to get perspective, folks! Because no matter how long our life here, it will certainly end with the line, "...and then he died." We don't want to miss the bigger picture of what God wants to accomplish through us for eternity because we are grasping at this temporal life we're living now - this measly five inches of red!

Hold onto the meanings of these names as we finish this chapter tomorrow. We'll tie them all together at the end. Off to work!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Genesis 4:20-26

Good morning!

Yesterday we were introduced to Lamech, the husband of two wives. He had three sons, Jabal, Jubal, and Tobalcain. Jabal is the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock - the nomadic people - wanderers. Jubal is the father of those who play musical instruments for entertainment, rather than for worship. I'm making that last leap, because there is no indication that this family in any way worshiped God. Tubalcain forged tools (which would include weapons) from bronze and iron. This is a line that seems to be very busy working apart from God for themselves.

In verses 23 and 24, we read that Lamech, like Cain, murdered a man who had injured him in some way. Whatever the cause, there seems to be an attempt to justify his actions. His concern is that if Cain would be avenged seven times, he would be avenged seventy-seven times. I don't know about you, but I immediately thought about Matthew 18:22 where Jesus responds to Peter's question about how many times he should forgive someone. Instead of taking vengeance seventy-seven times, Jesus says we need to forgive seventy-seven times. This is why God says we are to leave vengeance with Him. When God judges, it is always by His righteous character, and is with the intent to lead to repentance and restoration. Our job is to forgive as we have been forgiven. In fact, if forgiveness is something with which you struggle, Matthew 18 is very pointed in reminding us that we MUST forgive, because we have been forgiven so much. We will always be able to find a justification for holding onto anger, bitterness, resentment, but choosing to do so will kill us and do damage to all around us.

Forgiveness is NOT a feeling - it is an action. God does not call us to FEEL forgiving, He calls us to forgive - to extend forgiveness by our actions in obedience to Him. When we begin to act out forgiveness, the feelings WILL follow. I'm ready to take this step! Need to move on it now! How about you?

After reading about the decline of Cain's line, as his family follows him in a defiant independence from God, it is so great to read the last two verses of chapter 4:

Adam lay 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.” Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the LORD.

Jon Courson says the literal meaning of the last line is that they were a people who were called by the name of the LORD. In other words, their identity was in Him, even as we are called Christians, because we follow Christ. Finally, a ray of light in the darkness! The name Seth means "appointed." He was appointed to take the place of Abel and to lead this line in the worship of God. You and I have been appointed to lead our families in the worship of God. How are we doing? I'm not asking you to turn around to see who's following. I'm just asking you, and myself, are we leading???

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Genesis 4:17-19

Good morning, dear friends!

In today's verses, we see the ongoing "fruit" of Cain's defiance. As we look at the line of Cain, the names are very illuminating, since their meanings clearly reflect an attitude. I was thinking this morning how working with children makes teachers very aware of how names affect kids. There are certain names you would never want your children or grandchildren to have because of the former students and their behaviors that you associate with them. Pretty much any boy whose names starts with a "J" is going to be a rascal! :) And we've certainly seen an evolution of names. Don and I went on a cruise two years ago where all of the names of the passengers (who were mostly in their 50's and 60's) were Bob, Dave, John, Don, Nancy, Susan, Carol, Diane, etc. Names you NEVER hear anymore (just like Ethel and Mabel in our grandparent's generation). Now you can barely pronounce the names: Caeden, Jaeden, Hayden, Aiden, Kayle, Usama, Parastoo, Shae, Alanni, etc. So, in this list of the progeny of Cain, who had no book of baby names to refer to, it is interesting to note the meanings.

But first, Jon Courson writes that a question arises immediately from the first part of verse 17: "Cain lay with his wife..." He says he has had more people ask him, "Where did Cain get his wife?" He laments that they don't instead ask like the Philippian jailer in Acts 16, "What must I do to be saved?" We'll see later that Adam lived to be 930 years old, so he and Eve probably had many more children, so Cain's wife must have been related. There is much detail the Bible leaves out (or we would not be able to lift it to read it), but all matters dealing with salvation and those things which God WANTS us to know are in here. I have a feeling that when we meet Him face to face, we will not care a bit about where Cain found his wife! :)

Apparently God wants us to pay attention to these names, however! The first child of Cain is named Enoch (comes from the Hebrew word, hanak, which is a verb meaning "to dedicate or begin"). This is NOT the same Enoch who is known for walking with God. I'm wondering if Cain's purpose was to begin his own life away from God, because the rest of the names indicate that kind of independence from God. Enoch's son is Irad, meaning "fugitive" or "wild ass." Irad "begat" "Mehujael," which Jon Courson says means, "Blot out that Yah is El," or "wipe out the name of God."

Mehujael has a son named, Methusael, which seems to be a mocking name meaning, "They are dead who are of God," or "Those who believe in God are dead." The next name given here is Methusael's son, Lamech, which means "poor and lowly." Now, who gives their children these kinds of names??? They surely became self-fulfilling prophecies! It's like naming your daughter "Bambi" and wondering why she's a pole dancer instead of a CEO of a corporation!

We're told Lamech took two wives, the first example of polygamy. We were told in Genesis 2 that a man should "leave and cleave." How do you "cleave" to TWO wives? Anyway, even the names of the wives are instructive about Cain's line. Adah means "ornament" (anyone thinking "trophy wife?"), and Zillah can mean either "seductress" or "shabbiness." Now THAT I find interesting!! Makes me completely speculate that he was seduced into taking the second wife, who then became shabby, because I have seen this happen so many times when men leave the first wife for the younger gal. She eventually becomes a hag! :) God is just...

We'll leave the sons of Lamech for tomorrow! Thinking about the legacy of Cain's rebellion is mind-boggling! Off to work!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Genesis 4:11-16

Good morning, all!

In today's verses we see tremendous mercy in the judgment of God given to Cain:

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. (verses 11-12)

Cain was to be driven out from the land that was his home and was condemned to being a nomad, "a restless wanderer." What he deserved was capital punishment; instead he would be always seeking and never finding, never satisfied or fulfilled, but continually restless, having a permanent void in his life. Hmmm, maybe that's worse! Cain thought so! Notice in his response there is no remorse or acceptance of his responsibility for his behavior, only a moan of "That's not fair!"

Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me." (verses 13-14)

Wow! Look at the personal pronouns in there! Seven times he speaks of "I, me, my..." I have seen many students like this in my classroom over the past 19 years! There is not a shred of remorse when they are found guilty of any infraction, just blame, resentment, and the refrain of "Not fair!" It is scary to see such sociopathic behavior in children at the age of 10 or 11 - and it does not bode well for their futures! Always playing the victim, rather than repenting of their own abhorrent behaviors, these kids, too, may find a life of restless wandering if they continue on that path! But notice that God extends grace to Cain even in the punishment:

But the LORD said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

We have no idea what the mark was that God placed on Cain, but the result was it told anyone who saw it, "Don't touch!" Talk about amazing grace!! Does Cain get it? No way! We are told that Cain "went out from the Lord's presence." As Jon Courson says, "Cain could have pressed in to the presence of the Lord. Instead he went out from the presence of the Lord - to Nod, literally, 'Wandering.' "

What a tragedy when we refuse God's grace! Cain was not the only murderer in the Bible. Moses killed an Egyptian, and David had Uriah killed. But they chose to repent and receive God's limitless mercy. Cain had a choice, and he made it. Tomorrow we'll look at some of the consequences of his choice.

What have we learned about God here? He is not only the righteous Judge of the universe, but, even in punishment, He provides a way of escape. Amazing!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Genesis 4:8-10

Hello, all!

This morning's verses are serious and convicting! Yesterday we saw Cain stewing in anger - in today's verses it boils over! Verse 8 says, Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field.'" You can almost visualize this scene in a movie - darkening sky, foreboding music. It appears to me, although the text is not explicit, that Cain is luring Abel out into a remote area to get rid of him - premeditated murder -because there is no mention of an argument between the two: And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. God had warned Cain about controlling his bent toward sin, but it seems that Cain chose to just go with it. He actually plotted it.

And there was no remorse or repentance: Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” There is a callousness and defiance here that is shocking. Yet, Jon Courson points out, this is the kind of bitterness that we often harbor against those who have wronged us, whether a family member, co-worker, or neighbor. Cain just wanted Abel out of his sight! We justify the same feelings, because someone has wronged us. We, too, would be just as glad if they disappeared. Jude 11 warns us not to take the way of Cain. Don't let bitterness, even when we feel it's justified, master us! The damage is far-reaching.

In verse 10, God confronts Cain: What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Courson says that in the Jewish tradition, if someone was killed, it was generations that were killed - all those who would never come from the victim. Conversely, they teach that if you save one life, you also save generations (I remember hearing that in Schindler's List ). Abel would have no children or grandchildren. Abel's blood was calling out for justice. In Hebrews 12:4 it says that Jesus' blood "speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." Jesus' blood speaks forgiveness and grace. So our bitterness toward another, can have far-reaching repercussions, affecting many more than just the one with whom we are angry. It draws in others. It destroys our witness and eats at our own soul. In the same way, forgiveness affects many more than the one we forgive. It frees us from bondage and confirms our witness for Christ. And it is the right thing to do! Jesus told us that if we don't forgive others, God won't forgive us!

Tomorrow we'll look at God's punishment for the murder and the effects of Cain's sin on his own family. For this morning, I'm convicted of the feelings in my own heart. I don't think there is bitterness (although I need God to search for it), but I definitely have had the attitude of "Am I my brother's keeper?" I have wanted difficult people in my life to just disappear... OUCH!!! Anyone else feeling that way??

Have a good morning! I'm off to a field trip to the San Juan Capistrano Mission with my nine fourth graders (while my fifth graders stay with my partner and the principal)!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Genesis 4:1-7

Good morning, all!

It didn't take long for things to go from bad to worse once sin entered the picture. In this chapter we'll look at the rebellious murderer, Cain, and his family line. We're told in verse 1 that Cain was the firstborn of Adam and Eve. His name means, "the man," and Jon Courson points out that Eve may have been hopeful that his was the man who would crush the head of the serpent. But she had missed that God had said that the "seed of the woman" would do this. Cain was the seed of man, Adam. She may have been disappointed with Cain early, because she gave her second-born a less-promising name. "Abel" means "vanity" or "empty."

We aren't given the picture of their childhood years and all that led up to the rivalry Cain felt. But like all children, they were unique in personality and in their gifts. Abel became a shepherd, a keeper of flocks, while Cain was a farmer. At some point, they both brought offerings to the LORD: Cain brought "some of the fruits of the soil," while Abel brought "fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock." We're told that God "looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. Was it the actual ingredients of the offerings that was the difference? We know that sin requires death, therefore a blood offering, and this was the type of offering instituted by God Himself in the Garden of Eden. However, we are also told in Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

So it seems that the reason Abel's offering was acceptable was because of his heart attitude. Abel offered the best of his firstborn animals, while Cain just brought in some of his fruit. And certainly we see in Cain a dark heart! When God does not look on his offering with favor, instead of repenting, we read that "Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast." He wasn't just upset - he was VERY angry, to the point of depression. God reminded him that he had a choice: "If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." Just do the right thing, Cain! It's that simple: obedience leads to joy!

Jon Courson lists several verses in which we see how active, positive choices can result in joy and drive out anger and bitterness:
Choose to put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (Isa 61:3)
Choose to rejoice in the LORD (I Thes 5:16)
Choose to pray without ceasing (I Thes 5:17)
Choose to give thanks in everything (I Thes 5:18)
Choose to think on whatever is pure, lovely, and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8)
and I'll add my favorite mental health verse, choose to trust in the LORD and do good (Psalm 37:3)

However, we all know what Cain chose to do. We'll read about that tomorrow! In the meantime, today make some good choices for yourself, because sin is crouching at the door!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Genesis 3:21-24

Happy Friday, all!

We come to the end of Genesis 3, and the end of Paradise on Earth. After pronouncing the consequences for Adam and Eve, God now makes provision for them. Adam and Eve had attempted to cover themselves with fig leaves. Have you ever seen or felt fig leaves? Sure, they're big, so they could definitely work to cover them, but they are sticky and scratchy!!! Anything we try to do in our own strength is just about as ill-fitted to cover over our sins and redeem us in God's eyes. We cannot make God love us more by praying more, worshiping more, reading the Bible more, or by doing good deeds for others. God's love for us is perfect and constant and is not affected by what we do. His love is dependent upon His character, not ours.

As Jon Courson points out in his commentary here, you would expect God to dress them down for their behavior. But, instead, He dresses them up! God provides the blood sacrifice, and dresses Adam in Eve in the skins of the sacrificed animal to replace their silly fig leaves. In grace, God banishes Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden to prevent them from eating of the Tree of Life, which would have caused them to live eternally in their fallen condition. Verse 24 says that God "drove" them out of the garden. You can imagine they did not want to go! I wonder if they begged to stay and promised to be "good" if He'd just let them have another chance... But God knew He had to protect them from themselves, so out they went, and cherubim and a flaming sword were placed to "guard the way back to the tree of life." Now there would be no way back to God unless God provided it. The good news is that He did!

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) He is the ONLY way back to the Father. Peter told the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:4, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Jesus also told us that the way would be narrow and few would find it: Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matt 7:13-14) There aren't "many roads" that lead to Heaven. There ARE many roads offered - and all but one lead to the same place: eternal destruction. The narrow road - that FEW will find - is through Jesus. While the way to the Tree of Life was blocked - the Bread of Life opened that way to the Father back up for us when He died for us.

People accuse Christians of being narrow. Guilty! But we did not make this stuff up! Jesus said it was narrow. We're stuck with what He said - and, Hallelujah, we're blessed by what He provided.

So, what's the lesson? Quit striving! It amazes me how quick I was to receive grace when I was first saved, but then how I keep trying to live by my own strength and abilities!!! How futile! It is just striving! It is time to rest, to be still and know that HE is God, not me. Time to be led by the still waters. Time to give Him my burdens - to cast my cares on Him, because He loves me. (I Peter 5:7)

Thank you, God, for your incredible, unmerited provision of the Way!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Genesis 3:14-20

Good morning, gang!

In today's verses, we get our first view of God as the just Judge. Unfortunately, in order to have justice, there must be a judge and there must be a judgment. The good news is that our Judge is righteous and completely fair. His motivation is ALWAYS love and He disciplines in love for our good. So, with His judgments, there is always hope and grace! His children do not get what they deserve, but unmerited grace.

God turns to the serpent first. You know Satan had to be rubbing his hands together in glee when Eve, then Adam, ate the fruit! "I've got them now!" he must have gloated to himself. So, God turned to him first and pronounced judgment - and gave the first prophetic promise of deliverance:
“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.” (verses 14-15)

Satan loves to think he's gotten the best of us - but God has the final say and this nasty serpent, who was defeated at the cross, will be finally and completely crushed at the return of Christ (Rev. 12:9, and Rev. 20:10) While we are here on earth, we will have to contend with him in warfare on a daily basis - he is our greatest foe - but Christ has won that battle for us. We belong to Christ - not Satan. Our defensive weapons, which, according to Ephesian 6, we need to put on each day are the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of readiness that come from the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation. The one defensive weapon? The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Those will keep us prepared for the daily battle. How grateful I am, though, that the victory is already won in Christ!

God then turns to Eve, to pronounce the consequences to her and all women who come after: pain in childbirth, the desire for our husbands, and his rule over us. Adam's curse? WORK and LOTS of it! And it is true that one of the frustrations of women, early on in a marriage, is that their husbands don't give them enough time - they never listen, etc. - because the husbands are BUSY earning a living for the family! By the "sweat of their brows" they provide food for the table and a roof over our heads. Don has faithfully gone to work each day for more than 37 years - and I mean WORK - to take care of our girls and me! It leaves him exhausted, with not a lot left over at the end of the day. And since I've been working, I totally feel the same way when I get home. I get it!!

Wow! This seems like harsh punishment doesn't it? Is it fair that we all (including all of creation) suffer because of one man? Well, we also receive salvation and eternal life through One Man, the Second Adam (see I Cor 15): "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom 6:23) With the judgment, there is the hope and promise of salvation through Christ. Thank you, LORD! We were all under Adam's curse, but when we received Christ, we moved from death to life!

Verse 20 seems random after what had just taken place: "Adam named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all the living." I was glad I looked this up in Jon Courson's commentary, because he writes that this change of name from "Isha" (from the man), to Eve (giver of life), shows Adam's faith in God's promise that from Eve would come Adam's (and our) Savior. There isn't a word wasted in the Bible!

My "take away" this morning is to not live as though I am under the curse, but rejoicing because I have been delivered from the curse of sin by my Savior. People should see that hope in me today.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Genesis 3:8-13

Good morning, all!

Today we read the verses that show us a typical response to being confronted with our sin: hiding and blaming others! As soon as Adam and Eve realized what they had done, they attempted to cover themselves. When they heard God coming, they hid from Him! As if we can hide from Him! :) When we are not walking with the LORD, or when we have blatantly disobeyed, we may stop going to church or stop hanging out with other Christians, because being around them reminds us of our sin. We stop praying and stop reading His Word, because it convicts us. We become miserable! John tells us in his first letter that if we just confess our sin, He is faithful and just and will will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). It's too easy! We prefer to either punish ourselves (which leads to depression) or, more likely, justify ourselves. This is what Adam and Eve did.

Notice that when they are hiding, God sought them out! We should never forget that God is the initiator of our relationship with Him. In 1 John 4:10, we're told "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." Then, in verse 19 John writes, "We love because he first loved us." He started it! Because of His great love, we should freely come to Him, when we've failed, to received the abundant grace He wants to pour out on us. We do not need to make excuses or hide like the little child caught in a lie. John wrote in I John 4:18 "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in fear." Have you noticed that children who fear berating or harsh punishment tend to lie and cover up, rather than taking responsibility for their sin? If you know that you will receive grace, you are more likely to fess up.

God promises that we can freely come - and here, in Genesis 3:9, He calls out to Adam and Eve, "Where are you?" When He confronts them with their sin (because He will not ignore it - notice He doesn't say, "No big deal, guys!"), Adam immediately blames both Eve and God for his falling: "The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." When God turns to Eve, she blames the serpent for deceiving her. We will go to great lengths to lay blame on everyone else, won't we???? We can find a million ways to justify our bad temper or our gossip or our drinking or any number of things we know we shouldn't be doing: "I've had a horrible day!"; "If you just wouldn't put your clothes on the floor!" "I need a drink after that meeting!"; etc.

The good news? Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Hallelujah! We do not have to clean up our act before we face God. He foresaw our sin and provided for it. He loves us no matter what. Because His love is constant and unconditional and a sure trait of His character, it does not change depending on our behavior - whether good or bad behavior. We can't make Him love us more or love us less - He loves no matter what! But, because He loves, He requires confession and repentance, and He disciplines us in order to make us more Christ-like. We don't take the penalty for our sin, thanks to Christ, but we do suffer consequences. More about those tomorrow!

Would love to hear your take on this...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Genesis 3:6-7

Good morning, guys!

In yesterday's verses we saw Eve engaging in discussion with Satan, as he put doubts in her mind about God and His Word. So today we see the results:

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. 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.

This reminded me of ! John 2:16, then I saw that was the exact verse Jon Courson refers to in his commentary. In 1 John 2:16 we read that sin falls into three categories: the lust of the flesh (it tastes good or satisfies physical needs); the lust of the eyes (it's easy to look at); and the pride of life (it'll make you wise or important). These are the exact temptations Eve faced. Notice that it doesn't say she sought the advice of either God or Adam before taking the fruit - she just reacted to the temptation. She didn't hesitate once she had listened to Satan - she took some and ate it! And then, because misery loves company, she gave some to Adam, who immediately ate it himself. Surely Adam bore more responsibility. We are told Eve was deceived, but Adam just took it from her. Courson says that, by joining in with her, he was saying, "I want to be with Eve more than I want to obey God." That makes me immediately stop and ask myself what things or habits do I hold onto because I want them more than I want fellowship with God?? Before I slam Adam and Eve, I have to be real and know that surely I would have done the same thing!!! The temptation to become godlike in knowledge would be awfully strong!!

We immediately see the consequences of their choices: 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.

Rather than seek out God, repent, and confess, they immediately cover themselves up - try to cover over their sin by their own efforts. God would be the one to provide salvation (vs. 21), but they, like we do, tried to do it themselves - in their own power. Boy! This hits close to home for me this week - trying to cover up rather than fessing up! There are so many lessons in this one chapter! Chime in here with what you see!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Genesis 3:1-5

Good morning, gang!

I'm enjoying having a quiet, unrushed Monday morning, with no major agenda for the day! :) I'm excited to study this chapter this week, because it is so pivotal to our understanding of why the world is so out of whack, and how that applies to our Christian walk. It portrays a loving, gracious God, who is longsuffering with rebellious people. We see the ultimate consequences of disobedience, while also learning about His provision for our redemption.

Commentators may disagree about where the problem started with Eve, but we can see immediately the cunning of the serpent (Satan) who sows seeds of doubt about God's Word, when he asks Eve, "Did God really say...?" His number one tool in his arsenal is the manipulation of God's Word. Satan knows God's Word. We know from the temptation of Christ (Matt 4), that Satan can quote it just fine - although he prefers to misquote it. Here he asks Eve, "Did God really say,'You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'" He wants to make God seem like a kill-joy (when we know that Satan is the true joy-robber). God had actually given Adam and Eve free reign to eat of ANY tree, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve makes her first mistake here, by engaging in dialogue with Satan. Don't even go there, folks! He is crafty and has had 1000's of years to study man. He knows our weaknesses only too well! Even Michael the Archangel refused to argue with the devil in his own strength, but rebuked him in the LORD's name (Jude 9). So, don't try to go mano-a-mano with him!

Eve, in her eagerness to put down Satan's argument and "defend" the faith, goes one step farther than God did: "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.' " Here Eve does the thing that we all tend to do, and certainly something organized religion has done for centuries - she ADDED to the Word of God. We might agree that not even touching the tree might prevent temptation (although it had no effect here with Eve, did it?) however, her adding that one simple rule turned to disaster. Jon Courson says in his commentary, "The Word of God is incredibly profound. But it is also amazingly simple." When Eve added that little bit to God's simple command, we see the beginning of legalism! Courson says, "Adding to the Word always leads to bondage, bitterness, and backsliding. Our intent might be to try to prevent ourselves or others from getting too close to forbidden fruit, but in reality, our rules and barriers only burden people and ultimately cause them to forget the whole thing and walk away from God." I would add that the other danger is that people become so proud of their "holiness" in keeping these man-made rituals and regulations, they lose their dependence on grace and think they can do it themselves...

After questioning God's Word, Satan questions God's motivation, suggesting that God only wants them to stay away from that tree, because He knows they would then become godlike themselves - having His knowledge and His immortality. Again, this is the same argument he uses today to keep people from experiencing the fullness of God's love and blessings. He suggests that the fulfillment of human potential is to become God, and He makes God out as the bad guy, someone who wants to restrict your personal freedom and potential. Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32) God offers us the abundant life - a life of fellowship with Him, a life of fulness of joy. Satan wants you to focus on restrictions.

I love the advise Courson offers his own children: "If you think sin is fun, if you want to eat from the tree of forbidden fruit, first look to another tree - the tree of Calvary - and you'll see what sin will ultimately do. It will crucify you. And if you think God is holding something back from you, look at that tree again, and you'll see Him with outstretched arms, nails piercing His palms, proving to you unequivocally that He loves you passionately."

The defense against Satan's wiles? Know God's Word and don't add to it! Trust that His "No" is only because His "Yes" is so much better!

Have a great day!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Genesis 2:23-25

Good morning, gang!

Today we finish up chapter 2. This is sounds like one of those, "And they lived happily ever after" endings, but we find out quickly in chapter 3 how things go very wrong! When Adam saw Eve, he knew right away, "This is it! She's the one I've been waiting for!" He had seen and named the parade of creatures in verses 19 & 20, and knew that they were not suitable. But this woman! WOW! She was the true answer to his prayers! He gave her the name "Isha," which is the Hebrew word for "woman." "Ish" is the Hebrew word for "man," so she was truly, as Adam declares, "...bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh..."

The attraction was immediate! For some of us, that's how it was with our mates. We had a visceral reaction: "He's the one!" And we experienced that wonderful time of courtship, falling in love, planning the wedding, and enjoying that magical day of our weddings. And we truly thought that was just the beginning of an amazing fairy tale adventure! The sweetness of verse 25 even hints at that sublime honeymoon period: The man and his wife were both naked, and they were unashamed. Unfortunately, reality sets in too quickly, and soon we realize, "He never picks up his clothes!" or "She always finishes my sentences!" [that would be me!!!]

What is the main reason this happens??? We forget about verse 24: For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. I had to look back to see what "For this reason" refers to - and it looks to me like it's the fact that they were designed to be together, since Eve was "bone of my bones" to Adam. So, in other words, it is part of God's great design that a man and woman "leave and cleave." And having a problem in either one of these areas can spell disaster for a marriage.

Most of us had no problem leaving mom and dad, but if you have dragged your parents into your marriage, or they are in any way intrusive in your relationship, this is completely out of order with God's intention for you. For some of us, it isn't necessarily leaving the parental relationship behind, but we are holding onto some other relationship - a dream of a former boyfriend or girlfriend, or an inappropriate friendship with a co-worker (and this does not have to involve sexual intimacy). For some it is the children who get in the way. God spoke to me early on in my marriage that I could not let my darling daughters (whom I have always loved intensely, and who USED TO love me unconditionally - at least until they were teens!) come between Don and me. It is sooooo easy to allow the needs and activities of our children become all-consuming, especially in their school years. It is a true pitfall for moms! We become involved in PTA, volunteer in their classrooms, lead their scout troops, teach their Sunday School classes, chauffeur them all over town. And we mostly love it! And it's usually a wonderful thing to do. But I've seen so many young moms completely neglect their husbands because of the kids. And I've seen couples totally focused on their children's social/athletic lives to the exclusion of their own relationship. It can be a real danger! Because the kids will leave you all too soon - and you do not want to be strangers then! For us older, working moms and dads, the problem can be that we give everything at work, then have nothing left to give each other at home.

The "cleaving" or being "united" is the other part needed to nourish a marriage. Because we are so perfectly suited by God's design, we indeed become "one flesh" in marriage. We need to cling to and rely on each other for the daily encouragement and support that are so vital in life. When we leave for work each day, we face a battle - hours of the world trying to undo us. We come home battle-weary, and we need the encouragement and love of our mates to lift us back up to face the next day. Moms of small children have been fighting the battle of runny noses, potty training , and power struggles with strong-willed children. They need a break along with affirmation from Dad that they are doing a great job! Now, God is truly the only One who can meet all of these needs perfectly, but He has given us our spouses to be "Christ in the flesh" to us here on earth. He has given YOU to your mate for that very purpose! Thank you, God, for the one who is "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!"

Have a great day! No time to edit this morning, so forgive the mistakes!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Genesis 2:18-23

Hello, all!

This morning we come to the first time when God said of His Creation, "It is not good..." The LORD God said, "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." God saw the need Adam had for a companion, and God filled that need. First, He showed Adam that the other creatures created by God were NOT suitable! Then God performed surgery on Adam, and we know how he took the rib from Adam's side and created Eve (although she is not given her name until the end of chapter 3). Now, Jon Courson points out that Adam did not take things into his own hands, desperately searching for his helpmate - he let God provide her. He makes the point that many of us would have gone out and settled for anyone just so we would not be alone. For Adam the closest thing to "suitable" would have been an ape - which is what many, tired of being single, will settle for! :) Adam waited on God.

Courson also points out that as the first bride was made from the first Adam's side, even so the Church, Jesus' Bride, was made from the last Adam's side, when he hung on the cross and was pierced in the side for our sin. Our position as wives is to be at our husband's side - not leading nor walking ten paces behind, but standing with him. Even so, the man is to protect us with his arm around us - and he is told to love us as Christ loved the church, keeping us pure and being able to present us holy to God. (Eph. 5:25)

One of the best pieces of advise I received from a wonderful Christian mentor when I was a young bride (and which Courson also repeats in his commentary here), is that my husband was not supposed to fill all of my needs, especially emotionally, and never will. If he did, I would not feel the need to seek the LORD - or girlfriends!! When we expect our husbands to be everything we need, we put an unbearable burden on them. The reality is, for me anyway, and I would guess for most of you, our mate is often very different from us in many ways. One speaker we heard at a family camp years ago put it this way: "Opposites attract before marriage, but afterward they repel! The very thing that attracted to you to that person will drive you crazy in the marriage!" So true! We lament that our spouses often just don't "get" us - but they cannot possibly understand everything we feel. Get over it!! Enjoy and praise God for the differences, because God uses them to rub off the rough edges WE have! Courson attributes this to the fact that God removed the rib, and "men have been missing something ever since." :) And God, who created us, knows us so intimately, He DOES get us. I love that He is the only one who truly knows EVERYTHING about me - even those things buried deep within my heart that I don't even know - and He loves me anyway!! Amazing!

We finish up this chapter tomorrow with Adam's reaction to his new spouse and God's plan for the two of them! Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Genesis 2:8-17

Good morning, gang!

Today’s verses describe the Garden of Eden, the environment in which man was placed, and the charge and the commandment that God gave to Adam in regards to this place.

As to the location and environment, we don’t know the location of the Pishon and Haviah Rivers mentioned here, but we do know where the Tigris and Euphrates are: they meet and flow through Iraq. We know that the original environment had all the best possible food that man could eat and direct fellowship with God.

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... The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 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.” (verses 8-9,15-17))

So God gave Adam a charge to care for this garden. It was a pleasurable job, because prior to the fall there would have been no thorns and thistles, so no weeding to do. We’ve already noted that it was self-watering! Jon Courson says that Adam would have gardened not just as a vocation, but for recreation. However, we see that God also gave him a specific command regarding the trees in the garden: he could eat from ANY of them, EXCEPT the one tree - the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was right next to the tree of life. And don’t we all know that the minute you tell someone they can’t do something, it’s the first thing they want to do [“Wet Paint - Do Not Touch”]? You might be asking, “Why did God set them up for failure, by putting these two trees, including the forbidden tree, smack dab in the middle of the garden?”
Well, God did not want a meaningless relationship with robots. He wanted man to CHOOSE to have a relationship with Him. This required that man would have free choice - and choice means that there actually has to be something from which to choose! He did not trick or tempt Adam - He was very specific in the warning about what the choice to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil would mean in consequences: he would DIE! It would result in immediate separation from God, spiritual death as well as eventual physical death.
Some wonder why it’s so bad to know good and evil. It wasn’t knowing right from wrong. Surely God wants us to know the difference, and has given us His Word to make these things clear to us. Instead, it was wanting a knowledge equal to God’s (we’ll see this next week in chapter 3), and it represented a defiance of God.

When God sets up such a command - “Do NOT...” it is NOT because He’s the God of no fun! He isn’t trying to DENY us anything - He is trying to protect us, because He loves us so. What kind of parent sets no parameters for his children? A rotten parent! As a teacher, I see daily the ramifications of allowing children to do whatever they want to do.
Where in your life are you resenting God’s commands for you? What has He explicitly commanded you NOT to do (or DO) that you are resisting? It’s not that we don’t know what He expects of us. His Word is very clear on most issues we are facing. It’s that we don’t want anyone, including God, interfering with our own plans and pleasures! But God is asking us to get serious with Him. Choose to obey! The other choice leads to death - death of your marriage, death of your relationships with others, death of your relationship with God.
Choose life! Have a great morning!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Genesis 2:4-7

Good morning, everyone!

I have heard this before, and Jon Courson says it also about chapter two: while chapter one is the wide-angle view story of Creation - the story told to give the big picture - in chapter 2 the zoom lens gets down to specifically deal with the creation of man. In verses 5 and 6 we get a description of the "greenhouse" atmosphere of the earth before rain: "...for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to till the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground... " Courson says, "The LORD evidently had a built-in sprinkler system on automatic timer which kept everything watered."

Verse 7 says, "... the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." As one who teaches the fifth grade science unit on matter, I'm always amazed that EVERYTHING in the universe comes from about 100 natural elements. We are all made up of the same stuff basically. What accounts for the differences? The way the "stuff" is put together. I looked up the facts online, and man is made up of 60 chemical elements. We are about 65% oxygen, 18% carbon, 10% hydrogen, 3% nitrogen, 1.5% calcium, 1% phosphorus, then just tiny traces of the others. Further, the average adult contains 6.7 x 10 to the 27th power atoms! Now, man was fashioned out of ordinary "stuff," but the LORD breathed spirit into man and brought him to life as a triune being of body, soul, and spirit. Science can attempt to form a man with this stuff, but only God can breathe life into us, because our spiritual being is straight from the breath of God. It cannot be broken down into elements!

Why does the creation of man matter? If we are all just accidental mixtures of the random collision of atoms, if we truly are just glorified apes, then we have no special place on earth or with God. But the Bible is very clear that our great Designer, our Creator God, our Father had a plan! He knew exactly what He wanted and He built it "from the ground up" to have a special place on earth and a special relationship with Him. This Bible we study is the story of His dealings with us from the beginning of time to the very end. It is the TRUTH about God and the TRUTH about us. It is worthy of our time in study!

Thanks for doing this with me!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Genesis 2:1-3

Good morning, all!

This week we'll be looking at the creation of Adam and Eve, but the first two verses of chapter 2 actually refer back to chapter 1. After "the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array," God took the seventh day off! He "rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done."

Why did God rest? Was He exhausted? Our Bible tells us that He does not grow weary, nor does He sleep. He did not NEED a day off. So what was His purpose here? I think God was doing two things: I think He was just enjoying the beauty of what He had made, and I think He was purposefully setting an example for us. God knew we would need to take a day off from our labor and just rest. Most of us are old enough to remember a time when stores were not open on Sundays and most everyone in town went to church. There were no youth sports leagues competing on Sunday. Sunday was a day with the family. It was a time to be still and know that God is God. Unfortunately, all of that has changed!

Rest from labor is vital to our spiritual life. If we don't take time away from the daily grind to be still and just enjoy our relationships with others and with God, we burn out. We become resentful, not only of the job itself, but sometimes of those for whom we work - our families. We will never catch up at work, we will never run out of things to do (either at work or at home), so we just have to consciously set aside (make holy) one out of seven days to restore and recharge. In particular, we need time set aside for enjoying all that God has made and for nurturing our relationship with Him.

The problem comes when we get legalistic about how to do this. Jesus reminded the Pharisees that "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27) Don't make going to church a ritual. Don't prescribe rules for yourself or others about how it MUST be observed in order to be holy. Don't judge others in their method or particular day of "keeping" the Sabbath. Just remember to take that day of rest yourself. God modeled it for us, because He knew we would work ourselves to death, or at least out of fellowship, if we didn't set it aside.

Enjoy the Sabbath as one of God's first gifts to us!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Genesis 1:28-31

Good Friday morning, all!

This week has flown by! Today we look at the verses describing the crowning glory of God's Creation: man! Psalm 8 is a song of praise in awe of God's Creation, and verses 4-6 focus on the uniqueness of mankind: What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the work of your hands; you put everything under his feet.

God did not scratch His head after the creation of the world and the plants and animals and say, "Hmmm... I wonder what's missing..." The Bible tells us that even before the foundation of the world - before He made one little thing - He had us in His mind. Ephesians 1:4-6 tells us, For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Now that is one of the best run-on sentences ever written! God always had US in mind when He was creating this wonderful world! He desired to have a relationship with us and He created us with that in mind. Read that first chapter of Ephesians today just to see how very blessed you are!

So, when God created man and woman, He "blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.' " We certainly have been busy filling it! I heard on the news the other day that we are either at or very near 7 billion now! However, I also heard in that same story that the entire world's population could fit into the state of Texas standing side by side! :)

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning - the sixth day. (verse 31)

When He was finished with Creation, God saw that it wasn't just good, but VERY good! Of course!

Now, the one thing we haven't talked about here this week is how long it took God to do this. Does it matter? Well, what you believe about God affects the way you live. If you believe that God spoke and it was so, if you believe in a God who is all-powerful enough to create the world from NOTHING, then you will have no trouble believing that this same God could create the world in six actual days - as measured by evening and morning, just as this account tells us. And you will certainly have no trouble trusting this same God with the details of your own life. If we grasp that He did all this while thinking of US, then we also can understand that this same God wants to have a personal relationship with each of us. So, when we believe God's Word about WHO God is and what He can do, we'll have no trouble believing what He says is true about us. Our pastor has been doing a series called "Transformed," in which he has been going through the New Testament verses that talk about who we are in Christ. He says, "The truest thing about you is what God says is true about you in His Word." And it all starts with the acknowledgement that the Bible is, indeed, the Word of God - the God-breathed writings of men that are the TRUTH. Do I think that God wasn't quite sure what He wanted, so he experimented and started with just a cell and watched it all unfold through natural selection? Absolutely not!

The Bible makes it clear that our God is a planner - a Creator with a purpose. We'll see in the next chapter how this plan is immediately clear. The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is the story of His plan. He wanted us to know it - and He wanted us to live it out. That's why He gave us this book and the Living Word, Jesus.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Genesis 1:20-27

Good morning, all!

I debated about how to divide this chapter up, and I just decided that we'd tackle the rest of the act of Creation today and then do a more focused look at God's unique relationship with Man tomorrow. On the fifth day, God created the animals of the sea and the sky" "every living and moving thing... according to their kinds." As with everything He'd created to that point, "God saw that it was good." However, in this case, God also blessed His creation. Verse 22 says, God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth."

On the sixth and final day of Creation, God created all of the land animals, including insects ("creatures that move along the ground"). God loves His animals! And He created such a variety! Whenever we visit the San Diego Zoo or when we recently visited the Long Beach Aquarium, I just marvel at the variety - the types, shapes, colors, and noises of His creatures is amazing - and often hysterical. They are proof that He has a sense of humor! And these creatures obey Him! They certainly are fruitful! And each of them serves a purpose! Even those blasted crows serve a purpose as scavengers! :) Now, just think of the insect world alone. I just googled "How many ants are there on earth?" and found that there are 2.3 x 10 to the eighteenth power!! No wonder we can't get rid of them!!! And there are more than 900,000 types of insects, with more being discovered all of the time!

Again, we are told, "And God saw that it was good." He had created an amazing world: a glorious universe, heavens filled with stars and planets, beautiful plants, and a wealth of animals. Yet, something was missing. Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (verses 26 & 27) God is a God of relationship, even in the Trinity. He created man in triune form as well: we have a physical body, a soul (mind and emotions), and we have what no other creation has, a spirit, our eternal being that allows us to have a relationship with God. Emmy, when she was selling jewelry, used to joke that the difference between us and all the rest of the animal world is that we are the only ones that accessorize! :) Tomorrow we'll look at the actual difference, the uniqueness of our Creation.

Lots to ponder, and MUCH for which to be grateful! The English major in me just could not bear to leave a dangling preposition!! :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Genesis 1:6-19

Good morning, all!

In this next portion of the creation account, God separated the heavens from the earth, providing a protective atmospheric canopy over the earth that essentially made a greenhouse atmosphere on earth. As Jon Courson points out, that's why we find fossils of tropical vegetation in the Arctic Circle. This canopy protected the earth from intense UV rays, so that man was able to live longer, as well. The collapse of that canopy was the Flood of Noah's day, and that deluge caused cataclysmic changes on the earth and further physical decline to already fallen mankind.

On the third day of creation, we see the beginnings of life as God created vegetation and fruits. Already we see that our Creator God is indeed creative, as we are told He created plants of "various kinds," including the seed-bearing plants that produce fruit "according to their kinds." In other words, apple trees produce apples, not figs. Seriously, think about the impact of this wonderful gift from God to us! He could have produced just one kind of fruit: prunes! Instead, He gave us delicious strawberries, avocados, kiwis, plums, nectarines, pineapples, and prunes to boot! And those wonderful fruits have seeds within them in order to reproduce.

And on the fourth day, He created the sun, the moon, and the stars to separate day from night and to give us seasons. Again, God could have given us one long winter, or even one long summer - and either would have been unbearable. So, instead, He gave us four seasons that perfectly work together to give us all the weather we need for the growth of these great plants and to give us variety to our days. This is really the gift of time. These lights in the sky mark our days - allowing us to organize our lives into work and rest periods. Years ago Don and I took the girls to Washington, DC, and we visited the DAR Museum (one that you can easily overlook, but which is a great place to visit). Anyway, while we were touring one of the state displays (each state contributed a model room that depicts that state's early history), the guide pointed out that candles were used rarely in colonial days - usually only when someone in the house was sick. People went to bed when the sun went down and woke when it came up. It made me realize the impact of the lightbulb: because we CAN now have light 24/7, we feel the need to work through long hours. Just like all technology that followed the lightbulb, there were good and bad consequences to man's inventions. God designed our world to give us periods of rest, but we insist on working well into the night!

The last thing that we can note in these verses is that God created two main sources of light: the greater light, the sun, to rule the day, and the lesser light, the moon, to rule the night. It amazes me that the lesser light is a mere reflection of the greater light. The moon is not the source of the light - it reflects the sun's light. In the same we, we are to reflect the light of Jesus, the Light of the world. Courson points out that when the world gets between the sun and the moon, the moon's light diminishes (an eclipse). To the same degree that we allow the world to come between us and Jesus, our light diminishes. Are we reflecting Christ to the world or allowing the world to snuff out His light???

I'm thanking God today for the wonderful, warm sun, that we can finally see again, and for the beautiful moon that smiles down on us! And for all those wonderful fruits and the amazing variety of plants, including the ones that brighten my garden!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Genesis 1:1-5

Good morning, all!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 
And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.  God saw the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night."  And there was evening and morning - the first day.

There is so much in just these first verses.  First, according to Courson, the Hebrew phrase for "formless and empty" is tohuw va bohuw, a phrase used again in Isaiah 45:18 when Isaiah says that God created the heaven and the earth not in vain - not  " tohuw va bohuw."  So Courson says, "If Isaiah says God did not create the earth without form and void, but Genesis 1 says the earth was without form and void, what's going on?"  Then he says that many commentators believe that an event took place between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2  which is described in Isaiah 14 and Ezekial 28:  the time when Lucifer launched a rebellion against God and was kicked out of heaven along with one-third of the angels who fell with him.  It was at this point that he became "the god of this world."  (2 Cor 4:4).  So, there was darkness over the earth and God said, "Let there be light."  Courson says the Hebrew literally reads, "Light be!  And light was."  

Courson's point that he leads to here is that our lives were just like this before we encountered Christ:  formless and empty.  And even as the Spirit of God hovered over the earth, that same Holy Spirit began to do a work in your life and began to draw you to the light.  You saw the light and the darkness in your life was dispelled!  I like that analogy!  Notice that it says in verse 5, "And there was evening and morning - the first day."  Courson points out that even today Jewish people reckon their day from evening to morning - going from darkness to light!  

Also note that the Trinity is completely present here at creation.  It says that the Spirit was hovering, and in John 1:1 we are told, "In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made."  Colossians 1:16, 17 says, "For in him [Jesus] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."  And in Revelation 4:11 the 24 elders bow before Jesus and say,  “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things,  and by your will they were created and have their being.”  Jesus is not a created being, He is the Creator God.  

So, even as the first act of creation involved bringing light into the darkness, this is the first thing God does with us when we are born again.  We come out of the darkness into the light!  And it IS good!!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Genesis 1:1 - Beginnings

I heard someone on the radio several months ago saying that if you could not "buy" the first four words of the Bible, you could not "buy" the rest.  "In the beginning God..."  The Bible nowhere tries to rationally or scientifically explain God, although it is filled with amazing logic and accurate science.  It is not a textbook, although it has the answers to every question we have.  The Bible just assumes the existence of God - HE IS!  So, if you start with that truth, the rest falls into place.  Hebrews 11:6 tells us, And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. If you want a relationship with God, it requires that you acknowledge His presence!  And He promises that we will be rewarded for our diligence in seeking Him.  What more could we ask for in 2011?

So, the words, "In the beginning God" tell us that we are going to learn about how and why God created this amazing world and Man.  And almost since the beginning, Man has tried to take God out of this picture.  For many, their life's work has been to try to explain away the Creator.  I read an e-mail joke about a scientist arguing with God about creation.  He was going to prove how he could "create" a world by just mixing together the right compounds.  But as he reached to grab some soil, God said, "Get your own dirt!"   I love that!  The Bible is clear that God created it all from NOTHING.  Every one of the approximately 100 natural elements on the periodic table that make up everything within the universe, were created by God from nothing!  He merely spoke and they came into being!  WOW!  In just the first chapter of Genesis, the phrase, "And God said..." is followed by "And it was so,"  or its equivalent, at least eight times.  When God speaks, it happens.  And the amazing thing is that this all-powerful, Creator God, wants to have a relationship with us!!

My prayer for us in this new year, is that we will be excited and encouraged by the wonderful truths in this book, and that we will find very practical, life-changing applications to our own lives as we study the lives of the patriarchs in this book!  Tomorrow we'll get into the creation details.