The Pagan Path
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I know myself, that even though I often preach against it, I find myself, much of the time, living as if I'm 'waiting for the other shoe to drop'! I was thinking about it this morning, as I traveled to my place of 'work'; 'why do we use that phrase?', and 'why do we live that way so much?' ( I know that many of you might not be guilty of this, but I sure am! ). I must realize that for us, who have become in Christ, the other shoe will never drop. We, as Christians, should realize, especially in this season in which we remember especially, and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, that it is because of this miraculous birth, and the final revelation of our True Light that we need not fear for the other shoe to drop. As much, then, as I preach this Gospel truth, as much as I try to live as if I believed it; I find myself acting as if I'm not sure.
Paul said, in Romans 8:15; 'For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” He repeats this phrase in II Timothy 1:7; 'For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.'
We preach it, we teach it; why do we find it so hard to live it, sometimes?
I mentioned, in a previous article, that many Christians fail daily to live according to Jesus' words in Matthew 6:33: I am not condemning anyone! Most certainly not; God forbid, because I am guilty of the same!
On a more personal note; I know that I have often lived in an almost morbid fear of God's retribution for when I 'messed up', and did something I knew that I shouldn't. It was and is right that I should feel remorse over my sin; but it is not right that we who have been forgiven by Christ should expect further retribution from God on that account We can always expect human retribution when we 'flub up'; but like I tell my children, when they complain of their sibling 'tattling' on them: 'If you don't do anything wrong, they wouldn't have anything to 'tattle' on, would they?'
A friend asked me the other day, how we can find happiness in Christian living. I told her that we have a choice, that it is not necessarily what we are given that makes us happy; rather, it is what we do with, how we receive, what we are given. When God tests our faith, as He did in the Garden, with Job, with Joseph, David, and so many other Old Testament saints, not to mention the prophets; it has always been how they treated that 'testing' that determined whether it was a blessing or curse, good or evil, to them ( I speak in human terms )!
I have often quoted, and will continue to do so, Paul's comforting words in Romans 8:28;
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
The apostle James said, 'Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.'
God has promised that everything that happens to us, happens, not only for our good, but is good! We don't always like the manner, shape, or form in which God sends these things our way, but we can trust Him that it's all good!
When we focus on things that we have done wrong, for which we know that God would be most just to punish us; I think that we tend to forget almost, the reason that the Christ was born in the flesh, to take away any fear of the other shoe dropping: 'Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe...........'! As I said before, also in a previous article; we need to focus, not on what we can, or think we must, do, rather we must focus on what Christ has done: I think that if we truly followed Christ's command to 'seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness'; then we would find it much easier to put our minds on the job ahead, and serve God ( and each other ) with all our heart, mind, and strength, with our whole being!
As I was going over this phrase in my mind this morning; I thought that we could view it metaphorically, as speaking of the footfall of a person coming to find you out, and most likely to punish you for a misdeed, but as I was further ruminating just now, I thought; 'the reason that we don't have to fear those footfalls, is because He walks with us, in our footsteps, or rather, we walk in His', if indeed we do walk with Him, and each other, in Love!
As we celebrate, in this season especially, but all year round; let us keep in mind that it is because of this miraculous and heavenly divine Gift that we no longer have to fear the other shoe dropping. In this haman existence then, let us live for and to Him always, and stop living as if we're 'wating for the other shoe to drop'!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.
Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.
This most-beloved ( among many ) of songs that are sung during this time of the year is a very hopeful song; and not only hopeful: it speaks very boldly, assuming a present reality! Although many people do love to sing this song, especially during this season, in which we celebrate the birth of our Savior; I think that many fail, if not to realize what they are saying, to see the full implications of what Isaac Watts' words say! ( I think that Watts himself didn't realize fully, what he wrote! )
He writes, in the second verse; 'Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!'
I think that most of my readers will agree with me that He does reign; but in the spiritual plane, in our 'hearts', so to speak. Most people who sing these words, do not see Jesus' reign as over this physical earth, especially not as a present reality.
In the third verse; Watts really 'brings it home', in a manner of speaking, when He says that Jesus came to make His blessings ' irrigate' the 'ground' that was cursed after the Fall of our first father, Adam. The words here in this third verse though, have less a weak hopefulness in them, than a sovereign certainty. He is not saying that Jesus came, hoping to make His blessings flow, and then left it up to weak-willed humans to accept these blessings, and to 'let' them flow through them! He wrote, in a very Scriptural tone, which words we most often sing without thinking, that Jesus, not only came, but stayed, to MAKE His blessings flow, wherever the curse is found, and through our joyful lives, where the curse of sin has been removed!
Watts re-enforces his words in verse 2; stating, in the last verse, that 'He rules the world'!
I suppose that it's very easy ( and tempting ) to look at all the 'bad things happening to good people' all around the world, and say that, well; 'maybe in a spiritual sense, He is ruling now; but He will not really rule over this world until He returns physically to rule and reign on the earth from His throne in a physical Jerusalem'. As I've explained in previous articles, though; I believe that Scripture shows us a much different scenario: Jesus said, in Luke 17:20 & 21, that God's kingdom would not be something that we could see; but rather that it was a kingdom of the hearts, minds, and lives of men. As I've stated previously; the writer to the Hebrews, in chapter 12, told those first-century believes that they had ( already ) come to the heavenly ( or New? ) Jerusalem, and saying at the beginning of verse 23, that they had come to, or joined with, the company of the elect, Christ's Body on earth; thus equating the heavenly Jerusalem with the Church!
23 I have sworn by Myself;
The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
And shall not return,
That to Me every knee shall bow,
Every tongue shall take an oath.
He was saying, not only that all those who came to him would willingly 'bow the knee' and worship Him, but that even those ( in the first-century ) who refused to acknowledge Him for who He was, would be forced, unwillingly, 'like it or not', to acknowledge Him as their Creator: even so, I believe, Watts was saying in the final few lines of this beloved carol, that He would make the nations prove, or reveal, His righteousness, whether they meant to or not!
As we celebrate the coming of the True Light of the world in this most joyous of holyday seasons, and sing the words of this beloved carol; let us remember what Isaac Watts was actually saying when he penned these words. These words should give us hope and strength, not only for the future, but also, and maybe even moreso, for the present!
For His Kingdom, and in the JOY of His Holy Spirit,
Thursday, December 11, 2008
When I checked my e-mail this morning; I found that I had received an email from a friend, entitled 'Family'. I'm sure that most or many, at least, of my readers have received this e-mail at some point in their e-mail experience: here it is below:
I ran into a stranger as he passed by,
'Oh excuse me please' was my reply.
He said, 'Please excuse me too;
I wasn't watching for you.'
We were very polite, this stranger and I.
We went on our way and we said goodbye.
But at home a different story is told,
How we treat our loved ones, young and old.
Later that day, cooking the evening meal,
My son stood beside me very still.
When I turned, I nearly knocked him down.
'Move out of the way,' I said with a frown.
He walked away, his little heart broken.
I didn't realize how harshly I'd spoken.
While I lay awake in bed,
God's still came to me and said,
'While dealing with a stranger,
common courtesy you use,
but the family you love, you seem to abuse.
Go and look on the kitchen floor,
You'll find some flowers there by the door.
Those are the flowers he brought for you.
He picked them himself: pink, yellow and blue.
He stood very quietly not to spoil the surprise,
you never saw the tears that filled his little eyes.'
By this time, I felt very small,
And now my tears began to fall.
I quietly went and knelt by his bed ;
'Wake up, little one, wake up,' I said.
'Are these the flowers you picked for me?'
He smiled, 'I found 'em, out by the tree.
I picked 'em because they're pretty like you.
I knew you'd like 'em, especially the blue.'
I said, 'Son, I'm very sorry for the way I acted today;
I shouldn't have yelled at you that way.'
He said, 'Oh, Mom, that's okay.
I love you anyway.'
I said, 'Son, I love you too,
and I do like the flowers, especially the blue.'
Are you aware that if we died tomorrow, the company
that we are working for could easily replace us in
a matter of days.
But the family we left behind will feel the loss
for the rest of their lives.
And come to think of it, we pour ourselves more
into work than into our own family,
an unwise investment indeed,
don't you think?
So what is behind the story?
Do you know what the word FAMILY means?
FAMILY = (F)ATHER (A)ND (M)OTHER (I) (L)OVE (Y)OU
Pass this on to family and Friends
You will receive a miracle tomorrow.
God will bless you
Sad to say; all this busyness often makes for rather difficult, if not strained, family relations!
Jesus said, in a passage that we often quote to each other, 'Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.' I dare say that we all understand what Jesus was saying there; but do we really act like we believe it? I think that we often fail to realize the full import of what Jesus said. What does it really mean to seek His Kingdom first, or above all? In the immediate context of His words; Jesus was telling us not to worry about what we need to eat, or about what we need to wear, for He is the one who provides all these things for us; but I think that it's even more than that! Everything in this earthly existence that we have need of; He has provided, and does provide, so why are we so 'caught up' in this busyness, in which we worry unnecessarily for the temporal things of this life?
What DOES it mean to seek first His Kingdom? I think that most of my readers will agree with me, that according to what Jesus said in Luke 17:21, God's kingdom is within us, that He rules in and over the hearts of men. What does Jesus command us to do then, in this Kingdom? He told the lawyer, and tells His disciples, in Matthew 22:34-40, that the most important things in God's Law are to love God first of all, but also to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. In John 13; Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment, which really wasn't so new, after all; 'Love one another; as I have loved you.....'. I think that from these passages, that to seek God's Kingdom first means, most importantly, humanly speaking anyway, to love our neighbor, not only as ourselves ( for we often don't love ourselves much ), but as Christ loved us! When Christ encountered the rich young ruler, in Mark 10:17-22; although this young man boasted that he had been faithful to God's Law, He, knowing his heart, told the young man that he lacked one thing; he was not willing to love the brethren: he had missed that one importance principle of God's Law, to love his neighbor as himself!
Having said all this; I am not accusing all those out there who do not have all the time in the world to do everything that they would like, or even ought to do, of not seeking first God's Kingdom; but I think that we all need to begin to take more seriously Jesus' command to seek His Kingdom first, and above all else, and focus more on what He has put right in front of our face, rather than seeking elsewhere for things to do that 'need' to be done; whether or not we think that we are serving Him better in doing so.
As we celebrate His birth this year, in this season; let us purpose, then, in our hearts, to love each other more as we ought, and celebrate that Love all year round, by forsaking our busyness and focusing more on what He has given us.............EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!
In the love of Christ in which we share,
Saturday, December 06, 2008
'Right off the bat'; some may read this statement and immediately see my bias, and assume that this is a Calvinist work, i.e., that I myself am a Calvinist: I do admit, that since my conversion, and even somewhat before, maybe, I have been brought up with the Calvinist doctrine, and have been persuaded most of my Christian life of the veracity of the so-called 'TULIP doctrine'. The Total depravity of man, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and the Perseverance of the saints, are points with which I can agree almost whole-heartedly; but in several instances, I would probably have to disagree with Calvin's intent in his phraseology. For this reason, among others, would rather say that I believe in 'Sovereign Grace', i.e., that it's all of God, and none of us. I believe that man, from the beginning, is given the responsibility to choose the good over the evil, but that, when left to himself, will always choose selfishly,in other words, wrongly. As I have often quoted though, from Ezekiel 36:25-27; when God graciously provides man with a new heart, and puts a new spirit within him, His own Holy Spirit, in fact: He causes us to walk according to His statutes!
I think that most of the first group of believers, and possibly even some of the second, would look at the 'parable of the sower', and say that this is indicative of the free will of man as opposed to the sovereign ( but gentlemanly ) will of God. They might say something like, 'God sows His seed of the Gospel everywhere, and to all men; but He leaves it up to them, whether or not to accept this Seed'. A Calvinist, on the other hand, might agree that God propagates His Gospel to all men everywhere; but that only those that brought forth fruit, i.e., those of whom it was spoken, 'but others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold', were chosen by God, and elect before the foundation of the world'.
First off; we'll look at Jesus' explanation of the seeds that 'fell by the wayside'. He explained to His disciples that this referred to those that 'hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved'. Prior to this explanation; Jesus quoted from Isaiah 6, telling His disciples why He spoke in parables.
9 And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘ Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10 “ Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed.”
God seems here, to be telling Isaiah to intentionally deceive His people! Who then is this 'devil' that would come, in verse 11 of Luke chapter 8, and take away the word of God? Assuming that this 'devil' is the same 'Satan' that we know from the Old Covenant Scriptures; we can easily see that Isaiah was acting the part of a 'Satan' to his people. In Matthew 16:23 and Mark 8:33; it it recorded that Jesus once called Peter Satan! Whether Jesus meant to rebuke Peter by comparing him with the fallen spiritual being known as Satan, or whether He was saying that Peter was being adversarial; this was a pretty harsh statement!
We know, from the Hebrew Scriptures, that God has, in time past, used the selfish actions of evil men, or even spirits, to accomplish His will; so, do you think that He employs the same means still?
James, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said that a man 'is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed'. In context; James is speaking of the various temptations that we often go through, especially as Christians, saying that we cannot and must not attribute them to God, but rather to ourselves! Too often; I think that even we, as Christians, and for the most part, those of the Arminian persuasion, have attributed these temptations to a fallen spiritual being named Satan. When Jesus said, in Luke 8:11 above, that 'then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts'; He was speaking, and still speaks, not of this supposed fallen spiritual being named Satan: but rather, of ourselves, who are ' drawn away by our own desires and enticed'.
The next group of people that Jesus talks about in verse 13, 'the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.', I think, are pretty much the same as those first mentioned, but described in a slightly different manner. I think that Jesus perfectly describes what I call a 'Sunday Christian' in describing this group. Many people will show much emotion when they are first 'saved' ( I hate to make this distinction: but more often than not, these are Arminians ); but when they leave 'church' on Sunday afternoon or evening, they revert to their old ways, run with the same crowd, and soon find more and 'better' excuses to stay away from 'church'!
For the 'ones that fell among thorns' in verse 14; Jesus uses much the same imagery as in the previous verse. These hear the Word, and maybe even receive it for a time; but when they re-enter the mission-field, or the world at large, they are consumed by worries about their families, their jobs, and with other matters which Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:25-34 that we should not be worried about.
Jesus now describes those who 'fell on the good ground' as those who, having received the Word, are willing and able to apply it to their lives outside of the 'church' setting, who obey Jesus command in Matthew 6:33 to 'seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you'.
I don't mean to imply that God does not bless those who are self-centered, or worry unduly about family, friends, or their jobs ( not necessarily in that order ), because all of us, even the most spiritual of Christians, worries or stresses unduly about certain things, most of which we have no control over. As to being outside of the 'church' setting; I simply meant outside ( maybe away from would be a better word ) the gathering of the local body of believers in a specialized building, sanctified for that purpose. We, as Christians, of course, are never outside the 'Church'; and so, should always strive to act within the 'Church' setting, and never as if we are outside it!
I must admit that I, at times, am ' less than the least of all the saints', for I don't seek His Kingdom as I should, or always act as a member of His Church, or even that I belong to Him, and am part of His 'new creation' ( see also Isaiah 65:17-25, Galatians 6:15 ); but I must always and forever remind myself that it is what Christ has done, and not what I do!
I pray this little study edifies those that read it and, as always; that you will be a 'Berean' and 'search the Scripture daily to see if these things are so'!
In God's service, for His glory,
In His Kingdom, and by His grace,
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
When most people have translated, and still translate, this verse; traditionally it has been thought to contain an almost mystical instruction. When most people read this verse, they read Paul's instruction as saying something like 'we need to understand or realize the seriousness of what Christ has done for us, in the extent that He went to, in order to save our souls', even to the extent of almost mournfully contemplating this, and whether or not we are worthy to partake of the 'Lord's Supper'! In a sense I agree with reasoning like this: it is a very serious matter, what Christ did for us, and we should not treat this matter with any measure of frivolity or levity; but neither should we be mournfully serious, doubting our worthiness to partake of 'the Lord's Body' if we have recently had an impure thought or have a standing 'tiff' with a brother ( or sister ) in Christ. Some will even say that, based on Matthew 5:22-24, and possibly other like passages, we should not partake of the 'Lord's Supper' if we have aught against our brother. I can agree in principle with this reasoning, and I'll reveal my thinking on this a little later; but I do not think that we should abstain from 'the Supper' just because a brother ( or sister ) has a problem with something that we've said or done. One problem that I've always had, though, with this sort of doctrine, is; if our brother ( or sister ) won't forgive our transgression, or accept our forgiveness, then does this 'disagreement' mean that this person has the 'power' over us to keep us from the 'Table'? I agree,as I said, in principle, with this doctrine because Paul said , earlier, in verse 20, 'Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper'. I think that the traditional 'stance' here, would be that Paul was reprimanding the Corinthians for gathering, not to partake of, or commune with Lord's Body, but to take their meals, in an almost bragging manner, before those who were 'less fortunate'. When, in the next several verses, we read, '21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.'; I think we have a clue as to what Paul was referring to in verse 29. By accusing them in this manner; Paul was telling them, in other words, that the Lord's Supper', or 'Communion', as it is most often referred to, in catholicity, was NOT the eating of bread ( or meat ), nor the drinking of wine, or other beverages! Paul had said earlier, in the context of Christian love, in Romans 14: 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit'. Jesus Himself said, in Matthew 6: 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.' While Jesus indeed said, in John 6: 48 'I am the bread of life'.; it is evident, though maybe not to everyone that first heard these words, that Jesus was speaking metaphorically of our becoming one with Him, in partaking of, or communing with His Body, in a spiritual way. I think that when Paul wrote those words of warning to the Corinthian church; I believe that he was reminding them that they were all one, in Christ, and that they were not acting in the spirit of love when they flaunted their wealth of food before those who had not so much to eat: that their gathering to eat together, to commune together, was not merely a 'supper', but a supper in communion with one another. They were not being reprimanded for eating, in other words; but for not eating in love. Remember Paul's discourse, in what is known as 'The Love Chapter'? He wrote, 'Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.' I think that Paul employed this same principle in chapter 11. If the 'Lords Supper' was not being observed with love, or in Christian charity, then the Corinthian church was not meeting to observe the 'Lord's Supper'; but in order to serve their own selfish lusts!
The point that I'm making here, and what Paul was saying, I believe, was that we often tend to focus so much on the 'elements' of the Lord's Supper, that we almost seem to forget what it's all about! Remember; Paul said, in Romans 14: 19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. ( Compare what Paul says in verses 22 & 23 with what he says in I Corinthians 11:28 & 29 ).
He says, in Colossians 1:24, that we are the Body of Christ, in I Corinthians 6:15, that we are 'members' of His Body, in I Corinthians 12:27, he reminds us that we are His body and also 'members' of each other ( see Ephesians 2:19, 4:25 ), and again, in Ephesians 5:30, that we are members of His Body.
I believe that fellow Christians, weak and strong, are the Body that Paul warned the Corinthian church, and warns us, to 'discern'!
Paul uses the Greek diakrino in verse 29 above to show that we should distinguish between, even to the extent of preferring those other members of Christs Body, the Church, over those who are not, and even to ourselves.
In Christ's service,
and in His Kingdom,
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I have written in previous articles, of building up, or edifying, in the the new heavens and new earth. As my reader may have guessed; a better way to say this would be, 'building ( up ) the new heavens and new earth', for, as I pointed out in that previous article, WE ARE THAT NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH! We are the Kingdom that Scripture speaks of.
When Jesus, in Luke 17:21, told the Pharisees that the kingdom of heaven was 'within' them, I believe that He was saying, not that they themselves were a part of God's kingdom; but that the kingdom of God, or heaven, was not something that could be seen, or even touched, but was rather a 'change' that God worked and works within the human spirit. As I've quoted many times; Ezekiel 36 :27 tells us that God gives us 'a new heart' and puts a 'new spirit' within us. Paul, in I Corinthians 15:50-54, revealed to the 1st century church, reiterating Jesus' words above, that 'flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God' and that we must first receive this change that Ezekiel, among others, talked about.
I am reminded, thinking of this man's situation; of the parable that Jesus gave in Luke 18: 9-14, in which the Pharisee thought himself better than a tax-collector, just because he thought he had the Truth, whereas the tax-collector did not, or so he thought! I think that many people, not just preterists or Reformed people, have made the same mistake, thinking that since we have discovered, or realized, the further truth of God's revealed Word; we somehow are in a better situation before God and are of better service in His Kingdom. I think, as Ezekiel points out above, that we as humans, tend to take for granted too often what Christ has done for us, and that God must do the work of 'change' in our hearts before we can discover any Truth that we may have! We must also realize; and I have often forgotten this in my dealings with those of differing beliefs, but like 'faith', that we, like they, are a 'work in progress' and that, as long as they still draw breath; God will, if they are one of His, work a 'change' in their heart, and even for those who have become in Christ, though they differ slightly in belief from us in the area of eschatology or even 'means' of salvation, that this 'change' is progressive, ever 'onward and upward'!
This man, I believe, is slowly coming to the realization that he must spend less time on trying to convince his family, and others, of the truths of the preterist principles, and more on convincing those around him that he is the Christian servant that he claims to be. I think that many of us can empathize with this man, and with the situation in which God has placed him! I think that many of us are familiar with the 'walls' that are immediately, if unconsciously, thrown up by family and friends alike, when we mention that we believe that Christ has returned, that we now inhabit the new heavens and new earth, or even that the physical earth is quite a bit older than six thousand years, and that the flood in Noah's day did not cover the entire globe, or kill every human being on planet earth except for Noah and his family. Try telling a fellow Christian, even some preterists, that Adam and Eve were not the first humans ever, and that they were not created with the appearance of age, and 'watch the fur fly'!
I guess that the point I am trying to make here is that we, as Christians, who think we have 'furthered' ourselves, or been furthered, in our Christological ( concerning Christ ) doctrine or in our eschatology and other assorted doctrines or beliefs, have only reached this current 'plateau' or step, as the case may be, through the continuous grace of God, and cannot, or should not, look at anyone, be he 'sinner or saint', and say, like the Pharisee above, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men'! When we become haughty and think of ourselves as better equipped for God's service because we have a better, or more perfect knowledge of that Kingdom; we have become dangerously close to saying just that, and are become almost Gnostic.
My final point, and one that my friend has painful realized; is that a life lived is a far better testimony, and more convincing than a discourse, no matter how eloquently given or vehemently argued! As Paul said, concerning the use of 'tongues', in I Corinthian 14:18 & 19; 'in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.' Prior to this statement; Paul reveals to us his reasoning: 'For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.' I know that this may seem to be taking Paul's statements out of context; but I believe that the same principle applies here. Most, if not all, Christians will agree that this 'furtherance' or 'more perfect knowledge', and 'understanding' comes from God above, through His holy Spirit; and that this 'knowledge' is a good thing, in it's proper place and time ( as Solomon says, ' To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven' ); but the main thing is 'edification', and if our hearers aren't edified ( for whatever reason ), then maybe we need to realize that it's not the right time for it.
Before I reach that point; I'm going to end here, for now, and hope, along with my friend, that I can 'take a lesson' from this and begin to live that 'fulfilled life' before others, rather than preaching one way and acting another.
In the faith of Christ,
and in His service,
ps. I must say, in passing, that although most of the Christians that I have reprimanded above ( including myself ) do not purposely become haughty in their Christian 'walk', but we so often appear that way, that I think that we inadvertently do 'more harm than good'!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Nehemiah says, in chapter 9;
6 You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven, The heaven of heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything on it, The seas and all that is in them, And You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.
David, in his 89th Psalm; has this to say:
11 The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all its fullness, You have founded them.
In Psalm 102:
Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
In the book of Proverbs, chapter 3; Solomon says,
19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens;
Isaiah, in Isaiah 40; has this to say,
22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
In chapter 42; Isaiah records that,
5 Thus says God the LORD, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it, And spirit to those who walk on it:
In chapter 45:
12 I have made the earth, And created man on it. I—My hands—stretched out the heavens, And all their host I have commanded.
In chapter 48:
13 Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, And My right hand has stretched out the heavens;
Jeremiah reminds us in Jeremiah 10 that:
12 He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, And has stretched out the heavens at His discretion.
In Jeremiah 51, God's people remind His enemies that,
15 He has made the earth by His power; He has established the world by His wisdom, And stretched out the heaven by His understanding.
And in Zechariah 12; almost in the same words as Isaiah, in chapter 48 above:
Thus says the LORD, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him:
I must point out, though, in passing; that in many of these examples, the 'heavens and earth' spoken of, are in the context of, and relating to, the people of God, or Israel.
As I asserted in a previous article; it is abundantly clear from Scripture that God created everything that we see, but I think it is fairly clear too, that the Author of Scripture has related these events to us in such a way as to give us a 'foretaste' of the 'next' age, the greater spiritual reality of Christ in us, our only hope for glory, through our re-creation!
2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
I think it highly significant here, that God ended His work of creation on the seventh day! The significance, of course, that we traditionally see in this ( and of course, coming straight from Scripture ), is that God rested from His labors, or work on the seventh day, or what became known as the Sabbath; but the significance that I would like to point out, particularly for the purposes of our study here; is that this rest typified, and pointed to, the greater spiritual Truth of the true rest that 'we', as Christians, have entered 'in' Christ! This is not a 'new' idea, or thought, because I know that many have no doubt seen and even noted the typology of this 'seventh-day rest', or 'sabbath', in reference to the Rest that we have in Christ, although I think maybe that maybe not enough significance has often been attached to this passage. As God rested from His work of creation, on the seventh day; so we as Christians have rest from our 'works' through Christ, who has done all our works for us, and in us, and became our righteousness.
The Author of the epistle to the Hebrews, in chapter 3, recounts the rebellion of the children of Israel in the wilderness:
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:
“ Today, if you will hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years. 10 Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’ 11 So I swore in My wrath, ‘ They shall not enter My rest.’”[b]
He goes on, in chapter 4, to say;
1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them,[a] not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:
“ So I swore in My wrath, ‘ They shall not enter My rest,’”[b]
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.And again, from chapter 4;
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
The writer goes on, in the following verses, to enjoin his Hebrew brethren to be diligent to enter that rest, even though, as above, he reminds us that the works were finished from the foundation of the world. This phrase should immediately take us back to the second verse of Genesis 2, where God finished His work on the seventh day. This should also serve as a reminder to us that, as I intimated above; it is through the strength and power of Christ alone that we have the ability to do the 'works'!
'We', who have become 'in' Christ, having entered His rest, have therefore, according to verse 10, ceased from our work, from trusting in our work, I believe, to trusting in the finished 'work' of Christ upon the cross.The numeral '7', as anybody should be able to see, from a careful study of Scripture, is itself a very significant number, usually referring to a wholeness, a completeness, and perfection. A few examples are;
6 The priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle some of the blood seven times before the LORD, in front of the veil of the sanctuary.
3 You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it, that is, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), that you may remember the day in which you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life.
11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing.
4 And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.
7 And Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.”
15 And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.”
6 The words of the LORD are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times.
164 Seven times a day I praise You, Because of Your righteous judgments.
31 Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold; He may have to give up all the substance of his house.
1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, “We will eat our own food and wear our own apparel; Only let us be called by your name, To take away our reproach.”
26 Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, And the light of the sun will be sevenfold, As the light of seven days, In the day that the LORD binds up the bruise of His people And heals the stroke of their wound.
Matthew 18:21 & 22
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Lastly; Revelation 15:1
1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.
As you can see; these are but a few of the many instances where the number '7' is significant of a great amount, or perfect measure, even to infinity! In relation to the Gospel of Jesus Christ: I think it is very significant that the feast days, typical of the marriage feast of the Lamb, all had to do with the number seven, and multiples thereof. Looking at WIKINOAH; I found this interesting statement,
The Talmudic tradition that there are seventy nations in the world is based on the list of Noah's descendants. This tradition of seventy nations is deep-rooted. According to the Midrash each of the seventy nations is placed under the protection of a special angel, except Israel, whose Protector is G-d Himself.
And later; in the same article;
The haggadic assumption that there are seventy nations and languages in the world is based upon the ethnological table given in Genesis 10, where seventy grandsons of Noah are enumerated, each of whom became the ancestor of a nation.
Relating to the first statement above, this passage from Exodus 15;
27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.
To ritually cleanse the leper ( significant of the unbeliever, before being cleansed
by Christ ): in Leviticus 14, the priest was given this command:
7 And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose in the open field.
In Deuteronomy 15; the children of Israel were commanded,
1 “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts.
( see also, Romans 13:8 , Isaiah 61:1 )
This famous passage in Daniel 9 pointed forward to the judgment and purification of God's people, under, and subsequently, out from under, the Old Covenant, and the full and final revelation of the Gospel in Christ!
24 “ Seventy weeks[a] are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of[b] sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy. 25 “ Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street[c] shall be built again, and the wall,[d] Even in troublesome times. 26 “ And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”
- Daniel 9:24 Literally sevens, and so throughout the chapter
- Daniel 9:24 Following Qere, Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate; Kethib and Theodotion read To seal up.
- Daniel 9:25 Or open square
- Daniel 9:25 Or moat
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both[a] which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. ( See also Galatians 4:3-5 )
3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
We have seen that this seventh-day rest, or Sabbath, pointed to the spiritual New Covenant rest that we, as believers, have in Christ; but, to further clarify this point, and to show how this sanctification, or setting apart of the seventh day pre-figured and foreshadowed the completeness and perfection of the rest that is to be had in Christ alone: let me remind my readers of several passages from Scripture:
In Matthew 3, we see that Jesus Himself received the priestly baptism at the hands of John, in order to show that He was being 'set apart' to the ministry of reconciliation.
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He[c] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
As we saw above, in Hebrews 4; the 'promised-land rest' that Yahweh promised His covenant people 'under' the Old Covenant, simply served as a physical type, or foreshadow of the true Rest that comes through Christ.
In Colossians 2, we read;
16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
Later on, in the letter to the Hebrews, in chapter 8, speaking of the Christ;
4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things..................
And in the 10th chapter, speaking of the fullness of the New Covenant in Christ;
1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.
I hope that I have made the point to my readers that the the Promised Land-rest that God promised to His Old Covenant children of Israel, and fulfilled through Joshua, as with many, if not all the events recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures; were but a physical shadow of, and pre-figured the True Rest, that is Christ, in the New Covenant.
In fulfillment of some scriptures that I have quoted before, in my study on Genesis 1, and I believe, were fore-shadowed in chapter 2, where God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it; I will now quote some familiar passages from the Gospels:
From the Gospel according to Mark, in chapter 1:
10 And immediately, coming up from[d] the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11 Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Luke records the same event in chapter 3;
22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”
In his second epistle; Peter records, in chapter 1, in speaking of a similar event recorded in Matthew 17:
17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
In pronouncing such a blessing upon His Anointed: I believe that God was affirming His blessing of the seventh-day rest that He hallowed, back in the second chapter of Genesis, the 'substance', or the fulfilling anti-type, being found in, and indeed being, Christ Himself, and the New Covenant in His blood!
4 This is the history[a] of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, 5 before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; 6 but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.
As in my previous study on the first chapter; so in this second chapter as well, are certain passages in which it would be difficult to attribute a 'merely' covenantal meaning. The author here claims that his words are record of the creation of the heavens and the earth. Whether my readers choose to interpret it in a purely physical and cosmological sense, as is traditional; or whether one interprets it in a typical, and spiritually, cosmological sense, as I have done here, and in my study of chapter one: it is a plain fact that these pages present us with a true and veritable history of the creation of 'the heavens and the earth'!
Traditionally, I think; many have looked at this second chapter, in particular verses 4 through 7, as a more complete, in-depth re-telling of the human creation, recorded in Genesis 1, verses 26 & 27. I think that this is the correct interpretation; but I also find it very interesting that, in the first chapter; where man is the last 'creation', on the sixth day: in the second, man was 'formed' before the 'herb of the field was in the earth, and before any plant of the field had grown'. As you might remember; the herbs ( plants ) and trees were 'brought forth' on the third day, three days before man was created, or 'formed'!
Some have looked at this apparent contradiction and decided that these two seemingly different records are speaking, not of the same creation viewed from multiple aspects, but as differing accounts, telling of two different animal and human creations!
I won't go any further here; except to say that it sounds pretty fantastical and far-reaching!
A covenantal interpretation of these passages; i.e, that this account has been recorded for us in such a way as to point to God's greater spiritual reality, is, I believe, much easier to 'swallow' ( and explain ), and makes a lot more sense!
I think that it is pretty interesting that one of the reasons ( I'll get back to the first reason given ) for the herbs and other plants ( trees ) not having grown was that there was not yet a man to till the ground.This is interesting because it is implied that even though the earth had been commanded to bring forth; it apparently had not done so until three days later, when man was finally created or 'formed', and before any rain had fallen. I say 'interesting', because a physically literal interpretation like this brings up many interesting 'dilemmas' like those mentioned above, and more! Questions like, 'Did God create trees, grass, and herbs, or did He create the seeds which grew into these things? 'I'll get to this one later on; but when God planted the garden in Eden; did He use seeds, like we do, or did He just, as is traditional, create full-grown trees & etc.?
We then come down to the age-old question: 'Which came first; the chicken or the egg?' A question that I posed to someone in defense of a local or regional flood was; 'How long can an olive tree survive under many feet of a briny mixture of fresh and salt-water?' If Adam was created with the appearance of age, as some suppose; did he have a belly-button, and if so, why?
Now we come back to the first reason for the plants and herbs not having grown yet: 'the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth'.
The word earth here, the Hebrew erets, is probably more correctly translated 'land', and the Hebrew adamah, has a more specific, but much the same meaning, but is translated 'ground'.
The next phrase, however tells us that 'a mist went up from the earth to water the ground'. This, I find interesting, because we already saw that the earth had not yet brought forth trees, plant, and herbs because God had not caused it to rain on the earth. If God had placed the seeds in the earth, back in chapter one; then wouldn't it make sense, even though it hadn't rained yet, for the 'mist' to have germinated the seeds ( in fact; mist might do an even better job of germination than rain ). I think that when we try to interpret passages like this in a strict, physically literal sense; we lose the subtle meaning that is mysteriously hidden in, not only the creation account, but much of the Hebrew Scriptures. By watering the face of the earth ( land ) with a mist before He caused rain to water the ground; I think that God has revealed to us a sense of graduality: i.e., that God knew that the earth was not yet ready for a full rain, just as, and I'll get into this subject more in the next study, Adam & Eve were not yet ready to handle the knowledge of good and evil.
I think that there are two main foci here; the first being that 'the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth'.
The Hebrew verb matar, translated 'rain' here is also used in the book of Exodus, in referring to the plagues that God 'rained' down, in His judgment upon Egypt and the Pharaoh. In the Hebrew Scriptures; the masculine noun geshem, or 'rain', is used to denote blessing and cursing, but most often, I think, blessing rather than cursing.
Two obvious examples of rain, or water being used to curse are, of course, the flood of Noah's day, and the plagues of Egypt.
In Genesis 7; we see that,
12 And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.
Of course; we are all fairly familiar with the destructive power of floods: yet, I think we all realize too, that those floodwaters can be ( and usually are, when we think about it ) a blessing as well!
In Exodus 9, Moses uses the verb form of the word matar to describe how God cursed the Egyptians with the plague of hail.
18 Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause very heavy hail to rain down, such as has not been in Egypt since its founding until now. ( see also Psalm 105:32 )
Further on in the same chapter though, he uses the masculine noun form of the same word to describe the removal of this plague, or curse.
33 So Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh and spread out his hands to the LORD; then the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain was not poured on the earth.
Regarding rain being a blessing; who can forget the blessing from heaven that God 'rained' upon the children of Israel in the wilderness in Exodus 16:
4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.
As we see later on in this chapter though; because of the disobedience of these children of Israel: this blessing actually turned out ( for some ) to be a curse, in disguise, as the case may be!
In Leviticus 26: God promised rain as a blessing for obedience.
3 ‘If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, 4 then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
10 For the land which you go to possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot, as a vegetable garden; 11 but the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, 12 a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.
Most of us are probably familiar with the blessing versus cursing passage of Deuteronomy 28: in which God promised, for obedience to His covenant;
12 The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.
And for disobedience,
24 The LORD will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.
Speaking of the blessings of covenant-keeping; David prophesied of the Christ in II Samuel 23;
And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, A morning without clouds, Like the tender grass springing out of the earth, By clear shining after rain.’
1 And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”He describes the blessings of God's presence, in Psalm 68:
8 The earth shook;
The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God;
Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
9 You, O God, sent a plentiful rain,
Whereby You confirmed Your inheritance,
When it was weary.
In the context of God's covenant with His special people Israel; David records, in Psalm 147:
7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
Sing praises on the harp to our God,
8 Who covers the heavens with clouds,
Who prepares rain for the earth,
Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.
Isaiah records, in chapter 5; that God withheld the blessing of rain because of the unfaithfulness of His covenant people:
6 I will lay it waste; It shall not be pruned or dug, But there shall come up briers and thorns. I will also command the clouds That they rain no rain on it.”
23 Then He will give the rain for your seed With which you sow the ground, And bread of the increase of the earth; It will be fat and plentiful. In that day your cattle will feed In large pastures.
Speaking again of the blessings of the covenant, God commands, in Isaiah 45:
8 “ Rain down, you heavens, from above,
And let the skies pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation,
And let righteousness spring up together.
I, the LORD, have created it.
Reminding the children of Israel of their unfaithfulness to God; Jeremiah, in chapter 3, says,
3 Therefore the showers have been withheld,
And there has been no latter rain.
You have had a harlot’s forehead;
You refuse to be ashamed.
Using flood language; God speaks, in Ezekiel 13, of the chastisement of His children:
12 Surely, when the wall has fallen, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the mortar with which you plastered it?’”
13 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “I will cause a stormy wind to break forth in My fury; and there shall be a flooding rain in My anger, and great hailstones in fury to consume it.
Calling those same children to repentance; Hosea pleads, in chapter 6:
3 Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, Like the latter and former rain to the earth.
Prior to the famous passage in Joel 2 that prophesies of the out-pouring of His Spirit : God tells His people:
23 Be glad then, you children of Zion,
And rejoice in the LORD your God;
For He has given you the former rain faithfully,[d]
And He will cause the rain to come down for you—
The former rain,
And the latter rain in the first month.
God told His children who would not accept discipline, in Amos 4:
7 “ I also withheld rain from you, When there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, And where it did not rain the part withered.
In Zechariah 10; God tells His people:
1 Ask the LORD for rain In the time of the latter rain.[a] The LORD will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, Grass in the field for everyone.
Again through Zechariah; in chapter 14 He reminds them:
17 And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain.
As we can see; rain is most often symbolic, or synonymous even, with the blessings of the covenant. Sometimes though; God uses this blessing as a curse for disobedience, as in the case of the flood in Noah's day, and the floods that we have seen over the centuries since. Always though; these floods have turned out to be blessings in disguise, having a cleansing and purifying effect, much the same as fire.
7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
In my study of the first chapter of Genesis; I implied a necessary focus on the word 'form': In this study, a different Hebrew word, yatsar, is used. This verb, obviously being different in function, is not so different in meaning. I guess that what I am trying to say here, is that man was formed in much the same way as the earth was, after it was created: Remember, 'in the beginning God created...........'; but 'the earth was without form................, until God said 'Let there be light', then the earth began to 'bring forth fruit'. In chapter 1; the Author records that He created man, and in chapter 2; He 'fashions' him of the earth that He had beforehand created, and breathed upon him, giving him life.
As I attempted to show in that study; the primary meaning of the word used to describe God's creation does have a more physically literal meaning, that is, it speaks directly to the physical creation: but I also believe that it also speaks, as in passages such as Jeremiah 4:23, of the 'formation'', or fashioning, of God's covenant people of Israel.
In the context of the Covenant: God speaks through Moses, in Deuteronomy 32:18:
18 Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful,
And have forgotten the God who fathered you.
Chuwl has a very definitive ( almost graphic, when you think about it ) meaning of 'begetting', and 'fathering'. The point here, I think, is that, although the Hebrew yatsar has a very different meaning; it has much the same connotation.
Again in the context of the Covenant; in Isaiah 43: God reminds His people,
1 But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “ Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.
Speaking yet again of His providence and pre-destination in the formation of the Covenant: In II Kings 19, God uses the Hebrew yatsar to describe His ordination of Assyria's Sennacherib, to discipline His children:
25 ‘Did you not hear long ago How I made it, From ancient times that I formed it? Now I have brought it to pass, That you should be For crushing fortified cities into heaps of ruins. ( see also Isaiah 37:26 )
Also speaking of His pre-destination and pre-ordination: God tells the prophet Jeremiah, using 'biblical parallelism' in Jeremiah 1:
5 “ Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
Plasso has a meaning of the shaping and fashioning that a potter employs when 'creating' or making, a bowl, pitcher, or some other kind of vessel.
Scripture tells us that man was 'formed of the dust of the ground', and traditionally, I believe, this has been taken at 'face value', even so far as saying that God scooped up some mud or clay, and shaped it into the fashion of a man, then breathed it into a living spirit, or presence, as a 'plain' reading of the text would seem to tell us. I used to be satisfied with this explanation; but since I have come to view Scripture in a covenant context, it just seems a rather simplistic explanation to me! The Hebrew word translated 'dust', aphar, means just that: dust; but I think that when we view this statement in the context, not only of the covenant; but of Scripture itself: I think we can see that it's not as 'plain' as we might think, at first glance!
Firstly, of course; I think that most of us are familiar with the covenant promise that God made to Abraham in Genesis 13:
16 And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. ( see also Genesis 28:14 )
Along these same lines, when Balaam was asked by Balak to curse the children of Israel, in Numbers 23; he responded by pronouncing this blessing:
10 “Who can count the dust[a] of Jacob, Or number one-fourth of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, And let my end be like his!”
After David had passed the crown and kingship of Israel to his son; Solomon, when asked by God what he wanted, he responded in II Chronicles 1,
9 Now, O LORD God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude.
In the context of the contrast between the so-called Old ( Mosaic ) and New covenants; God makes this promise to His people, in Isaiah 26:
19 Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body[b] they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead. ( see also Isaiah 27:9 )
God reminds His people, in Isaiah 40; of His mighty works, and promised blessings:
12 Who has measured the waters[c] in the hollow of His hand, Measured heaven with a span And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales And the hills in a balance?
In the Greek , or New Testament Scriptures, in I Corinthians 15; we see that Paul, speaking within the covenant context, compares those who were born under the Old covenant, with those who are re-born into the New:
47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord[e] from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear[f] the image of the heavenly Man.
The word 'dust', especially in, but not limited to, prophetic Scripture, is often synonymous with, and indicative of a mourning or cursing. As I think we'll see in the following passages; 'dust' is often a symbol of death, or great mourning: notice God's 'promise' to the serpent, in Genesis 3:
14 So the LORD God said to the serpent:
“ Because you have done this,
You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust
All the days of your life.
Later in the same passage; God makes much the same promise to Adam:
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”
In my previous study, on Genesis 1; I pointed to the 5th chapter of Numbers in reference to the curse for disobedience. We saw that 'water' was turned into a curse on covenant-breakers; but we see that 'dust' is what was combined with that 'water' in order to test one.
16 ‘And the priest shall bring her near, and set her before the LORD. 17 The priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water.
Recounting much the same sort of occurrence, and maybe a foretaste of it; Moses, in Deuteronomy 9, reminds the children of Israel of a similar event which had happened in their recent past:
21 Then I took your sin, the calf which you had made, and burned it with fire and crushed it and ground it very small, until it was as fine as dust; and I threw its dust into the brook that descended from the mountain. ( see Exodus 32:20 )
In the famous blessing versus cursing passage of Deuteronomy 28; God promises this curse for disobedience:
24 The LORD will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.
In Psalm 119; David pleads with God to recall His promises:
25 My soul clings to the dust; Revive me according to Your word.
Solomon reminds us, in Ecclesiastes 12; what happens to us when our physical bodies expire in death:
7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
Isaiah 5 prophesies of the judgment of God on the covenant-breaking children of Israel:
4 Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble, And the flame consumes the chaff, So their root will be as rottenness, And their blossom will ascend like dust; Because they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Speaking again of the coming redemption through Christ, in the New Covenant; God says, in Isaiah 52:
1 Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Zion; Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city! For the uncircumcised and the unclean Shall no longer come to you. 2 Shake yourself from the dust, arise; Sit down, O Jerusalem! Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion!
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,” Says the LORD. ( see Genesis 3:14, Isaiah 65:20, Revelation 22:14 )
Of course, 'dust' is pretty much universally known symbol for mourning, especially in the Near East, in the lands that we hear about in the Scriptures. Many, if not all of us are probably familiar with this concept; but we might not be used to thinking of it in connection with the covenant, and more specifically with the creation in Genesis 1. Here are a few well-known examples from Scripture:
In Joshua 7; after the children of Israel suffered a rout at the hands of the people of Ai:
6 Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.
In II Samuel 1; after the armies of Israel suffered an inglorious defeat at the hands of the Philistines:
2 on the third day, behold, it happened that a man came from Saul’s camp with his clothes torn and dust on his head. So it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the ground and prostrated himself.
When the children of Israel heard from the Book of the Law, in Nehemiah 9:
1 Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads.[a]
12 And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven.
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
Our body clings to the ground.
Praising the sovereignty of his Almighty God: David, in Psalm 113, exults,
7 He raises the poor out of the dust,
And lifts the needy out of the ash heap, ( see Daniel 12:2 )
5 For He brings down those who dwell on high, The lofty city; He lays it low, He lays it low to the ground, He brings it down to the dust.
When Israel mourned and lamented because of their trials; Isaiah, in Isaiah 52, speaks this word of comfort to the people of God:
2 Shake yourself from the dust, arise; Sit down, O Jerusalem! Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion! ( see Lamentations 2:10 )
As we look through the passages that I have chosen to relate here; we might notice that, even though in many cases the word 'dust' means just that, actual, physically literal dust; in most, if not all, cases; it refers to shame, humiliation, mourning, and even death. Looking at these passages though, in the context of the eternal, everlasting covenant; it is not too hard to recognize the reference, in the creation account, and especially in Genesis 2, to the youthfulness, the incompleteness, even the shame of the original 'creation' which, even though God called the physical creation good: spiritually, had a long way to go, before it's consummation and perfection was revealed in Christ!
8 The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.
The text says that God 'planted' a garden. It is an incontrovertible fact that God did indeed make a special garden in which His new creation was to begin their life. This again; when read in a woodenly literal sense, brings up too many questions that are not answered in a 'plain' reading of the passage. ' Did God place full-grown trees in the Garden; or did He plant the Garden when He created the rest of the earth'? A plain literal reading would seem to tell us that He especially planted this Garden in a specific place on this earth, and says nothing, beyond speculation, to the contrary. Another seemingly impossible question might be asked here, either way you choose to look at it: 'if God planted the 'trees of the Garden, back on day three, or even on day one ( unless you choose to speculate in the traditional way, and say that as Adam was made a full-grown man, so these trees were 'planted' full-grown ); how could the seeds of these trees mature and grow to a full, or even a reasonably full height in such a short time?' Most of my readers should have gotten a pretty good hint from other articles that I have written, and especially my last one, a Bible study on Genesis 1, of what all this is pointing toward! As I indicated; a plain literal reading of this text, and previously mentioned texts concerning God's human creation, would lead one to believe that, not only Adam; but the entire creation, was created with age, or the appearance of it. Is this possible? No doubt: with God; all things are possible! Does Scripture tell us, in words plain and true, that this is what happened? No: we can only speculate!
The Hebrew nata, one of only two words in the Hebrew scripture translated 'planted', means quite literally that; to plant, fasten, fix, establish. Taken in the context though, of the covenant, in which it was given; it has more a connotation of the establishment of God's covenant people, particularly in prophetic Scripture. Really; when you think about it: it's all prophetic, because, whether it's 'just' historical or prose; I believe, and you may or may not agree, that all Scripture points us to Christ!
A few examples from the prophetic Scriptures are:
When Abraham, in Genesis 21, made a covenant with Abimelech, king of the Philistines in Gerar; he planted a tree as a sign of this covenant.
33 Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.
In the book of Numbers, chapter 24; when Balaam was asked to curse God's people, he instead prophesied of the blessings of the Covenant.
6 Like valleys that stretch out,
Like gardens by the riverside,
Like aloes planted by the LORD,
Like cedars beside the waters.
Of course; we are all familiar, or should be we this passage from Psalm 1, in which David lauds the blessing of walking in covenant with God;
3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
Also in David's book of Psalms; Psalm 44 recounts the driving out of the Canaanites, and the subsequent establishment of the Israelites.
2 You drove out the nations with Your hand, But them You planted; You afflicted the peoples, and cast them out. ( see also Psalm 80:8 )
16 The trees of the LORD are full of sap,
The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,
In the book of Jeremiah, chapter 2; when God made His complaint, or case, against Israel, He reminded them,
21 Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality. How then have you turned before Me Into the degenerate plant of an alien vine?
As I pointed out in my last article, on Genesis 1: Jeremiah 17 echoes the third verse of David's first psalm, when God again reminds His people that they had indeed been established by Him.
8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear[b] when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
5 Then he took some of the seed of the land And planted it in a fertile field; He placed it by abundant waters And set it like a willow tree.
God pleads with His people, in Ezekiel 19, reminding them of the blessing of the covenant which He had established with them.
10 ‘ Your mother was like a vine in your bloodline,[b] Planted by the waters, Fruitful and full of branches Because of many waters.
Because of Israel's unfaithfulness and disobedience to His Laws, though,
13 And now she is planted in the wilderness, In a dry and thirsty land.
36 Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the LORD, have spoken it and I will do it. ”
I think that these few scriptures should be sufficient to remind us that when God plants something, we should never take it's meaning lightly, or in a woodenly literal sense, wherever it 'pops up'! Furthermore; I believe that these scriptures, and others like them, should be seen ( read ) for what they are: references to the eternal, everlasting Covenant!!
Our text further tells us that God put in this garden the man that He had formed. He uses the Hebrew suwm to describe His appointment of Adam as lord of His Garden. There are numerous different Hebrew words translated 'put' in our Scriptures; but this word most often is used within the context of the covenant, as in something specifically, and for a certain purpose, appointed, rather than just placed. A few examples from the Hebrew Scriptures should suffice.
When Abraham, in Genesis 24, covenanted with his servant to go to his homeland and bring back a wife for his son; he uses the word suwm.
2 So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, “Please, put your hand under my thigh,
In Exodus 4; God uses the same word to describe His appointment of Aaron.
15 Now you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do.
22 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:
24 “The LORD bless you and keep you;
25 The LORD make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,And give you peace.”’
27 “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”
During the wilderness wanderings, in Numbers 21; God commanded Moses to erect this picture, or type, of the salvation that we, as believers have in Christ and the New Covenant.
8 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
In Deuteronomy 10; God commanded Moses to place the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written, inside the Ark of the Covenant, thus signifying that Christ and the New Covenant encompassed, indeed fulfilled the law.
5 Then I turned and came down from the mountain, and put the tablets in the ark which I had made; and there they are, just as the LORD commanded me.
Giving further instructions concerning His worship; God tells His people, in Deuteronomy, chapter twelve,
5 “But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go.
Moving on quickly: when Sennacherib, king of Assyria, lay siege to Jerusalem with his armies; God rebuked him with these words, recorded in Isaiah 37.
29 Because your rage against Me and your tumult
Have come up to My ears,
Therefore I will put My hook in your nose
And My bridle in your lips,
And I will turn you back
By the way which you came.
Relating to the New Covenant in Christ; God reminds His people of His promises in Isaiah 51:
16 And I have put My words in your mouth; I have covered you with the shadow of My hand, That I may plant the heavens, Lay the foundations of the earth, And say to Zion, ‘You are My people.
21 “As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.”
In the midst of chastising His covenant children of Israel; God recalls, in Isaiah 63 His promised future blessing.
11 Then he remembered the days of old,
Moses and his people, saying:
“ Where is He who brought them up out of the sea
With the shepherd of His flock?
Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them
Prophesying of this chastisement of His covenant people; God gives Jeremiah this command in chapter 13 of the book of Jeremiah.
1 Thus the LORD said to me: “Go and get yourself a linen sash, and put it around your waist, but do not put it in water.”
Even in the midst of being disciplined for their unfaithfulness to God's covenant; in Jeremiah 40, God's people are commanded to reap the blessings of the land where God had placed them, even in their affliction.
10 As for me, I will indeed dwell at Mizpah and serve the Chaldeans who come to us. But you, gather wine and summer fruit and oil, put them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that you have taken.
God pleads with His people, in Ezekiel 16; to remember how that He had made covenant with them.
10 I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk. 11 I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. 12 And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head.
12 “ I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold,[d] Like a flock in the midst of their pasture; They shall make a loud noise because of so many people.
Although the Hebrew verb suwm may not always be used clearly in reference to the Covenant, and while it is not the only word translated 'put' in the Hebrew Scriptures that references the Covenant; it most often has reference to a covenant, whether it be between men alone, or between God and man.
9 And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Here again, as in verse 24 of chapter 1; we see that the ground is made to 'bring forth', except that, in this instance, it is expressly noted that God caused, or made
the trees to grow in this special Garden. This, however brings up another interesting question: 'were there only trees in this Garden, or were there other plants as well?' We can fairly well speculate that there were; but it's only speculation: Scripture gives us no indication that there was! The reason: I believe, that Scripture does not tell us specifically that there were other plants ( besides trees ) in this Garden, is that it is not important to the meaning of the story. What is important is that God set aside for His special people, starting with Adam & Eve, a special place of rest, which, of course, pointed ahead to the true Rest that we have 'in' Christ Jesus!
I hinted, in 'The Tree ( s ? ) of the Garden....', that this story is 'merely' an allegorical relation of the fall of man in prophetic imagery and hyperbole; and that the point was not how many trees there were, or even that there were any special trees; but that Adam & Eve, when faced with their first choice between right and wrong, good and evil, immediately chose wrongly and wickedly, in that they chose to 'go their own route' and disobey God's simple command, and tried to become wise before God's 'fullness of time'! Another, and most important, point, is that, as I pointed, also in that former article, is that both trees, but especially the 'tree of life', pointed to, or prefigured the Messiah: Christ Himself!
By saying that Genesis 3 was an allegory of Adam's fall, I am not trying to cast doubt on the veracity of a special Garden planted by God; but, as in the case of the creation account in chapter one: it is related in such a way as to prefigure the New Covenant in Christ.
I want to look at a few scriptures here; focusing on several of the words used in the first and second phrases of the above verse. Firstly the word 'pleasant', the Hebrew chamad which, interestingly enough, is in the feminine case:
In Psalm 106; the Psalmist uses the same Hebrew word to describe the 'Promised Land'.
24 Then they despised the pleasant land;
They did not believe His word,
Isaiah; in the 5th chapter, reminds God's children of Israel that they had been mightily blessed, more than any other people.
7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,
And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant.
He looked for justice, but behold, oppression;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.
Again Isaiah reminds the errant children of Israel that they had been specially blessed by God, in his 32nd chapter.
12 People shall mourn upon their breasts
For the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.
In the third chapter of the book of Jeremiah: God pleads with His children to remember His manifold mercies.
19 “But I said: ‘ How can I put you among the children And give you a pleasant land, A beautiful heritage of the hosts of nations?’ “And I said: ‘ You shall call Me, “My Father,” And not turn away from Me.’
10 “ Many rulers[b] have destroyed My vineyard, They have trodden My portion underfoot; They have made My pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
Ezekiel, in chapter 26; uses this word in describing how God chastised those whom He loves.
12 They will plunder your riches and pillage your merchandise; they will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses; they will lay your stones, your timber, and your soil in the midst of the water.
11 Therefore, because you tread down the poor And take grain taxes from him, Though you have built houses of hewn stone, Yet you shall not dwell in them; You have planted pleasant vineyards, But you shall not drink wine from them.
Finally; in the book of Zechariah, chapter 14, God laments for chastised Israel.
14 “But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations which they had not known. Thus the land became desolate after them, so that no one passed through or returned; for they made the pleasant land desolate.”
In most cases, we can see that the word chamad is most often used in the context of the covenant, and in particular, the 'Promised Land' which was a prefigure, or type, of the promised rest that we have in Christ!
The second word that I wish to focus on in verse 9 is the Hebrew tavek, most often translated 'midst', but with a secondary meaning of 'among', 'within', or even 'middle'.
6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”
4 So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
12 Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst.
3 You shall put out both male and female; you shall put them outside the camp, that they may not defile their camps in the midst of which I dwell.”
12 And the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; you only heard a voice.
Moses prophesies of Messiah, in Deuteronomy 18; when He tells the children of Israel that God's promised One would come from among them.
15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, 16 according to all you desired of the LORD your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’
In Psalm 46; David exults that God dwells with His people.
5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
( In this case; 'midst' is actually translated from the Hebrew qereb, and has much the same meaning, but adds a more spiritual aspect )
In Psalm 110; he prophesies of the coming Messiah, when he tells God's people that, even though his enemies strive against His people: God rules in His sovereignty.
2 The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!
( qereb is also employed in this example)
13 To Him who divided the Red Sea in two,
For His mercy endures forever;
14 And made Israel pass through the midst of it,
For His mercy endures forever;
Solomon uses the same word, in Proverbs 5; when referring to his trials, he complained of his weakness, even though he was a child of the King.
14 I was on the verge of total ruin,
In the midst of the assembly and congregation.
In his book of Songs, chapter 3; Solomon prophesies of the love of Christ for His bride, the Church, when he describes his own chariot.
10He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem.
God recalls His 'planting' of His special people, in Isaiah 5; when He brings a complaint against them for their apostasy.
2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, And also made a winepress in it; So He expected it to bring forth good grapes, But it brought forth wild grapes.
18 I will open rivers in desolate heights, And fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, And the dry land springs of water.
In Jeremiah 21; God promised that He would punish the covenant-breaking children of Israel.
4 ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, with which you fight against the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans[b] who besiege you outside the walls; and I will assemble them in the midst of this city.
45 “ My people, go out of the midst of her!
And let everyone deliver himself from the fierce anger of the LORD.
4 Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire.
In Ezekiel 5; God commands Ezekiel to prophesy of the coming destruction of Jerusalem by fire.
1 over your head and your beard; then take scales to weigh and divide the “And you, , take a sharp sword, take it as a barber’s razor, and pass ithair. 2 You shall burn with fire one-third in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are finished; then you shall take one-third and strike around it with the sword, and one-third you shall scatter in the wind: I will draw out a sword after them. 3 You shall also take a small number of them and bind them in the edge of your garment
Then take some of them again and throw them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire. From there a fire will go out into all the house of Israel.
Ezekiel records, in chapter 11 of his book of prophecy, that God revealed to His covenant-breaking children that He would no longer allow their ungodliness to pervade His ' ', but would annul their covenant with death.
7 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Your slain whom you have laid in its midst, they are the meat, and this city is the caldron; but I shall bring you out of the midst of it. 8 You have feared the sword; and I will bring a sword upon you,” says the Lord GOD. 9 “And I will bring you out of its midst, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and execute judgments on you.
In the 17th chapter of Ezekiel: God promises the current ruler of the that he would die in a strange land because of his breaking a covenant that he had made with a Gentile ruler.
16 ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘surely in the place where the king dwells who made him king, whose oath he despised and whose covenant he broke—with him in the midst of Babylon he shall die.
14 “ You were the anointed cherub who covers;
I established you;
You were on the holy mountain of God;
You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.
In Ezekiel 36; God promises to bless His people with His eternal Presence, once and for all, even though they had continually proven their weakness by breaking His Covenant!
23 And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. ( see also Ezekiel 37:26 , 43:7 )
In the second chapter of the book of Micah's prophecy; God promises to bring back His children whom He had sold into captivity, and settle them once again, into the 'Promised Land' of His rest and continual Presence.
12 “ I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold,[d] Like a flock in the midst of their pasture; They shall make a loud noise because of so many people. ( see also Judges 10:7, Jeremiah 7:13-15 )
God reaffirms His promise, in Micah 7; that He will reestablish the blessings of the Covenant with His special people.
14 Shepherd Your people with Your staff, The flock of Your heritage, Who dwell solitarily in a woodland, In the midst of Carmel; Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, As in days of old. ( see also Jeremiah 50:19 )
Zechariah 2 records that God reaffirmed His Covenant promises to dwell, finally and fully with His people.
10 “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the LORD. 11 “Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. ( see John 14:23, Revelation 3:20 )
20 Now when He was asked by the when the would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’[d] For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
Luke uses the Greek entos here, which has much the same meaning as tavek, ' within, inside, i.e., in the midst of you'.From the examples that we have reviewed above, and these are sure not the only ones where 'midst' is used in a covenantal context; we can see that tavek and qereb are most often used in the context of God's Covenant with Israel, even the Himself! I have included Jesus' words in Luke 21 because I believe that Jesus, as the mediator of the 'better covenant' that the writer of Hebrews talks about, thus revealed to us, as inhabitants of the new, or 'heavenly Jerusalem'; that the earthly ' , or Palestine, was simply a picture, a preview if you will, of the Rest that we have in Christ; and the earthly Jerusalem a 'copy' of the heavenly.
10 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Hiddekel;[b] it is the one which goes toward the east of . The fourth river is the Euphrates.
When we hear the word 'river', especially in the context of the covenant; probably the first thing that we think of ( I know I do ) is 'blessing'!The Scriptures are full of examples where a river, whether actual or metaphorical, is seen, or spoken of, as a great blessing.
On a more personal note, from experience, especially living here in the western Midwest ( Wyoming ); I can tell you that pretty much any water, in particular a river, is a blessing! Where I live, here in south-eastern Wyoming; we can say, with pretty much certainty, that when we see a line of trees in one place ( there's not alot of trees in SE Wyoming ), there's more than likely a river running next to it.
Let's look now at several examples from the Scriptures, where rivers are spoken of.
From David's first Psalm, which I believe I've quoted before; comes this famous and oft-quoted passage:
3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; ( see also Jeremiah 17:8 )
Prophesying of the blessings of forgiveness in God's Presence through the New Covenant in Christ; in Psalm 46, David relates this famous passage:
4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. ( see also Psalm 65:9 )
In yet another famous passage of Scripture; Isaiah, in Isaiah 41, gives us this comforting verse:
18 I will open rivers in desolate heights, And fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, And the dry land springs of water. ( see also Isaiah 33:21, 43:19 )
God uses this sort of metaphor in Isaiah 48,in the midst of making His case against the covenant-breaking children of Israel.
18 Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, And your righteousness like the waves of the sea. ( see also Isaiah 66:12 )
Ezekiel records this vision, in Ezekiel 47; describing the future blessings of the New Covenant, and in particular, the Temple in the New Jerusalem:
7 When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. 8 Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. 9 And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes. ( see also Revelation 22:2 )
Jesus said, in the seventh chapter of the Gospel of John; how He would spread His message of the Good News throughout the world.
38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. ( see Joel 2:28 & 29 )
The word 'river' is also used in connection with the chastisement of His people, or the punishment and destruction of those who are not His people!
In the seventh chapter of the book of Exodus; we see that God used Egypt's main source of water to punish the Pharaoh for refusing to let His people go.
17 Thus says the LORD: “By this you shall know that I am the LORD. Behold, I will strike the waters which are in the river with the rod that is in my hand, and they shall be turned to blood. 18 And the fish that are in the river shall die, the river shall stink, and the Egyptians will loathe to drink the water of the river. ( see also Exodus 8:3-11 )
Job uses this word as a metaphor for the fleeting strength of man, in Job 14.
11 As water disappears from the sea,
And a river becomes parched and dries up,
12 So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, They will not awake Nor be roused from their sleep. ( see also Proverbs 21:1 )
In Psalm 78; Asaph recalls the punishments that God levied upon the Egyptians.
44 Turned their rivers into blood,
And their streams, that they could not drink.
In the 8th chapter of Isaiah; God uses this as a metaphor for chastisement, when He promises to chastise His children for their spiritual adultery.
7 Now therefore, behold, the Lord brings up over them The waters of the River,[b] strong and mighty— The king of Assyria and all his glory; He will go up over all his channels And go over all his banks. 8 He will pass through Judah, He will overflow and pass over, He will reach up to the neck; And the stretching out of his wings Will fill the breadth of Your land, O Immanuel.[c] ( see also Revelation 9:14 )
When God promised His judgment upon Egypt, in Isaiah 19; Isaiah warns metaphorically that God was about to levy a curse upon them.
5 The waters will fail from the sea, And the river will be wasted and dried up. 6 The rivers will turn foul; The brooks of defense will be emptied and dried up;
In Isaiah 30; 'rivers' are used as a metaphor for judgment upon God's covenant-breaking children.
25 There will be on every high mountain And on every high hill Rivers and streams of waters, In the day of the great slaughter, When the towers fall.
2 Why, when I came, was there no man? Why, when I called, was there none to answer? Is My hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver? Indeed with My rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness; Their fish stink because there is no water, And die of thirst.
8 Egypt rises up like a flood, And its waters move like the rivers; And he says, ‘I will go up and cover the earth, I will destroy the city and its inhabitants.’
In His judgment of Egypt, in Ezekiel 30: God promises to remove His blessings .
12 I will make the rivers dry, And sell the land into the hand of the wicked; I will make the land waste, and all that is in it, By the hand of aliens. I, the LORD, have spoken. ( see also Ezekiel 31:15 )
8 O LORD, were You displeased with the rivers, Was Your anger against the rivers, Was Your wrath against the sea, That You rode on Your horses, Your chariots of salvation? 9 Your bow was made quite ready; Oaths were sworn over Your arrows.[b] Selah You divided the earth with rivers. ( see also Ezekiel 22:31 )
As we can see from the above examples; it's pretty obvious that 'rivers', as with so many of God's gifts can be seen as a blessing or a curse, or, in other words, good or evil. Although how we view God's gifts has alot to do with what they are, or become to us; it does not change what God has purposed for them, or us.
There has been much speculation among scholars, from the lowliest layman to the most respected archeologist, on where exactly this land, or area was, that this river flowed; but this passage seems to tell us that a single body of water flowed through this 'Garden', then became four separate rivers. Two of these rivers are recognizably named; the Tigris and Euphrates, which we know, from our maps, run nearly side-by-side through the Middle East, from somewhere in the Caucasus Mountains of modern-day north-eastern Turkey, and come together near, and pouring into, the Persian Gulf. Some scholars feel that this area, where the two rivers come together, just north of the Persian Gulf, is where the 'Garden' spoken of here was located. I have no problem with this theoretical explanation, although it doesn't really make a difference in the whole covenant scheme of things, where the Garden was located, or maybe more precisely; the location of the two 'lost' rivers, the Pishon and the Gihon. The main thing that I think we need to remember is that this river, which flowed 'out of Eden to water the garden', was atypical of the river in Revelation 22 that proceeded 'from the throne of God and of the Lamb', thus signifying the blessings of the Gospel, that of the New Covenant in Christ!
Another interesting note here is that the Author records that the river ran out of Eden to water the garden! Previously we saw that God planted a garden eastward in Eden; now He seems to imply that this garden that He had planted, especially; was not the garden that He purposed to 'water' with this river, but that this garden that He had planted especially ( in the east part of Eden ) was simply a picture of the true Garden that He had planted, His entire creation, and in particular, His elect from many nations.
15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.
One thing that I always thought particularly interesting, and lending to the theory that the 'Creation Account' of Genesis 1 spoke more of the formation of God's Covenant, than of the creation of the physical universe, is the language that the Author used here in this particular verse. My thoughts go immediately back to that of the last phrase of verse 5: 'for there was no man to till the ground'.The Hebrew verb 'abad, translated 'till' in the King James Version, although similar in meaning to the Hebrew shamar, translated 'tend' or 'keep' ( both have a connotation of stewardship ), 'abad connotes service, and in particular maybe, service to God within the context of the Covenant. God created man, or 'formed' him in His image, in order that man might be a steward in His work of dominion, and partake with Him in the reign and rule of His creation!
Here again, we see that God puts or places His creation ( in this case, man ), in the area that He has prepared for it; but, as above: the word suwm is a bit stronger than at first glance. As we saw above; the word suwm is more often than not used in a covenant context, and it also has a greater connotation of 'appointing, ordaining, and establishing'.
God uses this same Hebrew verb in Exodus 21 to describe His providential care for His children.
13 However, if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee.
In I Samuel 8; when the children of Israel wanted a human king like the nations around them; Samuel used this word to describe how this human master would treat them.
11 And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots.
When God ratified His Covenant with David, in II Samuel 7; He used this word to describe His establishment of David's kingdom, and dynasty.
10 Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously, 11 since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also the LORD tells you that He will make you a house.[a]
Describing the joys of a renewed covenant, in Isaiah 63; God uses suwm to tell His children of Israel what He will do for them.
3To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. ( I quoted the Authorized, or King James version here, because the NKJV translates suwm as 'console' )
Finally; in chapter 11 of the prophecy of Hosea: God promises that His people will return to reign with Him.
11 Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel
Shall be gathered together,
And appoint for themselves one head;
And they shall come up out of the land,
For great will be the day of Jezreel!
I think that too often, as we read the Scriptures, we tend not to read them in the context of all of Scripture, in other words, where the same kind of wording is used to describe something of a different nature. For instance: although David uses a different Hebrew verb in Psalm 2; the Author of Genesis uses much the same wording, with a not altogether different meaning, to describe His appointment of Adam as 'king' of His Garden.
6Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
In Proverbs 8; Solomon uses nacak in describing wisdom as atypical of Christ.
23I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
As far as I could tell; these two references in the Scriptures, where the word nacak is translate 'set'. Nacak has a meaning, or connotation, of something poured out, or offered ( as a libation ), and especially in reference to God's offering of His 'anointed One'. ( see also Isaiah 53:12, Ezekiel 39:29, Joel 2:28 )
Although, as we saw earlier; when God placed Adam into the garden that He had especially planted; the Hebrew suwm is used to describe His 'appointment' of Adam, this verb is very close in it's usage, if not meaning!
16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
I must make a note here concerning a very literal translation of these verses ( we'll cover this subject more more closely in the next study ): if Adam & Eve were indeed the first man & woman on the 'face of the earth', as is traditionally posited, then what effect would the statement 'you shall surely die' mean to them? They, from what we know ( aside from pure speculation ) had no knowledge of what it meant to die! If they had not experienced death, and had not 'the knowledge of good and evil' yet, then how would they know what it meant to die, unless they were familiar with the concept, or unless God Himself had explained the concept to them? We have no indication that God had explained this to them, so the former explanation would seem to fit better: they were familiar with the concept of death, prior to the Fall!
The word translated 'die' here, and mainly, throughout this the Scriptures, is muwth, which has no connotation of anything but immediate physical expiration, even execution! It is interesting to note also, that in verse 17 above; the word muwth is repeated twice! God wanted Adam to know definitely for certain that, if he dared disobey His command, he would immediately reap the consequences!
Why would God allow Adam to eat of all the other trees ( including the tree of life? ), but not of the 'tree of the knowledge of good and evil'? Why, for that matter, did God plant the 'tree of the knowledge of good and evil'? Was it for Adam's own good that God gave him this command? Any good earthly father will, at some point in life, tell his child not to eat, or do, certain things which may harm him, but at a later point in life, when he has matured, may actually be good for him! Do you think that might have been the case here? as I've said before; when we read passages like these, and try to make them speak too literally ( in the physical sense ); we run into too many questions that the Scripture doesn't necessarily have a 'plain' and ready answer for.
When God told Adam that he could 'freely eat' it makes me immediately think of this passage in Revelation 22;
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
This passage, in Romans 8, should also come to mind.
32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Jesus' own words to His disciples, in Matthew 10, should immediately make us think of 'The Tree ( s? ) of the Garden.......'.
18 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
As God had called His creation good, so now He says that it is not good for man to be alone. The writer uses the same Hebrew towb to describe the condition of man before God 'created' the woman to be with him. It was not God's pleasure, or plan, for man to take dominion over God's creation all by himself; it was God's stated purpose for him to have help. We saw earlier that God created them male and female, as a picture of Christ and His Bride, the Church. Let's look at some reasons that the Scriptures supply, for why it is not good for one to be alone.
First of all, of course, we might think of that famous passage in Ecclesiastes 4, where Solomon, as a picture of Wisdom, gives a few reasons why it is better to have a partner.
9 Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
In Exodus 18, when Moses sat to judge the children of Israel; even Moses father-in-law, a Midianite, saw that it was not good for Moses to bear the whole burden himself.
14 So when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before4 you fro morning until evening?' ( see also Numbers 11:14 , Deuteronomy 1:12 )
God gave His people a foretaste, a fore-figure really, of the fullness and finality of His Covenant, in Deuteronomy 29; when He reveals to the children of Israel that His promises are not for them only.
14 “I make this covenant and this oath, not with you alone, 15 but with him who stands here with us today before the LORD our God, as well as with him who is not here with us today.
Elijah, in I Kings 19; complained that he alone of the children of Israel had remained true to God's covenant.
14 And he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
God prophesies through Isaiah, in Isaiah 49; that He will again bless His covenant people of Israel.
21 Then you will say in your heart, ‘ Who has begotten these for me, Since I have lost my children and am desolate, A captive, and wandering to and fro? And who has brought these up? There I was, left alone; But these, where were they?’” ( see also Job 1:18, Job 42: 13-15, Isaiah 54:1, Galatians 4:27 )
Jeremiah, in the 15th chapter of his prophecy, complains that he has been left alone because of God's judgment on His people.
28 Let him sit alone and keep silent, Because God has laid it on him. ( see also Isaiah 53:4&5 )
Prophesying of the state of covenant breaking Israel, in Hosea 8; God reminds His prophet that it is because they have forsaken Him that they have been left alone.
I think we are to understand, from these passages, even from everyday life ( I speak from experience ) that it is most often when we are left alone that we are faced with temptation. The word 'alone', in Genesis 2:18 above, is translated from the Hebrew bad, meaning, in short, ' separation'. Remember, that in verse 27 of the previous chapter; God created them 'male and female: thus when the Author recounts the human creation in chapter 2, He reminds us that man was created, not to subsist, or survive, on his own, but in conjunction with Him and His good creation!
The New American Standard Bible brings us this verse with a slightly different reading.
I think that this subtle difference helps us to understand God's purpose better. Not only was this helper to be comparable to Adam; but she would be suitable ( for God's Purpose )! The Hebrew neged, here translated 'suitable', I think goes along more fluidly with the manner in which Eve was brought to her husband, or man. We'll come back to this point later on; but for now, it will suffice to say that God not only had a helper in mind for Adam that was comparable to him; but He meant to bring one that was suitable for aiding him in the job at hand.
2 May He send you help from the sanctuary,
And strengthen you out of Zion.
In the 75th Psalm; David again uses this word in his plea to God for salvation from his enemies.
5 But I am poor and needy;
Make haste to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay.
Again; in Psalm 115, the Author reminds His people that He is their only hope for salvation.
9 O Israel, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield. 10 O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield. 11 You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield.
This famous passage from Psalm 121 reminds God's people that He is our true Helper.
1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.
Lastly, from Hosea 13; God reminds His chastened people that He is their only hope for salvation.
I think that what we should see from these examples, is that God created man and woman to be reliant upon Him, and only Him! God reminds His people in the above passages, and others like them, that He is a help meet for us! When Jesus was questioned about the unorthodox actions of His disciples, in Mark 2; He reminded those Pharisees, those hypocrites, that 'The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath'. Paul reminds us, the covenant people of God, in Galatians 3; why the Law was given on Mt. Sinai.
24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
The Scriptures reveal why God gave us certain things at a certain point in time. He gave, and gives, His people these things, in order to lead us, His people, to a mature and right relationship with Him!
19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
In keeping with the manner of the creation, on the sixth day, of the 'beasts of the earth'; we see here again, that God forms His animal creation from, or out of, the dust of the earth. It is interesting here too, that it is also recorded that God also formed the 'birds of the air' from the ground, or the earth. As I hinted at previously; I think it obvious that chapter two is a re-telling in slightly more detail in certain areas, of the 'creation account' of chapter one. Interestingly enough, though, the sun, moon, and stars are not mentioned in the reverse account of chapter two........... or are they?!
Notice that it specifically says that God then brought the entirety of His animal creation before Adam, in order that Adam, a type of Christ, might name them! The job that God gave to Adam reminds me of this passage in Isaiah 62; where it was promised that the second Adam would re-name God's covenant creation.
2 The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, And all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, Which the mouth of the LORD will name. ( see also Revelation 2:17 )
Throughout the Scriptures; much importance is put on the naming, or renaming, of things and individuals. I think that so much importance is placed upon this act because given names are descriptive, or should be, of who and what we are. There are many examples of this to be found, even in today's society. I don't want to go into a big discussion here; but if we come across a person with the last name of Miller: we can be pretty certain that somewhere in, if not in his background, at least that of the originators of that name, were millwrights, or grinders of meal. The name Carpenter probably came from someone who worked with wood. Christians were originally, from what I understand, called 'little Christ's 'as a derogatory term. Many parent's today, and maybe in particular, Christian parents, when naming their children; choose names according to their meaning.
Of the several examples that we have in Scripture of a re-naming; this passage in Genesis 17; concerning the Abrahamic covenant, is among the best remembered.
4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.
I think that many of us are at least slightly familiar with the story behind the name-change here; but the point, the moral, you might say, of the story seems to be that when God met Jacob and tested his 'mettle'; He gave him a 'new name', the name of one who wrestles, or struggles, with God, rather than one who takes what rightfully belongs to another. ( see John 10:1-6 )
When God put a stop to Saul's nonsense on the road to Damascus; Saul, after his conversion, and when he embarked on his ministry, was ever after called Paul. Interestingly enough; the Hebrew Saul, which carries the same meaning over into the Greek, means 'desired', whereas the Greek Paul means 'small, or little'. I find this rather interesting, because, going back to other mentions of Saul in the Scriptures, particularly to this passage in I Samuel 9; we see that it was the given name of kings. The aforementioned passage, in the second verse, tells us why this man was named Saul; he was a good-looking man, much to be desired as a leader, or a figure-head! When the Apostle was referred to as Paul, rather than his Jewish given name of Saul; I think that it was to remind him ( and us! ) that no matter how 'desirable' they may have been, whether for their good looks, as the first king of a united Israel, or for their 'righteousness', as Saul of Tarsus; he was now to be known as but a 'small, or little' servant of God!
21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
Starting with the marriage of Isaac, in Genesis 24; we see that Abraham sought out a wife for his son, and, by his servant's hand, and the aid of the Holy Spirit of God, brought her to his son, rather than having him return to the land from whence Abraham had come. ( see Galatians 4:9 )
2 So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, “Please, put your hand under my thigh, 3 and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; 4 but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”
We see, as we read further into the story; that Abraham warns his servant, that if the woman is not willing to be brought back to where Isaac dwelt, then he is free from his obligation to his master; but he is not to take his son back to his former country of residence. I think that here we have another picture of the Gospel!
In the third chapter of the book of Exodus; we see a similar situation when God appoints His servant Moses to bring His chosen people, or bride, out of the land where they had been oppressed so long.
7 And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. 8 So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. 9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” ( see Judges 6:8, Psalm 80:8 , Jeremiah 2:7 )
When the children of Israel, in I Samuel 8; asked for an earthly king like the nations around them, God reminded the prophet that they were rejecting Him, even though He had rescued them from the servitude of Egypt.
8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also.
Later on, in I Samuel 20, after the Lord had rejected this king from ruling over His people and anointed a new one, David reminds Saul's son Jonathan that he, as the initiator of their covenant, had brought him into it.8 Therefore you shall deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the LORD with you. Nevertheless, if there is iniquity in me, kill me yourself, for why should you bring me to your father?”
God recalls, in I Kings 8; when He had brought Israel to Himself, and entered into covenant with them.
16 ‘Since the day that I brought My people Israel out of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there; but I chose David to be over My people Israel.’
While God indeed speaks here in physical terminology, of the Davidic dynasty, I think it should be understood as a physical type of the 'house' that Peter speaks of in I Peter 2:5, which 'house' we are, as believers in Christ!
In I Kings 17; God reminds Elijah of His covenant promises, after the prophet had proclaimed a drought upon the land because of the idolatry of the children of Israel, and in particular, their leaders.
6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. ( see also Mark 1:13 )
In the 19th chapter of the book of II Chronicles; it is recorded how Jehoshaphat brought about a reform, however short and outward a show it may have been, to bring Israel back to worship the One, true God, into whose covenant they had entered.
4 So Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem; and he went out again among the people from Beersheba to the mountains of Ephraim, and brought them back to the LORD God of their fathers.
When God returned a remnant of His people to the land of promise, in Nehemiah 9; the prophet reminded his countrymen of the many blessings which God had bestowed upon them, through His covenant with them.
7 “You are the LORD God, Who chose Abram, And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, And gave him the name Abraham.
and again, in verse 15,
15 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger, And brought them water out of the rock for their thirst, And told them to go in to possess the land Which You had sworn to give them.
David recalls, in Psalm 30, how that God had annulled the covenant of death, and brought him into the eternal, everlasting covenant with Himself.
3 O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.[a]
14 She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colors; The virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to You. ( see also Ephesians 5: 25-27 )
54 And He brought them to His holy border, This mountain which His right hand had acquired. ( see also Hebrews 4:8 & 9 )
Solomon, in chapter 1 of his Songs; prophesies of how Christ would draw His bride, the Church, unto Himself.
Recalling the manifold and tender mercies of God, in Isaiah 63; the prophet urges his congregation to remember the days of old, when God, through Moses, led His people out of the bondage of affliction.
11 Then he remembered the days of old, Moses and his people, saying: “ Where is He who brought them up out of the sea With the shepherd of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them. ( see also Jeremiah 2:7, Jeremiah 11:4, Daniel 3: 19-25 )
13 “ I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. ( see also Leviticus 16:16-24, Luke 19:12-27 )
10 Also it was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt, And led you forty years through the wilderness, To possess the land of the Amorite.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,”[a] which is translated, “God with us.”
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.[b] And he called His name JESUS.
These passages, and others like them, show how that God has brought, and yet brings, His chosen people into covenant Him.
23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”
We might note here, what the last passage says about the formation of Eve. 'Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman'. A friend of mine has recently advanced the idea that the fact that God formed the woman from the man's side ( rib ) is typical of the river of blood flowing from the side of the Crucified Christ. I tend to agree with his thinking here; for he goes on to suggest from that from this 'blood and water' was formed the church, or in another manner of speaking, His Body on earth! I say church, meaning the institutional, or organized church, because I believe that the body of His elect, chosen ones, is innumerable, and those irreversibly ( John 11:25-26 ) written in the Lamb's Book of Life!
The writer here uses the Hebrew `etsem to describe the relation of Eve to Adam. Another way to translate, or understand this verse would be; 'she is the essence of me, of the same substance'. This makes me think of that passage in Colossians 2;
9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
Earlier; Paul had written, in Ephesians 5, that the marriage relation of a man to a woman was typical of the relation of Christ, and His Body, the Church.
31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”[e] 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Earlier, in the Gospel of John, chapter 17; Jesus had expanded on this thought to include all believers, man or woman, praying, as Paul spoke later, that His Church might become 'one flesh' as He and His Father were One Spirit.
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will[e] believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
Coming back to the covenant context then; Moses, in his final words of blessing upo0n the children of Israel, in Deuteronomy 33, asks God to especially bless the tribe of Judah, the tribe from which, later, the Christ came.
11 Bless his substance, LORD, And accept the work of his hands; Strike the loins of those who rise against him, And of those who hate him, that they rise not again.” (see also Genesis 12:3 )
Paul: speaking again in the same covenant context, in Colossians 2, implies strongly that all of the rituals that were instituted under the Old Covenant were but 'shadows', or types of the fullness that we have received in Christ.
16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. ( see also Hebrews 10:1-4 )
As Paul wrote above, and as I have often said, 'It's all about Christ'! I think that we can see that all of the so-called Old Covenant, or Old Testament Scriptures, did indeed lead us to, and prefigured, the blessings of the New Covenant in Christ!
Finally; the writer to the Hebrews, in chapter 11; reminds us that our faith, or rather, the faith of Christ, is the very essence of the foundation of that faith, or trusting belief!
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. ( see also John 8: 56-58 )
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
As we saw earlier; Paul, in Ephesians 5, reveals the purpose for God's ordinance, here in verse 24. That purpose was to show forth, in a type, the relation between Christ and His Body on earth, His Bride which was prefigured in the Old Covenant Scriptures, the Church, the chosen and elect people of God, from the foundation of the world!
The writer here uses the Hebrew 'azab to show how that a man should depart from His parents in order to enter a more perfect union, that of husband and wife, rather than that of a father ( and mother ) with a son. All throughout Scripture, in passages such as the Song of Solomon 3:1-5, 4:1-15 , 7:1:9, and Ezekiel 16:1-14, give us a rather graphic sense, and image sometimes, of intimacy; an intimacy that is to be had only within the bonds of the marriage covenant, and most definitely not to be had between a parent and a child!
The Gospel of Mark, in chapter 15, records that Jesus, after He was hung upon the cross to die for the sins of His people, prior to 'giving up the ghost'; uttered this famous lamentation from Psalm 22.
34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”[f]
Jesus knew exactly why His Father had left Him; He had left, I believe, in order that His Son might be married to the Bride which had been chosen before the worlds were created, and had been and was being prepared for Him. This, of course, is not the only reason that we can ascertain, through speculation, for God forsaking His only begotten Son on the cross of Calvary; but for the purposes of this study, this is the only reason that I will endeavor to ascertain.
The Hebrew dabaq is translated 'joined' here, signifying a clinging, a staying, or even following closely. I think that we can apply this to our lives today, in the context of the marriage covenant especially; by clinging to, staying with and following closely our wives ( or husbands, as the case may be ), even to turning our back upon things that may dissuade us from doing such things with our spouse. I know that I have not done very well on this account, and I'm sure that my readers can empathize with me, as well! In the wider and broader context of the New Covenant in Christ, however; we can, and must. apply the same principle. When we are 'joined'' to Christ, and are made one with Him: we must cling to Him, following Him closely, and forsaking all others, must look to Him alone to fullfil our every need!
A few examples from Scripture are;
1 For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land. The strangers will be joined with them, and they will cling to the house of Jacob.
11 “Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.
4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
I Corinthians 1,
10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
I Corinthians 6,
17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
In Ephesians 5, again; Paul quotes our Lord, when he says,
31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”[e]
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
A couple of thoughts that I have ruminated over of late is the nakedness of our first parents, especially concerning the covenant context, and the idea that Adam & Eve were created with 'age'. One question that I have posed; 'what sort of people do we usually think of that are naked and innocent when they make their entrance into this world?' I don't agree with those of my brethren who posit that babies, even children, up to a certain age ( the 'age of accountability'? ) are innocent and when they die before that age, are accepted directly into the arms of Jesus. A 'nice' thought, perhaps; but when I asked one of the expositors of this 'doctrine' to back it up with Scripture, he replied that there was only one Scripture, maybe two, that supported this belief. The point though, is yes; Babies enter this world naked, and in a sense, innocent. They have not had a chance to actually commit any sins; although they are all born with the fallen, sin nature of Adam, and do not have to be taught how to lie, cheat, or steal, often before they can talk or walk!
In the book of Romans, chapter 5; the apostle Paul, speaking of the indescribable gift that God gave to us through the New Covenant in Christ, is truly innocent: at least, not before Christ shed His innocent blood for the sins of His people.
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
Especially in apocalyptic literature; but in much of Scripture, even in our 'day and age', 'nakedness', or being found 'naked', does not always mean being without clothes, or as some might say, in your 'birthday suit'!
An example of this is found in the story of Joseph, in Genesis 42; after he had been united with his brothers, although they didn't know it yet.
8 So Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. 9 Then Joseph remembered the dreams which he had dreamed about them, and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see the nakedness of the land!”
Although the prophetic Scriptures most often use the term 'naked' in it's most ignominious and degrading meaning, and have a basis in 'physicality'; it most often is used in the context of the Covenant, in a metaphorical or euphemistic way.
Isaiah 20 records an interesting incident involving the prophet walking unclothed among his people, as a sign against them for their faithlessness to God's covenant.
3 Then the LORD said, “Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia, 4 so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.
Jeremiah, in Lamentations 1, uses 'nakedness' as a metaphor for the spiritual whoredoms which Israel had committed against the covenant of her Husband.
8 Jerusalem has sinned gravely,
Therefore she has become vile.[b]
All who honored her despise her
Because they have seen her nakedness;
Yes, she sighs and turns away.
9 Her uncleanness is in her skirts;
She did not consider her destiny;
Therefore her collapse was awesome;
She had no comforter.
“ O LORD, behold my affliction,
For the enemy is exalted!”
The prophet hearkens back to the days of Noah, when in Lamentations 4, he likens the harlotry of Jerusalem to that of Edom.
21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom,
You who dwell in the land of Uz!
The cup shall also pass over to you
And you shall become drunk and make yourself naked.
In Ezekiel 16, again; God uses fairly graphic language to describe the innocency and vulnerability of His people Israel when He first 'formed' a covenant with them.
7 I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare. ( see also John 3:1-8 )
Speaking of the spiritual, and physical harlotry of Judah, and in particular, Jerusalem, in Ezekiel 23; God reveals that He will forsake them as He forsook the northern tribes.
18 She revealed her harlotry and uncovered her nakedness.
Then I alienated Myself from her,
As I had alienated Myself from her sister.
Continuing to make His case against Judah, in Hosea 2; God says that He will return her to the same state that she was in when He had brought her into His covenant of marriage.
2 “Bring charges against your mother, bring charges;
For she is not My wife, nor am I her Husband!
Let her put away her harlotries from her sight,
And her adulteries from between her breasts;
3 Lest I strip her naked
And expose her, as in the day she was born,
And make her like a wilderness,
And set her like a dry land,
And slay her with thirst.
Lamenting over the punishment and chastisement of his people, in Micah 1; the prophet mourns the shame and open vulnerability that God exposed them to.
11 Pass by in naked shame, you inhabitant of Shaphir;
The inhabitant of Zaanan[b] does not go out.
Beth Ezel mourns;
Its place to stand is taken away from you.
Finally, in Nahum 3; again using very graphic language, God promises to expose Judah's vulnerabilities to their enemies.
5 “ Behold, I am against you,” says the LORD of hosts;
“ I will lift your skirts over your face,
I will show the nations your nakedness,
And the kingdoms your shame.
These examples, I believe; while 'rooted' in physicality, show that the terminology used here in the book of beginnings does not necessarily always ( or just ) mean 'naked' in the most physical sense in which we are used to, 'without clothing'; but most often is used metaphorically or euphemistically to mean 'shameful, vulnerable or exposed'.
I hope that I have glorified God and edified my reader through this lengthy study of the second chapter of Genesis; but, as always, I urge my readers to study these things for themselves, in the Scriptures, and through prayer for understanding, to the most holy Spirit of God, who is the Revealer of ALL truth, and see if these things are indeed so!
May God Himself bless you with His Presence,
In His service and for His glory,