bible study

Blogging Through The Bible: Genesis 3:1-8

Today we look at Genesis 3, one of THE pivotal chapters in Scripture. In the first two Chapters we’ve looked at creation. In Chapter 1 we had the “big picture” view, then in Chapter 2 we zoomed in on the Garden of Eden and the creation of man. There has been one constant so far…Everything has been good, or God even went so far as to say “very good.” (1:31) So, creation in it’s original condition is very good. All things are as they should be. There is no pain, there is no death, there is no sin. Even relationships are perfect. (2:25)

Sadly, we will see in our passage today, things did not stay this way.

Genesis 3:1 starts out with the serpent. Now, we aren’t told here that the serpent is Satan, but other areas of Scripture certainly help us to identify the serpent with him. (Revelation 12:9, 20:2, Romans 16:20 also helps make the connection) The picture we get of this serpent certainly shows us that something about this creature is amiss. The bible says that he was the most cunning of all the wild animals. The serpent goes on to ask Eve a question, “Did God really say, “You can’t eat from any tree in the garden?”

How many bad decisions start out with, “Did God really say?” The Word of God is sure, perfect, and good. If the Word of God says it, you can take it to the bank. But this is how Satan operates…he plants a seed of doubt in your mind. “Did God really say?…” He then misquotes God. He asks did God really say you can’t eat from ANY tree in the garden. He wants the woman to feel as if God is somehow depriving her of something good. But we know that isn’t what God said. Of all the trees God planted, there was only one that they were told not to eat of.

The woman responds in verse 2, but as we see, she gets it wrong too. She adds to what God had actually said. She got the first part right, “But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, “You must not eat it…” Well yes, He did, but then she adds, “…or touch it, or you will die.”

God never told Adam or Eve not to touch the fruit. He simply said not to eat it. So, she already is on shaky ground. Whether it is carelessness on her part, or whether Adam has inaccurately communicated God’s Word to her, I don’t know. But we see here that Eve does not have a firm grasp of God’s Word, and ignorance of God’s Word always leads to trouble.

We see from her statement, that even though she hasn’t taken it as far as the serpent did…she still feels somewhat deprived. She can’t even touch the fruit! Or so she believes…She did though get the part right about death.

Again in verse 4 we see the serpent continuing to plant doubt in her mind, “No you will not die..” , says the serpent, “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So, the serpent follows up a lie with a half truth. It is true that once they eat of the fruit, they will be like God. They will know good and they will know evil. But, the serpent says that they won’t die. This is a half truth. They wouldn’t die physically immediately after eating the fruit, but they would die Spiritually. They would be separated from God. Their sin and disobedience would drive a wedge between them and God. And one day, because of this sin and disobedience, they would indeed die physically.

After hearing the Serpent’s words, the woman looked at the tree, and she saw that indeed the tree was good for food, and it was delightful to look at…The Bible also says that it was, “desirable for obtaining wisdom.”

Sin initially is always desirable. It is pleasurable to the eyes, and it promises us more than what we feel like we already possess. Eve wanted to taste the fruit…it looked good. She wanted to be wise, she wanted to be like God in knowing good and evil. Perhaps God just didn’t want her to have that…perhaps God was holding out on her. Perhaps she knew better than God what she needed, and what was best for her.

Does this sound familiar to any pattern of sin you’ve ever experienced in your life?

Here’s the rub. She was already like God. She was created in His image. She already had all she needed. God had provided her and Adam with all that they needed for food. She even already knew about good and evil, if only she had understood. She knew good. She knew God. God is the definition of good. She had never experienced evil, but certainly anything contrary to the good that was in God is evil. God had already told Adam about death…so she understood the consequences of disobedience to God…which is the definition of sin, the root of evil.

Then the woman eats. Not only does she eat, but she also gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate it.

Here we see another problem. Adam was the one charged with watching over things. Adam was the one given dominion over creation. The woman was to be his helper. Adam was actually the one told not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Certainly, it can be inferred that it was his responsibility to pass the message along to his wife.

It would seem that Adam failed on a couple of fronts. First, Eve didn’t accurately know what God had said about the fruit..which caused her to be more susceptible to Satan’s lies. Second, if Adam was with her the entire time, why didn’t he take charge of the situation? Why didn’t he step in and correct her, and say what God actually said. Third, why would he allow her to even entertain these thoughts? Fourth, why would he obey his wife rather than God?

We often blame Eve for being deceived by the serpent, but Scripture actually places the blame on Adam. It was through Adam that the curse of sin entered the world. (Romans 5:12) Adam didn’t sin because he was deceived, actually he sinned with understanding! (1 Timothy 2:14) Eve desired the fruit, but apparently so did Adam! And because of these misplaced desires, the world will never be the same.

Verse 7 tells us that then, “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked…”

Genesis 2:25 tells us that Adam and Eve were naked but felt no shame. This as we said speaks to the perfect intimacy they shared with each other, and with God. Because of their sin and disobedience, this is no longer the case. Now they knew they were naked, so they “sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.” This intimacy is forever gone as a result of their sin. For the first time they knew shame and they sought to hide their bodies from each other…But it doesn’t stop there.

Verse 8, “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden…and they hid themselves among the trees of the garden.”

Not only is their a loss of intimacy between the man and the woman, but also between them and God. Not only does shame exist between themselves, but also between them and God. Where once Adam walked with and spoke with God, now he seeks to hide himself from him. As we said earlier, a wedge has been driven between God and man. The relationship has been broken. Sin has entered the world…

This is the world we find ourselves in. A world infected with sin. A world separated from God. A humanity hiding from God and denying the truths of His Word. In many cases it has even gotten to the point of denying his existence.

If the Bible ended here, what a tragic ending it would be. But praise God this isn’t the end of the story…And praise God there is hope. We will see that next time…I hope you’ll join me!

Blogging Through The Bible: Genesis 2:10-25

We ended off our last time on our journey through the Bible at Genesis 2:9, so let’s pick up today in verse 10.

Verses 10-14 speak of a river that flows from Eden and divides into four other rivers. As I picture this scene in my mind, and the pre-curse earth, I certainly picture paradise. Especially as it talks about the gold one finds in the land of Havilah. It almost seems as if we are getting a preview to what awaits the child of God in heaven.

After these few verses we get into the meaty part of Genesis 2…

Verse 15 tells us that God placed man in the garden to work it and watch over it. As I said previously, God created man for work not sloth. For many of us, our ideal is to be able to sit around and do nothing, to have no obligations. We’ve all seen cartoons where the guy is sitting on the cloud playing the harp. Sadly, that’s the view some of us have of heaven. But it’s not biblical,  nor is it reality. Man was created for a purpose…In the big picture, those of us who are steeped in Scripture know that the ultimate purpose for man, his chief end as the Westminster shorter catechism tells us is to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.” But part of how we glorify God, is in how we work. How we fulfill our obligations…AND how we enjoy his good gifts and the fruit of our labors.

In verse 16-17, we get back to one of the trees that we spoke of last time. The “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” God tells man that he was free to eat from ANY tree in the garden, except that one tree…for on the day that he ate of this tree he would die. In literary terms, I believe we see here a foreshadowing of what is to come…In these verses though, once again we see God’s generosity as the provider for his creation. He supplied man with more than enough to sustain him…He could eat freely from ANY tree of the garden. God blessed man and blessed him bountifully…If only Adam had understood the beauty of the blessing and what he COULD have for all eternity…If only Adam had paid closer attention to God’s warning against eating from this one forbidden tree…But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ultimately though, I don’t believe it was so much about the fruit or the trees. I believe it was mostly about obedience and disobedience. Would Adam obey God? Would Adam take seriously the Word of the Lord? Would Adam rejoice in the good gifts that God had provided, or would he seek happiness outside of the Word of God? Would Adam trust that God knew what was best, or would he try to take control of his own destiny and seek something better than what God had already provided? I think we all know the rest of the story…but, let’s not jump ahead. (Really having a hard time reining myself in!)

Verses 18-25 begins the narrative of the creation of the first woman, Eve. I love this part of the story.

The narrative begins, “It is not good for the man to be alone…I will make a helper as his complement.”

So, God already knows it isn’t good to be alone. He has already decided to make a helper for Adam. Now, it is important to note that when God is talking about a “helper” for Adam…he isn’t talking about someone to be subservient to Adam. He says this helper would be his “complement”…This helper would be one who would walk side by side in the garden with Adam. This helper could provide Adam with what he didn’t have. This helper would complete him. I think verse 24 backs up this statement, “…and they become one flesh.”

Here we see the perfect illustration of the way in which God designed relationships. The way that God designed marriage. Marriage is to be one man and one woman, working together to fulfill God’s purposes. But I’m starting to get ahead of myself again…

God has already decided to create the woman, but before he does, he creates every wild animal and livestock and he brings Adam out to name all of the creatures. Again we see the awesome privilege given to man to watch over creation and to exercise his dominion over it…

But as Adam is naming the creatures, he realizes that there is no helper for himself…He saw all of the other creatures, and we know that God created them male and female…and Adam said, “hmmm…something here is not like the other.” All of the other creatures already had mates. God told them on day five to “be fruitful and multiply.” (Genesis 1:22) Adam noticed that he didn’t have a mate…(I can’t help but wonder what that conversation was like.)

I think we see here an important principle that we should address about how God works. God already knew the plan…He knew that he was going to create the woman. Woman wasn’t an afterthought for God. He knew that it wasn’t good for the man to be alone…But before he provides the woman, he shows Adam his need for the woman. He shows Adam that he is lacking…THEN He provides. Perhaps we see here a glimpse into the big picture. God reveals to us our absolute dependence upon him…then he provides. If we didn’t see the need, then how could we give thanks and praise Him for what we didn’t know we NEEDED in the first place…

Think about it, God provided for Adam all the food he needed…but it’s all Adam had ever known…He didn’t know what it was like to not have food. Is this one reason he didn’t appreciate what God had already provided…

Honestly, I’m not sure…this is merely speculation. But, as it relates to the woman…we most definitely see that God first reveals the need, then he provides. And, as we know Adam was very appreciative…When he first lays  his eyes upon his new wife he says, “This one, AT LAST, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called “woman,” for she was taken from man.” (verse 23)

In verse 24, as I said earlier…we see God’s design for marriage, “…a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife and they become one flesh.” Man and woman complete each other(with God at the center of course). This isn’t to say that if you are single, you can’t be a complete person…In this case, you’re simply looking to God to complete you. And for some, this is indeed the better choice as the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7. But, for most of us, God’s good plan is for us to marry, and “be fruitful and multiply.” (Genesis 1:28)

Verse 25, the last verse of Genesis 2 says, “Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame.”

I believe this is again foreshadowing what will happen in Chapter 3. Verse 25 is the picture of a perfect marriage. We see innocence and perfect intimacy. We see a marriage with no shame. We see a man and a woman who were free to enjoy each other without anything to hide. I think this is true physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This is the perfect picture of not just a perfect marriage relationship, but a perfect relationship in general…and the perfect relationship with God. And I think this type of relationship is the type of relationship that all of us desire…both with our spouses, but even deeper than that with God. Isn’t this the type of relationship that Christ, our perfect example had with his Father? What a beautiful picture of what is possible, and not only is possible, but awaits us when we enter into His presence, thanks to the work of Christ on our behalf…BUT, more on that later…

Up next, Chapter 3!

Blogging Through The Bible: Genesis 2:1-9

When we talk about creation, Genesis 1 seems to get all of the attention. Obviously, it’s where we see the origins of all things so its certainly understandable…But I think sometimes we forget how special Genesis 2 is. Genesis 1 gives us the big picture view of creation, but in Genesis 2 the Bible zeroes in on the garden, and especially on the creation of man, who as we said last time is the “jewel” of creation as bearers of the image of God.

First though, in Chapter 2:1-2 we see that God has finished creation, so he sets aside the seventh day, and the Bible says that he rested on that day. This is obviously a precursor to what we know to be the Sabbath, which will be instituted later through Moses. But, for the casual reader that could be a strange statement, that God “rested”…Was he tired? Did he need to rest? Well, no. He is God, He created all things simply by the Word of His mouth, so no he wasn’t tired. I think we see a couple of things going on here…

First, as I said he is setting an example for His people to follow. For six days God worked. For six days he created. Now, on the seventh day he stopped…and the Bible says He rested. But I think it can be inferred from the text that God took time to simply enjoy the fruit of his labors. Many of us could take a major lesson here. Like I said, God didn’t need to rest, but he chose to stop and enjoy what he’d created. He took time to stop and “smell the roses,” to use a human analogy. Verse 3 says that he “declared it holy.” The Word holy as it’s used in Scripture simply means complete, or set aside…This is what we see here on the seventh day. On the seventh day God’s work is finished and he has set it aside.

Many of us should take a cue..We spend all of our time going and working and striving. Work is good, we were created for work, Genesis 2:15 says as much. But, there is also a time to stop and enjoy the fruit of your labors and rest in God and what He has done. This is the beauty of the Sabbath that is prefigured here. It’s not simply about resting, but also about taking pleasure in God’s good gifts.

Now, we move on to what I spoke of earlier and the creation of man. We will fast forward to verse 7, and here the Bible says that “..the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.”

I love this verse…Again, as I said…Genesis isn’t a science book, and I am no scientist, but it is pretty neat that science does confirm that the minerals and materials found in the human body do correlate quite closely to the minerals that you would find on the surface of the earth. But, aside from this and more importantly is the second part of the verse…God “breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.”

Man became a living being because God breathed life into him. We owe our lives to God. This is just as true for us, as it was for Adam ever how many years ago it was when he appeared on the scene. You live, you take your next breath, because God wills it to be so. God is the giver of life, therefore all of life is in his hands. Reminding ourselves of this often is healthy and much needed.

In verse 8 we see that God places Adam in the Garden that he planted…then verse 9 the Bible tells us how God provides for the man he created. He planted and caused to grow beautiful trees that yielded fruit for the man to eat…So, God is a perfectly capable provider, and provides us with all that we need. Again, another point that we would do well to keep in mind, and meditate on often…

We also hear about the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…unless you were born under a rock, you know that these two trees play quite a prominent role in the rest of the story…

We are going to stop here, because I really want to focus in on several other aspects of the second part of Chapter 2 before we move into Chapter 3, and I am intentionally trying to keep these blogs short (1,000 words or less), and there’s no way I can do the remaining verses justice in less than 300 words.

So, I hope you’ll stick with me, and come back for the rest of Genesis 2!

Blogging Through The Bible(Intro):Genesis 1

I want to begin blogging through the bible. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I really hope I can keep it up. I don’t know how fast or slow it will go, but I think it could be a blessing to many, including myself. I don’t make any claims to be a great biblical scholar, but I do spend much time studying the Scriptures and I pray the knowledge I’ve gained and will continue to gain can be of benefit to others and I hope that folks might use this as a springboard to study the Bible for themselves.

One of the goals of my ministry, whether it be preaching or writing, is to help others fall in love with the Bible. Obviously the major goal is to help them fall in love with Jesus, but I think this happens fully, when we fall in love with the Scriptures that speak of Him from beginning to end. Also, it is important to note I don’t intend to pull out every single detail of the Scripture. This would indeed take more than a lifetime. I simply intend to pull out the major points that I see as I go through the Bible myself, and I hope to give this to the reader in bite size and easy to understand chunks.

So, as we begin this journey, I beg you for your prayers. I will need them to stay faithful in this blogging journey. Also, please pray for those who read, that they will be blessed and pointed to Jesus. Also, if you have friends or loved ones who are seeking, send them to the blog. Perhaps God would use this to help them learn more about the Bible, and through that learn about God and what He’s doing in the world. I also ask that you would ask questions if you have them, or even just offer encouragement as you feel lead. Few things inspire like a kind word or to know that people are reading and thinking about what you are saying.

So now that we have the introduction out of the way, let us turn our attention to the Scriptures.

People approach Genesis 1 in many different ways. Obviously, there are those who view it as nothing more than a myth. I don’t really have anything to say to those folks, because nothing I write here will make them see any differently. There are also those who believe Genesis 1 is completely true…these are my people. But even among these folks you will have many differing views as to how we should read Genesis 1, and what we should believe about creation.

Here we have the first major point…Genesis 1 is about creation. That’s the point Moses(the author of Genesis) is trying to make in Genesis 1. Where did everything come from? When Moses penned the book, there were many different creation stories going around. Moses wanted his people to know the truth of their own origins, and the origin of all the created universe. Everything we see (and can’t see) came from God. God spoke all things into existence simply by speaking.

Some want to view Genesis 1 from a scientific point of view, and view the order in which God created things and show how it lines up perfectly with the way we know science “works.” I suppose there are good points to be made here, but I don’t want to dwell here for our current purposes. Others want to talk about the age of the earth, and what exactly is the length of a “day” as it is used here…since in Hebrew the word “yom” that is translated as “day” in the text can either mean 24 hours as we know it, but it can also mean other lengths of time…Unfortunately, we can’t “know” how the word is used here…So, there is room for discussion here.

On this previous issue, hinges the debate of the different issues related to evolution. And the origins of man.

But ultimately, this isn’t the point Moses is making.

Genesis 1 isn’t a science book, nor does it intend to be(nor do I believe it is opposition to science as some erroneously declare)…If we want to boil Genesis 1 down to it’s main points, I believe these are the things we must see:

*God is the creator of all things.

*God created all things from nothing.

*God was already present “In the beginning” therefore God is eternal and has no creator…from eternity past to eternity future God simply “is”…This is certainly one of the most important and foundational truths that we have to get and apply to our lives, “In the beginning God…” Indeed God is the creator and is sovereign over ALL things, and upon this truth everything in Scripture is based…and if more of us could wrap our minds around it, it would truly change everything and  how we view the world.

*Man is the highlight and jewel of God’s creation, for he was “created in the image of God.”

*When God created all things he looked around and said it was “very good”

There are of course other “theological” issues we can address here in Genesis 1…

*The Trinity was present at creation…There is the plurality of the hebrew Word “Elohim” used for God..There is also the fact that in Genesis 1:2, it references the “Spirit of God” hovering over the waters…Then we look to John 1 as he puts Jesus in Genesis 1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…The Word became flesh.” So, I believe we see the trinity in Genesis 1.

*Also, as I stated, Man was the jewel of creation. He was to rule over the fish, the birds, and the livestock, and over all the earth…We also see that God provided for man everything he needed, Genesis 1:29-30. And, God as I said earlier, created all things “very good.”

We will see in just a bit that, things didn’t stay “very good” but we can’t place the blame for that on God.

Going Deeper: Bible Reading Plans & A Few Observations

I’m probably a bit late to the party, but I’ve been seeing many people posting about their Bible Reading Plans and their desire to read through the Bible in a year. I’ve loosely stuck to these plans for several years, and intend to do the same this year. Reading through the Bible is a tremendous blessing to anyone who takes the time to do so…If you don’t believe me, just try it.

I set out this year with the intention to use a chronological plan, which basically means that I plan to read through the Bible chronologically, in the order that the events of the Bible, and the order in which the books were written. I’ve not done this before, so I’m excited to read through the Bible in this way…

A funny thing happened though as I began this new endeavor. As I began going through Genesis 1 I caught myself wanting to really slow down and examine each verse…I began underlining and scribbling notes(as I often do when prepping for teaching)…The thought hit me how pleasurable this was. Honestly my heart was aflame in worship as I examined this passage, flipped through pages and cross referenced and took in the totality of the revelation of God as I saw once again how interrelated all of Scripture is. I was driven to praise as I saw Christ so prevalent in my studies. Keep in mind that an hour in and I’m still hanging out in Genesis 1 & 2.

I then began to stress. I know, this is silly. But I was thinking, “If I intend to keep up with my reading plan, I can’t read the Bible like this. It will take me forever!”

Then it dawned on me…Perhaps this is one of the shortcomings of our yearly reading plans. Often we sit down with the plan, and we rush to get through it just so we can check it off for the day. I know I’ve done this myself. If we get behind, we cram a few days in together so as not to fall behind. I’ve done this as well, and then after reading, have no clue what I’ve just read.

Along these same lines, I’ve noticed when talking about these yearly Bible Reading Plans, so many people or plans say things like, “If you just read 3 chapters a day…” or “If you just give 10 minutes of your day…then you can read through the Bible in a year.” I don’t know, call me a fuddy-duddy, or maybe I’m some sort of legalist…but it just seems wrong to approach the Scriptures in this way…we could just as easily say, “The minimum number of minutes or chapters you HAVE to read is this…then congratulations you don’t HAVE to do anymore and you can get on with doing the stuff you REALLY want to do!”

It is a joy to read the Scriptures. It is our privilege, not simply a duty or obligation we must fulfill. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why we say things like this. We are trying to exhibit how easy it is to read through the Scriptures. I suppose this is a good thing…But something about it just sits wrong with me. But, I guess the big point is to simply get people reading, so let me not dwell here.

All of this being said…

Let me be clear, reading the Bible in any way is better than not reading it at all. The Word of God has a way of grabbing you and penetrating your heart, even when you might not be giving 100 percent. I’ve found this to be true in my own study. So, even if just for a few moments, even if it’s half-hearted, my conviction is its better to read than not to read. If we are reading, at least we are giving God the opportunity to capture our hearts through his Word. So, if you’ve found a bible study/reading method that works for you…by all means. Keep doing it. But never be afraid to try another way…Be open to going deeper. Don’t get so caught up in your “reading plan” that you never go deeper into the Scriptures. Don’t get so caught up keeping up with your plan that you never actually seek the God who is the point of it all.

Not that you asked, but what will I be doing this year?

1. I’m going to continue with this Chronological plan. I’m going to attempt to keep up with the daily readings. There is something about reading through large chunks of Scripture at a time that does indeed help you to grasp the totality of what the author intends us to grasp.

2. I’m also going to continue slowly and methodically going through the Bible verse by verse, cross referencing, and with commentaries and other reference material by my side. I’m going to approach whatever I’m reading as if I were teaching it. This type of study also brings me much joy, and you can’t substitute the knowledge you gain through this type of study. (I plan to do this in addition to whatever study I will be doing as part of my responsibilities teaching/preaching.) I’m not sure how long this will take me…But like all of us should, I plan a lifetime of disciplined Bible Study.

So, who has time for all of this?

I’m really not a legalist. And I know that we are all busy. Believe me, I know. I have a wife and six kids. I have a job, attend seminary, plus I serve my local church. I also do pulpit supply and preach in various churches whenever I am called upon. So believe me, I get it. But I’ve found that we are able to make time for the things that we want to make time for. Many of us spend hours watching t.v., surfing the web, and playing on social media. I do this too. But I hope to do this less and I hope to discipline myself to spend more time praying and studying…And maybe even write more about what I’m seeing.

So pray for me as I pray for you…May we all spend 2015 going deeper into the things of God.