Posts tagged ‘Adam’

Never Left Without a Blessing

Credit: “Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden” by Peter Wenzel (c. 1815) / Wikimedia

Reaping the consequences of sin is terrible and tragic. When Adam and Eve fall into sin, God proscribes many devastating consequences:

To the woman He said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” To Adam Je said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:16-18)

There will be pain in childbearing, pain in work, and eventual death. This sounds awful. Indeed, it sounds hopeless. But then, in the very next verse, we read:

Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. (Genesis 3:19)

Eve’s ability to have children is notable, because God blessed people with the gift of children before they fell into sin:

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28)

Even as God curses people because of their sin, He does not leave them without a blessing in their sin. Even though Adam and Eve will die, new life will come from them, resulting in, supremely, the birth of a Savior.

It can be tempting to believe, when we struggle with sin and experience and endure the consequences of sin, that God has forsaken us because of our sin. But as with Adam and Eve, even when we suffer under the curse of sin, God never leaves us without a blessing. He never leaves us without a promise of a new life.

Eve’s blessing was to be the mother of all the living. Our blessing is to be loved and blessed by the One who came from Eve and redeemed her – and us.

February 14, 2022 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

God Is With Us

File:Johann Wenzel Peter - Adam and Eve in the earthly paradise.jpg
Credit: “Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden by Johann Wenzel Peter (c. 1815) / Wikimedia

God has a funny way of defying the expectations people put on His presence.

When God appears to the first two humans, Adam and Eve, we find Him searching for them by “walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). But this paradisical picture soon turns ugly when He finds out they have fallen into sin by eating fruit from His forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In punishment, God casts the couple out of the cool and lush Garden of Eden with a warning to Adam that now “by the sweat of your brow you will eat your food” (Genesis 3:19). The refreshing cool of the garden is shut off to humans and exchanged for a sweltering sweat. And it feels like God has barred humanity from His presence.

But He hasn’t.

In Genesis 18, we meet a man named Abraham who is “near the great trees of Mamre…sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day” (Genesis 18:1). Because “the cool of the day” of the Garden of Eden has gone, Abraham tries to shade himself by some trees and with his tent in “the heat of the day.” But in the middle of this sweaty scene, we read:

The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. (Genesis 18:1)

It turns out that God shows up not only in the cool of the day, but in the heat of the day – not only in a garden, but in a desert.

Too often, we harbor unexamined assumptions about how God’s presence has manifested itself in our lives:

“I got new job because God was with me.”
“I didn’t get the virus because God was with me.”
“I won the award because God was with me.”
“My life has turned out well because God was with me.”

All these statements may well be true. But their inverses are most certainly not:

“I didn’t get the new job because God wasn’t with me.”
“I did get the virus because God doesn’t care for me.”
“I didn’t win the award because God is against me.”
“My life has turned out tragically because God has forsaken me.”

God is with us in the garden and in the desert – in the cool of the day and in the heat of the day.

God’s presence with us even when life makes us sweat should come as no surprise to us. The word “sweat” is found twice in the Bible – once when Adam is cursed in a garden and once when Jesus is struggling in a garden:

Being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22:44)

Jesus knows what it’s like to sweat. And He’s promised to be with us when we sweat, too. Our circumstances – even when they are difficult and tempt us to become despondent – are not barometers of His presence. He is present with us because He has promised to be. Period.

January 31, 2022 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

Looking for a Messiah

The story of David and Goliath is a favorite of children’s bibles. It features a shepherd boy named David and a Philistine giant and nemesis of Israel named Goliath who fancies himself invincible. The Israelite army is so terrified of Goliath that no one will sign up to fight him. David, however, indicates his willingness to fight Goliath to King Saul, who tries to outfit David in his armor for the battle, only to find out that he is a 42 long while David is a 34 short. So David goes to fight Goliath with nothing but a sling and some stones. But with these unassuming homespun tools, the little boy takes the big bully out:

Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, David slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.  As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head. (1 Samuel 17:49-51, 54, 57)

One of the fascinating features of this story is not just that a young boy kills a towering warrior, but how David does it – he does it by striking Goliath in the head. The author of 1 Samuel seems to be quite taken by this because he uses the word “head” or “forehead” five times in these verses. Goliath’s head is so central to the image of David’s victory, that he carries the head around!

When Adam and Eve fall into sin, God curses the couple, but He also curses the one who tempted them into sin – Satan, who appears in the form of a snake. God warns Satan that there will come an offspring of Eve who will one day defeat him. But what is striking about God’s curse is not only that this offspring will crush Satan, but how he will do it. God says to the snake:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. (Genesis 3:15)

The offspring of this woman will crush Satan’s head.

This promise from God led the ancient Israelites to look for the fulfillment of this promise – someone who would come to save them from the sinful mess of this world by crushing the head of their enemies. They centered their hope around what they called the “Messiah,” which in Hebrew means, “anointed one.” The Israelites were looking for someone chosen and anointed by God to save them.

One chapter before the story of David and Goliath, God chooses a new king of Israel, who, unbeknownst to Saul, is Saul’s replacement. Who is this king? The giant-slayer David. God sends his prophet Samuel right before David kills Goliath to anoint him as the next king of Israel:

Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed David in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David. (1 Samuel 16:13)

Just a chapter later, after becoming Israel’s new “anointed one,” David crushes the head of Israel’s greatest enemy with a stone, which begs a question: Could David be the one? Could he be the Messiah?

We know from the rest of David’s story that he was not “the one.” The one who crushes Goliath’s head with a stone is crushed by his own sin when he has an affair with a woman who is not his wife and then has her husband murdered to cover up their relationship. David may have crushed the head of Goliath, but the head of the ancient snake was still spitting its poison of sin and death. The Messiah who would crush Satan’s head was still to come.

So often, when we see amazing people do amazing things – as David did with Goliath – we wonder: Could they be the one? Could they be the doctor who wipes out cancer? Could they be the politician that fixes our nation’s ills? Could they be the soulmate who mends our heart? Could they be the financial advisor who makes us rich? Could they be “the one”?

David’s story reminds us that there is only one who is “the one.” Placing our hopes in the wrong one will eventually and inevitably lead to disappointment and anger. Placing our hopes in Christ, however, will lead to salvation and peace. He is the one we’re looking for.

May 24, 2021 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

The Fig Tree Undone

Yesterday began Holy Week, which commemorates the final days of Jesus’ life along with His crucifixion and resurrection. On the Monday of Holy Week, Jesus performs one of His most puzzling acts:

Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to find out if it had any fruit. When He reached it, He found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then He said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And His disciples heard Him say it.

In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree You cursed has withered!” (Mark 11:12-14, 20-21)

What an odd episode. Jesus fierily curses a fig tree for no apparent reason. What is going on?

When Adam and Eve fall into sin after disobeying God’s command not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Genesis records:

The eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:7)

An old Jewish tradition claims that the forbidden fruit itself was figs, with a Talmudic rabbi writing:

That which caused their downfall was then used to rectify them.

In other words, Adam and Eve tried to use the fruit with which they sinned to cover their sin.

But Adam and Eve’s pitiful fig leaf getups prove useless. They cannot hide their sin from God. God confronts them in their sin, curses them because of their sin, but then blesses them despite their sin:

The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)

God sacrifices and skins an animal to make a garment far better than anything they can make for themselves.

Jesus’ strange fig tree curse hearkens back to Adam and Eve’s fig leaf failure. Our pathetic attempts to hide our sin never work. So, on His way to the cross, Jesus graphically condemns every human attempt to fix ourselves in our sin when He curses a fig tree and its leaves. But in its place, God sacrifices His Son and gives us a garment infinitely better than anything we can come up with by ourselves – “a robe of His righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10)

Jesus’ curse on the fig tree undoes the curse of our sin and reminds us that there is a better tree – not a fig tree that brings death, but a cruciform tree that grants life.

March 29, 2021 at 5:15 am 1 comment


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