Human Effort

Everything Depends on God's Mercy


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Genesis 9:13 | The New Covenant

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God the Creator is a “Covenant” making God. So what does that mean for you and me? Why are the covenants of God important and do I have any responsibility to God because of them?

11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Genesis 9:11-13 ESV

The Hebrew word for covenant here בְּרִית is used hundreds of times in the Old Testament text but it is used first with Noah and his family at the start of the flood. The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology defines Covenant as an agreement between two parties obligating themselves to certain ways of life. However the Covenant between God and Noah’s family here is very one sided. It is more of a promise from an all-powerful God that never again would He destroy all life with water in the way that was just completed when Noah stepped on that Ark. This covenant is not a contract or a simple promise. It is a binding unalterable truth given by a King and Ruler to a powerless subject. A contract might be between two people who have business and both enter into the deal as relative equals. God’s covenants to man are not like that.

Noah’s covenant one of the first of many from God does not even require any response from man other than to be reminded and to know who God is and where we stand with Him. God out of his own mercy promises to never flood the world again and then God gives a sign the rainbow in the sky for men to remember forever who God is and what He has said he will do.

14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Genesis 9:14-15 ESV

God has made other covenants and the one that currently applies to us today was first announced by the Prophet Jeramiah. This covenant like the one to Noah is a promise from God to man where God is promising to act on our behalf for our benefit.

31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeramiah 31:31-34 ESV

This “New Covenant” that God is promising is one where he will write onto the hearts of his people who he is and everyone covered by the covenant will have a relationship and know who God is. This covenant will be for people of simple means and people of powerful means.

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13 ESV

God has accomplished this New Covenant by sealing His people with His Holy Spirit changing who we are with a new heart that comes from Him. This could not be accomplished until Jesus the change agent of the New Covenant completed his ministry.

15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9:15 ESV

Jesus when he died fulfilled the temporary placeholder covenant from God. The new covenant that God set in motion at the very beginning is now in full effect. God having paid for our sins with the death of Christ is able to give to us, His children with His Holy Spirit and effectively remove our old dead hearts of stone and rebellion.

24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:24-29 ESV

This New Covenant is so powerful and so effective that through it people from the greatest to the least can be saved to live eternally with their Creator. But this covenant must be entered into unlike the covenant with Noah. God in his mercy gave a promise to all people that never again would He flood the world. This new covenant requires that individuals agree to a baptized life clothed with Christ by way of the Holy Spirit transforming the heart. Salvation stands before every man, woman, and child. A transformation and new life await. Will you too submit to Christ and be God’s child transformed into the new covenant?


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Genesis 8:21 | God’s Plan is Working

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Genesis 8 is a transitional chapter that concludes the flood event. The pre flood world has been judged and destroyed. As the flood waters fall away and Noah takes his first steps off the Ark into a new land. He is about to be introduced to a new post flood world has yet be explored. In reverence and obedience to God who saved Noah and his family Noah offers a sacrifice, a burnt offering, of clean animals to God. Just as Abel’s offering (Genesis 4:4) was pleasing to God so too Noah’s faith to God the savior is received and God makes an interesting but paradoxical promise to all of men.

21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Genesis 8:21-22 ESV

This verse sets the stage of transitioning between the old destroyed world, the harsh realities of the existing world, and the promise of the new Heavens and Earth. God promises to not add additional curses the Earth because of men. Twice in the history of mankind God has cursed the earth. First with Adam in the garden and then again because of Satan and Men colluding to prevent God’s promised salvation.

17 And to Adam he said…cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life Genesis 3:17b ESV

13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Genesis 6:13 ESV

God is now giving Noah a promise that applies to contemporary peoples all over the earth today. A promise that no more will God curse the earth because of our evil and because of our sin. Oddly enough His reason for making the promise is because we are evil. He says that “the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth”. The word intention יֵצֶר (yetser) means the very framework of man is evil. It is our nature and who we are from even our youth. This may be shocking news to those who think they are good people, think people are mostly good, and all working hard to please their god. The Psalmist used the same word “intention” יֵצֶר (yetser) to describe how down to every fiber of our being God knows who we are. There is nothing hidden from him. He is our creator and while we can put up a front before other people or we can compare ourselves with others to project a good person God knows who we really are.

14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:14 ESV

The good news for you, me, and every person is that God understand our intention and that we cannot overcome it without His intervention. Because our nature is so corrupted because of Adam’s sin God is prepared to take upon himself the necessary steps to restore His creation. The same Psalmist that acknowledged God knows our every evil intention also wrote why God would even care to restore us.

10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. Psalm 103:10-13 ESV

As His creation we are his children and his compassion on those who humble themselves and acknowledge who He is so powerful that He, the Creator, will not repay what we owe because of our sins. He will remove our sins and the debt from us. It is not for people to figure out or work toward. He has already done it. Salvation, Restoration, and Justification are complete in a single act not a lifetime of work.

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:6-11 ESV

God’s plan to save and reconcile His creation to Himself is through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus is God working to undo the evil of who we have become. Jesus is God’s answer to what we cannot do for ourselves. There is no work or being good that can accomplish what God has already done.

This promise of God in Genesis 8 completes the curses and destruction of the old world, the promise provides a salvation in the current Earth, and the promise also points to the completion of all things in a future new Earth where people will no longer be evil at their very being. Those who have submitted and allowed Jesus to be their substitutionary payment for sin will be part of the conclusion and new Earth that God has promised.

13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:13 ESV


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Genesis 7:24 |Myth or Reality?

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Worldwide flood… Seriously? And this is relevant… How? All humanity and animals destroyed from the face of the planet? Noah’s ark and the ridiculousness of two of every kind on a wooden boat? Really I am having a hard time accepting the crazy you speak of. I know I know. If you really want to get sarcastic look at the cute little children’s stories painted on the walls of Christian nurseries showing the death and destruction of the entire world. It is a sick parent who wants that on the walls in the baby room. Am I right?

cute ark

24 And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days. Genesis 7:24 ESV

The flood event as documented in the Bible is serious destruction at a level that this planet has never seen before. People, Animals, and the face of everything ever built or created by man washed away. The scope and horror of it all is not a cute fairy tale if it really happened. So that is the question did it happen? Is the event credible at all? I want to take a look at a few pieces of evidence that support the possibility that this really happened and it could have happened exactly as recorded.

The first question would be related to the flood event itself. If the world was flooded by water there would be evidence right? There should be a lot of it and there is. The first evidence is cultural and societal. If only a small group or groups of people survived then a catastrophic event of this size should be baked into the myth and background of most every culture all over the world. And that is exactly what is out there. There are hundreds of flood stories in most every culture all over the world. 95% of those myths speak of a global flood and 70% speak of people being saved in a boat. Several African cultures tell stories of God who told two people to get into a ship with seeds and animals. In Norse and Finnish mythology the flood is the blood of a wounded giant or god and I find it fitting to bring some reality to the literal rivers of death that would have been the result of a worldwide catastrophe.

Additionally if there was a worldwide catastrophe then the evidence of its destruction should be available on every continent. While the idea of a global flood is not popular in the contemporary scientific community (As an aside the current scientific community is almost universally wed to the idea of uniformitarian theory that everything we see today is how present day was formed by the slow drip of change excluding almost any possibility of past catastrophes) the fear of catastrophes and the expectation of past catastrophes is not denied by science but when it comes to the idea of a “biblical flood” there is an emotional reaction to run away. We know catastrophes happened and there is a growing anxiety in the general public that one day an asteroid for example could cause a worldwide destruction. Supporting the theory of a flood event is sedimentary rock (meaning water delivered) all over the earth even on the tops of mountains. Even more interesting is the fossil record inside of the sedimentary rock where animals surprised by the sudden event were captured and buried alive by the violence of the water moving mud and sand. The fossilized death of animals and the volume of oil in various forms all over the world buried under layers of sediment scream back as evidence of something horrible in the past history of this planet.

If history indicates that a global flood event is possible then the second half of the question is to look at the “story” of the boat. Is that even feasible? It is hard to imagine the size and scope of what is provided in detail in the Genesis account, but that will soon be resolved. A group in Kentucky is building a full-size replica of the Ark based on the demotions provided in the Bible.

15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Genesis 6:15 ESV

A cubit is around 18 inches long so the conversion rate is a structure that is in the range of 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.

This video of the building of this ark is interesting and contains a noteworthy quote. When this structure is complete is will be the “Largest timber frame structure in the world.”

The reality of this project demonstrates how absurd the fanciful children’s stories are that depicts a ridiculous caricature of this vessel that Noah was instructed to build. This “boat” is also comparable in size and dimensions of the freight ocean vessels that move all our favorite items from China to the United States over the ocean. For example this large cargo ship is measured at 620 feet long by 100 feet wide. The similarity of Noah’s ship 450 x 75 compared to the dimensions of modern engineering 620 x 100 is astonishing. The size of this ship is amazing.

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The final fact I have that supports the reality of God’s judgment on the ancient world is the endorsement of Jesus himself as recorded in the gospels.

37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:37-42 ESV

The unexpected, violent, quickness, and finality of the flood stands as an example to everyone that Jesus will be returning and all the ambitions and selfishness of this earth will be over. The judgment of the flood is a testimony that God’s grace and mercy are not unlimited. Awake now while we live in this moment of grace and mercy that we would turn to Christ for life and freedom.

 

 

 

 


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Genesis 6 | Can Satan Thwart God’s Plans?

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God knows everything. There is nothing new for Him to learn. That idea is not really comprehensible for me because I spend every day learning something new and the more I learn the more I realize how little I actually know. As Creator of everything God is complete and his plans are complete. Everything God plans will be accomplished. If God failed in His plans then he would not know everything and he would not be rightly called God. With that in mind we find in scripture Satan’s futile but devastating attempts to prevent the prophecy that God made against him at the beginning of Creation. God’s plans will not be undone by man or by angels.

The Lord God said to the serpent… I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:14-15 ESV

The first devastating attempt to undo this prophetic curse came through the murder of Abel by Cain. Satan knows no bounds when it comes to his depravity and men are just as happy to join in. God however fixed the genetic linage of Eve by giving her a third son, Seth, whose name means “compensation”

25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” Genesis 4:25 ESV

Shortly after that death and evil Satan once again attempts to compromise the offspring of Eve in order to prevent the prophetic curse against himself from coming true. And this time Satan is determined to corrupt all of mankind so that we would never be useful to God in any way.

2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. Genesis 6:2-4 ESV

These three verses contain some difficult to understand words that are not entirely clear about a world of antiquity that does not exist any longer. We can however understand that the result of these three verses leads to a catastrophic judgment from God against Satan, Man, and the Earth.

First among the difficulty is the words “sons of God” and the use of the word Nephilim or Giants. Who are these men as opposed to the “daughters of man” that they took as wives? If one does not believe in a spiritual world and wanted a wholly naturalistic explanation then the only recourse would be to create a dividing line between the descendants of Seth (the sons of God) and the descendants of Cain (the daughters of men) but this explanation does not account for the wickedness or the description of giants or Nephilim. Further the few times the description “sons of God” is used in the Hebrew Bible it is describing an angelic host of some kind. For example the phrase is used to describe the attendance of everyone before the throne of God when Satan seeks an audience in Job 1:6. The Bible tells us plainly throughout that there is a spiritual war and these verses intend to communicate that Satan used fallen angels in physical form or through demonic possession to seed his corruption into the population of men. This idea is further completed with verse 4 when the Nephilim or Giants are referenced. This word is not intended to mean the size of a people group (although they may very well have been large physically) but it translates more accurately as fallen giants of the sky. If one takes a contextual angelic translation of “sons of God” then the resulting word Nephilim only bolsters the view that these mighty Nephilim were fallen angels intermixing with men in these days of antiquity. Satan is attempting to corrupt the very genetics of mankind to prevent God’s promised one from coming to judge him. If these were simply men of different family lines intermarrying it would not be sufficient to describe the resulting wickedness as described in the second difficult passage.

Second is the pronouncement that the days of man shall be 120 years. This verse is sometimes misunderstood to mean that men would be limited to 120 for an age, but the words are really prophecy that God set a time table for when his patience would finally lead to judgment of the wickedness and evil intent of Satan. What Satan is trying to accomplish is to prevent his own judgment. 120 years is the countdown clock for when the judgment of the earth by water would be accomplished and God needed this judgment because of the evil that Satan and men together had done in rebellion against their Creator.

5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5 ESV

Mankind would deservedly take the bulk of the coming punishment but Satan was not off the hook. God also had plans to put an end to this evil that man also embraced.

6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day Jude 1:6 ESV

Jude the half-brother of Jesus lists angels and people of the past who are judged by Jesus. He tells us that the Angels who “left their proper dwelling” are put in chains until the final judgment. It could be inferred that the consequence of the “sons of God” who left their dwelling in the spiritual realm where restrained and prevented from doing so again in the future thus blocking Satan from attempting this type of attack again.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Genesis 6:11-13 ESV

Satan’s plan to corrupt the earth with his evil must be stopped and put to an end. This judgment on men who had filled the earth with violence is justified because of their lust for evil and necessary to remove what Satan introduced to the descendants of man. The promise God made to Satan that freedom from sin would come from Eve’s descendants would not be undone and God being in control and full of mercy gave everyone an opportunity to repent of their sin.

5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 2 Peter 3:5-6; 9-10 ESV

Satan is still at his plan to stop Jesus from destroying him. Know this he can’t stop what God has set in motion. Jesus is going to return for a final judgment and that day will come unknowingly just like it did to the wicked of antiquity. The question for you dear reader is where will you stand? In agreement or indifference with Satan or with the righteous called of Christ by whom men and women from all over the world may be saved. Peter tells us that God is patient toward us not wanting any to perish but that time of repentance that we have right now will not last forever. Will you repent today and fall into the grace and mercy of Jesus our savior? Tomorrow may be too late.


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Genesis 5:1 | Our Family Tree

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Some people love genealogies and they will tell stories they have found about great great grand relatives that lived in a certain place or migrated from some other country. They tell stories about family that fought in wars or worked in some trade. Genesis chapter five is the patriarchal family tree from Adam, the first man, to Noah the most direct relative of everyone living today. This genealogy tells more stories than one might think at first glance and it also tells a major story that is relevant to everyone living today.

However before jumping into the big story of this genealogy we need to explore a few fun facts and details. The first thing to tackle and the thing that jumps out right away about this genealogy is the age of each person. Most of these men are stated to have lived into the 900 year range. It seems impossible that anyone could have lived that long and much effort has been spent by theologians and amateur detectives to determine what the ages really mean or what they actually were. The intent of the original author, likely Noah, of this chapter in Genesis is that these were the actual ages of these men and they should be taken as actual ages. Any attempt to adjust the ages to fit what is “normal” for people in this contemporary age will ultimately not be satisfying or accurate. I would encourage everyone to take the original author at his word that these were indeed how old they lived because the author was witness to the fact and the fact that this is what God wanted recorded.

This graphic tells some interesting stories about these pre flood patriarchs…

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These are the men and women who knew where the Garden of Eden was located (Genesis 3:24). These are men and women who could come before God and meet with Him for conversation in what might have been a uniquely direct way (Genesis 4:4 and 5:22). These are men and women who were almost perfect in every way able to live hundreds of years longer than we who continue on in this post flood fallen world. These men and women lived in a pre-flood world that looks very little like the world we see today.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. Genesis 7:11 ESV

The Genesis history tells us that when Noah was 600 years old the catastrophic judgment of the earth by water occurred. That information combined with the genealogy in chapter five tells us that from Adam’s creation to the year of the flood was 1,656 years. In the same year, and within months, of Methuselah’s death, who died in the year 1,656, the judgment of God by water was ushered into place. Methuselah’s name depending on the root translation could mean “When He Is Dead It Shall Be Sent”. This is too much of a coincidence to not be interesting and just as interesting is the idea that his father, Enoch, a known prophet may have had a hand in giving him this unusual name almost a thousand years before the judgment of the earth by water.

While all of those are interesting stories about our history the real story is about God’s promise to return, judge, and fix what man had broken. That story is told through Enoch who never died and left a legacy that reaches out to us even thousands of years after his time on earth. Enoch was still a young man by pre flood standards when he was abducted by God and Enoch had a reputation even before this shocking intervention by God.

First Enoch was known as a faithful man who spent time with God.

Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. Genesis 5:24 ESV

Second Enoch was known as a prophet speaking about repentance and judgment to those who chased after ungodly selfishness.

14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Jude 1:14 ESV

Those who lived at that time would have heard Enoch’s words from God. They would have heard from Enoch that the “Lord” of all men would be coming with thousands of holy people. They would have known that the “ungodly” way they were living was not God’s plan. While Enoch and those who heard his message would not have had the revelation of Jesus they knew the prophesy given to Eve about her offspring (Genesis 3:15). The promise of eternal life and a presence with God after death had not been articulated, but they knew people could be taken away to be with God as evidenced by Enoch’s life. They knew that God’s anointed one would be coming and he would be bringing judgment with him. Even in the very beginning in the days of Adam God’s future plan for Jesus, salvation, and his return were already being shown to mankind. This genealogy like any family tree contains stories that are relevant to life today. The question is will you be standing today in this moment of grace waiting just like the patriarchs for Jesus and his return or will you be like all those that were destroyed in Noah’s day?

12 “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. 15 Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie. Revelations 22:12-15 NLT


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Genesis 4:7 | God’s Mercy to a Murderer

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God after the fall continued his fellowship with Adam, Eve, and their Children. I imagine that the relationship was similar to that of the days in the garden where God would be present in some form building a relationship with Adam and Eve. This side of the fall and curse however resulted in need for an offering for sin and an acknowledgment of how one’s sins break the relationship with God. Eve’s first two sons Cain and Abel are recorded providing offerings to God as I would assume Adam and Eve had been doing as well. Their offering may have been modeled after what God did for Adam and Eve after the original sin where God himself killed an animal to provide skin covering for their shame.

21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Genesis 3:21 ESV

The outcome of these offerings from Cain and Abel should remind all of just how quickly sin escalates in the heart of men and how it impacts their family and God’s relationship with the creation.

6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” 8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. Genesis 4:6-10 ESV

Cain and Abel both provided offerings to God however Abel’s offering was accepted by God and Cain’s offering was not. The acceptance of Abel’s offering resulted in fellowship with God the Creator. In fact the next time this kind of offering is mentioned within the Bible is when God was setting up the regular rules of engagement to Moses and Aaron.

41 The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it a grain offering and its drink offering, as in the morning, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord. 42 It shall be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. Exodus 29:41-42 ESV

The offering that Abel provided allowed him to meet and speak with God and God accepted the offering. Cain’s offering was rejected but still in God’s mercy and grace he continued the relationship with Cain speaking directly to him to encourage him to do the right thing if he wanted acceptance. Most likely God rejected Cain’s offering because of a heart and motive issue and he warns Cain that sin is “crouching at the door”.

14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:14-15 ESV

What Cain should have done is repent of the anger in his heart and turn toward God to do what he knew would be the right thing to do. God clearly indicates that He would have accepted Cain. Even after Cain had killed his own brother God in a display of undeserved mercy gives Cain an opportunity to repent for what had happened, but Cain rejects the grace of that moment by claiming to not know about what happened to Abel. God knew what happened so the questioning from God to Cain is an opportunity for Cain to turn away from the sinful path and to restore the relationship.

God provides that same opportunity for people today. While we are all sinners that deserve death because of our rebellion, God has provided his own substitutionary payment. He provided an offering we could not provide ourselves so that we can be like Abel standing before the Creator accepted and in fellowship. God’s advice to Cain is still true to people today and even more so because God has revealed his saving grace from sin in Christ.

7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him… 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:7-8; 14 ESV

 


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Genesis 3:17 | The Curse with a Promise

curse

Genesis chapter three is a pivotal entry into the history of creation. It is the event that changed the course of mankind and explains why the world is the way it is today. Without Genesis chapter three it would be impossible to understand the evil and hardships of this present world. What happened then that directly links to now is that the first man and woman living in a perfect habitat broke fellowship with their Creator. Two people without a care or want found the one thing that was off limits and started a rebellion that is still ongoing today.

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:2-5 ESV

Why is there evil in the world? Why is life hard? Why is there death? Why are so many relationships difficult or strained? Why is there war? Why would a loving God create such a world that we see today? The answers to these and many like them are found here in chapter three as the consequence of what happened on that day at the beginning of the created world.

As a result of what our grandparents Adam and Eve did on that fateful day God leveled out three curses one to each participant in this first transgression. I will cover the First curse to Satan and Third curse to Adam in this post and leave the second curse to Eve for another time. The Third curse that was leveled that day was on Adam and this curse impacts all of the created world.

17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:17-19 ESV

In this curse there are three parts that impact humankind in general and make up the order of the fallen world we live in. First is that Humans would live in pain and hard work all the days of our lives. The ground will not give to us without work and perseverance. Even then what we work for will be fraught with thorns and disease. Imagine the created world that God had looked at in the beginning and saw as good has now become a source of pain and toil for all that live in it.

20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. Ecclesiastes 2:20 ESV

Second Humankind will face death itself. We once were created to live forever with God in the perfect world, but now it is a guarantee that we will return to the dust from where we came. I can’t imagine the weight of such a concept on Adam since before this moment death would have only been an abstract idea and not a reality in the perfect world that God had created.

For the wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23a ESV

Third this curse impacts more than just Adam and Eve it impacts all of creation including the universe itself. The weight of sin and rebellion to the Creator is so serious and is so destructive that the entire universe has fallen. A sun that was created to live forever will one day fail. We see evidence of the failure when looking out into the universe and see stars that have exploded causing destruction in all directions. A current fear of mankind is that one day an asteroid could crash into this planet ending all life. What had once been created for perfection and eternity is now temporary.

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. Romans 8:20-22 ESV

However devastating this curse was to Adam and to everyone reading this post the First curse God made was to Satan and in this curse we find the present hope we have Christ.

14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:14-15 ESV

There are two curses in this section that we should take note of. First is the curse that all animals must endure along with everything else. Have you ever wondered why God made the mosquito? They are irritating and they carry disease. Why would God have looked at the mosquito and thought to himself this is good? The result here is that animals and insects are all under the curse. Whatever their original purpose they are now only twisted curse infused replicas of the original. Animals were not originally created to kill and hunt each other. There was no death before these curses.

The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the Lord. Isaiah 65:25 ESV

Second and take note of this is the promise of God to undo the harm Satan intended. Through the offspring of Eve God will strike a crushing blow to Satan’s head and while the blow will be painful to the offspring of Eve it will not be fatal to this future person of promise.

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 ESV

This curse to Satan is a promise to us that God would restore what was broken. The curse that God laid out is actually a blessing because this present world must be destroyed in order to create a new heaven and new earth free from the broken relationship that was caused here in chapter three. Without the curse and the eventual destruction of what had once been perfect we would live on forever in pain and toil forever struggling without a relationship with our maker.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 ESV

23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:23 ESV

We live in a brief moment of grace that God has provided in this cursed and dying world. Turn from your rebellion against God and seek salvation in the promised savior. Our hope and our future lies only in Christ and the restoration he provides from what happened to creation so many years ago.