BSF Genesis: Week 4, Lecture

Think of the Garden of Eden as a private luxury yacht, one the size of a cruise liner.  Life is good.  All you can eat buffets. Beauty is all around you.  You have an amazing captain that walks the deck with you.  There are no fears, no threats, no worries, no sweat.  There is only one rule, stay on the boat (i.e., obey). But one day you are together talking with a serpent and he asks, about the rule and in the process of the conversation you change your perspective from seeing the rule as one meant to protect you to one meant to keep something from you.  You want to be the captain.  So, without much thought, you jump ship.  When you reach the water you find that it isn’t a clear calm body of pure water, it is dirty, yucky, murky, oil and grease and pollution.  The more you splash in it, the more covered you get.  Fortunately, God releases a lifeboat, tied to his ship (through the sacrifice of a living creature), but no more lido deck and no way to get back on the yacht. Until… (we’ll come back to that thought).

Let’s first go into our scripture story this week.  In our first section we read about a conversation that Adam and Eve have with a serpent and the decision they each make that results from that conversation.  We learn that the serpent is a crafty creature and in his craftiness he asks a question; a question with an innuendo.  Did God really say…?  He asks it of Eve, but we are told Adam is with her.  When Eve responds, the serpent’s tone gets even more sarcastic and pointed, basically calling God a liar and someone who is trying to keep things from Adam and Eve.  He says, “you won’t die.. you will be like God knowing good and evil.”  Keep in mind, up to this juncture, they were like God, made in his image and they knew good, because everything around them was good.  So, really what Satan is suggesting is that they should want to know evil.  And, like so often we do ourselves, they let their eyes and their perspective stray.  They turned from being focused on the word of God and the character and attributes of God and they turned their focus to the temptation.  Vs 6 says, “…saw that the fruit was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom,”  Then, they make one of the most pivotal decisions in the history of mankind, they took it and ate it.

There was a TV show years ago with a line, “The devil made me do it.”  But that is wrong.  It is wrong now and it was wrong at the time of Adam and Eve.  The devil prompted them to question God’s word and His character.  The devil lied to them about God’s intentions for them and misled them, but the devil did not force them to eat it.  He didn’t pick the fruit and lie to them that it was some other fruit, so they weren’t deceived.  He didn’t even force a situation of panic or urgency to cause immediate action.  He just tempted them to place their eyes and their focus away from God and onto a lie.  The same way we are tempted today.

Who are you blaming for your sins?  Society, TV, your friends, your parents?  What are you doing to focus your vision every day on God and not on temptation?

So, now their eyes are opened and they see evil.  What panic must have filled them!  I don’t know if you have ever felt a panic attack, but I cannot even imagine the emotion of the situation, the fear, the shame, the uncertainty.  They start sewing together fig leaves, like that is some rational thing to do, and then they hear God walking through the garden.  Panic! Hide!

God calls out to them and the reality that they can’t hide from God must have sunk in and Adam answers back.  God then patiently lets them tell their story.  Adam blames everyone else.  It was Eve, and, by the way, you are the one who put her here.  Eve blames the serpent.  But, both acknowledge and confess.  “I ate.”  Don’t miss that part.  Their confession worked then like our confession does not.  It puts us in a proper position to receive God’s grace.  Adam and Eve should have died immediately.  The consequence of sin is death.  But through their confession, God gave grace, not without cost, but neither what they earned.

When we sin, there are consequences.  The negative consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin was pain, fear, longing, domineering, toil, thorns, thistles, sweat, fight to survive, death.  The serpent was cursed, the ground was cursed.

Think of it like ripples or waves.  When we jumped ship and splashed into the dirty water, we made waves, things were moved and affected.  That is still true today.  One of the tricks the tempter plays is to hide the impacting waves of our sin from us.  It being hidden does not mean it is not there, just that we don’t see it.  Those types of ripples and waves are often the most dangerous.  They create an under tow that can drown not only us, but those around us as well.

Do you recognize that there are no victimless sins?  When you disobey God it has affects, even if you don’t see them, they are there.  What sin are you trying to keep hidden?

But, with all the negative consequences, we also see something amazing if we look hard at the verses.  Here we see the first glimpse of God’s grace.  We see the first mention of our savior, Jesus Christ, and the work that He will do to crush the serpent’s head.  We see the first sacrifice that God made on our behalf, one that transferred our earned death onto another creature.

We see something interesting in that first sacrifice.  It was only a covering.  Think of it as the life preserver or lifeboat that God released for us.  We aren’t out of the water, but we also weren’t immediately pulled under to drown.

But compare that to the work of Christ.  Jesus became man.  He tied a rope around His waist (tying Himself to His Father in heaven – we see him tighten those knots every time He prayed).  He jumped down from the deck and stretched out His arms (on the cross) to grab ahold of us.  Then, using his own strength, He lifted us back into the boat.  It’s like those rescue missions at sea, all we can do is reach for Him, submit and hold on.

Where the first sacrifice was a covering, Jesus’ sacrifice brought us back into a state of righteousness with God, back into unity and communion with Him, back onto the boat.  He didn’t just save us from the deep, but he brought us back into His family.

So, if we are once again “back in the family” and we have been made righteous, why do we still feel the consequences of sin and see it all around us?  Think about those images of birds being rescued from an oil spill in the ocean.  That is us.  God’s work of transforming us starts on the inside.  He places the Holy Spirit in us and begins cleaning the gunk of swimming in sin from our heart, then he works outward.  On the outside, we are still dripping the pollution of sin.  Because we still live on this earth, we are still all wet.  But like the ship is on the water not of the water, we are on this earth, and no longer of this earth.  Jesus said His kingdom is not of this earth and we are subjects of His kingdom.  See, one day, either when we pass from this earth or when Jesus returns, we will be completely transformed.  This filthy flesh will be replaced and made completely clean, inside and out.  We will live in a new heaven and new earth free of sin where there is no serpent (he’ll be spending eternity in a firey pit), no pain, no sorrow, none of the things that sin brought into this world.  We will once again be fully transformed back into walking in the garden with God and it will be good.

BSF Genesis: Week 4, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

13.
a.
Cursed above all animals, crawl on belly, eat dust, enmity between you & woman & offspring, he crush head you strike heel

b.
labor pains, desire for husband, he will rule over you

c.
Ground cursed b/c of you, through painful toil will you eat, thorns, thistles, work, sweat, die: from dust to dust

14.
a.
That the offspring of a woman (Jesus) would crush the head of the serpent (satan)

b.
Made garments of skin (some living thing died)

15.
a.
Except for the gift of salvation, we are condemned by sin, being born into a sinful state. Through Adam & Eve’s sin, we were separated from communion with God.

b.
Christ, the lamb, takes away the sin, only through Christ may we reunite, His shedding of blood paid the price for our un-punised sin and re-initiated atonement.

My Daily Journal:

While answering the questions today was relatively easy, the reality behind them is hard.  Our lesson today reminds us of the rippling consequences of sin.  When we sin it changes things and it stretches out to affect not only ourselves, but others, our environment and even future generations.  The sin of Adam and Even brought pain and suffering, longing and brokenness, mistreatment and domination, thorns and thistles, work and sweat to eat and survive.  And, it brought death.  None of this was God’s design, none His desire for us, nor are these bad things that God put in place to get even.  God is not vindictive, that is not an attribute of God.  These are ripples of the original sin.

When God sacrificed the first animal, it only provided a covering.  Underneath, we were still the same creature carrying the same sin, bearing the same consequences and ripples of our sin.  That was true of sacrifices throughout the old testament.  They were coverings for our inability to completely obey the law.

But, Christ’s sacrifice was different.  He crushed the head of Satan in the spiritual world and has paid the price of our sin.   Clearly, there is still pain, suffering, toil and death in this physical world and the bible tells us that Satan has not, yet, been removed from this world, but as brothers and sisters in Christ, we are no longer of this world.  Christ’s death was not just a covering, we are a new creation.

This is critically important to remember as we read the verses in today’s lesson.  We readily acknowledge in church that Christ removed death, one of the repercussions of the original sin.  But, He did not stop there.  He actually removes the sin and all the ripples of it for eternity.  Do we still face pain, longing, brokenness and mistreatment?   Yes, because we are still aliens in this physical world. But, through the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we are being transformed back into the state that we were with God before the original sin.  He can heal our pain, He can provide for our needs. He can remove the thorns and thistles that entangle us.  He can teach us how to live together without longing or domineering.  All of that is from sin.  These are not God’s design, they are all bad things that were ripples from our original sin.  God sacrificed the animal in the garden to cover our sin, but He sacrificed His only son to remove the sin and ALL that goes with it.

BSF Genesis: Week 4, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

10.
a. They realized they were naked

b.  They hid because they were afraid because they realized they were naked

11.
a. The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it — Absolutely not

b.
The serpent deceived me, and I ate.

c.
Adam and Eve – all of mankind bears the responsibility to this day, outside of the saving act of Jesus, who bore that responsibility on the cross for those who believe.

12.
Sin changes my perspective, as it did theirs. I’m also convicted by their denial of responsibility because I do that as well.

My Daily Journal:

Sin changes our perspective.  It changes not only what we see but also how we see it.  The verse says, “then the eyes of both of them were opened.”  We tend to assign positive traits to open eyes, but that is only accurate in positive situations.  Open eyes around a welding torch results in permanent loss of vision.  Open eyes in a sand or dust storm results in pain and suffering.  Strongs dictionary explains that one use of the word open that appears in this verse is “to enable to see things, which otherwise are hidden from the eyes of mortals.”  There are things we are not supposed to see, things that are better that we don’t see and things that we will only see in heaven.  Having our eyes shielded in not a bad thing, any more than sunglasses or safety goggles are bad things.  Because, as we see from Adam and Eve having our eyes open when our focus is not on God streams in things that fill our heart with fear.

This brings up my other observation about perspective.  Because of their ability to see shame and nakedness and fear, that is where their eyes and heart went.  In the process, they missed out on the amazing beauty hidden in these verses.  Take out all of the stuff about sin, nakedness, shame, fear, and blame from these verses and what you are left with is the following: “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?””  Can you even picture the beauty of that scene?  But it was totally missed.

Finally, a nugget that I didn’t realize before, but that I think will help with day 5 of our lesson this week.  In verse 7 it says, Then the eyes of both of them were opened.  I didn’t recognize, before, that this came onto them simultaneously.

BSF Genesis: Week 4, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

7.

  • snatches away the seed sown in hearts of uneducated (seed along the path)
  • Sows weeds among the seeds
  • murderer from the beginning, no truth in him, he lies, native tongue is lies, the father of lies
  • the prince of this world who will be thrown out and condemned
  • god of this age, blinds the mind of unbelievers
  • ruler of the kingdom of the air, a spirit working in the disobedient

8.
a.
Because of us. We were told to rule this world, yet we don’t fight the prince who seeks to usurp and destroy the kingdom

b.
not omnipresent, not omniscient, only has what power God allows. Cannot stand up against the true word of scripture. he and his followers faces eternal torment.

9.

  • prayer and confession of sins, pray for each other
  • Fasting
  • armor of God, the sword of the word of God
  • Submission to God. Resist the devil and he will flee (torment from satan is always temporary)

My Daily Journal:

When I see pictures on the news of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc., I am always amazed to see how people find ways to live their daily lives in the midst of a war zone.  Children play among bombed out cars.  Mothers scurry to cross streets with their children for food and education.  They survive through vigilance.  They are not stronger than the men with guns, but they know where to find shelter and protection.  They are never complacent.  They are never blind to the battle being fought around them, nor do they forget whose side they are on.

Our lesson today reminded me of the fact that, as christians on the earth, we live in a war zone.  We were given the command to rule this earth, but we have allowed the prince of the air to usurp our authority and command in our stead.  We were called to be soldiers and equipped with the strongest shelter and most powerful weapons, yet we try to rely on our own man-made shelters for protection and our own wit for a weapon.  But mostly, we too often become unaware or even in denial that there is a battle going on.  If that occurred on the streets of a terrorist controlled village in the middle east we would consider the person insane or suicidal, but when we do it, we consider it normal, realistic and rational.

I am not advocating that we spend our lives in fear or in a constant focus on the forces of evil.  I believe our focus should remain on our supreme commander.  However, I am concerned that we go about our day forgetting or being too careless or complacent to wrap ourselves in prayer, fasting, submission to God and strengthening ourselves with His word.   Take the time to suit up – it is the rational thing to do.

BSF Genesis: Week 4, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

3.
The devil, satan

4.
a.
But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.

b.
Yes, 9.In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and… 16.You are free to eat from any tree in the garden (i.e., if it was in the garden and they could eat from any tree in the garden except one then they could eat of that tree.)

5.
a.
1. Caused her to question God’s word (did God really say?) 2. Caused to q God’s justice (not die) 3. Cause to q God’s nature

b.
listened then saw/looked then took then ate then shared:  1. listened to question, 2. responded to question and amplified God’s word (added to it) 3. doubted and underplayed consequences of sin 4. listened to denial of God’s nature and didn’t argue

c.
God’s nature/attributes – He is truthful, He is just, He is loving, He is a protector

6.
a.
In both Satan used and twisted the word of God to provoke an action that is against God’s design. Jesus, however, was able to keep His focus only on the word and not on the temptation, Eve saw the temptation. Jesus told Satan, “away”

b.
No – God does not act to lure us off the path, but He does allow us the free will to step off if we choose: tempted vs seized by t

c.
Tempted to conform rather than live as an alien. Do I pray in public even before meals? How many times a day do I use Jesus’ name in a sentence with others? As a Christian I should speak a different language and have different customs.  I’m seeking strength in God’s Word and power from the H/S.

My Daily Journal:

In the senior level of the children’s program in BSF the closing exercise each week focuses on an attribute of God.  It wasn’t until doing the lesson today that I recognized just how vitally crucial that is to our walk with God and our ability to avoid being tempted.  Understanding that there are some things that are absolutely always true about the very nature of God gives us a perfect measure to test anything that may ever tempt us.  Adam and Eve both forgot (chose to not remember) that God is always true, that He is always just and that He is always faithful.  In so doing, they turned their eyes away from God (or, at a minimum who God really is) and it is only at this point that they fall to temptation.  When the hymnist reminds us to “turn our eyes upon Jesus” he isn’t telling us to treat the image of our Lord as some good luck talisman, but instead to view the road we choose to walk only through the lens of the true attributes of God.  Obviously, doing that starts with knowing the attributes of God.

The lesson this week breached the discussion about whether or not Jesus was tempted or tested, semantics for the underlying question of whether or not Jesus could sin.  This can become very confusing, particularly to a new christian.  Here is my perspective for better or worse.  It is not God’s nature to sin, that would be in direct contradiction to His attributes of being Holy and Perfect.  So, Jesus, as fully God, could not have sinned.  And, we see and hear throughout the new testament account that He lived a life perfect and without sin.  He was also fully man, born of a woman, and in this capacity had the ability to sin (Reminder: this is my understanding of scripture based on my very limited knowledge and study).  The majesty of Jesus as a man and as our unblemished lamb comes from the fact that he chose not to sin.  Adam and Eve chose to sin, Jesus chose not to sin.  I think this is important because it comes back to the presence of the tree and the serpent in the garden to begin with.  If God had not endowed man with free will and with the ability to choose to obey Him and live in perfect communion with Him, or not, then there would have been no tree, no serpent, no choice.  Jesus as a man was not in any way less than any other man.  It wasn’t that he was incapable of doing something that all other men are capable of doing.  Just the opposite, He was capable, but chose to stay focused on the Father’s will instead of the path we take to “look around”.  How often could we prevent temptations from creeping into our lives if we kept our eyes more focused on the word of God and the attributes about Him that it conveys?