Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday, May 30th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Kings 5-6; Psalm 108; Acts 19
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 3:17-19

Genesis 3:17-19

English Standard Version (ESV)
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;
18 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.”
Accompanying Bob Deffinbaugh sermon: The Fall of Man
Accompanying John MacArthur sermons: The Curse on Man Part 1 and Part 2

Deffinbaugh: Just as Eve’s punishment related to the center of her life, so is the case with Adam. He had been placed in the garden, now he will have to earn a living from the ground “by the sweat of his brow” (verses 17-19).

You will notice that while the serpent is cursed, it is only the ground which is cursed here, and not Adam or Eve. God cursed Satan because He does not intend to rehabilitate or redeem him. But already the purpose of God to save men has been revealed (verse 15).

Not only will Adam have to battle the ground to earn a living, he will eventually return to dust. Spiritual death has already occurred (cf. verses 7-8). Physical death has begun. Apart from the life which God gives, man will simply (though slowly) return to his original state—dust (cf. 2:7).

In Eden, Adam had responsibilities in the garden - but they were joyous responsibilities, unmarred by sin and decay.  From now on, those responsibilities would be work in its most negative sense.  Gardening would no longer be easy, as thorns and thistles would now have to be dealt with.  And the soil would not necessarily bring forth plants easily.  The ground has been cursed, including the weather on which it is so dependant.

With the advent of our technological age, we don't see this curse quite as clearly as all the centuries before us where simply working to literally put food on the table consumed nearly all human energy, male in particular.  But all human labour is in view here, not simply/only agricultural.

MacArthur: It is not possible for a fallen sinful man to live in a perfect world. He has to live in an equally fallen world which yields its riches with reluctance. And this would remind him of his sin, remind him of the burden that is on his back for disobedience to God and make salvation attractive to him as he struggles in the misery of his toil....."All is vanity, vanity, vanity," which is a word for emptiness, nothingness. You go to work and you work and then you wake up the next morning and you go back to work and you work and you work your whole life and then you die and everything you earned gets left to somebody else. This is vanity of vanities. Life takes on this cyclical sameness, this blandness, this lack of fulfillment, this meaninglessness.

But in Christ we have redemption from this curse!

MacArthur points out that for those of us who have put our faith in Christ, we have a different perspective.....
we see work taking on a completely different perspective from that sort of curse perspective. And we say again when you have God pronouncing curses, the curses are mitigated in Christ. When you work in Christ you work with submission, you work with excellence, you work with respect, you work with honesty, you work with loyalty and you do it for the sake of witness and you do it for the sake of worship and you do it for the sake of eternal reward. In that way you find in your work not that sad cycle of meaninglessness but the joy of doing something so eternally purposeful.

Thanks be to God for His grace so undeserving!

Monday's scripture focus: Genesis 3:20-24
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Kings 7-8
Sunday's passage: 1 Kings 9-10
Monday's passage: 1 Kings 11-12, Psalm 109, Acts 20

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thursday, May 29 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  1 Kings 3-4; Psalm 107; Acts 18
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 3:16

To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”

One verse, but a lot packed into it.  MacArthur has a two-part sermon just on this verse!  I didn't read the second part, but the beginning portion of the first one is very insightful.  I identified a great deal with it, even though it's quite general, and some of it doesn't specifically apply to me, but it really demonstrates the results of the curse, I think.

I've lived long enough and I've been in enough places in the world to know that the plight of women in the world is very difficult. We have it the best here in America and still the plight of women is very difficult. I have seen the struggles that women go through in all corners of the world. It's very hard being a woman, and throughout human history it has been very hard and in many places in the world today, it's very little different than it has been since ancient times.
In general, women are the slaves of men. Men who, in general, have little interest in their personal needs, very little interest in their feelings, their emotions, their sufferings. In general, men have throughout human history used women for sexual fulfillment, for domestic duties, to tend to the children. All over the world women have been subjugated and humiliated. And until modern times, men actually held the power of life and death over women...and still do in some tribal regions.
This harsh treatment of women which is pretty much the general pattern of human history, was not the original design of God. Sin brought it in and it therefore corrupted the original relationship between man and woman, between woman and her children and made life very difficult. And while there is general suffering in the world that everybody goes through because of death, because of disease, because of disasters, we all have a measure of suffering because of sin. Sin has brought about death and decay and decline and disintegration and we all understand that. We all live with accidents and illnesses and disasters of one kind or another. There are just those general matters in a fallen world that expose us all to harm and ultimately to death.
But in a very specific way, women have a general category of suffering and primarily their suffering is related to two things. It's related to their children and their husbands. Apart from the general sufferings that all of us go through, which I just mentioned, there's a particular area of suffering that belongs only to women, and that is the perennial bearing and caring of children and the perennial dealing with husbands. It is a hard and has been a hard and relentless and awful...often sorrowful duty through most of history and even today.
It isn't that women can't find some measure of joy in their children. They can. It isn't that they don't find some measure of joy in their husbands if they are reasonably kind and thoughtful to them. They can. But the fact of the matter is it is the unique burden for women to bear, to have to deal with children with pregnancy, to have to deal with husbands who do not understand them, nor care for them compassionately and with understanding. In most societies throughout human history they have been treated, women have, as second class, if that, maybe fifth class would be better.
They have in most cultures belonged to men for their own usage. For whatever the men commanded and whatever the men desired, the men have dominated them. And they can do that because by sheer force of human strength, they have power to exercise over women. They have obviously, of course, impregnated women and therefore they have exposed women constantly to death. Throughout most of human history, childbearing took a woman to the brink of death. Even so today in Third World countries, women go into pregnancy realizing they could die, to say nothing of losing the child they've carried in their womb for nine months. Mortality rates are still high in many places and through human history, more babies have perished in birth than have lived.
There are then great difficulties and dangers that are associated with being a woman. To say nothing of carrying around a child for nine months in your womb and then having to release that child into the world with all of its hostilities and all of its threats and all of its dangers, whether they be physical dangers or whether they be moral dangers...the child now finding its independence and because the child by nature is a sinner, wicked, that child is going to find everything destructive to entertain itself and therefore a mother has a heart that never rests. She worries about not only about what may harm the child physically but what may destroy the child's soul. There are not only accidents and plagues and injuries that can worry the mother. There is that rebellion that will break her heart. There is that child that moves away into a kind of life that grieves a mother. And the more children she has, the worse it is. And throughout most of human history, she had as many children as she conceived and were actually born, there were no contraceptions as in modern time. And so women were sentenced to submit to their husbands at their sexual whims and then to bear the children that were born. And then to spend their whole lives carrying, bearing, nursing and nurturing and then carrying the load of love that watched those children fall into danger after danger and even break their own mothers hearts.
Does this ring true for you?  Something to think about.

Happy Thursday!

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Genesis 3:17-19
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  1 Kings 5-6; Psalm 108; Acts 19

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wednesday, May 28th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Kings 1-2; Psalm 106; Acts 17
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 3:14-15

Genesis 3:14-15

English Standard Version (ESV)
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.”
Accompanying Bob Deffinbaugh sermon: The Fall of Man
Accompanying John MacArthur sermons: The Curse on the Serpent Part 1 and Part 2

We saw in yesterday's passage that it took only one sin to completely alter the human race.  Immediately, Adam and Eve tried to hide their sin, they took no personal responsibility but rather tried to shift the blame, they tried to justify themselves, they were in rebellion against God with no desire to repent and no ability to redeem themselves.  Just like all of humanity.

And now God is handing down divine judgment, specific to each party involved in the fall.

He starts with the serpent.  Obviously, it was Satan using the snake's body, not the snake itself - but even still, God altered the design of the snake forever.  Snakes must have original had legs of some sort, but are now condemned to slither on the ground.  The anatomy of a snake was altered forever with this divine judgment.  Now, obviously, snakes themselves don't care - they're snakes.  But snakes become a symbol of the punishment of Satan.  He wanted to be higher than God, but instead has been placed as low as possible.

MacArthur: Every time you see a snake, be reminded that God has vanquished Satan to the lowest level and symbolized in that crawling snake.

Then God moves past the physical curse to the spiritual curse.

MacArthur brought up an excellent point that I've never heard or thought of before.  Satan likely thought he now had humanity in his permanent grasp.  Just like the angels who sided with him had been permanently cast out of heaven, he likely thought he had successfully made man an enemy of God and a friend of Satan himself.  And it is true, in our fallen state we are the enemy of God.

But God was going to change that.  We see in this passage the first gospel message!

Satan will not succeed in his effort to control all of humanity for his evil purposes.  Yes, he had succeeded in deceiving Adam and Eve.  Yes, they had chosen Satan over God.

But God was going to provide the opportunity for man to be redeemed and to, once again, become the friend of God and the enemy of Satan.

In particular, God says that Eve would become the friend of God and the enemy of Satan (the first case of election!), and a portion of Adam and Eve's seed would be redeemed.  But only a portion.  There would be enmity between Eve's offspring and between Satan's offspring - meaning that there would be enmity between the redeemed and the unregenerate.

God was making it clear, in no uncertain terms, that no only has Satan not permanently captured Adam and Eve, he has not permanently captured all of humanity.

And then we see a picture of that redemption plan.  Yes, Satan would bruise His heel (Jesus during the crucifixion), but Jesus would bruise Satan's head, ie, He would conquer sin and death in the crucifixion and resurrection, and ultimately destroy Satan and evil forever at His Second Coming.

MacArthur summarizes it this way:
So what is Satan being told in this curse? You're not even going to be able to hang on to this first couple, nor have you managed to conquer all of humanity. You are going to go into conflict immediately with Eve. You're going to go into conflict with all of the godless people who followed you and are your children with all of the children of faith who believe in Me and it's always going to be that way throughout all of history. And there's going to come one man out of that seed of those who believe in the true and living God who love God and hate Satan, you will attempt to bruise His heel in a great struggle, and you will succeed in giving Him a temporary bruise that will heal, but He will crush your head.
Martin Luther who, by the way, loved this portion said, "God never told the devil who 'He' would be." And so he said, "The devil has lived in dread of every woman's son who was a believer, especially those in the covenant line because he never knew who 'He' would be." And if you study the history of Israel, you see how many times that Satan tried to destroy the godly in the line of the covenant.
In the midst of the curse on Satan, we see the beautiful promise of election, salvation, redemption, transformation, regeneration, forgiveness, mercy, grace - all in the promise of a victorious Messiah.

Truly, this is amazing grace.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Genesis 3:16
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Kings 3-4, Psalm 107, Acts 18

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tuesday - May 27 - Tiffany

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 23-24; Psalm 105; Acts 16
Today's scripture focus is Gen 3:8-13

Genesis 3:8-13

English Standard Version (ESV)
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Nobody really wants to take the blame for what they did, do they? Adam and Eve both know they've done wrong, and yet they find someone else to blame. As MacArthur says, it is a 180 degree change in their attitude towards God caused by ONE sin. ONE sin and they are instantly changed forever.

Rather depressing, isn't it? And though God knew they had sinned, He already KNEW, He came looking for them anyway.

That is the hope in this hopeless story. Despite our sins, despite our failings, God comes searching for us. He still desires a relationship with us.
All we have to do is repent, turn our back on the sin in our lives, and turn to God.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Gen 3:14-15
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Kings 1-2; Psalm 106; Acts 17

Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday, May 26th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 21-22, Psalm 104, Acts 15
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 3:1-7

Genesis 3:1-7

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Fall

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 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.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Accompanying Bob Deffinbaugh sermon: The Fall of Man
Accompanying John MacArthur sermons: What is Sin?, The Breadth and Depth of Sin, The Origin of Evil,  The Fall of Man Part 1 and Part 2.

MacArthur defined sin this way: Sin is any personal lack of conformity to the moral character of God, or the law of God.

This manifests itself in several different ways.  We sin when we think evil, when we speak evil, when we do evil, and when we do not do good.  Commission and omission are both sin.

Obviously, in order to know what the moral character of God is, and to know what the law of God is, we need to know His Word.  God alone sets the standard for good and evil.

Sin is defiling, it's rebellion, it is ungrateful and presumptuous, it is wearying because it is all-consuming, it's incurably fatal.

God created every good and perfect thing, but God did not create evil.

I liked MacArthur's explanation....
God is not evil.  God does not do evil.  He cannot be tempted to do evil.  He never tempts anybody else to do evil.  God is not responsible for evil.  The source of evil, the source of sin is outside God.  When God created angels and God created humans, He gave them intelligence, He gave them reason and He gave them choice. And there is a sequence.  I put those words in that order for a purpose.
Intelligence gave them the ability to understand things. Reason gave them the ability to process that understanding toward behavior and choice gave them the freedom to determine that behavior.  Intelligence, reason and choice...bottom line, with what they knew and with the ability they had to process that information, they would be brought to a choice and whether angels or men, they would have the choice either to obey God or not to obey God.  Listen to this, to disobey God was to initiate evil.  Evil is not the presence of something, evil is the absence of righteousness.  You can't create evil because evil doesn't exist as a created entity.  It doesn't exist as a created reality.  Evil is a negative.  Evil is the absence of perfection.  It's the absence of holiness.  It's the absence of goodness.  It's the absence of righteousness.  Evil became a reality only when creatures chose to disobey.  Evil came into existence initially then in the fall of angels and then next, in the fall of Adam and Eve.
Just put it this way in your mind.  Evil is not a created thing.  Evil is not a substance.  Evil is not an entity.  Evil is not a being.  Evil is not a force.  Evil is not some floating spirit.  Evil is a lack of moral perfection. God created absolute perfection.  Wherever a lack of that exists, sin exists.  And that cannot exist in the nature of God or in anything that God makes.
Evil comes into existence when God's creatures fall short of the standard of moral perfection.  Now let me take it a step further.  God did not create evil, He did not author evil, He did not make evil.  But listen carefully, very important, God did decree to use evil as a part of His eternal plan
God was not surprised by evil.  He did not create it, but He does use it for His purposes in several ways.  It gives Him the opportunity to receive glory by demonstrating His grace, love, and mercy through the salvation of sinners. it gives Him opportunity to receive glory by demonstrating His holiness, wrath, and perfect judgment. And He allowed sin so that He might destroy it forever.

The source of evil is not God.  The source of evil is the creature.

Evil first began when Lucifer wanted to become like God and instead became as much unlike God as it is possible to be.  And then, knowing that was the result, tempted Adam and Eve to do the same.

The results of Lucifer's and Adam's choices to sin were different.  Lucifer disobeyed God and convinced a third of the angles to do likewise, and it affected only them.  Adam disobeyed God and all of mankind fell with him.

How does Satan work?  Through deception.

MacArthur: Disguising himself as a speaker of truth, he is a speaker of lies. He is a liar and the father of lies, it says inJohn 8:44. And what he wants to do is to get people to believe that God doesn't tell the truth, to get people to believe they have a right to question God and they have a right to doubt that God has told them the truth. He really solicits people to believe God lies and he tells the truth.

Notice the exact words that God says to Adam...
“You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

I highly recommend you read MacArthur's last sermon on this passage, it was fantastic and really gave me a much better idea of exactly what happened, and what should have happened.  I'm going to try to summarize it, but if you have time, it's an excellent sermon.

At first Satan just brings up the conversation of eating from any tree in the garden and questioned Eve about what God actually said.  The assumption is that you have a right to some sort of human judgment on what God commands and provides.  At this point, Eve should have reiterated exactly what God had instructed them to do and been emphatic that they would honor and trust God.  Satan gets Eve to talk about the prohibition God had placed on them, implying that God was restrictive, narrow, even cruel, while Satan is generous and loves freedom.

But Eve adds to God's prohibition and includes "Neither shall you touch it".  We don't know for sure if Adam told her that to keep her away from the tree, or if she simply makes it up herself, but either way, it's making God appear more harsh.

She should have defended God's wisdom and goodness.  Instead she's being drawn down a slippery slope - thinking that Satan is more devoted to her joy, freedom, fulfillment, and satisfaction than God is.  The very same lie we buy into when we sin.

when you sin you believe that you will get greater joy out of your personal fulfillment by violating God's law then you would get if you obeyed it...which means you believe the lie....
As soon as one does not completely, unreservedly and wholeheartedly trust in the wisdom and absolute goodness of God, as soon as one does not believe that the purposes and the commands of God are for our best and highest joy, sin has entered the heart.
And then Satan goes past subtleties and outrightly accuses God of lying.  And Satan accuses God of lying about judgment.  That's exactly what Satan wants the whole world to believe - that there is no absolute authority and therefore, no judgment.

So that's how Satan works. First you question God, then you question God's goodness, then you believe that the real satisfaction is in the sin. And then you begin to hedge on the absolute character of Scripture as its authority, and then you begin to hedge on the fact that you're going to have to pay a consequence for your sin. And Eve made all those wrong choices. They're the same wrong choices that you make today when you sin.
Why would God be so restrictive?

what he's saying to her is the reason God doesn't want you to do this is not because He's a good God and He wants to protect you from death. The reason God doesn't want you to do this is because He's a bad God and He's jealous and He doesn't like rivals and He doesn't want competition. See that would be Satan's personal testimony. After all, he tried to be the rival of God, tried to compete with God as we learn in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, he tried to compete with God and got thrown out of heaven for it. So it sticks in his craw that God will not tolerate a rival. And so there's a certain amount of truth in this. But from Satan's viewpoint, it's not because God is all glorious and holy, it's because God's character is flawed.... Doesn't want you to eat that fruit because you know what? That fruit is not only not going to kill you, it is so good, not only will it not kill you, it will make you like God....
on the surface that's a good thing. After all, we're all trying to be like Christ. The Holy Spirit is trying to make us like Christ. That's a good thing. So there's a certain half truth and that's the way Satan usually operates. But for Eve to be like God in Satan's scheme, she has to disobey God. For us to be like God, in God's scheme we have to obey God. So he's got the thing completely reversed. ....And he says you're going to be like God, you're going to know good and evil.
Now that's a half truth. They did know good and evil, Adam and Eve did, that's right. Over in chapter 3 verse 22, "Behold, the man has become like one of us knowing good and evil." But as I said last time, they didn't know good and evil the way God knows evil. They knew good before but they began to know evil not the way God knows it, God knows it like the physician who offers the cure to the cancer victim. They know evil like the cancer victim who is dying from it. They knew evil experientially. It wasn't that they knew evil...Oh, now I understand what evil is. It wasn't that, it wasn't some kind of cognitive thing, it wasn't some rational thing. They knew evil by doing it....
 The Fall already came before she even ever took the fruit. And I remind you, there's nothing magic about the fruit....This isn't the Aesop Fables. There's nothing magic in the fruit. It was not that that brought about some change in her nature. It was the moment that she first distrusted God that catapulted her into sin. ... So they knew evil when they distrusted God's character. And the evidence that they distrusted God's character in the heart came when they disobeyed His Word by taking the fruit...
It goes from the mind to the emotion. It goes from thinking to feeling. Now in her mind, now follow this, her goal has changed. Now this is a monumental change. Up to this time the goal of Eve in life was to glorify God, right? ....There was never any thought about self-fulfillment. There was never any thought about personal pleasure, personal gain. Those thoughts didn't exist. Now there is a new thought in her mind, it is this...self-fulfillment....
It isn't the glory of God any more. It isn't the honor of God any more. She is being seduced by her physical appetite. She looks and she sees this as good for food.
Now let me ask you a question. Do you think she was hungry? Think she was starving in the garden? No. There was plenty of food. There was food all over the place. But she had come to believe that there was something satisfying in this food that she had never enjoyed in any other. And this is lust....Secondly, she not only sees that it's good for food, but she also sees that it's a delight to the eyes.... there's a third element. She also saw that the tree was desirable to make her wise...
These are the same three approaches that Satan still uses...still uses them....First John 2, listen to this, 15, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." Now here is verse 16, 1 John 2:16, listen to this, "For all that is in the it comes...all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world."
....the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. It all fits in there somewhere. The lust of the eyes, the pride of life, the lust of the flesh...
"She took from its fruit and ate." Are you surprised? I'm not surprised, not...not knowing where she is by this time, it went from the mind to the emotions and the emotions overpowered the will and the will produced the behavior. She took from its fruit and ate. A simple act, very simple act with massive impact, massive impact. And then it simply says, "She gave also to her husband with her and he ate."..
you say, "Does Adam have less guilt?" No. In fact, whenever you look at the Scripture in other places, the Scripture always holds Adam accountable, not Eve, right? First Corinthians 15:22, "As in Adam all die..." Eve has immense guilt, no question, so does Adam. Eve was deceived by the serpent through the whole process. Adam just joined in the sin for reasons or explanations we don't know. But both of them disobeyed God. God did say don't eat, and they disobeyed God. And that's sin.
You say, "Well then why doesn't it say as in Eve all died?" Because there's a principle of headship in the Bible and it starts with Adam and it never ends. And it works in marriage just as well as it works in the trinity as it works in the church. There's a principle of headship. And the husband is the head, right? First Corinthians 11, "The husband is the head of the wife as God is the head of Christ." And so he then becomes the responsible one. By God's design, headship is in the man. Man then bears the responsibility...
So the one that God had given to Adam to be his helper became the instrument of his disaster and death.....
 the sin of Adam as the head is how sin enters the world. And it enters the world and with it comes death, spiritual death, physical death and eternal death. And that death spread to all men because all sinned. You say, "Well how in the world did we all sin?" We all sinned in the loins of Adam...we were all there....We were all there and when he was corrupted, then everything he produced was corrupt....
Somebody asked the question...Well, it's not fair. How can we be held responsible for Adam's sin when we weren't there? How can we sin in Adam when we weren't there?
Well, ask yourself this. How can we die and rise in Jesus Christ when we weren't there?
Or you say, "How can we be held responsible for what Adam did?" On the other hand, how can you be saved by what Jesus did?
Well the answer is because that's the way God designed it. That's how God designed it for His glory. God allowed this in order that sin might come, in order that He might destroy it so that it wouldn't any more be a possibility, it would become a reality and He would destroy it and in the process He would save sinners who believed and judge sinners who did not. And therefore He would put Himself on display as to His power, as to His grace and as to His justice. And He couldn't display His power and He couldn't display His grace and He couldn't display His justice in that way if there weren't sin. So God allowed it. Just as we fell in one man, we rise again in one man, the last Adam, Jesus Christ...
 verse 7, "The eyes of both of them were opened," immediately bang, their eyes were opened. What did they see?... They were aware of their wickedness. They knew they were naked. They had been naked for who knows how long. They knew they were naked, all of a sudden, and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings....
They were in the same garden, looking at the same spouse, in the midst of the same creatures, under the same sky, but all of a sudden into their pure world of relationship, into their sexual innocence came perverse evil thoughts. And sin clung to their innocence. And they felt it strongly and they felt exposed and they felt shameful about feelings they had never felt before. Their purity was marred. They were shocked by thoughts that were wicked and impure. Even that pure gift of marriage was so polluted as to make them feel that they needed to hide their loins from God and from each other. That very part of their body which was the source of joy and the source of life because a source of guilt and a source of shame and they were embarrassed to be naked. And they did an appropriate thing. They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. This is a feeble effort to cover their shame and to cover their guilt....
They could cover their bodies. It was a nice try. It was reasonable, it was a good thing to do. But they couldn't really hide their sin.... 
in order for God to make them a garment of skin, what did God have to do? Kill an animal, that's the first time. And the little analogy that I would make here, you can try to cover yourself with your own fig leaves, but in the end you can only be covered by God in a sacrifice. In the end, that's for God to do, to cover sin....
Like Lucifer, Adam and Eve fell so far there was nothing good in them. They fell so far that they were absolutely embarrassed and full of shame. They fell and an avalanche of sin was loosed that would never stop. They pulled a stone from the mountain and were horrified to discover that the fatal rock slide would bury all humanity and its environment in the dirt and rubble of sin. Satan had done his work and he disappeared from the garden. And they were left to face God. 
Sorry, I ended up having to quote a huge chunk - it was just so good!

I often think, if only Adam and Eve hadn't sinned.  If only!  But God had purpose even in this.  Now that evil had risen to the surface, God would continue His plan to eventually destroy it completely. And it's not a matter of if, but a matter of when. There's no sense in looking back before the fall and wishing for what never was when we have the promise of what's guaranteed to come.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Genesis 3:8-13
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Samuel 23-24, Psalm 105, Acts 16

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday, May 23rd

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  2 Samuel 15-16; Psalm 103; Acts 14
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 2:18-25

Genesis 2:18-25

English Standard Version (ESV)
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Accompanying Bob Deffinbaugh sermon:  The Meaning of Man: His Duty and His Delight
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: The Creation of Woman

In today's passage we see more detail about the sixth day of creation.

The garden, with its pleasures and provisions for food and meaningful activity was not sufficient unless these delights could he shared.
God brought the animals to Adam for him to name - giving him the opportunity to see that each animal had a mate, and that he didn't.

And after giving Adam the opportunity to see his need, God created a helper for him.  Deffinbaugh gives some insight into this word helper - ezer.

Adam’s mate was to be a very special creation, a ‘helper, suitable for him’ (verse 18). She was to be a ‘helper,’ not a slave, and not an inferior. The Hebrew word ezer is most interesting. It was a word that Moses obviously liked, for in Exodus 18:4 we are told that this was the name he gave to one of his sons.

And the other was named Eliezer (El=God), for he said, ‘The God of my father was my help (ezer), and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh’ (Exodus 18:4).

The other three times ezer is found used by Moses in Deuteronomy (33:7,26,29), it refers to God as man’s helper. So also in the Psalms (20:2; 33:20; 70:5; 89:19; 115:9; 121:1,2; 124:8; 146:5).

The point of the word as it is most often employed in the Old Testament is that the help given implies no inferiority whatsoever. In a way consistent with its usage, God is helping man through women. What a beautiful thought.

And when God presented Eve to Adam, he broke out into poetry.
In this expression there is a mixture of relief, ecstasy, and delighted surprise.

Deffinbaugh has this to say about v24...
Man is to leave his parents, not in the sense of avoiding his responsibility to them (e.g. Mark 7:10-13; Ephesians 6:2,3), but in the sense of being dependent upon them. He must cease to live under their headship and begin to function alone as the head of a new home.

The woman is not commanded similarly because she simply transfers from one head to another. While she once was subject to her father, now she is joined to her husband. The man, however, has the more difficult transition. He, as a child, was dependent upon and submissive to his mother and father.

When a man marries he must go through the more radical transition from a dependent, submissive son to an independent (from a parents) leader, who functions as the head of the home.

As many have observed, the husband-wife relationship is permanent while the parent-child relationship is temporary. Even if the parents are unwilling to terminate the dependent relationship of son to parents, the son is responsible to do so. To fail to do so is to refuse the kind of bond necessary with his wife.

Now, perhaps, we are in a position to see the relationship of this command to the creation account. What is the reason for its mention here in Genesis? First of all, there are no parents to whom Adam or Eve have been born. Eve’s origin is directly from her husband, Adam. The union or bond between Adam and his wife is the union of coming from one flesh (Adam’s) and of becoming one flesh (in physical union). This bond is greater than that between parent and child. A woman is, of course, the product of her parents, as the man is of his. But the original union involved no parents, and the wife was a part of the flesh of her husband. This first marriage, then, is evidence of the primacy of the husband-wife relationship over that of the parent-child relationship.

He has this to say about v25...
a sexual side of this relationship was a part of the paradise experience. Sex did not originate with or after the fall. Procreation and physical intimacy were intended from the beginning (cf. 1:28). Also we see that sex could be enjoyed to its fullest in the divine plan. Disobedience to God did not heighten sexual pleasure; it diminished it. Today the world wishes to believe that they have invented sex and that God only seeks to prevent it. But sex, apart from God, is not what it could or should be.

Ignorance, if you will forgive me for saying so, is bliss. In our generation we are cool, if you prefer, sophisticated, only if we know (by experience) all there is to know about sex. “How naive are those who have never had sex before marriage,” we are led to believe. There are many things it is better not to know. Sex was never enjoyed so much as it was in sweet ignorance.

MacArthur adds that Adam and Eve were originally naked and unashamed because they had no knowledge of evil, therefore they had no capacity for shame. And it is so sad that knowledge of evil created shame between Adam and Eve, who originally had the purest husband/wife relationship there ever was.  In the beginning it was not that way.
In the beginning in the perfect environment there was perfect love, there was perfect rapture with each other. And the perfection of wondrous creation by God. It was a shameless love that God gave these two. They had that kind of union that God has designed to be the pinnacle. Peter even calls it the grace of life. One man, one woman leaving their parents; cleaving together in a strong bond for life becoming one flesh.

And of course becoming one flesh means coming together as one and that is certainly manifested when children are born, children being the very symbol, the very reality of the one flesh because they bear the life of both the father and the mother. So woman was made for man and there is where relationship begins. And folks I want to tell you this is the purest and greatest and most blessed and wondrous relationship that God has ever given. That's why Peter calls it the grace of life.
Day 6 not only included the creation of man, but of marriage.  And God has defined marriage as a lifelong relationship between one man and one woman.  Homosexuality, adultery, fornication are all excluded from God's design. Sex, when used with the parameters set by God, is a beautiful gift.

The glorious perfection of a pre-fall world is beyond our imagination - but is something we can look forward to experiencing for all eternity on the New Earth.

Monday's scripture focus:  Genesis 3:1-7
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Samuel 17-18
Sunday's passage: 2 Samuel 19-20
Monday's passage: 2 Samuel 21-22, Psalm 104, Acts 15

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thursday, May 22 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 13-14; Psalm 102; Acts 13
Today's scripture focus is  Genesis 2:8-17

8 The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. 9 Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

Bob Deffinbaugh is one of my favourites.  He never fails to point out something that wouldn't have ever occurred to me.  Following is an excerpt from The Meaning of Man:

God created the garden, which was to be the place of man’s abode, and the object of his attention. It was well-supplied with many trees which provided both beauty and food.
And out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9).
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die’ (Genesis 2:16-17).
It is interesting that seemingly Adam, alone, is told by God that the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil must not be eaten. One can only conjecture as to how effectively God’s command to Adam was communicated to Eve. Could this explain Eve’s inaccurate appraisal in 3:2-3?
Into this paradise,43 man was placed. While he was surely to enjoy this wonderland, he was also to cultivate it. Look again at verse 5:
Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth; and there was no man to cultivate the ground (Genesis 2:5).
When placed in the garden, Adam was to work there: “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15).
Adam’s creation is described more fully in 2:7 than in chapter one. He was formed44 from the dust of the ground. While this is a humbling fact, it is also obvious that man’s origin is not from the animal world, nor is man created in the same way as the animals. In part, Adam’s dignity stems from the fact that his life breath is the inspiration of God (verse 7).
Here was no mythical garden. Every part of the description of this paradise inclines us to understand that it was a real garden in a particular geographical location. Specific points of reference are given. Four rivers are named, two of which are known to us today. We should not be surprised, especially after the cataclysmic event of the flood, that changes may have occurred, which would make it impossible to locate this spot precisely.
I find it most interesting that the Paradise of Eden was a place somewhat different from what we envision today. First of all, it was a place of work. Men today dream of paradise as a hammock suspended between two coconut trees on some desert island, where work is never again to be contemplated. Furthermore, heaven is thought of as the end of all prohibitions. Heaven is frequently confused with hedonism. It is very self-centered and pleasure-oriented. While Adam’s state was one of beauty and bliss, it cannot be thought of as unrestricted pleasure. The forbidden fruit is a part of Paradise, too. Heaven is not the experiencing of every desire, but the satisfaction of beneficial and wholesome desires.
Servanthood is not a new concept in the New Testament. Meaningful service provides fulfillment and purpose for life. God described Israel as a cultivated garden, a vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-2ff.). Jesus spoke of Himself as the Vine and we as the branches. The Father tenderly cared for His vineyard (John 15:1ff.). Paul described the ministry as the work of a farmer (II Timothy 2:6).
While the church of the New Testament may be better described as a flock, nevertheless the image of the garden is not inappropriate. There is a work to be done for the child of God. And that work is no drudgery, no duty to begrudgingly carry out. It is a source of joy and fulfillment. Many today have no real sense of meaning and purpose because they are not doing the work that God has designed for them to carry out.
Food for thought.

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Genesis 2:18-25
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  2 Samuel 15-16; Psalm 103; Acts 14

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wednesday, May 21st

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 11-12; Psalm 101; Acts 12
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 2:4-7

Genesis 2:4-7

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Creation of Man and Woman

These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Accompanying Bob Deffinbaugh sermon: The Meaning of Man: His Duty and His Delight
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: The Creation of Man

Starting from this passage, and continuing on through Chapter 2, God gives us more details about Day 6 and the creation of man.
Deffinbaugh: If chapter one is laid out in chronological fashion—that is in a sequence of seven days, chapter two is not chronological, but logical. Of course the events of chapter two fit into chapter one’s order, but the chapter is laid out differently. If chapter one is creation as seen through a wide angle lens, chapter two is viewed through a telephoto lens. In chapter one man is found at the top of a pyramid, as the crown of God’s creative activity. In chapter two man is at the center of the circle of God’s activity and interest.

And what this passage is reminding us is that God created Adam and Eve in a pre-fall environment.  There was no rain yet because rain and the withholding of rain is a blessing and a judgement - a post-fall event.  Vegetation had already been created, but there were no crops because there was no need for man to plant, till, water, or weed.  Everything was watered perfectly, not by rain, but from within the ground which was constantly, consistently, perfectly irrigated through subterranean springs.

Can you just imagine the perfection of Earth at that moment?  How glorious it was?

And that was the state of the world when God created man.

We were created out of the dust of the ground (not monkeys), and God Himself breathed the breath of life into Adam and he became a living creature.  God breathed life into everything that lived, including animals, fish, and birds.  But God took the physical form of man whom He had made out of chemical components, and He breathed into man specifically, a living soul.

MacArthur:  man became nefesh, like other living things but much higher because it was life in the image of God. 

And that is what gives human life it's worth.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Genesis 2:8-17
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Samuel 13-14, Psalm 102, Acts 13