Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Genesis Post 12 - LORD of the Sabbath (Back to Chapter 2)

I have to back up again.  I realize that I barely mentioned the seventh day when I was on chapter two.  Oh well, Biblical patterns are very circular, so here goes.

Ahhh, the Sabbath.  Scripture tells us that on the seventh day, God rested from His work.

It is interesting to note that day seven does not end with the mention of erev and boker, evening and morning.

God's creative work was done.  He had brought order out of chaos (secondary meanings to erev and boker).

Genesis 2:2-3 says, And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Since Genesis is the home of all biblical truth in seed form, what is the meaning of this special seventh day that God blessed and sanctified?  (Sanctified means set apart, or made holy).

The concept of the Sabbath is developed throughout the rest of the scriptures.  It not only points to a concept, it points to a Person.

In Exodus 20, the Israelites were given the ten commandments, which included a command to refrain from work on the seventh day.  But even before God gave the command to Moses on Sinai, He was already setting it up in Exodus 16 with the provision of manna for them in the wilderness, enough for each day.

Some people did not put their trust in God and tried to gather extra manna during the week.  The following day, they found it to be wormy.  But then on day six, the LORD told them to gather extra, to have enough for day seven.  Some people, remembering the worms, did not do it, and because of their disobedience, had nothing to eat on the Sabbath.

What is this about?  It was about trust.  Would His people trust and obey Him in the procuring of their bread?  It all points to Yeshua, our Bread of Life, in Whom we are to trust... even when the instructions do not make sense.

The Sabbath became the pinnacle of the Sinai Covenant.  Exodus 31:16 says,
Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.  Ezekiel 20:20 confirms that the Sabbath would be a sign between the LORD and His people.

It has been said that throughout history, it wasn't so much that the Jews kept the Sabbath, but that the Sabbath kept the Jews.  It is one of the main things that has set them apart as a people since their sojourn in the wilderness.

Jews welcome the Sabbath as one would welcome a King

When you visit Israel today, you can see just how important the Sabbath is to the Jewish culture.  Nearly everything shuts down in the land, starting late Friday afternoons.  Public transportation ceases, including the national airline, El Al, which does not fly on the Sabbath.

There have been many rules and regulations that have been attached to the Sabbath outside of what is written in the scriptures.  For example, every hotel in Israel has a Shabbat elevator.   So that a person can avoid having to press a button and "light a fire," the elevator simply stops at every floor.

Yeshua got in trouble with the legalistic rulers of His time, being accused of breaking the Sabbath by picking grain in a field and by healing people.  But Matthew 12 explains that Yeshua is the LORD of the Sabbath.  In Mark 2, He told those rulers that the Sabbath was made for man, no the other way around.  The leaders had made the Sabbath into a burden, missing its point completely.

This brings us to the ultimate point of the Sabbath. 

In Matthew 11, Yeshua declares,
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Hebrews 4 elaborates.

For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:
“So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest,’

(From Psalm 95, speaking of those who went astray from the LORD and did not trust in Him)
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.  For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”

His rest is also alluded to with the coming of the seventh millenium of human history.  For six thousand years, man has worked and toiled by the sweat of his brow.  But we are on the cusp of the seventh millenium of rest, with Yeshua ruling as King from Jerusalem upon His return, per Revelation 20:4.

Yeshua, the Lord of the Sabbath, our Bread of Life, our Coming King, has BECOME the Sabbath.  It is in Him that we find our rest, both now and forevermore.  The very word sabbath is based on the Hebrew number seven, or sheva, which means completion.  We can rest in His finished work.

Genesis Post 11 - The Fall (Chapter 3)

Today is an in-depth look at chapter 3 - the very chapter that the rest of the Bible seeks to remedy.

We looked at the chapter in part on my last post.  The snake deceived Eve, Eve offered to Adam, Adam ate.  God meted out punishment accordingly.

And even though it was the woman who ate the fruit first, Romans 5:12 tells us that sin entered the world through Adam!  In other words, the woman was deceived, but Adam knew exactly what he was doing.  Was he just being dumb?  No.  He is a foreshadow of our Messiah, and here is why.

Eve was his wife and he loved her.  When he saw that she was a goner, he willingly took the fruit and ate.  He didn't love the fruit, he loved his wife.  What a picture of the Messiah, Who loved His bride so much that He took on the cross.  He took the fall for us, just as Adam did for his bride.

It is not good for man to be alone.  And it is not good for God to be alone.

Yeshua is even called by the name Adam.  1 Corinthians 15:45 goes back to Genesis and links Yeshua to Adam when it says this:
And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

Just like Adam, the Messiah knew exactly what He was doing when He went to the cross.  He loved His bride and willingly took her punishment.  And in doing so, Yeshua reversed the curse that Adam brought to the world, reversing death and bringing life.  God would not have to be alone, without His beloved creations.

Moving on, I want to pause and talk about 3:15, a very key verse in scripture.  The LORD is addressing the devil.

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”

This is the first promise of a coming Redeemer.  There will be enmity between the offspring of the devil and the woman, and also the devil's seed and the Seed of the woman (ultimately the Messiah Who would be born of a woman of Israel).  Biblically, the woman is Israel; the one chosen to bring about God's plans for the world. And boy, has there been enmity between the devil and Israel.  

Scripture elaborates on this enmity in Revelation 12:1-9:

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.

And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.  So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Satan has tried so many times to wipe out the Jews throughout history, but he will never succeed.  Yeshua's return depends on the presence of the Jews and of Israel.

A popular T-shirt in Israel contains a warning to the world

Revelation 12 wraps up with a reminder of the devil's secondary target: Christians.

And the dragon was enraged with the woman
[because she was supernaturally protected], and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

This has always been God's pattern - the Jew first, and then the nations.

Going back to Genesis 3:15, it is interesting to note the use of the word heel, or Ya'acov (Jacob). Do you remember the meaning of the name Jacob?  It means deceiver, or more literally, one who grabs the heel.

And later in Genesis, the name of Jacob would be changed to Israel, which means struggles with God, and also prince of God.  Even in the account of God wrestling with Jacob, we can see Genesis 3:15 being played out.

Jacob went from being a heel-grabber/deceiver/supplanter to a God-chaser by the name of Israel.

The devil, however, is the original deceiver and the Father of Lies, and he will remain so until his destruction.

So the Father of Lies will nip at the Messiah's heel, but the Seed will crush the devil's head.  The Seed of the Woman is the promised Messiah, and He will utterly vanquish the devil in the end.

In the punishment that He meted out, God cursed the serpent, and He cursed the ground.  But take note: He did not curse the people.  Yes, they were punished, but then they were given the first covenant of the Bible.  (Are you familiar with the seven covenants?  If not, click here for this very important framework of the Bible).

Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves with leaves; a picture of us trying to cover ourselves with our own good works.  But God had a different idea.

Enter death.

Adam and Eve must have been horrified at the sight of the first bloodshed, which provided the animal skins that would then cover them.

Leviticus 17:11 says that without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sins.  Once we understand this foundational Biblical principle, we can clearly see the promised Redeemer right there in Genesis. This same theme of blood atonement will continue throughout the rest of the scriptures.

Buckle your seatbelts!  God is just getting started with His story!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Genesis Post 10 - From Good to Bad (chapters 1-3)

In today's post, I want to back up one more time to chapters 1 and 2, for a big picture moment before moving on.

Six times in chapter 1, God uses the word good by itself, or tov in Hebrew.  Then, in the last verse of chapter one, the word tov is used a seventh time, only this time, the word is paired with me'od, or very good.

Tov Meod

Creation was not called tov me'od until it was completed.  And what completed the creation?  The formation of woman from man.  In chapter 2, Adam had been given the job of naming the animals on day six, and God brought to our attention that Adam was alone.  He then said, It is lo tov (not good) for man to be alone.  When woman was created, lo tov became tov me'od.  Not good became very good.

The LORD put Adam under anesthesia and took flesh out of Adam's side, thus creating Chava (Eve), which means life or living. And we know that she became the mother of all living.

Verse 24 says: Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  Something supernatural happens when two become one.
God gives us an amazing truth with the creation of woman from and for man.  Love.  It is the reason He created us, His bride, for Himself.  All of human history hinges on this.  He is coming back to restore all things and to claim His bride!  Remember, the Bible begins and ends with marriage.

God created man for fellowship with Him.

So how long did tov me'od remain tov me'od?  We don't know exactly, but it doesn't seem like it was very long.  (We do know that he lived 930 years, and that he fathered Seth at age 130, and that Seth was born after Cain killed Abel.)

Adam was told in chapter 2 that he was not allowed to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Adam had only one rule.  Easy, right?  God was giving Adam a test to see if Adam, out of love, would obey Him.  Verse 17 says,

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.

The Hebrew actually reads, dying you will die.  There will be instant death and gradual death.  Hold that thought; I'll come back to it.

The command was given to Adam before the woman was created.  But Adam must have told Eve about the command, because she repeated it to the serpent in chapter 3, and even adding that they may not even touch it.

Did God tell them not to touch it?  The narrative does not say that He did or did not.  Commentaries differ in their conclusions.  My opinion is that God must have said it at some point during His fellowship with Adam, otherwise Eve committed sin by adding to the Word of God.

Anyway, chapter 3.  This is the chapter that the rest of the Bible seeks to repair.  In Hebrew, it is tikkun olam - the healing of the world.  Today all of creation groans toward this very end (see Romans 8:22).

The chapter starts with the serpent, the nachash.  It was the craftiest, the most cunning of all the animals, which is why the devil probably chose it to do his nasty business.

Somehow, the devil took on the form of that serpent and deceived Chava.

"Has God really said...?"

With those words, he inflicted doubt upon the mind of Chava.  The Father of Lies began his career right here.  He wasn't blatant about what he said to Chava, but sneaky.  If he had come out with an outright lie right away, she probably would not have bitten.  He continues with his crafty ways today, which is why we must be DILIGENT!

Chava went on to assure the snake that God really did say that, and then she added the comment about not even touching it.

In verse 4, the devil/serpent replied with a lie that is still being believed today:

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.

I must stop here and address this verse.  Most of Christendom teaches the immortality of man's soul; that we are eternal beings.  This Greco-Roman thinking infiltrated the church around the fourth century.  I've written about these things before.  You can click on the tab that says "Judgment" on the right if you want more bunny trails on that subject.

The truth is, only God can be eternal, with no beginning and no end.  Man definitely had a start point.  I believe that Adam was created as an immortal being, meaning he was not subject to death or decay when he was created, but that it was his sin, his failing the test of obedience, that rendered him into a mortal.  Adam was created as a complete being:  mind, body, and spirit.  His sin subjected ALL parts of him to death.

And we were all born with that sin nature, that mortality of Adam on us, for it is only faith in Yeshua that offers us immortality.  And I believe that this immortality will be given to us at the resurrection, as written in 1 Corinthians 15.  Here are some excerpts from that chapter, but I encourage you to go and read the entire thing.

For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. 

For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (From Isaiah 25:8)

The devil continued with Chava and appealed to her pride, telling her she would be like God.  She ate, and then Adam ate.

In an instant, they experienced spiritual death.  They were severed from that spiritual connection to their Creator, and they knew it.  This is how death came instantly - the spirit of man died.

The LORD showed up immediately in verse 8 - most versions say something like in the cool of the day.  But that word for cool is ruach, the same word for spirit.  It can mean breeze, wind, and spirit.  And the couple hid themselves from His Spirit, for His spirit in them had died.

Did you notice... God still called out to them in their fallen state.  He still calls out to us today. Hallelujah for that great love!

Then the LORD questioned them, and immediately they began playing the blame game.  

Adam:  This WOMAN that YOU gave me...

Chava:  That SERPENT made me do it...

(Anyone with more than one child knows that this particular fallen trait of Adam and Chava is alive and well today.)

It is interesting that the serpent is suddenly silent.

The LORD then starts at the bottom in meting out punishment.  
  • First, the serpent/devil.  He is told that his head will be crushed by the Seed of the woman.  Did you catch that?  Crushed by the Seed of the woman?  The Redeemer would someday be a son of Chava - meaning, He would be a human!  And as we will see in an upcoming post, Chava fully believed this.

  • Then, Chava.  Pain in childbirth, and she will want to rule over her husband, but she won't get to (even though she and I and most women who ever lived will give it their best shot).

  • Then, Adam.  Because of his sin, the very ground itself will be cursed.  He will  have to work very hard to provide for himself and his family.  And God also gave Adam a reminder that he will suffer the punishment of sin:  death.  The LORD told him that he will return to the dust from which he was created.
Following the instant spiritual death which Adam and Eve experienced, we see that all of mankind will then experience physical death, but it is a process.  When sin entered the world (which God had  declared tov me'od), entropy (decay, order to chaos) began in that instant.  Adam and Eve and all their offspring would eventually die physical deaths, too.  Dying they would die.

A sad, sad story indeed.  But our merciful God does not wipe His hands of the human race and call it a day.  

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Genesis Post 9 - Naked! (Bridging chapters 2-3)

In my last post, I ended with the very last thing the scriptures say before the sin of man enters the world:

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

My next post will elaborate a lot more on the fall of man, but today's post will simply cover (pun intended) one concept: nakedness.

It is very telling that the LAST THING mentioned before man's fall into sin was the idea of naked and unashamed, and the very FIRST THING that was mentioned after the fall was naked and ashamed.

Because of how it is set up in scripture, there HAS to be a great spiritual truth here.  Let's compare scripture to scripture and see what we come up with. 

First, the Hebrew word for naked or nakedness:  AROM and ERVAH (same root word).  Let's look at a few of the places where these words show up.

But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.
Genesis 9:23

They spend the night naked, without clothing,
And have no covering in the cold.
Job 24:7

Then the Lord said, “Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia, so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.
Isaiah 20:3-4

All her idols I will lay desolate,
For she gathered it from the pay of a harlot,
And they shall return to the pay of a harlot.”
Therefore I will wail and howl,
I will go stripped and naked;
Micah 1:7-8

The most courageous men of might
Shall flee naked in that day,”
Says the LORD.
Amos 2:16

Lest I strip her naked
And expose her, as in the day she was born,
And make her like a wilderness,
And set her like a dry land,
And slay her with thirst.
Hosea 2:3

“Therefore I will return and take away
My grain in its time
And My new wine in its season,
And will take back My wool and My linen,
Given to cover her nakedness.

Hosea 2:9

Then Saul’s anger was aroused against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness?
1 Samuel 20:30

Your nakedness shall be uncovered,
Yes, your shame will be seen;
I will take vengeance,
And I will not arbitrate with a man.”

Isaiah 47:3

When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the LORD God.
Ezekiel 16:8

Thus says the LORD God: “Because your filthiness was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your harlotry with your lovers, and with all your abominable idols, and because of the blood of your children which you gave to them, surely, therefore, I will gather all your lovers with whom you took pleasure, all those you loved, and all those you hated; I will gather them from all around against you and will uncover your nakedness to them, that they may see all your nakedness.
Ezekiel 16:36-17

She revealed her harlotry and uncovered her nakedness.
Then I alienated Myself from her,
As I had alienated Myself from her sister.

Ezekiel 23:18

They will deal hatefully with you, take away all you have worked for, and leave you naked and bare. The nakedness of your harlotry shall be uncovered, both your lewdness and your harlotry.
Ezekiel 23:29

“Behold, I am against you,” says the LORD of hosts;
“I will lift your skirts over your face,
I will show the nations your nakedness,
And the kingdoms your shame.

Nahum 3:5

Also, Leviticus chapters 18 and 20 use the word over and over, as a euphamism. You can go check it out if you'd like.

Have you had enough yet?  The the Hebrew scriptures link nakedness to shame, idolatry, and being away from the LORD. Our sin has made us unclothed before our God, and we are ashamed. We need His covering!  The clothes we wear today are a picture of that scriptural truth.  This is why the first thing God did was allow animals to die so that Adam and Eve would be physically covered, while conveying a spiritual truth - the promise of His covering.  When we run around exposing so much of ourselves, are we saying to God, I don't need any covering??

The appointed Biblical holiday Yom Kippur  means day of atonement. But what is atonement? The very word means covering! He is our covering. Today Jewish men acknowledge this by wearing a kippah on their heads. It comes from the same word as Kippur, or covering.

Let's look at a few New Covenant examples:

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Romans 13:14

I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed
Revelation 3:18

Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.  For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:  whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.
Phillippians 3:17-19

This last scripture does not speak of nakedness specifically, but we have already linked the concept of shame to nakedness.  Today, people definitely glory in their shame as they let it all hang out.  (This scripture also makes mention of those who make a god of their belly... ouch, now that one hits close to home for me.  I am always fighting the monster of gluttony.)

Throughout human history, people have generally covered themselves up, right up to the last century (and I know there have been exceptions, such as jungle people unexposed to the world around them).  

Following World War I, something happened called the roaring twenties.  Courtship disappeared and the dating scene began.  For a clear example of the progression, just read Cheaper By The Dozen by Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth.  

During this era, people began exposing so much more of themselves than ever before.  As an example, check out this progression of women's swimwear during those transitional years between the 1800s and 1900s:

I'll stop at 1927, because you can go to any beach to see just how far we have regressed even since then.  (Perhaps our progressive nakedness is a sign of the last days?)

I've heard the argument by Christians...  "Our bodies are beautiful, created by God."  Yes, that is true. 

But our nakedness is not something to flaunt proudly to a gawking world.  It is something that should only be revealed before our Creator, who is our covering, and our spouse - who is our earthly picture of our heavenly husband.

I will finish with a passage from Revelation 7, where we see the saints beautifully arrayed in white linen. 

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,  and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever.

Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?”

And I said to him, “Sir, you know.”

So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

 It is comforting to me to know that we will never go back to the nakedness of the Garden of Eden.  When God restores, He does it to the uttermost!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Genesis Post 8 - God Rests! And More Details (Chapter 2)

I just noticed that it took me seven posts to get through chapter one.  The number seven represents completion. And chapter one saw the completion of the world.  Coincidence?  I think not.

So... chapter 2.  It starts out like this:

Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.  And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.  Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

I love that even God Himself rested and set apart a special day for it.  This whole week of creation sets the pattern for all of human history - six thousand years of toil and striving, and then a beautiful millennium of rest, dwelling with our Creator!  This seventh day of rest was so important that it eventually became the sign of the Sinai Covenant between God and Israel - the Sabbath.

The chapter then goes on to elaborate on many details that were not in chapter one.  For instance, we are told that there was no rain on earth, but that it got watered by a mist that arose from the ground.  More on that when we hit the flood in chapter 7.  There are also details on the four rivers in the Garden of Eden, which have led scholars to conclude that Eden was in Iraq.  But I believe that the land was different before the flood, and so I will stick with a Jerusalem-based Eden (keep reading for more on that).

Then verse 7 says,
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (chai nephesh - a living soul, the same term used for the animals).

Note that man was not given a chai nephesh, but became one.  Man is a complete being, made of three parts (just like God!) - body, mind, and spirit.  And just like God, we are not three separate persons, but one person with different facets.

But wait!  In this verse, we also see a word that is used in God's creation of man, but not of animals - neshama.  God breathed into man's nostrils the neshama of life - the very breath of God.  This action sets man apart from the animals.

Chapter two goes on to describe the garden of paradise that God planted in Eden.  The word Eden means pleasure.   It was the LORD's pleasure to create the earth for man.  The word that is translated eastward - kedem - can also mean ancient, or from the earliest time.  I do not believe that this garden was somewhere over in Iraq or other parts east, but in Jerusalem.  I once wrote about the symbolism of East (curses) and West (blessings), and if you want a bunny trail today, here it is.

Additionally, Ezekiel 28 - a prophecy regarding the fall of Lucifer - tells us that the devil was once God's anointed cherub, dwelling in Eden, on the holy mountain of God.  God's holy mountain was and is in Jerusalem - Mount Moriah, aka the Temple Mount.  The land of Eden is the land which would one day be promised to Abraham, and the garden that was planted in Eden would have rested on God's holy mountain.

Reading further, we see that the LORD God put two trees into this beautiful garden - the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  It is interesting to note that it was only the second tree that was forbidden them, carrying the punishment of death if they did.  They were free to eat of every other lovely tree in the place.  Ah, a test for mankind.  Will they pass the test?  I think you know.  Sigh.

Chapter two wraps up with details on the creation of Adam's soulmate.  Did God save the best for last?  Ha ha.  It is interesting to note that Adam was formed from the dust of the earth, and then Eve was formed from part of Adam - the only two human beings on earth who did not have a mother.  

They were also the only two humans ever who did not have belly buttons.  

Verse 24 is a key biblical verse, especially in today's society:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

The joining of man and woman together in marriage has been God's perfect plan from the very beginning.  Yeshua repeats this verse, which is recorded in Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:7.  And Paul reaffirms this great truth in Ephesians 5:31, and he goes on to compare earthly marriage to our heavenly marriage to the Messiah.

The Bible begins and ends with marriage.  No wonder the devil is hard at work to mess it up.  The devil hates what God loves.

The devil does not only mess with marriage today, but also with numerous other themes in Genesis.  Gender.  Did God really create them male and female?  Creation.  Did God really create the world in six days?

Speaking of the devil messing things up, the last verse of Genesis 2 will lead into my next blog post, one that has been on my heart to write for years:

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Stay tuned if you dare.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Genesis Post 7 - Days 5 and 6 - God Completes His Work (Chapter 1)

The earth has now been filled with vegetation, and has been made ready for life that breathes.  Enter day five.

Day five did not see the creation of all the animals; only the fish and the birds.  Why is that?

God is giving us a picture here.  Take a moment to look at the pattern of the tabernacle, the fifth piece is the altar of incense.  That altar is a picture of the prayers of the saints ascending before the LORD - from earth to heaven.  The fish are a picture of earth-bound creatures, and the birds represent heavenly creatures.  (The Hebrew word for heavens is shamayim, and means skies.)

God's creation is so magnificent. It is no wonder that early people began worshiping the creation, because of that fact. But God's creation is a memorial to HIM, our Creator. Romans 1 speaks of this:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

When we look at creation, scripture says we are without excuse.  But because we are corruptible beings, things get messed up.  This is why God had to hand down that first oh-so-important commandment:  Love the LORD your God ONLY, and have no idols.  No other gods.   Our main purpose is to worship Him, which is why I believe He gives us the fish-birds reminder on day five.

So many worship songs sing of how the amazing creation points to our Creator.  Here are a few that come to mind, just off the top of my head (links are included, in case you need an interlude of worship about now)

Day five is the first place that the LORD uses the term that is translated living creature.  In the Hebrew, it says chai nephesh, which means living soul.  If you have ever wondered if animals have souls, the answer is no.  Animals do not have souls, they are souls.  TThe word nephesh simply means  a created being.  This is a good thing to remember as we head into day six.

Evening and morning complete day five.

Now enter day six, which contains God's magnum opus:  Man.  I don't say this in a prideful, man-centered way, but to demonstrate the heart of YHVH.  He created man in His own image - someone with whom He could have fellowship.

God's first order of business for day six was to create the animals:

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature (chai nephesh) according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Just like the fish and birds, the animals were created as living beings (chai nephesh).  If you ever wanted an answer to the philosophical question regarding the chicken or the egg, of course the chicken came first.  The chicken became a living soul.  (But being a bird - albeit a non-flying bird - was the chicken created on day five or day six??)

God then wraps up creation with this:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all he earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

What exactly does it mean to be created in His image?  There are many scholarly thoughts on this.  Here are my non-scholarly thoughts.

As opposed to the animals, man was given the ability to take charge and have dominion over the plant and animal kingdom.  To do this, we needed intelligence; the ability to think, to reason, to make choices and decisions.  God also gave us the free will to love and worship Him.  Animals, such as dogs, certainly show a degree of loyalty and affection toward their masters, but in a different capacity than man.  

I believe that just as God is one person with different contexts (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), so is man created the same way (mind, body, spirit).  Adam was created as a complete being, in His image. 

Some will say that since God is eternal, that man was created eternal as well.  

Not quite.

Only God can be eternal, with no beginning and no end.  Scripture clearly shows us that man definitely has a starting point.  I believe that Adam was created as an immortal being, meaning he was not subject to death or decay when he was created, but that it was his sin that rendered him into a mortal.  

But I am getting ahead of myself here.  Sin does not enter the world until chapter 3, so I will elaborate on that in an upcoming post.

Chapter one wraps up with this:

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

When describing the completion of this sixth day, the Hebrew uses the article the, which none of the other days do.  This signifies completion.  God's work of creation is done!

Genesis 1 has been amazing and awesome, and we finally get to move on.  As we will see in chapter two, the narrative will go back and fill in more details of creation.  This circular pattern is typical of Hebraic thought.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Genesis Post 6 - Days 3 and 4 (Chapter 1)

On day two, we saw that the LORD separated the waters - above and below.  Now, on day three, He continues dealing with the water and adds in something else:  land.

On day three, the LORD gathered the waters together in one place, and He caused the dry and to appear.  And God saw that it was good!  (Remember, day two was not called good by God).

I want to interject a small science moment here: It is likely that the dry land was all one continent at creation.  Any kindergardener today can look at a globe and see that the pieces had at one time fit together.  The book of Genesis will soon give us a clue on how it gets broken up.

The LORD then continues with creation on day three, with the first appearance of life!  He speaks and commands the earth to bring forth grass, and the various plants and trees that would yield seeds and fruits, each according to its kind.

And so it happened.  Apple trees beget apple trees, peach trees beget peach trees, and so forth.  The plants were ready to go, ready to reproduce, and they did not evolve from swamp scum.

And once again on day three, God saw that it was good.

In Judaism, day three is called the day of double blessing, because it completes the work of day two, which was not called good on its own.  But twice, the LORD calls day three good.

It is interesting to note that throughout history, many Jewish weddings took place on the third day, the day of double blessing. This is still very common in Israel today.  And since the Biblical day begins at sundown, that translates to Monday night on our Roman calendar.   It can seem strange to stumble onto a big, expensive wedding at a Jerusalem hotel on a Monday night.   I wonder if the wedding at Cana, the place of Yeshua's first miracle, was on the third day?

So anyway, plant life is now established on day three, but the vegetation will not grow and thrive without light. So what comes next is day four.  Since this has been a short post so far, I will just keep going today.

On day four, we see the introduction of the sun, moon, and stars.  The LORD said they are for signs, for seasons, for days, and for years.  (The narrative doesn't even mention that the sunlight is needed for the plants of the day before; I guess that's just a given).

I want to focus on the first two purposes of the heavenly lights:  signs and seasons, because days and years are pretty self-explanatory.

The word for signs is ot, which means a distinguishing mark, a miraculous sign, a remembrance, an omen, or a warning.  We are just coming off a time of blood moons and a significant solar eclipse in the last two years.  I cannot tell you exactly what they mean, but I do believe they are a sign of things that are taking place and that are soon to come.  These signs have shown up all through history, too.  Even the gospels start out with wise men who studied these things and were led to the baby Messiah.

Recent phenomena in the skies

The second purpose is seasons, which isn't the best translation, because the LORD is not talking about summer and winter here.  The word is mo'ed, which means appointed times.  It is the same term that is used for the Biblical feasts of the Lord, which are His appointed times.  These appointed times are peppered throughout the scriptures, but can be seen all together in Leviticus 23.  All of these appointed times point to Yeshua the Messiah in some way or another.

The appointed times of spring - Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Shavuot were all fulfilled to the exact detail by the first coming of the Messiah.  Given this pattern, we can fully expect that He will fulfill every detail of the fall appointed times - Day of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles - with His second coming.  (Did you count those?  Seven altogether).

I need to say something about the number seven, a number on which I often elaborate.  The other day, some neighbor children and their moms came over to  my house for a play date.  One of the young girls told me she had a dream about me.  She dreamed that someone was at my door, and when I went to answer it, it was the number 7!  And she said the number kept coming back;  I was getting visits from number 7 after number 7.  This girl is nine years old.  She had no way of knowing how significant I find that number to be, and that I write about it often.

Even Disney acknowledges the number seven!

Recently, I discovered that if you count up the Biblical appointed times that are listed in Leviticus 23, you will find that there are 70 of them in a given year.  Fifty two sabbaths, eight days of Passover (Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits are included in those eight days), one day of Shavuot (Pentecost), one day of Yom Teruah, one day of Yom Kippur, seven days of Sukkot (Tabernacles).  Go ahead, count them up.  70.  It's like that number 7 that came to my door in my neighbor's dream, ten times!!

The timing of His appointed times fully depends on the sun and the moon.  The twelve constellations have historically told God's story, which is why the wise men coming from the east, who were probably biblical astrologers, knew when and where to look for the Messiah. Of course, the "zodiac" was corrupted by the devil, changing the focus of God's story to man's story.  In other words, don't be reading your horoscope in the newspaper.  Rather, learn about the appointed times and their significance to the world, especially the ones that are soon to be fulfilled when the Messiah returns!

So there was evening and morning, and day four was complete.  And God saw that it was good.

And as I wrote just a couple posts ago (but it bears repeating), the sun and the moon demonstrate that sun gives off light, but the moon has no light of its own and can only reflect the light of the sun.  So it is with us: we have no light of our own, but can only reflect the light of the Son.

Shine His light today!