Monthly Archives: January 2017

Genesis 3

Studies in Genesis 3

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’?” Genesis 3:1 ESV

Once again, God tells us what happened but does not tell us all that happened. Adam and Eve are in paradise. Their home is a garden, the Garden of Eden, where all of their needs are met and there is no danger. They have work, companionship, purpose, and are governed by a benevolent God who has given them the responsibility of benevolently governing the world in which they live. They are at peace with God, with each other and with the creatures of the world. Only in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is there the possibility of evil. Having not eaten from the tree, because its fruit is forbidden by God, they do not know evil, either intellectually or intimately.

God introduces us to a creature, the serpent, whom He declares “crafty” or “subtle” more so than any other creature. In addition, this creature has a voice and is understandable by the humans. There are so many incongruities in this verse it would be easy to draw incorrect conclusions about what happened and why. We must take care to not read into the verse more than is there.

What do we know about the animals created by God? Did the animals created have a voice and intelligent language with the ability to think and reason? We do not know. Have they since become dumb? We do not know. Or have we become unable to understand them because of our condition? We do not know. We know Adam and Eve were give the image of God and that the animals were not. Humans and animals are not equals.

As God describes the serpent we learn that it exhibits intelligent and has the ability to reason. The word “crafty” (twice in Job) is also translated prudent (8 times in the Proverbs) and subtle. It can also mean cunning, sly and shrewd. It would appear the idea of the word is thinking of options that may not fall within the natural boundaries emplaced by God. Being crafty would mean pushing through and breaking the natural boundaries to gain that which is outside of one’s legitimate grasp. This serpent, created by God, seemed to have an inward tendency to sin and disobedience.

There are no other instances of such actions and activities by any animal in Scripture or in nature. This is not a normal animal. There are stories, all fictions, of people being able to communicate with animals or intellectually understand animals. All of these stories, in some way, elevate the animal to the level of the human, or lower the human to the level of the animal. Yet, when God created He made Man greater than the animals.

In the beginning the serpent was not evil in and of itself. Everything God created was good in His eyes. Since the creatures under Adam’s authority were not given the image of God they were not given the ability to decide right from wrong.  God’s creatures instinctually obey Him because of the nature they were originally given. They also instinctually obeyed Adam and Eve as their authority, made so by God. Neither was afraid of the other. This flies in the face of what we are seeing in this verse. The serpent was naturally crafty but its craftiness was not sinful. It’s question to Eve revealed not it’s nature but the nature of something outside of it which was now in it. The innocent subtlety of the serpent was turned away from God. That which was speaking to Eve was not the serpent but something in the serpent, allowed by God to tempt the human.

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Godly Institutions

Studies in Genesis 2

And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:25

The man and the woman, created by God for relationship with Him and with each other, wore no clothing other than the skin in which they were created. They had no need for clothing. Yet, this verse adds a negative. They were not ashamed. They were doing nothing to cause guilt but were wholly within the design and purpose of God. Why the negative? This negative echoes the declaration of God that “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18 ESV). It would also appear that a negative is normal in the creation of the heavens and the earth. There was darkness in the beginning (see Genesis 1:1) then God created light. For our benefit God, who is perfect in Himself and all He does, declares the negative along with the positive and make all perfect.

There many things this chapter tells us, but two stand out. God establishes two institutions designed to point us toward Him individually and corporately. First, God tells us to rest on the seventh day because He rested. This weekly rest points us toward God and toward our place with Him in eternity.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:1-3 ESV)

Secondly, God establishes and sanctifies marriage. He set apart the man, Adam, from all the other creatures and gave him responsibility to name them. Naming a thing means control and authority. We do not name God. He names Himself. God then took a piece of Adam and created Eve. From then on a piece of a man and a piece of a woman is used, according to the natural laws emplaced by God, to make more people. This is done according to the moral and natural laws instituted by God. Neither of these sets of laws are dependent upon circumstance or culture. From Adam and Eve throughout the generations of all people, God embedded all with His image just as all have the same likeness.

God wants all to rest in Him. God wants all to know Him intimately. Where there is a negative He provides a positive. Yet, relationship is a two-way street. Having the image of God each person now has the duty and responsibility to respond to God and each other according to God’s design. And, since God, who is unconstrained by time, knows all, knows what will happen in time with those He created in His image. His creation is ordered in such a way to sanction the sacrifice of His Son for those He loves.

 

Unity of Marriage

Studies in Genesis 2

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 ESV

These are not Adam’s first words. These are not Adam’s words at all. Adam does not have a father or mother but is the father of the entire population of humans. Eve is the mother of the entire population of humans. These are the words of God, written by the author of Genesis, declaring His purpose and direction for all who follow, who will be born.

There are three parts to this statement, each with eternal consequences. Each statement declares the eternal intent of God showing the relationship all who carry the image of God have with their Creator. Yet, this statement is proceeded by a “therefore.” Everything God has said and done impacts the statements which follow. God has shown methodical purpose in the work of creating the Earth, the plants, fish, birds and animals, and Man. He has intentionally made a garden, the home for those He created. He gave Man, and consequently all humans, the “image of God,” so He might have a relationship with them and they with Him. This was done by eternal design. He purposefully created the man first, and then the woman from a piece of the man. All He does is according to His design and purpose with no trial and error or mistake. With these thoughts let us briefly examine the three parts to this statement.

A “man shall leave his father and his mother.” To leave means to depart from. It can carry the meaning of abandoning but we would be hard pressed to think of God wanting anyone to so completely separate themselves from others as to abandon them. God will not abandon us though He will discipline and even punish us. Parents are to care for their children and, as parents grow older, children are to care for their parents. This is a natural consequence of growing and maturing to responsibly reproduce, build a family with responsible children who will grow and continue the design and purpose of God fill and subdue the earth.

The Authorized Version, the King James Version, uses the word “cleave” to describe what the man does when he leaves his father and mother. The word “cleave” is the phrase “hold fast” and means to stick to, or cling to something. The man is to “hold fast to his wife.” Marriage is the divinely dictated, ordained and approved foundation for the family.

The consequence of leaving and holding fast is that two are now considered one, “they shall become one flesh.” Where the woman was taken out of the man’s flesh, and the woman bears children who are of her flesh, so the father and mother of the children are in God’s sight a unit, one person. This is a spiritual truth represented by a physical reality that points to Christ and the Church, not to the eternal marriage of two physical people. This verse points to the unity of those who have the image of God with God by revealing the necessity of unity of husband and wife.