Tag Archives: life

Dirt

Studies in Genesis 3

And to Adam he said, … “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19 ESV)

God told the man that when he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would die. Adam ate the fruit from the tree but he did not immediately, physically die. God’s command states that when he dies (physically) he will die (spiritually) (“you will die die” Genesis 2:17).

Now God tells Adam that he will live his physical life by hard, frustrating work, and that when it is his time to die he will become dust, or dirt. The very ground he works to grow food to live will claim him and he will become indistinguishable from it as his body deteriorates back to dirt. “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” (Genesis 2:7 ESV). God used dirt to make the man and to dirt the man will return when his body dies.

What happened to Adam happens to all who follow him. Had he obeyed God then those who followed would have received God’s blessing. That he disobeyed God, rebelling against Him, means he was sentenced to separation from God and the earth was cursed. We are not going to speculate about the probability of whether people would have individually rebelled against God if Adam had not. We do not know and cannot know the answer to that question. We do know sin infected all of humanity because of Adam’s rebellion. We do know all people die and their bodies become dirt after a time. Once the body is dead it cannot be made alive again by natural means.

Scripture does not use the term “federal headship.” Yet, Scripture is filled with historical examples of the children and citizens bearing the consequences of the actions of their fathers or leaders. “Federal” is a system of government where the leaders speak for the people. It is not a democracy where each has an equal voice but a system where the leaders are charged with the responsibility of implementing the will of those they represent. It is not fair but it is just.

Adam died. His body, after his life was no longer sustained, returned to the earth from which he was made and over which he was to have control, or dominion. He kept dominion as part of the image of God but lost the ability to exercise dominion. Before the fall, he was God’s representative over the earth. After the fall, the war began between those who hate God, even as they were created to know Him intimately, and everything pointing to God.

God makes it clear to Adam, and to all who follow him, that though they work and fulfill their responsibilities, they are still wholly dependent upon Him for their lives. Yes, people have to work and their work is both painful and stressful. God, after the rebellion of the first man, calls people to turn either toward Him or allows them to run away from Him. Those who turn away from God will work in their own effort and accomplish only what lasts a short, unfulfilling time. Those who turn toward God, acknowledge their inability to accomplish anything without God’s direct intervention. Physical death becomes the great equalizer among all people. Either there is a truthful and honest admission of separation from God because of sin or there is an attitude of not needing God, which is rebellion.

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True Freedom

Studies in Genesis 2

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “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.” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV)

God’s first recorded words to Adam were not those of a friend or acquaintance. Nor were they the words of a father to a child. His words were of a God, who owns all He has created, to a created being to whom He has giving authority over part of His creation. “Command” means to give a charge, or a commission, an assignment, a boundary. God spoke to “the man” (adam) setting the wide parameters of what he could eat, not where he could go or what he could do. Adam’s natural inclination is to work, taking care of the creation under his God ordained authority. Part of his work is to grow more fruit-bearing trees. He couldn’t possibly eat all of the food growing on these trees. Adam could eat anything he wanted from any tree except one tree.

God does not treat Adam like all of the other creatures He has created. He speaks to him face to face. “Saying”, in its various forms, means to speak one’s heart, to show intention and promise, to be told, to answer. This is not casual conversation. Yet, God’s words are not mysterious to Adam either. God spoke clearly. Adam understood completely.

God makes a promise in His command. We think of God’s promises as positive, yet He recognizes the propensity of the negative in those created in His image. His intent is to train those who are His to restrain and control the negative they will encounter in themselves, not to suppress the negative. Ultimately, He wants those who have an intimate relationship with Him to know the difference between good and evil and have the freedom to always choose the good. This is true freedom.

His words are not a threat but a statement of fact. This is not a covenant. A covenant is an agreement between two where the greater blesses the lesser, guaranteeing a promised outcome when certain criteria is met. God promises an outcome for disobedience but not for obedience. God’s expectation is for obedience from Adam, not disobedience. He did not create Adam for disobedience but for relationship. God’s omniscience gives Him the foreknowledge that Adam will disobey but this does not mean God created Adam for disobedience.

Adam, like everyone, must grow in his intimate knowledge and intellectual understanding of God. But he had an advantage we cannot ignore. He saw God. Before the fall, Adam was sinless and able to come into, or be in, God’s complete presence. God spoke to Adam face to face. God enjoyed His creation and was intimate with Adam, who was created in His image for relationship and intimacy. Adam enjoyed God. Growing and maturing is not limited to his natural surroundings but to the spiritual realm in which God dwelt. Adam could see there was more than the physical world every time he was in God’s presence. Thus to “eat, eat” shows more than physical food and nourishment just as “die, die” implies more than physical death. There is a spiritual second death just as there is a spiritual food, and by implication, life. Eating from the tree of life brought a second life just as eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as an act of outright rebellion brought spiritual death. God was training Adam to live.

More Than Food

Studies in Genesis 2

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “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.” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV)

There is a tree of life. There is not a tree of death. Nor is there a tree of decision. God gave Adam the freedom to choose and permission to eat from any tree in the garden but one. God commanded Adam to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He did not say to Adam stay away from the tree. He didn’t say to Adam that he didn’t have to take care of the tree. The Garden was Adam’s home and he was responsible for everything in his home. His total responsibilities were given him by God. Adam was first and foremost responsible to God and under His authority.

God uses the word “eat” four times in these two verses. Most translations will show only three times. Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat (eat). But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou may not eat of it. For in the day that you eat you surely die (die)” (Gen 2:16-17 Authorized edited by gfw). To “eat” means to consume or devour for food, to cause to eat. God is telling Adam the fruit of every tree in the garden may be eaten or devoured to sustain his life. The trees are God’s, given to Adam to take care of and use for their intended purpose.

If we view “die die” as both natural death and then execution, or a second death, so we should view “eat, eat” as both natural consumption of necessary food and a second eating. God gave Adam food to consume beyond the physical. There is a second food for him to eat, implying there is life beyond the physical, just as there is a death beyond the physical.

Adam was supposed to eventually eat from the tree of life. He is already alive and he eats from the fruit of the trees to keep living. Just as there is a second death, a death other than physical, so there is life beyond physical life. Since every tree of the garden was beautiful to look at and good for food, I believe, without having absolute verifiable evidence, God would eventually give Adam permission to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If every tree is good for food, sustaining the body then there would come a time, at God’s discretion and according to His purpose, when Adam would be ready for such knowledge.

There was only good in the Garden. This does not mean there was no evil in creation. Creation is more than the earth in the physical universe. Adam needed preparation and training to face evil when it was time. His training begins with obedience to the command of God. Don’t eat was not a request.

Life and Death

Studies in Genesis 2

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “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.” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV)

God uses the word “die” twice in this verse. Many have translated the verse “you shall surely die.” But God actually says “die die.” What does He mean?

“Die” means to have someone killed or executed, to intentionally take the life of another. But, it also means to simply die, or to cease living, because of natural causes. The former is a deliberate act of one person against another while the latter is a natural consequence of mortality. Thus, the phrase probably means that first is physical death followed by execution by God for rebellion. How can anyone die more than once?

From the study of the word “day” in Genesis 1 I have drawn the conclusion a “day” is not a 24 hour period of time. A “day” is a period of time determined by God with a specific beginning and ending time. God accomplishes specific acts of creation on each of the first six days. I also believe God, who exists outside of time, created life mortal, with a beginning and an ending. Birth is the beginning and death is the ending of physical life. He set in motion life according to specific and well defined laws. He is intentionally involved in creation and all created things exist according to His determination. He knows the beginnings and endings of every created thing.

Because the beginning of time suggests an end of time, so the beginning of life, physical life, suggests there is death, or an end of life. Plants, fish, birds and all land animals live, reproduce and die. There is no indication in Genesis 1 that either flora or fauna were created to live without dying.

There are two immediate implications to this line of thinking. First, Adam would know about death. Dying would not be foreign or unexpected but something he had seen firsthand. Death would not have startled him. Secondly, Adam knew he would eventually physically die. His body would live as long as God determined and then he would cease to physically live. He was not afraid of death because he knew death was not final but the beginning of a different life. How did he know this?

Of the uncounted trees in the Garden there were two trees named by God. Adam had permission to eat from every tree but one. Adam had the freedom to eat from the tree of life at any time. Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was prohibited. Disobedience to the single prohibition would bring, not physical death, because he will already die physically, but a different kind of death, an execution where God deliberately caused his further death.

There is a second death.

 

Two Trees

Studies in Genesis 2

And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9 ESV)

God made a paradise on Earth, an enclosed garden named Eden, in which He created and caused to grow trees from the smallest to the largest. These trees had one or both of two characteristics. First, they were “pleasant to the sight” and a delight to look at. The word “pleasant” means desirable. Many, if not all of the trees, bore fruit or food for Man. Every kind and type of food that was “good” or beneficial for Man’s well-being and growth. Eden was both beautiful and practical.

“Every” tree in the garden was “pleasant to the sight and good for food.” “Every” means the totality of and all. There was not a tree in the garden that was ugly, by God’s standard, or did not fulfill its God designed purpose of providing food.

Somewhere, deeply embedded in the Garden of Eden, were two trees given special purpose. We know the names of these trees and by their names the purpose of each. One is the “tree of life” and the other is the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” These, like all the other trees, were pleasant to gaze upon and their fruit was good for food. There is nothing in the Garden of Eden dangerous to Man, or poisonous to touch or consume.

“Life” is a noun and means that which is born, grows and is active in some way. Plants and trees have life because they begin life as a seed and grow and, by their nature, actively produce that for which they were created, fruit with seeds. Animals have life because they are born and grow and are active, naturally fulfilling their purpose. Yet, for person created in the image of God life carries the ability to consciously fulfill the purpose for which they are created. Man’s nature is found in the image of God. That the food of the trees of the garden of Eden were given to sustain life is part of their purpose just as it is part of the purpose and design of people to consume food designed specifically for them. All living things already have life. So, for Man, the fruit gives more than simple physical life but a life beyond life.

“Knowledge” can mean perception, skill, discernment, wisdom and understanding. “Good” carries the idea from pleasant to beneficial, excellent, appropriate, valuable or bounteous. Conversely, “evil” carries the exact opposite meaning of “good.” That which is evil is anything unpleasant, harmful, corrupted, inappropriate, worthless and unable to provide anything that is good. Thus, it is the intellectual and intimate understanding and wisdom that comes with knowing, in the fullest sense of the word, the applicable difference between that which is good and that which is evil.

Both trees were pleasant to look and good for food. Yet, these trees were given by God something eternally different than any other tree in the Garden. It is not that there was something magical about the fruit of these trees. It is, ultimately, the purpose and active will of God which imbues the fruit of these trees with qualities God placed on them.

Beginning and Ending

Studies in Genesis 1

And God saw that it was good.

And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”

And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. (Genesis 1:21-23 ESV)

If we accept the archeological evidence on its face, without adding any theory as to how animal life came into existence, then we can draw several inferences. First, a massive number of species of marine animals came into existence over a relatively short period of time almost 500 million years ago. Somewhere between 150 and 200 million years ago birds came on the scene. These times are assumed because no one was there and there is no physical evidence of shorter timeframe. Everything looks old.

Whatever the dating used the circumstantial evidence suggests a long period of time between the first marine animals and birds. How much difference for us is there between hundreds of millions of years and simply millions of years, or even shorter thousands of years?

Next, these animals reproduced, lived and died. Their lifespan was not long but short. While some trees live for thousands of years most plants live only a single or a few seasons. So, too, the animal life which filled the Earth lived for a relatively short time, during which time they reproduced and then died.

Next, the circumstantial evidence suggests some of the animals ate other animals. God did say He gave the plants and fruits for food. This does not preclude some animals eating plants and other animals. Whales open their mouths and scoop anything in the way.

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:29-30 ESV)

Finally, the evidence tells us not all species of animals which originally appeared so long ago are still in existences.  Many species have become extinct.

Most people hold a theology which demands death not happen until after the sinful disobedience and fall of Adam. Yet, there is Scriptural evidence and physical evidence death was known by God and accounted for in creation. From the beginning there was “darkness” before God instituted “day” and “night.” Both “darkness” and “night” suggest physical death and dying and the possibility of spiritual “death” and “dying.” It would appear physical “death,” a beginning and end, is a natural part of creation. God exists outside of space time creation, began creation at His discretion and will end creation by His authority.

 

Create and Fashion

Studies in Genesis 1

And God made the two great lights — the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night — and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:16-18 ESV)

God uses the word “separate” to draw a distinction between light and darkness, just as He did on the first day. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness” (Gen 1:4 ESV). HE also “separated” water from water (Gen. 1:6), that is, He separated the water needed for life from that liquid hostile to life. Our word “separate” is two Hebrew words, bâdal bêyn, which is to divide or distinguish between.

God draws a division and distinction between the light and darkness, the light of day and the darkness of night. This separation of light from darkness is a theme throughout Scripture.

God created both light and darkness. He tells us this in Genesis and again in Isaiah. “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7 ESV).

To form means to mold, as potters molds and form clay. To create means to cut down, select and make or fashion. God forms like a potter both light and well-being, which is peace. He also selects and fashions darkness, which may mean a combination of misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness, calamity or that which is bad.

Is God saying He is the author of both light and peace, and of death and evil? It would seem so. Here is what the Gospel of John says about Jesus, the Christ.

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:3-5 ESV)

Do not jump to conclusions. God gives life but also takes it away, bringing death. That He does this is theologically sound. Why He does this, gives life and death, is a theological mystery which requires a lifetime of examination and intimacy with God.