Saturday, December 26, 2009

Therefore, the Lord God sent them forth

Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
Genesis 3:23-24 KJV

Oh, so you mean there is a penalty for sin?  But that is not the way the world seems to operate today.  Many seem to operate today in a "consequence free" zone.

These are my thoughts as I take a little longer look at the passage that I addressed a little while ago.

In one sense, God divorced Adam and Eve.  He turned them out of the Garden, and further,  He kept them  out.  God turned him out from the sublime to the common. This is mentioned twice: He sent him forth (v. 23), and then He drove him out, v. 24. In today's parlance that would sound like this; "Get out and stay out!"

God told them get out, told them that that was no place for them, and they would no longer occupy and enjoy that garden. But they liked the place too well to be willing to leave, and therefore God drove them out.  God made them go out, whether they wanted to or not.

This signified an exclusion or separation for them, and all future mankind, from that communion with God and from walking with God in the cool of the day that defined the paradise that was the garden of Eden. The tokens of God’s grace and favor to them were now suspended. And Adam became weak and mortal in that very moment.  He became like other men, such as Samson when the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him.

But where did God send them when He turned them out of Eden?

He might justly have chased him out of the world (see Job 18:18), but God only chased them out of the garden.

He might justly have banished them down to hell, as He did the angels that sinned when He cast them out from Heaven (see 2nd Peter 2:4). But man was only sent to work the very ground out of which they were taken. He was sent to a place of toil, not to a place of eternal torment.

He was sent to the ground, not to the grave.  He was sent to the daily grind, not to the dungeon.

He was sent to hold the plow, not to the pinion.

So, what is it there for?

By working the land man would be rewarded by his eating of its fruits.  And this would serve to keep man humble. Observe, then, that though our first parents were banished from the Garden and its privileges by their sin, they were not abandoned to despair.  God already had a plan.  God’s thoughts of love were already designing them for a way of salvation with new terms. God was looking down the long road of history and looking at a manger and at a cruel cross. 

I think it is appropriate to end with Romans 5:8.  It says;

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Therefore, take no thought for your life

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Matthew 6:25 NIV

Wow! That definitely goes counter to our culture today, doesn't it?

There is hardly any one sin that our Lord Jesus Christ offers more warnings to his disciples than the sin of disquieting, distracting, distrustful cares about the things of life. Consider that it is indeed an indicator that both the treasure and the heart are here on the earth; and therefore not in Heaven where we are directed us to store it.

But that is the very thing that we tend to think about. We think about our health, our wealth, our position in society. And what good does all of that "thinking" do? None of those thoughts can change one iota.

So what is it there for?

It is a not so subtle reminder that God is in control. And we are to rest comfortably and confidently in that knowledge.

My mind goes back to the A cappella choir at Eastern Nazarene College many years ago. One of their signature songs was taken from Psalm 31:15. The chorus says, "My times are in Thy hand, my God I wish them there."

That song will run through my head all day today. I hope it does for you as well.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Therefore the LORD God sent him out

"Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" -- Therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life."
Genesis 3:22-24 NASB

Ask anyone who knows me and they will quickly tell you that I am not the most well-read individual on the planet. I just figure that if a book is that good, then someone will surely make it into a movie.

To the best of my knowledge (and upon searching IMDB), I have determined that no one has made a movie based upon Paradise Lost, John Milton's epic poem of the opening events of man as recorded in the Book of Genesis.

The story is probably fairly familiar to many of you. But the root of all mankind's disruption of the Divine fellowship that was once shared with God Himself is found both the opening chapters of Genesis and is loosely paraphrased in Milton's story.

Early in the story of Paradise Lost, Satan asks Eve;
"Wherein lies th'offense, that man should thus attain to know?"
Book 9, lines 725-6

What a great question. Satan basically says, "What's the big deal?" or "What harm is there in knowing the difference between good and evil?"

The issue behind this question is difficult to understand. Perhaps there is a note of sarcasm by God here (as Elijah used in 1 Kings 18:27), regarding Satan’s empty promise that they (Adam and Eve) could become like gods. Or, maybe it is just the fact that now man has the experiential knowledge of evil.

So what is it there for?

It is there to demonstrate something about God? He does the merciful thing. That's right. God does the merciful thing. God drives Adam and Eve from the garden where the Tree of Life grew so that they could not eat of that tree as well. How terrible would it have been to have eaten of that tree and lived forever in sin? How awful would it have been to live forever without the hope of salvation?

You and I will face death. But you and I have the hope of Salvation that Jesus Christ offers.

Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
Genesis 3:23

Friday, September 11, 2009

Therefore, if you are offering your gift

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
Matthew 5:23-24 -- NIV

So, I got the first "Therefore" used this way in the Old Testament in my last post. Now let's look at the first similar usage from the New Testament.

Back up a few verses.  What is Jesus talking about?

Jesus is in the midst of a sermon.  A very famous sermon.  It is called the Sermon on the Mount.  (But, you probably already knew that.)  He has just completed the Beatitudes.  He had described what the life of a true Disciple would be like.  And now He returns to laying down or reiterating these principles that Moses had given them  The prophets were still to be their rulers, but the scribes and Pharisees were no longer to be their rulers.  Jesus proceeds to expound on the law in some particular instances, and to vindicate it from the corrupt and self serving spin that those expositors of the law had put upon it.

He does not introduce any new laws.  There were certainly enough of them.  He only places some limits on or restrains some permissions that had been abused.  And speaking of those principles, Jesus also shows the breadth, strictness, and spiritual nature of them, adding explanatory notes and making them more clear and He gets to the "heart" of the matter. In these verses, Jesus explains what His Heavenly Father meant when he gave the sixth commandment to Moses back on another mount.  And He deals with it according to the true intent and full extent of what the commandment was all about.

Here are the two verses that precede verses 23 and 24.

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, ' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.  Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."

What is it there for?

Here is the same principle expressed a different way.

When you come to worship God, first be reconciled. 

Be reconciled to God.  Make sure that you are able to stand before Him and worship.  The old timers used to say. "There is nothing between my soul and the Savior."  I think that speaks of our reconciliation to God.

Be reconciled to your brother.  Make sure that you are not harboring thoughts that are not pleasing to God.  My mother called those "ugly thoughts."  You see our relationships with our neighbor have a profound effect upon whether or not the worship is a pleasing incense or fragrance.

Here is another observation from Scripture.  Reconciliation with our neighbor takes precedence over religious activities.  Our relationship is so important that Jesus tells us to leave our sacrifice on the altar.  Get up immediately and go and find our brother.

Go look up Amos 5:21-27.  That passage ends with a pretty good "Therefore."  But I will get to that later.  In these verses, the prophet Amos condemns Israel's religious practices.  He tells them that God despises, yes, despises, worship that is not lived out in righteousness, justice and moral living.  Verse 24 is the thrust of his message.  Justice and righteousness in our daily relationships are more important to God than empty religious rituals.  Especially if that religious activity is tainted with idolatrous practices.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Therefore a man . . .

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Genesis 2:24 KJV

I guess I figured that I would use a Concordance and find the first usage of the word "Therefore". The first place I could find it used in Scripture was very early in the book of Genesis. 

God is making a statement here. He is speaking to me as a man.  He is making a statement about how the God-centered family is to be designed.

The King James Version uses an old word; cleave. I went to for a definition. Here is what I found.
  • to adhere closely; stick; cling (usually followed by to).
  • to remain faithful (usually followed by to): to cleave to one's principles in spite of persecution.
I think the first definition reflects the design God had in mind here in that we are to cleave so closely and tightly that we become one. The second definition speaks to the permanence of that bond. We are to remain faithful to one another.

God is also making a statement to us men about priorities. One of the highest priorities before we are married is our parents. That is well and good. In fact, God will make a very specific commandment about our relationship to our parents in just a few more chapters in Genesis. God makes the statement that we are to "honor" our parents. I never read later in Scripture that He alters that command. Nor do I see that it has an expiration date.

What I do see is that, as men of God, our priorities change. Once I am a husband my top priority (from an Earthly perspective) is my beloved bride. All else pales in comparison. My old "single" priorities and practices begin to change in light of the one to whom I have cleaved. The "rights" that I had before are tempered by the "responsibilities" that I now have as a husband. We are now in a new and Divine relationship that God himself ordained. The role we have as a father are even greater than the role of husband.  But that can be the subject of another post in the future.

God intends that clinging to one another as being so close to one another that the two become one. It is not a "Velcro" bond.  It is an epoxy bond.  And I don't see anywhere later in Scripture where we are to cease clinging faithfully to one another. Rather, the bond is one that lasts until we breathe our last breath here on Earth.

What's it there for?

I think God is describing the best way for that relationship to be the most successful.

What do you think?

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[This post dedicated to a set of newlyweds approaching their first anniversary and a set of newlyweds who about to begin their lives together.]

Friday, August 28, 2009

What's it there for?

Such was the question that was posed by the evangelist one night during a revival service so many years ago.  He was preaching with great passion and power.  And he came to a passage in the Bible that began with "Therefore . . ."

He paused.

And then he said, "Whenever you come across the word 'Therefore' in a Bible verse, you need to pause for a while, read it again, study it and figure out just what it is there for." 

That was good advice many years ago.  I have not come across a verse in my Bible reading since that night that I have not thought about what that preacher said.  Now I must confess.  Sometimes I began that reading and studying right there on the spot.  And sometimes that was in another church service when another preacher was preaching.

So, I apologize for that!  But not for the great Biblical adventure that began that night!

My other blog is going fine.  But, I had a desire to create this one and see where it takes me.  I hope you will be an active participant in the dialog.

After all, isn't that what blogs are there for?

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