Together We Follow: Genesis 7

Last Thursday, we read Genesis 6. We saw how the world was filled with violence and how God was broken-hearted over the corruption and pain. We read about the one righteous man left on earth and God’s faithfulness to him. So that Noah would be rescued – so that humanity would be saved – God instructed him to build an ark.

Today, we move into chapter 7…this is the moment when the boat is finished and God is telling Noah that it’s time to board with his family because the waters will soon come.

But at the moment, my mind keeps going to the space between Chapter 6 and Chapter 7.

This is the time after God has given direction and before the work is done. These are the days, for Noah, of telling his family what God had said to him. These are the days of going out to collect supplies, to cut down trees, to gather and store food. This is day after day of getting out of bed and getting to work – without a rain drop falling to reassure him, Noah led his family in a massive and unprecedented mission.

It couldn’t have been easy. There must have been moments of doubt, of fear. There must have been days when it all felt like too much, like too hard of a thing to ever complete.

Every morning, he had to make the decision to trust God. And this trust wasn’t just a matter of the heart — every morning, he had to make the decision to act upon the foundation of that trust. With every plank put into place, every swipe of pitch, every stored vegetable, he was saying again – I believe You. I trust You.

Every morning, he had to put his faith in who he knew God to be – and no matter what anyone else was saying, no matter the obstacles, no matter the illogical appearance of his task — he kept moving forward. And at the end of the day, he had to rest in God’s sovereignty. He had to rest – find peace – in in his faith that God was with him. He staked everything – all he had, his family, his life’s work – in the promise of God.

And at the right time, Noah saw it with his own eyes: God is faithful. He does what He says He will do.

I think this is where we are on many days, in many ways. The time between planting and harvest can stretch out, sometimes farther than we can see, and the every-day tending is an act of trust, a life of faith.

When we are weary, when the job seems too hard, when everything feels like too much…we rest in who He is: the lifter of our heads, sufficient grace in our weakness, the One who strengthens our tired hands.

Every morning, we decide again that we will keep moving forward, we will obey, we will be faithful in all the small things. Every morning, we say again – I choose to trust You. Every day, we make the choice to live in a constant surrender, trusting in who He is, boldly staking everything we have in His promises.

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Genesis 7

When everything was ready, the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the boat with all your family, for among all the people of the earth, I can see that you alone are righteous. Take with you seven pairs—male and female—of each animal I have approved for eating and for sacrifice, and take one pair of each of the others. Also take seven pairs of every kind of bird. There must be a male and a female in each pair to ensure that all life will survive on the earth after the flood. Seven days from now I will make the rains pour down on the earth. And it will rain for forty days and forty nights, until I have wiped from the earth all the living things I have created.”

So Noah did everything as the Lord commanded him.

Noah was 600 years old when the flood covered the earth. He went on board the boat to escape the flood—he and his wife and his sons and their wives. With them were all the various kinds of animals—those approved for eating and for sacrifice and those that were not—along with all the birds and the small animals that scurry along the ground. They entered the boat in pairs, male and female, just as God had commanded Noah. After seven days, the waters of the flood came and covered the earth.

When Noah was 600 years old, on the seventeenth day of the second month, all the underground waters erupted from the earth, and the rain fell in mighty torrents from the sky. The rain continued to fall for forty days and forty nights.

That very day Noah had gone into the boat with his wife and his sons—Shem, Ham, and Japheth—and their wives. With them in the boat were pairs of every kind of animal—domestic and wild, large and small—along with birds of every kind. Two by two they came into the boat, representing every living thing that breathes. A male and female of each kind entered, just as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord closed the door behind them.

For forty days the floodwaters grew deeper, covering the ground and lifting the boat high above the earth. As the waters rose higher and higher above the ground, the boat floated safely on the surface. Finally, the water covered even the highest mountains on the earth, rising more than twenty-two feet above the highest peaks. All the living things on earth died—birds, domestic animals, wild animals, small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the people. Everything that breathed and lived on dry land died. God wiped out every living thing on the earth—people, livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and the birds of the sky. All were destroyed. The only people who survived were Noah and those with him in the boat.  And the floodwaters covered the earth for 150 days.

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Together We Follow: Genesis 6

 

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The next events we witness on our path through Genesis are not easy to see. There’s sadness here, immeasurable grief and pain.

But there’s hope here, too, because God doesn’t leave us alone in the hardest parts of this life. He always, always gives us a chance to take refuge in Him.

We’ve read the family trees. We’ve seen that Cain’s descendants put their roots deep in this earth, making names for themselves and bragging about acts of violence. We’ve seen that Seth, the third son of Adam, is the forefather of men who call upon the name of the Lord, men who walk faithfully with Him.

Years upon years pass…generations of men and women begin to fill the earth.

Genesis 6

Then the people began to multiply on the earth, and daughters were born to them. The sons of God saw the beautiful women and took any they wanted as their wives. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120 years.”

In those days, and for some time after, giant Nephilites lived on the earth, for whenever the sons of God had intercourse with women, they gave birth to children who became the heroes and famous warriors of ancient times.

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.”

It’s not easy to think about God – the Creator who lovingly shaped our earth and everything on it, calling it all good – deciding to destroy all living things. It is not easy to think about God destroying mankind.

We have to know that this was no abrupt conclusion, no hasty decision. What have we seen about the character of God so far?

He made Adam and Eve in His own image. He created an entire home full of everything they needed to thrive. He gave life. He warned men when they were in danger of letting sin take control of them. He was merciful even when they did not listen and allowed sin to enter their hearts, to motivate their actions. He was still there. He still took care of them, even promising that their own offspring would one day crush the enemy. He still gave life even when people chose death. 

So how did we get to this point? Because God doesn’t change, we have to know that — even though it isn’t written out in detail – His character stayed true through every generation. This means we can feel confident that He warned of sin, gave opportunities for repentance, showed mercy to those who turned to Him. We can be sure that the offer of life was ever in His outstretched hands.

We can also be sure that this gift of life was ignored, again and again, by this generation of our history. The passage says that every heart was evil. Every desire, every action, every decision was made from a place of greed, selfish ambition, hatred. We can only imagine how this affected every-day life. We can only imagine the violence, the poisonous words, the injury to spirit and body. We can only imagine that no one was safe and that every passing year brought more destruction, more heartbreak.

God looked at this planet He’d formed, at these precious people He loved, and they were incessantly – brutally – hurting each other. There was no peace, no rest, no innocence left among these men and women He’d only wanted to give joy and abundant life. Mankind was destroying each other.

And it broke His heart.

But in the chaos, one man remained fixed on the foundation he’d been given by his father. One man stood his ground and lived according to what pleased God, even while the rest of the world went their own way.

But Noah found favor with the Lord.

This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. Noah was the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt.

So God said to Noah, “I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth!

Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Leave an 18-inch opening below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat—lower, middle, and upper.

Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die. But I will confirm my covenant with you. So enter the boat—you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring a pair of every kind of animal—a male and a female—into the boat with you to keep them alive during the flood. Pairs of every kind of bird, and every kind of animal, and every kind of small animal that scurries along the ground, will come to you to be kept alive. And be sure to take on board enough food for your family and for all the animals.”

So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.

Again, God provided the way of life.

In His just ways, in His faithfulness to the promise He’d made to Adam and Eve, God was not going to abandon Noah.

I’ve often wondered about Noah and his family. In a world filled with violence and corruption, there must have been days when they felt overwhelmed. Afraid. There must have been days when they didn’t know how they would survive. I wonder if Noah thought about what would happen to his family when he died, worried about the lives of his sons and their sons after them.

I imagine there must have been times when he felt alone, like he was carrying the weight of his family’s well-being on his shoulders .

But he wasn’t alone and the future was not hopeless, in spite of how circumstances seemed.

God promised rescue, if Noah would hear and obey His word,  from the violence, from the pain, from the unremitting struggle on the earth.

It would come at a great price, at a high cost – but God would use this man and his family to save the human race. As long as even one man was seeking Him, God would be there.

And one day, generations down the line, He would put on flesh and take the judgment of sin Himself – those wages that are death – so that no other man or woman would have to bear it. It’s His way, to provide salvation for us. In His love, He never wants our hearts to remain far from His.

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.-Hebrews 2:14

 

 

 

 

Together We Follow: Genesis 5

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On a day that I’m feeling the weight of a hard week, it is good to remember God’s faithfulness. It’s good to remember that when He makes promises, He keeps them. It’s good to remember that if we center our lives on Him and seek Him with all our hearts, He will be with us in every circumstance, He will stay with us in every unexpected place in our lives, He will complete the good work He started in us…He will make a way for things to work out for our good, even when we can’t see how it’s possible.

This family tree we’re reading today reminds me of all that.

We see a lot of family trees recorded in scripture. It’s a lot of detail, I know, but it’s written there for us. The beautiful purpose of every preserved name, noting every generation that follows the first man and wife, shows us the fulfillment of God’s promises that the enemy would be crushed by the seed of Adam and Eve.

We can see that God’s faithfulness kept going and going, through every generation. We can see that He knew every name – He was present with His people. We see that He delighted in their friendship — for Enoch, a man who sought after God with His whole life, God bypassed death. Because he invited God into his every day, God was there. He came to where Enoch was and walked with Him…and when the time came, He simply took Enoch from the Earth and brought him into the heavenly kingdom.

I don’t know if you might have a heavy-heart today or if all is well…either way, we have the same truth that this passage reveals. He knows us…He is unfolding the fulfillment of the promises He has made to us with every passing day. He has already come to where we are…and He didn’t leave. He is with us. From this life to the one-day of His Kingdom that we will see with our own eyes and walk with our own feet, we are invited to abide in Him. He is our safe place. He is our refuge.

This is the written account of the descendants of Adam. When God created human beings, he made them to be like himself. He created them male and female, and he blessed them and called them “human.”

When Adam was 130 years old, he became the father of a son who was just like him—in his very image. He named his son Seth. After the birth of Seth, Adam lived another 800 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Adam lived 930 years, and then he died.

When Seth was 105 years old, he became the father of Enosh. After the birth of Enosh, Seth lived another 807 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Seth lived 912 years, and then he died.

When Enosh was 90 years old, he became the father of Kenan. After the birth of Kenan, Enosh lived another 815 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Enosh lived 905 years, and then he died.

When Kenan was 70 years old, he became the father of Mahalalel. After the birth of Mahalalel, Kenan lived another 840 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Kenan lived 910 years, and then he died.

When Mahalalel was 65 years old, he became the father of Jared. After the birth of Jared, Mahalalel lived another 830 years, and he had other sons and daughters.Mahalalel lived 895 years, and then he died.

When Jared was 162 years old, he became the father of Enoch. After the birth of Enoch, Jared lived another 800 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Jared lived 962 years, and then he died.

When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.

When Methuselah was 187 years old, he became the father of Lamech. After the birth of Lamech, Methuselah lived another 782 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Methuselah lived 969 years, and then he died.

When Lamech was 182 years old, he became the father of a son. Lamech named his son Noah, for he said, “May he bring us relief from our work and the painful labor of farming this ground that the Lord has cursed.” After the birth of Noah, Lamech lived another 595 years, and he had other sons and daughters.  Lamech lived 777 years, and then he died.

After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Together We Follow: Genesis 4: 17-26

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Today, we’re reading about two lines that descend from Adam and Eve.

The first begins with Cain. The last time we saw him, he’d just received mercy from God. Even though he shattered his family — even though he killed his own little brother, breaking the hearts of Adam and Eve, he was given the chance to go out into the world and make a life for himself.

The book of Romans tells us that the kindness of God is to bring us to repentance — but this chance to humble himself, this undeserved chance to change does not seem to alter Cain’s heart. We can see this in the unfolding of his lineage…although we see how he builds a city, how his family focuses on skills and crafts, how they seem to make their names known – we don’t see any mention of offering, of sacrifice to the Lord, of worship. We don’t see that Cain teaches his children or their children about the Creator. We do see that one of his descendants, Lamech, is not afraid to break the pattern God into place for marriage and takes two women as wives. We also get to hear how he boasts to his wives, Adah and Zillah, about his murderous act to kill a young man who has injured him. Instead of showing distress at this violence, he refers to the mark of God’s mercy placed upon his forefather Cain, multiplying for himself the vengeance promised to anyone who would touch him.

This does not sound like a generation taught to be grateful for God’s grace. This does not sound like a generation taught to live wisely, but perhaps to take mercy for granted…perhaps, even, to exploit it. This sounds like men choosing their own way, their own needs, and their own pride.

We will see, as we continue into the next chapters, that these generations descend into evil and violence. We will see that their greed and disregard for God leads to a world unsafe and a Creator with a broken heart.

On the other hand, the third son that is born to Adam goes a different way — we aren’t shown, in this passage, a long line of descendants. We’re told that he had a son, named him Enosh, and that they began to call on the name of the Lord. Without much detail, it’s easy to see — Seth taught his son about the Lord…and he had this knowledge because of his parents.

We will soon see that this knowledge mattered – as it set the course for their own personal lives, their own relationships with each other and with God…it also mattered for the course of humanity.  As the generations unfold, we will come to a righteous son whose knowledge of the Lord, in the middle of a time with every other heart turned toward doing evil, will be the bridge to a new covenant with the Lord.

I want to remember that this difference between the two lines didn’t happen all in one swooping action. We’ve already seen that Cain’s crime wasn’t an abrupt change of character…it was a series of decisions that led to that fatal hour in the field. It was a series of choices that led to a family not seeking God’s face…just as it was Seth’s choice to raise up a son who would know the Lord.

It’s in the day-to-day, in the routine hours and minutes that we decide – is my heart set on God? Am I honoring Him on this random Tuesday night? Is praise on my lips when I wake up in the morning? Do I show His character to my children when we are scrambling to get ready for school, taking care of chores, getting through homework? When I am out in my neighborhood, in my town -do I show His love to the people I meet?

Are my moments lived in a way that adds up to a life reflecting my Father?

Our moments do matter, more than we can know. Our lives matter for this present time and for the generations that will follow us. May our days — our minute-by-minute decisions, our actions, our words, our hearts — stay surrendered to God, so that our lives will point to Him.

Genesis 4:17-24

17 And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son—Enoch.  To Enoch was born Irad; and Irad begot Mehujael, and Mehujael begot Methushael, and Methushael begot Lamech.

Then Lamech took for himself two wives: the name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah. And Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute. And as for Zillah, she also bore Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron. And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.

Then Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; Wives of Lamech, listen to my speech! For I have killed a man for wounding me, Even a young man for hurting me. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”

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And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.”  And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord.

 

Together We Follow: Sunday Scripture & a Prayer for Our New Week (Gen. 4:1-2)

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I’ve had a quiet Sunday, which is unusual for our family. Since we’ve all been struggling to shake off colds and respiratory issues, we took today off from our normal Sunday routines. These hours to rest have also brought time to think over the scriptures we’ve read this week and, of course, on this day that marks the anniversary of 9/11, memories of that heartrending day.

Here’s what brings my heart peace — in these first chapters of Genesis, there is a clear truth. God was there before Adam and Eve walked in the garden, He was there while they lived unashamed in Eden, He was there as they chose to go their own way, and He was there after they left their first home. We know this from the very next verse after their exile:

Genesis 4:1-2: Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.” Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel.

After their disobedience, after their sin, after their consequences were explained, after they lost the Garden of Eden…they still knew that the beautiful gift of a baby boy was given by the Lord.

Their perfect communion with God had been broken, but His love for them was not severed…and so, He was still present and active in their lives.

This is true for us, too. God is the One who knows us before our first breath on this earth — He formed us in our mothers’ womb. He knows our steps, our thoughts, our words, our hearts, the number of hairs on our heads and the number of tears that we cry. He is with us on every ordinary day, He is with us on the days that bring delight – and He is with us on the days that break us, these  days like 9/11 that come with shock and fear, days that bring the loss of relationship, the ending of dreams we have held dear, or loved ones saying goodbye. He is with us when our hearts are tuned to His song, our ears to His voice – and even when we are choosing to sin and find ourselves hiding in shame, He is there waiting for us to come Home to Him.

In every unpredictable and hard season, He stays. In every peaceful and glad season, He stays.

In every season, He stays.

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”-Hebrews 13:5

Father, help us to remember that You are with us. Always, always, always – You are the One who stays. Help us to recognize Your presence in our lives, to understand that Your steadfast grace is sufficient for us. Help us to know, as this new week begins, that we can trust Your faithfulness. Help us to know that Your strong arms are holding us – and even if our world shakes, You do not let us go. 

 

 

 

 

Together We Follow: Genesis 3

 Genesis 3

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman.  “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.

Satan, as we read yesterday, wanted his own glory. He wanted his own authority. He was on earth, exiled from heaven, because of his pride and rebellion…his relationship with God had been destroyed by his own actions.

And he was not content to leave things as they were in the Garden of Eden. He was out to gain power over God’s creation. He was out to destroy the relationship between God and man.

After all, why should they hold onto what he could no longer have?

So he approached Eve – not in his own form, which would have most likely sent her running before he could say a word – but in the skin of a snake, a familiar creature to her. Adam and Eve had dominion over the animals…there was no creature that was a threat to them. It was part of their garden-tending duties to look out for all of God’s creation…and in his shrewd decision-making, satan knew that Eve would be comfortable around an animal.

He didn’t start the conversation with a dramatic speech, he didn’t begin with a condemnation of God’s character…he just asked a simple question, using a partial truth. And Eve entertained his thoughts. She considered his words. She didn’t throw down the idea of disobedience as soon as it came to her – instead she held it, looked at it, kept it.

I’m sure that there are many perspectives on this moment of time, but for me this interaction boils down to a few facts  – Eve listened to the voice of the snake. She chose to trust in the enemy instead of trusting in God. And, in the end, she doubted God’s intentions for her. She doubted His goodness and she doubted that what He had already given was enough for her.

So she took the fruit and she ate it, believing that God was holding something back from her…believing that there was more for her…believing that she needed to be more than she already was.

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At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees.

 Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

“Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”

The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”

 Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?”

“The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”

Instead of becoming more – instead of feeling like God Himself – Adam and Eve felt less. They lost their secure footing with each other, with God. Their disobedience took their innocence and left them with guilt, with shame. God had once looked at them and declared that they were ‘very good’ — but they no longer felt that this was true. They immediately felt the need to cover up, to shield everything that was bare and vulnerable.

Do you think that the cool of the evening, when it seems the Lord would come walk with Adam and Eve, had been their favorite time of day? Do you think that, for the man and woman, the beauty of the garden paled in comparison to the glory of its Maker? Do you think that they would run to Him, eager for His smile and His presence?

I do. I believe that their hearts longed for the time spent walking and talking with Him. I believe they would hear His footsteps and rush to their Father with arms open wide.

But not this time.

This time, they heard His footsteps and felt something entirely unfamiliar — fear. This time, they did not run freely to His side. This time, they felt anxiety churn in their bellies and they did something that had never before crossed their minds…they hid from Him.

And, oh, He already knew – but He knew the man and woman needed to acknowledge their disobedience. This question – where are you? – feels like the broken-hearted question of a parent to their child who has run away – I am still here. I want you here with me – why did you go away? Why do you hide from the One who loves you?

I was afraid, Adam said, and this was true — but it wasn’t just about the fact that they were naked. They knew that His holiness, the beautiful light that they had always longed for, would now plainly reveal what had gone wrong in their hearts.

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Then the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live. And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Then he said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”

And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust,  and to dust you will return.” 

Then the man—Adam—named his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all who live. And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.

The consequences of sin made the world a different place for Adam and Eve – the work that had only been joy and fulfillment became difficult and frustrating. The relationship between man and woman that had only been a peaceful unity became a struggle of will, discordant desires. The blessing of fruitfulness – the wonder that would come with childbirth – would now bring pain with it. The earth itself became a hardship. Death becomes a reality for Adam’s future.

And yet…YET (I like this yet!)…God was still there. He did not abandon them because of their disobedience. His love did not cease with their sin. In His light, their wrong was clearly seen — but it was there, in that honest moment, that He could begin to heal their brokenness.

They’d tried to cover their shame. With their own hands, they’d tried to fix the problem they’d created…but the fig leaves were inadequate. Their solution was not good enough to cover the effects of their sin…

but God didn’t leave them there, insufficiently clothed and exposed to the new threats of the world.

Instead, He took the skins of an animal and clothed them. In His compassion for them, a sacrifice was made. He replaced their obvious shame with His mercy.

 Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!”  So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Yes, sin had come into the world and ended life as they knew it. But the sin was not stronger than God’s sovereignty or His love…so the story of mankind does not end here. The Author and Finisher of our faith had more in store for us than Adam and Eve could ever have imagined. Promises have now been made and groundwork has been laid for our future.

The serpent – satan himself – is assured that Eve’s offspring will one day crush him. A sacrifice – the first, but certainly not the last – is made to cover the sin of man. We see the Tree of Life hidden from mankind, even as God is already setting the course for another way to give His people the gift of eternal life with Him.

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Together We Follow: Before the Serpent Spoke

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Our story has brought us to this scene: the garden of Eden, flourishing. Adam and Eve, living together as one, unashamed, in the presence of their Creator. There is no pain here, no fear. God has given everything to this first man and woman that they need…including one instruction: don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Into this moment of time comes another name – into the third chapter of Genesis, a serpent slithers. It comes with a question for Eve…”Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'”

To get a better understanding of this serpent…to get a clearer picture of why it came and questioned her about what God had given to her, I think we need to do a little flash-back and flash-forward. To know the great scope of the Father’s passion to bring us salvation, we have to know from whom and what we are being rescued.

We have an enemy in this world – he was first called Lucifer, the ‘morning star’, but he became ‘satan’…the adversary. Revelation 12:9  shows us satan’s identity in genesis 3, referring to him as “that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan.”

Throughout the Bible, we see his work and his presence in the world.The prophets speak of him, Jesus encounters him in the desert, and his fate – total defeat – is revealed to John.

So how DID he end up on the earth, deceiving Eve and Adam? What happened before he spoke on that life-changing day?

The prophet Ezekiel was given words for the King of Tyre, but moves into a passage that describes how Lucifer abandoned the purpose God had given him to go his own way.

We are shown that Lucifer was a beautiful creation of God, an angel who had an important role in the Kingdom of Heaven…there in the original garden of God, he had access to what was likely the very throne-room of the Most High.

The prophet Isaiah goes on to describe how Lucifer moved from reflecting the glory of the Creator to wanting the glory of God for himself…he wanted to be on the throne, exalted and reigning over all.

Revelation shows us that he led a revolt in heaven, trying to force himself into a position of authority that belongs to God alone.

But this war did not end with Lucifer on the throne of heaven. It ended with him – and the angels that followed his lead – being cast out of heaven to earth. Jesus tells His disciples in the book of Luke that He “…saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:18)

 Ezekiel 28:11-17

Then this further message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, sing this funeral song for the king of Tyre. Give him this message from the Sovereign Lord:

“You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and exquisite in beauty. You were in Eden,the garden of God. Your clothing was adorned with every precious stone— red carnelian, pale-green peridot, white moonstone, blue-green beryl, onyx, green jasper, blue lapis lazuli, turquoise, and emerald—all beautifully crafted for you and set in the finest gold. 

They were given to you on the day you were created. I ordained and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian. You had access to the holy mountain of God and walked among the stones of fire. You were blameless in all you did from the day you were created until the day evil was found in you. Your rich commerce led you to violence, and you sinned. 

So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire. Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor.”

Isaiah 14: 12-14

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation. On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’

Revelation 12:7-9

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.

Once on the earth, we can look into his actions and see his motivation: pride, revenge, anger, greed for authority and glory, corruption of all that God had created.

Jesus tells us plainly in John 10:10 – The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. In 1st Peter, he is called our “great enemy, the devil” and we are warned that “he prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

When it came to that day in the garden, I believe that he saw this man and woman with dominion over the earth and he wanted this kingdom, too, for his own…I believe he saw hearts attuned to the Most High and it was his nature to disrupt their unity, to destroy that holy bond. He had broken his own relationship with God and he set out to break the communion between mankind and God.

We’ll read more about the encounter between the serpent and Eve tomorrow…but since we have this knowledge of an enemy, I want to leave you with the hope of the One who has overcome him. Jesus told us that the enemy would come to destroy, kill, and steal — but He also told us that He Himself had come to give us LIFE – life abundant and full. He always provides the way of life. Humble before God, all we have to do is “Resist the devil”…and we will see him flee from us. (James 4:7) The victory of Jesus, through the power and Word of God over satan, shows us that we have all  we need to stand strong and unafraid.