Service:  Women and the Work of God, Part 2

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It’s Way Past Time

As promised at the end of our last workout session, we are back to finish what we started in our exercise on Service: Women and the Work of God.  There, in Part One, in pursuit of a better understanding of the role God intends for Women to play in the Service of His Kingdom, we began, once again, with the story of Adam and Eve; looking at it to determine…

  1. God’s Purposes for the Sexes;
  2. God’s Punishment of the Sexes; and,
  3. God’s Promise to the Sexes.

As a result, before our break, we discovered that in His quest for a Family to love, God created Man as a Spirit Being; a Spirit which He then placed in the two houses He called Male and Female.  As a Spirit, Man could relate to God and, in the physical houses of Male and Female, he could (re)produce the Family that God has always desired.  We also learned that, because he was created first, the Man was placed in the Position of Head over God’s Creation; with the Woman being created later, to be his Companion and Helper in carrying out the Work of God.  This arrangement, however, did not mean that the Male was superior to the Female; for, from the beginning of their history together, they were both…

Equal in their standing before God;
Equal in their call to the work of God; and,
Equal in their blessing by God. 

Something else that we learned was that, in his Position as Head, the Man was meant to reflect the Headship of God the Father; while the Woman was intended to be a picture of the nature and work of the Holy Spirit.  As such, the Man possessed what the late Dr. Myles Munroe referred to as Position Power, while the Woman possessed what he aptly described as Influence Power.  In the words of Dr. Munroe…

Power and influence are equal, but different…

First, position-power generally comes with a title, such as king, governor, doctor, or pastor.  Second, position-power is usually executed through commands, whether verbal or written.  It is the authority that goes with the position, and the commands, that is the nature of the man’s power.

Influence-power manifests itself in a very different way.

First, a woman may have a title, but she doesn’t need a title to lead.  She leads by influence…Second, a woman doesn’t need to talk in order to run things.  She leads just by her influence…the woman doesn’t need to say a word; she just looks, and people respond.  This is a very powerful influence.[1]

Position-power announces itself.  Influence-power just comes in and controls things.  By the time you realize its presence, it has already taken over.[2] 

We will learn more about these differing leadership functions as we progress in this exercise—especially when dealing with Man’s Testing in the Garden, and the consequences of his failure there.  Since that was where we left off in Part 1, that is where we will begin this time—as we continue our look into…

  1. God’s Punishment of the Sexes

No matter how well you package it, testing is one gift that I think few, if any, would look forward to receiving.  At its mere mention, most of us shrink back; no doubt, put off by the mental images it evokes—images of the hard work and preparation it requires, the struggle involved in making the right choices, and the thoughts of failure and the consequences which that would bring.  Given the amount of angst involved in testing’s anticipation, it was probably a good thing Adam and Eve did not see it coming.

God, on the other hand, not only knew that it was coming but He purposely allowed it into their lives.  That’s because, to Him, testing is essential to the proving of one’s righteousness and obedience to the Word and Will of God; so essential, in fact, that He required the same kind of testing of His Son, Jesus Christ.  For, immediately following His baptism and just prior to the beginning of His public ministry…

…Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1).

The Apostle James explains some of the principles of testing in this way…

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (James 1:12-15).

While this sort of downward progression is something we see taking place in the testing of Adam and Eve, of more immediate interest to us is the cunning plan lurking behind Satan’s temptation, and the bearing it will have on God’s punishment of Man’s transgression.

The Cunning Behind the Con 

In Service:  Interrupted…By Devilish Design, we learned of Satan’s goal to subvert the Kingdom of God and supplant it with his own.  Since God’s Kingdom is a Spirit-Down one, ordered in the following way…

God first;
The Man, next;
Then, the Woman; and,
Lastly, the Animals…

 …for Satan to achieve his goal, he would have to overturn God’s Spirit-Down order and replace it with a Flesh-Up one.  By Flesh-Up, I mean that Man would be living life, no longer under the direction of the Spirit of God, but according to the fleshly dictates imposed on him by his body and soul.  In a Flesh-Up order, Man would be dead to the things of God, and the line of communication between him and his Maker would be severed.  In this condition, he could not become a Child of God, and any Service he might have rendered as such to the Kingdom of God would be eliminated.  This, of course, is exactly the type of situation that Satan was hoping to create when he approached Adam and Eve in the Garden. 

The Effects of the Fall

The Effects of the Fall

As for his method of achieving this end, instead of confronting Adam directly, the possessor of the Position Power and the direct Word of God, Satan made his sly and subtle appeal to Eve.

The devil is clever…he was after the man, because the man is the foundation, but he couldn’t get to the man because position-power can usually stand firm as long as its position is genuine.  You can’t destroy position-power directly; you have to destroy it through influence.[3]

So, appearing in the form of a Serpent, he beguiled Eve into eating of the Forbidden Fruit; and then, through the manipulation of her Influence Power, he succeeded in enticing her husband to join her in her Sin.  As a result of this coup, Satan’s reversal of God’s order was complete, for…

  • A member of the Animal Kingdom had usurped the authority of the Woman;
  • The Woman had used her Powers of Persuasion to usurp the authority of the Man; and,
  • The Man had rejected the authority of God and His Word, abdicating his position of Headship in the process.

The Consequences of the Con

In Genesis 3: 14-19, we find the record of God’s judgment on this upheaval of His divine order, a judgment in which the punishment was meted out in the same order in which the crime was committed.  Addressing the Serpent first, God said…

Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

Next, He came to the Woman, and said…

I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.  Your desire shall be contrary to  your husband[for your husband, in some translations] , but he shall rule over you.

Then, finally, to the Man, He had this to say…

Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.

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.

Looking closely at these judgments, we can also see that in each case, the punishment was appropriate for the crime—something to be expected, given that everything in God’s Creation was designed to reproduce “…after its own kind.”  We know this to be true because God said so ten times in the Creation Story found in Genesis 1—a principle which was later affirmed by the Apostle Paul in this very familiar passage…

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (Galatians 6: 7-8).

And…there is NO Way of Getting Around This

Here, then, is the way this Sowing and Reaping Principle played out in God’s Judgment on the perpetrators of this crime…

The Serpent—as an Animal 

  • Because it had presumed to raise itself above its divinely-ordained station in life, it would be brought down, cursed as the lowliest of creatures, to spend its days slithering on the ground.
  • Because it had tempted Eve to eat what she shouldn’t have, it would have to eat what it didn’t want to—which was dust.
  • Instead of being looked upon as the beautiful creature that it once was, it would forever after be regarded as a loathsome beast.
  • Instead of the friendly relationship it had shared with the Woman in the Garden, from then on, their relationship would be one of mutual hostility.

The Serpent—as the Devil

  • As the one who had exalted himself in rebellion against God, leading others to do the same, he was given notice that eventually he would be “…brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit (Isaiah 14:15).”
  • Here, he was presented with a “Declaration of War” by God—the notice of perpetual warfare between his kingdom and the Kingdom of God; between his offspring, the Wicked, and the offspring of the Woman, the Righteous.
  • And, because it was the Woman whom he had beguiled, here he was notified that it would be through her childbearing of the Righteous Seed of God that he would ultimately suffer defeat and meet his doom.

The Woman

  • The blessing of childbearing, which prior to the Fall, would have been a joy, would now be accompanied by pain and sorrow.
  • Submission to her husband, which before the Fall, would never have been an issue or a hardship, would now be a daily struggle.
  • Her Influence Power, which before the Fall, would have remained unchecked, would—until the coming of the promised Deliverer and Restorer—have to be regulated by means of external restraints. For, apart from the internal control provided by the Holy Spirit, the Woman would continue to use her Influence Power to manipulate and control the Man, and he would use his Position Power to try and dominate her in an effort to keep her “in her place.”  For some examples of a Woman’s Influence Power gone horribly wrong, we need look no farther than the Old Testament…

— To Sarah who, through her Influence Power, convinced Abraham to have a child by her maid, Hagar, rather than wait for God to fulfill His promise;
— To Delilah who, through her Influence Power, succeeded in bringing down Israel’s most powerful judge, Samson; and,
— To Jezebel who, through her Influence Power, manipulated her weak-willed husband, Ahab, and corrupted Israel with her idolatry.

The Man

  • His habitation from then on would be among thorns and thistles, instead of the lush beauty he had experienced in the Garden.
  • His occupation would become a toil, instead of the pleasure that it had once been in the Garden.
  • His food would become difficult to obtain, instead of being readily available, as it had been in the Garden.
  • His life would be shortened and he would be returned to the soil, instead of living forever in the Garden of God’s Fellowship.

At this point, it is important for us to note that God’s Punishment on the Sexes here was in no way a Curse.  That’s because, back in Genesis 1: 28, God had already blessed the Man and Woman.  And, from what we learn later in Numbers 23: 8,20, when the prophet, Balaam, was hired by the king of Moab to curse Israel, each time he tried, a blessing would come out instead of a curse.  Balaam’s explanation at the time was this…

How can I curse whom God has not cursed?  How can I denounce whom God has not denounced?   …he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.

Since that which God has blessed cannot be cursed, the only things to be cursed here were the Serpent and the Soil.  For the Serpent, there is no hope that his curse will ever be removed; but, for the Soil, there is such a hope, and it will be realized when God’s Promise to the Sexes has been fulfilled…

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now (Romans 8: 19-22).

  1. God’s Promise to the Sexes.

The Promise that God made to the Sexes may be hard for us to spot at first, and that’s because it’s contained in the unlikeliest of places—it was not given to the Sexes directly, but was first spoken of in the curse which God pronounced on the Serpent.  His Promise was that one day, a Holy Offspring would be born to the Woman—the One by whom Satan would finally be crushed, and all that the Sexes had lost in the Fall would be restored.  Of course, this Redeemer and Restorer was none other than Jesus Christ, who, through His obedience to the Father, not only secured our Salvation, but restored us to the Purposes of God.  Matthew Henry describes the work of Christ on our behalf in the following way…

How admirably the satisfaction our Lord Jesus made by his death and sufferings answered to the sentence here passed upon our first parents.

— Did travailing pains come in with sin? We read of the travail of Christ’s soul (Isaiah 53:11).
— Did subjection come in with sin? Christ was made under the law (Galatians 4:4).

— Did the curse come in with sin? Christ was made a curse for us, died a cursed death (Galatians 3:13).
— Did thorns come in with sin? He was crowned with thorns for us.
— Did sweat come in with sin? He for us did sweat as it were great drops of blood.
— Did sorrow come in with sin? He was a man of sorrows, his soul was, in his agony, exceedingly sorrowful.
— Did death come in with sin? He became obedient to death.[4]

Through His substitutionary death on the Cross—dying the death that should have been ours—Christ redeemed us from the power and the penalty of the Law, delivered us from bondage to sin and death, reconciled us to the Father, gifted us with eternal life, and empowered us with His Holy Spirit.  With the Spirit now living within us, writing God’s Laws on our hearts, the restraints previously imposed on us by the Old Testament Law are no longer needed.

Now, empowered from within by the Spirit of Christ, the Man can love his wife as Christ loves the Church, regard her as his equal in the work of the Lord, and not have to resort to his Position Power to dominate her into submission.  The Woman, empowered by the same Spirit, can respect her husband and submit to his leadership—for the sake of order—just as Christ has submitted to the leadership of the Father.  She can keep her Influence Power in check herself, making sure that it is used to glorify God and not to manipulate others—because…

Under the redemptive work of Christ, the woman is not only restored to fellowship with God but is restored to the position of partner with her male counterpart.  Therefore, she is no longer to be dominated or ruled by the male, because, if she were, it would mean that the redemptive work of Christ had not been successful.[5]

A Woman in Christ

If the Spirit of God can raise Christ from the dead, He can certainly control a Woman’s Influence Power

Scriptural Stumbling Blocks to a Woman’s Service

Now that we have established the fact that, in Christ, Male and Female are once again…

Equal in their standing before God;
Equal in their call to the work of God; and,
Equal in their blessing by God…

…why is it that Women are still being denied the freedom to exercise their God-given gifts of Leadership in His Service?  I think that, in most cases, it can be traced back to a misunderstanding of the two most troublesome Scripture passages that relate to Women.  Both of these were penned by Paul, with the first one being found in 1 Corinthians 14: 33-35…

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.  If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church…

…and, the second one being found in 1 Timothy 2: 11-15…

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  Yet she will be saved through [the] childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Doesn’t the Church have more important issues to deal with than this?

The reason these passages have created so many problems is that they have, more often than not, been taken out of their immediate context; and, instead of them being interpreted in light of the cultural conditions of the day, they have been isolated from the rest of the passage and elevated to the stature of a doctrine which, in its meaning, flies in the face of not only Paul’s but Jesus’ attitudes toward women.

For example, in Paul’ first letter to the Corinthians, he was dealing with a number of problems that were creating disorder in their church—problems such as spiritual pride, the misunderstanding and misuse of spiritual gifts, marital issues, confusion concerning the resurrection, and even incest.  Please note Paul’s emphasis that God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.  This is a good indication that there was confusion in the church and it was being caused by some unruly women.

So what did Paul mean when he told the women to keep silent?  If he was indeed saying that women should not minister publicly, he was contradicting what he said earlier when he gave instructions for women’s dress code while prophesying!  There must be an explanation.  As we examine these verses, we will see that Paul was definitely not teaching against women ministering publicly.  Rather, he was correcting the way in which women were ministering in the Corinthian church.[6]

In his letter to Timothy, however, Paul was addressing a different set of problems; ones created as a result of false teaching infiltrating the church at Ephesus—the church where Timothy was ministering.  In all likelihood, this false teaching involved some “old wives’ tales” that were being passed down from the older women to the younger ones; tales promoting Eve, in her sin, as a benefactor to humanity, instead of as the transgressor that Paul later states she was.  To counter this heresy, Paul first addressed the women of the church in general, instructing them on how Godly women should dress and behave.  Then, he directed his attention to one woman in particular—the one most responsible for promoting the false doctrine—and commanded that she not be allowed to teach.  Instead…

Paul…commanded this woman to learn but not to teach.  Why?  Because she had been teaching false doctrine.  Therefore, Paul set aside the normal link between learning and teaching in her case.  For a season, she was being disciplined, corrected.  She couldn’t be allowed to continue spreading false doctrine.  It was time for her to abstain from teaching altogether and dedicate herself to study alone.

Paul silenced this woman not because she was a woman but because she was teaching false doctrine to others.[7]*

Now, concerning the question of women being saved through motherhood…

The phrase “the childbearing” is unique.  It isn’t found anywhere else in the New Testament…it’s a noun, dramatically preceded by the definite article (‘the childbearing’) to point to one particular childbearing…

‘The childbearing’ refers to the one mediator between God and persons, the person Christ Jesus, the promised seed of Eve, the Child born of a woman.  The issue at stake here was salvation, not motherhood.  Women aren’t saved by getting pregnant and having babies.  They’re saved by the child who was born–Jesus!  Throughout this passage, Paul was talking about how men and women are redeemed, not about how they procreate.  The central truth of this entire passage is Jesus and God’s desire for all to be saved through the promised childbearing.[8]

As for Jesus’ attitude toward women, I think we can agree that He always treated them with respect.  We have no record of Him ever rebuking a woman and telling her to be quiet, or forbidding her to minister in some fashion. Following His encounter with the woman at the well, she left Him and immediately went back to her town and started preaching about Jesus—something which He did not criticize or attempt to discourage.  It was to a group of women that He entrusted the good news of His resurrection, and it was to His Bride, the Church, that He entrusted the good news of His saving grace; charging her to use her Influence Power to convince the world of His Truth, and to…

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Matthew 28: 19-20).

Now, for those who may still have issues with Women in Leadership, I would like to offer this suggestion from Dr. Munroe…

…if you as a male have problems with a female preacher, I encourage you to close your eyes and listen to the spirit-man speaking.  This approach has helped many men.  Listen to what’s being said.  If the female house is the problem, then ignore the house and listen to the resident, the spirit-man within, because God speaks through the spirit-man.  It is the Spirit that gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6)[8]

…and, to bring this session to a close with this thought from J. Lee Grady…

Jesus’ blood was shed for all women, and it is the only covering they will ever need.  Blood-bought women don’t need a man to bring them closer to God.  Blood-bought women don’t need a man to legitimize their ministries.  Blood-bought women don’t need a man to ‘cover’ their spiritual endeavors or to replace the leadership of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

The blood of Christ is a woman’s true covering.  For the church to require anything more is to renounce our faith.[9]

In the Spirit-Man there is No Male and Female

*Since space and time will not permit a further examination of the passages here, I would like to suggest these books as resources for those interested in a more in-depth study of the subject…

Understanding the Purpose and Power of Woman, by Dr. Myles Munroe;
Why Not Women? by Loren Cunningham and David Joel Hamilton;
I Suffer Not a Woman, by Richard Clark Kroeger and Catherine Clark Kroeger;
10 Lies the Church Tells Women, by J. Lee Grady; and,
What Paul Really Said About Women, by John T. Bristow.

 

 

In keeping with the theme of this exercise, here is Shackles, by Mary Mary…

 

 

[1] Dr. Myles Munroe, Understanding the Purpose and Power of Woman (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2001), 185-186.

[2] Munroe, 189.

[3] Munroe, 187.

[4] Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing House, 1960), 11.

[5] Munroe, 191.

[6] Loren Cunningham and David Joel Hamilton, Why Not Women? (Seattle, Washington: YWAM Publishing, 2000), 185.

[7] Cunningham and Hamilton, 219.

[8] Cunningham and Hamilton, 224.

[9] Munroe, 197.

[10] J. Lee Grady, 10 Lies the Church Tells Women (Lake May, Florida: Charisma House, 2000), 100.

The Biblical Overture

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The End of Act 1, Scene1
I know it may be hard to believe but, now that our critique of Vignette #9 has been completed, Act 1, Scene 1 of God’s One Big Story has finally come to an end.  Of course, this means that it’s now time for us to climb back on board the Truth Train, leave the first of the fourteen stages in our production, and move on to Stage #2.

We have spent a considerable amount of time at Stage #1, and that’s because the part of the Bible being presented here, covering the first eleven chapters in Genesis, is one of the most important parts of the entire Bible Story.  Some of the reasons for this are…

  • It introduces us to the sovereign God of the Universe;
  • It explains how He brought the Earth and Mankind into being, and how it and we got into the mess that we’re in;
  • It presents, either in literal or figurative form, a number of the Main Characters of the Story; and,
  • It serves as the Overture for the rest of the Story, set to begin at Stage #2, where Act 1, Scene 2 will soon be getting underway.
Conductor calling1

All Aboard!

That being said, let’s all return to our seats on the Train and get comfy; for, as we journey from Stage #1 to Stage #2, we will again be Making the Most of Our Travel Time by reviewing the first three of these reasons, which will lead us into a preview of the Overture that follows.

  1. The Introduction of God

Back in …Where It Is Showtime for God’s One Big Story!, we found that our introduction to God began in Genesis 1:1, the very first verse of the Bible…

…In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth… 

…and, from this very brief but powerful verse, we learned some key pieces of information about the Being who is both the Author and the Main Character of the Book…

  • From Elohim, the name used for Him here, we learned that God is a Trinity of Three Unique Persons who are united in One Divine Purpose;
  • From His appearance in our Story before the existence of anyone or anything else, we learned that God is Pre-existent and Eternal—that He was Before all Things, Over all Things, and the Originator of all Things; and,
  • From the things that He does, we learned that God is All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and Present Everywhere at All Times. 

Then, during the rest of this chapter, we learned that…

  • God created everything from nothing;
  • He executes His will through His spoken Word;
  • He evaluates or makes judgments about everything He makes;
  • He orders, organizes, and controls everything—even the darkness and chaos; and,
  • He has the power and will to bless the things that He makes.
  1. The Creation of Earth and Man 

As for God’s Creation of the Earth, we learned that this was accomplished in a very orderly and systematic way over the course of six days; with Him, during the first three days, calling into being the Kingdoms of Light and Darkness, Sky and the Sea, and the Land; and, during the last three days, making and creating the Rulers over those Kingdoms in the forms of the Sun, Moon, Stars, Fish, Fowl, and Animals.  In Between the Vignettes, we learned that this massive undertaking—done with such precision and attention to detail—was for the sole purpose of providing Man, The Capstone of God’s Creation, with an ideal place to live.

In Another Learning Interlude, we learned that once He had their earthly home ready, God set about the task of Creating the Man and Woman who would be living there; fashioning them into male and female beings so much like Himself that they could readily be adopted as His children.  However, when we got to the Fundamentals of the Fall, we discovered that just looking like God was not going to be enough to guarantee their adoption into His Family.  Before that could take place, the Man and Woman would have to be Holy, like God—something that would be proven if only they could maintain their innocence in the face of testing.  Unfortunately for them, for the earth, and for us—they failed, with disastrous results.

God's Orderly Creation

God’s Orderly Creation

 

3. The Characters Presented 

Up to this point in our Story, our Cast of Characters has consisted of…

God, the Father;
God, the Word who, according to John 1:1 and 1:14, is the Son, Jesus Christ;
God, the Holy Spirit; and,
Man and Woman. 

But, with the testing of Adam and Eve, another very shadowy Character made his way onto our Stage.  Initially appearing in the guise of the serpent who tempted the first Man and Woman into sinning, he was none other than Satan—aka Lucifer, the Devil, and the dragon mentioned in Revelation 20:2.

Although he has remained largely invisible, Satan’s activity in and influence upon our Story has been evident throughout it.  For, as we learned in…

The Fruit of the Fall,
Sowing, Reaping, and the Nature of the Trees,
Fruit Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree, and
Closing the Case on Cain and Abel…

…he was no doubt instrumental in inciting Cain to murder his righteous brother, Abel, and in Cain’s refusal to repent.

As a result, Patterns of Generational Sin and Patterns of Conflict Between the Righteous and the Wicked, which would go on to wreak havoc in all future generations, became established—something which was made evident to us in…

Our Lineup to the Flood,
Searching for Truth in the First Book of Begats,
But Noah…
Obedience Doesn’t Come Cheap, and
The Washing of the World…

…where life on the earth had become so corrupt that God decided it must be destroyed with a universal Flood.  And, later in…

A New World, An Old Nature, 
Blessing, Cursing, and Big Time Rebellion, and
More Blessing, Cursing, and Big Time Rebellion…

 …we witnessed Satan’s reappearance on our Stage, initially in the person of Nimrod—the first incarnation of the Antichrist in our Story—and then, as the power behind the creation of Mystery Babylon—the spiritual Harlot of false religion who would eventually lure the nations of the world away from the worship of the one true God, and into the worship of the Devil.

     4.  The Overture of the Story

Before our production of God’s One Big Story began, we learned from All the World’s a Stage—and Life Its Cosmic Drama that the device used in its presentation was going to be the same type of “story-within-a story” device so often used in the works of William Shakespeare.  For our purposes, this meant that the stories of real people recorded in the Bible were going to be used by God to tell more than one story—that is, in addition to the Earthly Level Story being recounted, elements from each individual story were going to be used to help tell the Prophetic Story taking place on a Heavenly Level.  In Act 1, Scene 1, this meant that every event from the Creation of the World to the Rebellion at Babel, and the subsequent division of the people into Nations, would have its spiritual level parallel; a parallel forming a theme or motif that would reappear later in the Story.

This concept will become easier for us to grasp if we think of the first eleven chapters of Genesis as the Overture to the entire Bible.  For, in much the same way that an overture introduces to the audience the musical themes which will be running throughout an opera or play, Genesis 1-11 introduces us to the spiritual themes which will be played out in the rest of the Bible Story.

For example…

  • The story of Creation becomes a picture to us of the spiritual process of Re-creation or Rebirth, where we go from darkness to light, chaos to order, and from death to life in response to the Word of God and the “hovering” work of the Spirit.
  • The story of the First Adam and his wife, Eve, becomes a spiritual picture of the Second Adam, Jesus, and His Bride, the Church—who, like Eve, was fashioned from a “rib” (the disciples) taken from the Second Adam as He slept in death.
  • The story of the Two Trees in the Garden serves as a picture of the two “salvation” alternatives available to mankind—either the counterfeit system of works or the genuine system of salvation through faith in Christ.
  • In the story of Cain and Abel–where God’s acceptance of Abel’s offering by faith and His rejection of Cain’s self-righteous offering provoke Cain to envy, anger, and the murder of his brother–we are provided with a spiritual illustration of the wicked’s rebellion against and persecution of the righteous; as well as, a picture of Cain as a type of Israel—the brother who, after his slaying of the righteous Son, is marked for protection as he begins his wanderings in the wilderness of the world.
  • In the long “Reign of Death” taking place between the stories of Cain and the Flood, we are shown how living life in the power of the flesh has affected all men, and ultimately led to their Deaths.
  • In the translation of Enoch before the judgment of the flood, we are given a picture of the Rapture which will take place prior to the Great Tribulation, when those who are “walking with God” will be translated to heaven without dying.
  • In the lawlessness and demonic activity preceding the Flood, we are given a picture of the conditions existing before the Tribulation, as self-absorbed humanity abandons faith in God, violence continues to increase, and doors are opened to ever-increasing satanic activity.
  • In the story of the Flood, where the wrath of God is being poured out from heaven against the unrighteousness of men, and a small righteous remnant in the Ark are being spared, we have a picture of the Tribulation, when the wrath of God will be poured out from heaven against the unrighteousness of men, while a righteous remnant is preserved.
  • In the story of Noah after the Flood, when those in the Ark come out to a new earth and enter into a new covenant with God, we are given a picture of the “new world” which will exist when Christ sets up His Millennial Kingdom following the Tribulation–where the righteous remnant will live on a cleansed earth, under a new covenant with God, for a thousand years.
  • In the rebellion at Babel, we are given a prophetic picture of Satan’s final act of rebellion—when, at the end of the Millennium, he is released from his thousand year imprisonment to test those who are born on the earth during that time.
  • And, in the Judgment of the Nations at the Tower of Babel, we are given a picture of the final Judgment of the Nations—when the Lord gathers the nations and judges them according to the way they have treated His “brethren;” separating the “sheep” nations from the “goat” nations, and giving each one its due reward.

In the event that this concept still proves to be a little difficult to understand, perhaps this graphic will help show how the events in Scene #1 prefigure some of the most important future episodes in the Story…

The Biblical Overture
Now that we have an idea of the real meaning and significance of the opening scene of our Story, we can move forward to Stage #2, better prepared to appreciate  what Act 1, Scene 2 is all about.

 

Smiley Face with Earphones2
Whenever I think of an “overture,”  the Bugs Bunny Theme always comes to mind–so I just had to include it at this point in our Story.  I hope you enjoy this brief bit of levity…

 

Another Learning Interlude

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With Vignette #2 just ending and with Vignette #3 not quite ready to start, we find ourselves here at Stage #1 of God’s One Big Story, once again using this brief interlude between Vignettes to study the Story we have seen so far; looking at it specifically for…

  • Any Life Lessons that this part of the Story has to teach us;
  • Any Contributions that this part of the Earthly Story has to make to the Heavenly Story taking place at the same time; and,
  • Any new Revelations of God that this part of the Story has to offer us.

Life Lessons to Be Learned from Genesis 2 

Before we can identify the Life Lessons to be learned from this part of the Story, there are a few very important questions relating to the Creation of Man that must be answered first.  They are:

1.   Why was Man created?

We learned in Ephesians 1:4-6 that God…”chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him.  [That] in love he predestined us (that is, He designed us in advance for a particular destiny) for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace…”; and in Ephesians 2:7, “…so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” 

Our first Life Lesson, then, is that we were created for the purpose of becoming the Sons and Daughters of God; and that, in His remaking of us from sinners who were bound for destruction into the sanctified Children of God, the greatness of God’s grace and kindness would be made evident for everyone in all ages to see.

2.   How was Man created?

Because Man was created to become a Child of God, it was necessary for him to be made in the image and likeness of the God who would become his Father.  This meant that he must be spirit, like God; eternal, like God; holy, like God; and volitional, like God.  And, in order for him to function as a member of God’s family, he would also have to be relational, like God.

Therefore, when the time came for God to create man, He did so by first fashioning a body for him from the dust of the earth, thereby giving him a temporary physical dwelling place for his soon-to-come spirit.  Once this was done, God breathed into man His very own Spirit, and when He did, not only did man come alive both physically and spiritually, but a whole new entity was brought into existence—an entity called the human Soul.  This Soul was man’s unique Personality, consisting of his mind, will, and emotions, that was designed to serve as the mediator of or go-between for man’s body and his spirit.

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The Order of Communication Before the Fall

The need for such a mediator will become obvious to us when we flash forward to John 3:6, where Jesus boldly states that, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit”; indicating that the fleshly part of man and the spiritual part of man are of such different natures that they will never have a basis for relationship.  To bridge the gap between the two, then, the human Soul was brought into being—with the Soul becoming the means by which the Spirit of God would make the will of God known to man.  Here is how this system of communication was designed to work:

First, God’s Spirit would speak to man’s spirit, telling him what God wanted him to do; then man’s spirit would pass this information on to the mind part of man’s soul which, in turn, would communicate God’s instructions to his body for its execution.  In this way, God’s will would be carried out on the earth through Man.

(For more on this, please refer to The Way We Were Isn’t the Way We Are…)

The second Life Lesson to be learned from this is:  —Man was created in the image of God  as a spirit living temporarily on earth in a physical body.  Man was also created with a Soul or Personality that was charged with the responsibility of keeping man’s spirit connected to his body, and with communicating God’s will to man.

3.   How did the way Man was created affect or impact his life, and ours? 

The way in which the first man was created profoundly impacted his life then, and continues to affect our lives today, on every level of existence.  Being created with a spirit meant that both he and we would be able to relate to the very real yet invisible God; being created with a physical body meant the both he and we would be able to relate to the natural and visible world around us; and, being created with a soul meant that both he and we would be able to relate to people around us on an emotional and intellectual level; plus, it would also provide the completely separate entities of our bodies and spirits with an important point of connection.

Man with question1

Man Was Endowed with a Mind and a Will to Choose

Being created in the image and likeness of God also meant that both the first man and we would be volitional, like God.  By that, I mean that we would not only possess a will of our own but we would also have the ability and the authority to exercise that will—either for good or for evil.  You see, although it was God’s desire for man to become His child and stay connected to Him through his spirit, in providing man with a soul—that is, with a mind, will, and emotions that could act independently from God—God was actually giving man the ability to choose whether or not he wanted to become a child of God.  This was and is both an awesome privilege and a tremendous responsibility; for, as we learned back in Genesis 1, everything in God’s Creation was designed to reproduce “after its own kind.”  Choices being no exceptions, this would mean that every choice of the will would bring forth the fruit of or the appropriate consequences for that choice—something which we will learn much more about as our Story progresses.

Our third Life Lesson then is this:  because of the way in which we were created, we each have been given the ability and the responsibility to choose if we will go the way of the Spirit or the way of the Flesh.  However, in making those choices, we must “…not be deceived:  God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (Galatians 6:7-8).”

4.   What was the significance of the Garden? 

Because God is Spirit and Man is Flesh, in order for the two to have fellowship together, it was necessary for a place of meeting to be created.  For, in much the same way that man’s spirit and his body of flesh needed his soul to be a place of mediation between those two disparate entities, God and Man also needed a place—something like a Sanctuary, a Tabernacle, or a Temple—where they, too, could meet together.  This, then, is what the Garden represented.

Garden of Eden2a

Life Before the Fall

Even though the world that God had created was beautiful enough in itself, when it came to creating the Sanctuary of the Garden, located in the region known as Eden (or Paradise), God pulled out all of the stops.  He filled this Sanctuary with everything that was beautiful to behold and to enjoy.  The Garden was well-watered by a river flowing up from underground springs, and filled with every tree that was good for food.  In addition, the areas surrounding the Garden were also well-watered and filled with gold and precious stones!  Then, when this special Sanctuary was completed, God took the man that He had created and placed him in the Garden, charging him with the responsibility of caring for it.

From this creation of a special Garden for man, we now know our fourth Life Lesson to be:

  • The Garden was the meeting place between God and man, the place where they could have fellowship with one another;
  • The Garden was a gift of God’s grace—man had nothing to do its creation;
  • The Garden was designed to be a source of nourishment for the man;
  • The Garden required effort on man’s part to “tend and keep” it;
  • The Garden (and therefore man’s fellowship with God) could be lost through disobedience.

5.   What was the significance of Eve’s special creation? 

Up until the Creation of Woman, all of the work that God had done had been judged by Him to be “good.”  It wasn’t until Adam had been created, and he had spent enough time alone to realize that he was lonely, that God judged something to be “not good.”  There are at least three reasons that I can think of why Adam’s singleness was not good:”

  • As a single person, although Adam could relate spiritually to God and physically to the world in which he lived, there was still no one to whom he could relate equally on an intellectual and emotional level;
  • Without a mate, he could not fulfill the mandate from God to multiply and fill the earth; and,
  • Without a female counterpart in the world, God’s image on the earth remained incomplete.

To understand what I mean by this, we have only to refer back to Genesis 1:27, where we learned that “…God created man in his own image, in the image of God [first] he created him; [then] male and female he created them.

In other words, when God created Adam, He endowed him with the characteristics that we tend to associate with “masculinity”–characteristics such as strength, power, assertiveness, provision, protection, and leadership.  Since Adam was created in the image of God, this would mean that he would be a reflection of this “masculine” image of God on the earth for all to see. However, these characteristics by themselves were not enough to provide the world with an accurate, well rounded image of God.  For, not only is God strong, powerful, assertive, a provider, a protector, and a leader, He is also loving, kind, patient, tender, compassionate, and merciful—a creative giver and nurturer of life.  So, in order for the more “feminine” aspects of God’s nature to be reflected on the earth for all to see, God created woman and endowed her with these particular characteristics of Himself.

In finding the answer to this question, we have found our fifth Life Lesson to be this:  when God created Man and Woman and placed them on the earth, He was actually providing the world with a visible image of Himself to behold.  Thus, when men and women are in right relationship with God and with each other, all of the masculine and feminine characteristics that they manifest will become earthly reflections of the very divine image of God.

The Contributions Genesis 2 Makes to the Heavenly Story

Because it was God’s desire and plan from eternity past to bring into existence a Spiritual Family whom He could love, and with whom He could share His riches and glory forever, the Creation of Man and Woman marked the Earthly Beginnings of God’s long-planned and greatly anticipated Family; for, it would be through them and their descendants that the whole Family of Man would be derived.  As they fulfilled God’s commission to multiply and fill the earth, they would soon grow into families, clans, tribes, and then nations—the nations from which God would eventually chose a Wife, when He took Israel to be His own.  It would be through the Nation of Israel that God would one day send His Son into the World to redeem the World; providing forgiveness for all the sinners in the world, and thus making it possible for them to be adopted into the Family of God.

The Creation of this First Adam and his wife, Eve, also provides us with a prophetic or spiritual picture of the Son and Second Adam, Jesus Christ, and the creation of His Bride, the Church.  For, in Adam’s deep sleep, and in the helper created for him from the rib taken from his wounded side, we see a prefiguring of Jesus, from whom a figurative rib—the disciples—was taken from His wounded side, as He going into the sleep of death, and around which God fashioned a Bride uniquely suited to be His Helper and Companion forever.  Just as in Adam’s case, the creation of Jesus’ Bride would require…

  • That a part of Him be used in her creation;
  • A wound in His side as He “slept;”
  • The shedding of His blood; and,
  • That she become one with Him, as a part of His Body.

Revelations of God found in Genesis 2 

As we learned in Between the Vignettes, when looking for any new Revelations of God, we will do so by examining…

1.   The Names God Uses to Identify Himself 

In Vignette #1, we were introduced to God by His name, Elohim—the Creator God who is Plural in Purpose but singular in purpose.  However, in Vignette #2, we are given a new name for God—that of, the Lord God or Yahweh.  As Yahweh, God shows us a completely different side of Himself; for, instead of the God who is transcendent, or over and above all that He has created, He reveals Himself as the God who is immanent, or present and personally involved with His Creation.

2.   The Things that God Does 

Unlike the seemingly remote Elohim, who spoke most of Creation into existence from afar, Yahweh demonstrates His loving care by taking a hands-on approach in His creation of Man; carefully fashioning him from the dust of the earth with His own hands and then giving him life by sharing some of His own Life and Spirit with him.  In anticipation of His new creation’s every need, Yahweh provides Man with a lavish new home in the Garden in Eden, and then, through His special creation of Woman, He provides him with the mate and companion that he needs for life.

3.   The Ways that God Relates to His Creation 

As evidenced in His creation of Man and Woman, God’s desire and plan was to be, from the very beginning, intimately involved with them through a personal relationship.  As a demonstration of His commitment to this kind of relationship, He created a special Garden where they could meet together for fellowship on a daily basis.

4.   The Things that God Says about Himself 

Once again, here God says nothing about Himself.  He trusts that His name, the things that He does, and the way that He relates to His Creation will do the talking for Him; and allows these things to reveal an ever-expanding, more multi-dimensional portrait of who He is.

 

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“Children of the Living God” join with Fernando Ortega in giving Him praise!

 

 

The Capstone of God’s Creation

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As we wait for the curtains to re-open for Vignette #2, here at Stage #1 of God’s One Big Story, let’s take a moment to recall where we were in the Story when these very same curtains were closed so abruptly on Vignette #1—The Creation of the World.  At the time, we had just witnessed the most astounding display of power, wisdom, order, and creativity ever, as God in three Persons created, out of nothing, the cosmos and everything in it—everything, that is, except the human life which had been His ultimate objective from eternity past.  It was at this pivotal moment, when everything else in God’s created order was in place, that a light shone on the Stage and God, in His Tri-unity, announced plans for the imminent creation of a Capstone—that is, a crowning achievement, point, element, or event, for all of His work, by saying…

…Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.  And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
(Gen. 1:26)

It was with this pronouncement that the curtains closed temporarily on the Creation Story; leaving us somewhat bewildered and confused as to why the Story would come to a screeching halt right at this particular point.  The reason for this seemingly inconvenient and unnecessary delay will become clearer to us, though, if we think back to Here at Last, at Stage #1…, where we were, for the sake of improving our scriptural navigation skills, introduced to the concept of Surfing our way through Genesis.  As we learned then, Surfing through Scripture is very much like going to a website and then clicking on one link after another, until we finally get to the information we are looking for—which, in this instance, means going to Genesis 1, and looking for the most important piece of information contained there.  This information, in verse form, will then provide us with the link needed to connect us with the action that will be taking place in next chapter.   In Chapter 1, this connecting link is found in verse 27, the Creation of Man—the very place where the curtains closed on us before.

You see, quite often when people are reading through Genesis 1 and 2, they make the mistake of thinking that there are two separate Creation Stories being recounted when, in fact, the Story that is being presented in Chapter 1 is an overview, a big picture, or a master shot of this one particular scene—while that which is taking place in Chapter 2 is the close-up of the very same scene. This is exactly where we find ourselves now, as Vignette #2 begins—we are flashing forward to view the close-up of the Creation of Man, the Capstone on all of God’s Creation! 

So, with the lights in the theatre dimmed again, and with the curtains parting once more, here is the paradisaical setting that we find on the Stage before us…

Paradise1a

The Paradise of the Early Earth

The pristine beauty of this scene serves up a such a visual feast that it is almost too much for our eyes to fully savor; and yet, almost immediately after the curtains part, our other senses are pushed to the brink of overload as the sound of a heavenly choir, somewhere off-stage, begins singing praises to God for bringing all of this splendor into existence.  Suddenly, we are so overcome by all of the majestic sights and sounds we are experiencing, that we find ourselves singing along with them…

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!  Let your glory be over all the earth!
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!  Let your glory be over all the earth!
(
Psalm 57: 5, 10-11) 

[For] The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
(Psalm 19: 1-4)
 

Praise the Lord!  Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts!
Praise him sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord!  For he commanded and they were created.  And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps…mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!  Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.
(Psalm 148: 1-6, 7,9,10,13)
 

[For] Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.
(Revelation 4:11)

Enraptured as we all are in the wonder and worship of the moment, not one of us is giving a single thought to what things looked like just six days prior to this; and yet, it is to very these things that the off-stage Narrator now redirects us, as he summarizes the events leading up to this all-important moment…

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens…[in that day] when no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground …(Gen. 2:4-6)

As soon as these words are spoken, the bright light we had seen previously in Vignette #1 reappears, and begins shining again on the same insignificant looking piece of ground that it had illuminated before.  With our attention now riveted on this spot, we hear the Narrator describe that action that is taking place on the Stage, when he says…

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 [soul].  And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.  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.  (Gen. 2:7-9)

Our Narrator pauses for a moment in an effort to give us with a little more information about the richness and expansiveness of this Garden, by telling us that…

A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.  The name of the first is the Pishon.  It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.  And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there.  The name of the second river is the Gihon.  It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush.  And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria.  And the fourth river is the Euphrates.  (Gen. 2: 10-14) 

…before returning to the action of the Story, where we learn that…

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.  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.”  (Gen. 2:15-17) 

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  (Gen. 2:18)

Adam in the Garden of Eden1a

Adam Surveying His Dominion

Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them.  And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.  The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field.  But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him (Gen. 2:19-20). 

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.  Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of Man.”  Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  And the man and the woman were both naked and were not ashamed (Gen.2:21-25). 

With this, we now flash back to what we heard from behind the curtain at the end of Vignette #1, as our Narrator then announced…

Adam and Eve1

“It is not good that man should be alone…”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  And God blessed them.  And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth…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.  (Gen. 1:27-30) 

Satisfied that this, the Capstone of His Creation, is not just good but very good, God brings His work on this sixth day of Creation to an end.  With the heavens and the earth thus completed…

…on the seventh day, God finished the 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.  (Gen. 2:1-3) 

As the curtain closes on Vignette #2, we are once again treated to the sound of the heavenly choir as it praises God…

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is you name in all the earth!  You have set your glory above the heavens…
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the star, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
(Psalm 8)

Garden of Eden1a

“…And it was very good.”

And to this, all that we can add is…Amen!

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Let’s continue the worship of our Wonderful Creator with Susan Boyle’s rendition of “How Great Thou Art”

 

 

 

…Where It Is Showtime for God’s One Big Story!

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Our journey to the Land of Revelation Knowledge has brought us here, to Stage #1, where Vignette #1: The Creation of the World is about to begin.  As the action of God’s One Big Story starts to unfold, we need to keep in mind that the events we will be witnessing here have been designed to serve more than one purpose.  Not only will they be teaching us important Life Lessons through the actions of the characters on the Earthly Stage before us, they will also be contributing to the story-behind-the-story taking place simultaneously on the Heavenly Stage above us.  More importantly, though, they will be providing us with priceless clues or insights into the very Person and Nature of God.  Now, with that being said, it is finally “Showtime” here at Stage #1—where it is time for our Earthly Story to get under way!

Showtime for God's One Big Story

It’s Showtime for God’s One Big Story

 

As the curtains open on the first part of our Story, we find ourselves viewing a stage that is completely and eerily dark. Not only is the stage shrouded in darkness, so is the rest of the theatre; a situation which gives rise  to several minutes of uneasiness for us as we wait anxiously for something to happen.  Suddenly, the blinding darkness, along with its accompanying deafening silence, is shattered by the sound of the deep, resonant Voice of an off-stage Narrator uttering Ten of the most powerful, revealing, and important Words ever spoken…

…In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

In the beginning...2

Time, Space, and Matter all Come Into Being at the Word of God

With these Ten Words, God—identified here as Elohim, the God who is Plural in Person but Singular in Purpose—steps out of eternity to create what will become the Stage for all Human History.  Offering no explanation for who He is or where He came from, He immediately begins to demonstrate His Presence, His Power, His Wisdom, and His Sovereignty by laying out Time, intersecting it with Space, and then creating Matter, all out of nothing! 

While these telling Words are still reverberating throughout our darkened theatre, our attention is suddenly captured by the roar of a mighty wind.  We soon learn that this wind is none other than the Spirit of God Himself, hovering over, stirring up, and activating waters that are still invisible to us due to the all-pervasive darkness.  In His hovering, we somehow sense that the Spirit is poised, prepared, and waiting with anticipation for that which He knows is just about to occur.

Then, like the sound of a million thunder claps, we hear the Voice of God speaking forth the first of another set of Ten WordsHis Ten Words of Creation, which begin with…

…Let there be light!   

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“Let there be light…”

And, because “…the unfolding of [His] words gives light (Ps. 119:130),” light does appear; light that is diffused throughout the Stage, revealing what can only be described as a massive, formless, and useless watery Deep. 

We soon learn, though, that merely bringing Light into existence isn’t the only work that God intends to do; for as soon as He has spoken it onto the Stage, He proceeds to:

  • See or assess it—that is, He makes a moral judgment of it by declaring it to be good;
  • Separate it from the darkness—making a division or distinction between the two entities;
  • Demonstrate His authority over it by naming it Day, and the darkness Night; and,
  • Establish it, and the darkness, as fixed measures of time—or, as the Morning and Evening that will, throughout all of time, constitute one Day.

As the First Day of Creation comes to a close, the Stage we are looking upon is still a place of chaos and confusion; however, the Darkness is now contained and we have enough Light to see the Works of God that are yet to come.  Although we still cannot see Him, because of what He has done, we now know that God is, that God is Everywhere, that God is All-Powerful, that God is All-Knowing, that God is a Moral Being as well as a Judge, and, that God is Triune in His Person—or, in other words, He is God, He is the Word, and He is the Spirit—all of which is quite a lot for us to have learned in so short a period of time.

As the darkness of the First Evening passes and the light of the Second Day takes its place, God resumes the work that He began on Day One.  Because there is still a massive, formless, and aqueous Deep occupying our Stage, He begins by transforming it into something more productive through the pronouncement of His Second Word of Creation… 

…Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters. 

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“Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters…”

At once, we see the waters part as an expanse or a firmament—otherwise known as an atmosphere or sky—is inserted in between them; an act creating a vapor canopy above the expanse, while leaving the waters beneath it in their original amorphous state.  After God’s designation of this expanse as Heaven, the work of Day Two comes to an end and its Evening begins.

Because the reformation of the primordial waters is still only half complete, as the Third Day of Creation commences, God begins transforming the waters remaining beneath the Heavens.  Once again, He does this through the power of His Word—His Third Word of Creation… 

…Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together in one place  and let the dry land appear. 

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“Let the dry land appear…”

In obedience to this command, the waters immediately begin to come together, while a mass of dry ground rises up and out from among them.  Again, God separates and divides, assesses what He has done and declares it to be good, and again, exercises His authority as Creator by naming the dry land Earth, and the waters Seas. 

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“Let the earth bring forth vegetation…”

Although the formation of the Seas and the Earth has been quite an undertaking, the work of this Day is by no means over; for, no sooner than the Earth is given its name, God speaks His Fourth Word of Creation when He commands it to produce vegetation in the form of plants, shrubs, and trees; the first of the living things to come forth from the Earth, containing seeds within themselves that will enable each of them to reproduce “after its own kind.”  This design principle is so important that it is repeated eleven times throughout the remainder of the Creation Story; not only establishing the basic physical law of reproduction for everything in God’s material creation, but also becoming a picture to us of God’s spiritual law of reproduction, as it is later spelled out for us in Galatians 6:7-8:

Do not be deceived:  God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the spirit reap eternal life.

At this, Day Three comes to a close, and as it does, we need to pause for a moment to consider what God has accomplished so far.  He has, through the giving of His Word and the empowerment by His Spirit…

  • Brought Light into a world of Darkness, and created Realms or Kingdoms of Light and Darkness by making a division or separation between the two;
  • Divided and refashioned the chaotic primordial waters into the two distinct Realms or Kingdoms of the Sky and the Sea; and,
  • Separated the dry land from the remaining waters, thus creating the Realm or Kingdom of the Earth—then filling it with the vegetation that will later be used for food.

In other words, from nothing, He has progressively and systematically created realms of existence within the natural world that are now standing in the need of their Rulers. 

In response to this need, and with the arrival of Day 4, God sets about the task of making Lights to rule over the kingdoms of the Day and Night by speaking His Fifth Word of Creation…

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“Let there be lights…to separate the day from the night…”

…Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night.   And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.  And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night.  And God set them in the expanse of the heavens…And God saw that it was good. 

At the end of Day 4, and having received their Rulers, the Kingdoms of the Day and Night are now complete.  However, because the two remaining kingdoms are still without their designated lords, as Day 5 begins, God proceeds to remedy that situation as He speaks His Sixth Word of Creation…

…Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens. 

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“Let the waters swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth…”

Once this Word goes forth, God Himself begins creating the very things that He has just called into being—that is, every form of fish and fowl, according to its kind, that will rule over the seas and the skies.  Upon His completion of this task, and following His assessment of His work to be good, God then goes one step further, by speaking a Seventh Word of Creation, a Blessing upon all of those things that He has just created…

…Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the Earth.

And, with the Rulers of the Seas and the Skies so blessed, the Fifth Day of Creation comes to a close.

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“Let the earth bring forth living creatures…”

Since the Earth still in need of its Rulers, at the onset of Day Six, God speaks yet another Word of Creation—His Eighth—saying…

…Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds. 

As this Word is still echoing throughout the atmosphere, God begins fashioning the Creatures that will soon be making the Earth their home.  Like all of the other things that He has so recently brought into existence, each of these Creatures is designed to reproduce “after its own kind”—and to Rule over its respective sphere on the Earth.  Once again, when He is finished, God pronounces this work to be good.

At this point in the production, as we sit awestruck and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the sights, sounds, and changes that have taken place on the Stage before us, it is hard for us to imagine that God could or would do anything more spectacular, or add anything more significant, to that which has already been done.  And yet, as we very quickly learn, He has more work—a special work—planned for this, the Sixth Day of Creation.

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“X” Marks the Spot

We get our first indication of this when a spotlight suddenly begins to shine on the Stage from overhead, focusing on what seems to us to be a rather non-descript plot of land.  Once our gaze has been directed to this particular patch of ground, we hear the Voice of God again as He speaks His Ninth Word of Creation…

…Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.  And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.

At this pronouncement, we all move to the edges of our seats, where we wait expectantly with wonder and excitement for the unveiling of this new work by God;  instead, we are stunned to see the curtain suddenly drawn across the Stage.  Although we can see nothing, we hear once more—amid all the gasps and groans of disappointment from the audience—the Voice of the Narrator, as he boldly yet reverently proclaims…

…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 

Then, immediately after this, we hear the Voice of God speaking His Tenth and Final Word of Creation, in the form of another Blessing, saying…

…Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

At this, all sounds cease to emanate from the Stage, the lights in the theatre go up, and we begin to realize that Vignette #1 is now over; and that this—the most important part of God’s Creation Story—will have to wait until the start of Vignette #2.  As disappointed as we are by what seems to be an unnecessary delay in the telling of the Story, this time between Vignettes will actually provide us with some much-needed time to reflect on all that we have experienced and learned so far.

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As we prepare to do that though, let’s first join with Carman in rejoicing that “There is a God”…

 

 

Creation images courtesy of http://freebibleimages.org.