Thursday’s Gift…

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Thursday’s Gift in celebration of His Truth, My Voice’s second birthday is a return visit to…

“Mapping Out the Land of Revelation Knowledge.”

Map and compass

Some Map Making Tools

Now that we have unloaded as much baggage as we can bear to part with at the present time, let’s leave Booth #2 behind and make our way on over to Booth #3—still here at the  Welcome Center of the Word—where we will find maps of the land we are preparing to visit.  As will any map for any traveler venturing into any new territory, these maps will prove to be great aids to us as we continue on our journey through the World of the Word. That’s because, through their clear delineation of boundaries, we will be able to determine the extent of, or the limitations imposed upon, the knowledge that will actually be made available to us on this visit to the land of the Bible.

The need for such limitations will become obvious to us once we stop to consider the entire scope of existence presented to us within the context of the Bible.  That is, if we take into account all of the activity that has taken and will take place from eternity past to eternity future, as well as all of the activity that has occurred throughout the various realms of existence—from the deepest depths in the underworld to the highest reaches of the heavenly places—it shouldn’t be difficult for us to see that the overall knowledge produced as a result of all of this activity would be so staggering that, when given the limits imposed upon us by our finite minds and fallen natures, it would be way beyond our abilities to take it all in.

Fortunately for us, though—and because He is so keenly aware of the frailties imposed upon us by our humanity—when God crafted His plans for the Bible, He very wisely and graciously chose to limit the  knowledge that would be presented in it to the revelation of Himself and of His redemptive purposes for mankind.  And, as for how this knowledge was to be revealed to us, once again, God very wisely and graciously chose not to hit us with it all at once, but to present it incrementally, through the gradual and progressive unfolding of it over time.  Since God considered this revelation knowledge to be important enough to make it the message of His Word, then it stands to reason that the acquisition of this knowledge must be the primary goal of this and every other trip through this land.

As far as we are concerned, then, the Bible will be regarded as the Land of Revelation Knowledge; a vast and often challenging land through which to travel, and yet a land that is filled with the richest of all treasures, just waiting to be discovered by us—the Revelation Knowledge of God.  Before we can venture any further into its heartland, though, we will need to pause for a brief but careful study of its map.  This map, through its outline of the borders which have been fixed upon God’s Revelation Knowledge, will help us determine just how far we can travel in any direction.  Even a quick glance at the map will let us know that:

  • To the North, we will only be able to go as far as the Purposes of God have ordained;
  • To the East, we will only be able to go as far as our Positions in Christ empower us;
  • To the South, we can only go as far as our Personal Purity will permit; and,
  • To the West, we can only go as far as our Passionate Pursuit of the Knowledge of God will take us.

Here, then, is a section by section breakdown of this map.

Our Northern Border—The Purposes of God 

Compass and Map

True North Must Be Determined First

When beginning an analysis of any map, the most logical place to start is in the north.  That’s because, before any real mapping of an area can be undertaken, its position relative to “true north” must be established; then, once that has been done, each of the other directions will naturally fall into place.  Our “true north” is none other than God Himself, and upon our recognition of Him as such, we will discover that the northern border of the Land of Revelation Knowledge has been laid out nicely in accordance with His redemptive purposes for man.  These purposes have been spelled out quite clearly for us in Ephesians 1:3-11:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who…chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him.  In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…In him, we have redemption through his blood…according to his purpose…In him, we have obtained an inheritance…according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.  

From this brief passage, it should be easy enough for us to see that:

  1. God had a purpose in our creation—that is, before the foundation of the earth, God’s purpose was to have a family, and it was for this purpose that we were created;
  2. God had a purpose in our redemption—that is, in order for us to be adopted His sons and daughters, we would first have to be redeemed—or “bought back” from our lives of slavery to sin—by the blood sacrifice of Christ on the Cross; and,
  3. God had a purpose in our glorification—that is, once redeemed, and for His glory, we would become the children of God, and the heirs of all His riches, just like Jesus.

And, it was through these purposes that the orientation for the rest of our map has been determined.

Our Eastern Border—Our Positions in Christ 

Eastern ArrowWith our northern border thus established by the redemptive purposes of God, our eastern border immediately becomes visible by its provision of the gateway to redemption that was called for by those very same purposes of God. This gateway is the salvation that was made available to us by Christ’s death on the Cross, and it is this doorway that we must enter by faith, if we are to move into our new positions as the sons and daughters of God.

However, just moving into these positions is not the “be-all and end-all” of God’s purposes for us.  That’s because, at this point in the process, our mindsets, characters, and behaviors are still those of children born originally as slaves to sin.  Since God’s purposes also call for us to be transformed from these sin-saturated children into the sanctified children of God, it is here that that a Helper—the Holy Spirit of God Himselfcomes along side of us and becomes our tutor—teaching us how to think, speak, and act like children of God—and the source of divine power that we will need if we are to overcome the power of sin in our lives.

In John 14:15-16 and John 16:8, 13-14, Jesus gives us some insights into the work of this wonderful Helper when He says:

If you love me and keep my commandments, I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive…And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but …He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.   

And, as a result of His faithful ministry on our behalf, we will learn what it means to…

“…walk by the Spirit, and [you will] not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Gal. 5:16-17” 

Our Southern Border—Our Personal Purity 

Southern ArrowThis work of empowerment by the Holy Spirit—made available to us through our positions in Christ—and our successful appropriation of this power is what now leads us to the identification of our Southern Border;  for, this is the border that is formed as a result of, or in response to, the level of Personal Purity that we choose to maintain in our lives.

In Ephesians 4:30, we are told, “…do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption,” and, in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit.”  You see, if and when we tolerate sin in our lives, we will actually be grieving, or hurting the heart of the Holy Spirit who is living within us, and quenching, or extinguishing through our disobedience and questionable practices, the work that the Spirit desires to do through us.  Once that happens, our minds will become darkened and unreceptive to the Revelation Knowledge that God desires to share with us.

According to Colossians 3:1-10, as the sons and daughters of God who should be growing in the Revelation Knowledge of their Father, we are to:

…seek the things that are above…set your minds on things that are above, not on things which are on the earth…put to death what is earthly in you:  sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  On account of these things, the wrath of God is coming.  In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you must put them all away:  anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.  You have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Our Western Border—Our Passionate Pursuit of the Knowledge of God 

So far in this little map study, we have learned that:

  • The Northern Border of the Land of Revelation Knowledge has been fixed in accordance with the Purposes of God;
  • The Eastern Border has been fixed in accordance with the Positions in Christ provided for us by His redemption; and,
  • The Southern Border has been fixed in accordance with the degree of Personal Purity that we maintain in our lives through the Ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Western ArrowThis, then, leaves us with one border—the Western one—that remains to be defined.  But this is a hard thing for us to do right now because, unlike the other three borders–which were firmly fixed and are constantly being monitored by God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit–this fourth border is one which we will have to define for ourselves.  That’s because, this border will be determined by our Passionate Pursuit of the Revelation Knowledge of God, demonstrated through a dedicated and disciplined study of His Word.  In other words, the limitations created for this border will be directly proportional to the hunger we have in our hearts for the knowledge revealed in God’s Word, and to our diligent efforts to obtain it.

This principle is clearly set forth for us in Proverbs 2: 3-6 and 9-10, where we read:

…If you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God… for the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding…then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

So, given that the definition of this Western Border is entirely up to us, let’s make a commitment here and now to extend it as far west as we possibly can—by dedicating ourselves to seek as much Revelation Knowledge as possible during our upcoming tour through the Bible.

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As we begin to make our way through the Land of Revelation Knowledge, let’s do so with this prayer, as offered by Steve Green in “Oh, I Want to Know You More…”

 

 

 

Wednesday’s Gift…

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Wednesday’s gift in celebration of His Truth, My Voice’s second birthday is a replay of my favorite teaching video, “The Bible:  The Story Behind the Bible.”  I originally created this as a PowerPoint presentation to be used in my Bible Studies and then later converted it to a video.  If you have ever wondered what the Big Story of the Bible is, then this video should help explain it to you.

 

Tuesday’s Gift…

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Tuesday’s Gift in celebration of His Truth, My Voice’s second birthday is a return visit to the reflection,

“Of Trees and Tapestries…”    

Tapestry

A Beautiful Example of a Tapestry

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spiritthat they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Try to imagine with me, if you can, what human history might look like to God, as He surveys it from beginning to end.  From the prophetic insight given to us by Isaiah in the passage above, it seems quite likely that God would view it as a forest of trees, one stretching all the way from the Garden of Eden to the coming Paradise in the new Heaven and Earth; trees which, in His eyes, are representative of the countless lives of men and women throughout history who have been made righteous by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.  As plantings of God, they have come in every size and shade imaginable, yet they have all produced the same desired fruit of holiness by which the Lord God, the creator and sustainer of all the earth, will forever be glorified!  What a truly satisfying picture this would be for God to behold; nothing less than a magnificent tapestry depicting His marvelous and ages-long redemption; an intricately woven work of art designed to surround His throne and to testify of His unfathomable love, grace, and mercy for all eternity.

Weaving on a Loom

At Work on a Loom

Although some may not be all that familiar with tapestries, they have been around for quite a long time, with some known to have been in use as far back as the ancient Grecian era.  Similar in texture to carpets, but hung on walls instead of covering floors, tapestries have served as portable murals for centuries, often gracing the throne rooms of kings as ways of depicting the memorable events or victories that have taken place during their reigns.  Typically, tapestries are woven on vertical looms, or large wooden frames, that hold two sets of threads—the longer set being the stationary, immutable threads running lengthwise which are called the “warp,” with the shorter set being the variable threads running width-wise which are called the “weft.”  The threads making up the warp are held in place under tension by the two sturdy frames at the end of the looms; while the shorter and discontinuous weft (threads) are woven in and out of part or all of the warp to create the design of the tapestry.

With this imagery in mind, let’s now try to imagine how such a weaving process might be applied to the story of God’s redemption.  To begin, let’s close our eyes and try to visualize an enormous loom being set into place by God when, “In the beginning…,” He bracketed the timeline for His redemptive story through the placement of two sturdy frames, one marking the beginning and the other marking the ending of human history.  Having already discussed these at great length during many of our previous visits, we should be quite familiar with the two wooden frames by now; for they are the two trees that man was given to choose from in the Garden of Eden.  The tree that was chosen, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, in its choice, became the beginning frame for the tapestry; while the tree that was rejected, the Tree of Life, took its place as the end frame—the frame toward which all of the design work was to be directed.

Given the enormous distance between these two frames and the incredible number of events that the design of this tapestry was meant to depict, we should not be surprised to learn that an additional piece of wood had to be inserted at the midpoint of the loom in order to secure and support the weight of the weaving work which would be taking place upon it.  This plank was a tree, too, and one that we have also already discussed; for it was the Cross on which the Son of God was crucified; the lifeless tree which, throughout time, has served as the embodiment of all of mankind’s dead works and futile attempts at self-salvation.

Now, with the framework for the loom all set up in our minds, let’s begin to visualize the commencement of the weaving process as the first set of threads are placed on the loom.  These are the warp (threads), and for the purposes of this tapestry, they are ten unbreakable cords which have been stretched tautly from, and then securely fastened to, the first side frame, over the middle plank, and on to the other side frame.  White in color and extending out across the ages, these cords are God’s eternally fixed standards of holiness–His unchanging rules for righteous living–known to us as the Ten Commandments; the plumb lines against which the actions of all men will be and have been measured.   It is only fitting that these should be the first threads that are woven into the fabric of redemption because, unlike everything else:

     –   The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;  the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
     –   The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
     –   The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever, the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether (Ps. 19:7-9).

Given the nature of these laws, what better foundation for redemption could have been laid, other than these?

With God’s laws now securely attached to the frames of the loom, the really intricate work on the tapestry can begin to get underway.  What makes this part of the process so tricky is that before the weft (threads)—or those short and variegated “loose threads”created by humanity’s failures to measure up to the standards of God’s laws—can be woven over and under that holy warp, they must first be tied to the crimson cord that runs through the entire length of the tapestry’s design.  This cord was introduced into the human story immediately following man’s first violation of God’s command and, as the cord of redeeming faith, it went on to connect every image in the story, from the beginning frame at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, all the way to the Cross, and then on to the end frame at the Tree of Life.

Of course, this cord was none other than our blessed Redeemer, Jesus Christ; the One who was promised, the One who came, and the One who will come again—and, the only One capable of salvaging all of the threads left dangling by the sins of mankind and then incorporating them into a beautiful and eternal work of art for all to behold.  And how was He able to do this?  By dying the death that should have been ours, on the tree representing all of our dead works, He was able to remove sin’s curse, and open the way to the Tree of Life once more, to any and all who would believe.

Try to imagine with me, if you can, God looking around His throne room, gazing lovingly upon His glorious tapestry of redemption—the one depicting the millions, perhaps even billions, of oak trees that were made righteous through their faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ; each tree springing up from a seed sown in the earth and then growing toward heaven, and each tree reproducing that one seed many times over through an abundant spiritual harvest, some of which will include:

     –   the “peaceful fruit of righteousness” that was produced through the discipline of the Lord (Heb. 12:11);
     –   the fruit of a life transformed by the Spirit, one in which the very character of Christ was reproduced;
     –   the fruit of many answered prayers;
     –   the fruit of souls that were won for the Lord; and,
     –   the fruit that was produced whenever fear was overcome by faith, darkness was overcome by the light, and the flesh was overcome by the Spirit.

Try to imagine with me, if you can, the kind of joy a sight such as this would bring to the heart of God.

When, at the end of time, God scans His forest of trees, will He find you there?  Will you be a part of His tapestry of redemption—one of His oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified?  If not, can there possibly be a good reason why not?

 

God's Trees of Righteousness

God’s Many Trees of Righteousness

 

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The Tapestry of Redemption presented in song, by the Tally Trio in “He Saw Me/Jesus Paid it All.”

 

 

Closing the Case on Cain and Abel

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Cain and Abel with Their OfferingsBefore we can leave the story of Cain and Abel behind, there are still a few matters that we need to attend to; for, we have yet to identify…

  • The Life Lessons to be learned from their story;
  • The Contributions their story makes to the One Big Story being played out on the Heavenly Stage above us; and,
  • Any Revelations of God that their story holds for us.

The Life Lessons here are ones involving…

1.  Choice

One of the first lessons to be learned from the story of Cain and Abel is that each person, at some point in his or her life, will have to choose whether to continue eating from and bearing the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; or, to step away from the that Tree of Death and head over to the Tree of Life.  When that time comes, it will not matter who that person’s parents are, or how godly they may be, every child born to those parents will have to decide for themselves if they will continue to pursue the Way of Works or if they will abandon that natural and fleshly way for the Way of Faith—a Faith that is founded on the Word of God and which provides the forgiveness of sins and salvation made possible only through the substitutionary and atoning work of Jesus Christ.

2.  Cost

For those choosing the Way of Faith, the story of Cain and Abel also serves as an excellent reminder that their choices will come with a price tag attached.  Just as Abel’s righteous deeds served to convict Cain of his own sins, the righteousness of those who come to salvation through faith in Christ will also offend and separate them from the wicked around them—sometimes the members of their own families—and may lead to their persecution and, at times, even to their deaths.

3.  Consolation

Although we may recoil at the idea of an innocent person being senselessly slaughtered by a guilty one, merely because the one in the wrong arrogantly refuses to admit his guilt, we can take comfort in the knowledge that no injustice will ever escape the notice or the judgment of God.  Just as in the case of Cain and Abel, where Abel’s blood cries out to God from the ground, anytime the blood of a righteous person is poured out in the defense of his faith, it calls out continuously to the God who will see to it that the life represented by that blood will eventually be vindicated.  And, from what we have learned so far about the principles of sowing and reaping, we can be certain that the seed sown by this or any act of wickedness will produce a harvest that is in keeping with the nature of the deed.  On the other hand, the seed sown by the righteous will be sure to reap according to the promise of Jesus in John 12:24-25…

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

The Contributions here are all about Patterns…

1.  Patterns of Generational Sin

In Vignette #4, the Fruit of the Fall, after God’s confrontation with Cain about the murder of his brother and Cain’s subsequent refusal to acknowledge or repent of his sin, we learned that…

…Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.  Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch.  [And] When he [Cain] built a city he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. (Gen. 4:17)

To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech.  And Lamech took two wives.  The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.  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 lyre and pipe.  Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron.  The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah. (Gen. 4:18-22)

Lamech said to his wives:  Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:  I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me.  If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-seven fold.  (Gen. 4:23-24)

From this account, we can see the beginnings of a Pattern for Generational Sin that will continue throughout the Story of the Bible; a pattern becoming more prevalent as more and more people choose to go the way of Cain, turning away from God and insisting on living life on their own terms.  This pattern is laid out for us in the following illustration…Pattern of Generational Sinx

 

2.  Patterns of Conflict

In addition to the Patterns of Generational Sin, here in the story of Cain and Abel, Patterns of Conflict are also beginning to take shape.  These patterns, naturally arising out of the opposing natures of these two men—natures derived from the two systems of faith which they represent—will result in the division of humanity into two groups, the Righteous and the Wicked.

Just as God, on the first day of Creation, divided light from darkness and day from night, here in the lives of earth’s first siblings, we find the same kind of division taking place; a division which will continue to exist throughout the remainder of human history, and one which will provide the conflict needed to move the action of the story forward.  We will learn more about this in our upcoming Vignettes but, for the time being, this illustration will help us understand these Patterns of Conflict and their sources a little better…Patterns of Conflict

 

Revelations of God…

As for the Revelations of God in this story, we once again find Him presented as the gracious and loving God who, “…not willing that anyone should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9),” seeks out the sinner, and confronts him with his sin for the purpose of bringing him to repentance and restoration.  However, when these gracious gestures are rejected, we see God revealed as the Judge who must see to it that the righteous demands of the law are met and that any violators of that law are punished appropriately.  Even in His judgment, though, the picture painted here of God is of One who remains merciful, even to the point of protecting the life of the unrepentant offender from revenge-seekers; and, in His raising up Seth to take the place of righteous Abel, the One who remains faithful to His promise to Eve to provide her with a son through whom the Redeemer will one day come.

With humanity now divided into the two camps of the Righteous and the Wicked, and with Cain and Seth in place as their two heads, we are ready to move forward in our Story; and, to the presentation of our next Vignette, where we will learn how the actions and interactions of these two groups will result in the Judgment of the Flood.

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If we could talk to Abel today, he would probably agree with the sentiments expressed in “All My Tears,” by Selah, with Kim Hill…

 

The Fruit of the Fall

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Exiled from the Garden

When we last saw Adam and Eve—at the end of Vignette #3 of God’s One Big Story—they were being evicted from their Garden home for violating God’s one and only condition in their lease agreement, which was to not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  This tree was one of two special ones located in the middle of the Garden and, by partaking of its fruit, they became guilty of disobeying God, and became sinners with a firsthand knowledge of Evil.  This, of course, meant that they could no longer stay in the Garden, where they would have continued access to the other tree at the Garden’s center, the Tree of Life; for, if they had eaten of the Tree of Life then, they would have lived forever in their fallen states, and would have never known the joy of becoming a redeemed Child of God.

Cain and Abel7a

Cain and Abel in Happier Days

The curtains here at Stage #1 are preparing to open again on what will be Vignette #4 of our Story and, as they do, we hear the voice of our off-stage Narrator bringing us up to date on what has happened since that sad and fateful moment when Adam and Eve were thrust out of their first home—the place where they had only known the Good that life had to offer.  He lets us know that a lot has changed, and that a considerable amount of time has gone by, when he tells us that…

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.’  And again, she bore his brother Abel.  Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.  (Gen. 4:1-2)

Cain and Abel6a

Cain and Abel at Work

It is at this point that the Stage comes fully into view and, while Adam and Eve are nowhere to be found, we see before us two young men in the foreground:  the one on our left is Cain, who is tending to his crops; and, the one on our right is Abel, who is tending to his flocks.  Behind them is a field, and beyond that, at the back of the Stage, there is the Angel with the flaming Sword who is still guarding the entrance to the Garden of Eden.  Close to this entrance, there is also a pile of stones stacked neatly in the form of an altar—which, from the looks of it, has been used a number of times in the past.

As we continue looking at the Stage, our characters continue going about their work, even as the lights are dimmed and then relit six times—simulating the passage of six days and nights.  At the end of what would be the sixth day, however, their day-in, day-out routine is interrupted when Cain gathers up a portion of his crops, Abel selects what appears to be the very best—the firstborn—lamb of his flock, and they both head toward the altar at the back of the Stage—the place where they plan to meet with and to worship God, as they offer up to Him their sacrifices.

Cain and Abel9a

Cain and Abel at Worship

When they arrive there, the first thing they do is check to make sure the stones of the altar are clean and that none of them are loose; and then, after going out and gathering up sticks,  they proceed to light the fire for the altar.  Once they have it burning, Cain wastes no time in putting his offering on the altar—an offering which is very quickly consumed by the flames, and one which leaves behind no particularly fragrant odor to enjoy.  Abel’s offering, on the other hand, takes a good deal longer to prepare.  First, he inspects the lamb to make sure that it is unblemished in every way.  Next, he kills the lamb and cuts its body into pieces, draining the blood from it as he does.  Finally, he places the pieces on the altar—being sure to include the choicest pieces of fat—and then pours the blood out on the ground at the base of the altar.  He, now completely covered with the lamb’s blood, stands back, watching as the flames consume his offering, and as its sweet-smelling aroma wafts its way to heaven.

Almost immediately, the Lord lets the brothers know that the sacrifice that Abel made has been found to be acceptable, while the offering made to Him by Cain has been rejected.  When this happens, Cain becomes so obviously angry that it prompts God to question him in the following manner…

God:  Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door.  Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. (Gen. 4:6-7)

Cain and Abel10a

Cain and Abel at War

Sadly, it appears that Cain has taken no heed of God’s warning for, as he and Abel are returning from the altar, he begins arguing with his brother.  Although we cannot hear what is being said, we can see that the argument is escalating very quickly—so much so that, by the time they reach the field, Cain has picked up a rock and has begun hitting Abel in the head with it.   After a couple of well-placed blows, Abel’s lifeless body collapses on the ground.   Upon seeing his brother lying there motionless, Cain, seemingly in a state of panic, rushes back to the front of the Stage.  If he had hoped that, in distancing himself from the scene of the crime, he would be able to claim his innocence, he was very quickly and sadly mistaken; for, no sooner than he had arrived, he found that God was there to meet him for the following confrontation:

God:  Where is Abel your brother?

Cain:  I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?

God:  What have you done?  The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.  And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.  When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength.  You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.

Cain:  My punishment is greater than I can bear.  Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from you face I shall be hidden.  I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.

God:  Not so!  If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.

At that, we see God placing a mark of some kind on Cain’s forehead—a mark designed to keep any avenger of his brother’s blood (possibly one of their other brothers) at bay.  Once that is done, we watch as Cain calls his wife, gathers up his belongings, and heads off into the distance—to a land east of Eden called Nod.  As he leaves, and as the lights dim on him and his wife, our Narrator offers us some insights into what Cain’s future holds, as he tells us that…

Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch.  [And] When he [Cain] built a city he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. (Gen. 4:17)

Although we are not told so, we are left to imagine that, in his building of a city, Cain was trying to provide himself with a fortification where he would be safe from anyone seeking vengeance upon him.  We are also not told how he would be making a living, given that his former occupation was no longer a viable option for him.  But, we can wager a guess that, as a result of lives lived apart from God, the end that he and his descendants would eventually come to would not be a good one.  We are given an indication of this as several men and a few women line up on the Stage before us—and, as our Narrator announces that…

To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech.  And Lamech took two wives.  The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.  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 lyre and pipe.  Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron.  The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

Spotlight2aAs our Narrator announces the name of each of Cain’s descendants, a spotlight shines on each one briefly, before moving on to the man in the next generation.  However, when the light shines on the last man, Lamech, we are surprised by his sudden and arrogant outburst to his wives…

Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:  I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me.  If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-seven fold.  (Gen. 4:23-24)

If Vignette #4 were to end here, it would be a very sad ending indeed.  But, we are given renewed hope when our Narrator once again interjects…

And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.’  To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh.  [And] At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord. (Gen. 4:25-26)

Praise God, all is not lost!

 

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Join the Gaithers in “There is Power in the Blood”…

 

 

Fundamentals of the Fall

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For those of you who may not have noticed it yet, we have begun to fall into something of a pattern during our time here at Stage #1 of God’s One Big Story.  First, we have watched and enjoyed each new segment of the Story as it has been presented to us; then, we have paused to analyze each new segment to see what we could take The Critic's Hataway from it.  In effect, what we have been doing is donning two different hats for each of our theatrical outings—the first hat made expressly for the devoted, theatre-going patron who is just out for an evening’s entertainment, while the other is perfectly suited for the questioning, somewhat jaded theatre critic who is searching for the pathos inherent in any new presentation.  Well, now that we have finished viewing the third Vignette in our current series—that being Man’s Sin and Fall From Grace—it is time for us to once again remove our Patron’s Cap and change into our Critic’s Cap so that we can search for the deeper meaning hidden within the characters’ actions in this portion of our Story.

I suppose that for us, as critics, there can be no more pathos-producing element within a Story than the introduction of Evil into it—especially when that Evil seems to be so unwarranted and out of place.  When you consider that in our Story so far, everything and everyone in it is Good, for…

  • God is holy, so there’s no way that Evil has any place in Him;
  • The world God has created is perfect so, as yet, there is place for Evil in it; and,
  • Our human characters, those beings made in the very image of God, are still both innocent and undefiled.

So, what purpose could possibly be served by the Author of this Story, who is none other than God Himself, in allowing the introduction of Evil into this, His most magnificent opusespecially when He knows better than anyone else the dire consequences which will result from just such an introduction?

Before we can answer this all-important question, however, there are two other questions that will need to be answered first:  why was Man created, and how was Man created?  And, for the answers to these questions, we only need to refer back to Another Learning Interlude, where we only recently learned that…

  • Man was created by God for Sonship; and,
  • Man was created in the image of God, so that he could become a Son of God.
    However…

Being created for Sonship…

…would require that the Son be holy, like his Father.  Before he could be found to be Holy, though, he would first have to prove to be righteous; and, in order for that to happen, he would have to maintain his innocence in the face of testing.

…would also require that the Son be obedient to His Father, even if he didn’t fully understand the reasons for that obedience.

Being created in the Image of God…

…would mean that the Son would have a will like His Father; a will giving him the power to choose to either obey or disobey—or, to choose to between doing Good or doing Evil.  Before he could do any choosing, though, there would first have to be both Good and Evil options from which he could choose.

These requirements, then, bring us to God’s purpose for allowing the introduction of Evil into His Storya purpose which can be summed up by one nasty, four-letter word (and ordeal) which most of us try to avoid at all costs—and that is a…TEST

Test now1You see, Vignette #3 is all about a TEST

  • A Test to see if Man would maintain his innocence in the face of temptation, so that he could be found righteous and holy, like His Father; and,
  • A Test to see if Man would exercise his will to obey His Father, or use it to satisfy his own fleshly desires.

So, here, then—for all of you critical thinkers, are the Fundamentals of the Fall, and of …

Man's Really Big Test


The Life Lessons to be learned from the Fall…

Using what we have just learned from the Fundamentals of the Fall, we can now identify some of the important Life Lessons about testing to be found in Vignette #3.  Based upon Adam and Eve’s experiences, we say with certainty that…

  • Fail or pass1Everyone will be tested—even Christ was tested (Matt. 4:1-9) but, unlike the first Adam, He put His trust in the Word of God when he was confronted by temptation.
  • God allows/requires the testing. While Satan tempts us in order to separate us from God, God allows our testing so that we can be drawn closer to Him.
  • Just like Adam and Eve, we will be tested on the revelation of God’s Word that we have received.
  • And just as Eve was, we will be tested in three areas: the lust of the flesh (body), the lust of the eyes (soul), and the pride of life (spirit).

There are also some other Life Lessons, relating to the choices that we make and their consequences, to be learned from Adam and Eve’s experiences.  They are the hard lessons that…

  • Everyone will be judged…

    …inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes the judgment (Heb. 10:27).

  • We will reap according to what we have sown…

    Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will 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 (Gal. 6:7-8), and…everything will reproduce “after its kind” (Gen. 1).

  • We will be judged according to our works…
    The righteous will be judged to determine their rewards, however, these rewards will not be immediate; they will be determined by our good works, all of which will be tested by fire, for…

    …each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work (1 Cor. 3:13-14).

    But the wicked will be judged to determine their degrees of punishment…

    …And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds (Rev. 20:12).

  • A broken relationship with God can only be restored by an atoning sacrifice for sin; and this sacrifice must be the work of God alone, involve the death of an innocent substitute, and involve the shedding of blood.  (Heb. 9:11-14)

    …Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ…for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God… (1 Peter 2:18-19, 23).

The Contributions that the Fall makes to the Heavenly Story…

With the introduction of Evil into our Story, a new and altogether unsavory Character joins its Cast.  Although this Character has not yet been named and he will, for the present time, remain invisible to us, his presence will surely be felt as He and his nefarious activities continue to wreak havoc among the people of God’s creation.  And, it is through his evil actions in this, his first appearance in our Story, that the conflict which propels our Story forward is also introduced. 

The Revelations of God to be found in the Story of the Fall…

In as much as it is becoming our practice at this juncture to look for new revelations of God that can be found in the preceding Vignette, let’s once again do that by using the same criteria that we have used during our previous critical pauses: 

The names God uses to identify Himself… 

In Vignette #3, God is still identified by the name, the Lord God, Jehovah or Yahweh. Although His name remains unchanged, a whole new dimension is added to it in this portion of the Story.  Whereas, in Vignette #2, Yahweh was revealed as the immanent personal God, directly involved with Man as his Creator, life-giver, provider, and sustainer; in Vignette #3, Yahweh is revealed as Man’s seeker, his judge, his redeemer, and his restorer.

The Things that God does…

God’s actions in this segment of our Story can best be described as measured and proportional.  Having already instructed the Man on what would and would not be acceptable conduct, He then allows him and his partner to have the time and opportunity to choose how they will conduct themselves.  When they fail to do what it right, God doesn’t wait for them to come to Him; instead, He seeks them out, giving them a chance to repent, yet still holding them responsible for their actions.  As He must, He judges and imposes punishment on them for their sins; but, after doing so, He immediately provides a covering for those sins so that their fellowship with Him can be restored.  In addition, He offers them the hope for a brighter future through the promise of a Redeemer who will eventually deliver them from sin’s bondage.

The Way that God relates to His Creation…

When we look closely at God’s actions, just described, it is easy for us to see that He is relating to His Created Beings as any Father would to His Children.  For, after providing His Children with love and a wonderful home, He teaches or instructs them in the right way to live, and then lets them choose whether or not they will obey.  When they choose wrongly, He must discipline them–but it is always done with love.

What God says about Himself…

Once again, in this portion of our Story, God has nothing to say about Himself; He lets His actions do all the talking–and, as usual, they say quite a bit about the God and Father that we are coming to know and love.

With this, our critical analysis of Vignette #3 comes to a close, making it time for us to move on to Vignette #4, where we will meet Cain and Abel—the two sons of Adam and Eve who will bring a whole new level of drama to our Story.  In anticipation of that, we need to take off our Theatre Critic’s Hat and replace it with our Theatre Patron’s Cap, as we prepare to observe how the fruit of the Two Trees will be reproduced in the children of Adam and Eve.

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Until then, join the Sidewalk Prophets in their prayer to “Change This Heart”…

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”

 

 

 

Between the Vignettes

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Pause1

Time to Pause for Analysis

We are here at Stage #1 of God’s One Big Story, where Vignette #1—The Creation of the World—has just been presented to us.  Now, while we wait for the curtain to go up on Vignette #2—The Creation of Man and Woman—let’s take advantage of this brief interval in the action to reflect on what we have learned thus far.

As you may recall, at the beginning of Vignette #1, we were instructed that the events about to take place were intended to do at least three things for us.  We were told that they would:

  • Teach us important Life Lessons, or principles which would help us live more Godly and fruitful lives here on the Earthly Stage of life;
  • Contribute something to the Story-behind-the-Story that would be taking place on the Heavenly Stage above us; and,
  • Provide us with treasures on an Eternal Level in the form of otherwise unobtainable Revelations of God.

With this in mind, then, as we reflect on the actions that have just taken place on the Earthly Stage, we will do so in keeping with these three different levels of application.

Life Lessons

Detective1

Searching for Life Lessons

Ordinarily, when looking for Life Lessons within the context of the Scriptures, we would be studying the actions of the earthly characters involved in the Story, for the purpose of identifying any principles of right living that could be applied to our own lives today.  However, because there were no human actors on the Stage in Vignette #1, let’s not take this to mean that there are no Life Lessons to be learned from this particular part of the Story.  In fact, there are several important Life Lessons that can be learned here—and nowhere else; lessons such as:

  • Time, space, and matter all originated with God, and are limited by the boundaries imposed upon them by Him; indicating that just as there was a beginning, there will also be an ending. This would also mean that because God is “bigger” than any of these things, He remains in complete control of all of them at all times;
  • All forms of life were the creative handiwork of God. While separated by Him into distinctive groups that were then ordered in increasing levels of complexity, they were also designed to be interdependent in much the same way that a body was designed to be; meaning that when something happened to one area of creation, the others areas would also be affected by it;
  • Light is the prerequisite for Life, the source of that Light is the Word of God, and because “…God is light and in him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5), God alone must be the source of all Life;
  • Life would be marked and measured by Seasons, during which all of God’s Creation would be expected to bear Fruit; and,
  • Just as He had judged His own work at the end of each Day to assess its value, when Life’s Seasons were over, God would also judge the Fruit produced by His creation during those times to determine its value.

From these few but important lessons, we can know for certain that:

  • God had a purpose in creating the world, and it was not the result of some random cosmic collision;
  • Every part of God’s creation was designed to fulfill a specific purpose and, because everything was designed to reproduce “after its own kind,” no one part of or creature in it “evolved” from one thing to become another thing through an eons-long “survival of the fittest” contest;
  • The same Word which spoke Light and Life into the natural world then will also be our source of spiritual life and enlightenment now;
  • Seasonal change is a necessary part of growth, maturity, and productivity; and,
  • The same One who separated, divided, and judged things at the beginning of time will also be the One who separates, divides, and judges all things at the end of time.

Contributions to the Heavenly Story

Given the awe-inspiring events that we have just witnessed, it would be easy for us to become so engrossed in them that we fail to recognize the part that these events play in the One Big Story that the Bible has to tell.  Additionally, when we consider the fact that this Big Story is one that had its origins in Heaven—meaning that it is one that must be spiritually, rather than physically, discerned—it becomes all the more difficult for us to see how events taking place in the one realm could possibly impact the Story taking place in another.  And yet, if we strive to keep in mind God’s motive for creating the world, the contributions that the creation events make to the One Big Story will become much clearer to us.

As for the reason behind God’s creation of the world, this was spelled out for us in the video, “The Bible:  The Story Behind the Story.”   It was there that we learned of God’s desire and determination to have a family of His own to love; a desire and determination which would lead him to create a race of beings—human beings—so much like Himself that they could eventually be adopted into His family.

Before these beings could be created, however, there would first have to be a place to put them.  This, then, is what we see God doing in Vignette #1; He is creating the ideal home for His future family.  In doing this, not only is He creating the physical, material place where they will live, He is also setting up the Earthly Stage upon which all of their future human drama will unfold.  Likewise, in His establishment of the heavens, He is actually erecting the Heavenly Stage where His Story of Redemptive Love will be acted out for all creatures, in all ages, to see.  Finally, in His placement of the boundaries upon time, He is really putting bookends into place that will mark off the beginning and the ending of His One Big Story.

Revelations of God

When it comes to looking for how God reveals Himself in this, or in any other, part of our Story, there are four things that we need to take into consideration:

The names God uses to identify Himself…

gods-names

The Names of God

As we have already learned, the name by which God was identified in Vignette #1 was Elohim—the plural form of El, a word used throughout Scripture as a designation for “god,” and one derived from the Hebrew root meaning “might, strength, and power.” It describes a God who is the Sovereign Creator of the universe; and, as the plural subject of the singular form of the verb create, it reveals to us that the Godhead is made up of more than one Person, acting in unison to accomplish His purposes. 

The things God does…

Based upon what we experienced in Vignette #1, 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.  And, based upon what He did, we also know that He creates from nothing, He speaks and His Word is powerful, He sees or evaluates everything He makes,  He has authority to name, He orders, organizes, and controls everything—even the darkness and chaos, and He blesses.

The ways that God relates to His creation…

In this first segment of our Story, the way that we find God relating to His creation is as the transcendent, or over-and-above-it-all, God of Creation.  As the Divine Designer, He is busily engaged in every aspect of His creative work, making sure that even the smallest detail of His plan is carried out meticulously; and, at every stage of it completion, He expresses approval and delight with what He has accomplished.

The things that God says about Himself…

While God, on occasion, will reveal things about Himself through His own verbal descriptions, in this instance, God has absolutely nothing to say about Himself; all of His Words are reserved for the purposes of accomplishing His work on the earth, and then blessing the work that He has done.

Although we have learned quite a lot about God already, these revelations are but a preview of the God we will come to know more deeply and meaningfully as our Story progresses.  When we move on to Vignette #2 and the Creation of Man and Woman, we will get to see a completely different part of His nature, as He becomes intimately involved with those considered to be the “Crown of His Creation.”  That part of our Story is just about to begin, so get situated in your seats…the lights are going down once more.

Theatre seats

It’s OK to get comfortable, just not this comfy!

 

Smiley Face with Earphones2

 

Please enjoy this musical reflection on the Names of God…