Thoughts on Theology 7

As the series continues on Theology, I find s many interesting things to dialogue about. Today’s topic gives us an understanding into the world we live in today. Adam ate the apple and suddenly everything changed. Here is an overview on the consequences of the fall.

I’ll break down Genesis 3 around the consequences God lays out. Break it down

1.      On the Serpent

14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,        “Cursed are you above all the livestock        and all the wild animals!        You will crawl on your belly        and you will eat dust         all the days of your life.  

The serpent received one of the two curses here in Genesis as he now crawls on the ground.  

 

15 And I will put enmity        between you and the woman,

       And between your offspring and hers;

       he will crush your head,

       and you will strike his heel.”  

 

I love the beginning of the movie Passion of the Christ when Jesus is portrayed in the garden only to have the snake come near him. The movie gave good imagery and foreshadowing to what God planned for the serpent back at the beginning of human history. The serpent would strike the heal (a fatal wound like when a snake’s fangs sink into your ankle), but he would crush the snakes head. The metaphor is amazing. Satan became the prince of darkness, prince of the air and ruler of this world. The head would represent the seat of authority that Satan now had after deceiving humankind. The eventual offspring of Eve also God’s only son would crush the authority that Satan had over mankind, giving us freedom from sin and bondage. Not only was the serpent cursed to crawl on the ground, but the serpent was cursed by the relationship he would have with the seed of the woman.

 

2.      On the Woman

16 To the woman he said,        “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;        with pain you will give birth to children.        Your desire will be for your husband,        and he will rule over you.”  

 

Perhaps childbirth at one time was not painful or less painful. The obvious question to ask is did Eve give childbirth before the fall to have anything to compare with labor pains after the fall.

 

My question

The secondary consequence and perhaps more important affected the relationship with man and woman. Before the fall, the equality was perfect as they complemented each other. Now one had to be the leader, and women would fight for the equality and leadership in the relationship.

 

3.      On the Man

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’        “Cursed is the ground because of you;        through painful toil you will eat of it        all the days of your life.  

 

18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you and you will eat the plants of the field.  

 

19 By the sweat of your brow         you will eat your food        until you return to the ground,        since from it you were taken;

       for dust you are

       and to dust you will return.”  

 

Work became labor. Last year, I heard Dallas Willard www.willard.org talking at a seminar. He was making a reference to work would come now by the sweat of our brow. He said we use the idiom ‘no sweat’ when talking about how easy it is to do a favor for someone. He continued by making the point that you only sweat when you exert yourself. He asked who sweats when they are just standing around. I looked at my wife. Without words, we knew people in Thailand would dispute that claim.

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Finally, he has received the death punishment for his indiscretion.

 

4.      On the Ground

The second curse came to the ground. The ground will be cursed, weeds and thistles grow now, gardening becomes difficult, and plants struggle to survive. Mankind did not receive a curse, however the death that came to a previously infinitely living being seems like a curse to me. And Jesus took our curse on him according to Galatians 3:10-14.

 

5.      Ultimately for mankind

a.       Death, no longer the tree of life

b.      Spiritual death/Separation from God, Rom 8:6, Eph 2:1-17

One rule, one broken request and relationship between God the father, creator of all that is good was irreconcilably broken. Except that God in all his goodness found a way to redeem and reconcile his beloved creation. Even in the midst of the most depressing point of human history, the farthest fall from perfection to corruption, God promised a new way.

 

How do you see these consequences playing out today in your context?

Theology Thoughts 6: The Serpent

I will continue to move along in this series on Theology thoughts spawned by my time teaching in the Bible College for Foursquare Thailand…Let me take a look at the character in the story that seems most mysterious, the serpent.

 

The text only refers to the being as the serpent. Who is he, how long did he hang out looking for an opportunity to catch God’s special creation in a weave deception? While we are asking questions, how did the serpent move around before the fall as he was cursed to crawl on his belly after the fall? Why weren’t Adam and Eve surprised to have an animal speaking to them? The text says he was the craftiest of all animals, but did other animals speak. Did they stop speaking like the creatures in Narnia under the reign of the …

 

I always love to say, when you have a snake trying to talk to you, run away.

 

Now back to the first question, how long was Satan in the garden? We are told that he fell from heaven like lightning, but is that a metaphor of falling from the position he had, or how quickly God shot him out of the place he called home? Why didn’t God, who walked in the cool of the day with Adam and Eve, warn his special creation that a liar and devil was on the loose?

 

We don’t have answers to a lot of these questions, but here is what we do know about the serpent (Satan). God created Satan, a perfect being both in beauty and form, however the creature was filled with pride that led to rebellion cf. Eze 28:1–17; Isa 14:12–14; 1 Tim 3:6).

 

Misery loves company, and being cast out of God’s presence gave Satan a motivation to take as many with him as possible. When I think about a lie, especially the great lies that Satan perpetuates over human history, if we knew it was a lie, then we wouldn’t believe it.

 

He persuaded Eve to take a taste of the fruit. I like the answer to tasting the fruit that God gives in Psalms 34:8 with his own test taste and see that the Lord is good. One tells us to test something or try something and it will feel good, but God says I am good. 

 

Satan is still the craftiest…what are some of the most deceptive things Satan has thrown at us?

Theology Thoughts 5

The topic of man, sin and the fall brings up so many questions. Sometimes, I wish there was more information in the narrative.

 

There are always questions like what was life like before the fall, what was Adam’s home like, was man smarter or have a stronger memory, along with many more.

 

I want to address one question in this post. Why was it wrong to have the knowledge of good and evil? One would think that evil is wrong, but how did the knowledge of evil get wrapped up with the knowledge of good. This was the point that the serpent used in tempting Eve.

 

The command was simple and straight forward. God said, don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Perhaps the beginning to the problem was not that something was inherently wrong with attaining the knowledge of good and evil, but questioning God’s command. The inception of disobedience is the question why. We think maybe we know better than God and ask why can’t we do nor have something we want.

 

Asking why leads to the possible conclusion that will contradict what God said. He forbids that fruit, but we ask why and soon think it would be good to have that fruit, because he is holding something back from us. We use this method to compromise in little things all the time.

 

I will use diet as a metaphor. We count the calories and find short cuts or ways around prohibited food in order to sneak an ice cream treat or brownie. We sneak a soda or coffee that might not be the best use of calories, and wonder why we don’t achieve the best results. Mankind always thinks they know a better way.

 

We cannot compare the any questioning and unyielding obedience to God to any other medium. Military leaders demand instant obedience, but there could be a possible time to question a command. Parents instill a sense of obedience in their children, but even parents don’t always get everything right. We could find a crack, a sliver of a point to ask for a chance to question authority, and that marks the youth of today’s western society, skepticism of authority. But God can command the respect he does, because he never makes a mistake and always has our best interest in mind.

 

As for the answer to the question of knowledge of good and evil, no one likes hearing just do what I said. Let’s look at the point of disallowing such knowledge.

There is no sin in knowing everything, I Cor. 13:12, God only wanted to protect us from having all that knowledge before having the maturity and accompanying wisdom to handle such knowledge leading to pride, rebellion and sin.  Sin has corrupted our knowledge of good and allowed us to dive into knowledge of evil that man has experienced with a passion.

 

There may be more to why God did not want us to have such knowledge. In my conversations with people, they see God holding back something good from us. All I know is before we ate the fruit, everything was good, and now all we have to do is look around us to see the result of what happened when we did not heed God’s protective warning. Where are some places us now miss protective warnings God puts up for us? And on the other side, where do we in different cultures put up protective warnings further out than God intended, e.g. the Pharisees adding to the law what specific things you can and cannot do on the Sabbath to such a degree that they where offended when Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. How do we find God’s protective boundary?

Theology Thoughts: Part 4

I want to come back to a series I left a while ago, Theology thoughts. As I worked my way through teaching Theology in the Foursquare Thailand Bible College, I found seeing Theology through a new perspective brought out great insight. The class was broken in to two segments as we studied what the Bible said about man and second about sin. At first, I thought these topics would be depressing, but I discovered that knowing who we are in God’s eyes and his answer for sin gives us great hope and confidence as Christians.

 

For this part of the series, I want to make some comments on how the class and I processed the material, along with some questions I still have about sin and the fall.

 

Let us pick up the story with God’s perception of creation. God examined all that he had made and “It was very good”.

All that God has made is wonderful, and “very” good. That includes all living things, including all living people.

Erich Sauer, King of the Earth, “A lovely story…a promising future…a brilliant destiny! Man was a clean but unwritten page, gifted with the power to become everything that God planned for him to be.”

1.      So where did it go wrong?

2.      How did such a wondrous creation become such a corrupt and frail being?

3.      How did such a marvelous world become transformed into a place of corruption and natural and ecological disasters?

4.      How did a great and inviting garden also become filled with great deserts, vast icy wastelands, and hostile jungles?

 

These are just a few of the questions that I have about how the world got to the place it is now. I love the quote about man being a clean slate, but now look at all that man has done from genocide to civil war, to slavery and even that guy in Austria imprisoning his daughter for over twenty years in the basement. The heart of man today would be described as dark and deceitful, who could know it. Man has come a long way from God’s intention.

 

The easy answer is sin. The harder explanation is how sin took us so far so fast. It only took one generation for Adam’s son to kill his brother. How could such beauty fall apart so fast?

 

My heart finds hope in Isaiah’s prophecy (61:3) and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

       to bestow on them a crown of beauty

       instead of ashes,

       the oil of gladness

       instead of mourning,

       and a garment of praise

       instead of a spirit of despair.

       They will be called oaks of righteousness,

       a planting of the LORD

       for the display of his splendor.  

Bible v. Koran in the Eyes of a 3 Year Old

Let me give the perspective of a three-year-old on the Bible and the Koran, and Jesus and Mohammed. This story comes second hand from my dad.

 

The question has been dissected time and again by intellectuals, religious leaders and academics for hundreds of years. Who can we believe? How credible is the story of Jesus…

 

Many of us know the history between the two faiths is far from cordial. I don’t want to get into the validity of any argument or the reasons for the fighting. I want to share a profound understanding by an innocent child. I challenge us to take back our preconceptions and think with clarity on the issues at hand. Think like a child.

 

Backing up, let’s begin at the beginning. My dad has been working with a Muslim man from the Middle East for several years at his Motorola office in Schaumburg, IL. For a couple of years now, his co-worker has been investigating the story of Jesus by attending the Bible study my dad facilitates.

 

Now moving forward in the journey to faith, my father’s co-worker’s wife attempted suicide. He asked for prayer and didn’t know what to do. My dad kept caring for him and helping shine the light of Jesus onto a dark situation.

 

When the wife recovered, she began investigating the story of Jesus as well. She couldn’t reconcile within her that Jesus was a lie and Mohammed was the truth. She began reading the Persian Bible that she had been given. In fact, she would read to her daughter, both the Bible and the Koran. After a while, she wanted to know her daughter’s thoughts.

 

She asked the three-year-old girl, which one she liked more, the Bible or the Koran. The girl answered, I like the Bible more. The mother asked for an explanation, and the little girl replied, “The Bible makes me feel good, and the Koran makes me feel afraid.”

 

The mother enquired further, who do you like more, Jesus or Mohammed? The three-year-old answered, Jesus. She expounded saying, Jesus makes me feel love, and Mohammed makes me feel fear.

 

The mother continued to be shaken to the core. All that she had known and grown up on seemed to be a lie. She didn’t know what to do. Fast forward the story to a few weeks ago. My dad’s co-worker needed a ride home, so my dad offered to take him on his way home. When he pulled up to the drive way, the wife came running out. My dad didn’t know what to think, was she in a panic, what was wrong. She ran up to his door as he stepped out of the car. As he wondered what she wanted, she began to ask him questions. She wanted to know is Jesus the truth or is Mohammed? He explained the reality of Jesus in clear understanding, and she shared the story of her daughter’s perspective. After a few more words, the couple knew they needed Jesus in their life. They accepted him at that moment in their driveway.

Going to the House of the Elders

This is reposted from last year’s trip to Dong’s family in Fang for Songkran.

 

Songkran comes with one other tradition. The first day is the traditional New Year, the second is family day where everyone goes home, and the third is the day for older people.

We spent the end of Songkran with Dong’s family in his home town. We spent time with Dong and his mother as we went to different Uncle’s houses. We participated in the traditional water pouring ceremony.

 

This ceremony consists of the family bringing gifts for the elders of their family and pouring water over their hands. Then the family one-by-one gets a prayer of blessing as they tie a string around their wrist. The string is to help us remember the blessings spoken over our life for the year.

 

Now, the prayer is not Christian, but we prayed in our heart a prayer from God toward Dong’s family. We appreciated seeing the culture and the tradition that comes more from Thailand then religion. We were blessed by the strong emphasis on family and the respect shown toward the elders.

 

I was reminded of the blessing that Isaac spoke over Jacob and Jacob over his sons. I would like to know more about the origin of the spiritual blessing that was given by the patriarchs of Israel. It doesn’t seem to be mandated by God, but taken as a cultural norm and used by God through his children.

The String of Unity

This is reposted from our Songkran trip to Dong’s family in Fang last year.

 

I want to share one other symbol used during this Songkran. In Dong’s neighborhood they tied a string through the windows of all the houses connecting the entire neighborhood together. The idea was to bring good luck and unite the neighborhood together for the New Year.

 

The idea of having a unified neighborhood through little symbols at the beginning of each year was exciting to me. Every time I walk to my room to sleep or grab a shirt, I bump my head I remember how the neighborhood (named mom) is tied together through one unbroken string.

 

As for the luck, how can we judge another culture’s view of luck when we have so many cultural icons to bring luck in our American culture from the four-leaf clover, horse shoe, rabbit’s foot, lucky numbers and lucky underwear…not to mention symbols of bad luck, a black cat, broken mirror or walking under a ladder.

 

Humanity is driven inwardly looking for fortune and blessing. A common saying in Thai when friends part ways is to say good luck. Thai Christians have changed that to say God bless you. We all want blessing, so let’s stay reminded to focus on the blesser and not the blessings.