The Father’s Sorrow

“The Lord God called to them, and said to them, ‘Where are you?'”

Genesis 3:9 (NRSV)

What came next, God’s pronouncements of the suffering and tragedy to follow, were the natural result of what the man, and the woman, had brought into their world. It’s as though God had warned, do not jump off this cliff, because if you do, the law of gravity will take over, you will plummet to the ground and be crushed to death.

Yet, the woman was deceived into thinking God must be lying for His own selfish purposes, that He was holding out on her, and the spiritual law He had warned Adam of, that transgression would bring death, was untrue. So, she took the man’s willing hand, and, metaphorically, they jumped off the cliff together. The man had understood what he was doing, what they were doing. But! What exhilaration! It must have felt like flying for just a few minutes, that awesome sense of freedom and power…until they realized the ground was hurtling towards them, and they really were going to die.

The Lord turned His attention first to the serpent. YHWH, God of the Covenant, laid out the course of human history: there would be a struggle between the serpent and humankind, tension between those who would love God and those who rejected God, and finally there would come a promised one who, though wounded by the serpent, would ultimately destroy this enemy of God and humanity. There was judgment, but one day mercy would overcome justice, for there would be the hope of a deliverer.

How ishah’s heart must have burned and thrilled, with desperate hope, at God’s words. From that moment forward she waited with focused anticipation for the promised savior, the one who would come from her own body, just as she had come as an ezer – a powerful rescuer – for ish, from adam’s own body.

For the woman, the consequences would primarily affect her relationships. Interestingly, God said her pain would be increased, evidence that pain would have already existed, even in the perfection of Eden. We can learn that pain is not necessarily a bad thing, but could act as good, able to strengthen and deepen the man and the woman, and their relationship with each other, as well as with God. But now, that pain would be greatly increased.

The word ‘desire,’ here, occurs only two more times in the Bible. The second is found in the next chapter, in God’s warning to the woman’s firstborn son, Cain, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” The last place is in the Song of Songs, where the Prince’s beloved sighs, I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.” Whatever the nature of this word, it is used both positively and negatively in scripture to convey a powerful, transcendent longing. To surrender to it is to be filled and enveloped, held completely in its thrall. There are only two responses one may have, for there appears to be no middle ground: master it, or abandon oneself to it.

For woman, corresponding to the man as his strength, companion and chief support would not always feel like a blessing or a calling, or a worthy destiny to the woman. Her intense longing for him, and his tendency to want to master her and have dominion over her, like he did over the animals, and not accept her as his equal partner, would make their relationship painful, a struggle, with longing and resistance, both guarded against the other. You and I feel it in our relationships across the board, to this day.

For the man, work would now include stress and frustration, a sense of fruitlessness, as much of his work would produce unacceptable results. In cursing the earth, God not only greatly increased the man’s pain, and frustration, But God also equipped the earth to survive, and even push back against humankind’s onslaughts. In a hidden way, this curse may have become our severe blessing today, as our hardy planet continues to exist, despite our worst efforts to gut it of all life and resources.

Did ish unconsciously draw his leaves around him, protecting the most vulnerable part of himself, as he heard the Lord’s terrible words? Did isha look mournfully at her man and wonder what the Lord meant about both the longing and rejection to come?

Not only did the man and the woman die spiritually, and in their inner beings, but physical death would be their ultimate end, as no longer would they have access to the Tree of Life.

Life changes on a dime. You wake up to a beautiful day, the warm sun streaming through the window, cheerful sounds of birds singing to each other, everything is right in the world, all is well within. And then the phone rings. Imagine just such a day, as isha woke up to her beloved ish, resting in the crook of his arm on a soft bed of leaves, watching the dappled sun rays around them, wondering what fruit they might have for breakfast. Was it then, in that soft, gentle idyl, the serpent slithered near?

Now, crushed in their grief over loss, all the beauty around them taken on with a new reality of sorrow, hardship, enmity, suffering, and death, ish and isha stood before the One Who had always loved them, and saw a new facet of their beautiful God.

Later, God would reveal this about His nature, saying “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Before them yawned millennia upon millennia of their future generations, who would all groan under the burden of sin ish and ishah had brought into the world. The day had begun in such warmth and beauty, in love and joy, in peace and plenty. And now, though the sun still shone, and the birds still sang, their world was plunged into darkness and the sounds of lament.

[Fig Leaves | Pixabay]

“The Serpent Deceived Me…”

“Did God say…?”

Genesis 3:1-5

Chapter 3 in the Book of Genesis begins with a sinister chill, Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.”

Somehow, ishah, the woman, appears alone. How much time had elapsed between the joyous union of ish and ishah? Were they well-joined, the “one flesh” that had been so eloquently described at the end of Genesis 2? Or, were they still new as a couple, still feeling their way? Imagine the first human being, elated and effervescent, as he drew the second person ever to exist into his embrace. “Bone of my bones!” he had cried. Being of my own being, part of me, and me part of you.

He must have taken her everywhere in the Garden, describing each tree, each flowering plant, every tiny buzzing and swarming thing, telling her the names of all the creatures, stroking the lion’s mane together, marveling over the peacock’s feathers, delighting in the spider’s web, and the raucous pandemonium of parrots overhead, in the Garden’s great, green canopy of fragrant tree branches.

Joy, love, glory, pleasure, all increases when shared with another. Each new experience, the feeling of rich juice running down her chin, as she bit into a luscious peach, the soft lift of a breeze, the fresh scent of jasmine, the musical trill of wrens, singing to each other, must have entranced the man as much as the woman, as he experienced them afresh through her.

She laughed with him, worked with him, played with him, caught him when he lost his balance, and he caught her, too. He must have told her, again and again, how lonely he had discovered himself to be, not knowing what the ache in his heart had been, only knowing it was there, a leaden weight that became increasingly unbearable. What a gift she was to him, he would tell her. A treasure who outweighed, in his love for her, all the beauties and enchantments of their Garden.

Imagine the moment they entered the hushed glade where Life and Knowledge stood, in their quiet power. The Tree of Life, he told her. We may eat of all the trees in the Garden, including this tree. But already she was looking at the other, beguiling, Tree, spellbound by its exotic loveliness, its alluring fragrance redolent with rare spices, sharp and tangy, the perfume of hidden mysteries. No, he might have said. That is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We must not eat of it, or we will surely die. Yahweh, our God, our Creator, our Father, He has said this thing.

Did a hint of worry, concern, possibly even fear, begin to form in the man’s heart, as he watched his counterpart gaze at this tree, enraptured? How could he ensure she do what he wanted? What he needed? He could not lose her! We must not even touch this tree, or its fruit, beloved. Please, stop looking at it. Perhaps he took her hand and led her away, gently, yet insistently, firmly.

Or, had the man also begun to feel the low, thrumming power of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’s secrets? Had he begun to wonder what it might be like to taste of its fruit, to take into his own being what God had warned him against? Was the man’s own addition to God’s word, “we must not even touch it,” as much for himself, as it had been for his beloved companion?

Or, perhaps it was ishah, after all, who added those words, for herself. Perhaps in her sensitivity and empathy, she saw her beloved’s concern and even fear of what might happen should they eat of this forbidden food. Perhaps, in her imagination, she saw herself reaching up into the Tree of Knowledge’s branches, caressing the leaves…and then the fruit, testing its ripeness. Perhaps she imagined the fruit resting in her palm, a slight shift of weight, and it was off the branch, now held in her grasp. Perhaps she imagined herself lifting the fruit to her mouth, breathing in its rich scent, touching its silky skin with her lips…No! She may have said to herself. I will not even touch it.

How long, then, from those first moments with the two great trees was it, before the woman, ishah, found herself lingering long enough near the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil to hear the serpent calling out to her?

Even though science tells us testosterone is the risk-taking hormone, it was the woman who really looked at the fruit of knowledge, and realized it was good, and beautiful. She ran a cost / benefit ratio in her mind. She assessed the risk, as the man silently watched. Then she reached out her hand.

Did the man gasp? Did his eyes widen in fear…or excited anticipation? She took the fruit, and the world did not tilt. As she lifted it to her lips, did she glance at the man under half-lidded eyes? Did she smile around the fruit, did it seem as though she sparkled with promised adventure? For without a word the man also took the fruit and ate it.

There are, admittedly, some strange aspects to this story. Talking serpents for instance, and the fact that ishah took it in her stride. I think this story was written in this way so that each one of us can place ourselves inside the narrative, and understand it from a deeply personal place. The more you and I interact with this story, and think through the answers to our own questions, the more we are going to come to understand not only the deep issues God presents here, but our own hearts.

In Genesis 1, God blessed men and women and gave them instructions for how to govern and develop the earth.

As Genesis 2 unfolded, it became clear that God intended the fulfillment of these instructions to be a process. Women and men would learn how to work and take care of the earth by first learning to work and take care of the garden. Humankind would learn how to wisely govern all creatures by first studying and naming them. Husbands and wives would become one in marriage through the process of being open, vulnerable, and transparent with each other, in loving communion with God, unity with each other, and eventually in the community of families, clans, tribes, people groups, nations.

So far, only God, and humankind, are at the center of the story. Now, in Genesis 3, a new being is introduced, a speaking serpent. In context, there is very little to help us understand what it is, or where it came from. Clearly, it had to have been created by God, Who created everything there is. Presumably, it, too, had initially been pronounced “good,” even “very good.” It was counted among the “wild” animals, yet also permitted to be among the creatures of the protected Garden. Perhaps, the serpent had also been examined and named by the man.

Most notably, of all the wild animals that existed, the serpent was the craftiest. ‘Arum,’ in Hebrew, means shrewd, sometimes prudent and sensible, yet often associated with those who are plotting secret plans. The crafty conceal knowledge for purposes of manipulation and strategy. A crafty person also considers every angle, and is wise in knowing that understanding every angle provides great advantage over people and situations.

From this one word, the serpent is revealed as one who had plotted to undermine the man and the woman, and the process God had put forth, of developing them into mature beings. The serpent’s strategy was to manipulate the young couple into questioning the love, goodness, and integrity of God, enough to doubt His warning, and test the truthfulness of His caution.

From this one word, we can surmise the serpent held no love for God, or for these two beings into whom the Lord had poured so much love and care. The serpent was their enemy, and God’s enemy. Yet, because he was crafty, he was able to conceal this truth from the woman, and the man. Because of his craftiness, the serpent was able to deceive and seduce ishah into listening to him.

[Eve Tempted, John Roddam Spencer Stanhope (1829-1908), 1877 | Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain]

Why Did God Plant the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?

“Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

Genesis 2:9

Part of the process of maturing includes willing cooperation and the free choice of love and commitment to God.

The man and the woman were perfect and had the ability to stay that way. So God put before these two people a test of their continued commitment to love God, to listen to God, believe Him, trust Him, and turn to Him.

Through continually choosing good, through trusting God and following His instructions, and rejecting evil—evil would be distrusting God, ignoring His counsel, and violating His instructions—this tiny community of two people would experience spiritual growth, maturing of their character, and increasing joy. The man and the woman’s faith would grow strong, preparing them for greater work, work that would require greater faith. After all, there was a whole wild, unsubdued globe out there, beyond Eden, waiting for humankind to come into its destiny.

God’s one prohibition, here, was designed to strengthen the man and the woman, both individually in their own discipline, and together, as they helped each other, were strong for each other, encouraged each other, rescued each other. To disobey God would bring death, that is a spiritual law. Like the laws of physics, this spiritual law explains something that simply is so. In order to strengthen their faith, to enable is and ishah to one day resist much greater evils down the road, God was now presenting the man and the woman with this much smaller test, in the middle of a very safe place, where every possible desire could be met.

The woman must have felt both the strong pull of the Tree itself, and her own fascination with the secret promises it seemed to hold. Temptation had found a hook in her heart, and the pull was strong. To combat its magnetic draw, the woman drew from God’s words for help. But the words she held onto were not simply God’s words, but an added word. To God’s Law had been added something a little extra. Oral Law. And, from her disastrous exchange with the serpent, we discover three truths:

1) Not knowing God’s Word, and God’s words, very well puts you and me in jeopardy when we face tough situations, like temptation.

2) Adding to God’s Word and words doesn’t strengthen our faith. It weakens it.

3) Making extra boundaries for ourselves, beyond the limits of what God Himself has given, creates a false impression of God, and clouds understanding of what God has really said.

In this case, ishah, the woman, had become overly fixated on the tree itself—don’t eat, don’t even touch—when the test of faith was really about God, to believe God, listen to God, trust God, turn to God, follow God.

Genesis 2 ends with the profound statement that the man and the woman were free of shame. Because of shame, none of us today really knows what perfect peace and harmony feels like, looks like, or sounds like. We actually are incapable of really, fully, even imagining what that might be like.

In Eden the man and the woman had so far never felt embarrassed, never felt bad, never felt condemned or judged or humiliated or disapproved of. But when they disobeyed God, suddenly the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked.” They felt exposed, suddenly vulnerable in a way that felt risky, and shaming.

Would the man and the woman have come to know good and evil if they had never eaten of the forbidden tree?  Actually, they already had the basic components for knowing good – good is Who God is, what He says, and what He provides, “It is good, it is very good.” Evil, on the other hand, is anything contrary to God and His words. Growing in the knowledge of good and evil from the perspective of goodness would have come from trusting in and alignment with all that is good, God and His W/word.

Fulfillment’s Failure

Instead, the man and the woman chose to come into their knowledge from the perspective of evil, choosing to align themselves with the serpent, who opposed God. They doubted and ultimately disregarded God’s good word, thereby separating themselves from the source of goodness. Knowledge came through discovering evil because they chose to do it, rather than coming to know evil by choosing to be distanced from it. In a terrible irony, at the moment of their ingesting the fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, instead of becoming like God, the man and woman became profoundly unlike God.

God had warned them the judgement for sin was the penalty of death, and immediately the rigors of death set in.

Their deep communion with God broken, they were now terrified of the Lord, so they ran and hid from God when He came to them in the Garden, reflecting a spiritual death.

Instead of gaining God’s knowledge, their minds became clouded, and humankind lost the knowledge of the mystery of God’s will and purpose for the universe, and for themselves, revealing the corruption of their inner beings.

Abruptly, instead of no shame, they felt for the first time feelings of exposure, guilt and deep shame; instead of intimacy, they set about covering themselves from each other; instead of living in the truth they laid the blame for their own wrongdoing on someone else; all gave evidence of another aspect of God’s warning about death – their innocent natures had died

I blame you, God, for making that woman and giving her to me. This is on You! When the man blamed God, His mind had already become so clouded by sin that he could dare to throw accusations in God’s face for his own offense.

No, you can’t pin this on me! I was a victim of deception, the woman cried. That serpent there, the one You let into the Garden, God, manipulated me, and I was overwhelmed.

Neither one admitted they were wrong, guilty. If they had only been honest with God.

[Cliff from Arlington, Virginia, USA [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), via Wikimedia Commons]

The Way of Life

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Ecclesiastes 4:12

So often, when listening to teaching on Genesis 2, I hear lessons about the definition of marriage. But is that really what this chapter is about? If that’s all we take home, then we’re missing something. What, in particular, could the Church learn from this chapter, the Body of Christ?

The church should be at the forefront of the movement to protect and care for the earth. It should be part of our signature, that we tend the Garden as carefully and lovingly as God began the work, as His representatives, with great concern for every living thing.

Pollution, waste, the senseless killing of creatures that do nothing more than annoy us with their presence, poisoning the earth and sea with chemicals and garbage, all these things should grieve us deeply. In a practical way, the world should be seeing Christians leading the way in conservation efforts, reclamation efforts, cleaning up oil spills, making every effort to do what we can to restore and protect what we have left.

If we really understand what Jesus meant be being known by our love, then we can start with the people we already love.

Whether you are married or single, God has put you in relationships. How good are you at being a friend, a coworker, a companion, even an acquaintance? How committed are you to learning how to do better?

The church’s signature should also be its loving community, a living image greater than the sum of individuals who make up its parts.

Particularly in our western culture, individualism edges out the sense of community. We look for charismatic leaders, we expect people to do for themselves, we emphasize a personal relationship to God without exploring what it means to be the Body of Christ.

Man is in God’s image, and woman is in God’s image. But that’s not saying enough. God is three-in-one, He is plural, He lives in communion within Himself. So one person is not enough, whether male or female, to accurately display God’s image. No, it must be plural: People are God’s image. That’s what God was saying about Himself.

Now, the way that has often been understood is in marriage—and it’s easy to see why. It was not good for man to be alone, so God formed woman, and now there were two, a marriage, completed humanity. All throughout the Bible God speaks of marriage, how important it is, how He sees His beloved people as His wife. Jesus and the Bride of Christ. But, if that were truly the only way to understand this profound mystery, then the New Testament would have been all about married couples in ministry.

I have searched and searched for good marriages in the New Testament, as templates. Guess how many good marriages I found in the New Testament? That are described in any length at all? Well, there’s Ananias and Sapphira, they’re a famous married couple. But they died rather abruptly. Then there’s Peter and his wife—he must have been married, because he had a mother-in-law. Jesus went to a wedding, but we have no idea whose.

There is Joanna, and her husband Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household—he must have been a good guy? since he seemed supportive of Joanna financing Jesus’ ministry (along with a number of other women of means), and joining His inner circle. We might look to Andronicus and Junia, the apostles, but they may have been brother and sister. And finally, there’s Priscilla and Aquilla. The one great marriage that’s actually described in the whole New Testament.

How many singles, then? As it turns out, scads of them. You can hardly turn around without bumping into another single person in Jesus’ inner circle of 120 close followers. You’re thinking, well, maybe they were married. Okay, maybe. But if they were, the marriage was way in the background.

Jesus gathered twelve men as His disciples, and then, over time, Jesus drew in women who actually ended up being financial backers for His ministry, and evidently were with Him on several occasions throughout His travels. These women were together with the disciples on Pentecost when flames of light appeared over their heads, God’s Shekinah glory, no longer a pillar of fire to follow, but a flame of fire within them.

So did all those single people experience the kind of profound mystery of displaying God’s image without being married? Did they reflect the image of God as a single person? They did, standing together with Jesus, men and women, because they were in community.

Being married does not guarantee community. There are plenty of isolated, lonely people who are married. And being unmarried does not mean incompleteness. Jesus and His inner circle show exactly the opposite is true.

What God is saying, when He says “let us create” is, “We, the one God, are three in communion, a profound mystery.” And what God is saying, when He says, “in our image” is, “Man alone, or woman alone, is not enough to express Who I AM. Only men and women in community, humankind, can fully express Who I AM.”

Here’s the takeaway, and I am lifting it straight out of the Bible:

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

This is not about a man and woman in marriage, with God as the third strand. This is about a community of three people, and the strong bond true community creates.

Even more so, rather than be identified by its leader, or its catechism, a local church is to be recognized for the remarkable collaboration at every level of its community, all the people, both women and men, young and old, rich and poor, able and disadvantaged. Women and men in the pulpit, and in the nursery, in the classrooms and in the kitchen, serving coffee.

[ Pure Diversity ©1993 Mirta Toledo | [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D%5D

A Better Reading of 1 Corinthians 11 and 14


Paul shook his head and muttered to himself. He could feel his temperature rise, even against the close heat of the small room he’d been given, to spend the night. But, there was no mistaking what he was reading, as the simple, clay oil lamp flickered its light across the papyrus. “God!” he thought. “God! Why!”

He slowly rubbed his weary eyes, and drew his hands down his face. Of course, it had to be addressed. Right away. God, how his heart ached over these new believers, as sophisticated and educated as they thought themselves to be. Somehow the Judaizers had infiltrated them, and they’d already been led down the garden path with smart sounding instruction that actually went entirely against the Anointed One’s teaching.

After sitting quietly before the Lord, listening to His voice in the heavy night air, Paul lifted his pen, and drew out a fresh papyrus.

“My brothers and sisters,” he wrote, “Some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.” How grateful he was for Chloe, for her steady strength, and love for Jesus. Thank You, God, he thought, for Chloe. Thank You for filling her with Your Spirit, and appointing a church in her home. Please give her courage and perseverance, and pierce the hearts of those who will hear my correction in her voice. Cause them to hear Your voice.

As he wrote, Paul referred often to Chloe’s letter. He would address each issue, point by point. He would quote liberally from her letter, so there would be no mistaking what he was talking about.

“I praise you for always keeping me in mind and for adhering to the teachings I handed over to you.” He intended they should know how noteworthy that was. “Now, I want you to know that the source of every man is the Anointed One, the source of woman is man, and the source of the Anointed One is God.”

It felt counterintuitive. Men were born of women. But the first woman was born of man. He understood how hard this was to understand, but it was an important teaching, and he would lean into it as often as necessary. They simply couldn’t argue male hierarchy based on the chronology of creation, because, though woman came from man (as Adam was first), the Lord Jesus actually came much later, and through a woman. They didn’t see how flawed their logic was, or they’d be forced to say woman had authority over the Lord! Therefore, ultimately, the source of both man and woman is God, Who is also the source of Jesus. It was the solution to Chloe’s concerns about what was being taught regarding men and women praying. He quoted her letter,

Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.

A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.”

Because of the angels!? Appealing to angels was something a Pharisee might do, or one who was involved in Gnostic theology, but certainly Paul had never argued a point using angels as his authority. Jesus was far above any angel!! What a mess, he thought. What a mess.

He wrote, “Except that, as far as the Lord is concerned, a woman isn’t separate from a man, nor is a man separate from a woman. It’s a fact that just as the women comes from the man, in the same way too the man comes from the woman! But, all things are from God.” Paul clicked his tongue. “Judge for yourselves!” he’d pressed so hard, the nib had broken. Paul reached for his paring knife and skillfully flicked a new point. “Is it fitting for a woman to pray with her head uncovered? Even nature teaches you that if a man has ornamentally arranged hair it disgraces him, but if a woman has ornamentally arranged hair it gives her splendor! Ornamentally arranged hair is given her in place of a coat. But, if anyone is inclined to be obstinate about this, let me say that we have no such custom, nor do any of God’s assemblies.”

So quickly these people were giving away their freedoms to take on the Judaizer’s rules and regulations, while at the same time indulging their basest appetites. Could they not see the irony in their inconsistencies? Did they not see the Spirit gave freely, and equally, of His anointing to men and women? Were they not all part of one glorious Body, with only one Head, and One Authority?

Hopefully, this would put the kibosh on any more argument over the matter. There was no practice, in any of the churches, which required women to cover their heads when they prophesied or prayed during worship. Since the Judaizers had made them concerned about it, then they should be relieved to see women’s hair was already their glory, and their covering. Women were not derivative of men, they were not men’s glory, and they did not need to have men’s authority over them. Women, like men, reflected God’s glory, and came under His authority alone.

Paul wrote deep into the night, explaining the things of God to his beloved converts in Corinth, then he set his letter aside to sleep a few hours before he would have to take up his work in the agora.

All throughout the next day he thought and prayed over Chloe’s distressing letter. Chloe had sent word about numerous arguments, conflicts, and dissensions that had cropped up in their gatherings. Unhappily, even the worship had become unruly. If he did not nip these false teachings in the bud, they would choke the Spirit’s work among them, like weeds in a freshly sown garden. That night he knew exactly what he would address next. The Lord had given him a few simple principles to pass along to the believers:

  • Everyone was to come prepared to share their portion. None were exempt, and none were to be excluded, whether Greek converts or Jewish converts, whether free persons or enslaved persons, whether men or women.
  • Whatever portion was brought to the worship time was to be for building up the church, not arguing, tearing down, accusing, suppressing, or excluding, as it seemed the Judaizers had been doing.
  • It also appeared many people were exercising the spiritual gift of speaking in an unknown tongue, without there being any way of understanding what was being said. It had become a shouting match, evidently, where each tried to outshout the other, hoping the loudest voice got heard above the din. No, Paul thought, this isn’t a display of God’s Spirit, Who hovered over chaos and brought about the beautiful order of creation.
  • No one person was permitted to hog the pulpit, and they couldn’t just make statements expecting everyone else to take it all in without question. Instead, the pulpit was to be shared, and what was said was to be carefully reviewed by the whole gathering—every person present—with the Spirit’s guidance, and in the context of the scriptures.
  • Any gathering of the Body was to be filled, empowered, and led by the Spirit of Christ, that He might be both portrayed and glorified. If another person was given a word of revelation, the person at the pulpit was to cede the floor to the new speaker, for it would be Christ Himself speaking through His own, from voice to voice.
  • It had to be emphasized that each congregant, man and woman, young and old, rich and poor, Greek and Jew, enslaved and free should prophesy during these meetings. There was no longer a wall between classes, and between sexes. All were one in Christ.

No, he must summarily dismiss any more argument on this point. If they were going to continue to butt heads on this, they were simply to be ignored. They were to have no traction with churches in Corinth, or anywhere. Paul had publicly stated it as so, for all the believers to hear.

“What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.

“Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.

“Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.”

They really needed to know this, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.” In contrast to what he had just written, Paul returned to Chloe’s letter and again quoted from it,

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

It was such an egregious statement, Paul flicked his pen to make a familiar, if somewhat pithy, mark they would easily understand meant “utter rubbish!” What drivel, he thought. Paul was aghast the Law was being appealed to as authority for instruction. How often had he told them they were dead to the Law and alive to Christ! Paul himself had only ever pointed either to Jesus’ teaching, or his own understanding as guided by the wisdom given him in the Spirit.

He would have to be firm, here. They had far too easily fallen back into their old thinking, and far too quickly embraced the Judaizer’s contempt for women.

“Did the word of God come originally from you? Utter rubbish! Were you the only ones that it reached? If anyone thinks they are a prophet or spiritual, they are to realize that what I’m writing to you is the Lord’s commandment. But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.

“Consequently, fellow believers, strive after prophesying, and don’t prevent anyone,” and certainly not Spirit-anointed women like our Chloe, he thought, “from speaking in supernaturally given languages. Everything is to be done decently and in an orderly manner.”

Please, Oh Lord, please convict them deeply, and protect this teaching in their hearts and in their practice. Please preserve this letter for the churches, that your Body may be whole and strong, fully abiding in Your Spirit, to the praise of Your glorious Grace, Paul prayed, Amen.

[Many thanks to Dr. Bilezikian and his book, “Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says about a Woman’s Place in Church and Family,” which inspired this piece, and whose teaching is suffused throughout]

[Rembrandt (Public domain)]

Ezer Kenegdo

“Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!

“Surely, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.”

Psalms 30:10 and 54:4

It is significant that after delivering His grave caution, in His very next breath, God spoke within Himself and said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Not good for adam to carry on the work alone, to enjoy the garden alone, to develop in relationship with God alone. It was not good for adam to face the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, alone.

Up to now everything had been pronounced “good” and on the sixth day of creation God said that everything He had done was “very good.”

And it really was. The earth thrived, and in the protected confines of the Garden, the human being thrived, finding joy and satisfaction in the work, love in companionship with God, and all the new creatures to delight adam’s curiosity and creativity.

But God now named a ‘not good’ thing that was happening. ‘Not good’ in this context means ‘not complete.’ It was ‘not good’ for adam to be alone, because humankind was incomplete as a solitary being. Loneliness is one of the most crushing of human emotions, some consider it to be worse even than any physical suffering. And, loneliness is a profoundly human experience. God designed human beings with a deep longing to be fully known along with being fully accepted and loved by another. Every person actually needs human companionship. We were not made to exist in loneliness.

Yet, how could God’s beloved person be lonely when adam was a perfect being in a perfect setting in perfect fellowship with perfection personified, the Lord Himself? The answer is found in God’s very nature. God is three-in-one, the trinity, a community, if you will. It was God’s intention from the very beginning to make male and female in the creation of humankind, a community, as a more complete expression of God’s image, the community of the trinity.

Adam was incomplete without an ‘ezer,’ so God fostered within adam’s heart a desire for someone like adam. As God revealed to His adam all the joyous richness of the garden, filled with every kind of creature, the human became lonely. In all the green glory of this garden, there was no one else like adam. Each creature had a companion of its own kind, yet adam had none. Picture the solitary human being one dusky evening, leaning against the warm bark of the Tree of Life, hands folded quietly in the lap as slow tears fell, tracking lines of heartache on adam’s dusty cheeks. So inconsolably alone.

God was sad for His adam. So, as the little, lonely creature slept, the Lord once again brought forth life. God scooped half of the creature’s clay away, and began to fashion a new person, just like adam, but not really like adam, either. She was something new.

God took from adam’s essence—the word “rib” is much better translated “side,” indicating God took a significant portion of adam’s body to form the woman—and created a suitable counterpart to adam. The Hebrew word translated helper, here, is ‘ezer.’  ‘Ezer’ in scripture usually refers to God in His relationship to His people and means far more than the word ‘helper’ might imply.

The word ‘ezer’ originally had two roots. One meant ‘to rescue, to save,’ and the other ‘to be strong.’ The next word, ‘fit,’ is ‘kenegdo’ in Hebrew, ‘kenegdo’ means ‘corresponding to.’  Put together, these words could be translated as God saying, “I will make a power [or strength] corresponding to adam.” God would make for the man a woman fully his equal and fully his match, and together with God, they would form a flourishing, vibrant community, in the very image and likeness of God Himself.

God’s plan was for woman to correspond to man, as someone to share not only his life as a companion, but his work and responsibilities as well. Woman was to be “a help comparable” to the man, an equally valued human being and an equal partner in God’s grace. God created woman to be the counterpart of man in life. It was God’s stated plan in the beginning that men and women should be together, working with a common purpose in life, the woman would be a real partner, a “companion like the man,” one who would “be strong” for him, and with him; one who would even, at times, “save” and “rescue” him.

God made woman to share with man a mutual concern and responsibility, a shared commission to govern the earth, with united commitment to each other that reflected God’s own eternal three-in-one being of equal deity and power.

After creating woman God brought her to adam. Oh what a happy morning that was for adam, the whole sky was full of the rainbow of his joy when he cried out, “She is me!!”  Thank You God!!

Adam now instantly realized he was a man, and from his own body had come the perfect one for him, exclaiming in Hebrew, ‘ish shah.’ ‘Ish,’ is Hebrew for man, because he could see that she was made from the same substance as himself, made to fit who he was in a perfect way, filled with the same breath as his breath, unique among all creation, corresponding to him alone.

The second part of the word ‘shah’ can refer to being soft to the touch, denoting woman as having a special ‘feminine’ nature different from man. She was ‘soft man’!

He loved her deeply from his heart, and wove his life around hers as a vine wraps itself around a tree.

Paradise

“And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows—was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. “

2 Corinthians 12:3-5

The word ‘Eden’ means bliss or delight, virtually a place like heaven. For people familiar with the desert, as the ancient Hebrews were, this lush, well-watered Garden would have sounded exquisite. It didn’t just have the usual desert shrubs and cacti, it had pleasing trees of every kind, rich with fruit. God is described as a gardener, taking personal care in planting each tree by hand, selecting each one individually for its beauty, and the goodness of its fruit.

It also didn’t have the usual oases dotted here and there, or the seasonal brook; instead, it contained the headwaters of four mighty rivers. Living water, or rushing water, was often a symbol of blessing in the Old Testament, so Eden was overflowing with blessing.

Eden was abounding

  • in delicious food,
  • in physical beauty,
  • in acres of space,
  • in plentiful resources like gold, precious gems, and aromatic resins

Eden was pristine, and full of variety; it was Paradise, the environment you and I were meant to enjoy, a place where God would meet humankind’s every need, and where people would worship the One Who blessed them.

Eden was luscious because God had carefully designed and planted it Himself. Now God gave adam, the human being, this exquisite Garden, along with a purpose and responsibility: adam was to continue in the work God had started, cultivating and sustaining the beauty of Eden. This is an extension of the blessing and command God had given in Genesis 1. Human beings, both women and men, were to be God’s representatives on earth, stewards bearing responsibility to manage earth’s resources, to rule with benevolent care in God’s service and to His glory. What a privilege! The Lord’s work now became adam’s work.

God’s mission for humankind’s ruling the earth would involve caring for it, serving and nurturing the garden. By this action, the Lord declared that working to the glory of God is the right setting for humankind. You and I were created to find our fulfillment in the work we do as to the Lord, working always for the glory of God. God could have decreed that the Garden would be self-keeping; instead, He determined it would be enriching and satisfying for people to work the garden themselves.

Work is good, and was part of humankind’s perfect existence before the fall. Work would develop adam’s character and personality. Through nurturing and wise husbandry, adam could cause the Garden to bring forth new fruit, expressing human ingenuity and creative energy. Adam’s work was indeed a delight, nothing frustrated the first person’s efforts, the ground readily produced in response to adam’s effort. Every good thing that humans could desire, and that would satisfy them, were provided in Eden.

However, though perfect, adamg was also inexperienced and, as yet, undeveloped. Along with meaningful work, adam needed instruction, adam needed God’s teaching and guidance, for adam’s education would extend beyond gardening.

Imagine God guiding His newborn to the center of this lush garden, then pointing as He spoke the word Life. And there, before adam’s young eyes, rose up the Tree of Life, its broad, warm trunk covered in rough, rivuleted bark, its low branches verdant with green leaves, and perfectly ripe, aromatic fruit. Imagine how safe and strong one would feel, sitting there, leaning against its sturdy base.

But, look. The Tree of Life was not alone in this preternaturally quiet and hidden glade. Here was another, strange, tree rising up from the earth, as God uttered Knowledge. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It, too was lovely, with a rich, exotic scent, and luscious fruit. What did God’s new creation think as adam gazed at this tree? Unexpectedly, God gave an unsettling admonition, “You shall not eat.”

For the first time, the indulgent and loving Father withheld something from His adored child.

Each tree was distinctive. It was easy to distinguish between the two; one was unmistakably the Tree of Life, the other was unmistakably the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. As adam and God stood at the edge of this meadow, God pointed them out and gave adam important, indeed life-and-death, instructions concerning these two trees. In such a beautiful place, with great mounds of gold and silver, with every possible treasure, a magical place with the music of rippling rivers, peaceful breezes, and joyful flowers, the harmony of wholeness and health, there was warning. Don’t eat the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil,

“For when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

The Tree of Life was always available to adam, and it was there for God’s beloved clay dust person to see, every time adam went by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam would never be left without recourse when faced with temptation. Because the human being’s every need was met by God in the Garden, there would be no compelling reason, ever, for adam to feel a need to eat of the forbidden fruit

God was very clear: Eating from the forbidden tree would bring death. Adam was an intelligent person, and adam already knew what was “good” because the human being had a conscience. Adam’s mind was untouched by the destructive effects of sin. There was no suppression of truth, no clouded or darkened thinking, here. Adam understood.

However, it seems the Tree of Life must have gone unnoticed, because the earth creature never did eat any of its fruit. And why would adam? Death had not yet entered the world, so adam felt no need to escape it.

But, every time adam walked by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the forbidden tree’s fruit would have reminded the dust person that adam was not adam’s own person. The human being was accountable to Yahweh, the God Who had made a covenant with adam.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil symbolized a desire for moral independence “I’ll decide what is good and what is bad. No one is going to dictate to me what I can and cannot do.” Adam was given a choice. Follow God’s word, which is life, or choose what is outside of the Lord’s expressed will, which would bring disconnection from the source of light, love, and life. It would bring death.

Ha-Adam

“So God created humankind in God’s image,
    in the image of God, God created them;
    male and female God created them.”

Genesis 1:27

When the second chapter of Genesis opens, it seems as though the story starts all over again. We are back on a barren planet, everything is in tones of brown and gray, no plants, no swarming things… it is all just rocks and dirt.

Then God caused a mysterious mist to form and swirl over the earth. It brings to mind the suspense of classic movie scene, set in the dead of night, with the full moon floating in a dark sky. Shadows shift among the branches of trees as unseen movement stirs beneath. Mist slowly rises, creating a spectral pallor on trunks and leaves. From somewhere in the distance a long, slow howl rises and falls.

Imagine that same ghostly mist rising among the dark rocks and bare ground of the new earth. Something eerie and supernatural is about to happen.

A human figure begins to form in the dust, first a small mound, and then the contours of a face and body appear. God’s invisible hands draw arms, and legs, the wet mist making the dust stick together, until a whole person lies there, still and lifeless. Suddenly, a great wind picks up – God’s breath – churning the dust into immense, whirling sails, electricity crackling in the air. The form’s nostrils fill; it lives!

Genesis 1 featured God’s wisdom and power, speaking everything into existence. He is referred to as Elohim, emphasizing His power and majesty, God of gods. In Genesis 2 a new name for God is used, Yahweh, the God of Covenants. The writer of Genesis highlighted this difference to reveal a profound theological insight. The powerful Creator of all is not the impersonal sultan of the universe. He is also a personal God Who describes Himself as love.

The Bible uses two Hebrew words for God’s creation of people: the first, “asa,” means to design and manufacture from raw materials. God formed this first human from the dust of earth. But before this little clay form became a living being, God “bara,” “created,” the act of divine bringing forth of something out of nothing.

Not until God’s own breath filled the little form’s lungs did it become a living being. In Hebrew, the word for breath and spirit are identical. God gave His own breath, His life. That makes every human life sacred, because it comes from God.

The sanctity of human life, so hotly debated today, finds its roots right here, in this profound, solitary, transcendent moment, when inert carbon particles, packed together with antediluvian mist, became a living breathing person. Every human being is an image bearer—the image may be marred but it’s there. In this one significant way humankind is unlike all the rest of the cosmos.

Chronology was important in the first chapter, each day was carefully described, and in fact the growing scientific record corroborates every one of God’s creative acts.

But in this second chapter, chronology is set aside in order to tell the story thematically. This is historically a near-eastern approach, and comes up often throughout ancient historical records from middle-eastern cultures.

The story begins right before God had created human beings. It all happened long before there were orchards and tilled fields, long before life as we know it now, because this was at the dawn of history, before there were any human beings at all.

The word translated “man” here is actually the Hebrew word “adam,” a word meaning, simply, “earth being.”  The word “adam” does not have any reference to gender, it is a neutral word, taken from the word “adamah” the word for the red-colored earth common in the Fertile Crescent, the cradle of civilization. So, the first person God created did not identify as male or female; “adam” was simply a human being, a person.

Like the proud father of a newborn, God planted a beautiful garden for His dust person, with every kind of tree in it, especially fruit trees, so adam would never be hungry. With a wave of the Lord’s mighty hand, and a murmured word, an apricot would rise up, then a chestnut, and over there, bright orange kumquats. All around the newly formed earth creature arose a great forest of flowering, fragrant, fruit trees, nuts and fruit of every possible kind.

Day 7, It Is Finished

” God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.”

Genesis 1:31

Day 7, It Is Finished

The seventh day was the first thing to be made sacred by God in Scripture. Later, when Moses recorded God’s ten commandments, the fourth one about keeping the Sabbath is grounded in this passage, right here.

So, what are we to make of all this? What can this millennia-old account of creation have to do with you and me, in our world of science and technology, reason and practicality? And this is where theology comes in–not trying to make the science we have so far fit with this ancient record, and not trying to decide what’s “true,” for our today science, or for the science of antiquity.

This story was told to get across some key principles of how we humans are to see our place in the grand metanarrative of creation.

  • While the rest of the western world has ramped up the pace in every aspect of life, seeking to fill every moment with productivity, where worldly wisdom insists quality time can replace (or perhaps trump) quantity of time, it is notable that God took His time.

He is, after all, the mighty all-powerful potentate of the universe. He is infinite and eternal in all of Who He is. His power and creativity are inexhaustible.        Therefore, God could certainly have created all that is, in a moment. Yet, the Lord chose to span the course of His creative acts over six time periods, and He chose an entire time period, of equal length with the others, to admire, and enjoy His works.

In the original ancient text, the seventh day was described in the seventh paragraph of the creation story. In fact, this is the seventh paragraph, on the seventh day of creation. “Seven” symbolizes perfection, wholeness, and completeness, there is nothing else to be added. It is finished.

The seventh paragraph has thirty-five words, Seven times five. “Five” was the ancient symbol of God’s grace. It is, in its way, the perfection of perfect grace.

God created for six days and then He rested; that is, on the seventh day, God entered into a relationship with His creation. God praised His work, enjoying all that He had made, finding pleasure in it, the overflow of His love and happiness going out to the whole universe.

The word “seven,” the word “Sabbath,” and the word “rest,” are all the same basic word in Hebrew, Shabat, seven, Sabbath, rest.

God stopped because He was through. Creation was finished, and what God had done deserved honor and praise, to be taken great pleasure and joy in. God took His time. Therefore, we, as His image bearers, are to enjoy His creation, and our own work as well. When we produce something good, it is godly to enjoy it.

  • God was careful to assign governance and boundaries to each aspect of His creation—the celestial orbs have governance over seasons, tides, migrations, and prophetic harbingers of God’s arrivals. Each variety of life was given its ecosystem, and its kind. Humankind was also given governance over the all the earth, as representatives of God’s presence.

It is significant that God did not give human beings rankings—it was not the Lord who advised the most powerful, the smartest, the most able, or technologically advanced to be given more privilege and authority. God spoke very clearly to humanity, in His instructions to them. (this idea is not new to me. In his book “Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says about a Woman’s Place in Church and Family,” Gilbert Bilezekian makes an excellent case for this insight.)

According to the Christian Standard Bible translation (Genesis 1:28-30):

“God blessed them,” [emphasis mine; male and female, woman and man]

“and God said to them,” [emphasis mine; female and male, both the man and the woman]

“Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth,” Though the woman would be the bearer of each new human life, she could not bring them forth without the man. By the same token, the man would be profoundly helpless in bringing forth life without the woman.

“and subdue it.” ‘Subdue’ in the way the Lord would lovingly transform new and wild into seasoned and well-formed, mature, lacking in nothing.

“Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.” Again, ‘rule’ in the way the Lord governs His universe, with love and wisdom, gentleness and intent to bring to full potential.

“God also said, ‘Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This will be food for you, for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth—everything having the breath of life in it—I have given every green plant for food.’”

God was detailed in His instructions, and specific. Had He desired to rank human beings in the way He had ranked other life forms, and the sky’s constellations, He certainly would have done so. But, He pointedly did not.

The church, then, is to be the display of God’s original intent—that humanity together, without ranking, to govern not each other, but the earth, with the same pleasure, grace, joy, satisfaction, and measured time that God Himself gives.

Among each other, the church is to display the very image of God in joyful cooperation, and collaboration; that all persons within the church share equally in all aspects of the life of the church just as all Persons within the Godhead share equally in all aspects of Who God is.

[Episodes in the book of Genesis. Oil painting by a Spanish painter. Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain]

Filling the Form

“I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Isaiah 43:19

Day 4, filling the form

On the first day God brought forth light, now He filled the sky with points of light

God wanted people to know that He is the source of light and life. Light and life were both present on earth before God moved the sun into position in earth’s sky. An interesting aside, when astronauts brought some rock samples back from the moon and dated them, guess what they learned? The moon is younger than the earth.

It took someone else, a commentator, to point out to me that God did not give the sun, planets, moon and stars, the authority to govern human lives. I wish I had read that when I was thirteen. Enrapt with the uncanny insights of astrology, I believed for years that my entire destiny was written in the stars’ and planets’ movements.

I was not alone. From ancient times pagan religions looked to the heavenly bodies to divine the future, to worship, and to guide their decisions. But astrology, and other forms of worshiping planets and stars goes entirely against God’s purpose for them. God gave the sun, and the moon and stars, subordinate roles. They govern earthly, physical things like the tides, the seasons, the migrations of birds. On occasion they announce God’s coming to earth.

Day 5, filling the form

On the second day God gave the sky and water their boundaries. Now God filled the waters and the air with life.

The words here in the Hebrew describe swarms of small or minute animals, soulish creatures, and winged creatures of every variety, implying insects as well as birds. A combination of both the word “asa,” (to manufacture from substances already in existence), and “bara,” (divine creation, creating something entirely new that never existed before), are used.

How was this life different from plants? These were sentient, or aware, creatures, some even capable of expressing yearnings and will. God blessed His swarming, swimming, flying, wriggling creatures; His rule over them benefitted their life.

Day 6, filling the form

On the third day God gave land its boundaries, and brought forth plants. Now God made livestock, wild animals, things that creep along the ground.

These were also soulish creatures, made for the solid ground, stampeding across the earth in a burst of joyful existence. How I love the orderliness, the logical sequence of complexities, the increasing movement, teeming life, vibrant, rich, full, all building up to the climax.

God created it all and governs it all, having provided boundaries, domains, eco systems. God organized His universe to obey His laws, the laws of physics, which He set into motion. God created life to obey the laws of nature, which He designed.

The end of Day 6, a final flourish

Up until now God moved from one act of creation to the next in a steady crescendo. Now God paused, and announced to His universe what would come next, “Let us make humankind in Our image, after Our likeness”

From the beginning God revealed His triune nature, the presence of God in three Persons – God the Holy Spirit hovering over the formless void, the power of God the Son, God’s living and active Word[1], and the master architect, God the Father

Most likely, it was God as Father speaking, here, into this moment. Again, there is this combination of the Hebrew verbs ‘asa,’ to form, and ‘bara,’ to create, humankind is manufactured from the substances of earth but there is something new here, too, something that is brought into existence which before did not exist. What was different? What was the new element that wasn’t there before, setting humans apart from plants, fish, birds, and animals?

God put the likeness of Himself in every person, creating both men and women in His own image, and making humans, alone of all His creatures, aware of Himself, God. Together women and men were to be an expression of God’s image, each made with a spirit, able to commune with God. Our likeness to God is not so much physical, as it has to do with spiritual dimensions: knowledge, feelings, a will, and the ability to form community among each other.

Think about God’s nature, and how He has imprinted within people something of Himself.

1) A sense of morals has been written, or impressed, by God within the human conscience. Every human, from the very first person to today has this moral consciousness, an understanding of right and wrong. From this rudimentary sense, people have the ability to attain wisdom.[2]

2) We have an ability to think in the abstract, about ideas. Humankind has always had an awareness and concern about death, and existence after physical death. We have the ability to communicate with words.[3]

3) Humans have an innate bent towards love and worship, and a desire to communicate with God.[4]

4) We have this consciousness of self, an ability to love and form relationships.[5]

5) God gave humankind curiosity, a desire to discover and an ability to recognize truth and absolutes.[6]

Just as God had given His divine blessing and command to all the other living, breathing things, so now God blessed and commanded this final flourish of life. Human beings were to be God’s representatives on earth, stewards bearing responsibility to manage earth’s resources, to rule with benevolent care in God’s service and to His glory.

We, alone of all of God’s creation, were made with the capacity to think and maintain relationships because God in His three-ness is a relational God.

God designed humanity to prosper and be blessed according to the principles in His law, just like our universe prospers and blesses us because it works as it was designed to do, it follows the laws of physics and nature.

God gave the whole earth orchards and fields for their daily bread. The killing and eating of each other had not yet begun. And it all brought God so much satisfaction, so much joy; He loved it all with such relish!

Why did God create the universe? Why did God focus His energies on earth? Why did God fill the earth with verdant, vibrant life? Why did God, as His final masterpiece, His flourish, create humanity?

Because it was very good.

Because it brought God pleasure

[1] John 1:1-4 NIV

[2] Romans 2:15 NIV

[3] Genesis 2:17 NIV

[4] Romans 1:21-25 NIV, the implication being if God is not worshiped, then other things will be worshiped. There is no situation in which a person does not worship something, even if that object of worship is themselves.

[5] Genesis 2:18 NIV

[6] Genesis 2:19 NIV

[A diagram of the geological time scale, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain]

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