Thoughts from Francis A. Schaeffer…

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evangelical disasterIn our own country we have enjoyed enormous human freedom. But at the same time this freedom has been founded upon forms of government, law, culture, and social morality which have given stability to individual and social life, and have kept our freedoms from leading to chaos. There is a balance here between form and freedom which we have come to take as natural in the world. But it is not natural. And we are utterly foolish if we do not recognize that this unique balance which we have inherited from the Reformation thought-forms is not automatic in a fallen world. This is clear when we look at the long span of history. But it is equally clear when we read the daily newspaper and see half the world locked in totalitarian oppression.1

The freedom that once was founded on a biblical consensus and a Christian ethos has now become autonomous freedom, cut loose from all constraints. Here we have the world spirit of our age–autonomous Man setting himself up as God, in defiance of the knowledge and the moral and spiritual truth which God has given. Here is the reason why we have a moral breakdown in every area of life. The titanic freedoms which we once enjoyed have been cut loose from their Christian restraints and are becoming a force of destruction leading to chaos. And when this happens, there really are very few alternatives. All morality becomes relative, law becomes arbitrary, and society moves toward disintegration. In personal and social life, compassion is swallowed up by self-interest…when the memory of the Christian consensus which gave us freedom within the biblical form is increasingly forgotten, a manipulating authoritarianism will tend to fill the vacuum. At this point the words “right” and “left” will make little difference. They are only two roads to the same end; the results are the same. An elite, an authoritarianism as such, will gradually force form on society so that it will not go into chaos–and most people will accept it.2

1Francis A. Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster, 1984 Crossway Books, p.21-22
2Ibid, p.22-23

Late Night Brain Droppings…

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Most “deconstruction” is simply the revelation that there is a difference between who Jesus is and how He has been represented; Christian leaders fearing deconstruction aren’t really worried about people leaving the faith, they are worried about losing power over people of faith…

::END TRANSMISSION::

Obligatory Post-Valentine’s Day post…kinda…

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valentines day cardToday, I started things off with an early morning doctor’s appointment. It was my quarterly check-up, and also my first visit with a new doctor, since the one I had been going to for the past couple of years decided to fly the coop. She doesn’t seem all that much younger than I am, and seemed to know what she was doing. However, she did have this tendency to end every sentence in an upward inflection that I find annoying. Hopefully, this can be chalked up to meeting a new patient and unconsciously doing that to reassure me, or something. We’ll find out in three months.

There was candy at work. One of my fellow work inmates brought a box of tiny chocolate men. Another brought a big box of assorted chocolates that, for some odd reason, was shaken up and all the different candies weren’t in their respective places, so they didn’t match the handy-dandy guide underneath the lid. A true agent of chaos, this.

::END TRANSMISSION::

“The Grief & Grace of God” (Genesis 5:1-6:8)

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5:1This is the written account of Adam’s family line. When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. 2He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” when they were created. 3When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. 4After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 5Altogether, Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died. 6When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the father of Enosh. 7After he became the father of Enosh, Seth lived 807 years and had other sons and daughters. 8Altogether, Seth lived a total of 912 years, and then he died. 9When Enosh had lived 90 years, he became the father of Kenan. 10After he became the father of Kenan, Enosh lived 815 years and had other sons and daughters. 11Altogether, Enosh lived a total of 905 years, and then he died. 12When Kenan had lived 70 years, he became the father of Mahalalel. 13After he became the father of Mahalalel, Kenan lived 840 years and had other sons and daughters. 14Altogether, Kenan lived a total of 910 years, and then he died. 15When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he became the father of Jared. 16After he became the father of Jared, Mahalalel lived 830 years and had other sons and daughters. 17Altogether, Mahalalel lived a total of 895 years, and then he died. 18When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch. 19After he became the father of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 20Altogether, Jared lived a total of 962 years, and then he died. 21When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. 22After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. 24Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. 25When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech. 26After he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and had other sons and daughters. 27Altogether, Methuselah lived a total of 969 years, and then he died. 28When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son. 29He named him Noah and said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.” 30After Noah was born, Lamech lived 595 years and had other sons and daughters. 31Altogether, Lamech lived a total of 777 years, and then he died. 32After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.

  • Observation #1: Though dying, the “Seed of the Woman” receives God’s salvation by faith(cf. Genesis 3:15)
  • Discussion Question: How does the interruption of Enoch in Adam’s genealogical death-list stand out in this section, and how does the mention of Noah and the meaning of his name stand out as well in connection with Gen. 3:15?

5:1-32–The Bible contains several lists of ancestors, called genealogies. There are two views concerning these lists: 1) They are complete, recording the entire history of a family, tribe or nation; or 2) they are not intended to be exhaustive and may include only famous people or the heads of families. “Because the father of” could refer not just to a son, but also to a more distant descendant. Why are genealogies included in the Bible? The Hebrew people passed on their beliefs through oral tradition. For many years in many places, writing was primitive or nonexistent. Stories were told to children who passed them on to their children. Genealogies gave a skeletal outline that helped people remember the stories. For centuries these genealogies were added to and passed down from family to family. Even more important than preserving family tradition, genealogies were included to confirm the Bible’s promise that the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, would be born into the line of Abraham. Genealogies point out that people are important to God as individuals. Therefore, God refers to people by name, mentioning their life span and descendants. The next time you feel overwhelmed in a vast crowd, remember that the focus of God’s attention and love is on the individual–and on you!*
5:3-5–All human beings are related, going back to Adam and Eve. All people form a family that shares one flesh and blood. Remember this hen prejudice enters your mind or hatred invades your feelings. Each person is a valuable and unique creation of God.*
5:21-24–At first glance it looks as if Enoch fared worse than the other patriarchs: He lived on earth only 365 years! Hebrews 11:5 explains what verse 24 means: Enoch was taken directly to heaven without seeing death. Enoch, then, lived longer than any of the other patriarchs, for he never died at all.*
5:25-27–How did these people live so long? Some believe that the ages listed here were lengths of family dynasties rather than ages of individual men. Those who think these were actual ages offer three explanations: 1) The human race was genetically purer in this early time period with less disease to shorten life spans; 2) no rain had yet fallen on the earth, and the vault of water “above” kept out harmful cosmic rays and shielded people from environmental factors that hasten aging (cf. Genesis 1:7); 3) God gave people longer lives so they would have time to “fill the earth” (cf. Genesis 1:28)*

6:1When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”4The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. 5The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

  • Observation #2: Though pursuing life, the “Seed of the Serpent” warrants God’s wrath by unbelief (cf. Genesis 3:15)
  • Discussion Question: How does the initial description of chapter six mirror the initial description of chapter 5, and how do these chapters highlight the different spiritual directions of the ‘Seed of the Woman’ (Seth’s descendants) vs. the ‘Seed of the Serpent’ (Cain’s descendants)?

6:1-4–Some people have thought that the “sons of God” were fallen angels. But the “sons of God” were probably not angels, because angels do not marry or reproduce (cf. Matthew 22:30; Mark 12:25). Some scholar believe this phrase refers to the descendants of Seth who intermarried with Cain’s evil descendants (“the daughters of humans”). This would have weakened the good influence of the faithful and increased moral depravity in the world, resulting in an explosion of evil.*
6:3–“Their days will be a hundred and twenty years” had been interpreted by some commentators to mean that God was allowing the people of Noah’s day 120 years to change their sinful ways. God shows his great patience with us as well. He is giving us time to quit living his way, the way he shows us in his Word. While 120 years seems like a long time, eventually the time ran out, and the floodwaters swept across the earth. Your time also may be running out. Turn to God to forgive your sins. You can’t see the stopwatch of God’s patience, and there is no bargaining for additional time.*
6:4–The Nephilim were giants probably nine or ten feet tall. This same Hebrew term (nephilim) was used to name a tall race of people mentioned in Numbers 13:33. Goliath, who was nine feet tall, appears in 1 Samuel 17. The Nephilim used their physical advantage to oppress the people around them.*
6:6-7–Does this mean that God regretted creating humanity? Was he admitting he made a mistake? No, God does not change his mind (cf. 1 Samuel 15:29). Instead, he was expressing sorrow for what the people had done to themselves, as a parent might express sorrow over a rebellious child. God was sorry that the people chose sin and death instead of a relationship with him.*
6:6-8–The people’s sin grieved God. Our sins break God’s heart as much as sin did in Noah’s day. Noah, however, pleased God, although he was far from perfect. We can follow Noah’s example and find “favor in the eyes of the LORD” in spite of the sin that surrounds us.*

What is absolutely clear here is that the children of these “Fallen Ones” (Nephilim) were incredibly evil. So much so, that we read, “every inclination of the thoughts of their minds was only evil all the time.” Here the word “inclination” refers to human plans or intentions (see Gen 8:21; 1 Chr 28:9; 29:18). People had taken their God-given capacities and used them to devise evil. The word (yetser) became a significant theological term in Rabbinic literature for what might be called the ‘sin nature’—the ‘evil inclination,’ and it is the same word used in Genesis 2 of God’s careful, artistic efforts in ‘forming’ or ‘fashioning’ Adam from the ground with an artist’s careful precision. People had turned sinning into a carefully crafted art form!

God, seeing all of this and knowing that the line of his Messiah was compromised, needed to act in such a way that not all would be lost for future generations’ salvation, since these ones could not be saved. So He decided to exercise His full rights as God and Judge, and give unbelieving mankind what it truly deserves: death and separation from Him forever (Cf. Rom. 6:23).

He decreed at this point that in 120 years he would wipe out all of mankind except for one man and his family. That is how bad it had become. There was no one left who feared the LORD. All had gone the ‘way of Cain’ except one man, and his family.

It is worth noting, as we will see in next week’s passage, the first thing Noah does after God destroys the entire population of the world is give Him a burnt offering sacrifice of some of every ‘clean’ animal he had brought onto the Ark. This brings us back to the life and death cycle of Genesis 1-6, and reaffirms as God, Adam, Able, Seth, and now Noah all declare; the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life for all who look forward to God fulfilling His promise through His promised ‘Seed.’ Of course today we know this is Jesus, God’s Chosen One who would die as a ransom for all mankind’s forgiveness.

Overall, this passage teaches us that we should walk by faith with Jesus like Enoch, forsaking evil thoughts, trusting in God’s grace & promise as did Seth’s line down to Noah.

  • Application: To walk by faith with Jesus, forsake evil thoughts, trusting in God’s grace & promise

Spend some time reflecting on whether you stand out in contrast to the people of ‘this age’ like Adam, Seth, Enoch, and Noah, or if you blend in with mimicking the sinful attitudes of hatred, strife, prejudice, selfishness, greed, envy, slander, political avarice, and worldly pride of this generation. Are we really walking with God, or are we simply walking in the ways of our favorite news channel, continually devising new ways to bless ourselves like Cain, instead of obeying and trusting God like Abel, Seth, Enoch, and Noah?

FOOTNOTES
*Life Application Bible study notes

2021…goodbye, farewell, amen…

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20220123_081811~2Well, now. Here we are, a full month into the year that is 2022. I figured, now would be a good time to shake myself out of this ongoing Dark Night of the Soul that I’ve found myself ensconced in for the past year, and let people know what’s been going on in the life of your Uncle NecRo.

This was the first time in a great while that I didn’t publish an Obligatory End-Of-The-Year post. This was because, quite frankly, I did not want to relive the last year, even to summarize the major events that still haunt me, and probaly will continue to do so long after the fact. Let’s just say that, for the entirety of 2021, I took a chance with someone I considered a close friend, and paid the price for it. This nearly destroyed me; I was left shattered, fighting against succumbing to bitterness and letting darkness prevail.1 I’m not going into detail. What’s done is done. They’ve made their choice.

It would have been far too easy to wallow in self-pity. I’ve been there before; this wasn’t my first tractor pull when it comes to friendships going sour. I don’t think anyone would have blamed me for giving in to resentment and bitterness…

…which is why I chose, almost immediately after this happened, to forgive them and carry on. It was the only thing I could do.

Forgive them. Let God handle it. Chose to say, “I love you, and I wish you well.” Not let bitterness and hatred take root.

In case you’re thinking that I took the weakling’s way out, guess again. To forgive someone is not the same as letting them off the hook; the fool never forgives and never forgets, the naive forgives and forgets, but the wise forgives but never forgets. I am open for reconciliation, as this person is someone I still love dearly, and will always have a place in my heart; but, before that can happen, there needs to be an honest, open discussion to confront the issues. And that’s something I don’t think they’ll ever do.

This kind of forgiveness is something I have to do every day; a choice I have to make, sometimes through gritted teeth and clenched fists, to say “I forgive them,” and give it all to God. Because it’s much easier to want to hold onto this hurt and betrayal, and let the bitterness and hatred spread, thinking this will strengthen me. Fuel me. Blind to the fact that all it’s doing is rotting me from the inside out, killing me slowly and leaving a bitter undead corpse.

Instead, I’ve forced myself into the habit of, whenever what they did comes to mind, I chose to say “I forgive them,” and pray that God goes after them. That one day they will stop running, and finally find the peace through Jesus that they deny they need, but is what they ultimately seek without knowing it. I pray the hounds of Heaven catch them, and my friend will be truly my friend I’ll see again, either here or when we’re Home. Because, if not…well, I don’t want to think about that.

Lord, have mercy on your unworthy servant. Save this poor, wretched soul. You will be done.

::END TRANSMISSION::

1SOUNDTRACK

“One Way to Worship” (Genesis 4:1-26)

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first murder
1Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” 2Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

  • Observation #1: The ‘Seed of the Serpent’ fails to believe the required payment for sin is death (cf. Genesis 3:7,21; Romans 6:23)

4:1–The phrase “made love to” is literally “he knew”. Sexual union means oneness and total knowledge of the other person. Sexual intercourse is the most intimate of acts, sealing a social, physical, and spiritual relationship. That is why God has reserved it for marriage alone.*
4:2–No longer was everything provided for Adam and Eve as it was in the Garden of Eden, where their daily tasks were refreshing and delightful. Now they had to struggle against the elements in order to provide food, clothing, and shelter for themselves and their family. Cain became a farmer, while Abel was a shepherd. In parts of the Middle East today, these ancient occupations are still practiced much as they were in Cain and Abel’s time.*
4:3-5–The Bible does not say why God did not accept Cain’s sacrifice. Perhaps Cain’s attitude was improper, or perhaps his offering was not up to God’s standards. Proverbs 21:27 says, “The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable–how much more so when brought with evil intent!” God evaluates both our motives and the quality of what we offer him. When we give to God and others, we should have a joyful heart because of what we are able to give. We should not worry about how much we are giving up, for all things are God’s in the first place. Instead, we should joyfully give to God our best in time, money, possessions, and talents.*

6Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” 8Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. 9Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

  • Observation #2: The ‘Seed of the Serpent’ fails to believe the way back to God is repentance (cf. 1 John 3:12)

4:6-7–How do you react when someone suggests you have done something wrong? Do you move to correct the mistake or deny that you need to correct it? After Cain’s sacrifice was rejected, God gave him the chance to right his wrong and try again. God even encouraged him to do this! But Cain refused, nd the rest of his life is a startling example of what happens to those who refuse to admit their mistakes. The next time someone suggests you are wrong, take an honest look at yourself and choose God’s way instead of Cain’s.*
4:7–For Cain to master the sin that was crouching at the door, he would have to give up his jealous anger so that sin would not find a foothold in his life. Sin is still crouching at our doors today. Like Cain, we will be victims of sin if we do not master it. But we cannot master sin in our own strength. Instead, we must turn to God to receive faith for ourselves and turn to other believers to receive encouragement and strength. The Holy Spirit will help us master sin. This will be a life-long battle that will not be over until we are face-to-face with Christ.*
4:8-10–This is the first murder–taking a life by shedding human blood. Blood represents life (cf. Leviticus 17:10-14). If blood is removed from a living creature, it will die. Because God created life, only God should take life away.
Ibid–Adam and Eve’s disobedience brought sin into the human race. They may have thought their sin–eating a piece of fruit–wasn’t very bad, but notice how quickly their sinful nature developed in their children. Simple disobedience quickly degenerated into outright murder. Adam and Eve acted only against God, but Cain acted against both God and another person. A small sin has a way of growing out of control. Let God help you with your “little” sins before they turn into tragedies.*
4:11-15–Cain was severely punished for this murder. God judges all sins and punishes appropriately, not our of vengeance, but because he desires to correct us and restore our fellowship with him. When you’re corrected, don’t resist it. Instead, renew your fellowship with God.*

13Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. 16So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden. 17Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch. 18To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech. 19Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah. 20Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. 21His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes. 22Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah. 23Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. 24If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.”

  • Observation #3: The ‘Seed of the Serpent’ fails to believe God will be gracious (cf. Matthew 25:24)

4:14–We have heard about only four people so far: Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel. Two questions arise–why was Cain worried about being killed by others, and where did he get his wife? Adam and Eve had numerous children they had been told to “fill the earth” (cf. Genesis 1:28). Cain’s guilt and fear over killing his brother were heavy, and he probably feared repercussions from his family. If he was capable of killing, so were they. The wife Cain chose may have been one of his sisters or a niece. The human race was still genetically pure, and there was no fear of side effects from marrying relatives.*
4:15–The expression “will suffer vengeance seven times over” means that the person’s punishment would be complete, thorough, and much worse than that received by Cain for his sin.*

25Adam made love to his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.” 26Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.

  • Observation #4: The ‘Seed of the Woman’ believes in Yahweh’s proper worship (cf. John 6:27)

4:19-26–Unfortunately, when left to themselves, people tend to get worse instead of better. This short summary of Lamech’s family shows us the variety of talent and ability God gives humans. It also presents the continuous development of sin as time passes. Another killing occurred, presumably in self-defense. Violence was on the rise. Two distinct groups were emerging: 1) those who showed indifference to sin and evil, and 2) those who called on the name of the Lord (the descendants of Seth). Seth would take Abel’s place as leader of a line of God’s faithful people.*

  • Application: Recognize sin’s deadly requirement, by repenting of self-reliance to trust in Jesus’ sacrifice only.

*Life Application Bible study notes

“The Plummet & The Promise” (Genesis 2:4-3:24)

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5709-adam-and-eve
2:4This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. 5Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, 6but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. 7Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. 8Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.10A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12(The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) 13The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. 14The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. 15The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” 18The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” 19Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” 24That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Observation #1: Yahweh proves Himself to mankind as the Creator-Blesser

1) Creator-Yahweh is the “Life-Giver” (v.7)
2:7–“From the dust of the ground” implies that there is nothing fancy about the chemical elements making up our bodies. The body is a lifeless shell until God brings it alive with his “breath of life.” When God removes his life-giving breath, our bodies once again return to dust. Our lives and worth, therefore, come from God’s Spirit. Many boast of their achievements and abilities as though they were the originator of their own strengths. Others feel worthless because their abilities do not stand out. In reality, our worth comes not from our achievements but from the God of the universe, who chooses to give us the mysterious and miraculous gift of life. Value lie, as he does.*

2) Creator-Yahweh is the “Work-Provider” (v.8-15)
2:9–The name of the tree of knowledge of good and evil implies that evil had already occurred, if not in the garden, then at the time of Satan’s fall.*

3) Creator-Yahweh is the “Life-Protector” (v.16-17)
2:9,16-17–Were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil real trees? Two views are often expressed: 1) The trees were real, but symbolic. Eternal life with God was pictured as eating from the tree of life. 2) The trees were real, possessing special properties. By eating the fruit from the tree of life, Adam and Eve could have had eternal life, enjoying a permanent relationship as God’s children. In either case, Adam and Eve’s sin separated them from the tree of life and thus kept them from obtaining eternal life. Interestingly, the tree of life again appears in a description in Revelation 22 of people enjoying eternal life with God.Life Application Bible study notes; Genesis
2:15-17–God gave Adam responsibility for the garden and told him not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Rather than physically preventing him from eating, God gave Adam a choice, and thus the possibility of choosing wrongly. God still gives us choices, and we, too, often choose wrongly. These wrong choices may cause us pain, but they can help us learn and grow and make better choices in the future. Living with the consequences of our choices teaches us to think and choose more carefully.Life Application Bible study notes; Genesis

4) Creator-Yahweh is the “Need-Meeter” (v. 18-25;3:20)
2:18-24–God’s creative work was not complete until he made woman. He could have made her from the dust of the ground, as he made man. God chose, however, to make her from the man’s flesh and bone. In so doing, he illustrated for us that in marriage man and woman symbolically become one flesh. This is a mystical union of the couple’s hearts and lives. Throughout the Bible, God treats this special partnership seriously. If you are married or planning to be married, are you willing to keep the commitment that makes the two of you one? The goal in marriage should be more than friendship; it should be oneness.*
2:16-17–Why would God place a tree in the garden and then forbid Adam to obey, but God gave Adam the freedom to choose. Without choice, Adam would have been like a prisoner,and his obedience would have been hollow. The two trees provided an exercise in choice, with rewards for choosing to obey and sad consequences for choosing to disobey. When you are faced with the choice, always choose to obey God.*
2:21-23–God forms and equips men and women for various tasks, but all these tasks lead to the same goal–honoring God. Man gives life to woman; woman gives lie to the world. Each role carries exclusive privileges; there is no room for thinking that one sex is superior to the other.*
2:24–God gave marriage as a gift to Adam and Eve. They were created perfect for each other. Marriage was not just for convenience, nor was it brought about by any culture. It was instituted by God and has three basic aspects: 1) The man leaves his parents and, in a public act, promises himself to his wife; 2) the man and woman are joined together by taking responsibility for each other’s welfare and by loving the mate above all others; 3) the two become one flesh in the intimacy and commitment of sexual union, which is reserved for marriage. Strong marriages include all three of these aspects.*
2:25–Have you ever noticed how a little child can run naked through a room full of strangers without embarrassment? He is not aware of his nakedness, just as Adam and Eve were not embarrassed in their innocence. But after Adam and Eve sinned, shame and awkwardness followed, creating barriers between themselves and God. We often experience these same barriers in marriage. Ideally a husband and wife have no barriers, feeling no embarrassment in exposing themselves to each other or to God. But, like Adam and Eve, we put on fig leaves (barriers) because we have areas we don’t want our spouse, or God, to know about. Then we hide, just as Adam and Eve hid from God. In marriage, lack of spiritual, emotional, and intellectual intimacy usually precedes a breakdown of physical intimacy. In the same way, when we fail to expose our secret thoughts to God, we break our lines of communication with him.*

3:1Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Observation #2: Satan presents himself to mankind as the “Greater-Blesser”

1) The Serpent is the vilifier of Submissive Obedient Dependance (v.1)
3:1–Disguised as a crafty serpent, Satan came to tempt Eve. At one time, Satan had been a glorious angel. But in pride, he rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven. As a created being, Satan has definite limitations. Although he is tying to tempt everyone away from God, he will not be the final victor.Life Application Bible study notes, Genesis

2) The Serpent is the prosperity preacher of self-empowered self improvement (v.4-5)
3:1-6–Why does Satan tempt us? Temptation is Satan’s invitation to give in to his kind of life and give up o God’s kind of life. Satan tempted Eve and succeeded in getting her to sin. Ever since then, he’s been busy getting people to sin. He even tempted Jesus (cf Matthew 4:11). But Jesus did not sin! How could Eve have resisted temptation? By following the same guidelines we can follow First, we must realize that being tempted is not a sin. We have not sinned until we give in to the temptation. Then, to resist temptation, we must 1) pray for strength to resist, 2) run, sometimes literally, and 3) say no when confronted with what we know is wrong. James 1:12 tells of the blessings and rewards for those who don’t give in when tempted.*
Ibid–The serpent, Satan, tempted Eve by getting her to doubt God’s goodness. He implied that God was strict, stingy, and selfish for not wanting Eve to share his knowledge of good and evil. Satan made Eve forget all that God had given her and, instead, focus on what God has forbidden. We fall into trouble, too, when we dwell on what God forbids rather than on the countless blessings and promises he has given us. The next time you are feeling sorry for yourself over what you don’t have, consider all you do have and thank God. Then your doubts won’t lead you into sin.*
3:5–Adam and Eve got what they wanted: an intimate knowledge of both good and evil. But they got it by doing evil, and the results were disastrous. Sometimes we have the illusion that freedom is doing anything we want. But God says that true freedom comes from obedience and knowing what not to do. The restrictions he gives us are for our good, helping us avoid evil. We have the freedom to walk i front of a speeding car, but we don’t need to be hit to realize it would be foolish to do so. Don’t listen to Satan’s temptations. You don’t have to do evil to gain more experience and learn more about life.*
Ibid–Satan used a sincere motive to tempt Eve, telling her that she would be like God if she ate the fruit. It wasn’t wrong of Eve to want to be like God. To become more like God is humanity’s highest goal. It is what we are supposed to do. But Satan misled Eve concerning the right way to accomplish this goal. He told her that she could become more like God by defying God’s authority, by taking God’s place and deciding for herself what was best for her life. In effect, he told her to become her own god. But to become like God is not the same as trying to become God. Rather, it is to reflect his characteristics and to recognize his authority over your life. Like Eve, we often have a worthy goal but try to achieve it in the wrong way. We act like a political candidate who pays off an election judge to be “voted” into office. When he does this, serving the people is no longer his highest goal. Self-exaltation leads to rebellion against God. As soon as we begin to leave God out of our plans, we are placing ourselves above him. This is exactly what Satan wants us to do.*

6When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” 10He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Observation #3: Mankind projects itself to God and Creation as the self-blesser

1) Mankind is disempowered through independence (v.6)
3:6–Satan tried to make Eve think that sin is good, pleasant, and desirable. A knowledge of both good and evil seemed harmless to her. People usually choose wrong things because they have become convinced that those things are good, at least for themselves. Our sins do not always appear ugly to us, and the pleasant sins are the hardest to avoid. So prepare yourself for the attractive temptations that may come your way. We cannot always prevent temptation, but there is always a way of escape (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:13). Use God’s Word and God’s people to help you stand against it.*
3:6-7–Notice what Eve did: She looked, she took, she ate, and she gave. The battle is often lost at the first look. Temptation often begins by simply seeing something you want. Are you struggling with temptation because you have not learned that looking is the first step toward sin? You would win over temptation more often if you followed Paul’s advice to run from those things that produce evil thoughts (cf. 2 Timothy 2:22)*
Ibid–One of the realities of sin is that its effects spread. After Eve sinned, she involved Adam in her wrongdoing. When we do something wrong, often we try to relieve our guilt by involving someone else. Like toxic waste spilled in a river, sin swiftly spreads. Recognize and confess your sin to God before you are tempted to pollute those around you.*

2) Mankind is fearful because it is guilty (v.7-10)
3:7-8–After sinning, Adam and Eve felt guilt and embarrassment over their nakedness. Their guilty feelings made them try to hide it from God. A guilty conscience is a warning signal God placed inside you that goes off when you’ve done wrong. The worst step you could take is to eliminate the guilty feelings without eliminating the cause. That would be like using a painkiller but not treating the disease. Be glad those guilty feelings are there. They make you aware of your sin so you can ask God’s forgiveness and then correct your wrongdoing.*
3:8–The thought of two humans covered with fig leaves trying to hide from the all-seeing, all-knowing God is humorous. How could they be so silly as to think they could actually hide? Yet we do the same, acting as though God doesn’t know what we’re doing. Have the courage to share all you do and think with him. And don’t try to hide–it can’t be done. Honesty will strengthen your relationship with God.*
3:8-9–These verses show God’s desire to have fellowship with us. They also show why we are afraid to have fellowship with him. Adam and Eve hid from God when they heard him approaching. God wanted to be with them, but because of their sin, they were afraid to show themselves. Sin had broken their close relationship with God, just as it has broken ours. But Jesus Christ, God’s Son, opens the way for us to renew our fellowship with him. God longs to be with us. He actively offers us his unconditional love. Our natural response is fear because we feel we can’t live up to his standards. But understanding that he loves us, regardless of our faults, can help remove that dread.*

11And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 12The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 13Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 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.” 16To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” 17To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.18It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19By 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.” 20Adam named his wife Eve,[d] because she would become the mother of all the living. 21The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Observation #4: Yahweh preserves mankind by privation & prophetic promise
3:11-13–Adam and Eve failed to heed god’s warning recorded in Genesis 2:16-17. They did not understand the reasons for his command, so they chose to act in another way that looked better to them. All of God’s commands are for our own good, but we may not always understand the reasons behind them. People who trust God will obey because God asks them to, whether or not they understand why God commands it.*
Ibid–When God asked Adam about his sin, Adam blamed Eve. Then Eve blamed the serpent. How easy it is to excuse our sins by blaming someone else or circumstances. But God knows the truth, and he holds each of us responsible for what we do. Admit your wrong attitudes and actions and apologize to God. Don’t try to get away with sin by blaming someone else.*

1) Creator-Yahweh is the perfect judge (v.14;16-19)
3:14-24–Adam and Eve chose their course of action (disobedience), and then God chose his. As a holy God, he could respond only in a way consistent with his perfect moral nature. He could not allow sin to go unchecked; he had to punish it. If the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin seem extreme, remember that their sin set in motion the world’s tendency toward disobeying God. That is why we sin today: Every human being ever born, with the exception of Jesus, has inherited the sinful nature of Adam and Eve (cf. Romans 5:12-21). Adam and Eve’s punishment reflects how seriously God views sin of any kind.*
3:14-19–Adam and Eve learned by painful experience that because God is holy and hates sin, he must punish sinners. The rest of the book of Genesis recounts painful stories of lives ruined as a result of the Fall. Disobedience is sin, and it breaks our fellowship with God. But, fortunately, when we disobey, God is willing to forgive us and to restore our relationship with him.*
3:17-19–Adam and Eve’s disobedience and fall from God’s gracious presence affected all creation, including the environment. Years ago people thought nothing of polluting streams with chemical wastes and garbage. This seems so insignificant, so small. Now we know that just two or three parts per million of certain chemicals can damage human health. Sin in our lives is similar to pollution in streams. Even small amounts are deadly.*

2) Creator-Yahweh is the future Redeemer (v.15)
3:15–Satan is our enemy. He will do anything he can to get us to follow his evil, deadly path. The phrase “you will strike is heel” refers to Satan’s repeated attempts to defeat Christ during his life on earth. “He will crush your head” foreshadows Satan’s defeat when Christ rose from the dead. A stike on the heel is not deadly, but a blow to the head is. Already God was revealing his plan to defeat Satan and offer salvation to the world through his Son, Jesus Christ.*

3) Creator-Yahweh is the sin outsmarter (v.21-24)
3:22-24–Life in the Garden of Eden was like living in heaven. Everything was perfect, and if Adam and Eve had obeyed God, they could have lived there forever. But after disobeying, Adam and Eve no longer deserved paradise, and God told them to leave. If they had continued to live in the garden and had eaten from the tree of life, they would have lived forever. But eternal life in a state of sin would mean forever trying to hide from God. Like Adam and Eve, all of us have sinned and are separated from fellowship with God. We do not have to stay separated, however. God is preparing a new earth is an eternal paradise for his people (cf. Revelation 21-22)*
3:24–This is how Adam and Eve broke their relationship with God: 1)They became convinced their way was better than God’s; 2)they became self-conscious and hid; 3)they tried to excuse and defend themselves. To build a relationship with God we must reverse those steps: 1)We must drop our excuses and self-defenses; 2)we must stop trying to hide from God; 3)we must become convinced that God’s way is better than our way.*

Application: Recognize Yahweh as Creator-Blesser by forsaking independence through obedient submissive dependence.

*Life Application Bible study notes

“The Divine Pause…” (Genesis 1:1-2:3)

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genesis 1

NOTES*
1:1-31 The creation story teaches us much about God and ourselves. First, we learn about God: 1) He is creative; 2) as the Creator, he is distinct from his creation; 3) he is eternal and in control of the world. We also learn about ourselves: 1) Since God chose to create us, we are valuable in his eyes; 2) we are more important than the animals.
Just how did God create the earth? This is still a subject of great debate. Some say that with a sudden explosion, the universe appeared. Others say God started the process, and the universe evolved over billions of years. Almost every ancient religion has its own story to explain how the earth came to be. And almost every scientist has an opinion on the origin of the universe. But only the Bible shows one supreme God creating the earth out of his great love and giving all people a special place in it. We will never know all the answers to how God created the earth, but the Bible tells us God did create it. That fact alone gives worth and dignity to all people.

1:1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. 6And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day. 9And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. 11Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day. 14And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day. 20And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day. 24And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

  • Observation #1: God creates everything from nothing by speaking, revealing His absolute supremacy.

NOTES*
1:1 The simple statement that God created the heavens and the earth is one of the most challenging concepts confronting he modern mind. The vast galaxy we live in is spinning at the incredible speed of 490,000 miles an hour. But even at this breakneck speed, our galaxy still 200 million years to make one rotation. And there are hundreds of billions of other galaxies in the universe. It has been said that the number of stars in creation is equal to all the grains of all the sands on all the beaches of the world. Yet this complex sea of spinning stars functions with remarkable order and efficiency. To say that the universe “just happened” or “evolved” requires more faith than to believe that God is behind these amazing statistics. God truly did created a wonderful universe. God did not need to create the universe, he chose to create it. Why? God is love, and love is best expressed toward something or someone else–so God created the world and people as an expression of his love. We should avoid reducing God’s creation to merely scientific terms. Remember that God created the universe because he loves us.
1:2 Who created God? To ask that question is to assume there was another creator before God. At some time, however, we are forced to stop asking that question and realize that there had to be something that has always existed. God is that infinite Being who has always been and who was created by no one.This is difficult to understand because finite minds cannot comprehend the infinite. For example, we can try to think of the highest number, but we can’t do it. Likewise, we must not limit the infinite God by our finite understanding.
The statement “the earth was formless and empty” provides the setting for the creation narrative that follows. During the second and third days of creation, God gave form to the universe; during the next three days, God filled the earth with living beings. The “darkness” was dispelled on the first day, when God created light.
The image of the Spirit of God hovering over the waters is similar to a mother bird caring for the protecting its young (cf. Deuteronomy 32:11-12; Isaiah 31:5). God’s Spirit was actively involved in the creation of the world (cf. Job 33:4; Psalm 104:30). God’s care and protection are still active.
1:6 The “vault between the waters” was a separation between the sea and the mists of the skies.
1:25 God saw that his work was good. People sometimes feel guilty for having a good time or for feeling good about an accomplishment. This need not be so. Just as God felt good about his work, we can be pleased with our. However, we should not feel good about our work if God would not be pleased with it. What are you doing that please both you and God?

earth-in-space

26Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” 29Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

  • Observation #2: God creates ruling representatives by gifting them His own image.

NOTES*
1:26 Why does God use the plural form, “Let us make mankind in our image”? One view says this is a reference to the Trinity–God the Father, Jesus Christ his Son, and the Holy Spirit–all of whom are God. Another view is that the plural wording is used to denote majesty. Kings traditionally use the plural form in speaking of themselves. From Job 33:4 and Psalm 104:30, we do know that God’s Spirit was present in the Creation. From Colossians 1:16 we know that Christ, God’s Son, was at work in the Creation.
In what ways are we made in God’s image? God obviously did not create us exactly like himself because God has no physical body. Instead, we are reflections of God’s glory. Some feel that our reason, creativity, speech, or self-determination is the image of God. More likely, it is our entire self that reflects the image of God. We will never be totally like God because he is our supreme Creator. But we do have the ability to reflect his character in our love, patience, forgiveness, kindness, and faithfulness. Knowing that we are made in God’s image and thus share many of his characteristics provides a solid basis for self-worth. Human worth is not based on possessions, achievements, physical attractiveness, or public acclaim. Instead, it is based on being made in God’s image. Because we bear God’s image, we can feel positive about ourselves. Criticizing or downgrading ourselves is criticizing what God has made and the abilities he has given us. Knowing that you are a person of worth helps you love God, know him personally, and make a valuable contribution to those around you.
1:27 Go made both man and woman in his image. Neither man nor woman is made more in the image of God than the other. From the beginning the Bible places both man and woman at the pinnacle of God’s creation. Neither sex is exalted, and neither is depreciated.
1:28 To “rule over” something is to have absolute authority and control over it. God has ultimate rule over the earth, and he exercises his authority with loving care. When God delegated some of his authority to the human race, he expected us to take responsibility for the environment and the other creatures that share our planet. We must not be careless and wasteful as we fulfill this charge. God was careful how he made this earth. We must not be careless about how we take care of it.
1:31 God saw that all he had created was very good. You are part of God’s creation, and he is pleased with how he made you. If at times you feel worthless or of little value, remember that God made you for a good reason. You are valuable to him.

creator-god

2:1Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. 2By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

  • Observation #3: God commences reigning over Creation by pausing to preside over His perfect work.

NOTES*
1:3-2:7 How long did it take God to create the world? There are two basic views about the days of creation: 1) Each day was a literal 24-hour period; 2) each day represents an indefinite period of time (even millions of years). The Bible does not say how long these time periods were. The real question, however, is not how long God took, but how he did it. God created the earth in an orderly fashion (he did not make plants before light), and he created men and women as unique beings capable of communication with him. No other part of creation can claim that remarkable privilege. It is not important how long it took God to create the world, whether a few days or a few billion years, but that he created it just the way he wanted it.
2:2-3 We live in an action-oriented world! There always seems to be something to do and no time to rest. Yet God demonstrated that rest is appropriate and right. If God himself rested from his work, we should not be surprised that we also need rest. Jesus demonstrated this principle when he and his disciples left in a boat to get away from the crowds (cf. Mark 6:31-32). Our times of rest refresh us for times of service.
2:3 That God blessed the seventh day means that he set it apart for holy use. The Ten Commandments emphasize this distinction by commanding the observance of the Sabbath (cf. Exodus 20:1-17).

  • Application: Recognize God’s supremacy over competitors, representing Him in conduct, and pausing to praise His perfection.

FOOTNOTES
*from the Life Application Study Bible notes

Book Review: MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN

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Jonathan Lethem
Doubleday
1999

I’m tightly wound. I’m a loose cannon. Both–I’m a tightly wound loose cannot, a tight loose.

Lionel Essrog is Brooklyn’s very own self-appointed Human Freakshow, an orphan whose Touretic impulses drive him to bark, count, and rip apart our language in the most startling and original ways. Together with three veterans of the St. Vincent’s Home for Boys, he works for small-time mobster Frank Minna’s limo service cum detective agency. Life without Frank Minna, the charismatic King of Brooklyn, would be unimaginable,, so who cares if the tasks he sets them are, well, not exactly legal. But when Frank is fatally stabbed, one of Lionel’s colleagues lands in jail, the other two vie for his position, and the victim’s widow skips town. Lionel’s world is suddenly topsy-turvy, and this outcast who has trouble even conversing attempts to untangle the threads of the case while trying to keep the words straight in his head.

The hardboiled detective noir genre isn’t one that I’ve read a lot of. As to why…I couldn’t tell you. It’s a tried-and-true style in the pulp tradition. Mind you, I’ve read my fair share of novels and stories that are horror/dark fantasy that utilizes the Noir style as the narrative framing device–the Anita Baker series and John Constantine: Hellblazer comics immediately come to mind–but never really dug right into a straight-up gritty detective mystery thriller and lose myself in it.

Motherless Brooklyn is a novel that was recommended highly by a close friend and fellow bookworm, someone whose opinion of things I respect greatly, so I went ahead and purchased a copy for my well-used Kindle to read. That was just this past year (2021); for the record, I wasn’t aware there was a movie adaptation that was released back in 2019 at the time I got this, and it’s up in the air as to whether I’m going to even look into watching it. Although, the prospect of watching Edward Norton play the main protagonist is intriguing, to say the very least.

Before I go any further, it’s confession time: I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome when I was 12 years old, and have lived with it most of my life. This is not something I am open about, mainly due to the typical way that Hollywood and other pop media portrays anyone that has it as the wacky “swearing disease”. And don’t worry, I’m not going to use this book review as a platform to talk about it; I wanted to mention this because one of the selling points when my friend was telling me about this book was that the story was told from the viewpoint of someone with Tourette’s in the first person, and I was morbidly curious as to how the author tackled that, understanding the subtle nuances that I had to struggle with personally. And as far as that goes…I think that Jonathan Lethem did a fantastic job with that aspect, really getting into the mind of someone that actually struggles with this kind of thing. And that’s all I really have to say about that.

Moving on to the story itself, I have to say that this was something of a totally engrossing, completely engaging read from beginning to end. It tells the tale of Lionel Essrog and three other orphan boys–the titular “Motherless Brooklyn”–who grew up together in an orphanage in Brooklyn, and find themselves taken under the wing of a small-time hustler at a young age, who grow up to work for him full-time for his seedy and makeshift detective agency. When this employer/father figure of theirs is murdered, the main character takes it upon himself to find out who it was responsible for his death. This takes him to some very dark and seedy places, with enough twists and turns to make a normal person’s head spin, let alone someone who has to deal with his particular quirk.

Overall, I was rather glad I gave this book a look-see. This is something that I would probably go about re-reading some time in the future, something I very rarely do. If you’re a fan of classic detective noir stories, gritty crime mysteries, or just well-told yarns from a different perspective, I would highly recommend checking out Motherless Brooklyn for yourself.

The Gospel According to Isaiah pt. 2: “Asking is Believing” (Isaiah 7:10-14)

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10Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, 11“Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.” 12But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.” 13Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also?

Observation #1: Acting out of confident ‘godliness’ is the essence of unbelief and self-sufficiency
cf. Hebrews 11:6

–Ahaz appeared righteous by saying he would not test God with a sign. In fact, God had told him to ask, but Ahaz didn’t really want to know what God would say. Often we use some excuse–such as not wanting to bother God or blaming some theological question that concerns us–to keep us from communicating with him. Don’t let anything keep you from hearing and obeying God.Life Application Bible study notes, Isaiah 7:12

14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Observation #2: God subtly provides signs in ways that ironically highlight our unbelief
cf. Isaiah 7:3-4; Isaiah 65:1

–The word virgin is translated from a Hebrew term used for an unmarried woman old enough to be married, one who is sexually mature (cf. Genesis 24:43; Exodus 2:8; Psalm 68:25; Proverbs 30:19; Song Of Solomon 1:3, 6:8). Some have compared this young woman to Isaiah’s young wife and newborn son (cf. Isaiah 8:1-4). This is not likely because she had a child, Shear-Jashub, and her second child was not named Immanuel. Some believe that Isaiah’s first wife may have died, and so this is his second wife. It is more likely that this prophecy had a double fulfillment. 1) A young woman from the house of Ahaz who was not married would marry and have a son. Before three years passed (one year for pregnancy two for the child to be old enough to talk), the two invading kings would be destroyed. 2) Matthew 1:23 quotes Isaiah 7:14 to show a further fulfillment of this prophecy in that a virgin named Mary conceived and bore a son, Immanuel, the Christ.Life Application Bible study notes, Isaiah 7:14-16

Application: Recognize that God delights in supernaturally providing deliverance through perceived weakness, by asking Him to be with you in your need

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