Posted in adam, beauty, curse, encouragement, jesus

If earth is this beautiful…

When Adam sinned, the Lord our God, creator of all, cursed the ground.

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
(Genesis 3:17)

I live in a rural area. Not every place on earth looks like this, I know. But I’m astounded that ANY place looks like this, after the curse.

If God’s earth is THIS beautiful after the ground has been cursed, then imagine the beauty of heaven! Look toward the reward- being in God’s family, perfected in glory, and seeing the face of Jesus, amid inexpressible sounds and sights of beauty of such scope that we cannot even imagine! (2 Corinthians 12:4)

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— (1 Corinthians 12:9)

Posted in crown, curse, encouragement, savior, thorns

The curse of thorns and the crown of thorns

In the desert, cacti and thorn bushes mean business. Often, there are impenetrable thickets of rough bushes with spiky thorns that hurt even if you catch a glancing blow. Some cacti don’t even wait for a glancing blow but eject their little hairs to hurl at you as the wind of your passage awakens them. Desert thorns means business.

It wasn’t always that way. When the earth was created and the Garden of Eden planted nothing inside the Garden would hurt man as he passed. Which was good, because he was naked and not ashamed. Soft plants, beauteous flowers, stately trees, and mild animals dotted the landscape.

Then sin entered the world through one man, Adam, and because he listened to the voice of his wife, the ground became cursed. In some places today, the landscape even hurts to look at it.

After the Fall, thorns sprung up everywhere. Thorns hurt, thorns are negative, thorns are because of sin.

And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;

(Genesis 3:17-18)

Anytime there was a curse thereafter, thorns are frequently mentioned as part of the curse. (Nu 33:55; Jos 23:12-13; Isa 5:5-6; 7:23-25; 55:8-13; Jer 12:13; Hos 9:6). Jesus used the symbols of “thorns” in his teaching in a negative sense (Matt. 7:16; Mark 4:7, 18; Heb. 6:8).

Thorns came in with sin, and were part of the curse that was the product of sin, Gen. 3:18. Therefore Christ, being made a curse for us, and dying to remove the curse from us, felt the pain and smart of those thorns, nay, and binds them as a crown to him (Job 31:36); for his sufferings for us were his glory. Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume.

In Matthew 27:29 we read that the soldiers who were crucifying Christ had some mocking fun with Him and placed a crown of thorns over His head.

Source Logos Bible Software

Ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.’ (Isaiah 55: 12-13)

Trees ‘clapping their hands’ is indicative of the fact that creation will no longer groan (Romans 8:22) but be glad.

In the crown of thorns placed upon His head, it was not only a mocking activity performed by pagans, but symbolic of the Lamb caught in the thorn thicket when Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac. It is symbolic of the curse of sin that Jesus took upon Himself, so that we may escape it through Him.

EPrata photo

When you see that crown of thorns, and you think about the mockery and pain Jesus endured on our behalf, think about Him the spotless Lamb taking upon Himself the sins you and I do daily.

The Roman soldiers unknowingly took an object of the curse and fashioned it into a crown for the one who would deliver us from that curse. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). (source)

What a tremendous, loving, wonderful Savior we have in Jesus Christ.

——————————–

Further Reading

The Splendor of Thorns

Can you imagine the Wal-Mart floral department offering a bouquet of thorns? Does the Garden Center ever advertise Acacia thorn bushes? Do carpenters choose two-by-fours made of thorn wood? Except for our botanist friends, few people find thorns captivating. They are not beautiful. And they don’t seem very useful, though they do burn extremely well. The negative associations of thorns are what make their appearance in the Bible so intriguing, for God weaves these very thorns into the revelation of His grace. He gives them a star role in the unfolding drama of His judgment and unbelievable mercy.

The curse on the Man, part 2

In the original Eden you didn’t have to have cultivated planned crops, and you didn’t have any weeds. You had the natural flourishing of the earth producing all manner of food without crops, as we know them, that now produce flour and from that we make bread and there was no siach, no weeds which grow profusely now. And it also mentions in chapter 2 verse 5 that the rain contributes to that as we well know. Take a vacant piece of dirt, do nothing to it, just wait and let it rain and you will have a flourishing field full of weeds.

What is the meaning and significance of the crown of thorns?

After Jesus’ sham trials and subsequent flogging, and before He was crucified, the Roman soldiers “twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand and knelt in front of Him and mocked Him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said” (Matthew 27:29; see also John 19:2-5). While a crown of thorns would be exceedingly painful, the crown of thorns was more about mockery than it was about pain. 

Posted in curse, ground, restores all things, sin, the fall, throrn

Prickles and briers and thorns, oh my!

Won’t it be a beautiful day when there is nothing on earth or heaven to hurt us? From satan himself destroying people’s souls, down to the smallest thorn, nothing will pain us anymore. Remember, thorns were not part of the original creation. They appeared after the Fall when God cursed the ground.

cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; (Genesis 3:17b-18a)

THORNS AND BRIERS AND BRAMBLES
“All the land shall become briers and thorns.”—ISA. 7:24.

THE Hebrew words atad, koz, chedek, choach, naazuz, shait, shamir, sillon, sirim, sirpad, zinnim, and eight others, have been translated variously “thorns,” “briers,” and “brambles” in the Old Testament; and the word akantha is the “thorn” of the New Testament. It is impossible to say whether or not a particular species of plant was intended by each of these terms. Most of them apply generally to thorny plants, of which there are many in Palestine at the present day. 

Commentators mention among the thorny plants of the Holy Land species of Zizyphus, such as Zizyphus spina-Christi, also Paliurus aculeatus, Acanthus spinosus, Ononis spinosa, Solanum spinosum, Tribulus terrestris, Lycium europæum, and species of Rhamnus, Centaurea, and Astragalus. 

Since man’s fall, thorns of all kinds have come up on the ground, which was cursed (Gen. 3:18); and God in chastening Israel often refers to the curse of thorns. Thus Isaiah says, “Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers” (32:13); and Hosea prophesies that “the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars” (10:8).

Source, Balfour, J. H. (1885). The Plants of the Bible (p. 128). London; Edinburgh; New York: T. Nelson and Sons.

EPrata photo

Posted in curse, encouragement, Garden, garden of eden, gethsemane

Two Gardens: Eden and Gethsemane

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:8-9).

“The Garden of Eden” Jan the Elder Brueghel (1568-1625)

It’s July. It’s garden season. Everyone in this rural county in North Georgia has a garden, it seems. The tomatoes and yellow squash are coming in gangbusters. People around here are self-sufficient. They know how to fish for lunch, shoot dinner, maintain a garden, skin a deer, and BBQ a hog. They keep their tractors running and their farms afloat.

It’s pretty here, too. As a result from working the land, people cherish their land. They are good caretakers.

A friend’s garden, not the one I’m helping
with this week. Different friend. EPrata photo

This week I am working a garden. Yes that is unusual for me. I do not like outside. I know it is there. I see outside through the window. I don’t need to go into it. So why am I working a garden? Because I have married friends who have a large garden. They went away this week on vacation and they asked me to tend the garden while they are gone. They said I could eat the produce from the garden and also share it with others. I love serving the brethren, so of course I said yes.

I don’t have experience with gardens and such. I’m from Maine and the growing season is so short it barely makes it worth it to put a garden in. So I have been introduced to gardening this week. Gardens are very much on my mind.

When I picked the yellow squash, cukes, and tomatoes the other day I battled bees and wasps. There were lots. The squash blossoms were huge and inviting to them and apparently none of them had declined the invitation, and hence there was a lot of buzzing to battle. Also, I had to check for snakes in the underbrush, because, well, Georgia has snakes. Apparently my fig latex allergy isn’t limited to fig latex but any plant from the tomato, squash, or cuke family. My friends have planted tomatoes, squash, and cukes. I emerged the first day with huge welts that burned and stung. And itched.

Bee: potential ouch. EPrata photo

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17)

I came home and put the produce I’d picked in a sink of water that also had some vinegar in it. When I plunged them into the water and let them soak, the maggots came out. So. That was gross.

Gardening may help the dinner table but it seems to me that the gardener is exposed to too many irritants and dangers in order to make it yield. All gardeners and farmers know this, but it’s stressful and difficult to work the land.

Thorns. Another ouch. EPrata photo
~~~~~~~~~~ Eden ~~~~~~~~~~

It didn’t start out that way. Initially in the Garden of Eden, “The Garden of God” (Ezekiel 28:13) it was easy to work the garden and it was beautiful, with no thorns or irritants or stinging insects or venomous snakes on the ground.

The two greatest perfidies that ever occurred on earth both took place in gardens.

Man and Woman disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. There was one rule. Don’t eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But they did.

Why? Satan told them to. Which at the time I guess was more compelling than when God told Adam not to.

Satan is a cherubim, the highest and most beautiful angel. Yet evil was found in his heart and satan, whose given name is Lucifer, determined to war against God and supplant Him. (Ezekiel 28:15, Isaiah 14:13-14). He came down to the Garden, (You were in Eden, the garden of God; (Ezekiel 28:13) entered into a serpent and spoke to Eve and Adam. He said to eat the fruit. “Hath God said? You surely will not die.” They ate. They died.

Betrayal!

Satan sinned in heaven and now he had brought it to man and woman and the garden. The garden was forever changed from a beautiful place with all plants, animals, and humans were at peace with God, to a thorny place at war with Him and each other.

Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread,” (Genesis 3:17b-19a)

~~~~~~~~~~ Gethsemane ~~~~~~~~~~

Garden of Gethsemane, 2011 CC,  Ian Scott photo

Satan entered into a serpent and brought the deepest evil known to humankind. And Satan did it again. He entered into a human this time, and brought the deepest evil known to mankind…when Judas kissed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Betrayal!

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. (John 18:1)

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” (Matthew 26:36).

In the Garden of Eden, there was temptation, satan tempted Eve. (Genesis 3:4). In the Garden of Gethsemane, there was temptation also. Jesus asked the disciples to remain awake with Him, so they would not be tempted-

And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:40-41)

Judas came, along with a great crowd, while Jesus was speaking to the disciples about prayer so as to resist temptation. While Jesus spoke of the coming temptation, Judas arrived. Amazing. And inside Judas is who? Satan. Satan had entered into Judas a earlier that evening as Judas departed the final Passover Supper, (Luke 22:3) and went to find the cohorts to arrest Jesus. So once again, satan inhabited a being and tempted men. In a garden.

What was the temptation? I am not sure, but a short while later Peter did deny Jesus. There had been temptations to fight over position in the Kingdom, as the Disciples thought was coming soon. Perhaps it was a temptation as simple as running away, which they all did, Mark 14:50.

~~~~~~~~~~ Conclusion ~~~~~~~~~~

In the Garden of Eden man was the highest he could be, created perfect and blameless by a perfect and holy God. In the Garden of Gethsemane man was the lowest he could be, betraying and selling out God who created him for the price of a slave. And he did it with a kiss.

In one, satan inhabited a serpent. In the other, satan inhabited a man. In one, man walked perfect and righteous. In the other, Jesus as God-man walked, perfect and righteous. In one, temptation. In the other temptation as well. In one, the first Adam. In the other, the last Adam.

Sin has corrupted all gardens on the entire earth, including the one I’m working in. There are weeds and thorns and snakes and bees and wasps and prickers and allergies. … Creation groans for release from the curse pronounced upon it in Genesis 3.

The beauty that was lost in the Garden of Eden will not always be lost! We have hope. Jesus reconciled man to Himself at the cross. He came as the last Adam to be the sacrificial Lamb, endure all God’s wrath for the sin that happened in the Garden of Eden and every day since, and to impute His righteousness to His elect.

Creation groans under this curse, one it didn’t bring on itself! (Romans 8:22). But in that first garden? God gave us hope! (Genesis 3:15). At the conclusion of all things, He will reconcile earth. (Romans 8:19-21).  He will restore all things! (Acts 3:21)

In the future, His entire creation become the Garden He intended it. What a day that will be!

Posted in curse, earth, planes, prophecy, rapture, to and fro, travel

Planes in the air, to and fro

I saw a graphic on Thanksgiving Day and it struck me deeply. My jaw dropped open I think. Here it is. It is from Planes in the Air Now-

Now, tell me, what does that picture remind you of? Anything? Anything? How about this one?

Pic from Mark J Norman ‏Twitter handle, @markjnewsman, shot Nov 27 with the caption: “Penn Station is hell right now”:

It reminded me of the prophecy in Daniel 12:4,

But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.

Speaking of to and fro, many people go back and forth on exactly what this prophecy means. I believe the consensus among scholars is similar to what Pulpit Commentary explains:

Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. This is to be looked upon as a description of the last time, when circumstance shall remove the seal from the book. The translator of the Septuagint has been led away by the idea of the time as one of sorrow. The verb, however, translated “going to and fro” may be rendered, as it is by Ewald, as “to peruse.” The veil then shall be removed, the seals broken when men peruse the prophecy carefully, and knowledge is increased.”

Or as Gill’s explains,

many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased; that is, towards the end of the time appointed, many persons will be stirred up to inquire into these things delivered in this book,”

Or as John MacArthur explains,

run to and fro- The Hebrew movement always refers to the movement of a person searching for something. In the Tribulation, people will search for answers to the devastation and will discover increased knowledge through Daniel’s preserved book.”

However, in seeing the graphic of all the planes in the air over the US on Thanksgiving Day, and seeing the crammed people at Penn Station, it just strikes me how overburdened the earth is. I’m not talking overcrowding, like the eco-hippies talk about. I know there are many places with room to spare. But overburdened, as in sins piled up to heaven. Tottering sins piling up to heaven. I read Ezra’s prayer:

“saying: “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.” (Ezra 9:6).

I read Isaiah 59:12, “For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities:

I think of all those planes and all those people crammed in at the station and I think of all that sin. All those sinners traveling to and fro, carrying their sin with them, and so many people and so much sin, the earth groans!

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

More people on the earth just means more and more sin.

Doesn’t it feel like the earth would be groaning under all that bursting pressure and sins and people and to and fro and activity and curse?

Sometimes I wonder how much more the balloon can be filled up before it pops. Seeing an airplane graphic like this one makes me wonder how soon the rapture will be here.

The promise of the glory that awaits is compelling. It draws my thoughts often. I so long to worship the risen Jesus in person, in glory, seeing Him full in the face! I can’t wait to sing with the brethren and the angels of His holiness and purity. Sure, I’m tired of this world and I’m tired of my own sin, but that’s not the total reason for all this longing. It’s to be with Jesus, in His place He has prepared for us! It is to finally sing hallelujah for His work on earth and praise and exalt Him to the utmost, with no sin nature in me to pollute it.

Scenes like these flood my thoughts:

At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.” (Revelation 4:2-6)

O, that emerald rainbow!

Or this, in Revelation 5:11-12,

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,  saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

We will be there, singing with them someday! Singing TO the Risen Jesus.

When I drag my mind back from the heavenly scenes and think of all those planes in the air, pointlessly going to and fro for sinful reasons and craven reasons and all the sin we carry, who wouldn’t want to be in the purity of a heavenly abode, so beautiful?

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Someday it will be us in the air. Come soon, Lord Jesus.