Posted in faith, garden of eden, God, repentance

What does it mean to "Walk with God"?

Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. (Genesis 5:24).

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. (Genesis 6:9)

And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. (Zechariah and Elizabeth, Luke 1:6)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, (Ephesians 4:1)

Our pastor gave this explanation and example last Sunday in his sermon,

What does it mean to walk with God? I’m sure it means many things. If you think of it this way, walking with each step, back and forth, the two footsteps that we use as we walk with God are the footsteps of repentance and faith. Repentance means that we own the fact that we sin. I’ve acted incorrectly, I’ve acted wrongly. And I put that forward, I confess who I am. And then, I put faith in what Christ has done. … Repentance and faith are the feet that we walk with as we walk with God. It means we continually admit who we are [sinners] and our need; and we continually admit that Christ has met that need.  

Walking with God does not mean perfection. Job is said to be blameless and yet we see Job make mistakes. In the New Testament in Luke we’re told Elizabeth and Zechariah the mother and father of John the Baptist, called “blameless and righteous walking in all the commandments of the Lord” and yet before the chapter is over, Zechariah sins. Does blameless and righteous mean that you’re sinless? No it does not. It means the general direction of your life is toward Jesus.

Pastor teaches High School Bible at a Christian Academy. In discussing being blameless and righteous, one of his students had asked, “Doesn’t blameless mean without blame? How can they not be perfect if they’re called blameless?” Pastor used the example of cross-country running, which is popular at his school.
The trails go through the woods, up muddy hills, over a creek, through fields. Some of the terrain is level and some is difficult. He said picture two runners who start out. However after a while one stumbles and falls down the embankment and into a ditch. The other runner also stumbles and falls in the woods. He said the runner who fell into a ditch got up and angry and frustrated, decided to quit the race and go back to the car. Angrily tearing off his number, he threw that into the ditch.
The second runner is also tired, angry and frustrated. The hills are hard and the race is long. However when he fell, he did not stay down. He did not stomp off the path. He said, “I’m tired but I’m going to keep running. I’m going to run the race.” And he does, finishing at last.
Is there a difference between the two runners? Yes. Did both of the stumble? Yes. We all stumble in many ways. (James 3:2). Did both of them get back up and keep going on the path? No. This is the difference between someone who is walking blamelessly in all the statutes and commandments of God and someone who is not. It is not describing a perfect person.
He gave a good example there and it’s comforting to hear the James verse. Isn’t God good to us in allowing our crazed and mournful hearts to be salved in knowing that He knows we stumble? And in many ways, at that? At least, I know it is true for me. I do stumble in many ways. Is the life trajectory of my walk with God persevering and upward and sanctifying? I believe so. I certainly hope so.
There are only two paths and there are only two guides, one for each path. Jesus guides us on our way on the narrow path. Satan leads us along our way on the broad path.
Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3, KJV)

Gill: And to a spiritual walk with God, and communion with him, agreement is requisite. 

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)
The moment Adam and Eve were in disagreement with God, they did not walk with Him. 
Agreement with God…walking with Him in all His commands requires repentance and faith. May God bless your walk and my walk with Jesus as we traverse this wonderful, difficult, muddy, beautiful trail through life’s race, until we reach the Celestial City.
Posted in adam, encouragement, Eve, garden of eden, genesis 3

The Sin of Discontent

Everything was perfect. The Garden was perfect. The two humans were perfect. The animals were perfect. God declared His creation “very good”. The humans’ relationship with God was perfect.

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We do not know how long Adam and Eve were in the garden but no matter how long it was, there was absolutely nothing to be discontent about. Adam and Eve had full run of the Garden, the animals were submissive, they had plenty to eat, they were neither hot or cold.

When did Eve become discontent? John MacArthur said in his sermon “The Fall of Man,”

“She falls rather innocently into the conversation and the solicitor’s strategy is progressively deceptive. It begins with what appears as this very innocuous question by just this interested observer. Here’s just an animal in the garden like a lot of other animals and this animal comes up and says, “Indeed, has God said you shall not eat from any tree of the garden?” This is the first question, by the way, in the Bible. Before this there were only answers. There weren’t any dilemmas because there was nobody to introduce a dilemma. And the question is designed to start Eve on a path, a path of questioning God, a path that leads from questioning God to doubting God, to distrusting God to disobeying God. It’s a very clever plan and it’s the essence of all sin. All sin follows the same pattern. You have a right to question God, you have a right to doubt God, you have a right to distrust God that leads to disobedience.”

Along came satan, and here we find the first question in the bible. “Hath God said?” by that question released into the world…and it is this deadly force, the assumption that what God said is subject to our judgment.”

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Once that assumption that we have the right to judge what God hath said, and Eve entertained it, it turned Eve’s mind in a new direction. With every human afterwards, in sinful flesh, born into a cursed world, we make room for discontent. We must cling to God in order to squeeze out the disgruntledness we tend to feel. Abel was content, and he was close to God. How do I know? Abel sacrificed rightly. God accepted Abel’s sacrifice. Cain was not close to God and he offered a wrong sacrifice that God did not accept. His discontent was expressed in his incorrect sacrifice.

With Eve and Adam though, what was there to be discontent about? Nothing. So how does a person go from complete contentment to utter sin in just a few moments? Drift from God’s word, that’s how.

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The Hebrew word for pleasant in verse 3 is ‘avah’, or ‘taavah’ and it means “exceedingly, greedily, lusting.” There is a parallel event in the bible that talks about lust of this kind. The parallel is in Numbers 11:34, 35; 33:16. The place is named Kibroth-Hattaavah. It translates to “the graves of lust.” The graves of lust, one of the encampments of Israel in the wilderness, where the wandering Israelites desired to eat flesh for their sustenance, declaring they were tired of manna. God became angry, and He sent quails in great quantities; but while the meat was in their mouths, God smote so great a number of them. So many were killed, that the place was called “the graves of those who lusted.” Sin always leads to death.

Psalm 78:30-31, a series of verses to warn mankind against the sin of discontent, also records the historical incident and presents the warning in its title “Tell the Coming Generation”:

he rained meat on them like dust,
winged birds like the sand of the seas;
he let them fall in the midst of their camp,
all around their dwellings.
And they ate and were well filled,
for he gave them what they craved.
But before they had satisfied their craving,
while the food was still in their mouths,
the anger of God rose against them,
and he killed the strongest of them
and laid low the young men of Israel.

What was it that the coming generation needed to know? Do not be discontent with what God has provided. Trust His word, His promises, and do not look elsewhere to satisfy any earthly craving.

1 Corinthians 10:5-6 repeats the warning. The heading to this set of verses in the New Testament is “Warnings from Israel’s Past”-

Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.

Desiring something different than what God promised or is already delivering is evil. It is rebellion against Him. It is the sin of discontent. Discontent will bring us to “the graves of lust”.

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The evil that Eve did was exactly that- discontent. She didn’t want this fruit, she wanted THAT fruit.

The Israelites didn’t want this manna, they wanted THAT quail.

Paul taught us to be content no matter what, with whatever the Lord is doing in our lives.

for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:12b-13)

Jesus Himself is the source for all the strength we need to persevere, to resist sin, to rejoice, to be content.

From whence does the sin of discontent arise? It arose in Eve the moment she separated from God’s word. Eve had a relationship with God, we presume. We know she had a relationship with His word. She repeated His word to the serpent. She was fine with standing on His word until the serpent came along.

So it is the serpent’s fault? No, he was just a vehicle. The sin in Eve began the moment she failed to adhere to God’s word, and in that little sliver of separation, the serpent got in and widened and widened it and widened it, until the sin inside her was manifested in the action she took, bringing on the Fall.

Eve had a moral choice, she could have said-

“Who are you and where do you come from?”
“Adam, what is this serpent really saying?”
“Yes, God said that, now please leave me in peace.”
“[Falling to her knees in prayer] God- help! I need to understand and the best Person to help me understand You is You!”

Eve did none of those. And her discontent grew with each subtle and crafty comment of the serpent.

Ultimately, what happened? Eve and Adam went down to the graves of lust.

We are commanded not to covet. Coveting is a sin. Why should we covet? We have no reason to!

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17).

What He gave Adam and Eve was good and perfect. What He gives us is good and perfect. Why not be content with that?

Just remember, satan was successful in instilling discontent into Eve by separating her from God’s word. Learn to be content in whatever circumstance you find yourself in by reveling in His revelation of Him self to us. Whatever circumstance you find yourselves in, (even in persecution – Paul was writing from jail) know He is working, (John 5:17) and know that this work He is doing is for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28).

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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 garden of eden, gobekli tepe, nimrod, prophecy

The Mystery of Gobekli Tepe

After Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, what happened to them? We know that sin, having entered the world, spread quickly and the first murder occurred in a fit of jealousy. Adam and Eve’s son Cain killed Abel when God preferred Abel’s offering over Cain’s. (Gen 4:3-5)

People who are unsaved and therefore an enemy of God say it’s “not fair” that God didn’t accept Cain’s offering. However, Adam and Eve knew God and continued to worship Him after being expelled from the Garden. When Eve bore Cain she praised the LORD. (Gen 4:1). They taught their sons how to worship. If they hadn’t, Abel would not have known God, would not have known that he should make an offering, and not have known that offering should be a blood sacrifice. The problem was that Cain did not offer his sacrifice in faith. “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness in respect of his gifts: and through it he being dead yet speaketh” (Hebrews 11:4).” If you’re not offering to God by faith, it is by self, or by sight, and therefore is from your own presumption. That never pleases God.

After Cain killed Adam, God sent Cain away. “So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” (Genesis 4:16) Soon, Seth was born to Adam and Eve. So here we have a split, the believers dwelling somewhere presumably close to where Eden was, and Cain going east, marrying and having children away from the LORD’S presence. But where were they? It is believed the Garden of Eden was somewhere in Turkey. Are there any other remnants of those earliest people? Didn’t they leave anything behind?

In 1994, a Kurdish shepherd stumbled over a stone. German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt was called in and an extraordinary site was slowly uncovered over the decade. The world’s first temple, 11,000 years old. It is more enigmatic than Easter Island and more mysterious and complex than Stonehenge. It is universally agreed that it is one of the most important sites in the world. It is seven thousand years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza. “As Reading University professor Steve Mithen says: ‘Gobekli Tepe is too extraordinary for my mind to understand.’ If this place they unearthed is as old as they say, it survived the Flood.

UK Daily Mail says the temple stones at Gobekli Tepe might be the greatest archaeological discovery ever, “a site that has revolutionised the way we look at human history, the origin of religion – and perhaps even the truth behind the Garden of Eden. Nat Geo says, “We used to think agriculture gave rise to cities and later to writing, art, and religion. Now the world’s oldest temple suggests the urge to worship sparked civilization.”

Previously every archaeological and sociological construct  was predicated on the assumption that agriculture came first, then worship. Gobekli Tempe shows that assumption to be wrong: worship came first, and a lot earlier than they thought. Then agriculture was born  in that very area. We know that wheat was the oldest and likely first domesticated grain, and it happened in that area of Turkey. “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;” (Genesis 3:17-18). And agriculture was born.

As for worship versus agriculture, Christians know worship came first. Our loving God created humans, who in turn worshiped Him in perfection and without sin was among the very first acts of humankind. Christians know that ‘civilization’ was created by God. He made the world, made humans and animals. He structured the world through a hierarchy of relational commands: worship of Him, hierarchy between man and woman, and of man over the animals. He gave them jobs to do. He recreated with them. Food was abundant and available. From the sixth day, all the elements of civilization existed: worship, employment, leisure, the foundational structure of the world: family unit, were all set in one day. It did not evolve and it did not progress. It simply was. (Gen 2:15-25).

Yes, but the urge to worship who? The God of Creation? Adam and Eve and their progeny worshiped God personally. Cain was away from the LORD’S presence, but perhaps he worshiped the serpent now. Were he and his people beginning to worship but worship something other than God, using advanced skills learned from the fallen angels to build a blasphemous temple?  The UK Daily Mail article says “It’s as if the gods came down from heaven and built Gobekli for themselves.” Ah! Perhaps that is a clue.

Here is another tantalizing clue: “”Nat Geo: “Bewilderingly, the people at Göbekli Tepe got steadily worse at temple building. The earliest rings are the biggest and most sophisticated, technically and artistically. As time went by, the pillars became smaller, simpler, and were mounted with less and less care. Finally the effort seems to have petered out altogether by 8200 B.C.” Just as sin corrupts steadily downward, perhaps the skills, interest, and conditions at Gobekli Tepe caused the downward spiral in the worship there, just as sin causes a downward spiral in everything.
We may never know more about why Gobekli Tepe was built, or exactly where the Garden of Eden lay. As the Nat Geo article concludes, they quote the archaeologist. “Today less than a tenth of the 22-acre site is open to the sky. Schmidt emphasizes that further research on Göbekli Tepe may change his current understanding of the site’s importance. Even its age is not clear—Schmidt is not certain he has reached the bottom layer. “We come up with two new mysteries for every one that we solve,” he says.” 

Around 8,000 BC, the creators of Gobekli turned on their achievement and entombed their glorious temple under thousands of tons of earth, creating the artificial hills on which that Kurdish shepherd walked in 1994. We don’t know why. Perhaps the flood buried it. Or perhaps it was because another, ‘better’ city was being built, this time, by Nimrod. Its name is Babylon.
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Below, stunning photos from National Geographic

The elegant bas-reliefs of vultures, scorpions, and other creatures found on the T-shaped pillars had to have been created by skilled artisans, evidence that hunter-gatherers were capable of a complex social structure.
Pillars at the temple of Göbekli Tepe—11,600 years old and up to 18 feet tall—may represent priestly dancers at a gathering. Note the hands above the loincloth-draped belt on the figure in the foreground.
Another common icon of the world’s first organized religion was snakes. This example was found on the back of a human head from Nevalı Çori.Artifact photographed at Şanliurfa Museum, Turkey.
Images of vultures, like this stone carving, have been found at Göbekli Tepe. Because the birds are traditionally associated with mortality, these depictions suggest that Göbekli Tepe may have been a place for rituals related to the spiritual power of the ancestral dead.

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