Saturday, January 2, 2010

Paradise lost...

As you might guess from these first posts, I am taking a little more time to get through the first few chapters of the Bible in my 2010 quest. Things will speed up as I go along but these first chapters of Genesis are so foundational to the story of God's Kingdom coming that I feel the need to camp here a bit before moving on.

As Chapter 3 of Genesis begins, God has created everything. He has created man and woman and placed them in a specially prepared Garden for them. (Genesis 2:15) He has given them everything they, water, fellowship with Himself. The only requirement He gives Adam and Eve is that they were not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for if they did, they would surely die. (Genesis 2:17)

Here's where the enemy, Satan, enters the story. Satan is a part of God's creation as well but from an older time. Satan was one of the angels who has chosen evil as his way. He was originally good but fell because of his pride. He even took a good number of angels along with him in his fall and now they serve him as his demons, fallen angels. His sole purpose is to defeat the divine plans of grace of God towards mankind. He is the ruler of a powerful kingdom in his own right but is still subject to God's rule and reign. He is frustrated and anxious because he knows that his time is short and he will be defeated. He and his followers will be cast into the lake of fire for eternity. But, for the meantime, he is the great adversary, the father of all lies, the deceiver; and his greatest pleasure is to keep you and I from entering and living in God's kingdom.

Taking the form of a serpent, Satan asked Eve, "Did God really say..." to which Eve replied, "...but God did say that we 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." (Genesis 3:1-3) But Satan, the adversarial deceiver said, "You will not surely die...For God knows that wen you eat of will be like God..." (Genesis 3:4-5)

Eve listens to Satan, sees that the fruit is good and pleasing (and desirable for gaining wisdom) so she took some and ate it. She also gave some to Adam who with her and he also ate it. (Genesis 3:6)

Paradise lost...Life as God had designed for the first man and first woman gone with the bite of disobedience. Why did God allow this to happen? Why in the first place was there a tree placed in the garden that would force them one day to make a choice? A choice that could bring about sin, death and separation from the Lover-Creator? What was God thinking?

The Lover-Creator in His infinite wisdom knows that love cannot be true love unless one chooses to love. It is only the choices to love or not to love that makes our love genuine and strong. Angels created with no choice to worship or not worship God would be simple slaves. Adam and Eve in a garden with no choice would be no more than robots obligated to their Creator.

Was it risky for God to create us this way? Yes. Does it even seem crazy or counterintuitive that this would be God's way? Maybe (at least to me). For whatever reason (that is far beyond my finite mind), God the Lover-Creator has made his Kingdom a Kingdom of choice: to love and follow Him and His plan and way for our lives or to love and follow our own selves and plans.

God wants us to find His Kingdom here and now and for all eternity. Satan wants us to deny God's Kingdom and follow the ways of the world, our own choosing. Satan would like nothing more than to drag you and I down to his level, literally.

In the last part of the fall story (Genesis 3:21-24), we see a picture of God's love and care for His first man and woman creation. He makes garments of skin for them and clothes them. He then drives them out of the garden away from the tree of life so that they won't eat of it and live forever. He knows that man and woman in their fallen state need to die in a physical sense so that the true self, the soul, has the opportunity to live with Him forever.

Round 1 - Paradise lost. However round 2 and the follow rounds are the story of how paradise can be regained! It is all about His Kingdom coming and His will being done! And our choice to regain the Kingdom in our hearts and lives.

It is an story of epic proportions...

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