Take A Walk Through the Old Testament with me...

Friday, November 19, 2010

…and man became a Living Soul

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Gen 1:24-31 And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. 25 God 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.

God completes the process of creating the animal kingdom on Day 6. We see a shift in methods as God creates man. Mankind is His final creation for whom He has prepared the Earth and everything in it.

26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

God creates mankind in His own image and likeness. He does this in a “hands on” way as we’ll see later in Chapter 2 where God gives a more specific description of man’s creation. We know that God is a Spirit   (Jn 4:24) and invisible (1 Tim 1:17). We must understand that mankind is not created like God in a physical sense, but rather in His Spiritual attributes. God elevates man above all other creatures and creation by breathing into him the breath of God and making him a living soul.

Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (KJV)

The discussion of God’s image is a long and involved one. A study of the attributes of God would take us down a very long road. Primarily God is Love (I Jn 4:8) and all that absolute love encompasses. He is Righteous (Ez 9:15) and Perfect (Mat 5:48). Adam was made in His likeness. The Hebrew word used here for “likeness” is as a shadow of God. As a child can be in the likeness of his natural father, so were we made in the likeness of God. The child is not the exact copy of the father, but blends qualities of his parents into a new and unique individual. We incorporate God’s qualities into the unique personality
God has given us.

God had an original, perfect intention for Adam and equipped Adam for his role as a ruler of the earth and a child of God. Of course we know that Adam traded his place as ruler and his eternal life for the knowledge of good and evil which corrupted his soul.

Man is a three part being (as in the likeness of our Father) we are created with a body, spirit and soul. Man is not a Spirit, but he has one. Man is his Soul (the very seat of our personal being). We are the most unique creation of God in that we have a soul. Our soul creates our individuality. Our soul is a certain and unique package of abilities, talents, thinking, creativity, personality, goals, authority and self will; our particular “self”.

In our development to become the shadow of God (His image) in the world today God redeems our soul and brings us back to His original intent for our life. The death, resurrection of Jesus and return of His Holy Spirit to dwell within us enables us to be renewed into His Character and Attributes. His image is woven into our life and should regenerate our soul to the original character God breathed into Adam. We should each be a unique, individual representative of God. We must reflect (shadow) the qualities of His Image to the world. This is the highest level of our spiritual development. Let us pursue His specific intentions for our life in this world. Show others that each one of us can fulfill God’s intent in our lives by becoming a unique member of the family of God. Be the exact part of the body of God that He created you to be.

Finally, Jesus gave eternal life back to us and will prepare us to enter into the next world through His “life-giving spirit”.       I Cor.15:45-49 So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. …49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. He sent His Holy Spirit back to the earth to live within each of His believers.  We are must bear His image in all we do.

Gen 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day When God looks at what you have done with your life will He decree that it was very good? Mat 25:23 "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.

He is using this world to prepare us to be unique members of the Heavenly family of God. We will rule and reign with Him eternally. Are you getting ready to fill your special, particular place in His eternal kingdom?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Soar on Wings like Eagles!

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Gen 1:20-23 And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

God is beginning to create a new level of “living” creatures on Day 5. We have previously seen plant life, but now we are seeing creatures that move, breathe and live in action! It is interesting to think about the types of creatures God creates on this 5th creative day: those that move through the water and the air. Have you ever watched a salmon swim upstream, or a trout or bass in a lake? The movements of fish in water are (dare I say it?) so fluid! Their movements look almost effortless; and birds in flight are astounding. Right? In Prov. 30:18-19 the writer describes the way of the eagle in the sky as too amazing for him to understand.

In our Spiritual Parallel Universe we have discussed transformation, growth, becoming lights to the darkness and now we come to a new level of living for God in seemingly effortless action. In this level of our godly development we must learn to interact with our world in a way that reveals God’s strength and peace. God wants us to move through our environment with ease so that those around us are as amazed at our ability to endure and overcome as the writer is amazed at the eagle soaring in the sky.

Isa 40:29-31 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

What do you think the world is looking for today? I think it is a solution to our daily stress! Generally the world expects those solutions to come in the form of money, jobs, medical care etc. But in God, as we grow in grace (2 Pet.3:18) and “rise above” the stress of this world (like the eagle that catches the wind currents and soars on the thermals in the upper reaches of the sky) we develop strength to endure and faith to overcome the issues of life. Christians are not exempt from the trials of life, be we can rise above the stress those trials cause mere mortals and soars on wings like eagles, so that our life in God appears effortless to those around us.

Ps 103:2-5 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits--
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

In this scripture from Psalms we see the progression of benefits that God brings into our walk with Him. As we grow and overcome and become more Christ like (do you ever see, in the Bible, Christ succumbing to the stress of life?) God is able to increase our blessings and satisfy our desires with good things. Our life in Him really can become smoother, easier, less stressful and more blessed in the natural and spiritual realms if we learn to trust Him (faith) and rise above the power of the enemy (fear). 1 John 5:3This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

James 1:2-4 Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.

When we can live in this state of trust and peace in God we are also able to live a life of action for God. We will be effective in all aspects of our life and increase the kingdom… be fruitful and multiply. James tells us in 2:17faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. Our lives must reach out into the world with action and draw others to Christ because they see our peace and joy and righteousness!

Gen. 1:22 God 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." 23 And there was evening, and there was morning--the fifth day.

I leave you with one of my favorite New Testament scriptures. I think this describes the wonderful life God will develop for us if we will submit to His process. In this scripture we see a believer that lives “above” the stress of the world.
Rom 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Again,  please leave your comments... love to hear all your thoughts!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Give Light to the Earth!

Day 4, we are getting closer to the “good parts” as my kids used to say. As we discuss this day I will just insert the spiritual parallels I see into the discussion. Feel free to chime in…

Gen 1:14-15 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so.

First, let’s establish that Jesus is the sun in our parallel universe—spiritually speaking. Sounds like I am writing Sci-Fi, doesn’t it? As you read your Bible, you will find that God’s future universe is much better than the science fiction or fantasy universes that our modern writers conjure up, and it is REAL! Rev 21:22-23I did not see a temple in the city (New Jerusalem), because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” Also, as I mentioned in a previous post, Jesus is described on the Mt Transfiguration in Mat.17:2 in this manner: “His face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light”. Again, in Mal. 4:2 Jesus is referred to as the sun of righteousness.

Let us consider a few things we know about the sun; the sun is the center of our solar system. The energy of the sun supports all life on Earth and controls the climate, weather and most elements of our daily life. In the same manner, Jesus is the center of our lives and all elements of our life must revolve around Him. If we live in this relationship to Him, giving Him the authority and influence in our lives, He will control our weather too. We receive from Him all the energy we need to live and succeed in our world.

God creates specific lights (sun, moon and stars) to place into the atmosphere of the world He was creating for mankind. He indicates three purposes for these lights: to separated day and night, to serve as signs and indicate time periods. The Sun has authority over the day and the moon shines into the night. There will come a time that there is no longer night (check out Rev. 21:25) and we will not need our solar time telling system. We will step into an eternal system no longer controlled by time; one that basks in the brightness of the Glory of God. But, until that time… we must be the representatives of God (signs) in this world of darkness because time is marching on toward that eternal day.

Gen. 1:16 -19“God made two great lights--the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning--the fourth day”.

We have already talked about the greatest Light: Jesus. Jesus GOVERNS the day: He is the ultimate authority in righteousness and has all power over the earth and over the spiritual forces in this world. Isa.9:6 tells us the “government will be on His shoulders”. Daniel described the future King and His kingdom in Dan.7:14He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” And finally, Jesus told us in Matt 28:18 "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

So, If Jesus is the Sun, what does the moon and stars represent in our spiritual parallel? Consider this known fact… the moon is not a source of light (as the sun is) but rather reflects the light of the sun onto the surface of the Earth. As disciples of Christ, we are also called to be lights to the world, as the moon reflects the light of the sun into the dark night. Romans 13:12So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light”. Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount: Matt 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Note our light and the benefit of our light always will glorify God and bring the praise back to Him (not for ourselves). Jesus is the source of our Light, but we must be able to reflect His light into the darkness and govern the night! We need to be an influence, just as the moon is an influence on the tides of the earth. Our light (reflected from Jesus--the true source of spiritual Light) should dispel darkness and bring enough light into the world that others can see their way back to Jesus. Phil 2:15 Be children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe”. You may not be the primary influence for someone living in darkness (the moon of their life) but we should all be bright lights(stars) in the night, shining with the Light of God and being recognized as a child of God, even from a distance!

Jesus also invested His authority in His disciples. He expects us to learn to govern with His invested authority to influence our atmosphere with His righteousness. Col 2:9 -10For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” Our government should affect all aspects of life, we are His representative at work, in our family life, as students, parents, business people, artists, in every aspect of human life. Am I using my influence and authority in all aspects of my life to further His Kingdom? Are you?

Dan 12:3Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”

Monday, November 8, 2010

Growing into God's Plan

Gen 1:9-12 God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good. 11 Then 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. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. (NIV)

God calls the waters together into seas; as God told Job ( 38:11) concerning the waters “this far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt”. He set the boundaries of the oceans and the land rose up. Verse 11 shows us that the land contained the seeds and brought forth that vegetation in the same growth process that we see today in our gardens. Of course the dirt in my garden produces a lot more weeds than useful produce! (Remember this fact when we discuss the spiritual parallels.)

Further, each seed brought forth the kind of plant it was designed to become and then produced seeds to bring forth another plant of the same type. The fruit of the trees also contains the seed for the next generation.

Now, let’s talk about GROWTH which is the next step God takes us through in our development as His child. We must grow into the person God wants us to be; part of that growth process is the ongoing purification that God starts when we first come to Him. Remember my mention of the weed seeds in the soil of my garden? We also have seeds of a “carnal nature” planted into our flesh; we have lots of weeding to do. Sometimes God pulls weeds out of our nature and sometimes He expects us to share the work in our own “garden”. I know I was always trying to get my kids to help weed our family garden when they were growing up!

Secondarily, God expects us to grow into productive useful vegetation in His Kingdom. Eph 4:15speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. When God formed Adam from the dirt (Gen.2:7) He had already planted the seeds of His will and plans for his future into Adam. We also have the seeds of God’s plans planted into our earthen vessel. He has a plan and a design for us to grow into…Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. God has planted into you specific talents, abilities, and gifts to become a one of a kind “tree of righteousness, the planting of the Lord.” (see Is.61:3) God has created you to be a unique representation of Him in your business or job, in your relationships, in all aspects of your daily life. We should take stock of God’s plan for our life. What kind of tree are you, an oak, a fir, a flowering tree or maybe like me, a nut?

Finally, we must bring forth fruit. John 15:5 & 8 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (NIV) God expects us to grow into productive, fruitful and successful lives. Think about this, what is the purpose of fruit from a tree? Fruit serves two purposes: first, people can pick that fruit and eat it and second, fruit is the method by which the tree reproduces. Our lives should benefit others; we must produce the fruit of the Spirit to share with the world (see Gal. 5:22). We should also be able to share with those around us all the benefits of a righteous life that God has added to our lives. We can share wisdom, knowledge, monetary blessings, healing, … the list is almost endless. Are you producing fruit that others can come and pick out of your life?

Now, how do we reproduce? Of course we know that all Christians are called to be living witnesses for Christ; as Paul says in 1 Cor 3: 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. Our life should attract others to God. God may also bring people into our lives that we are supposed to mentor—helping them grow into the same skills, talents, gifts and purposes which He has helped you develop. We may not be called to a “pulpit” ministry to help others, but we are all called to be examples of Christ to those around us. Others grow into their place in the Kingdom with the love, encouragement and examples of their brothers and sisters to help show them the way to become trees of righteousness for Jesus! Paul encourages Timothy to “set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Tim 4:12)

It is my desire that these blog posts will cause you to …” grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. “ (2 Peter 3:18)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

And God Separated...

Before I move on to Day 2, I want to make a short (well, short is a relative word right?) note here concerning the period of time each “day” of creation may take. Scholars have long argued over the time period indicated as the evening and the morning—the first (or second, etc.) day. The idea that God’s creative days were actually 24 hour periods became popular after the publication of The Annals of the World, published in 1650. Today, most Jewish scholars and many Christian scholars believe that the physical time period is not a 24 hour solar day, but rather indeterminate time periods. The entire creation process is also referred to as a Day (singular time period) in Gen 2:4 This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, (NKJV).

Further, the time period for Adam and Eve’s death was indicated as a day (same Hebrew word) in Gen 2:17 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." (NKJV). We know that the entire process of their death took a long time (much longer than one solar day). Also, it seems reasonable to me that the days of creation are not to be determined as 24 hour periods of time, considering our solar method of time telling was not established until Day 4.** Either way, God’s miraculous, creative power is the most important aspect of the creation account (not how long He chose to accomplish each step)!

Onward Christian soldier…(if you know about my musical talents you will really appreciate that you cannot hear me singing this line as I am typing!)

Gen 1:6-9 And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning--the second day. (NIV)

God called an “expanse” or atmosphere into existence in verse 6. This expanse separates two sets of waters. Have you ever thought about where all that water came from that poured out of the sky during the 40 day Flood? It is possible that our earth was encapsulated in a shroud of water vapor in our outer atmosphere. This would have created a “greenhouse” effect, moderating the climate over all the face of the earth. Further, it would have filtered out the radiation that affects our aging process. Just a thought…

As I mentioned in my last blog, I want to consider the spiritual parallels between God’s creation story and our own story of creation as Children of God. After God brings Light into our lives, He starts a process of separation in our life. He calls us to live as light and salt in the world (Mat. 5:13).  Concerning His disciples, Jesus prayed this prayer: John 17:15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Jesus asks God to keep us separate from sin and the atmosphere of the evil one. We are instructed to live in the midst of a crooked nation, but to keep our lives separate from sin, holy and consecrated to God (Phil.2:15).

Sometimes the process of purification in our lives will also create a separation from those in our atmosphere that are involved in sin. This enables us to grow stronger in our commitment to living a consecrated life. The “waters “ drawn up into the heavens also rain down into the atmosphere creating a cleansing effect. Just close your eyes and imaging the atmosphere after a spring rain when the sun comes out and shines…is there anything better, cleaner and more uplifting?   Eventually (as we are purified and strengthened by God’s Light) we will be able to bring the Light of God into the atmosphere of our family and friends that are living in the darkness.

**For in depth study on this subject check out Keil & Delizsch Commentary or The Creation Account Unsnagged by Paul Porter; copyright 2008 Xulon Press