Surrendered to God’s Grace

“The eyes of both of them were opened” Genesis 3:7

This is the first time any person ever felt guilt. Adam and Eve’s attempt to cover their guilt was futile. Covering for guilt and the ultimate removal of guilt would require the death of a substitute. Guilt caused them to flee God’s presence instead of coming to Him. Guilt still does this to those who are yet to be forgiven. Those who most vehemently oppose God are the one’s sensing guilt the strongest. Their sin is against God and only He can forgive their sin. To remain just, a satisfactory substitute would have to die. Adam had brought about a fundamental change in his being which must die. Only a new creation could allow him into God’s presence again.

With the guilt came conviction of sin for which Adam and Eve had no remedy but to flee God’s presence. This did nothing to diminish the conviction or remove guilt. Instead of desiring God’s presence they wanted to hide from Him. People who have believed Satan’s lie still prefer to hide from God.

We observe here that God pursued Adam and Eve until He caught up with them. He then gave them opportunity to have a change of heart which they eventually accepted. First they played the blame game. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent but in reality they were both blaming God. This characteristic of fallen people can be readily observed in all spheres of society throughout history and is still very evident today. It is, we accuse, always someone else’s fault!

When they eventually surrendered to the grace of God, God clothed them in animal skins thus picturing the means by which they and all who choose to believe what God has said will be saved. God is still in pursuit of people but sadly most will not heed His words of love, grace and forgiveness. Don’t be among them but be among those who humbly acknowledge their sin against God, turn to face Him and receive His gift of forgiveness. Paul wrote, “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

One who has received the gift of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ will not run away from God when they sin. Having experienced His forgiveness before, they will return to Him whenever they are aware of sin (1 John 1:9). This is a mark of one who has truly chosen to reject Satan’s lie and believe what God has said.

The First Human Death

“Has God indeed said …” Genesis 3:1

These are the first recorded words of Satan and their echo is still reverberating around the world as strong as on that first occasion. People around the world are showing open rebellion and defiance against their Creator. Sin has made people more willing to shake the fist of defiance at God.

Satan chose to discredit God through Eve most likely because she had not heard the original command from God (2:16-17) She received it second hand from Adam. This is a good reason why everyone should hear from God first-hand and personally. This made Eve vulnerable, as it will any person who does not read God’s word for themselves, and Satan knows it.

Apparently Eve chose to accept Satan’s criticism of God without consulting Adam and she ate of the fruit. This put Adam in a place that he could not have envisaged. He would have to choose between his relationship with God and his relationship with Eve. For how he should have responded, refer to Numbers 30:8. In full knowledge of what he was doing Adam accepted Satan’s criticism of God and so sin and death entered the world. The first human physical death was Adam and Eve’s son, Abel, murdered by their firstborn, Cain (4:8). Abel’s death must have caused immeasurable grief and shock to Adam and Eve. Seeing this terrible consequence of their sin would have been horrific.

The record of the Bible is one of God speaking to people, through the prophets and through the Lord Jesus Christ, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Even so Satan still finds numerous willing ears to his question. Since he spoke to Eve through the serpent he has continued to ask of men and women, “Has God indeed said…” The response is evident all around us. God allows Satan to serve Him by continuing to test the hearts of men. But there is the voice of Jesus calling men to repent, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24).

Each person will make their own choice as to whether they will believe Satan’s lie or God’s truth. Receiving Satan’s lie as truth is to call God a liar and a deceiver. Satan is a murderer and a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).

To choose to believe what God has said is the opposite of what Adam did in the Garden and opens the grace door (John 10:9-10) to salvation purchased by Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary.

In His Image

“Adam called his wife’s name Eve because she was the mother of all living” Genesis 3:20

In the first chapter of Genesis we learn that God created man in His image, “Let Us make man in Our image” (v 26). Since God is a plurality of Persons yet one God He created mankind in that image, a plurality of persons yet one flesh (Genesis 2:23-24). Lest we fail to grasp this it is repeated in 1:27, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” To be in the “image” of God means to be a physical expression of God. We read this of Jesus in Hebrews 1:3, “who being in the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person …”

As the Persons of the Godhead are equal in every respect except role, so are the man and the woman equal in every respect except role. As the Persons of the Godhead are complementary, so are the man and the woman (Genesis 2:18). Marriage and parenthood are God’s means of revealing this and other aspects of His glory in the world. It should not surprise us that Satan is doing his utmost to mar or destroy this revelation of God.

How sad it is that people who are the objects of God’s love serve Satan’s interests and hatred of God. No matter what people may try to do, they cannot change that part of the role that God has given them by His determining their sex. Eve had the unique position of being the first mother; she is the only mother without any precedent to follow. She had no mentor or role model, no mother or mother-in-law to comfort and help her – or to tell her she was doing it wrong!

Adam honoured her position and role by the name he gave her. She is the mother of all persons who live or have ever lived on earth (except for Adam and herself, of course). She is the ultimate mother of the second Adam, Jesus Christ. On Mothers’ Day we reflect on the special place and role that mothers have within the family and society. Mothers are God’s gift, and they share with fathers the joy and privilege of revealing the glory of God into the world. Since we are corrupted by sin that revelation is marred; but as we allow Christ to live in us God’s glory is revealed, even if a little dimly. Many men and women, who have achieved much, credit their mothers as being the primary earthly reason for their achievements.

Let us give glory to God for this wonderful expression of Himself in His creation revealed in our mothers.

The Secret Place

“The heavens declare the glory of God” Psalm 19:1

Returning to Perth by air this week I was again struck by the beauty of the upper surface of the clouds. From beneath, clouds are shades of grey and reasonably level. From above, where the sun is upon them, they are pure white and shaped like bundles of cotton balls. Off on to the horizon and beyond this beauty exists but for the most part it was unseen by any person and possibly even less recognised as God’s handiwork. Largely hidden from the eyes of people, day after day and for millennia, God has been expressing Himself in such beauty. It is only in the past hundred years that people have been able to see the clouds from above yet it has been unrelentingly showing off the glory of God.

For even less time we have been able to see the beauty and variety of creatures that live below the seas at depth. Some had been caught in nets or found dead on the shore but multitudes of new creatures of extraordinary appearance are now being discovered in the depths of the oceans. For millennia these creatures have been expressing the beauty and wisdom of God without any person observing them. Perhaps more than at any time since God brought “every beast of the field and every bird of the air … to Adam to see what he would call them” (Genesis 2:19) we are closer to discovering all the living creatures that God has created. All that time since the creation these creatures have expressed God’s glory even though many have not been seen by people until recently.

As we look up into the night sky we marvel at the majesty, beauty, wisdom and power that has created all that exists in the heavens. Mankind has discovered more distant heavenly bodies with each new telescope and marvelled at their beauty but they have all been present since the creation expressing the glory of God, whether seen by people or not.

We may be inclined to think that God is only glorified by things seen by people. However even the things unseen by people glorify God. Jesus told His disciples, “When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).

People who follow Jesus do reveal and express the glory of God publicly but perhaps the time we glorify God most is in the secret place for there we have no need to play the hypocrite. There we can be honest with God since nothing is hidden from Him. Like all the things of creation that are rarely if ever seen by people it is perhaps our time alone with Him that glorifies Him most. It is when we are alone with God that we worship Him from a pure heart. “Do all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Outside the Camp

“Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting.” (Exodus 33:7)

Any time that we read about the people of Israel, whether they did well or poorly, we should remember that we are people just as they were and we are all descendants of Adam. Their behaviour and ours all stem from the same corrupt and fallen nature that we inherited from Adam.

In hindsight we may be inclined to be overly critical of Israel’s stubborn stiff-necked attitude and behaviour toward the Lord. But if we are careful and honest in heart-searching we will discover that we are just like them.

The Lord had been pleased to presence Himself in the midst of Israel’s camp until now but their open rebellion described in chapter 32, in breaking the blood covenant, made that impossible. Israel had vowed, “All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient” (24:7) and yet so soon after making that vow they had broken it.

Israel’s rebellion created a situation that the Lord could not ignore. He had a plan for Israel. They are to be a holy nation so there must be a cleansing before He can dwell in their midst again. At this time the preparations for the sanctuary that would later be called the tabernacle were under way but the Lord was presently meeting with Moses in his own tent. Symbolic of Israel’s rejection of the Lord Moses moved his tent well outside the camp. The people had removed the Lord from their heart and this would be a constant physical reminder of what they had done. They had rejected the Lord and could not now approach His presence. The Lord was no longer in their midst. He was in a more distant place.

Moses was insistent that the Lord find a way to presence Himself in the midst of the people. He went so far as to say, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (33:15). How many of us come before the Lord with that attitude with regard to our personal lives and that of our church? Would we rather die that live without the Lord or our church die unless the Lord is in the midst? This is the heart behind the well memorised verse in Revelation 3:20; “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me.”  It isn’t enough to lament that the Lord is no longer present with us. We must be as desperate as Moses was, such that we refuse to go on without His presence.

Knowing this situation would arise, the Lord had already prepared the way by which He could presence Himself in the midst of a rebellious but now also repentant people. The tabernacle, yet to be put together, would show the way, albeit with a final veil. It pictured the lord Jesus Christ. That final veil was only torn away by the Lord when He shed His own blood at Calvary. Now we not only have access to the Lord but He is present with His people.

The awareness of His presence will be lost if we are “stiff-necked” and do not obey His lead and commands. If the Lord seems far away “outside the camp” it may be because we have not heeded His word in some regard. He will return the awareness of His presence upon our repentance for that disobedience, based on forgiveness available through His blood shed at Calvary.

Ancestral Lines

“For if by one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:17

No ethnic group has been more particular with their ancestral family tree than the Jews but these days many others seem interested in their family roots. There are websites that will help a person to discover their ancestral line in detail.

The Bible does not give us our detailed ancestral line but it does give all we need in order to discover our roots. Every human is descended from Noah and one of his three sons; and Noah was a descendant of Adam. Therefore we are all descendants of Adam and Eve.

Through just one man, Adam, sin entered the world bringing death with it – and death spread to all his descendants. It was our father who brought sin and death into the world. He had a choice but we had no choice. We do have a choice as to what we do about that situation.

The world considers death to be an enemy which, though it cannot be avoided, must be delayed as long as possible. But death is an act of God’s mercy, love and kindness. If there were no death there could be no substitutionary death and no resurrection. If there was no death for sin how could God “demonstrate His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)? If there was no death we would remain in our sinful state for eternity without hope.

Through death and resurrection life we who have trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour have had our ancestral line miraculously changed. Our father is no longer Adam but is now our Father in heaven through Jesus Christ.

Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” and “The first man Adam became a living being. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” Also, “As we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man” (1 Corinthians 15:22, 45, 49).

Many a saint has testified at the time of their bodily death of the joy of passing into the Lord’s presence and saints today look forward with great expectation of the moment when we depart this body through bodily death and see Jesus face to face in resurrection bodies “raised in incorruption” (1 Corinthians 15: 42).

We may not have had a choice of being born in Adam’s line but we do have a choice as to whether we remain in it. With Adam as our father we die as a result of sin but if we accept God’s Gift of resurrection life in Christ Jesus our Lord we have a new ancestral line imputed with our Heavenly Father as our ancestral Father. No wonder Jesus told His disciples to pray, “Our Father in heaven …” (Matthew 6:9).

This Fathers’ Day rejoice in and worship your heavenly Father.