Friday, February 16

Friday, February 16

Scripture: Genesis 3:1-7

3 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

Some thoughts:

     This question of death is one which every person deals with at some point in their life. It is interesting to me that the serpent raised it as his first challenge to human beings. His sly question brought Adam and Eve to a subtle confrontation with the question of their own human mortality. Of course, we are faced with the same question, specifically our own mortality. As has been said, you and I are part the ultimate statistic, one in one die. On this cheery note we look at how we got into this situation because it was not always this way. In the plan of God, people are to live with him forever, but a human problem developed—though people do live forever, it’s a matter of destination.

     Let’s trace how human death come about. Our passage contains the first question in the Bible by guess who? Right, the serpent, the ever-lying Satan. His words, “Did God really say?” And Eve’s and Adam’s response to that question is the beginning of a fatal problem that ends in human’s earthly demise. The focus of the serpent’s challenge was on the temporal, the immediate gratification at the expense of obedience and trust. But it is this same question from the serpent which comes to every person who has ever lived, sometimes in slightly different versions, but the bottom line is the same, “Can you trust what God says?” Death and trusting God’s word are intimately and eternally related.

     Have you noticed that the devil tempted Jesus with the same sustenance question at the conclusion of the Savior’s forty days of fasting and prayer in the wilderness? “Jesus, can you trust God’s word? You’re hungry. You can turn this stone into something to eat right now. Exert a little independence.” Satan comes at us with the same question. In appealing to people’s pride, it has been a very effective question since creation and is still in widespread use!

     To be sure, the resulting death separated our first parents from God. The previous intimacy was no more. But death’s devastating impact extended beyond each other, but to animals, and ultimately, to the earth itself. Paradise was gone, destroyed. Sin rules everywhere. Questioning God’s truthfulness is one of the deceiver’s methods toward his goal of separating humans from intimacy with God. Remember, that is always the purpose of the devil. Separation in that relationship brings eternal death, his hideous goal. Why should he care where people spend eternity? He desires it because of hatred. He has lost the battle and his time as ruler of this world is running out. Trusting and believing God defeats him and defeats death itself. Death has lost its grip. It drives the devil insane. His serpent “sting” is gone.

     What happens at death is a mystery for many people with all kinds of personally developed ideas and explanations. Of course, there is the simple “don’t think about it” or “I’ll worry about it when I get closer to that time,” of course hoping we know when that time is. I am writing this entry on a November 2nd, the exact date my father was killed in a farming accident at age 52. When he finished lunch and went out to the barnyard to move a piece of machinery, little did he know he would enter heaven within minutes. Dad had trusted God’s word for his salvation many years before and was very prepared for his sudden departure. Death is the uninvited intruder who never knocks and forces the door open. In contrast, there is another who knocks at the door . . . “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” We will be together, not separated. This guest waits to be invited in, he is the Christus Victor, the conqueror of dust and death!

Music: “Lord, Hear My Prayer” Voces8

Prayer: Lord God, our Creator, we thank you for your mercy in pursuing us when we chose our own selfish path. Help us to see the truth when we are tempted to doubt your word, your character, or your promises. May we learn to know you and hear your voice better so that we may not be so easily deceived. Guard us with your Holy Spirit so that we may recognize the first inklings of deceit and lies towards you. This we pray in the name of the Second Adam, who did not fall for the lie, even our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. —Daniel Sharp