CONTRAST AND COMPARISON

We have had occasion to consider the beauty and brevity of life recently.  It is something that no one wants to ponder for long, it is too sobering; but, it is an inevitable fact of life.  We are born, we live, and we will experience physical death.

English field
Idyllic English fields that symbolize the Garden to me

We read of creation in the very first book of the Holy Bible.  God created man to live a life that was fulfilling — he had work to do and food for nourishment.  Man was not created to sit and do nothing, he was to work the Garden of Eden and keep it. 

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Genesis 1:26

However, there was one test in the Garden for Adam and Eve … God asked for obedience.

“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

They could eat of any tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they could not eat.  God said if they disobeyed, they would die.

Of course, we know what happened.  Chapter 3 begins with the serpent testing Adam and Eve by twisting the words of God and telling them that they should not believe God’s threat of death, rather they should believe the serpent’s words that they would not die and the fruit was good to eat.

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.  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 3:6-8

They disobeyed, and there it was – death arrived, sin entered the world, and a gradual disintegration of creation began.

Physical death was not the only result of their disobedience.  Prior to eating the fruit, Adam and Eve enjoyed a close relationship with God, something that we cannot comprehend in our fallen condition.  God walked in the Garden in the cool of the day and He communed with His creation.  After eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve heard God walking in the cool of the day and they hid themselves because they, then, knew that they were naked and they were ashamed. 

But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”  And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”  He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?””

Genesis 3: 9-11

I love this passage – if you have had children, or been around children, you will undoubtedly relate to this picture.  You see the child hiding under the blanket or in a corner but you call “Where are you?” anyway.  You know where they are, but they don’t know that!  Then the conversation continues as you determine if there is something amiss or if they are simply playing hide and seek.

Our Creator God did not need to call Adam and Eve to find out where they were.  He is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent … He knew exactly where they were.  And He knew exactly what they had done.  He wanted them to admit to it.

Spiritual death, separation from God, occurred when they disobeyed the Creator and nothing Adam and Eve could do would change that.  Praise God that He did not leave us without hope, however.

In the first recorded shedding of blood in the Garden, we read that God did not leave His children hiding behind fig leaves.  Rather, He made clothes for them.

“And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”

Genesis 3:21

Then, on a hill called Calvary, blood was again shed, this time it was the precious blood of Jesus Christ, God’s own Son.  His blood was not shed because of any sin that He had committed; rather, He shed His blood on the cross of Calvary as the atonement for the sin that Adam and Eve committed and for the sin that you and I have committed.  This was done so that we could be reunited with God through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We would escape eternal death by faith in Jesus’ atoning work on our behalf.  We have eternal life with God through Christ our Lord.

End of the Road
The end of the road sign in Denali National Park.

We all come to the end of the road when death stares us in the face.  The reality is that this will happen to each one of us; but physical death is not the end.  Our soul will live eternally and the end of the road leads to only two destinations, Heaven or Hell. 

Just as God clothed Adam and Eve in the Garden after their sin, God will cloth us in the righteousness of Christ if we have faith in Jesus as our Savior and if we trust in Him as Lord of our life.  Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6

Christ shed His blood for His children … come to Him in faith and repent of your sin, claim Him as your Savior, and the end of the road here will open the door to an eternity in Heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Father, I pray that these words would have full effect and that You would send Your Spirit to quicken hearts dead from sin so that faith can bear fruit in the lives of Your children.

EXCITEMENT

 

Do you remember the last time you were excited about something … I mean, really excited?

I came across this picture of my young grandson who was clearly excited about something that he saw.  The focused expectation that is plastered across his face is priceless.

expectation
Anticipation can bring excitement!

There are many events that trigger excitement in our hearts.  A soldier returns from a long deployment.  A student leaves from home for the first year at college.  From the parents’ perspective, excitement reigns when that same student returns home.  A young couple experiences the birth of their first child.  

One example of excitement that we have on a daily basis is Snickers’ excitement to get into the backyard.  Despite her diminutive height, She jumps higher than the door knob, with her tail wagging and her sister trying to stay out of her way!

In the Bible, and even today, a time of widespread excitement is the Passover celebration.  It is the feast that reminds the people of Israel when God acted mightily causing Pharaoh to release them from bondage in Egypt.  The night of the last plague, the people were to kill a lamb and put its blood on the door frame of their homes.  Then, the angel of death passed over the country and killed the first-born in each home; but the angel “passed over” the houses that had blood on the doorway.

While Passover is a time of solemn remembrance, it is also a time of excitement.  This was true even in Jesus’ day.  The people were excited … on the day we know as Palm Sunday, they were going to Jerusalem to celebrate their deliverance from bondage.

Not only that, they had just found the One who they believed would be the Messiah, the One who would crush the dominance of Rome, and the One who would again lead the people, militarily, to a kingdom such as David had ruled over centuries before. 

They were so excited that they put their garments on the ground and waved palm branches shouting “”Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”  It was a parade with the only “float” being Jesus, riding on a donkey’s colt.  Read John chapter 12 for the whole story.

In my mind’s eye, I envision the people jumping and screaming, rather like Snickers.  Going full-out, no holding back, excited to the core.

When they were praising Jesus as King, they did not know that at the end of the week they would be screaming again, but this time it would be “CRUCIFY HIM” as Pilot stood wondering what he should do with this innocent man, Jesus.

Rather than taking the high road and releasing Jesus, Pilot succumbed to the demands of the people on that Thursday night.  He let the mob determine justice and he, quite literally, washed his hands of the whole thing.  He sent Jesus off to be crucified.  Read Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19. 

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the sinless Son of God, was put to death to pay for the sin that each of us has committed.  Dr. R. C. Sproul says this about sin:

Sin is cosmic treason.  Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign.  It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself.  Have you ever considered the deeper implications of the slightest sin, of the most minute peccadillo?  What are we saying to our Creator when we disobey Him at the slightest point? We are saying no to the righteousness of God.  We are saying “God, Your law is not good.  My judgment is better than Yours.  Your authority does not apply to me.  I am above and beyond Your jurisdiction.  I have the right to do what I want to do, not what You command me to do.” 

The slightest sin is an act of defiance against cosmic authority.  It is a revolutionary act, a rebellious act in which we are setting ourselves in opposition to the One to whom we owe everything.  It is an insult to His holiness.  

R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, © 1998, p. 115-116

The week started with the people joyfully screaming in honor, blessing and allegiance to the King, the One riding into Jerusalem on a colt. 

The week ended with the people again screaming but this time their malevolent demand was for the murder of this Man; He was not simply to be killed, they demanded that He be killed by crucifixion. 

Sin and evil, Satan, appeared to have won the battle.  Satan knew people disobeyed God – he caused Adam and Eve to sin in the very beginning. The pure Son of God was going to die this ignominious, excruciating and humiliating death, and Satan thought he would then have full sway in this world.

Instead, the pure Son of God voluntarily went to the cross, not in payment of any sin that He committed.  Rather, He endured Calvary in payment for my sin, and for yours.  By His death, He spanned and closed the chasm that had existed between man and the Holy God..

Because He lived a perfect life as required by God’s law, because He committed no sin, His death paid the price that the broken law incurred and that a just and holy God demanded.  Sin could not be forgiven and forgotten unless God’s justice was satisfied. 

This is what the cross accomplished.  Justice was meted out and now forgiveness could be granted.  Jesus Christ died … but Satan did not win the victory.  On the first day of the week, the tomb was empty because Jesus rose from the dead.  And, he lives today, even as He is in heaven interceding for each of us before His Father, the Almighty God. 

Now that is something to be excited about!

Father, I pray that these words would be used to prick the hearts and minds of those who read it.  I pray that Your Spirit would work in each of our hearts so that we would reflect our Lord to others.  I thank You for the great give of grace and salvation that has been given to us through faith in Your Son.