#9 — That “Rest” Thing, and Talking about Our Faith

As we closed out the second act in what we will call the introduction, Cain has been affected by his parents (not so differently than we are) and his lineage is affected, as well. It seems forgiveness is going to be a major “red thread” in the story God is telling here with the Bible. We will see as we progress.

Act 3 is the table of nations. I won’t bore you with this section. However, I would say it is so much more than a list. And I would refer you to Sandra Richter’s The Epic of Eden for her take on the end of chapter 5 and the beginning of chapter 6 and how they are connected. This is a great way to capture the “Nephilim” and who they were.

Act 4 is the big boat.

In chapter 6 we are introduced to a terrible point in human history:

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

Again, just a surface-level evaluation of this passage raises some fairly serious questions.

What was so wicked? What does it mean that the Lord regretted? Was He surprised? He knew what was going to happen, didn’t He? Why do the animals and creeping things and birds have to pay for man’s sinfulness? What makes Noah so awesome? How did Noah find favor with God?

These questions are all related, and to try to answer them one at a time is foolish.

Let’s begin with the last question in our list and move from there. How did Noah find favor with God? That is probably something we want to know.

Remember that thing about names? When you name something in the Jewish world, you do two things. First, you take authority over that thing or person. Second, you describe its character. Maybe there is something in the meaning of his name that will shed light on this story.

The name Noah means, “He rests.”

There has been a lot of stir around the recent movie about Noah. Everything from the rock monster Nephilim to the attempt at environmental liberalism. But I would ask you to be careful before you jump to judgments based in ignorance.

The movie Noah was taken largely from the Book of Enoch. This document is called “midrash.” In modern Christian language, that would be a commentary. The question in my mind is, “How did they come up with that?”

Well, let’s go back and review the story. God is not angry and He created a world that is good and full of potential. God placed man in the garden to steward the garden. Man tried to step outside of God’s ideal agenda for the world and chaos entered.

God’s ideal was for men to properly steward creation, and then God told them to take a day of rest in order to remember it is God and His agenda that matters.

Now, what is God so upset about? And what is He blessing Noah over? We have to conclude these things are connected to creation and God’s agenda and our trying to do it on our own. Maybe it wasn’t so far fetched after all. But that is another topic for another time.

At some level, the stewardship of creation is at stake here and all of creation is paying the price. It is almost as if the destroying of creation once and for all did creation a favor. It was brought out from underneath the oppression of men and women.

And then there was Noah.

These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.

What a thing to be said about him. I would love that to be said about me. But the rabbis notice something about Noah I had always missed. I think it is important to wrestle with this truth.

The rabbis call Noah, “The man with the fur coat.”

When it is cold outside, you can put on a fur coat and warm yourself, or you can build a fire and warm everyone around you as well. They are getting that from a very important piece of Noah’s story.

We never see Noah plead for anybody around him. Abraham does. He pleads for God to spare Sodom for ten righteous people. Noah never asks God to spare anyone.

Noah builds the boat over the course of 120 years. He never tells anyone of the impending doom that is awaiting them — no preaching, no pleading, not even casually mentioning it.

But he was righteous.

Who cares how righteous I am individually if it doesn’t translate into the lives of people around me? And this is not modern American Christianity.

“All I need is Jesus.” I hear this phrase often. And unfortunately this is being taught in churches. I could not disagree more with this statement. We are not made to stand alone. We are made to function in community. And Noah never got that.

But he was righteous.

So why do we follow the rules to begin with?

For some, it is about having God be pleased with me or avoiding punishment or because He says to or some other “conditional” response.

We follow the rules for two main reasons (although I am sure there are more). First, we learn the nature of God. God is life, therefore we do not murder. We do not commit adultery because God is love. We do not steal because God is generous. And on it goes.

The second reason we follow the rules is because it puts our God on display to the world. We tell the world the story of our amazing God by the way we keep the rules. And make no mistake, the world is watching.

Noah seems to have missed this second part.

Was he still “saved?” Sure, but who else would have come along for the ride if he had said something? We will never know.

Perhaps part of what we learn from Noah is that personal righteousness is not the greatest good. It is important, don’t get me wrong. But putting our God on display well is critical to people being able to buy into the story God is telling in the world.

So, may you be righteous in your generation, but focused on representing God to others. May people call you the person with the big fire. May you rest in the grace of a God who closes the gaps in your life. And when God says it is going to rain, may you build a big boat!

Questions for this session:

  1. Would people describe you as a person with a fur coat?
  2. What would they use to make that decision?
  3. What would it look like for you to be more invested in sharing your God with others?

Question for next time:

  1. What is the big deal about a building?

#8 — The Price of Unforgiveness

As we close out Genesis 3, we find our characters in a real pickle. Adam and Eve (she finally has a name!) have found themselves booted out of the garden. Now they have to become part of restoring what has been broken. And all that has been broken is going to work against them in this process, from children to dirt to their own relationship. And this is where Genesis 4 begins.

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.

Again, it’s one of those passages we have a tendency to read through and not consider. Let’s pull this apart and see what we can learn.

We see an obvious shift in the person being dealt with. It moves to the woman, and then to her children. Adam is kind of washed out of the story here. His great contribution ends with his ability to get his wife pregnant, and then he seems to be forgotten in the story. Or is he? We will see.

Eve gives birth to a son. The Hebrew word for boy is yeled (this will matter in a bit). And she names the boy Cain (pronounced Kah - een), which means acquired. She describes his character and takes authority by calling him “acquired.” Odd, unless we see what she says next.

The English translation says, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” But she didn’t get a man (ish), she got a boy (yeled). So, why does she say she got a man, and why does she name him acquired, and what is really happening here?

This is a terribly difficult verse to translate. The verbiage is tough. It is not only a tough set of words, but a tough word order. So let’s take a look.

The phrase “I have gotten” is from the Hebrew word qanah (Strong’s H7069). Once again, what we see is that the English is not so much wrong as it misses the nuances implied in the word itself. “I have gotten” is not a bad translation, but there is more.

First, this is from the same root as the word “qannah,” which means jealous or zealous or passionate desire. These are connected. In Exodus 20, God says He is a “jealous” God. He is a qannah God. We are told that Messiah will have a qannah for his Father’s house. Elijah is celebrated for his qannah — passionate desire to serve God. The zealots are known in Hebrew as the qannahim — those who passionately serve the Lord with a fire in their souls.

Why does this matter? Because this word for “I have gotten” is not just a casual word. It is riddled with passion and fire — and not always in a positive way.

Second, the word is translated in other places as acquire, possess, buy, or obtain.

It is important to note the emphasis on Eve’s words are that she initiated and controlled the deal with God. Perhaps a better way to understand her words would be something like this: “I bartered a deal with God for the purpose of possessing another man.”

That’s too wordy, I know, but it better captures what is being said here. The idea in the Hebrew is that Eve controlled the negotiations and God complied. It’s very dysfunctional, but that may explain why the rest of the story plays out the way it does.

The next interesting thing is that she does not barter a deal for a son, she barters a deal for another man. Why does she need this? Well, go back to the last two posts.

If she can’t “ezer” her husband anymore, she will take it out on her son. How is this going to work? I promise you, not well. It is a desire to control and lead based in a dysfunctional kind of thinking. So she names him “I acquired.” Cain is going to be the object of her wrath, but it should be focused on Adam. Adam names her poorly, and she names and takes authority over Cain poorly, as well.

I learned a long time ago that when I speak from a place of peace, I invite others to speak from a place of peace. But when I speak from a place of anger or chaos or dysfunction, I invite others to do the same.

Eve is in a place of dysfunction. Why? Because she isn’t the ezer anymore? Partly. But maybe it has something to do with what Adam named her. Remember? How would you feel if you got named by your worst day?

And maybe this is the first big application point for this post. How do we treat others? How do we label others? How do we label ourselves? And what are the consequences of those decisions?

Next we have Abel. And we have an equation for disaster that resonates with a theme we are going to explore throughout the course of this series: What kind of b’hor are you going to be? More on that later. Genesis 4 continues:

In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

This all seems odd again. They both brought offerings. What is God’s deal? Why is He so disappointed with Cain’s offering? Shouldn’t God be thankful they brought Him anything at all? Where is the “participation trophy” for this one?

God doesn’t give participation trophies. But beyond that, it isn’t just about the participation in what we do, but the heart with which we do it.

If you are interested, please take an opportunity to do a study on how God expects us to give to Him. You will be surprised at how many times He says that what we give Him is to be the firstfruits and the best portions.

God won’t accept a leftover sacrifice, and that is exactly what Cain brought.

While Abel brought the fat portions of his firstborn, Cain brought some stuff. And that matters to God.

Before we say this is about the blood, and not about the heart of the sacrifice, please read Leviticus. How many sacrifices are listed that have nothing to do with blood? There are all kinds of sacrifices, from grain and wine to waving — yes, your hand.

I would suggest there are a lot of people in the church today who are not experiencing the blessing of God because they are not being generous at all. But there is another category of people who are missing out on God’s blessing at some level. They are people who give, but they are bringing God the leftovers. And that is not okay. It wasn’t in Genesis 4 and it isn’t today.

God was not pleased with Cain’s sacrifice, so Cain was mad. He had so many options. It would have been easy to fix the problem, but he didn’t. Misplaced resentment ends up causing problems every time. Rather than simply fixing the heart with which he brought his sacrifice, Cain killed Abel.

Cain wants God to grade on a curve!

Since God doesn’t like my sacrifice compared to Abel’s, I will kill Abel so the competition is gone. Crazy!

Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” Then the LORD said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

This is a fascinating section of scripture.

God condemns Cain to be a wanderer. Why? I would suggest it’s for the same reason Eve has increased sadness in raising kids and Adam is working ground that works against him. God puts Cain in a position where he is forced to trust God will take care of Him.

God even gives him a mark to keep him safe.

But even then, Cain doesn’t trust God. Look at the end of this section of scripture again. Cain settles in one land. Now couple that with the next verse:

Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.

What is Cain doing building a city? Cities in the ancient world are a place of safety and protection. We see Cain trying to control his own destiny rather than trusting God would keep His word.

The end of Cain’s line is a guy named Lamech:

Lamech said to his wives:

“Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
    you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:
I have killed a man for wounding me,
    a young man for striking me.
If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold,
    then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”

A lot of word study could be done here. But I want to focus on the last phrase, which is literally “seventy times seven times.”

And the western question is, “Does he mean 77 times or 490 times?” Either number would be an appropriate way to understand this statement. But maybe the point here isn’t about the number, but the mindset. And I think it brings everything full circle.

Jesus expands and explains this idea in Matthew 18:

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

It’s the same phrase here — seventy times seven times. And the same western question. But I think Jesus is giving us a way to understand the line of Cain that changes the game for everyone.

By using this phrase, Jesus is throwing us right into this story. Ask any Orthodox Jew what Jesus means when He says this and they will all say the same thing — Lamech.

Jesus is simply saying, if you ever stop forgiving, you are in danger of creating the same line of problems that happened with Cain’s line, ending with Lamech.

But where did it start?

I would submit that this whole nightmare for Cain — the death of Abel, Lamech, and all the mess of Cain not trusting God to provide — starts when Adam refuses to forgive Eve. And that matters.

When we harbor unforgiveness, it is not the person we are mad at who pays the price. It is our great, great grandchildren.

Forgiveness is about being able to establish a legacy of wholeness for those who will come after us. It is not about letting the other person off of the hook. And that is important for us to remember.

That is why God reminds us more than once that revenge is His. It is our job to forgive.

May you always bring God the first and best of everything you are and everything you do. And may you give an abundance of grace and forgiveness when others don’t. May you excel in speaking from peace so others might do so, as well.

Questions for this session:

  1. How does the issue of forgiveness affect you?
  2. What makes it so hard to forgive others?
  3. Have you seen unforgiveness in your family? How did that go?
  4. How will you make sure your grandchildren will know the freedom of peace and wholeness?

Question for next time:

Why does God spare Noah?

​#7 — Falling Isn’t Free

BEFORE WE BEGIN: I want to remind all of us as we read that one post is not the total sum of where we are headed. It is just one post. Please remember as you read that we are headed in a direction, so let that post speak only for that small section of scripture.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

When we left off, the snake had gone to the woman and tweaked her desire to be a good leader in order to get her to eat the fruit. And Adam went right along with her. All of a sudden, the second voice enters the story in Genesis 3 and everything changes — and not for the better.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

 The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

We begin this section with a harsh reality — as soon as we listen to any voice other than God’s, separation beings to occur.

Remember our themes from what we have covered so far: God is not angry. Conflict did not begin the world. Moses has been redeeming creation stories from other cultures in order to demonstrate God as a loving and relational God — not one who takes, but one who provides. And He provides everything we need to succeed. All we need to do is trust Him and how He wants us to conduct ourselves in His created world.

And He created companionship for us to be able to enjoy this amazing world and our role in it.

A simple axiom might help us to understand this. If God created relationship to help us enjoy this world and our role in it, then working against God’s created order should create the opposite of relationship.

And that is just what happened. We move from “naked and unashamed” to the blame game very quickly. And no one seems to want to own that they listened to the second voice.

It is interesting that everything Adam and the woman (she still doesn’t have a name, and that matters) say about the situation is true. Much like the snake, there aren’t any out-and-out lies here. But as the old saying goes, “The worst untruth is the truth moderately distorted.”

This is much like marriage. We can spend so much time talking all about the things the other person is doing wrong. And we will both be 100% correct. And nothing changes because we do not own our personal responsibility.

In the stories we tell ourselves, we are always the heroes, and others are always villains. We are helpless victims of another person’s carelessness. And in approaching things this way, we are able to demand that others own the way they wronged us without any commitment to our own part. While I love this way of seeing the world (and I am exceptionally good at it), it is not an effective means of restoring what is broken when we listen to the second voice.

The good news is that this is not a new problem. Apparently, it is as old as people existing on the earth. So at least I am not alone.

Once God gets past the pleasantries, He begins to hand out consequences to all those involved. We call this by many names: The Curse, The Fall, etc. I want to be clear about a couple of things here that are important to note. First, don’t forget where we came from with this. God isn’t nice until they blow it and then He gets really mad and disappointed. God is not surprised. This didn’t catch Him off guard. And He is not all of the sudden angry.

Second, Adam and the woman are not cursed. And that matters A LOT. If we are not careful, we can begin to assume there are results of this event that simply are not true. For example, spirit equals good and physical equals bad. Let me explain:

During the development of the Greek civilization, philosophy became a huge piece of their worldview. Socrates, Plato, and then Aristotle became foundational thinkers during this time, and with a man by the name of Alexander the Great, their ideas and writings became central to the western world even to this day.

For a fuller explanation of this, there is a great book called How the Church Lost the Way and How It Can Find It Again by Steve Maltz.

There’s one part that I find particularly important to our discussion: Plato — a great mind — came up with an idea that has changed us in ways you may find disturbing. His great contribution to our world is the idea of “the cave.”

The idea is that all of mankind lives in a dark cave, and therefore all we see and experience in the physical world is a dim reflection of something much better and more profound.

He goes on to say there are a few who have found the entrance to the cave and have worked their way out into the daylight. He called them the Greek philosophers. This idea led to a conclusion he called the dualism of man. That which is physical is evil, and all things spiritual are good.

Physical bad, spiritual good. For most western Christians, we will happily buy into this idea because we think we see it all over the Bible. But we don’t. It isn’t there. And this is NOT what the biblical writers are talking about with the “flesh” — or, as the western theologians translate it, the sinful nature. You can see plainly that the idea of reframing the word “flesh” in the New Testament into the idea of a “sinful nature” is not rooted in the Text. It is rooted in Greek philosophy. It is rooted in Plato. It is not biblical. And this has a crazy amount of implications that are very far reaching.

Again, this is a blog, not a book. Fully building this case is just not possible. But I encourage you to read the book referenced above. It may change your life.

Back to the story.

God isn’t mad at Adam and the woman. But as we continue in Genesis 3, we are going to see there are some crazy consequences that come as a result of this choice to listen to the second voice and eat the fruit.

So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock
    and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
    and you will eat dust
    all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”

To the woman he said,

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
    with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
    and he will rule over you.”

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

So let’s pull this apart a bit and consider what is going on here. First, the snake is cursed. And there is “enmity” put between the snake and his offspring and the woman and her offspring.

Why?

One simple explanation is that this will prevent an occurrence like this from ever happening again. There is no chance of the woman ever listening to the snake again and that matters because of the snake’s conniving desire to take her place in creation. He wanted to be the boss, but because the snake is not man, he does not have the capacity to lay down his own passions and desires in order to properly steward that which he would lead. He is not an image bearer of God.

Maybe there is a better explanation, but this works for me.

Now to the meat of what I want to talk about.

To the woman he said,

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
    with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
    and he will rule over you.”
 

Odd. Very odd on the surface. And I think that if we are not careful, we simply begin to read over these oddities without wrestling. We decide it won’t ever make sense, so we stop trying.

Oddity #1 — She eats the fruit and all of a sudden it hurts to give birth. How is that connected?

Oddity #2 — You are going to want your husband. How is that a consequence of eating fruit?

Oddity #3 — Today only! Eat fruit, become a peasant, and get ruled! What?

Let’s take a look at these and see what we can learn.

First, the word translated “pain” does not mean pain. The word is etseb (pronounced aht’sav). It means sorrow, labor, or toil. It is the idea that you will have to produce a great effort with many tears.

The idea that God is communicating here is not that because she ate bad fruit, it hurts to have babies. The idea is that in whatever He is going to give her next, there is going to be many tears and long, hard effort.

Second, the word translated “childbearing” doesn’t mean childbearing. The word is herown. It literally means conception. However, it is also attached to childrearing. It is never attached to childbirth except for when it was translated here in Genesis 3, which should lead us to the conclusion that it is incorrectly translated here.

Perhaps a better rendering of the verses here would read, “I will greatly increase your sorrowful toil in the raising of your children.” Tell me that isn’t a great definition of parenting.

By the way, there is a great connection to the idea of conception, as well, but that is in Genesis 4.

Third, “your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” The word translated “desire” here is the Hebrew word teshuwqua. It is translated correctly, but we are missing the nuance because the English word doesn’t carry it.

This word for desire is used two other times in scripture — once in Genesis 4 and once in Song of Solomon. The desire we are speaking of here is not a positive thing.

In Genesis 4, God tells Cain that sin is crouching at his door and its desire is for him. Same word. This desire is not a longing or wanting like we might hope for. It is a negative, controlling desire, or an intense desire to dominate.

But he will rule over you.

Ouch!

Where is that coming from? Remember how she was the leader? Here is the big haymaker of God’s consequences to the woman (she still doesn’t have a name — and yes, that still matters). He says, “I am not going to change how I made you. You are still going to want to lead. You are still going to long to control and make all the rules. But you can’t anymore. Because you didn’t steward the position of leadership well, you will be given the position of being led.”

Why would God do that? It seems a little harsh. We will get there. And please hear me when I say all the building of this case matters. How we get to the conclusion we reach is just as important as the conclusion itself.

Next, the man.

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

Oh, the tension in this passage. God Himself instructed Adam about the tree. And Adam chose to listen to the woman. It is as if Adam said to God that he would rather do what another human says to do than listen to God.

Does anyone reading this know exactly where Adam is coming from?

Then the ground is cursed. Work was always a part of stewarding the garden. It was always a part of the life of Adam. But now, the earth will work against Adam. Before, even for the earth, there was no second voice. Everything worked in harmony together according to God’s command.

Now the ground has its own agenda. Maybe this is a small reflection of how God feels about Adam choosing the second voice, as well. And maybe work as an act of worship is now also about reminding us of the reality of God working with people who would rather do their own thing.

Adam knows that if the ground would just cooperate with him, it would produce and sustain and look beautiful. But it has its own mind now: thorns, thistles, and obstinacy — just like Adam in his relationship with God.

God knows that if Adam would just cooperate with Him, Adam would produce and sustain and be a beautiful representation of what God made him to be. But Adam has a mind of his own now: thorns, thistles, and obstinacy — rebellion.

Maybe these consequences aren’t so weird after all. Maybe they are actually connected to the act of eating the fruit and how it violated the very created purpose of Adam and the woman. Maybe what God is up to isn’t just a matter of sitting up in heaven, shaking His head, and wondering what to do with these people, saying, “Oh, I guess I’ll make it hurt when you give birth.” Maybe this is a targeted decision by God to remind Adam and the woman that they must steward their position in creation well. And God is going to make sure to put them in a position to do it. (There will be more on that before we end this time together.)

So Adam is put in charge and is now ruling over the woman. Remember Adam’s first act as “ruler” of the garden? He names the animals. And what does that mean? He is describing their character and taking authority over them.

Guess what Adam’s first responsibility is as the new leader in the relationship.

He names the woman Chavvah.

He is doing two things: describing character and taking authority. The authority thing is obvious. For the first time in the story, he has the right to take authority over her. But here is a twist we don’t often think about: How does Adam describe the character of his beautiful bride?

In Hebrew, there are no vowels. Vowel markings are added based on context. We have groups of consonants that are together, and with each different set of vowel markings they become different words altogether. Those groups of consonants are called “word trees.” Every word made out of a word tree is connected in some way. Our task is to find out how.

Example: the word for man, pointed, and worshipper are all on the same word tree. They are connected. The word for woman, perforated, and rememberer are also on the same word tree. They are connected. This matters.

Nahum Sarna points out a very important detail here: Chavvah is on the same word tree as snake.

Think about it.

Adam’s first act as leader is to take authority and describe her character. And as an image bearer of God who has the capacity to lay down his own interests for the good of that which he stewards, he gives her a name that will remind her of her worst day every time someone speaks it.

Real slick, Adam. That choice is not going to help him lead well. And the results of that decision are going to be the problem of Genesis 4.

Maybe the foundational way for us to steward well the creation God has given us to enjoy is to develop the capacity to forgive.

All of this seems to make sense to me except for one part. Why reverse the role of leader and follower?

The answer is found in two themes we have visited over and over again so far in this series. First, “naked and unashamed.” Second, “no second voice.”

In order for each partner to fully embrace the one voice of God in the proper functioning of their lives, separate and together, and in order for them both to properly fulfill their roles in creation management, they both must be forced to give up their own voice.

So God, in His infinite wisdom, puts them both in roles in the relationship that force them to lay aside their own desires in order to do that which is required of them in the proper stewarding of creation.

Adam must lay aside his desire to go out and take on the world in order to take care of his wife and family. Chavvah must lay aside her desire for control and leadership in order to support Adam and his role in the world.

They are forced into positions that make them lay aside their own agendas for the good of those they are in relationship with. This is the only way for us to get back to the one voice. It is the only way to restore “naked and unashamed.”

Anytime that we press our own agenda — our own voice — we risk interrupting the proper ordering of creation. The key to restoring what sin broke in creation is our being able to lay aside our agendas and desires for the good of that which we steward and those we love.

But isn’t that how we were created in the first place?

The Apostle Paul will appeal to relational order in the church and homes and marriages in the New Testament. There has been a debate for years about what we should do with these statements. Is it cultural? Does Paul hate women? Is there some religious significance to it all?

Paul’s appeal is to the story of creation. His reasoning always comes back to creation. And for anybody reading his letters, it should immediately throw us deeply into this story of creation and how we wound up here from the beginning.

My stance on roles in the home and in the church is what most would call conservative. But I want to end on this note: How we get to where we stand is as important as where we stand.

May we reflect on the incredible gift and value of women as the ezer kenegdo, the one created with God’s amazing insight and fortitude. May we see both genders as incredibly valuable and precious, not primarily created to fit into hierarchy, but primarily created to fit into creation and to manage the world properly. May we value the opposite gender as we wrestle with how to play this out in our lives. And may we see that God’s consequences are neither random nor out of anger. They are always about restoring what is broken.

Questions for this session:

  1. What makes these consequences appropriate for the actions of Adam and Eve?
  2. What is God up to in this conversation with Adam and Eve? What is the tone in His voice?
  3. How does it change you to value your spouse and his or her created design rather than resent it?
  4. How can you show your spouse you value what he or she is, rather than resenting what he or she is not?

Question for next time:

What is the consequence of Adam not forgiving Eve?

#6 — ​The Ezer Kenegdo

Why did the snake go to the woman?

On the surface, this feels like a bit of a useless question. But as we pull back the layers on this one, I think you will find there is always more to the story than we first see. And in order to get at the answer, we need to back up a bit.

God formed Adam out of the dust. Adam is his name. But he is a man. The Hebrew word for man is ish. So, Adam is a man. Have I made that point? It matters a lot!

As you might assume, “ish” is a masculine word. Why? Because men are masculine and Adam is a man. So, Adam is, in all ways, masculine.

Here is the first twist in our tale: When God forms “ish”-man (masculine man), He breathes into Adam “the breath of life.” The phrase “breath of life” in Hebrew is nephesh hiyah. What is so weird about that? The phrase is feminine. Grammatically, it is very odd that this most masculine of men has something feminine placed in him by God. We would assume that whatever God places in this man would be masculine, but it isn’t. More on that later.

The first job given to this manly man is to name the animals. In Adam’s stewardship of the garden, it is critical he takes this role as manager of everything God created. How does he start the process? By naming the animals.

Why does this signify the point at which he takes his position as leader in creation?

By naming the animals, Adam does two things: first, he describes their character. This is a universal reality in the biblical world. When you give someone a name, you are not just “tagging” the person — you are describing their character. It is not uncommon to see people given a new name in scripture to better represent what someone else sees God working out in that person’s character. Second, Adam takes authority over the animals. Giving something a name is a way to move into a position of authority in that thing’s life. Whether it is a person or an animal or a plant. As Adam names the animals, he is describing their character and taking authority over them.

If you want more information on this, Nahum M. Sarna, David Fohrman, and Skip Moen are great resources.

As Adam is in the process of naming the animals, something becomes apparent. It is not good for him to be alone. This is a call to relationship for us all, no doubt. But more than that, God is going to make the perfect counterpart for Adam. God is going to give Adam the exact thing Adam needs in order to steward creation better — the exact thing!

So what does God do? First, He causes Adam to fall into a deep sleep. Then He pulls a “round” out of Adam. What is a round? Well, we don’t know exactly. Over the years, it has been translated as rib, which makes sense at one level. Adam will say, “she is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” But the problem is that the Text doesn’t say it was a rib. It says it was a round.

So what does God pull out? Here is my considered opinion:

Remember that feminine thing God breathed into Adam? Whatever that was, God separated it from him.

My strong contention is that Moses agrees with me on this. In writing the story down, Moses stops telling the story for a minute and interjects a thought. Look at Genesis 2:23.

“It is for this reason that a man will leave his father and mother, be cleaved to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

For what reason? Because God separated the masculine and the feminine pieces of Adam. And God knows that in order for there to be a whole, they must be reunited. What is the goal of marriage? The separated two will choose to give up their individualism and become one again. When a marriage is focused on this idea, it is beautiful and it works. As soon as one or both partners in the relationship focus on their own desire more than becoming one, it falls apart. Remember that “naked and unashamed” idea — no other voices, not even my own.

God gives Adam full access to his masculinity and invites him to reunite with the feminine counterpart. But what was this “helpmate suitable for him” about? And now we start to see smoke barrel out of our ears.

The Hebrew here is really important, and it will play out in the story in major ways. The words are ezer (eh•zeer) kenegdo (keh•nehg•doe). The English doesn’t do us any favors.

First the word, ezer, does in fact mean “helpmate.” So that isn’t totally wrong, but it is important we see what kind of helpmate we are talking about. Growing up in church, I was taught that the woman (she still doesn't have a name, and that matters) was made to come up under Adam and help him do his thing. She was created weaker and subservient and if a man is Godly enough, she will want to submit to her husband. At this, every woman reading will automatically chuckle, because that is NOT true. And you know it isn’t true. Churches that preach such nonsense sound foolish when they speak.

Let me give you a picture of ezer. From Rachel Held Evans:

“Far from connoting subjugation, the Hebrew term ezer, or “helper,” is employed elsewhere in Scripture to describe God, the consummate intervener—the helper of the fatherless (Psalm 10:14), King David’s helper and deliverer (Psalm 70:5), Israel’s shield and helper (Deuteronomy 33:29). Ezer appears twenty-one times in the Old Testament—twice in reference to the first woman, three times in reference to nations to whom Israel appealed for military support, and sixteen times in reference to God as the helper of Israel. The word evokes both benevolence and strength, and is a popular name for Jewish boys, both in the Bible and in modern times.”

http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/mutuality-adam-eve

The idea of this word is not so much a servant role, but one who is a helpmate for us in the sense that God is our helpmate. Perhaps a better translation would be that she is the strength, the power, the focus, the support, and the provider for Adam. In this sense she is his helpmate, but not in the sense that she is his servant. An ezer is NOT a servant. This is a word of strength and power, of authority and leadership. And this is a BIG deal!

The second word, kenegdo, is a very difficult word to translate. And so, the translators don’t. You will not find an English translation dealing with this word. It means “of the same nature” or “equal but opposite force.” Another great way to translate this word is “opposed support.”

The idea of kenegdo is that she is there to knock the edges off of Adam so he can be everything he needs to be to properly steward the garden. And that makes sense in our modern relationships. Why is it that no matter what a husband does, his wife believes she has a better way to do it? (Yes, I am exaggerating — but not by much.) Maybe it is tied to her created purpose. And maybe the fall and our fundamental nature is still at work in our world. (We will explore this idea further at a later time.)

So a couple of questions are raised in my mind. First, in a functioning relationship, who knocks the edges off of whom? Does the leader knock the edges off of the follower or does the follower knock the edges off of the leader? Sure, in one sense you can say both are true, but primarily it is the leader who shapes the follower. Now, who was the kenegdo?

Second, the one who fulfills the God role in the relationship, is that the leader or the follower? It seems to me that if we let the Text say what it says without bleeding church tradition into it, the woman was created to be the leader.

Don’t believe me?

Remember how I keep saying she doesn’t have a name? Why not?

Adam, the ish, calls her ishshah — woman. He doesn’t name her. Why doesn’t he name her? Remember what happens when you name something? You describe its character and you take authority over it. If we just let the Text say what it says, I think it is pretty safe to conclude she was made to be the leader in the relationship. And that makes the fall even more impressive for both of them, which is the topic of the next post.

Only God Himself could give the woman a name. Adam could not, and therefore did not.

Part of the “naked and unashamed” piece of the garden existence was a functioning hierarchy that played out as God designed it to function. That raises many questions, not the least of which is, If that is true, why does the fall in Genesis 3 flip things on their head? We will get there. But to whet your appetite, what is the first thing Adam does after the pronouncement of the punishments from God? Adam gives the woman a name. Why? Because now he can. Why can he give her a name now and he couldn’t before? And what does the name mean? And what are the implications of all this? And how does that show up in their children? And who ultimately pays the price for all of this dysfunction? And where did the mess really begin?

Hold on. It’s all coming.

Now with that background, we return to our original question. Why did the snake go to the woman first? I was taught growing up that it was because she had a weaker will than Adam. She was more easily manipulated than he would have been.

What if she was the leader? And what if the snake getting her to eat the fruit guaranteed Adam would also eat it? What if Adam would trust her and do whatever she asked him to do because she was the leader?

Even if the woman was perhaps of a weaker will (I don’t believe this, but let’s run this idea out), this still doesn’t explain how she got Adam to eat it. Could he not stand up for the truth of the command he received directly from God Himself?

But if she was supposed to be the leader in the relationship, it makes everything fall in place. Not only that, but it explains so much about our marriage relationships today. Again, more on that later.

So why did the snake come to the woman first? Because it was the only way to guarantee the snake could get both of them to mess up.

Now we have a new question: what is the appeal to the woman to eat the fruit in the first place? The Text again has some interesting things to say.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”

It was desirable for gaining wisdom. Why would wisdom matter to the leader of this outfit? What is the appeal? What if, for the first time, the woman wondered if she could take matters into her own hands and do her job more effectively? What if she wasn’t being deceptive or rebellious in eating the fruit, but the rebellion landed in the lie that God was holding out on her? What if her dilemma was in trying to gain an advantage in doing her job that God Himself didn’t give her?

Maybe now we can give her a lot more grace. There is probably some naiveté in her decision. After all, she doesn’t have a Bible to pull information and ideas from. All she has is Adam’s word.

How many times have I tried to take matters into my own hands instead of waiting on the Lord to give me all I need? And this is the crux of most of the trouble in my own life. Do I believe God gives me everything I need to succeed? Or do I believe God is holding out on me?

This tension is foundational for us as followers of Jesus. The truth is that God has given us everything we need. But I often find myself trying to force knowledge, experience, and ideas into the situation that wind up not being an advantage.

I often see this idea with my kids. They are trying to grow up so fast. And yet, once they are exposed to the things they define as “grown-up,” it is a mistake they cannot take back. Now they know, and they wish they didn’t. But they do, and they cannot take it back. It is tough when the thing I thought would help out backfires and now it only hurts me.

Maybe one of the major keys to “naked and unashamed” is that we don't need more information than what God gives us.

I would suggest that being able to trust God’s provision is the key to experiencing Shalom instead of Chaos. God always offers peace. And His promise contains everything we need to experience peace regardless of the tricks, lies, and deception of instant gratification, impulses, and instincts.

So, may you find rest in trusting everything God has provided for you. May you find peace in His promise. May you honor and value the truth of God’s created design. And may you celebrate the power of your spouse as you unveil your own purpose.

Questions for this session:

  1. How do you see this tension of leadership play out in your marriage?
  2. What deceptions have you bought into instead of trusting God’s provision?
  3. Where does your life show that you believe God is holding out on you?

Question for next time:

Why do you think God reversed the roles through the consequences in Genesis 3?

#5 — Snakes, Selfishness, and Low-Hanging Fruit

In this post, I want to talk about the first part of a passage that, in my opinion, is one of the more misunderstood passages in all of scripture, Genesis 3:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You 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.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock
    and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
    and you will eat dust
    all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”

To the woman he said,

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
    with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
    and he will rule over you.”

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

There’s so much to say!

Let’s begin with where we left off in Genesis 2. Work is an act of worship, and Adam and Eve in the garden work together in marriage as one because they are “naked and unashamed,” which is much bigger than simply clothing. They have no other agenda. There is only God’s voice — no other.

And then, the snake.

As we begin this part of the story, we see that the snake is “more crafty” than all the other wild animals, which raises some questions. How do we measure animal craftiness? Not to mention, we see a walking, talking snake that doesn’t raise any eyebrows from the woman (she doesn’t have a name yet — and that matters). And for centuries, we have tried to make sense out of this. What is it with the walking, talking snake? And why does he care so much about the woman and Adam and deception?

One response to this question in the past has been that the snake is Satan. That is a good option. This is an opinion typically held by those who also hold to a more literal interpretation of Genesis 1–11. There’s nothing wrong with this — except if we are going to hold to a more literal interpretation of the Text here, we have a major problem.

The Text doesn’t say it was Satan. The text says it was a snake. And that matters. At the surface level, we have to let the Text say what it says. Now, is there a conversation to have about this walking, talking snake and its connection to Satan? Absolutely! But the notion that it is irrefutably Satan may not be as strong as one might like it to be.

So, let’s try something here and just let the Text say what it says. What can we learn through this approach to the Text?

Let’s assume for a minute that it is a snake and that is all it is. This opens an important dialogue for us about why this whole conversation between the snake and the woman is even taking place.

  1. What makes the snake want to deceive the woman in the first place?
  2. Why does the snake come to the woman first? (This will be the big idea for the next post.)
  3. What is it that separates people and animals?
  4. How consistent is her response to the snake with what God actually said?

There are probably many more questions, but I want to tackle these few as we work through the first part of Genesis 3.

What makes the snake want to deceive the woman in the first place?

As we begin this thought, I want to make clear that we are going off of the grid a little. The Text doesn’t explicitly say why the snake wanted to deceive the woman. So any conclusion we come to will have some level of speculation attached to it. However, I do believe we can make some educated guesses about what we are reading and why it plays out the way it does.

In the order of creation (remember the poem), we are seeing a progression. There are several layers to it and I don’t have time to pull them all apart. Sandra Richter, in her awesome book The Epic of Eden, has a couple of great chapters that really attack this idea. But I want to draw a couple of conclusions that will look like assumptions because of the lack of validating material here. Please know that there is much more research on this, but I am writing a blog, not a book, so conclusions are necessary to conserve space.

One layer of the progression we see is a linear movement toward the total union of soil and spirit. Mankind becomes the culmination of this creative movement — the union of soil and spirit. God places His own image in man and distinguishes man (and woman) as unique among all of creation by giving them the task of stewardship.

Here is a premise that I will refer back to: In order to properly steward creation, we must have the capacity to lay down our own self-interest in order to function in the best interest of that which we steward.

This ability is squarely given to us as image-bearers of God. This capacity is the price and the blessing of leadership. It is the call of parents, of husband and wife, of bosses, of anyone who at any level is determined to be the influencer, not the influenced. And I would also submit it is in the laying aside of our own agendas that we look most like God to those we lead and serve.

And this one attribute distinguishes humanity from the animals.

Right before this perfect union of soil and spirit is expressed through mankind, animals are made. And this understanding of how the image of God in us affects our ability to steward has a huge implication into why the snake tried to deceive the woman.

He wants what she has.

As an animal, he can only serve his impulse. Call it intuition or instincts or self-preservation. It does not matter what label you put on it — this is what separates mankind and animals. We are not only animals functioning in the world. Humans have a unique capacity in creation to set aside personal agendas for the good of those around them.

Part of the “naked and unashamed” reality of the garden is that there is no question of whether or not this is going to happen. There is only God’s voice helping govern the management of creation. And therefore, there is no other agenda.

Now we need a bit of a review. God is not mad. He is good and loving and puts in creation all it needs to succeed. He gives mankind good things and tremendous potential to partner with Him in the proper stewarding of creation.

That matters — a lot! Because if there is not going to be another voice, then we have to decide what kind of voice we are listening to. Is God holding out on us? Or is He giving us everything that we need to succeed? And what does His version of success look like? And is it good or is He controlling us?

All of the big conversation we have had so far about the nature of God is really critical here. Because if God is good and loving and kind, then we can trust that His voice is good and loving and kind. But if He is not, then who knows how harsh He could be? And it wouldn’t matter because His voice is the only one.

But then, the snake…

The snake doesn’t see it this way. He does not have the capacity to let go of his impulse. He can only think about his desire and how he would do things.

Enter the second voice:

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

Well, no. He didn’t say that. But it is an interesting manipulation for the woman. Because she has to give her version of what she knows of God’s command. And it isn’t accurate.

“We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You 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.’”

That is NOT what God said.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

You can touch it all you want. Make fruit bowl centerpieces with it. Play baseball with it. Learn to juggle with it. Whatever you want! Just don’t eat it.

Where would the woman have gotten such a crazy idea? Why would she make that up? Why paint God into an inaccurate box?

Well, the good news for the Church of today is that this isn’t a new problem, but we have been doing this in our world for years. And it doesn’t work.

In the 1950s and 1960s it was dancing, cards, and movies. In the 1980s it was choruses. The cultural battles today are just as real as they ever were. And by cultural battles I mean those things that culture places a certain taboo or value on that we deem as God’s truth. It is tremendously destructive to label what is ultimately a debatable position with the “Thus saith the Lord” mentality. And the world plays with that and distorts it into confusion for followers of Jesus.

As an aside, I think the Church must fight to bring clarity to following God, not confusion. We must pull for the truth, not tradition. I am not “anti” tradition. But tradition is just that — tradition. Tradition is an idea or expression of my faith that gives my heart a voice at this particular point in history. Once that voice is divorced from my heart and it is just action without meaning, me must be able to give our traditions a proper funeral, and we must celebrate all the good it did without making it a direct command of the Lord.

Now, back to the snake.

The snake never lies. The snake isn’t a liar. Please read the text. There is no “untruth” in what he says. Read carefully:

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Everything the snake says is absolutely true. Think about it.

“You will not certainly die.” Well, that is right. They didn’t, at least not right away. However, this truth is limited. And furthermore, on a purely surface level, God is the bigger liar here, because they in fact don’t die right away.

“God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good from evil.” Again, that is right. Their eyes were opened and they were like God IN KNOWING GOOD FROM EVIL. This is also true, but limited.

And in this reality we see a very profound truth. When the voice of our desires, impulses, and instincts is the voice we listen to, we lose that piece of us that so profoundly makes us who we truly are — image-bearers of God. We become only human. But God’s promise to you is that we are not merely human. We also have a piece of God in us that allows us to lay down our desires, impulses, and instincts to better redeem and restore creation in all its facets.

All of a sudden, the woman is allowing the voice of immediate gratification to enter the picture. And in this, we see the great warrior that fights against “naked and unashamed” — self. Will I chase the immediate fix or lay aside my comfort for the bettering of the reality that I am supposed to be properly stewarding?

This is true in my job. This is true in my marriage. This is true with my kids. In fact, I can’t think of a place where this reality doesn’t become foundational truth.

Here is the big idea in the first part of Genesis 3: The deception that leads to all the chaos in the world does not begin with lies. It doesn’t begin with cheating. It begins with a decision to pursue immediate self-gratification. As soon as I decide to make myself happy before I properly steward creation, I am falling into the same trap that the woman did. And it is always costly.

What we will cover eventually is that our purpose in partnering with God in the redemption of all things is to bring the Kingdom of God crashing into earth. We will never do that when we choose immediate self-gratification. Never.

Think about the food we eat. Why do we eat it? Think about the entertainment we watch. Why do we watch it? Think about the house we live in or the car we drive or… The list goes on and on.

We live in a world that invites us to immediate gains in self-gratification. Maybe the voice of the snake isn’t so far from our ears, either. And maybe the restoration we are called to be a part of isn’t going to be found there. Rather, it will be found finding “naked and unashamed” again. Maybe it will be found in tuning into the one voice.

So, may you passionately chase God’s redemptive agenda. May you resist the temptation to sell God’s agenda short by chasing immediate self-gratification. And may you find in yourself more than your instincts, impulses, and desires. You are an image-bearer of the one true God!

Questions for discussion:

  1. Where do you settle for immediate gratification?
  2. Where do you distort the commands of God?
  3. How does the Church prey on others by distorting the commands of God?

Question for next time:

Why does the snake come to the woman first?