Learning to Love the Old Testament II

Okay, let’s do the second installment of Learning to Love the Old Testament.  This week we’ll be looking at the Garden of Eden.  I’ve realized as I’ve been writing down my ideas that there are SO MANY great things I could pull out of this section.  But this is my blog, so I get to choose what I think is totally awesome!  I hope you will think so as well.

Whew!!  Writing this is taking way more time than I anticipated, so I’ll do it in parts.

READ Genesis 2.  Here is what I’d like to focus on:

God’s deep desire is to give us life and abundant blessings. In this chaotic world of heartbreak, looking at the Garden of Eden does my heart so much good. It shows me that God really does want to give us every good thing. “The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.” (v.9)

fruit

Imagine having all these fruits in one place!

The Garden shows me that God wants us to have LIFE.  He put man right there with the tree of life.

Of course, as we’ll discuss further on, man lost what he had in the Garden.  But the story of the Bible is the story of God making a way to give us what he originally intended.  In Jesus, God gave us the very best.  We can be blessed with “every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Eph 1:3)  We are promised that God will “graciously give us all things.” (Romans 8:32)  Christ himself tells us that he will give us whatever we ask for in his name.  (John 16:23)

God brought us life through Jesus, both here on earth and in the time to come.  Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”  (Gal 2:20)

Heaven will be our complete restoration to the Garden.  It will be a place of perfect blessings.  “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” (Rev 21:4)  We can eat of the Tree of Life.  “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”  Rev 22:14

Studying the Garden of Eden reveals much to us about God’s generous heart, and how much he wants to give to man.  It helps us have faith that there genuinely is an amazing place that God has prepared for us.

God blessed us with one another. When God said, “It is not good for man to be alone” the whole nature of man’s existence was dramatically shaped. And surprise!  I’m not talking about marriage here, although, of course, I could.  I’m talking about the fact that God made people to be interdependent.

christina

Sisterhood at recent baptism

Many animals were created to have a mate or herd, or to be symbiotic. But God took this to a hugely different level with man in two ways.  First, man wouldn’t just need others to meet his physical needs, he would need others to fulfill his spiritual needs. And second, man was designed to work together to be Christ’s body here on earth.

Ecclesiastes reflects how we meet each others’ physical needs. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.”  (Ecc 4:9-10)

Numerous scriptures reflect how we help each other spiritually, verses like, “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another that you may be healed” (James 5:16), and “Encourage one another daily so that you won’t be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”  (Hebrews 3:13)

The description of the church in the Bible shows how we are to be interdependent. “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”  Romans 12:4-5

And Ephesians 4:16 shows how we become stronger individually, and corporately, when we work together:  “From him [Christ] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Eph 4:16)  God’s design for mankind is so amazing!!

Note that Jesus sent out his disciples two by two. (Mark 6:7)  His ministry was all about interactions.  He took his best friends with him when he prayed in the Garden.  After his death, his apostles went on missionary journeys with partners.

“It is not good for man to be alone.” God himself is a part of a trinity.  From the beginning, his desire was for us to have what he has, the profound benefits of companionship and synergy.

Are we taking advantage of this, or are we independent?

Let’s pray.  Father, you are SO GOOD!!!    Thank you that you want to pour down your goodness upon me.  Thank you for giving me every spiritual blessing.  Help me to realize this, and not get bogged down during the day when things go wrong.  Thank you especially for these blessings you’ve given to me: ________________.   Forgive me for:___________________.

Thank you that you give us life.  How can we feel lacking, when you have given us vitality here on earth, and a new self which will last forever?  Thank you that you have many, many more good things waiting for us, like presents waiting to be unwrapped.

God, thank you for the brothers and sisters you have put in my life.  They truly are “the saints in whom is all my delight.”  It is my great privilege to know them.  Help me not to be grumpy with them or have attitudes, but instead, to see them for the gift they are.  Help me specifically with this relationship:_______________.  Help me to forgive in this way:_____________________.

Help me not to be independent, but to realize how much I need each of your children.  Help me to work as a team with them to accomplish the amazing things you’ve planned for us, so that we can shine brightly to the world around us.  This is my dream for the church:__________________.  Help me to have wisdom and the heart to accomplish it together with my brothers and sisters.  Help me to do this:______________ today to take a step in that direction.

Not ready to stop thinking about all this good stuff? Listen to these songs and sing throughout the day.  Love you all!

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