Tag Archives: Garden of Eden

The Family of Adam & Eve Today

Sermon given for the 1st Sunday of Lent, February 18, 2018. The Lenten sermons will be focusing on various families in the Old Testament. 

Opening scripture (in the New Living Translation):

Genesis 3:2-24, 4:1-2,8-10

     20 Then the man—Adam—named his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all who live. 21 And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.

     22 Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!” 23 So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. 24 After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

     4:1Now Adam had sexual relations with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant. When she gave birth to Cain, she said, “With the Lord’s help, I have produced a man!” Later she gave birth to his brother and named him Abel.

. . .One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.

     Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”

“I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”

     10 But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! 11 Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. 12 No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.”

. . . 25 Adam had sexual relations with his wife again, and she gave birth to another son. She named him Seth for she said, “God has granted me another son in place of Abel, whom Cain killed.” 26 When Seth grew up, he had a son and named him Enosh. At that time people first began to worship the Lord by name.

 

 

Reflection: The Family of Adam & Eve Today

 

In college, I learned an e. e. cummings’ poem by memory:

 

Fleas

Adam

Had ‘em.

 

Ok, I know, not a tough poem to commit to memory, but the thing is those four words have left an impression that has stayed with me to this day. The meaning of this poem is in the symbolic meaning of each word.

 

Fleas—one of the most basic irritations in our world

Adam—one name that represents all humanity, not one individual

Had ‘em—every body has the same basic irritations, now as well                                   as in the past as well as in the future.

 

The truth is that ever since time began humans–regardless of gender, nationality, age or any other qualifier–humans have problems. There is absolutely no doubt that everybody is going to have trouble at one time or another.

Just like a poem by a contemporary poet, the Bible is filled with stories, poems, prayers, hymns, lectures, or narratives providing readers guidance since it was first published. The Bible we read today was the result of over 400 years debate [Chronology accessed on February 16, 2018 at http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-43/how-we-got-our-bible-christian-history-timeline.html%5D:

  1. 1400–400 B.C.Books of the Hebrew Old Testament written
  2. 250–200 B.C.The Septuagint, a popular Greek translation of the Old Testament, produced

A.D. 45–85? Books of the Greek New Testament written

90 and 118 Councils of Jamnia give final affirmation to the Old Testament canon (39 books)

140-150 Marcion’s heretical “New Testament” incites orthodox Christians to establish a NT canon

303-306 Diocletian’s persecution includes confiscating and destroying New Testament Scriptures

  1. 305-310Lucian of Antioch’s Greek New Testament text; becomes a foundation for later Bibles

367 Athanasius’s Festal Letter lists complete New Testament canon (27 books) for the first time

397 Council of Carthage establishes orthodox New Testament canon (27 books)

  1. 400Jerome translates the Bible into Latin; this “Vulgate” becomes standard of medieval church

 

Obviously the process of translating and annotating the Bible has continued since the 5th century, but the chronology reminds us that the stories of the Bible began as oral tradition even before it was put into a written or published format.

Reading the Bible’s story provides us in the 21st century the guidance it takes to live a faithful life centered around the triune God. The Church of the Resurrection’s stained glass window features a wide range of stories from the Old Testament and the New Testament around the images of the three trees. During the weeks of Lent, the stories of the Biblical Old Testament families are going to be considered. We are going to look at the life lessons that we can learn from even in this century, regardless of where the story is identified along humanity’s timeline.

Today, Adam and Eve are listed as the first family in the Bible. Their story begins in the Garden of Eden, but ends with the same challenges any family today may confront. After being cast out of the garden, they are forced to make a living for themselves and their children. They are just like us, even if the story begins in the Garden of Eden.

We all know the story of Adam and Eve eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but let’s concentrate on what happened next. The story in Genesis 4 tells us that they had two boys, Cain and Abel. The cultural expectations or traditions identified the roles society assigns to these two men, but the gift of free choice God provided humans creates the potential for making the wrong choices.

One thing leads to another, and Cain kills his own brother Abel. The family is sent into crisis. We know that conflicts between siblings often lead to a family imploding, and Adam’s and Eve’s story is no different than families today.

The news is filled with stories of families in crisis, and even this week as we hear the stories out of Florida, we know the harsh reality of families in crisis. Adam and Eve had to have questioned what they did or did not do that led to one son killing another son. They had to confront the pain of loss in two ways—death of a son and the exile of another.

What happened to Adam and Eve? For many, the story ended with Cain killing Abel. But the story continued. Looking deeper into Genesis, readers learn that Adam and Eve had a third son Seth—along with other sons and daughters.

Life continued for the father and mother just like life continues for all living parents after a tragedy. Nothing in the Biblical record says that they gave up; instead, it tells us that they continued living and the family grew.

Why, then does the story only include the name of Seth and then simply says that there were other sons and daughters?   Reading through study notes and Harper Collin’s Bible Dictionary, an answer developed: the names of children are identified when they contribute to their faithfulness to God.

Another words, the Bible identifies who should be models of faithful behaviors as well as those who are not faithful. All the other sons and daughters may be important family members, but they are not in the direct lineage of how the faithful continued the story forward to the birth of Jesus Christ.

That lineage connects the family stories that we will consider during Lent as we lead up to the story of Jesus during Holy Week. The story of Adam and Eve is the beginning and connects to Jesus as outlined in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Remember that Paul was well-educated in the Jewish history and religion. He qualified the relationship in Romans 5:

Closing scripture (NLT)

Romans 5

     12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. 13 Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. 14 Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did. Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come. 15 But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. 16 And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. 17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.

     18 Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. 19 Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.

     20 God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. 21 So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

The most familiar story of Adam and Eve is filled with challenges that included murder within the family. Yet, God’s story continues as the family grew and a third son remains faithful. The next family story is that of Noah. He is a descendent from Seth, the faithful son of Adam and Eve.

Today, we must read the stories of the Old Testament families in order to find the lessons for our own lives today. We know the heartbreak of sons and daughters who are not faithful to God. We know the pain of loss in so many forms. These are the fleas of human life and the Bible tells us that even Adam and Eve had fleas. Our decisions as faithful followers depend on reading the stories and learning how to make the decisions, continuing to love one another as we want to be loved.

Closing prayer:

Dear loving and patient Father,

As we enter into Lent,

We wonder what there is to learn.

We hear the stories

from the ancient scriptures

seeking new insight.

 

Adam and Eve shared

The same challenges

We do yet today.

They made mistakes,

They struggled with family,

And still they lived knowing you.

You never left them

Just as you never leave us.

 

This week, let us reflect

How even when we err

Or others in our family err,

You continue to offer forgiveness.

 

Forgive us, Lord,

For our doubts and mistakes.

Strengthen us to continue living,

Doing all the good we can

Not only in our personal family

But in our community

So that others may know

Your unending grace and love. –Amen

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Breaking Sin’s Code

given on Sunday, February 17, the first Sunday of Lent.

         Have you ever tried the Cryptoquips in the newspaper?  This is one of the brainteasers or games that appears daily in the KC Star.  The point of it is to identify the statement that is coded in a mixed up pattern of letters that do not meet our personal language expectations.           These challenges are not easy for me, but I have worked with a couple of others who seem to know how to break the code.  They are able to take one small clue and work through the jumbled words and find the solution.  Following the process leads to a sense of exhilaration when the code is broken and the solution appears.

Cryptoquips lead me to thinking about how sin likes to hide in all the words of our lives.  God sent out messages over and over and over, but His children could not figure it out.  There must be a way to break sin’s code and make sure everybody knows the message.

What is needed to become cryptologists?  First we need the alphabet—or do we?  During World War II, language in two battle theaters ranged dramatically.  No common alphabet, no common language, no common ground for all the various messages being sent from one ally to another or one enemy to another.  Intercepting those messages meant finding solutions to the battles.

The necessity of communicating ideas is undeniable; it is essential if we live side by side with others.  Breaking sin’s code is key to living the Christian life that God so desires for His children.  The Garden of Eden is attainable if we can break sin’s code and live by God’s code.  We must make sure that we understand the message in order to arm ourselves for life in a world that challenges our beliefs.

With that as a starting point, the process begins.  God first told Adam and Eve that their needs were provided as long as they took care of creation.  Adam and Eve represent all humans regardless of race or gender.  We are all God’s children and we all must accept responsibility to preserve God’s law.

The Old Testament is one of our tools to breaking sin’s code.  Thousands of years separate us from creation and the Old Testament recorded humanity’s battles to preserve God’s law.  Unfortunately, sin seems to co-exist with human will.  The battle is on.

In the Cryptoquips, only one rule is provided:  I is A.  That is all the clue there is for the problem solver to work out the solution.  Of course if I replaces A and A replaces I in the message, then the foundation is there and all the other values must be discovered.

As 21st century Christians, we have a wealth of clues provided us but there is only one that we need to begin the process.  One          rule.  Adam and Eve were told simply do not eat from the tree of knowledge and all their needs would be met.  God gave them a garden filled with all the perfect solutions to their needs.

Time and time again, the people of God found themselves in a battle with sin.  God provided them a key to the solution; yet some did not listen, some did not follow the solution, and some chose to go in another direction.  Being given the rule for living a sin-free life is no guarantee that it is going to be easy to solve the battle with sin.

Consider this question:  What triggered God to send Jesus?  The first step in learning this answer is to unlock all the messages of the Old Testament, and one way to make that more clear is to consider the Bible in chronological form.

Included in today’s bulletin is an abbreviated reading plan that puts the Old and New Testament into a chronological format.  At first glance it does not seem so re-organized; but begin working with the plan and surprises develop.

As an example one of the first questions that sprung up in my mind is what triggered God to send Jesus.  The Old Testament covers a time span of almost 2,500 years and is filled with examples of God’s frustration with His creation mishandling sin.  His warnings go unheard.  His threats were delivered.  Sin still wins battles though.

Look at the chronological listings.  Find the first entry from the New Testament and then back up one—the final entry in the Old Testament.  It is Malachi, the record of the Prophet Malachi.

To place Malachi’s prophecy into a timeline, the temple in Jerusalem had been rebuilt over 100 years prior to Malachi’s warnings.  In a society, which places so much importance on the temple, especially the one in Jerusalem, one might expect the behaviors of the people to match that of the teachings.  But the behaviors did not.

Malachi, as God’s messenger, made one more effort to break sin’s code by explaining how God had reached a frustration level that action was needed and needed now!  The time:  430 BC.  Four hundred years before Christ was born, God sent one more message.

Malachi simply told the people that God had lost hope in His people.  He was angry with the priests.  He was angry with the people and He was coming.  Four major points are presented in this last Old Testament book.  Certainly Malachi expected God to appear any moment, but He did not.

Again, we are confronted with another mystery.  We learn that God is coming and yet in the middle of the fifth century BC, He does not appear.  What happened to the message?

Let’s review a few things.  Adam and Eve were told not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and they did.  Then God delivered Moses just ten simple rules or commandments to follow.  Moses’ story is recorded in Exodus chapters 1-5,12-14 and 20, around 1450-1410 BC.  And Exodus is just the second book of the Old Testament.

Obviously God is not quick to temper, God is patient.  As the stories of the Old Testament continue to demonstrate how a small group of people works to carry God’s messages to the others, sin continues to win battles.  Sin is a force confronting humans daily.   There must be some secret to unlocking sin’s code.  There must be some simple rule that can lead God’s children in the battle against sin and winning life of the faithful.

After Adam ate the apple, sin won.  Sin started filling the story of humankind with conflict.  Good versus evil.  Evil wins.  Good versus evil.  Good wins.  A thousand years passed between creation and Moses’ delivery of the Ten Commandments.  God replaced one simple rule with ten more specific rules.

The next thousand years records the many examples of sin versus God.  The prophets are recorded.  The warnings were given.  The battles continued—some with sin winning, some with God winning.  One thing that is evident is God’s love and patience.  Why did humans fail to break the code?

Malachi told them.  He identified the problem in the first chapter, verse 6:

“A son honors his father. A servant honors his master. If I am a father, where is the honor I should have? If I am a master, where is the respect you should give me?” says the Lord who rules over all.  . . .

Malachi’s words sound familiar.  Have we not heard those words in our own homes in a context all too familiar yet today?  Malachi was breaking sin’s code.  In the tight-knit family units and the tribes, the analogy of a son honoring the father is a clue that was recognizable, and still is today.

Yet, so many still did not listen to the messengers.  Malachi continued his explanation to the people, but even his plain language did not unlock the code.  At the close of Malachi 4:4-5, a final warning, a final clue to what the future holds:

“Remember the law my servant Moses gave you. Remember the rules and laws I gave him at Mount Horeb. They were for the whole nation of Israel.

“I will send you the prophet Elijah. He will come before the day of the Lord arrives. It will be a great and terrifying day. Elijah will teach parents how to love their children. He will also teach children how to honor their parents. If that does not happen, I will come. And I will put a curse on the land.”

As Lent continues, consider the keys already provided for breaking sin’s code.  We are so familiar with the Old Testament and New Testament stories that one would think the code is broken.  But look around your corner of the world.  Is sin still lurking around?  While you listen to the news?  Is sin still winning?  Look at all the influences in our lives and evaluate them.  Is there a clue to sin’s code?

The Bible provides many clues, many examples, and many methods that should break sin’s code.  But here it is 2,000 years after God personally stepped in to break sin’s hold on His children.  Did it work?  Does it work?  Will it work in the future?

Lent continues and so will we continue to be cryptologists.  We have one key:  Love one another.  If we replace all sinful thoughts and actions with that one principle, will we break sin’s code?

Dear Forgiving and Loving God,

We fail to break sin’s code.

We cannot identify your message.

We follow the wrong paths,

     and make the wrong decisions.

Open our hearts so we may love one another.

Open our minds to identify sinful influences.

Open our hands to change this world

     by doing what we can to break sin’s hold.

Thank you for prophets of old and of today.

Thank you for your patience.

Thank you for loving us

      and forgiving us unconditionally.  –Amen

 

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