December 20, 2013

The Redeemer – part 3: The Best of Both Worlds

Posted in Jesus, Salvation, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 12:09 PM by E. M.

The meaning of life is to spend eternity with God.  In order to be with God, you have to be like God  – you have to have God’s nature.  The problem of course is that man is NOT like God.  So how do we address than inequality?

HEY, I ADMITTED IT WAS A CRUDE ANALOGY!

HEY, I ADMITTED IT WAS A CRUDE ANALOGY!

Well, there are basically two ways to bridge this gap – either man can become more like God, or God can become more like man.

The possibility for us to “step up” into godhood is technically possible because man has free will and can choose to act outside of his nature by choosing to be always and completely right and just.  God actually gives man that chance through the Dispensations.  However, as we’ve seen so far, each dispensation has ended in failure as man has consistently chosen his own way over God’s way.

Moreover, Adam stacked the deck against man in the subsequent dispensations when he committed Original Sin in the First Dispensation. He died spiritually (severed his connection to God, the source of life), and all of his descendants (us) are born spiritually dead.  Its hard enough to choose to be always and completely right and just when its not your nature, but its nigh impossible when you are also born without a connection to the source of right and just.

The other way to bridge the gap would be for God to “step down” to manhood.  This solution is far less appealing to the practitioner than the first.  After all, to go from being a man to being God is a net gain.  However, for God to become a man involves an incredible amount of loss.

But that has been part of God’s plan from the beginning!  God knew that that the only way to get what He desired was for Him to become a man and do for us that which we could not do for ourselves (live an entire mortal life always and completely right and just), and then offer that life to man as a gift.  This was the mission of Jesus – the Redeemer.

As mentioned previously, in order to accomplish this task, Jesus would have to be both God and a man.  But how could He be fully God AND fully man at the same time?

Some say that Jesus was both God and man because the virgin Mary (a human) was his mother, and God was his father.  But technically, that would only make him half-man and half-God.

Other say that Jesus was born a regular man, but grew into Godhood by doing certain qualifying things (in fact, certain religions believe that is the way Godhood is achieved from the beginning, along with…other interesting stuff). But this would mean that man can become God on his own, and the Dispensations show that is not true.

The reason that people have a difficult time with this concept is because they do not have or embrace an objective, non-contradictory definition of both God and man”.  Fortunately we addressed this in the early days of the blog.  Both God and man are spirit.  Spirit is composed of principles that define one’s nature.  So in order for Jesus to be God and man, He’d have to have a nature that is always and completely right and just, AND have free will.  But the only way this would be possible is if He used his free will to ONLY choose to be always and completely right and just.

Here’s how it worked:  the Second Person of the Trinity – The Son – was incarnated in the womb of Mary in a physical form that was a direct creation of God (like Adam).  Since his physical body was a direct creation of God, as opposed to being  a blood descendant of Adam (like us), Jesus was born with a connection to God (alive).  And being God Himself, His nature was always and completely right and just.

Ok, so that takes care of the “God” part, but what about the “man” part?  As a physical man, He had free will, which means He technically had the ability to choose to act outside of His nature.

That presents us with an incredible conundrum.  If He act outside of His nature (always and completely right and just), He can’t be God.  But since contradictions don’t exist, He cant be God AND not be God.

So how did Jesus resolve this?  He did the only thing a person who is always and completely right and just would do with His free will choice – He chose to COMPLETELY give His will over to God (The Father)!

Jesus reversed Adam’s choice!  Recognizing that He was now in a (temporarily) lower state of existence, He chose to defer completely to a superior being.  For every decision in His life, for every moment in His life, He totally submitted Himself to God.

Jesus said that He did NOTHING of Himself but ONLY did what God told Him to do and say.

When you heard Him, you heard God, when you saw Him, you saw God.  Because when you saw and heard Him, you saw and heard God’s nature and all the effects thereof – love, joy, peace, perseverance, gentleness, patience, humility, holiness, etc.

So was Jesus capable of sin?  Well, He had arms and legs so He was technically able to grab a rock and bash somebody’s head in.  But He wouldn’t ever do that.  Why?  Because He ONLY did what God told Him to do and God would (and could) never tell Him to do anything unrighteous or unjust!

An admittedly crude analogy would be that of a video game.  In most contemporary video games (which I’m frankly not very good at), you interact with the game through a digital character, or “in-game personality” (as gamers call them) that you control.

This character is essentially your avatar in the game environment .  The people who programed the game made it so that the character is capable of going anywhere and doing anything that the rules of the software allow.  However, since you are in control, the character can only do what you command.  Its “will” has been completely surrendered to you.  It is your representative in the game environment.  It expresses your nature.  In a sense, its “you”.

As someone  who only did what God commanded, Jesus was in a similar situation.  So when He told people that He was one with God, and that seeing Him was the same as seeing God, is was being truthful in every practical sense.

As a being who was fully and and fully God, Jesus was able to bridge the gap between Gad and men.  Through Jesus, man would gain the opportunity to receive the gift of life, the ability t to become like God, and spend eternity with God.

The physical advent of Jesus on earth conjures images of a gentle nativity scene, humble shepherds, rejoicing angels, and reverential wise men.  But in the spirit word of Satan and his minions, it was quite a different story.  In the spiritual battle for the souls of men and possession of the earth that began in Eden, the advent of Jesus was a military invasion by a hostile force!   The nativity was not an idyllic barnyard motif, it was a beachhead established by the enemy they knew had come to defeat them and reclaim the earthly kingdom for God and man.

In the next post, we will begin to look at the advent of Jesus as the Great Invasion of Satan’s kingdom by exploring the spiritual battles that took place in man’s history as Satan and his forces attempted to thwart God’s plan and prevent the coming of the Redeemer.

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November 9, 2013

The Redeemer – part 1: Righteous Resume

Posted in Jesus, Salvation, The Dispensations, The Law tagged , , , , , at 7:09 PM by E. M.

Plan BFrom very early on in this blog (back when I actually had time to publish a post once a week (because I hadn’t yet gotten married or achieved an upper-management position, or adopted an overactive dog), I began to introduce and drop cryptic hints about “The Redeemer”.  This Redeemer would bridge the gap between God’s nature and our own, allowing us to attain the meaning of life through God’s plan.

Of course its rather obvious to the sophisticated reader Who I’m speaking of when I use the term “Redeemer”.  So why have I talked around His identity for so long?  Because the purpose of this blog isn’t to “tell”, its purpose is to “prove” – and to provide that proof in a logical and systematic manner.  I didn’t want to focus who and what He is, until the revelation of His identity and appearance fit the timeline of the dispensations.

With that in mind, it’s now time to focus on who the Redeemer is, by first focusing in on why He’s needed, what He needs to accomplish, and what He needs to do to accomplish it. This post will be a bit of a review and summary of much of what we have already examined.

God wants us to spend eternity with Him.  In order to do that, we need to be like him.  But we are not like him.  However we can choose Him since we have free will.  God set up the Dispensations as a contrastive way to allow man the opportunity to choose Him on our own.

In the First Dispensation, God created the first man and woman with an intimate spiritual connection to Him and gave them complete dominion over the earth. But the first man chose himself over God and broke his (and our) innate connection with Him. That was a pretty severe and high impact mistake.  It cost Adam his kingdom.  But the bigger consequence was death.

That broken connection with God resulted in man losing the ability to repair, which is lifePhysical life is in the blood.  And spiritual life is in our thoughts. When Adam sinned, he died spiritually, and his physical body lost the ability to repair and started to degrade. Furthermore, all Adam’s off spring are born dead (without that connection to life).

But since spending eternity with dead people probably isn’t a terribly attractive proposition to God, it would seem that Adam’s actions put God’s desire in jeopardy.

The problem is, death is a pretty permanent state.  Its kind of hard to get over.  But what if there was a way to reverse the curse?  What if there was a way to undo what Adam did?  How would this work?

What if we had a substitute who was willing to re-take the test Adam failed?  What if He, like Adam, was born with perfect blood and a perfect though process (since He would be intimately connected to God)? He could fulfill the role that Adam could not.  What if He was then willing to switch places with Adam and pay the penalty for his sin?  What if He gave us the opportunity to choose to become His spiritual offspring and inherit His life instead of Adams death?

This person would literally redeem Adam – and us.  The good news; the GREAT news; the GREATEST news ever – is that God anticipated, ordained and promised the advent of this Redeemer!  The Bible speaks volumes (literally) about Him – much of it centuries before His advent so that His coming could be understood and anticipated.  Here are some of His necessary attributes that are detailed in the Bible:

He had to be God. – Had to have the nature of God, to be always and completely right and just.  Thus He’d have a perfect thought process.

Had to be a physical man – so He’d have the free will to choose God.  He’d literally be another Adam.

Had to be seed of a womanborn of a virgin, so that God would be His Father and He’d have perfect blood

Had to choose God over himself

Had to be experience death unjustly – as opposed to Adam who deserved it

Had to accept God’s judgment in Adam’s place

Had to willingly sacrifice himself

Had to bear the burden of our sin and be rejected by God

Had to obey the Law completelybe sinless

Had to be resurrected – given new life that we could access

That’s a pretty lofty set of criteria to fill.  But wait, its gets worse! The Bible also predicts the things that would happen to him by living (and dying) in a world of evil men who would be antagonistic towards Him because His nature was so different from theirs, and by spiritual forces who would hate Him because He is the embodiment of what they rebelled against and His ultimate goal is to usurp their kingdom and punish them for their deeds.

Because of this, He would:

Live a lonely and grief stricken life

Despised and rejected by men

Be considered a bastard (due to the virgin birth, not because He was an a-hole)

Be Rejected by his (half) siblings

A disgrace to the community and a local joke

Have local drunks create bar songs about his alleged illegitimacy

Hunted by the authorities for most of his public life

Be virtually homeless

Nearly drowned at sea

Have multiple attempts on His life

Be betrayed by a longtime companion

Abandoned by His closest friends

Be brutally beaten beyond recognition

Be whipped until most of the skin on His back was gone and his beard torn off

Have the people He came to save reject Him in favor of a known thief and murderer.

Be executed by one of the most excruciating methods known to man.

Good grief!  Why would anyone endure all this to redeem a bunch of people who are naturally antagonistic to Him.  Because He loves us!  Because He wants us to spend eternity with Him!  He literally considers the prospect of eternity with us as His bride a joy worth enduring a wretched life and a torturous death!

This takes a great Man and great love.  A spousal Love beyond understanding.  The Redeemer considers His sacrifice a joy, and I get annoyed if my wife asks me to go across the room to get her a glass of water (in my defense, she always asks during the really good part of a TV show).

So who would and could possibly do all his?  Who is the redeemer?  Well obviously, the Redeemer is God!  Specifically the member of God’s tri-unity known as The Son.  The Son manifested Himself on earth as the man called Jesus of Nazareth.

But as I wrote earlier, this blog doesn’t just tell, it proves.  In the next post we will look at some more of the specific things the Bible says about the Redeemer BEFORE His advent that not only prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was the Redeemer, but that the Redeemer COULDN’T have been anyone else!  Next time.

August 7, 2013

The Law Myth – part 1: Generous Oppression

Posted in Religion, Terminology, The Dispensations, The Law tagged , , , , , , , at 12:24 PM by E. M.

A mild over-reaction to the Law

A mild over-reaction to the Law

In the 5th Dispensation, God gave His nation, Israel a volume of commands and instructions collectively called the Law.  The particulars of the Law are very detailed and specific, and Israel’s compliance with them was non-negotiable (they were commands after all).  The Israelites were promised great blessings and prosperity if they obeyed the Law, and severe punishment if they disobeyed.

In the last post we saw that one of the purposes of the Law was to help men understand God’s standards of righteousness and what constitutes sin.  And while there is much in the Law regarding morality, there are also detailed rules on things like personal conduct, property rights, ceremonial procedures, worship instructions, food safely, litigation, hygiene, and medicine.

Many of the commandments of the Law can sound pretty strange and overly restrictive to modern ears, and when filtered through contemporary agnostic perspectives, can lead to misunderstandings about the nature and purpose of the Law.  In this post, I want to address some of the myths that arise from these misunderstandings.

A few years ago, I was having a discussion with an atheist friend about God and the Bible (its funny how atheists claim they don’t believe in God, yet they always want to talk about Him.  I don’t believe in Santa Claus yet I almost never bring him up in casual conversation).

Anyway, as with most discussions I have with atheists, her point was not to gain knowledge, but rather to point out something so illogical or abhorrent about God that it would justify her decision not to believe in Him.  In this case, the discussion veered toward the Law and how “oppressive” it was to women and how it advocated slavery (therefore I must be crazy to believe in God because He’s such an a-hole).

At best, this argument showed that like most atheists, she had barely more than a superficial understanding of the Bible, and was so quick to let her shallow perceptions color her beliefs that she failed to do the due diligence required to truly understand the subject matter (sadly, this is a trait that many Christians share, which is why they have trouble handling these arguments).

Although the Law does have commandments that specifically address women, they are hardly oppressive.  In fact, the Law was revolutionary in the fact that it guaranteed women certain rights that were unheard of in that part of the world during that time.  The Law gave women rights in a divorce, it mandated special care for widows, and allowed women to own land, and it gave women the right to inherit land and property (all without any input from Gloria Steinem).

As for “slavery”, the issue is a matter of contemporary nomenclature.  The slavery mentioned in the Law is not chattel slavery as we think of it today, rather its more like indentured servitude.  For example, if you owed a man a debt that you couldn’t pay, under the Law, you would work for that man and your wages would incrementally relieve the debt.  Once the debt was paid, you’d go free (incidentally, this is the same arrangement you have with your credit card company).

There are many other so called “oppressive” aspects of the Law which, while unprecedented during the era, would be simply considered common sense today.  Under the Law, certain animals are considered “clean” and “unclean”.  This is based on which animals are most likely to carry and cause disease.  God was trying to keep the Israelites healthy, not be a diet Nazi.

People with certain diseases like leprosy or open wounds were considered “unclean”.  The Law requires that they be separated from heath society and sanitized – things that are considered standard procedure for quarantine of communicable diseases and infection treatment to this day.  So if the Law is oppressive, then so is your doctor!

Of course this is all well and good, but all this still begs the question, why did God give the Israelites all these rules as a part of the 5th Dispensation?  If the purpose of the 5th Dispensation is to usher in the advent of the Redeemer, what does Israel get for all their troubles?

Rewards!  If they follow the commandments of the Law, Israel was promised fantastic material prosperity!  Prosperity that would make them the envy of all the other nations in the world.

But again, what does this have to do with the purpose of the 5th Dispensation.  It’s all about Israel’s intended role as God’s ambassador nation.

Here how it was to work, God gave Israel the Law, which gave them the standards to follow that would make them a healthy, equitable, and civilized society.  The Law also gave them ceremonial rules that would memorialize the advent of the Redeemer in advance (more on that in the next post).  As Israel obeyed the Law, they would become wealthy and prosperous.

Other neighboring nations would see their prosperity and say, “hey, how’d you guys manage to get all that stuff?”  This would give Israel the opportunity to tell them about God, the Law, and the Redeemer.

If the neighboring nations submitted to the Law, they too would become prosperous, leading their neighbors to ask about their wealth.  Submission to God’s Law would grow exponentially, and by the time of the advent of the Redeemer, the entire world would be ready for Him, and God could quickly implement His plan.

But there was also a flip side.  You see, God had to set things up so that if Israel disobeyed God’s Law and acted unrighteous and unjustly, they would be cursed as spectacularly as they would have been blessed for obedience.

The reason for the harshness of the curse is they same as the reasoning for the great blessing – They were God’s acknowledged representatives on earth.

If other nations saw Israel acting immorally without any consequence, they would assume that God was ok with their evil behavior.  So God had to punish disobedience severely so that the nations would know that evil was not acceptable to Him.

Sadly, Israel chose the path of disobedience to the Law more often than not.  Thus much of the details of the 5th Dispensation in the Old Testament consists of the sad narrative pattern of Israel screwing up, God punishing them, Israel repenting, God restoring them, and then Israel going right back to screwing up.  Ultimately resulting in the tragic screw-up where they failed to acknowledge the Redeemer and failed the dispensation.

I mentioned before that in addition to the rules regarding health and conduct, the Law contained many commandments that were sacramental in nature – dealing with blood sacrifices, the priesthood, etc.  These rules are often confused for religion, because frankly, they look like religion.  But they actually served a very practical purpose in preparing people for the advent of the Redeemer.  More on this next time.

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January 22, 2013

Know Thy Enemy – Part 7: The Devil’s Advocates (cont.)

Posted in Satan, Spiritual War, Spiritual Warfare tagged , , , , , at 8:25 PM by E. M.

Angels

ANGELS DON’T REALLY LOOK LIKE THIS (UNFORTUNATELY)

Unlike God, Satan is not transcendent.   He can’t be everywhere at once to rule his kingdom, but he has help.  When he fell, a great number of angels fell with him.

The Bible doesn’t give us a great deal of information about angels, and since human curiosity abhors a vacuum of knowledge, people have filled in the blanks with details and characterizations of angels, any of which are fanciful and/or completely wrong.

For example, there are no female angels; angels are always depicted as male (despite a very convincing argument by Victoria’s Secret).  Also, angels don’t have a pair of feathery wings.  A small group of special angels called Seraphim have wings – but they have six, and it isn’t clear that they look anything like bird’s wings. And they don’t have halos (I’m not even sure what the point of depicting them with halos was in the first place).

In the last post, I presented a Biblical passage which provides a rare look into the world of angels (good and bad).  In this passage from the book of Daniel, we see that there is an invisible war going on all around us that impacts our world (and that we can affect!).   In additions to giving us insight into God’s plan through the prophesy that the angels gives Daniel, this passage also gives us some interesting details about angels.

Angels are powerful

If you were to ever see an angel in all its glory, you wouldn’t feel comforted or enraptured by its beauty.  You’d nearly drop a brick in your shorts, just like everyone else in the Bible who encountered them! Angels operate on a level of power that we can scarcely understand and dwarfs anything we can come up with.  One angel killed 185,000 Assyrians one night after dinner!  There are NOT creatures that you want to mess with.

Fallen angels share Satan’s goals

Satan’s goal is to block and hinder the plan of God and all efforts to advance that plan.  The prophesies given in the book of Daniel are some of the most important in the Bible and reveal much about God’s plan. So it seems that the most powerful territorial spirit of that time went to battle in order to prevent Daniel from getting the prophesy (Persia was the most powerful world empire at the time).  Which brings us to the next thing we learn about fallen angels…

Fallen angels are territorial

When Adam and Eve committed Original Sin, their dominion of Earth was given to Satan and his crew.  We know from Daniel and other Biblical references that spiritual entities are often the power behind human leaders.

Its interesting that the “Prince of Persia” was the spiritual entity trying to block Daniel’s message.  Persia was the dominant world empire and Daniel lived during the height of that kingdom.  But note that the Angel with the prophesy stated that after he goes back to fight the prince of Persia, he will have to later fight the Prince of Greece!  The Greek empire conquered the Persians and became the subsequent world empire, but it wouldn’t happen for another 200 years after Daniel’s life!

There is a LOT going on in the spiritual world that we can only scarcely perceive.  And it leads to other provocative questions: has every dominant world power in history had an evil spiritual “prince” ruling over it?  Is there currently a “Prince of the Power of the United States” presiding over us right now (and is he from a red state or a blue state)?

And to bring it a little closer to home, since there are possibly billions of fallen angels out there (enough for each one of us), are you someone’s spiritual “territory”?  (Boo!)

Satan’s kingdom is fractured

As we saw in an earlier post, Satan’s desire to rule over the earth perfectly is constantly thwarted because men share his rebellious nature and his desire to rule.  Well, the same is true for his angelic counterparts.  Although they may share the same big picture goals, they fall into lockstep with Satan when it comes to ruling their particular principalities.  Note that when the prince of Greece succeeded the prince of Persia as the dominant world power, it wasn’t through an amicable transition of power.  It was the result of a bloody war that cost tens of thousands of lives! (Not to mention whatever battles took place in the spiritual realm)  And so it has been with just about every conflict between kingdoms.  Even as the world marches toward the Armageddon scenario where Satan’s own personal world rule is at its zenith under the Antichrist, there are still kingdoms that don’t fall into line.

So man and fallen angels have something in common in that they share Satan’s comparative goals to rule.  It would seen logical that they take advantage of this shared ambition to advance their common aspirations.  And in fact they do!  Evil spiritual entities have often been the power behind a group of mortals that have had historic designs on ruling this world.  We will explore how Satanic entities have used and been used by our old friends the Mysticsnext time

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October 1, 2012

Know Thy Enemy – Part 4: To Rival the Devil

Posted in Satan, Spiritual War, Spiritual Warfare tagged , , , , , at 11:45 AM by E. M.

 “From now on we are enemies, You and I. Because You choose for Your instrument a boastful, lustful, smutty, infantile boy and give me for reward only the ability to recognize the incarnation. Because You are unjust, unfair, unkind, I will block You, I swear it. I will hinder and harm Your creature on earth as far as I am able!” – Salieri, “Amadeus”

Satan’s pride and desire for worship led him to rebel against God. He was defeated and cast out of Heaven.  With this in mind, its understandable, that Satan’s position toward God is one of animosity.  But when you look through the Bible (and the world in general), its pretty clear that Satan has a healthy dose of antagonism toward us as well.

Why does Satan hate us so much?  Well obviously if Satan hates God, he’d naturally want to destroy anything that God loves.  But I think there is more to it than that.  Satan doesn’t just see us as cannon fodder in his war with God.  He sees us as his rivals.

In fact, the creation of man may have been a part of the impetus for Lucifer’s rebellion.  We don’t know exactly how it happened; however during a recent beer run in Nepal (no one makes ale like the Nepalese) a street merchant sold me a parchment that detailed a conversation between God and Lucifer that may shed light on the subject (and of course we know that if something is written on a mysterious ancient parchment, it MUST be true.  Right?).  Here is the transcript:

Lucifer – “Oh glorious Lord, your Angels all agree that your creations are a worthy reflection of your holiness and perfection! (None more so than me, of course, since I am your ultimate creation).”

God – “That’s true, but  I’m not done.  What I’m about to do next will be the pinnacle of my creations.”

Lucifer – “…but…I’m the pinnacle of your creations…right?”

God – “Well, yes.  Currently.  But I’m going to create Man.  And Man will be greater than you.”

Lucifer – “But I’m the Seal of Perfection!  How can this  “man” creature be greater than me?!  Nothing is greater than me!”

God – “I’m greater than you.  And I’m going to make Man in my image.”

Lucifer – “Why would you do that?”

God – “To add another Person to my Trinity – to increase Our love.”

Lucifer – “So you’re going to make Man in your image…but he will be created equal to me, right?  After all, I’m your ultimate creation.  Technically you can’t create anything higher than me.”

God – “ Actually I’m going to create Man a in a lower form than the Angels.”

Lucifer – “You’re kidding!”

God – “I don’t kid.  Men will have free will.  I want to give them the opportunity to choose Me, my righteousness, and my love.  If they do, they will become one with me and share my Throne.”

Lucifer – “Are you serious?!”

God – “I’m always serious.”

Lucifer – “How do you expect me to deal with these creatures?!”

God – “I expect you and the rest of the Angelic host to serve and minister to men.  Man will eventually rule over you.”

Lucifer – “No way!”

God – “Way.”

Lucifer – “You expect me to serve these things?!”

God – “Yes.”

Lucifer – “Do you know who I am?!”

God – “Uh, yeah.  I made you.”

Lucifer – “These are absolutely unacceptable working conditions!  I won’t stand for it!  I demand to speak to my union rep!”

God – “What are you talking about?  Where are you going?”

Lucifer – “I need to make some calls.”

Adam was created in God’s image. That is a claim that no other created being, including Satan could make. Moreover,  we’re destined to have all the things that Satan desired before he fell:

For you have said in your heart: “I will ascend into heaven.  I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. – Isaiah 14:12-14

However, it is God’s human children who will ascend to Heaven. We will be in a position of authority over the stars [angels] of God . We will share God’s authority .  We will be like the Most High.

So what do you imagine someone as vain, destructive, and temperamental as Satan would do if he felt that someone has stolen what was rightfully his?  He’d steal the things that have been given to them by God!

And Satan has actually been pretty successful in that venture to the point that he has taken possession of much of what God originally gave to man.  How?  We’ll examine that question next time

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July 21, 2012

Know Thy Enemy – Part 2: Sympathy for the Devil

Posted in Satan, Spiritual War, Spiritual Warfare tagged , , , , at 12:57 PM by E. M.

And Jesus said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” –  Luke 10:18

According to the Bible, there is a supernatural, malevolent, spiritual being called Satan.  He is presented as the one who opposes the plan of God.  He is the adversary of the human race; actively opposing us and dedicated to our destruction – in short, he’s a major league a-hole.

But where did Satan come from?  Is he a preexistent force in equivalent opposition to God?  Did God create him?  If so, why would a good God create evil?  Since Satan has shown that he is dedicated to actively deceiving people about his existence and identity, it is important that we know his true origins and intentions in order to effectively deal with him.

In popular culture, Satan is depicted as God’s arch-enemy; an equal opponent who rules over Hell and all things evil, in eternal conflict with God who rules over Heaven and all things good (with human beings caught in the middle).  Despite this presentation, Satan is not God’s equal in any way.  The Bible shows that Satan is a created being, vastly inferior to God in power, influence, and intellect.  His story is one of inflated pride, delusions of grandeur, wasted potential, utter corruption, continual futility, and ultimate defeat (he’s essential the career path model for the Kardashian family).

“Satan” and “Devil” are titles of our enemy which mean “Adversary” and “Accuser” respectively.  When God created the being that would become Satan, he was, like everything God created, good.  He was a holy Angel, but not just any Angel; he was The Angel – the highest of all created beings.

“You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created … Ezekiel 28:12-15  (* See the note on this verse at the end of the post)

The phrase “seal of perfection” loosely translates into our word “ultimate”.  There was no created being higher than him.  He was called Lucifer (the light bearer, one who bears the light of God).  He was the High Priest of the Angels; he was “anointed” by God, and the precious stones that covered him were the same ones that were on the breastplate of the Jewish High Priest.  His job was to lead and gather angelic worship and present it before God.  Lucifer was gifted by God with stunning beauty, extraordinary musical talent (timbres and pipes), great wisdom, and an exalted place in the angelic hierarchy. What would cause such a powerful being with such close proximity to God to rebel against Him

You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created till iniquity was found in you. “ By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. “ Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings that they might gaze at you.  “You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trading; Therefore I brought fire from your midst; it devoured you, – Ezekiel 28:15-18

The word “trading” (also translated “merchandise”) probably refers to the angelic praise and worship that Lucifer would present to God (like the Jewish High Priest would on earth).  Two causes are given for Lucifer’s rebellion; his trafficking of angelic worship, and his great beauty and splendor.

It would seem that he began to think so highly of himself and the gifts God gave him, he rationalized that he was worthy to receive some of the angelic worship for himself!  The Bible isn’t clear on what started Lucifer down this path, but it may have begun with some Angels expressing their personal admiration for him, and him accepting it instead of reflecting it back to God as Angels should do.  But anytime we engage in actions that distort the will of God, the possibility of addiction occurs; and it seems this was the case with Lucifer.  The more praise and worship he took for himself, the more he wanted.  Eventually his addiction warped his mind so much that he sought to sit as God’s equal and take His worship for himself.

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: “I will ascend into heaven.  I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol [Hell], to the lowest depths of the Pit – Isaiah 14:12-15

In his mad ambition to take God’s throne, Lucifer, along with the Angels who worshiped him (possibly a third of the angelic host), launched a futile assault on God’s Heavenly kingdom.  Some see this battle as taking place between Genesis 1:1, and Genesis 1:2, with the devastation of the battle being responsible for the earth being the desolate wasteland described in Genesis 1:2, (Isaiah 45:18 states that God did note create the world in vain (“vain” is the same word used to describe the desolation in Genesis 1:2) so something happened to make it that way)In any case, the result of the battle is clear.  Lucifer and his cohorts were thoroughly defeated:

Therefore I brought fire from your midst; It devoured you, And I turned you to ashes upon the earth In the sight of all who saw you. All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; you have become a horror, And shall be no more forever.” – Ezekiel 28:18-19

Lucifer now exists as a gruesomely twisted and corrupt version of his former glory called the Devil and Satan.  Although he can appear as an “Angel of Light” to deceive men, this is a facade.  Cut off from God, Satan has no new knowledge.  No source of hope.  No object of faith.  He is doomed to repeat the same failed patterns; doomed to pursue the same futile goals.

He was addicted to worship, and that addiction has not ceased.  He still wants to be like God, but now his attention is focused on human worship instead of angelic worship.  He wants man to be conformed to his image instead of God’s.  Through Satan’s corruption of man, we are born with enmity toward God which will lead some to irrationally try to dethrone the Most High just as Satan did.  But this corruption ultimately results in Satan’s total and eternal defeat.

Satan knows this.  He can read the Bible just as we can. But without God’s grace, Satan is cut off from his source of wisdom.  He doesn’t have free will.  He does not have the ability to change course.  He is doomed to a preordained fate with no ability to alter it.

So now that we have an idea of what Satan was like before he rebelled against God, in the next post we will examine what his character is like now…

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*Ezekiel 28 begins with a message to an evil human ruler, “the prince of Tyre” who ruled the ancient kingdom of Tyre in Ezekiel’s day.  In verse 12, God begins to address the “power behind the power”, called the “king of Tyre”.  This is a reference to Satan.  Here and in other places in the Bible, we’re told that spiritual beings are given dominion over earthly kingdoms.  Furthermore, we know that this king of Tyre is not a human ruler because he is said to have been: 1.  In the Garden of Eden, 2.  a cherub (angel), 3. In the presence of God.

 

May 28, 2012

Know Thy Enemy – Part 1: The Devil You Say?

Posted in Satan, Spiritual War, Spiritual Warfare tagged , , , , , , , at 12:39 PM by E. M.

NOT QUITE

“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist” – Verbal Kint, “The Usual Suspects”

The seed plot of the entire Bible centers around a war between those who support God’s plan, (and the redemption of man from the effects of Original Sin), and those who oppose it.

The Bible takes for granted that we accept the existence of God.  This is because God’s existence is self-evident. But there is another supernatural personage whose existence the Bible also expects us to take for granted: man’s adversary; the personal, intelligent, powerful, and malevolent spiritual being called the Devil and Satan.

The very idea of “the devil” usually elicits eye rolling, and condescending smirks. Many people put him in the same category as Big Foot, unicorns, and the Loch Ness Monster – an insignificant figment of myth and legend embraced mostly by the lunatic fringe.

Even when Satan is acknowledged publically, it’s often in a satirical manner such as the depiction of a guy in a red suit with a goatee and pitchfork. Or he’s simply dismissed as a psychological boogeyman for weak-minded people.

Looking at the matter objectively, Satan’s place in the Biblical narrative appears to be that of a character necessary to complete the dramatis personæ of the story – the villainous plot device needed to create the drama – he’s the Bible’s arch villain, he’s perpetual boogeyman; the Darth Vader, the Moriarty, the Svengali, the Vodemort, the Hannibal Lecter, the Dick Cheney.

One could argue that with the inclusion of Satan, the writers of the Bible merely utilized the classic story telling components that have existed since man first tried to get his kids to go to sleep at night.  You have:

The protagonist (God)

The antagonist (Satan)

The theme (the viability of God’s Plan)

The journey (the Dispensations)

The conflict (Original Sin, and Justification)

The resolution (Redemption)

The prize (Heaven and Earth)

The MacGuffin (Us)

(However, I would contend that it is not the Bible that is mimicking man’s story, but rather all of man’s stories mimic THE story of God’s plan that began with the creation – the classic story telling elements that are present in every epic narrative we’ve ever told or heard appeal to our hearts and spirits on such a deep and fundamental level BECAUSE they reflect the story of our existence and destiny.  This is something I plan to explore in more detail after we finish with the Dispensations.)

With all this in mind, the question is, should we really give significant attention to the idea Satan?

I would say yes.  Why?  First of all, the Bible makes it clear that he IS real, and since we’ve already shown the validity of the Bible, then it would be safe to say that if it says he’s real, then we should take his existence seriously!

Secondly, we should pay attention to Satan because if you choose God, you are at war with him!

And even if you are not on God’s side, you’re not off the hook.  As we’ll see in upcoming posts, Satan hates humanity.  ALL of us.  Depending on your level of antipathy towards God, Satan will either consider you a pawn, a spoil, or a useful idiot.

The Bible clearly expects us to pay careful attention to Satan, and our understanding of his identity is the key to deciding our success or failure in our encounters with him.

We are expected to know that Satan is real and is the source of our struggles

Sin entered this world when Satan tempted the first man and woman to disobey God.  Since then, he has continually been the catalyst for spreading evil throughout the earth.  We must understand that our temptation to do evil comes from satanic influence on our fallen flesh.  But we have the will and the authority to resist.

We are expected to know that Satan is our enemy

The temptations that we receive from Satan are appealing.  They seem to be beneficial and pleasurable in the short term, but we have to understand that any temptation of our flesh will lead to negative consequences.

We are expected to know Satan’s method

We are all unique individuals with different strengths and weaknesses.  We need to be mindful of our vulnerable areas because these are the places that Satan attacks.  He has a specific and effective plan of attack tailored to our weak points.  We know Satan’s method of attack in these areas of our lives because he assaults us the same way over and over again!  How often do we find ourselves asking “Why do I keep making the same mistake again and again?”  The areas where we continually fall are our points of vulnerability.  We have to make the conscious effort to protect ourselves.  Speaking of which…

We are expected to resist Satan

Whether we like it or not, we are not passive participants in spiritual affairs.  God expects us to take an active role in defending ourselves and having victory over our adversary.  God gives us the authority, and the Bible tells us how.

Satan employs one of two deceptive strategies when it comes to our direct confrontation with him.  His primary strategy is the “I’m not really here” approach.  He tries to get us to think that all the negative thoughts and actions he uses to influence us are really coming from us instead of him!  The result is that we blame and condemn ourselves while ignoring him.

If the first strategy does not work, then he goes in the opposite direction.  He leads us to obsess on him and give him an undue amount of attention.  He tries to convince us that he is responsible for everything that goes wrong in our lives, including things we have caused ourselves, events that are merely happenstance, and even things that God initiates in our lives for the long term good.   The result is that we feel that Satan has more power over us than he really does.  We become fearful of him and think that we have no hope of overcoming him.

Why does Satan try to deceive us in these specific ways? Because if he is successful in getting us to believe either of his strategies, then we will fail to do the one thing the Bible tells us will defeat him – fight! (this is a war remember?)

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. – James 4:7

If we don’t acknowledge Satan, or feel that he is invincible, we won’t fight against him as the Bible command us to do and we will not have the victory over his machinations through God.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

The only way to lose the battle against our adversary is to not fight him.  Satan goes though great pains to make sure that he can execute his schemes without resistance because he knows that we have the ability to be victorious over him through the authority that God has given us.

But if everything I wrote in this post is true, it just leads to many more questions.  Where does Satan come from? What does he want? Why does he hate humanity? Why does God allow him to exist? How powerful is he?

The next few posts will further explore the origin, identity, and methodology of Satan as well as how to overcome him.

January 28, 2011

Faith part 2 – Evidence For Hope

Posted in Faith tagged , , , , , , at 11:29 AM by E. M.

No one ever talks about Isaac's faith. . .

The second dispensation failed because the people of that had great knowledge, but they relied on knowledge alone to form their worldview.  They did not believe in anything they did not know completely, therefore they did not fully believe in God.  They lacked faith.

Generally speaking, faith is the willingness to rely on something that we do not have full knowledge of.  We also learned in the last post that faith can either be reasonable or irrational based on the object that one chooses to have faith in.

Faith is obviously a vital component of any belief system because none of us has all the knowledge in existence. Only God has that level of knowledge, therefore it takes some degree of faith to believe in anything that we don’t fully know – including God.

But does faith in God fall into the category of reasonable faith or irrational faith?  And for that matter, how does God define faith?

Fortunately, faith is one of the terms for which the Bible provides a direct definition:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

The key terms in this definition are “hope”, “evidence”, and “the unseen” (or unknown).

Hope is the expectation of a positive occurrence.  From a Biblical standpoint, it would be the expectation of something good.

Evidence is empirical validation learned via direct or indirect means – either by knowledge or experience.

The unseen is that which is not fully known and/or that which has not been experienced.

So, Biblically speaking, faith is the expectation of something good, from a source or object that is not fully known, based on some previously validated knowledge and/or experience with the source.

This definition definitely meets the criteria of reasonable faith presented in the last post.

Hebrews chapter 11 is known as the “Hall of Faith”.  After giving the definition of faith, the writer provides examples of Biblical characters who demonstrated their rational faith by their expectation of good based of previous knowledge and experience with God.

One of the examples is the narrative of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac (which we looked at during our examination of love).  If Abraham’s first encounter with God was simply an arbitrary command to drag his beloved son up a mountain and plunge a knife in his chest just for the hell of it, then Abraham’s willingness to do so and hope for the best would be an example of irrational faith.

However Hebrews 11: 8-16 shows that Abraham’s history with God consisted of progressive experiences of God’s unwavering and miraculous commitment to Abraham’s prophetic destiny to be the father of a great nation.  After decades of this knowledge and experience Abraham willingly obeyed the command to sacrifice Isaac under the reasonable presumption that God could not break His covenant.  Abraham had so much faith in God’s nature that he presumed that if he killed Isaac, God would have to resurrect him is order to keep His promise!

 

This type of faith is evident throughout the Bible.  When God requires an act of faith from anyone in the scriptures, it is always based either on knowledge that the person has or their prior experience.

That standard of faith has not changed.  If anyone today chooses to have faith in God, that faith is only reasonable if it is based on knowledge and/or experience.  The primary reason that I titled this blog “Faith by Reason” is that my main goal is to progressively give logical reasons (knowledge) for faith in God (plus its sounds better that my original title, “Mabrie Explains it All!”).  The first 12 posts in the blog give reasons to believe in God based on knowledge.

So we now see that despite claims to the contrary, the faith required by the God of the Bible is reasonable.  But why does God require it?  Why is faith so important to God’s plan? Next time. . .

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December 28, 2010

Dispensation 2 – A Flood of Knowledge

Posted in The Dispensations tagged , , , , , , at 10:28 AM by E. M.

The dispensations are God’s process of contrastively showing that His plan for humanity is right.

The first dispensation asked the question,  – if man was completely innocent; with no knowledge of the long-term consequences of his actions (good and evil), would he choose to continue to rely on God for moment by moment direction, or would he choose his own way?

As we saw, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and chose to gain knowledge of the long-term.  And when they were confronted about their actions they chose comparative thinking and death instead of contrastive thinking, which would have led to repair and life.

Lack of knowledge did not lead to man choosing God.  The next logical step in the contrastive process would be to create the opposite situation.

Thus the  Second Dispensation asked the question – if man was given a long time to gain an abundance of knowledge, would he use that knowledge to choose God?

We know this dispensation was not successful because . . . well, there was that big ol’ flood and all.

But lets examine the events that led up to the Flood.

Although Adam and Eve failed to keep God’s commandment not to eat the forbidden fruit, they did obey Him when He told them to be “fruitful and multiply”.  Right after they got kicked out of Eden, the first couple put on some Marvin Gaye and started cranking out kids.

The first several generations after Adam and Eve lived a LONG time.  Looking at the genealogies in Genesis chapters 4 and 5, we see that their descendants, on average, lived to be well over 700 years old.

If the people during this time averaged one new birth every 10 years, and only actively produced children for 200 of their 700 years (which is VERY conservative), in the 1,656 years between the fall of man and the flood, the population of the world could have easily been in the tens of millions.

The pre-Flood folk had a lot of time to accumulate knowledge and a lot of people to learn from and compound that knowledge.  What was the effect of all this knowledge?  Did man pursue God?  Did abundant knowledge lead to an increase in goodness?

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart – Genesis 6:5-6 KJV

Increased time and knowledge led to man becoming MORE evil!  The more knowledge man got, the worse he became.  The pre-Flood generations continued the pattern set by Adam and Eve.  When they gained knowledge, they chose to be comparative instead of contrastive. They repeated Original Sin!

Since comparative thinking leads to brain damage, imagine the effects of hundreds of years of compounded brain damage.  The result was that by the end of the second dispensation every thought that people had was evil!  They were irredeemably brain damaged!

Adam’s first son, Cain, murdered his brother Abel.  Five generations later, murdering people had reached the stage where Cain’s descendent Lamech thought it was something cool to brag about!

This dispensation was obviously a failure.  Instead of leading man to God, excessive time and knowledge had the opposite effect.  It would have been unjust of God to continue to allow man such longevity and knowledge if the result was total corruption.

God justly ended this dispensation by curtailing man’s lifespan, wiping out the corrupt generation, and starting over with the only guy left on earth who was still on His side.

And of course we’re all familiar with the story of the Great Flood.  God commanded Noah to build the Ark, take his family and a sampling of land animals on it, and then God (literally) opened up the flood gates and performed the first world-wide deep cleaning.

Why did this dispensation fail?  They obviously had knowledge of God.  God apparently spoke verbally to people during this time as He did with Cain, plus Adam lived for 930 years after the fall, so he would have been around for most of this dispensation as another source knowledge.

The pre-Flood generations had plenty of knowledge of God, but they did not act on that knowledge.  They never let that knowledge serve as a guide in order to be better, to grow, to become more righteous and just – to choose God.

Apparently, they had knowledge of God, but they did not believe in God – they had knowledge of the long-term, but they did not believe that God would always be completely right and just in the future (the long term), so they did not follow Him.  They chose their own way.

They failed because they did not believe.  They were missing something.  They lacked the thing that serves as a bridge between knowledge and belief.  They lacked FAITH.

Faith is without a doubt an extremely important part of Christian philosophy (this blog would not have a title without it).  Although it is one of the terms that the Bible gives a direct definition for, it is still very misunderstood.  In the next post we will begin an examination of faith.

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December 4, 2010

Tragedy and Hope

Posted in The Dispensations tagged , , , , , , at 2:23 PM by E. M.

THE CURSE: BAD FOR MANKIND, GREAT FOR TELEVISION

The last few posts have dealt with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and why eating the fruit of that tree led to death.  This week, we will look at the wider implications of Adam and Eve eating the fruit, as well as the “what”, “why”, and “how” of the curses God pronounced on Adam, Eve, and the Serpent as part of the judgment for Original Sin.

As advertised, the end result of eating from the tree was the entrance of death into existence – not only for humanity, but for all of creation.

Adam was given rulership over the entire world.  When he embraced death, his kingdom became subject to death as well.  All of creation lost the ability to sustainably repair.  Everything started to wear down.  I believe that this is when the Second Law of Thermodynamics came into being.  If nothing happens to stop it, the entire universe will lose all its energy and suffer a Heat Death.

In addition to death, Genesis 3 chronicles specific curses that God pronounced on Adam, Eve, and the Serpent:

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, “Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field. Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; It shall crush thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.”

Unto the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

And unto Adam He said, “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, `Thou shalt not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.  In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground, for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” –  Genesis 3:14-19 KJV

These curses are so well known that they are often taken for granted and do not receive the analysis they deserve.

The popular (i.e. easy/comparative) way to look at it, is to see God waving His mighty scepter and decreeing curses on Adam and Eve based on His arbitrary judgment; a thought process which is so far beyond our understanding that we need not think about the “why’s” behind these particular curses.  He’s God.  He can do whatever He wants.  Move along, nothing to see here.

However, since we know God’s nature, we can no longer get away with being intellectually lazy when examining His actions.  God is always and completely right and just, which means He does not do anything randomly or arbitrarily.  Everything He does has a right and just reason behind it.  It would be unjust to pronounce a curse which was divorced form the thoughts, actions, and decisions Adam and Eve made, as well as a big-picture perspective of the events.

If you recall the Eden narrative, Eve ate the fruit first, but God did not intervene until after Adam ate the fruit.  Why?  Because Eve did not directly disobey God, she disobeyed Adam!  Let me explain:

A fundamental aspect of God’s methodology seems to be “order” and “hierarchy”.  For example, while each member of the Trinity is equally “God”, they have agreed to a hierarchy – the Son gives deference to the Father, and the Holy Spirit gives deference to the Son.  This ensures perfect love and harmony.

God also established an orderly and profitable hierarchy in His creation.  God was to lead Adam.  Adam was to follow God and lead Eve.  Adam and Eve were to lead and rule over the rest of creation.  While this hierarchy was in place and functioning, there was perfection and harmony in the world.  It was paradise.

But paradise was undone when the hierarchy was violated.

I’ve let it be known that my opinion is that Satan was the serpent and/or spoke through a serpent. All of creation – including the Angels, were supposed to be subject to man (I believe that Satan’s aversion to this subordination was the motivation behind the temptation of Eve).

The serpent/Satan knew that the best way to kick Adam off the throne was to reverse the hierarchical order.  Instead of leadership being initiated from the “top down”, it was initiated from the “bottom up”: Eve followed the serpent,  Adam followed Eve,  (and by thinking comparatively, and blaming God for his disobedience, Adam tried to get God to follow him).

The Bible says that Eve was fooled into eating the fruit.  The only way she could be fooled is if she didn’t fully understand the admonition not to eat the fruit, or if it wasn’t appropriately explained to her.  I believe this was the case because during the temptation, she misquoted the rules!

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.’” Genesis 3:2-3 [emphasis mine]

God did not say anything about not touching the fruit.  Eve either intentionally lied about the “touching” part (which would not be possible since she was still free from sin at this point), or Adam failed to make sure she had the proper understanding of the rules, which means he failed as a leader!  Once the Serpent saw this chink in the armor, he knew that Eve was vulnerable to deception.

After she ate the fruit, nothing happened to Eve because she had NOT yet gained the knowledge of good and evil.  Why?  Because as we saw in the last post, the knowledge of good and evil comes when you are forced to think long-term.  Even after eating the fruit, Eve did not have to think long-term because her source of constant information and direction (Adam) was still available to her! 

But the Bible makes it clear that Adam was NOT fooled when he ate the fruit.  He understood the rules and intentionally broke them.  Instead of leading Eve to repentance for her disobedience, he decided that he would rather be with his wife in sin than with God in righteousness.  He chose to follow Eve over God.  He intentionally reversed the hierarchy and gave up his role as leader!

And as we saw in the last post, Adam’s disobedience disconnected him from God and both he and Eve had to start thinking long-term

God took the actions and decisions of Adam, Eve, and the Serpent and essentially cursed them to live with the extrapolated ramifications of them.  And because God is just, He gave a reason (a “because”) for the specifics of each curse.

Because Adam voluntarily gave up his leadership of the world, God made it so that creation would no longer obey him.  He would have to struggle and fight nature in order for it to yield its sustenance to him.  To this day man is still frustrated by this curse.  Be it in his occupation, his home, his society, or nature – man can never fully make the world bend to his will.

Because Eve decided to reverse the hierarchy of her relationship, she was cursed to experience pain and frustration in all her most intimate relationships.  The original language implies that not only would she experience physical pain in bearing children, emotional pain and heart break would be a hallmark of rearing the child.  As men are cursed to be frustrated by seeking but never finding perfection in the world, women are to constantly seek but never find perfection in relationships.

It’s also VERY enlightening to note that most Bible translations make a prepositional error in these verses.  The original language does not say that the wife’s desire will be to her husband (desiring your husband isn’t much of a curse unless you’re married to an oaf), It actually says that her desire will be to the husband – or rather to the position of husband.  In other words, women will seek to be the head of the relationship, BUT God has ordained that the man be the ruler.  This conflict is the source of much of the antagonism between men and women (as well as the plot-line of most television comedies).

Now, on to the serpent.   Because the serpent “rose up” beyond its station in life when it reversed the hierarchy by leading humanity to temptation, it was physically cursed by being “brought down” to crawling on its belly (which obviously means it was a very different critter before the curse).

One of the reasons that I believe we are dealing with more than just a snake, are the subsequent parts of the curse.  God said the serpent would eat dust the rest of its life, yet we know that snakes don’t eat dust (that would be a waste of venom).  In the context of the verses, “dust” is referenced as the man’s body – specifically, his dead body. Satan is cursed to “hunger” for the death of man.

Part of the curse on Adam was that he lost rulership of the world.  As his despoiler, Satan now has that role.  But instead of man being subservient to Satan as he had hoped, through the curse, man became his enemy.  I believe this is where Satan lost his free will.  He was cursed with the irrational and irreversible desire to destroy those whom he wanted to rule.  But this antagonistic relationship will turn out to be the catalyst for man’s redemption.

The last part of the curse on the serpent contains the seed plot (no pun intended – you’ll see) for the rest of the Bible and the next six dispensations, and includes mankind’s greatest Hope.

God stated that He would make “The Seed of the woman” and “the seed of the serpent” enemies (we’ll address this when we examine dispensations 5 and 6).  He also said that the Satan would “bruise the heel” of (cause physical damage to) the Seed of the woman, but the Seed of the woman would “crush his head” (deliver a mortal wound).

This portion of the curse is actually the first prophesy of the redemption of man, and gives the first descriptors of the redeemer.  The “seed” (sperm) naturally comes from the man, so whoever this “Seed of the woman” is, He would have to come into being through a woman without natural “input” from a man.  And while Satan will cause Him to suffer, He will ultimately completely defeat Satan and reclaim the kingdom that Adam lost.

We’ve spent a lot of time examining the First Dispensation, much longer than I had planned. But it is absolutely crucial that these foundational events be understood.  This understanding is key to unlocking the rest of the Bible as well as the essential psychology of man. In the next post, we will finally conclude our study of the first dispensation by looking at how the desire for Eden shapes our existence.

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