Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where are you? (part 2) Gen 3:9

In the first part of this article we began looking at how, in one day, Adam could go from enjoying fellowship with God to fearing Him and hiding from His presence. I believe the second thing that changed in their relationship, contributing to Adam's fear, was the way Adam perceived God. Before, Adam saw God as a loving father, now he believes God to be a wrathful judge. God, who was once loving, has now become harsh, demanding, exacting, and vengeful; at least from Adam's point of view. Adam knew God to be a God of justice, but now that he had sinned, he presumed upon God's character that God was now angry and wrathful towards him. Adam took what he knew about God and drew the wrong conclusion about God's character. Adam's failure to properly deduce the character of God is similar to the worthless servant in the parable of the talents.
"And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid , and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.'" (Matthew 25:24-25)
The servant, based on knowing that his master's purpose was to reap where he did not sow and gather where he did not scatter, perceived his master to be harsh, fierce, and severe, but was this an accurate representation of his master. Jesus applied this parable to us, as the servants, and to the Father, as the master. It is true that God intends to reap where He has not sown and to gather where He has not scattered, for that is the very reason He has left us behind to finish His work, but does that make Him hard and austere? The truth is that God is loving, merciful, and kind, even to the weak and lowly, but far too often, like Adam and like this servant, we take what we know about God and end up misjudging His motives, His nature, and His feelings towards us.

One of the primary reasons we misjudge God is because our expectations of who He really is is based upon, and formed by, our experience. We know God is our Father and so we expect Him to be like our earthly fathers. For some, that leads to a positive image of God, and for others, a negative image. We know God is Lord over all, so we expect Him to be like other authority figures in our lives. We know God is love so we see Him through the different relationships we have had in the past. In all of these, we project onto God's nature our experiences, both good and bad, and often end up with a wrong conclusion of what God is really like.

So what is the real nature of God? Here in lies the first truth we can gather from the story of the garden. God asks Adam this questions, "Where are you?", and where was Adam? He was hiding. But where was God? He was drawing near to be with Adam. As I read this passage, I am amazed that, knowing full well the extent of Adam's sin, God still chose to come and draw near to him, that He might have fellowship with him. After all, God could have chosen several other courses of action following Adam's sin. He could have simply killed Adam and started all over again. After all, He had warned him that if he ate of the tree he would die, or God could have just written him of, forsaken him, and found something else do watch over in His universe. Adam had sinned and he deserved to spend eternity living in his sin. Yet, when faced with the news of Adam's sin, God chose neither of these approaches. Knowing full well that Adam had disobeyed Him, God still desired to be with him, to fellowship with him, and to set on course a plan that would one day free Adam and his race from the bondage to sin.

What does this mean for you and me? It means that no matter where you are right now, God wants to be with you. Even in the deepest darkest corners of you sin, God still wants to be with you. No matter how far away we are from God, He still chooses to draw near us and ask us, "Where are you"? The choice is ours. Will we stay in the shame and darkness of our sin or will we by faith turn to Him and let Him restore us and reconcile us back to Himself? Will we hear His voice and realize that, though He is a God of justice, He is also full of mercy, grace, and forgiveness? Will we let our fears of God keep us from daring to approach Him again, or will we once again, by faith, enter back into His presence? Consider the admonition of Paul,
"Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." (Heb 10:19, 22-23 NKJV)
So where are you in relationship to the Father right now? No matter where you are, God wants to be with you. Won't you turn towards Him, and with great boldness, return to His presence and His love and care for you? God is waiting, its your move...

More to come... David Robison

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Where are you? (part 1) Gen 3:9

"Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, 'Where are you?'" (Genesis 3:9)
Adam was a man who was familiar with the presence of God. For some time he was accustom to walking with God "in the garden in the cool of the day" (Genesis 3:8). However now, for the first time, he found himself afraid of God's presence and attempted to hide himself from God. How could Adam, in one day, go from enjoying God's presence to hiding in fear? When he sinned, what changed to caused him to fear God? I believe that two things fundamentally changed on that day when Adam partook of the forbidden fruit.

First, by partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God ceased to be Adams father and instead became his judge. Prior to that day, Adam obeyed God as a son would his father; he simply did whatever his father told him. However, now after having his eyes opened by the knowledge of good and evil, his obedience shifted to having to satisfy an external set of rules, ordinances, and laws. He was now responsible to live by what he knew to be good and evil; to live by this new knowledge of right and wrong apart from the simplicity of obeying God's voice. To further compound the problem, Adam awakened something with in his soul: sin!
"But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me." (Romans 7:8-11)
While Paul is speaking here specifically regarding the Law of Moses, I believe the same principal applies to Adam. With the knowledge of good and evil there awakened in Adam a sinful nature that was bent on evil. Now, living apart from the grace of father God, Adam was overcome by his sinful nature and that realization caused him to fear God. Paul reminds us of this in recounting how even Moses was fearful in the presence of the law.
"For they could not bear the command, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned." And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, "I am full of fear and trembling."
(Hebrews 12:20-21)"
Moses was also a man familiar with the presence of God. He would often enter before the very presence of God in the Tent of Meeting. However, at the giving of the law, Moses found himself fearful of the presence of God.

The chief reason the law introduces fear into our hears is because we know instinctively that we are incapable of keeping the law. We understand the weakness of our own flesh and our internal tendency to sin. Paul says of his own internal struggle against sin,
"For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:18-19, 24)
When we consider our internal sin nature, we understand that we are sinners and we deserve punishment, and the one to judge and punish us is God. We have broken, not the commandments of man, but of God and God is the judge, jury, and executor of our sentence of guilt. John echos this truth when he said, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love." (1 John 4:18) What John is saying is, as long as our conscience is fill with the knowledge of our sin and guilt, the prospect of punishment moves is to fear; the fear of God. However, if our conscience is filled with the knowledge and experience of God's love, then there is no room left to fear God or His wrath. When we come to understand that we walk with God by grace, as children of our Father, then the law and its condemnation of us no longer rules our lives; fear is no longer our master but rather we are free to fellowship with God in the knowledge of His love. The knowledge of good and evil turns God into our judge, but the knowledge of the love of God restores God to us as our father.

More to come... David Robison

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