Three Men Connect with God

There is an old book that has some stories in it about people who encounter God. No, it’s not the National Enquirer.

We read in this ancient text that the first man born on Earth was named Cain. He finds himself compared unfavorably to his younger brother, Abel.

Cain finds his younger brother, Abel, to be the favorite of their parents. But something takes place that makes Cain think God is also playing favorites. Cain is mad. The Lord actually warns him to reconsider. He asks Cain why he is so mad. God tells him that it doesn’t have to be this way. But Cain shrugs off this advice from God and decides his brother is the source of all his problems. He decides to get rid of him. He invents murder. Can you believe it? The first two men, brothers, and one decides to kill the other!

He does kill him. But what did he have to do first? He had to harden his heart. Cain has squeezed out any natural love he had for his brother or his parents. After the murder, he begins to think that someone might invent revenge! He takes his wife and begins to wander the earth. He keeps moving from place to place. Eventually, he establishes a home where he keeps his large family close around him, to protect and support him.

Our second story finds Moses leading his people through the desert, away from their lives of slavery under the Egyptians, toward another place where they can live as free people. But the people still think like slaves even though they are under the protection of God himself. They say God will let them die in the desert even though they have experienced his daily care for quite a while.

God tells Moses to speak to a big rock in the desert and water would come forth. Lots of water. Moses is mad at his people for always complaining. He slams his staff on the rock and yells, “Do we have to bring water from this rock?” Water flows and the thirsty people have plenty to drink.

I think God wanted this moment to be forever in their memories. Moses speaking to a rock, God causing water to flow. This ancient rock standing in the desert bursting forth with delicious water showing God using his power over nature to care for his chosen people.

But Moses goofed it up. What Moses said made out like he was standing next to God as an equal. He was no longer the humble servant of God. Oh, no. Moses forgot, in his frustration, that he didn’t have any power over nature. His staff gave him power over sheep. Did water come from the rock? Yes, it did. But God was not pleased with Moses’s conduct.

Moses had a close relationship with God. God had made Moses a man who would stand all through history. But Moses was a servant of God. God was carefully impressing on his chosen people who He was. Moses was not allowed to change the script. If we stand above God, he can’t shower down blessings on us. If we place ourselves next to God, he cannot recognize us as his equal, because we are not.

Let’s look at one more story. The man is called Job. At the beginning of this account, Job is rich; he is blessed by God; he has standing in his community. Job is well aware all his blessings come from God.

But Job loses everything all of a sudden. Soon his health is affected. His friends advise him that he must have done something wrong to get this punishment from God. Job says that he has searched his soul to find this very thing and cannot find anything that would explain his new condition.

Job wants to make his case before God. He says that God has the right to take away what he gave him, but Job would like to know why. He doesn’t like that everyone thinks he has wronged God when Job knows he has not .

The Lord appears to Job and gives him the chance to make his case.

God asks Job a series of questions. He asks where Job was when he created the earth. He inquires if Job knows how things work and who keeps it all working.

He probes Job’s understanding of nature with its power as well as its limitations. He asks if Job understands how nature and God work together.

He wants to know where Job stands to begin to make his case. He says that if Job can show his equality, he will be glad to be cross-examined by Job. But Job withdraws his case. He wisely understands that he has no place to stand to make God explain his actions. He chooses silence before the Lord.

We feel we have the right to judge the actions of God. Imagine yourself a judge in your courtroom. You sit in your robe. Your job is to judge God. Are you ready to do that?

People judge God all the time. “If God is so powerful, why does he allow injustice?” But God knows exactly what he is doing. He shows Job that Job does not have the knowledge it would take to make any judgement against God. Job agrees that he is in way over his head.

Is God against Job? No. He considers Job an great example. Did he ever want to do anything but bless Job? No. But the story shows us a bigger picture than Job sees.

God treated Job to an experience where Job learns how great his God is. He values Job and knows that Job refused to disavow God in his difficult circumstance. He also saw that Job did not accept the evaluation of men. Job had seen himself in a dark place. But God saw him as a shining light among men.

God told Cain that he could find his place before God. All he had to do was choose a different path than what he was thinking of doing. He told Moses to speak to a rock and it would give out many gallons of fresh water. But Moses stepped over the line. He acted like it was him that told rocks to give water, not God. God asked Job how he could demand answers from him. But all the time he was using Job as an example of a godly man who would stand for all time.

Maybe you think God wants you to kneel before him. Men want other men to kneel before them. The ancient ruler of China demanded this sort of thing. Sure, we start out kneeling But God wants you to get up off your knees and to stand before him. He wants each of us to stand in a place where he can bless us.

He wants us to grow up into the great purpose he has for each of us. The place he has given us is the same as Jesus. Can you believe it? He wants us to have this same loving relationship that he has with his son. He wants us to stand before him in right relationship so he can bless us now and forever. It is a place where we can stand securely in the love and mercy he wants to shower on us.

With Cain, Moses and Job, God treats them like adults. He expects them to look around and understand things about God. He expects them to act sensibly.

But when Jesus comes, he calls God “Father”. He does not say, God will judge all you evildoers! Get ready for the Judge to judge you sinners. No, he told us to call God: Our Father. He does not say ‘God is my Father, but he is your Judge!’.

He makes this very clear as he gets ready to leave earth, he says, “I am going to my Father. He is also your Father.”


The Other Tree

We have heard of a tree called The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This tree was in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve ate the fruit from this tree. We still use the expression ‘the forbidden fruit’. The warning about this tree was this: “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” It has also been translated ‘dying, you will die’.


As we know, another voice suggested they eat that very fruit. That voice told them that they would not die. Rather, they would gain an ability to judge things for themselves. The words contained this phrase, ‘you will be like God’.

Their reaction to eating this fruit was very strange. It says, “they realized they were naked.” Rather than gaining some power that made them like gods, they found themselves to be naked and they didn’t like it. They took leaves and made themselves coverings.


It seems that the Lord God would visit them. They hear him coming and they run away and hide. Adam hears the voice of the Lord saying, “Where are you?” Adam replies, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Adam does not know how to lie. We can believe him. He says he was afraid. Afraid because he was naked. That is why he hid.

We have little idea of how they felt before eating this fruit. But it seems that ‘being afraid’ was new. My question is this: why did ‘being naked’ bother them? And what were they afraid of?


Adam had gained a self consciousness that was uncomfortable. He became extremely aware of himself in his body. It was like he woke up and discovered he was naked in a world that suddenly seemed somehow dangerous. He was separate from everything else. He knew he was a person before. He was Adam. He had a wife. But now, he felt alone. He says “I” four times in his short response to “Where are you?”


He feels separate from his Maker and Benefactor so he hides. He feels separate from his wife and calls her ‘the woman’. He realizes that there is at least one creature, the serpent, that deceives people. There is some danger on this earth. Maybe there is more. This is the thing that bothers him. His nakedness means he is alienated from everything else. It is just him, in his body, and that body does not seem enough. It needs a covering of some sort.

A lot is made of the ‘punishments’ that are given out by the Lord. But sometimes left out is that he gives them better coverings. He clothes them. He becomes their tailor as someone said. They are also sent out of the Garden area. But why? Because of the other tree, the Tree of Life.

This Tree of Life becomes a problem. God takes away their access to this tree. What exactly is this tree? All we know is that it will give people the power to live forever.

Rubens: Adam och Eva.

It seems that the choice they had was either this tree or that tree. They chose one and now lose their chance to eat from the other. The next time we read about it is in John’s vision of the future, “On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”


We have this tree in the past. We have it in the future. But what about now? Is our choice lost? Can we gain this eternal life or is it now denied forever. The same bible that tells us of the Tree of Life, contains other statements about eternal life and how to get it. Jesus makes several statements about this.”

“Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”


“Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

“I am the bread of life that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.”


Jesus compares himself to something you eat: bread. And something you drink: water. He says the result of this eating and drinking is eternal life, living forever. So we do have a choice now to have eternal life. But we have to eat ‘the Bread of Life’ not fruit from the Tree of Life.


Drowning Man

A man falls out of a ship at sea.

He will be soon be far behind the ship.

The ship is very big and would take a long time to turn around.

By the time the ship returned, the man would die in the icy waters.

Someone throws a ring with a rope attached.

It could be a lifesaver to him.

Then he calls out to the drowning man,

“Just grab anything. It is not important what it is. Just as long as you believe it will help you.”

Of course, he would not say that. He would more likely say, “Grab the ring!” The reason would be that the man could be pulled to safety with that ring. If the man grabbed a piece of wood floating by, it probably wouldn’t help him much. If the man waited for a friendly dolphin, he might freeze before it came.

The man has to grab the ring and hold on with all his strength. He would depend on the strength of the man who was pulling up the rope. And he only has a short time to make that decision.

Believe it or not, this is our condition. We have time to make a decision about what we will hold on to during our lifetime. But in the turmoil of the sea, it is hard to hear the voice that calls us to take hold of the only thing that will save us. We must make our decision like the man and hold on with all our strength. Our rescue depends on the strength of someone else to save us.

The ‘holding on’ is called ‘faith’. The rescuer is God Himself. He calls out to us to take hold of the only thing that can and will save us. But that Lifesaver is a person not a thing. And that person is much different from others. He is the same person that was in the beginning starting the human race. He has intervened many times and influenced many people all through history. But it is written that finally, he came here himself and told people how the rescue of each person could be worked out.

After being killed by his enemies, he returned to his friends. He told them to continue to tell people about him. The part that really made him different than others was that rising from the dead part.

Many would give us advice. Others would give us rules to live by. But one person offered a new relationship with God as our Father. Only one person showed all the attributes that we admire in someone. He was unselfish. He was kind. He was forgiving.

When he was asked this question.

“What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?”

He answered them, “This is the work of God,

that you believe on him whom he has sent.”


Where do you stand?

In the East, the dragon is much different than in the West. But more than the differences in dragons, is the difference in where people stand. In the West, the knight faces the evil dragon, an enemy of mankind. But in the East, the dragon is a strong protector of the people. So people are behind the dragon who faces their enemies.


Where you stand is very important. Whether the dragon is good or evil is not our subject. But where we stand in relation to the powerful may be important. People who believe in God usually think he is powerful. They are always saying how he should do powerful stuff. Like he’s not doing his job correctly. They say things to help him do better at his job of being God. So, if God exists and is powerful, we should try to get on his good side.


But does God have a good side? Many people think he does not. Think of the sun. Does it have a good side? Does it have a bad side? Does it have any sides? God, like the sun, has no sides. One side is the same as the other. But, as with the sun, exposure may cause problems. It was said long ago that no one could see God and live.

If we got too close to the sun, we would die. Does that make the sun bad? I don’t think so. Do you?

Now, what if? What if a good God made a place for humans to be that was safe for them to live? Safe from being too close to God and too close to the sun.

Why would he do this? Since we are reasonable beings, we would think God reasonable, as well. What was his purpose?


Imagine a creative, reasonable God who creates people to live on this place near a forever blazing star, but not too near. He wants them to grow into something great. He loves freedom. He loves choice. If beings don’t have a choice, they are not free. He uses himself as the pattern for making these humans. Too much to believe? Maybe it is. But we are just imagining, right?

He makes himself available to them. But he is not overbearing. He hopes they will try and discover their benefactor.


He gives people a whole planet to live on with food to eat and air to breathe. They can live on this earth without much regard for him. But he has this idea about them. They have incredible potential. He interacts with some of them.

Three Men Connect with God