First Fears

In the beginning, Adam and Eve had no fear at all. But fear became part of the human experience. Just what fears entered their lives?

Their first fear came with their discovery of their naked condition but just what were they afraid of? It doesn’t appear to be danger of being injured. It rather seems to be acute awareness of their vulnerability to the general environment. It says “their eyes were opened and they knew they were naked”. The intense feeling of being naked motivates them to make coverings of leaves.

As they anticipate the arrival of the Lord, they run and hide. This is an act of pure fear. They stop running as reason comes back but let Adam explain, “…I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself.” Adam speaks as if they had no handmade coverings. He needed a lot more leaves between him and God. Adam speaks as a man who feels alone in the world.

We can be sure of this: they did not want to be seen as naked. The fact that he answers the Lord shows he had a good relationship. But now he becomes silent as the reason for this this knowledge and fear is examined. The information comes out with much blaming and very little responsibility taking.

This is the source of fear: separateness. Adam is now one separated from God, his wife, his environment. He is even divided within himself, he feels blame but tries to cast it off himself without success. With this separateness will come sorrow for both the woman and man.

We turn to the first man born: Cain. He discovers a new fear. Cain remakes himself into a heartless murderer. Cain has discovered killing is rather easy and now he fears retribution.

Eve indicates her fear of having no one to lead the family after losing Abel. She and Adam find hope in a new offspring, Seth.

The next fear is fear of drowning. At first, no one but Noah and family take this seriously. They build a boat for the purpose of surviving an enormous flood. When the flood waters eventually start to rise, the people find their fear will not enable them to find any way to save themselves. There is no time left now.

We learn about another fear from Noah. It is a fear of disrespecting order. The patriarchal family of Noah and his sons is now the foundation for a new society. This is endangered by one son who shows disrespect for his father. Noah recognizes the danger of this and deals with it before it can topple the fresh start.

The Lord does not want men to be full of fear. His remedy for fear is trust in God. He cares even about the small birds and will surely care for those who trust in him.

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Glory

We look among the faded tatters for glory. But why does the true glory escape us?

We know a human life could be glorious yet why do we always discover a fatal flaw? So we idealize. We build pedestals and place something high. But we know it is our imagination.

Why the idol? Why this statue? We demand meaning! But we know we are making it up. We read and hope to find meaning. We listen. We look. We are always ready to stick a stake in the ground and say, “Here is meaning.” But it is only a grave marker. Read this poem. Listen to that song. Hear this orator speak. Consider this artwork. Look at that building with its majestic lines. That bridge is so much more.

In the museum, look, there is David. And what moved the sculptor to trace the beauty of the female shape in such detail?

All shadows. All former glory. All that is left are hints. Indications. We gaze at the ruins of humanity and imagine its greatness. Yet, we can’t look too close or we see how it is not what it was or what it could be.

Isn’t that where we look best? Former greatness. The ruins of a civilization. As we look closer, we find human sacrifice. We find falseness. The golden statue is a thin shell full of sawdust. The soaring tower was used to hold men captive. The cellar is filled with bones and rags.

The throne is dusty. The former greatness is gone. The halls are empty. The paintings faded. The glory is gone.

What happened to us? Why are we disappointed as we examine things closely? And the disappointment sinks slowly into despair.

The canvas of human history has been painted on over and over. This time we will get it right. We will promote goodness. We will learn from past mistakes. But something trips us up once again.

What is that which keeps us from glory? We desire to see it. To feel it. We know it is there, just beyond our grasp.

And we are right. The glory of man is our destiny. But we are in our own way. The ego opposes the conscience. Yes, it is the outsized ‘me’ that is in opposition to the ‘you’ that desires glory. We can’t grasp glory because to touch it is to foul it beyond recognition.

And for this very reason, our glory, which we are meant to have, has been moved. Our hands must be washed before we can handle our glory. Our glorification awaits us. Maybe it can’t be found here. Can we follow the traces? Can we find the beginning by starting at our end. Will knowing the beginning help us?

The European watched the Nile flow into the ocean. He wondered where the magnificent river began its journey to this sea. He enlisted others in the search. Yet, each try ended in failure. One man succeeded. He wasn’t even trying. He began at a lake unknown by the Europeans. He started at the source.

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

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Enoch – God Finds a Friend

Adam was the first man. Enoch came a few generations later. Enoch has a very short biography. He seems rather ordinary until he has a son. We can put his whole story right here:

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. 

After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 

Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

This is a short biography. And each line is important.

 His son is Methuselah. Maybe you heard of him. “As old as Methuselah.” But when Methuselah is born, things change for Enoch. This event was when Enoch became God’s first friend. Enoch walked with God. He continued to do this for 300 years. It becomes the characteristic of his life. 

Enoch is the first man who had a good, continuous relationship with God. After 300 years, Enoch disappears. He’s gone. He didn’t die. God took him. God liked this guy.

Why are we given no details? This is a personal relationship between God and Enoch. And God is interested in the individual. There are no groups with God. He is well able to focus on each person. 

Enoch has no good example to follow. He cannot say, “I will be like …” Enoch is not given a great decision like Adam. He is not given a great task like Noah, his grandson. He lives an ordinary life but does so in an extraordinary way. He walks with God. No one instructs him. No one shows him how to do this. He blazes a new path in the world very quietly. His story is often overlooked because it contains no dramatic events until the end.

No one has made a movie about Enoch. He does not leave a method behind. His example tells us that we must find our own relationship with God. What is remarkable is that Enoch walks with God for 300 years. And what began with an ordinary event, the birth of a son, ends with this dramatic event: he disappears. He has no grave. No one witnesses his final moment on earth. No one sees him go. But God takes him none the less.

Enoch is not an old man by contemporary standards. God decides to end his earthly time early. He wants his friend closer to him. In this, God shows his approval of Enoch’s life. Enoch walked with God and ‘he was not’ for God took him.

    Enoch is an example of faith. It says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” 

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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’.

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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.

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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?

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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?”

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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.”

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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.”

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“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.”

Bread-Water

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.

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Cain

cain-and-abel

Cain has a younger brother, Abel. Now Abel seems to be the favorite of their parents. But something takes place that makes Cain think God is also playing favorites. Cain is mad. God asked him directly why he is mad. God tells him that it doesn’t have to be this way. But Cain shrugs this off focusing on his brother as the source of his problems. He decides to get rid of him. He invents murder. Can you believe this? The first two men, brothers, and one decides to kill the other!

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He does kill him. Now things are better. Hardly. Cain has lost any natural love he had for his brother. His parents feelings have become unimportant to him. He fears being killed. Someone might invent revenge! He takes his wife and begins to wander. He keeps moving from place to place. Eventually, he establishes a home where he keeps his family close around him.

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Why a Flood?

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Noah or Cain

One reason we may have a hard time understanding the story of the flood is that we start with the wrong guy. We start with Noah, right? But we need to start with Cain.

Cain had become a murderer. But God lets the guy live. He doesn’t judge him as unworthy to live. He lets this hard-hearted guy who solved his jealousy problem with murder, go out and pursue his life. Why? Well, remember, his parents, Adam and Eve had chosen to live by their conscience. They wanted to use their new knowledge of good and evil to make moral choices. Choices. Free will.

The Marked Man

Cain had chosen to kill his brother and God told Cain he would no longer be a farmer because the ground itself rejects him.

Cain had not considered what came after killing his brother. He quickly began to fear that he, himself, could be killed in the future by someone as revenge. God puts a mark on him to warn people not to kill him or it will be worse for them. The life of a farmer denied him, he builds a city.

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A city. Cain builds a city. What was the result?
Some worked and provided food but others were free like Tubal-Cain to make tools out of bronze and iron. His half-brother Jubal makes music on stringed and wind instruments. This is why we like cities, the arts, right? Yet others like Jabal chose a nomadic life raising livestock.

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Why half-brothers?

Their father, Lamech, decided to have two wives. Why two? He just wanted to have two wives. And he had some trouble with a younger man who wounded him. So he killed him. Then he made up a song about it. Or maybe it was a poem. It in Lamech says the punishment was high because he, Lamech, said so. He remembers that anyone who killed Cain would be avenged seven times. Lamech raises this to seventy times. He decided what was right for him and no one was to say otherwise. He was serious about it. Deadly serious.

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Violence Ruled the Day

Seth has kids. He is another son of Adam. They farm. The city people make choices, like Lamech, that eventually cause the society to break down completely. The simple description: everyone thought about doing evil, all the time. Everyone made their own rules. What they did exactly is not described in detail but the result was this: the earth was filled with violence. God’s call: “All flesh had corrupted their way on the earth”.

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Farm Boys go to City to find Wives

There was hero worship. Maybe clans developed around them. One group, ‘the sons of God’, wanted wives from another group. Maybe it was a group of Seth people who wanted wives from a group of Cain people. The groups mixed and before long there was no group that thought about God. The farming group left farming to join in the new city-based society. Maybe.

Anyway, the result was this. A violent society. The ancestor, Cain, started this kind of city society. He left his mark of using violence to deal with his feelings of jealousy. Now violence became the solution to every conflict of every sort. A society without laws allowing everyone to do anything. It made God sorry he had made people. He had been moved when Abel was killed. He said the blood of Abel called to him from the ground. Now the earth is filled with violence that calls out to God. God sees complete corruption.

His solution: a flood.

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Noah

Now, we come to Noah. Noah is about the only guy who has not joined in the corrupt society. God tells him to build an ark.

Noah does this with the help of his three sons but it takes a long time, maybe 100 years. God waits. Noah and sons build. Do you see that God intervenes but men must do something themselves to save themselves. Noah, by doing what God tells him, saves his family and human society. “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

Anyway, it is not an immediate flood. It is known to Noah that it will come and it will be big. Do people know about it? I think it would make the news. Man predicts flood and is building large boat. But God does not tell Noah to go and tell the people. He just tells him to build a big boat and exactly how big it should be. And what materials to use. I don’t think there were a lot of boats around.

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A New Start

It says in later books and letters that Noah demonstrated his faith and so condemned the world. And that God waited patiently while Noah built the ark.

But it was for the sake of people that God removed a completely corrupt society. All the people would have died anyway and probably violently. There was no way to reform this situation except with a new beginning. There was also an element of purging the earth itself and a new start for wild animals, birds and cattle, etc.

flood1

Will it happen again?


How many people died? It does not say. It says eight survived. How widespread was the flood? Big enough to end all life. Did it reach to Australia and drown kangaroos? You tell me. When did it happen? Really unknown. Some say 5,000 years ago; others say 50,000. Could be more. Adding up dates or time lengths in the Bible is a waste of time since that is not their purpose. They are there to show continuity not length of time itself.

But again, the purpose of the flood was to give mankind another chance, not to get rid of people. Peter, a disciple of Jesus, predicts a future event where the Earth will again go through a dreadful transition to prepare for a very different way of life on earth. He says the flood was an example of this kind of major change. Many, but not all, will die before the ‘new earth’ predicted will come to be. And Peter does not make these statements without information from God.

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Preparation for this is clear. Jesus has made things clear to all who listen. Believe him. God is willing that all would be saved. We just have to find out what He means by saved.

“No one comes to the Father except through Me” is not a restriction but rather an open invitation.

“I am the Door”. And that Door is open.

He is not willing that anyone would perish.

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Enoch – God's First Friend

Enoch Who?

Several generations pass from Adam and Seth. Now we come to Enoch. Enoch has a very short biography. He seems rather ordinary until he has a son. We can put his whole story right here. 

Comet-e1466172389589

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.


Enoch 

Walked 

Faithfully 

with 

God 


This is a short biography. And each line is important.

 His son is Methuselah. Maybe you heard of him. “As old as Methuselah.” But when Methuselah is born, things change for Enoch. This event was when Enoch became God’s first friend. Enoch walked with God. He continued to do this for 300 years. It becomes the characteristic of his life. 

green-banner-thin

Enoch is the first man who had a good, continuous relationship with God. After 300 years, Enoch disappears. He’s gone. He didn’t die. God took him. God liked this guy.

green-banner-thin

Why are we given no details? This is a personal relationship between God and Enoch. And God is interested in the individual. There are no groups with God. He is well able to focus on each person. 

Enoch has no good example to follow. He cannot say, “I will be like …” Enoch is not given a great decision like Adam. He is not given a great task like Noah, his grandson. He lives an ordinary life but does so in an extraordinary way. He walks with God. No one instructs him. No one shows him how to do this. He blazes a new path in the world very quietly. His story is often overlooked because it contains no dramatic events until the end.

No one has made a movie about Enoch. He does not leave a method behind. His example tells us that we must find our own relationship with God. What is remarkable is that Enoch walks with God for 300 years. And what began with an ordinary event, the birth of a son, ends with this one dramatic event: he disappears. He has no grave. No one witnesses his final moment on earth. There is no Elisha to tell of a chariot that takes him up. But God takes him none the less.

Enoch is not an old man by contemporary standards. God decides to end his earthly time early. He wants his friend closer to him. In this, God shows his approval of Enoch’s life. Enoch walked with God and he was not for God took him.

green-banner-thin

In the New Testament, Enoch is an example of faith. Then it says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” 

Why a Flood?

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