Just men reading, memorizing and studying the bible together!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Exodus 24–26
Chronological Order: Genesis 35–37
Old Testament Only: Exodus 4–6
New Testament Only: Matthew 16:13-28

Daily Verse: Exodus 3:14 Exodus 3. 14

Bible Study

The Royal Us

Passage: Genesis 3:22

Some may think that the idea that God is three in one, or as we say a “triune God”, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is a concept first revealed in the New Testament, but we actually have a hint of this truth here at the very beginning of the Bible. I remember hearing on the radio a Jewish man who had become a Christian. He said that he had been reading in the book of Genesis when he came across a verse that just blew his mind wide open. It was the realization that God referred to Himself as a “royal us” that caused him to look more closely at Christianity and eventually led to his salvation. Here is the verse in question.

Genesis 3:22 ESV

“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—‘”

It’s easy to miss isn’t it? You could read this a hundred times and miss the subtle statement every time. God said that “man has become like one of us”. Now understand that in context God had just dealt with Satan, Eve, and Adam in turn. Having finished passing sentence on each of these individuals for their sin, He provided the blood sacrifice their sin required and used the now available animal skins to close Adam and Eve. It is then that we have the verse above. The Bible has given us no previous signal that there was anyone else present to whom God would have said this.

The Bible here is giving us an insight into the mind of God as He consults with Himself. It is also revealing that there is a royal “Us”. We see further evidence of God’s triune nature later in Genesis when God stops off to have a word with Abraham on His way to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.

Genesis 18:1-3 ESV

“[1] And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. [2] He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth [3] and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant.”

The Lord appeared to Abraham as three men. Each time the Lord speaks to Abraham in the following Scripture, He is referred to in the plural. The book of John tells us that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” As we read on we discover that the “Word” is Jesus Christ. Jesus was not only with God in the beginning, He was God as well.

Some people still look at the Old and New Testaments as if they were two different books containing two different Gods; the vengeful God versus the loving God. There is no divide. It is all one book telling one incredible story. The New Testament did not invent the concept of a triune God but rather affirms the truth of God’s triune nature first revealed to us at the very beginning of the story.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have existed from the beginning. God is three in one. For us created, one in one, beings, this is a difficult concept to understand. I liken it to water, steam, and ice – all H2O. If I took one unit of water and froze one third, heated one third and left one third alone I would have ice, steam, and water – all still water and yet different. Even this example falls far short of helping us truly understand what it means to be three in one. My inability to understand it, however, in no way invalidates the truth of it. God tells us this is who He is. He is the royal “Us”. Whether you choose to believe this or not is irrelevant. He is who He is; or as He said “I am who I am”.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Exodus 21–23
Chronological Order: Genesis 32–34
Old Testament Only: Exodus 1–3
New Testament Only: Matthew 15:29–16:12
 

Daily Verse: 1 Chronicles 16:23 1 Chronicles 16. 23

 

Day of Rest

Saturdays are a day of rest for me in my blog writing. I write the blog a day ahead so this means it is a day of rest from my commentary for you on Sundays. Enjoy your day of worship!

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Exodus 17–20
Chronological Order: Genesis 30:25–31:55
Old Testament Only: Genesis 49–50
New Testament Only: Matthew 15:10–28

Daily Verse: Hebrews 9:22 Hebrews 9. 22

Bible Study

Sin Requires Blood

Passage: Genesis 3:21

Having prescribed the consequences for Adam, Eve, and Satan’s sin, God went on to cast them from His presence (Genesis 3:24). Sin has a lot of consequences; life gets harder, more violent, more painful, more self-centered, and more hopeless. In fact sin leads to death. At the end of verse 19 of Genesis chapter 3 God says to Adam “for you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Physical death is a result of original sin. The nature of man ever since has been fantastically self-centered. Every human being since has desired to be his own god. As the Bible says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Sin separates us from a Holy God. Sin also requires condemnation from a Just God. Justice requires death as payment for sin. The spilling of blood, death, is the only thing that satisfies the debt of sin. Many people mistakenly think that the murder of Abel by his brother Cain was the first time in the Bible that blood was spilt, but this is not true. Take a look at the following verse.

Genesis 3:21 ESV

“And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”

In the Garden of Eden everything was perfect for life. We were able to come into God’s presence. We had plenty of food and drink at the ready. All we had to do for sustenance was to reach out and take our fill. Even the temperature was perfect; there was no need for clothing. The fall of Man included the fall of Creation. Man had been given dominion over God’s creation. Under our authority, it fell when we fell. We read of the “fires of Hell” but for me the idea of eternal separation from God leaves me cold. To warm ourselves in the glow of His glory is that for which we were created. We lost that in our sinfulness.

Here in verse 21 we read of how an animal was killed to make coverings for Adam and Eve. The need to hide ourselves from God’s wrath began instantly upon eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. A blood sacrifice was required to appease justice. Pushed out of God’s presence, life became hard and cold. Life continues to be hard and cold; less so for those who belong to Christ but Christians still must spend some time in the world forged by man’s desire to usurp the place of the One True God. Eventually we read in the Bible of the Mosaic sacrificial system where the blood and guts of various animals were offered up in order to cover the sins of men. Today blood is still required to cover sin but rather than have to daily offer bloody sacrifice we can cover ourselves in the blood of Jesus Christ who died once and for all. He died so that those who accept His sacrifice will forever be changed and forgiven. He paid the debt of sin that each of us owes.

Don’t be mistaken. He did pay that price but to claim it as your own you have to admit with a contrite heart that you are a sinner, sincerely repent of your sin, ask God for forgiveness of that sin, and then surrender absolute control over your life to Jesus Christ. That is when His blood is applied to your sin. It is then that you begin your journey back to the Garden of Eden – not in a literal sense but in a spiritual sense. You were made to be in God’s presence for all of eternity. I am thankful He has provided a way for any who wish to return to Him to do so.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Exodus 14–16
Chronological Order: Genesis 28:1–30:24
Old Testament Only: Genesis 47–48
New Testament Only: Matthew 14:22–15:9

Daily Verse: Genesis 3:19 Genesis 3. 19

Bible Study

The Final Sentence Of Death

Passage: Genesis 3:14-19

With the exception of the little detour into “deflate-gate” yesterday, we’ve been looking at that critical moment when Adam and Eve decided to be their own gods and the immediate aftermath. Today we continue to look at the immediate aftermath be reviewing what God had to say to the Serpent, Eve, and Adam.

Genesis 3:14-19 ESV

“[14] The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. [15] I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” [16] To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” [17] And to Adam he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; [18] thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. [19] By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’”

After Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the Serpent God immediately pronounced the sentence. In His words to the serpent we hear God condemn the serpent to slither on the ground and eat dust. The serpent is understood to be Satan. Some think of this as a serpent that Satan possessed and used to his purpose while others see the label of serpent as just a way to characterize Satan. Obviously snakes don’t eat dust so there is another meaning to that phrase. Donald Grey Barnhouse in Genesis: A Devotional Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970) says “To eat dust is to know defeat, and that is God’s prophetic judgment upon the enemy. He will always reach for his desires and fall just short of them. There will be continuous aspiration, but never any attainment.”

I don’t know about you but there is nothing in the animal kingdom that so fascinates and yet repels me as snakes. If I’m honest with myself, and I don’t like to admit it, I am terrified of them – even those I know are not poisonous. The Scripture above tells me this is completely normal and rational – “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring”. Of course this is not the entirety of the sentence. God continues beyond the semicolon with “he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” This is a prophetic foreshadowing of the coming Christ. It is, in fact, the first reference to a coming Savior. Satan surely bruised Jesus’ heel when, through the agency of sinful man, he worked to bring Christ to the cross. Christ on the cross, however, said it is finished and indeed it is. What was begun in the garden is now racing to the finish line. The climax of the story actually happened on the cross. Everything since has just been the wrap-up.

Additional burdens previously unknown in the world included child birth in pain for women, as was as a desire to be the head of the house. This is what is meant when God said “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” God here says that the man shall be the head of the house but constant strife will be found there, for the wife will desire to be the head. I’ve written here before how “headship” of the house is more a burden than a blessing. The head of the house is supposed to put himself last and the wellbeing of the rest of his house first. Men have abused this responsibility historically and it has led to women, usually rightly, not trusting their husbands to lead self-sacrificially. Of course women have the same problem; they want the house run their way rather than someone else’s way. The wife often feels her husband is not a proper man if he doesn’t fulfill what she sees as his responsibilities the way she prefers those responsibilities to be met. With the divorce rate in America over 50% I don’t think it takes much imagination to see the consequences of original sin continuing to this day.

The male didn’t escape God’s judgment. Along with a contentious household, the ground became cursed. Whereas appropriate and abundant food was previously easily available for the taking, men would now have to work hard to bring sustenance from the ground. And of course physical death, previously unknown, is now a reality. Man was made from dust and because of his desire to be god he will return to the dust.

Mankind gave up so much in his pursuit of godhood. Many people to this very day still have not learned the truth of that painful lesson. The world is full of pain and suffering because each of us wants to be our own god. When disaster strikes, many who previously claimed there was no God, raise their fists to the sky and curse His name for letting it happen. Their anger is misplaced. They should be directing that anger towards themselves. All of history to come, from this point on, is the story of God’s work to return a remnant of humanity to Himself for all of eternity.

The fact that Adam and Eve were not immediately destroyed is proof of God’s mercy, and the fact that the end has not yet come for all of humanity is still further proof. But the time is coming. In fact it comes for every person. The day you die is your personal Armageddon. On that day you will stand before your Maker and either the final sentence of death will be pronounced upon you or Jesus will say “Father, I served his sentence.” Judgment is coming. Are you prepared?

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Exodus 11–13
Chronological Order: Genesis 26–27
Old Testament Only: Genesis 44–46
New Testament Only: Matthew 14:1–21

Daily Verse: James 5:8James 5. 8

Bible Study

What Kind Of Man Do You Want To Be?

I began today’s commentary by looking at the sentence God passed upon the serpent, Eve, and Adam. Yesterday I had written about how rather than confess and repent of their sin, Adam and Eve blamed others for what they did. They did not accept responsibility for their actions. They did not admit that they did anything wrong. As I said, if you won’t admit you’ve done anything wrong, then you are not repentant, and if you aren’t repentant you can’t be forgiven. Confession means that we admit we did something wrong. Repentance means that we feel bad about what we did and make a commitment to turn our back on our wrong doing – we commit to never making that mistake again.

I can’t move forward in our discussion of Genesis chapter 3 because of something currently in the news that touches upon this issue of confession and repentance. By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the under-inflated footballs used in last Sunday’s AFC title game which pitted the New England Patriots against the Indianapolis Colts. Evidently each team brings 12 regulation footballs to a game. There are regulations about how the size and weight of those balls as well as the air pressure within the balls. Before every game the teams bring the balls to the referee locker room where the refs check the air pressure in the footballs. Those balls are then returned to the teams and these are used by each team when they are on offense. So each team is providing the balls that they use in the game.

At half time of that game the referees checked the ball air pressure again. All of the Colts balls were within regulation while at least 11 of the 12 Patriot balls were 2 pounds under pressure. Considering the fact that the Colts lost the game by 38 points (7 to 45), it doesn’t sound like a big deal does it? I don’t think anyone is arguing that the game would have turned out differently if each of those balls were up to spec. If we keep our view limited to these very small facts, we have to ask why the hullaballoo?

The hullaballoo comes when we take this incident in context. Back in 2007 the New England Patriots were found guilty of videotaping the New York Jets’ defensive coach’s sideline signals to players on the field. This was against the rules and was later found to be a regular practice of the Patriots under Bill Belichick since he became head coach of the team back in 2000. This means it was a systematic, seven-year practice of cheating. In his defense coach Belichick claimed to have been unaware that such surreptitious recording was illegal. I find this denial rather weak. If he had thought that it wasn’t illegal they wouldn’t have made any attempt to hide their activity and that activity would have come to light many years before it finally did.

Let’s be clear. This was not just a momentary lapse in judgment. This activity was done in such a way as to have never been noticed over a seven year period. This was premediated, ongoing cheating; proclamations of ignorance strain the bounds of credibility. Still, let’s offer the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps this coach, who many proclaim to be the most brilliant coach in all of football history, was ignorant of the rules. If you don’t mean to cheat, and you are found to have cheated, how would you go forward from there? Would you make sure you stayed current on the rules? Would you make it clear to all around you that you wouldn’t tolerate cheating in any form? Would you ensure that your organization was above reproach going forward? I would.

So, seven years later we have this issue of under inflated balls. I witnessed on ESPN a quarterback throw three footballs to a running back on set. One ball was over-inflated, one was under-inflated, and one was spot on regulation. Without previous knowledge both players accurately identified each ball; they could feel a difference. Still, no one believes this would have changed the outcome of the game. In fact, going into the game no one gave the Colts a chance of winning. This was based in part on the fact that the last three times the two teams met the Colts lost by the following point spreads: 59-24, 43-22, and 45-7. These games weren’t even close. In fact, the Colts haven’t beaten the Patriots since 2009 and then they did so by only one point.

Why deflate the balls? Did the Patriots feel they needed an edge against the Colts no matter how small? Guys, this team cheated even though they had no need to cheat. Have you ever heard of a pathological liar? This is someone who lies even when there is no advantage to lying; they just can’t help themselves, it’s who they are. I knew a guy in college like that. He was very strange. The New England Patriots are like pathological liars, they can’t help themselves. They cheat even when cheating doesn’t buy them anything. They cheat even when there is no obvious reason to cheat. They are pathological cheaters. The Colts suspected the Patriots of under inflating the balls based on their previous meeting earlier in the year. In that game they got their hands on one of the Patriot balls and found that it was under inflated. Forewarned, they brought the issue to the attention of the referees during the AFC playoff game. We see here once again not a momentary lapse in judgment but rather a pattern of deception. The Patriots have a culture of corruption and it starts at the top.

So do I think the under-inflation of the footballs would have made a difference in last Sunday’s game? No. But here is the thing; cheaters don’t tell how they are cheating. They’ve been caught cheating twice but how can we know that they haven’t been cheating in other, as yet undiscovered, ways? What other advantages have they claimed for themselves over their opponents? The Patriots beat the New York Jets twice this year by just one point and they beat the Raiders by less than a touchdown. If they had lost those games they would have been tied for first place in their division. I think they would have won the tie-breaker, but how would the other team have played if they had seen it as a tighter race? If the under-inflated ball helped prevent a turnover or two because the quarterback could throw it better, the receiver could catch it better, or the running back could hold on to it better, would these or other games have turned out differently? Would the Patriots have had a bye week? Would they have won the extra game or been tired or injured for the next game? Would playing on a competitor’s home field rather than their own make a difference? A one point difference in two games could have resulted in the Patriots not even being in the AFC championship game. The Patriots wouldn’t be able to beat the Colts if they weren’t in the game.

You may not like football. You may wonder why some think this is a big deal. The NFL is the most watched and profitable professional sport in America. Young and old alike invest a lot of time watching games, playing fantasy football, watching combines and the draft. The players and coaches are held up as heroes. Some would argue the best quarterback and the best coach in NFL history are Bill Belichick and Tom Brady; first ballot Hall of Fame inductees to be sure. Very rich men to boot. What is the message to a young person who wants to succeed in this world? Cheat. Winners cheat. They cheat when they don’t have to. In fact they don’t even think cheating is a big deal.

What happens when the rest of the league, and the rest of the world for that matter, learns this lesson? “Everybody cheats so you better cheat or you will lose. You are a sucker if you don’t cheat” Do you want to live in that kind of a world? When everybody thinks that cheating is the way the game is played, and the only way to win, then everybody cheats. When the heroes cheat, everybody else follows. That is life lived in anarchy. The concept of “fairness” goes right out the window.

The New England Patriots have not confessed their guilt; they were caught. Like Adam and Eve they are pointing at others saying that others are making a big deal out of nothing or a misunderstanding. Having not admitted their wrong-doing they are unable to repent of what they have done. The cheating will continue, likely in ways we’ve yet to even consider let alone discover.

Just as I looked at that pathological liar in college with a complete lack of comprehension, I look at the Patriots organization and those that excuse away their little under-inflation issue. I am not always the man I want to be, but I do know what that man looks like. The man I want to be would rather die than cheat. If, at some time, I have a momentary lapse in judgment, the man I want to be would confess, repent, and ask for forgiveness. I would then determine to never make that mistake again.

So, what kind of man do you want to be? Do you want to be a man like Bill Belichick and Tom Brady or do you want to be a man after God’s own heart? God doesn’t care about football games but He does care about the content of a man’s heart. When you meet your Maker He won’t ask you how many super bowl rings you have. He won’t ask you your win and loss record. He won’t ask if you made it into the Hall of Fame. He will look at your heart. For your sake friend, I hope it is a heart that repented long before.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Exodus 8–10
Chronological Order: Genesis 24–25
Old Testament Only: Genesis 42–43
New Testament Only: Matthew 13:36–58

Daily Verse: Isaiah 43:11 Isaiah 43. 11

Bible Study

Confession Is Good For The Soul

Passage: Genesis 3:8-13

So yesterday we saw the immediate after effects of disobeying God. Adam and Eve had their eyes opened and they realized they were guilty and deserving of judgment. Their natural response to the knowledge of their sinfulness before a holy God was to hide from Him. Of course, you can’t hide from God. God knew what they would do before they did it. Today we see God enter the scene of their disobedience.

Genesis 3:8-13 ESV

“[8] And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. [9] But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” [10] And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” [11] He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” [12] The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” [13] Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’”

Notice that God called out to Adam and Eve asking them where they were. Do you really think God did not know where they were or what they had done? No, God knew what had taken place. It wasn’t God that needed to understand but rather Adam and Eve that needed to understand what had transpired. The question “where are you” highlights the fact that Adam and Eve were separated from God. It wasn’t God who chose to be separated from them but rather the other way around. That’s true of everyone today. God doesn’t choose to be separated from us; we choose to be separated from Him. The hiding, however, is an attempt to escape responsibility for our choices. Adam confessed his fear of God but not what he had done. God is looking for confession but what he gets is denial and deflection.

When asked if he ate of the forbidden fruit, Adam blamed his wife. When Eve was asked what she had done she blamed Satan. Forgiveness begins with confession. If you blame others for your own choices you are unrepentant. Repentance is the act of turning your back on wrong doing. You can’t turn your back on wrong doing if you don’t admit that what you did was wrong. Here at the fall everyone was pointing fingers; no one accepted responsibility. God was not fooled. You can’t hide from God and you can’t fool God. To hide or deflect is to refuse forgiveness. You can’t be forgiven if you don’t admit you did anything wrong. Salvation begins with confession and progresses with repentance. Both of these acts must take place, in that order, for forgiveness to be found.

I have made it a consistent practice in my professional life to admit immediately to my supervisors when I mess up. I don’t want my boss to hear about my failures from others. I want my boss to hear from me where I went wrong, why I went wrong, and what I am doing to correct the mistake before he hears about it from anyone else. If he or she hears about it from someone other than me first, they tend to be angry. If they hear about it from me first, they tend to be forgiving. I have never had a problem with my employers for making mistakes because of my approach to mistakes. The truth always comes out. You really can’t hide. It is always best to face the music as soon as possible with humility and repentance.

Adam and Eve did not take this approach and I believe it is because they were not really repentant. They still wanted to be in charge, to be their own god. I wrote yesterday of the five stages of grief which progressed from denial to anger, to bargaining to depression and finally acceptance. I further wrote that every person that eventually comes to Christ has to go through a similar process. God did not execute justice at the moment of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in order to offer humanity grace. To get there, however, every human, and all of humanity, will have to decide if they will remain in denial and anger or finally move all the way to acceptance; acceptance of their guilt, acceptance of their need for a Savior, and acceptance of Christ’s gift of salvation.

Confess your sin. Repent of your sin. Ask for forgiveness and accept Christ’s gift. Life gets better when you do.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!