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Archive for January, 2018

Imagine a perfect world where everyone is kind to one another and you never hear any negative words. Imagine being able to pluck your dinner from a tree without having to labor for it. Imagine ladies what it would have been like to be able to have your babies in ease and comfort.

Perhaps the scenario would go something like this:

Eve: “Adam, it’s time for our child to be born. I think I’ll just go over to that nice spot we picked out and wait.”

Adam: “Ok, Eve. You go on over and get ready. I’ll go pick us some extra fruit while you deliver that baby.”

The Lord, who is walking in the garden, comes along and says, “Well, done, good and faithful servants. You are doing a fine job as My vice-regents taking care of the earth. The animals are all happy. Oh, I see that you are about to procreate. That is exciting!

You will be blessed with many children. There is enough food for everyone in this beautiful garden.”

A short time later:

Eve: “Wow! It’s a girl child. What shall we name her?”

Adam: “Honey, you are the mother of all living. You name her.”

Does this scene look too fanciful? Is it out of the bounds of possibility?

We really don’t know what life may have been like for Adam and Eve if they would not have eaten the forbidden fruit. The Scriptures do not tell us.

Many people think that this whole story is just a myth but as Christians we believe that it happened exactly as the Bible says it did. So let’s look at what the Bible says.

Genesis 1:26-31

       Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day.

 On the sixth day of creation God created mankind. God created humans equally in His image. They were to procreate and fill the earth. They were given the authority to rule over everything on earth together. God said that this was very good.

At the beginning of Genesis, chapter 2 we read that God finished His creation by the end of the sixth day and then rested on the seventh day.

Then beginning in Genesis 2:4, we circle back a bit and get more details of God’s creation of mankind.  This marvelous picture of the formation of Adam from the ground and Eve from Adam’s side actually takes place in the middle of the sixth day. It is important to remember that this story enlarges on what we were already told in chapter 1 – that God created mankind, male and female, in His image.

Genesis 2:7, 8, 15-20

      The the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there He put the man He had formed.

… The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 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.” The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Let’s pause for a second. In chapter 1 God said that everything was very good. Here we see that He says something is not good – it is not good for the man to be alone. Why might God say that it was not good for Adam to be alone? Well, for openers, he can’t procreate by himself can he?

Here might be a good spot for Eve’s appearance, but instead God brings the animals to Adam for their naming. The Bible does not tell us why this is the order of things. Let’s just keep reading.

Turn back to Genesis 2:19 and 20.

     Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found.

This last part of verse 20, “But for Adam no suitable helper was found” is the center of much of the controversy surrounding women’s place in God’s creation. People who believe that God created mankind with a hierarchy say that “helper” means “subordinate”. They insist that right from the beginning women were created only to serve human men. But there is nothing in the Genesis account of creation to substantiate a claim that women were not created equally with men. Eve’s boss was God, not Adam.

What would a “suitable helper” look like?

Does “helper” mean “subordinate”? Let’s examine the correct translation of the original Hebrew word for “helper” – “ezer”.

The original Hebrew words for “suitable helper” are “ezer k’negdo”.

  1. “ezer k’negdo” – A “suitable” helper. literally “in front of him”; Not a subordinate.

2. “ezer” – A strong helper. “

“Ezer” appears 21 times in the Old Testament. 16 times this word is used for God. (Exodus 18:4; Deuteronomy 33:7, 26, 29; Psalms 20:2; 33:20; 70:5: 89:19; 115:9, 10, 11; 121:1-2; 124:8; 146:5; Hosea 13:9).

Examples: 

Psalm 33:20 – “Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help (our “ezer”) and our shield.”

Psalm 121:1-2 – “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help (my “ezer”) comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

We would never say that God is a subordinate would we? No, God is our helper because He is actually stronger than we are and able to give help. Our brothers who insist on a hierarchy in relationships miss this important point.

Not only is Eve a very strong helper, one that Adam can’t live without, but the other aspects of her creation equally demonstrate a relationship of mutuality not hierarchy.

Please turn to Genesis 2:21-25.

So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

 Here again we need to pause and note: The Bible does not say that this is when Adam gives his wife the name “Eve”. Eve doesn’t get her name until they are sent out of the garden in chapter 3, verse 20. By calling his wife “woman”, Adam was giving his wife a description – “bone of my bones” not a name. Why is this important?

God showed Adam that Eve was part of him, not the rest of creation. Now Adam can be confident in all that God intended him to be since he has his suitable helper. Adam and Eve were made to tend the garden together, enjoying all of the fruits of their labor, working as one in mind and heart, freely worshipping God Whom they have complete fellowship with.

Note several other important things. In Genesis 1, God said He created mankind. Mankind contained Adam and Eve together in some mysterious way. Then we get the picture of the woman being pulled from the man’s side in chapter 2. They are two beings, but God says that when they come together as man and wife they are one flesh. What a beautiful picture of marriage – man and wife are so close that they are one in body and heart and mind!

And there is something else very interesting. To become this “one flesh” the man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. Is that how we do it today? Does the man leave his family? No, today women leave their families and join themselves to the man taking his name. The children she bears him will also take the name of his family.

Eve’s husband Adam joined himself to her – note the order here. God did not put Eve underneath her husband; Adam joined himself to Eve.

Back to the story. Right after her creation Eve was happily tending the garden with her husband. Eve was ruling over everything with Adam as God commanded. There were no weeds. Eve would be able to bear children with no pain. Adam and Eve were enjoying perfect fellowship with God and each other. There is no sin yet, but that is about to change.

Let’s go back to the story. Please turn to Genesis 3:1-7.

     Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

     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.’”

      “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

     When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Many of us are already familiar with this story. The serpent (who we really know was the devil, Revelation 12:9) came along and tempted Eve to eat from a tree that had been forbidden to her and Adam. We could all wish that she wouldn’t have done it, but she did. Adam was with her and he ate some too.

Then they were ashamed and tried to hide from God. Thankfully, the Lord came looking for them and called out to Adam. We all know what happened. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. God made pronouncements about what the future would be like. He cursed the serpent. In the midst of this curse, He also promised the Savior Who would come and defeat Satan.

In the meantime, we see here that the relationship between husband and wife has changed. Before the fall, Adam and Eve were equal partners. Eve could make her own decisions because they would be right and good. After all, she had God right there and she would know what to do because of her intimacy with Him. When she made the autonomous decision to eat the fruit, she was disobeying God. Adam also ate and now all human beings would be sinful creatures. Now, because of their fallen sin nature, Adam and Eve would desire to get their own way. Relationships between men and women have been terribly distorted since the Fall.

Now after the fall, Eve and Adam will not have an easy life. Adam will struggle with weeds as he tries to provide for his family. Eve will have pain in childbirth. Adam and Eve had to leave the beautiful garden with a fulfilling life and complete fellowship with God. We can only imagine how heart rending this must have been for Eve. How tragic to have known the sweet peace and fellowship with God in the garden and now have to go out and struggle in a pain-filled world.

But let’s don’t forget that God promised a Savior. Eve would have the knowledge that her sins were forgiven and fellowship was restored with God, but not like she had in the garden.

The Scriptures don’t tell us a lot more about Eve and Adam. We know that they lived over nine hundred years and had many children. I believe that Eve had repented and put her faith and trust in God. When Cain was born she said, “I have gotten a man-child with the help of the Lord” (Gen. 4:1). Clearly she was rejoicing in God’s grace, compassion, forgiveness, and promises.

It seems that Eve was a faithful mother teaching her children to honor God as best as she could in this now sinful world. There was sadness as sin showed just how ugly it could be when Eve’s firstborn son, Cain, killed his brother, Abel. But God blessed Eve with another son, Seth.

We are told that some years later, “men began to call on the name of the Lord” (Gen 4:26). Where would these descendants of Eve have gotten the knowledge of God unless it was from their mother and father? And of course, Adam and Eve would have had the best knowledge of God since it was first hand. What a shame that they lost that close fellowship and had to live in a world of sin.

How different Eve’s original experience was from ours. We are born in sin and do not know the complete joy and peace of the communion with God that we will have in glory. We will have to wait for that.

 

 

 

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Dear Readers,

I am currently in the middle of the second year of pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree. Over a year ago I posted that I would like to write a book about women in ministry using some of the over 200 stories that are on my blog. I have recently changed my mind and will be writing a curriculum on women in the Bible and history. Some day I might write a whole book but for now I believe I need to write Bible stories.

The reason: I sent a survey on women in the Bible to many churches and received very disappointing results. For one thing, very few men said that the speak about women from the pulpit. There were many reasons, but I am concerned that this is NOT encouraging to women. At the very least it makes us feel unnecessary.

More importantly, the stories are in God’s Word. God included the stories of women for our benefit. When we skip over them we lose out on what God would teach us. That includes all of the inspiring stories of women that God has used in Kingdom work.

An important reason for writing a curriculum is to show that God does indeed use women in ministry. But equally important is a list of resources for women to use. I have been blessed by each and every book or article I have read. An important part of the curriculum will be a bibliography containing a list of the many books available. Other women will be blessed too as they read these inspiring stories.

So, for the next few weeks we will be looking at the stories of women in the Bible. Most of these women will be very familiar to you, but we will examine them more closely than you may have had opportunity to in the past.

The first and foremost attention will be paid to what the Bible has to say about the women. There is a lot of misinformation out there that can be cleared up by just looking at what the Bible actually says.

For example – what would most people say the occupation of Mary of Magdala was? It might surprise you to learn that the Bible does not say that Mary was a prostitute. This idea originated with Pope Gregory the Great in the late sixth century and it has stuck to this day. Hollywood has helped to cement the idea in place by castigating Mary as a loose woman. I don’t expect anything better than that from a group that uses lurid details to sell movies whether they are accurate or not. But I would like a chance to set the record straight for Christians by telling the story from the Bible.

And so, that will be the format of all of these lessons. We will begin by reading the Scriptures. Next, I will bring in some background material from well-respected Christian historians. Why are these stories in the Bible? What can we learn from them? How do they fit in with God’s overall plan of Redemption?

The Bible is really a story with the Lord Jesus Christ as the central character. The stories of the men and the women in the Bible are interesting and important in themselves, but they all point to God’s plan of salvation. By studying the stories of these women in their context, we can see how they fit into God’s plan of redemption.

Jesus asked the Church to take the Gospel to all of the nations. That is a big job. It will take all Christians, men and women working together to fulfill the Great Commission.

Are we looking forward to Christ’s appearing? There is only one place in the Scriptures that gives us an indication of when Christ will return. “The gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Now with technology, GPS, easy travel, more cooperation between some countries, and the many new Mission Organizations I believe that we can reach every nation. This is exciting for all of us who look for and love His appearing.

And so please study and enjoy the stories of God’s kingdom women. You are a kingdom woman! How will God use you to bless others while you serve Him?

 

 

 

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