Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
© Focus On Purpose July 2017

Closing the

Garden Gate

“I am the gate! If anyone comes in through

Me, he will be saved. He will come and go

and find pasture.”

John 10:9 (Tree of Life Version)

Mercy, Forgiveness, Compassion, and Wisdom

Mercy If you command your young son not to climb up onto your high garden wall, but he disobeys, falls, and breaks his arm, do you just leave him suffering on the ground? As he lies there, crying in pain, do you give him a hiding, or a lecture on how naughty he was and that this is now his punishment? No, you would rush over, comfort him, and attend to his  broken arm, would you not? However, while doing that, you may use this teaching moment and gently instruct him that his pain is the consequence of disobedience; that your command was for the purpose of his protection. In addition to the immediate pain, there will be longer-term effects, like not being able to ride his bike, or swim with his friends, for a few weeks. In the same way, God lovingly attends to Adam and Eve; He prepares them for the road ahead. He binds up their wounds as He offers forgiveness through the sacrifice of an animal, and He Makes leather clothes for them to cover their shame. These garments were not loin-cloths, as some translators suggest, rather the Hebrew word speaks of a dress or tunic. God’s Commands God's commands are not for the purpose of restricting us, or controlling us. God has given us a free will and we have a choice as to whether we will obey Him or not. However, just as the physical world has laws, such as gravity, governing the proper functioning of the physical creation, so there are also spiritual laws governing the spiritual realm. If we break the law of gravity, we can be seriously injured, or even killed; likewise when we break the spiritual laws.   God is the only eternal being and because He is love, the laws of the spiritual world are all based on others-focussed love. We see this so clearly when Jesus tells us that there are only really two commandments - To love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbours as ourselves. All other commands are a fleshing out of these two Laws. God is not a Narcissist, that He commands us to love Him. He commands us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbours as ourselves, so that our love is focused outwardly. Love needs a focus, and if it is not outward, it will turn inward. It is us who have the potential to narcissism - to love ourselves above all, and others for how they make us feel good.  This kind of love leads to death. If we focus our love on God primarily, we will be in the position experience His love for us, which will then overflow to those around us. Because God is the Source of Life and Love, this flow from God through us, brings Life. We are only able to love God because He loved us first (see 1 John 4:19) and demonstrated that love through Jesus. As we begin to open ourselves up to God to get to know His love experientially, seeing it in every facet of our day,  His love will become more and more real to us, so that it overflows out of our hearts to others around us. Eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil broke the first of these laws - Adam and Eve loved themselves more than they loved God. Had they loved God with all their hearts, minds, souls, and might, satan would have had no hook to which to attach his lies. Having broken this spiritual law, they brought into their lives the effects of death in all it's forms. How Do You Really See God? Reading Genesis 3, it is so easy to see a wrathful God cursing Adam and Eve and kicking them out of their home, because they offended Him by disobeying one command once.  With this as our introduction to God, it is very easy to form a picture of a highly volatile, perfectionistic God Who demands a standard we are unable to reach. This is the picture satan desires us to hold; this is the picture of the temperamental pagan gods, not the One Who desires us to trust Him, Who draws us with cords of lovingkindness, Who credits our faith (trust in Him) as righteousness, and Who desires that we call Him Abba, Daddy. Though a loving father will discipline his child, that discipline may take on many different forms. Many times, effective discipline may be purely instructive in the midst of painful or uncomfortable consequences of disobedience; it may be the withdrawal of privileges, or rewards, where appropriate; it way also be corporal punishment, though this is largely outlawed in many countries. As I look back on my own childhood, discipline in all forms was very much a part of home life, yet the discipline that had the greatest impact on my life, was instructive discipline, that flowed from deep love in key situations. And it is this form of discpline that God uses for Adam and Eve, Was Satan Actually Speaking Truth? Reading Genesis 3:22 as it appears in many translations, seems as though Satan was telling the truth, does it not? He intimated that God was keeping them from becoming like Him, did he not? Here in verse 22 God is quoted as saying, “Behold, the man has become one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever…” (Gen 3:22 NASB - Emphasis mine) The interpretation of commentaries regarding the underlined phrase above,  are almost as diverse as the authors of those commentaries. Though a few speak of God’s grace, others portray God as speaking with "holy irony and sarcasm," designed to bring “humiliation and shame,” and some just avoid that phrase altogether. But God is a God of love, Who describes Himself as being full of lovingkindness, compassion, mercy, and grace; not a God who indulges in "holy irony" and "sarcasm" for the purpose of "humiliation and shame"!   Did God not just demonstrate His loving compassion in verse 21, as He clothed Adam and Eve? Later, Solomon would teach us saying, "Love covers all transgressions... " (Prov 10:12 (b)) , and even later, Peter would echo these words, saying, “... love covers a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8) . So why would a God of lovingkindness, mercy, and compassion, One Who says of Himself that He is slow to anger and quick to forgive, use sarcasm to shame and humiliate Adam and Eve on their first transgression? As I wrestled over this verse for many months, I felt the Lord lead me to a Hebrew word that I believe is key in the understanding of this verse. The Hebrew word He 'highlighted' for me, was the word translated as "of Us" as in, "the man has become one of Us". Brown-Driver-Briggs states that this Hebrew word is a  “preposition expressing the idea of separation, hence out of, from, on account of, off, on the side of, since, above, than, so that not ... with verbs expressing (or implying) separation or removal, whether from a person or place, or in any direction, also from guilt, calamity, etc. (Emhasis mine) The word for 'knowing' that God uses in speaking of knowledge of good and evil in Genesis 3:22 is da'at, which comes from the root word Yada, which speaks of experiential knowledge. According to modern Hebrew, da’at can also be translated as : Common sense, logic, awareness, consciousness, or opinion. (DoItInHebrew.com) In this verse, da’at is prefixed by the Hebrew letter Lamed, which serves as a preposition meaning: “to, unto, into, toward, during, for, about, according to, at, by, of, with, in, within, each, every, as, a belonging to. ... providing in the physical realm a direct association or connection of one thing to or with another.” (“Beyond the Hebrew Lexicon” Chaim Bentorah) Before Adam sinned, he was one with God. After eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, he became one separated from God to common sense opinions, formed through logic gained by conscious, subjective, experience of good and evil. Paul tell us that we become slaves on the one we choose to obey : “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or obedience resulting in righteousness.” (Romans 6:16) As Adam and Eve chose to trust satan above God, they and all of their unborn descendants became slaves to satan, as their focus moved from God to the physical desires and cravings of the flesh : “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set of the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:5-8) God has not separated Himself from us, it is us who have separated ourselves from God as we run around seeking to fulfil our self-focused desires and ambitions, using our common sense opinions (including the collective common sense of community, through synergies), logic, and ‘life experience’, gained through our subjective experiences of what seems good and what seems evil. I have already written about my thoughts on the Tree of Life. The Bible does not tell us much regarding this tree, so my conclusions are really no more than my opinion and you need to ask God to reveal His truth to you, but there is certainly more to these two trees than we are able to grasp. However, a thought I would like to leave with you at the point is : in order for us to be reconciled to God, there now needs to be a death - a dying to feshly self-rulership. Jesus took the penalty for our sin as He died on the cross in our place, but that does not mean that we can continue life as usual. To become one with God once again, we have to let go of, or die to, our self- focus, or self-will, and surrender to His way in every area of our lives. So there is an aspect of death we must utilize in order to be free to walk in fullness of life; it is an aspect of death only made available through Jesus' death, for this aspect makes death a door into Life eternal. Eating from the Tree of Life would now be detrimental to the human race, so God sent Adam out of the Garden and stationed an angel to guard the way to the tree. And it is here that the language becomes stronger. Genesis 3:24 says that God drove Adam out of the Garden. The Hebrew word translated as 'drove' can also be translated as "expel”, "eject", or "banish"; it is a word that is used in Talmudic and Jewish Law for divorce. (DoItInHebrew. com) It is interesting to note here, that God is specifically addressing Adam. In Genesis 3:17 God curses the ground, but specifically tells Adam that the ground is cursed on account of his sin.  Eve ate the fruit because she had been deceived, Adam simply ate because Eve gave the fruit to him; not because he had been deceived.   An addition to this, God had commanded Adam not to eat the fruit; this command was given before Eve was created. God's charge against Adam was that he had listened to the voice of his wife above the voice of God. As satan had tried to set himself above God (See Isaiah 14:12-14) , so did Adam. He effecively stood alongside satan as be blamed God for being the reason for his fall; he ate because of the woman God had given to him. Adam set himself as judge over God. In this, Adam had chosen a new master and now he must live life under that master; he cannot dwell in two kingdoms at the same time and so he is expelled from the Garden. One thing sadly lacking in this story, is that there is no mention of Adam and Eve asking God for forgiveness. I wonder how things would have turned out if they had? And now, where are you in this picture? What is your heart set upon? The things of the flesh? Or the things of the Spirit? What is the evidence in your life?
As you touch or hover over each picture in the four small squares above, they will be magnified in the main square. This demonstrates what happens in our minds; what we focus on becomes enlarged in our minds, to the exclusion of other things. When we get to see a larger frame, and see how the smaller parts fit together, our understanding often shifts.
Prev  Next
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
© Focus On Purpose July 2017

Closing the

Garden Gate

“I am the gate! If anyone comes in

through Me, he will be saved. He

will come and go and find pasture.”

John 10:9 (Tree of Life Version)

Mercy, Forgiveness, Compassion, and Wisdom

Mercy If you command your young son not to climb up onto your high garden wall, but he disobeys, falls, and breaks his arm, do you just leave him suffering on the ground? As he lies there, crying in pain, do you give him a hiding, or a lecture on how naughty he was and that this is now his punishment? No, you would rush over, comfort him, and attend to his  broken arm, would you not? However, while doing that, you may use this teaching moment and gently instruct him that his pain is the consequence of disobedience; that your command was for the purpose of his protection. In addition to the immediate pain, there will be longer-term effects, like not being able to ride his bike, or swim with his friends, for a few weeks. In the same way, God lovingly attends to Adam and Eve; He prepares them for the road ahead. He binds up their wounds as He offers forgiveness through the sacrifice of an animal, and He Makes leather clothes for them to cover their shame. These garments were not loin- cloths, as some translators suggest, rather the Hebrew word speaks of a dress or tunic. God’s Commands God's commands are not for the purpose of restricting us, or controlling us. God has given us a free will and we have a choice as to whether we will obey Him or not. However, just as the physical world has laws, such as gravity, governing the proper functioning of the physical creation, so there are also spiritual laws governing the spiritual realm. If we break the law of gravity, we can be seriously injured, or even killed; likewise when we break the spiritual laws.   God is the only eternal being and because He is love, the laws of the spiritual world are all based on others-focussed love. We see this so clearly when Jesus tells us that there are only really two commandments - To love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbours as ourselves. All other commands are a fleshing out of these two Laws. God is not a Narcissist, that He commands us to love Him. He commands us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbours as ourselves, so that our love is focused outwardly. Love needs a focus, and if it is not outward, it will turn inward. It is us who have the potential to narcissism - to love ourselves above all, and others for how they make us feel good.  This kind of love leads to death. If we focus our love on God primarily, we will be in the position experience His love for us, which will then overflow to those around us. Because God is the Source of Life and Love, this flow from God through us, brings Life. We are only able to love God because He loved us first (see 1 John 4:19) and demonstrated that love through Jesus. As we begin to open ourselves up to God to get to know His love experientially, seeing it in every facet of our day,  His love will become more and more real to us, so that it overflows out of our hearts to others around us. Eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil broke the first of these laws - Adam and Eve loved themselves more than they loved God. Had they loved God with all their hearts, minds, souls, and might, satan would have had no hook to which to attach his lies. Having broken this spiritual law, they brought into their lives the effects of death in all it's forms. How Do You Really See God? Reading Genesis 3, it is so easy to see a wrathful God cursing Adam and Eve and kicking them out of their home, because they offended Him by disobeying one command once.  With this as our introduction to God, it is very easy to form a picture of a highly volatile, perfectionistic God Who demands a standard we are unable to reach. This is the picture satan desires us to hold; this is the picture of the temperamental pagan gods, not the One Who desires us to trust Him, Who draws us with cords of lovingkindness, Who credits our faith (trust in Him) as righteousness, and Who desires that we call Him Abba, Daddy. Though a loving father will discipline his child, that discipline may take on many different forms. Many times, effective discipline may be purely instructive in the midst of painful or uncomfortable consequences of disobedience; it may be the withdrawal of privileges, or rewards, where appropriate; it way also be corporal punishment, though this is largely outlawed in many countries. As I look back on my own childhood, discipline in all forms was very much a part of home life, yet the discipline that had the greatest impact on my life, was instructive discipline, that flowed from deep love in key situations. And it is this form of discpline that God uses for Adam and Eve, Was Satan Actually Speaking Truth? Reading Genesis 3:22 as it appears in many translations, seems as though Satan was telling the truth, does it not? He intimated that God was keeping them from becoming like Him, did he not? Here in verse 22 God is quoted as saying, “Behold, the man has become one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever…” (Gen 3:22 NASB - Emphasis mine) The interpretation of commentaries regarding the underlined phrase above,  are almost as diverse as the authors of those commentaries. Though a few speak of God’s grace, others portray God as speaking with "holy irony and sarcasm," designed to bring “humiliation and shame,” and some just avoid that phrase altogether. But God is a God of love, Who describes Himself as being full of lovingkindness, compassion, mercy, and grace; not a God who indulges in "holy irony" and "sarcasm" for the purpose of "humiliation and shame"!   Did God not just demonstrate His loving compassion in verse 21, as He clothed Adam and Eve? Later, Solomon would teach us saying, "Love covers all transgressions... " (Prov 10:12 (b)) , and even later, Peter would echo these words, saying, “... love covers a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8) . So why would a God of lovingkindness, mercy, and compassion, One Who says of Himself that He is slow to anger and quick to forgive, use sarcasm to shame and humiliate Adam and Eve on their first transgression? As I wrestled over this verse for many months, I felt the Lord lead me to a Hebrew word that I believe is key in the understanding of this verse. The Hebrew word He 'highlighted' for me, was the word translated as "of Us" as in, "the man has become one of Us". Brown-Driver-Briggs states that this Hebrew word is a  “preposition expressing the idea of separation, hence out of, from, on account of, off, on the side of, since, above, than, so that not ... with verbs expressing (or implying) separation or removal, whether from a person or place, or in any direction, also from guilt, calamity, etc. (Emhasis mine) The word for 'knowing' that God uses in speaking of knowledge of good and evil in Genesis 3:22 is da'at, which comes from the root word Yada, which speaks of experiential knowledge. According to modern Hebrew, da’at can also be translated as : Common sense, logic, awareness, consciousness, or opinion. (DoItInHebrew.com) In this verse, da’at is prefixed by the Hebrew letter Lamed, which serves as a preposition meaning: “to, unto, into, toward, during, for, about, according to, at, by, of, with, in, within, each, every, as, a belonging to. ... providing in the physical realm a direct association or connection of one thing to or with another.” (“Beyond the Hebrew Lexicon” Chaim Bentorah) Before Adam sinned, he was one with God. After eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, he became one separated from God to common sense opinions, formed through logic gained by conscious, subjective, experience of good and evil. Paul tell us that we become slaves on the one we choose to obey : “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or obedience resulting in righteousness.” (Romans 6:16) As Adam and Eve chose to trust satan above God, they and all of their unborn descendants became slaves to satan, as their focus moved from God to the physical desires and cravings of the flesh : “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set of the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:5-8) God has not separated Himself from us, it is us who have separated ourselves from God as we run around seeking to fulfil our self-focused desires and ambitions, using our common sense opinions (including the collective common sense of community, through synergies), logic, and ‘life experience’, gained through our subjective experiences of what seems good and what seems evil. I have already written about my thoughts on the Tree of Life. The Bible does not tell us much regarding this tree, so my conclusions are really no more than my opinion and you need to ask God to reveal His truth to you, but there is certainly more to these two trees than we are able to grasp. However, a thought I would like to leave with you at the point is : in order for us to be reconciled to God, there now needs to be a death - a dying to feshly self-rulership. Jesus took the penalty for our sin as He died on the cross in our place, but that does not mean that we can continue life as usual. To become one with God once again, we have to let go of, or die to, our self-focus, or self-will, and surrender to His way in every area of our lives. So there is an aspect of death we must utilize in order to be free to walk in fullness of life; it is an aspect of death only made available through Jesus' death, for this aspect makes death a door into Life eternal. Eating from the Tree of Life would now be detrimental to the human race, so God sent Adam out of the Garden and stationed an angel to guard the way to the tree. And it is here that the language becomes stronger. Genesis 3:24 says that God drove Adam out of the Garden. The Hebrew word translated as 'drove' can also be translated as "expel”, "eject", or "banish"; it is a word that is used in Talmudic and Jewish Law for divorce. (DoItInHebrew. com) It is interesting to note here, that God is specifically addressing Adam. In Genesis 3:17 God curses the ground, but specifically tells Adam that the ground is cursed on account of his sin.  Eve ate the fruit because she had been deceived, Adam simply ate because Eve gave the fruit to him; not because he had been deceived.   An addition to this, God had commanded Adam not to eat the fruit; this command was given before Eve was created. God's charge against Adam was that he had listened to the voice of his wife above the voice of God. As satan had tried to set himself above God (See Isaiah 14:12-14) , so did Adam. He effecively stood alongside satan as be blamed God for being the reason for his fall; he ate because of the woman God had given to him. Adam set himself as judge over God. In this, Adam had chosen a new master and now he must live life under that master; he cannot dwell in two kingdoms at the same time and so he is expelled from the Garden. One thing sadly lacking in this story, is that there is no mention of Adam and Eve asking God for forgiveness. I wonder how things would have turned out if they had? And now, where are you in this picture? What is your heart set upon? The things of the flesh? Or the things of the Spirit? What is the evidence in your life?
As you touch or hover over each picture in the four small squares above, they will be magnified in the main square. This demonstrates what happens in our minds; what we focus on becomes enlarged in our minds, to the exclusion of other things. When we get to see a larger frame, and see how the smaller parts fit together, our understanding often shifts.
Prev Next