Understanding The Fall Of Mankind
The fall simplified would work this way; God lives by His Word. In fact, if He says it, He will do it! When He made a covenant with man for Eternal Life with Him, or death without Him He meant it. Man would live forever, like it or not! If man hadn't disobeyed God, his life would have been eternally with God, but because of disobedience, man (Adam, his wife and offspring) were separated from God, put out of Eden and left to work the earth. Eve (Adam's Wife) would suffer the pain of child birth and service to her husband. And all mankind would now suffer a new reality of life being separated from God. When Adam and Eve saw the nakedness of themselves and each other they suddenly understood their exposed condition. They were each ashamed of their condition and covered themselves with fig leaves. When God called out to them, they stood ashamed before God and began blaming each other, in the hopes of excusing themselves from the shame and anxiety of this embarrassing nakedness that wouldn't go away. The eating of this fruit caused the man and his wife to suffer a fate (some would say) worse than death. They were embarrassed, shamed and humiliated; and on top of all this they would suffer separation from God, the pain of living and the suffrage of dying.
Why Didn't The Fig Leaves Work?
Something I always thought was interesting was why didn't the fig leaves work. In other words, even after Adam and Eve covered themselves they still felt shame. Why ? I put my noggin to work on this question and I realized some very interesting points.
The fig leaves only covered their nakedness toward each other, but not toward God. Once they were covered they might have felt some relief from shame in front of each other, but they still had a little explaining to do when God stopped by that evening (See Fig 1). Of Course God knew! The fact is, when you read the account (in Genesis 3.9-10) they still considered themselves naked (at least before God).
Adam and Eve still try to hide from God knowing that in God's eyes they are completely naked and ashamed. The evidence of this is that according to the account (Genesis 3. 9-10). God calls Adam (who at first was hiding from God). Only after God calls out for Adam does Adam explain himself. Immediately he reveals to us that he was still naked and he tried to hide from God.
Adam and Eve would remain "Naked and Ashamed" until God made a remedy to the situation that was satisfactory to God Himself. In the end animals were sacrificed (Genesis 3.21) "Unto Adam and also to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them." In other words, the reason the fig leaves didn't work is, while they might have satisfied Adam and Eve's shame of nakedness toward each other, the leaves were completely unsatisfactory to God. God's remedy therefore was to kill (or sacrifice) His (god's) innocent animals to pay and cloth Adam and Eve for the recklessness of their behavior. God then clothed them (Adam and Eve) in the skins of the sacrificed animals thereby making clear that only these were suitable garments for covering the nakedness of man before God.
The sacrifice of animals for the sake of man and God's love for man was the first sign of what was to come concerning man and his new and altered relationship with God. In fact, you could say that God loved man so much that he was willing to sacrifice another part of His creation to keep man's relationship with God an on going one.
Finally, we realize in small part that God requires something very specific and unique when man performs errors against Him. First, God requires the payment of a prescribed death of one (the specific animals that we will see later) for the offence of the other (man) to live. Second we see that now man has a new nature since eating of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. This new nature puts man in a condition where by he has emotional eruptions or lustings that displeases God. This new condition alone is displeasing to God; Also displeasing, is his decisions to act on them. Therefore, man must continually perform prescribed sacrifices to maintain a working relationship with God. It is clear that God loved man so much that He created this way of sacrificial forgiveness to continue His ongoing relationship with man. Also, if man chooses through his free will to please God, he will choose to please God by performing the prescribed sacrifices.
Love, Blood, and Death for the Errors of Sin
When God made a remedy for Adam and Eve, the declaration of "Sacrificial Death for the Error of Sin" was declared. The animals that forfeit their lives for Adam and Eve was the very first sacrifice of documented history (if the Bible is correct, and I believe it is!). Furthermore, from that day forward the only remedy for man's errors would be paid for by the sacrifice of one life for another. This would be the doctrine of sacrifice and love. In other words, if you loved God you would sacrifice based on what pleased God. This is confirmed in the story of Cain the first son of Adam. We see the very first man (Cain) who chose not o please God (See Cain's account in Genesis Chapter 4, 1-24). Cain brought a displeasing sacrifice to God. It failed in two ways: first it wasn't first, best and choicest of his crop and second it wasn't a prescribed animal sacrifice. Cain further compounds the problems after his failure by neglecting to do what God required of Him after the wrong sacrifice. God explains to Cain if you do the right thing your sacrifice will be accepted. So what does Cain do? He murdered his brother (Able) because he did please God. The result of this event is Able is dead with no lineage, Cain is cursed by God and sent from the land of his family, and Cain's lineage (Adam's first strength) doesn't get past the great flood, his lineage was cut off from Adam's. Men (all Adam and Eve's children) stop praising God for fear of their life until Seth (a new servant of God) is born, and Cain is remembered as the first murderer of mankind.
God Still Loved Cain
However, through it all God still loved Cain and protected him (Genesis 4.15). An interesting side note of Cain is, even after God protects him (Cain), it appears that Cain and his offspring never performs sacrifice toward God. Furthermore, Cain's great, great, great grandson (Lamech) Kills a young man, and Cain's story ends
The plans of God for man were ruined, But! God came back with Love.
One of the most interesting things in the Bible, in fact, throughout the Bible is God's love for man (even in man's fallen state). Yet God still loves man and creates ways to communicate with him. The fact is, man sinned and offended God, but God was the one who found ways to be united with man and not the other way around. After man's fall he runs and hides from God. However, to the contrary, God seeks man out after they fell. Then God clothed him and re-established a plan for them. Briefly, when I say God's plan was ruined, here's what I mean! When man sinned it opened up a new path revealing what God would need to do, to rescue man from his wrong doing. The original plan was now ruined by man and God had to activate plan "B" (The sacrificial Plan). Meaning: If Adam never sinned then everything was great, and no plan "B" was necessary. However, Adam did sin and plan "B" became necessary, if God was to rescue man. This would open a new can of worms for God (so to speak). Earlier we saw in the two paragraphs above: "Why Didn't The Fig Leaves Work?" and "Blood and Death for the Errors of Sin" God provided with animal sacrifice to cover man's nakedness. Those sacrifices were simply a demonstration and a foretelling of sacrifices to come. As time, humanity and God's sacrificial plan (plan "B") wore on other sacrificial types were revealed to show how God would intervene for man: God would become like the animals He (God) first sacrificed for clothing to cover the man's nakedness, except this time God Himself will cover all of man's sins (not just his nakedness). Therefore, you could say that when God sacrificed Himself He became the clothing that covers the sin of the world. And any man who chose to accept that sacrifice would be looked on by God as one who intended to please God; just as Adam and Eve chose to wear the sacrificial animal skins slain for their nakedness, we choose God who was slain for ours.
The Sacrificial Plan of Love Presses On From Age To Age
The Sacrificial Plan was put in place to provide man a choice (if he wanted it) as a way to be forgiven of his offenses toward God whom he offended. Through the passage of time, man's sinful side would worsen and man would steadily distance himself from God, until God's would be forced to destroy all mankind because of his un-turning attitude from his sinful nature. However, even for the sake of one (Noah) God was willing to rescue him from this particularly perverse (extremely sinful) generation and start all over, using Noah as a new Adam (So to speak). I'd like to point out that man grieved God. God said, (Genesis 6.3,5-6) "My spirit shall not always strive with man…And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the Earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he made man on the Earth, and it grieved Him at his heart." In these verses we see how God love's man, and we also see how man has pushed God to this point. God Loved man and He was grieved in his heart because man chose evil continually. Interestingly, God had mercy on Noah (and Noah's family because of him). God considered Noah worthy of saving. The rest of all mankind, however, was destroyed in the great flood known as the deluge. In thanks giving Noah sacrificed animals to God keeping with the traditions of Adam, Able and Seth.
God Chooses Israel to Tell of Sacrifice and Love
The sacrificial plan was passed on to man through oral tradition from God to Adam (after his fall). Then from God and Adam to his (Adam's) offspring; Then to the following generations by oral communication between men, while at the same time, from time to time, a few people that God selects to communicate with directly, such as: Enoch, Noah, and Abram (Abraham). Through the ages God has spoken to numerous people directly. However, in this writing, I want to focus on Israel. I know what you're thinking; Israel's a nation, right? The fact is, God chose Israel to communicate His doctrine of sacrifice and love to the world. However, in the beginning of Israel's history, it did not begin as a nation, but rather as a man. In fact, Israel's name was Jacob before he was called Israel. Jacob was the son of Isaac, and Isaac was the son of Abraham, who God promised would become a nation of people who would bless the whole world. The Israelites received their name as a people from God who visited earth to wrestle with this man named Jacob. At the end of the fight, God blessed Jacob and said (Genesis 32,27) "What is thy name? And he said "Jacob. And He (God) said , thy name shall be called no more Jacob, But Israel…" So, Jacob who was surnamed Israel, became the father of the Nation of Israel. It is these people who kept the inspired legendary stories in at least the oral tradition (and possibly written form. We are waiting on archeology for that information) alive through the generations to come. When Israel became old, a famine struck in the land forcing Israel to move to Goshen in the nation of Egypt. Israel settled there and became a nation known to the Egyptians as the Israelites. As time pressed on the Israelites became slaves to the Egyptians (as was promised to Abram by God in the legend Genesis 15.13-21). Egypt would loose her hold on Israel and Israel would leave Egypt with great wealth and they would take the land from the river of Egypt to the River Euphrates.
The Covenant Maker Must Die
Understanding the sacrificial plan of God is a thread that shows up in numerous religions throughout history. The fact is, the sacrificial plan of God is a covenant or an agreement. As we move into the studies of sacrifice and the history of the Israelites, we learn that the Bible is a very stable source of history. The only way this or any true covenant can be changed is if the covenant maker were to die (in this case, God ). If God were to die, the covenant would be revert back to special stipulations allowing the receiver (man) to obtain their inheritance. This concept is the last will or testament. God reveals in these stipulations that the only way man can obtain eternal life with Him is that man must accept this historically documented fact; that is that God Himself will come to the Earth in the form of a man (Namely Jesus Christ) and allow himself to be put to death, so that we can obtain the inheritance of eternal life with Him. Once God dies his covenant dies as well. This leaves only the stipulation or the will of the deceased: (Remember the covenant maker had to die first). There are of course stipulations when there is a covenant.
First you must confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and that God has raised Him from the dead; only then will you be saved from separation from God. This is done so that by your "free will." You accept a truth about yourself. You are telling yourself and God that your life has flaws and various imperfections. Furthermore, you are recognizing that they are unpleasing to God. You also recognize that as long as you live in this flesh and in this world you are going to continue to make mistakes, and be imperfect. Therefore you and God come to an agreement, that is this: As long as you're in this world you're going to make errors. Because you've accepted His Son Jesus Christ He's going to continue to forgive you of all those errors because even in your imperfections you have accepted His Son and effort to live a life that is pleasing to Him. The fact is we can't get to God by our good works. Why? First, because we are not and never can be as great as He intended us to be when He Made Adam. Like it or not Adam was perfect. Therefore, even when we are at our very best doing as good as we can God still sees us as unacceptable. We must give Him what is pleasing to Him in order to gain His acceptance. In order to do that we must accept Jesus Christ as Lord. That's a darn good arrangement if you ask me. Next, you must live a life that is pleasing to God . That is to Love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself (and yes you will screw up). When a person decides to follow God their show of love for Him is their fruit or the works that they do in this life. Do your good works mean that they will save you from Hell? Absolutely NOT! You can't work your way to Heaven. Works shows only the sincerity of the persons heart and mind. Show me a man that loves God and I'll show you a man who loves his neighbor. Show me a man that hates his neighbor and I'll show you a God hater. By loving God and loving your neighbor you are providing an outward sign to God, yourself and the world that you have chosen a life that is pleasing to Him. This is the basic plan of the "Threshing Floor" and is how God separates the people who want to be His children from those who do not! Finally, it's a choice of each persons "free will". You should notice that God doesn't force Himself on anyone therefore, don't force God on others. It is the ultimate expression of "free will!"
Love, Forgiveness, Forbearance and Understanding
Now that we know the starting place of our relationship with God that is: Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we now have the starting point for what God calls the "Beginning of Wisdom." That is the fear of God.
How do we love our neighbor? Here is the most practical part of our faith and at the same time it probably the most difficult and misunderstood. In my life as a Christian there were people that I felt like I hated just because of the way they looked at me or the way they spoke (Call it a bad first impression). I'm not taking race, origin, or ethnicity I'm talking about just a way about someone that puts you on edge or in a bad frame of mind. The question is how do you over come the recoil effect it has on you so that you don't make a snap judgment, or snap to anger and become vicious yourself. Just because you're a Christian doesn't mean you don't suffer the same bad fruit and works as the next person. Being a Christian means that you've accepted Jesus Christ and you are now going to make serious efforts to control the less desirable side of yourself. The fact is that the only way to control your emotions is to understand them better and to understand the person your emotions are targeting. Your emotions are a defense weapon. They keep undesirable actions from being imposed on your person. They protect you and help to keep you out of trouble. On the other hand you may have a proverbial "Hair Action Trigger Finger" and bite some ones head off before they get a sentence out. The simple truth is it's much easier than you think if your willing to apply a couple of Godly principals: Love, Understanding and Forgiveness. What is Love? When you or a person has undesirable traits such as a liar, hater, a complainer, prejudice, impatient, arrogant, malicious, or a gossiper (to name a few): there are always reasons for it. Usually for some reason or other they were forced to use these tactics, and they realized that they worked for their circumstances. However, unfortunately for them and you this person doesn't realize that most people don't respond well to them. But what about you? How do you perceive these traits? I have learned that if a person has a bad trait it may be the result of poor development by that persons authority figure. I feel in my heart that a person lies because somewhere in their life they were forced to lie. For instance, what if as a youngster a child tells the truth but the truth is not what the authority figure wants to hear. The youngster may get yelled at, or beaten. So to overcome this the youngster quickly learns the art of lying. Understanding this possibility makes it much easier to forgive their actions and try to help that person find a better path. If you have trouble forgiving someone consider this: they lack understanding of love and patience that God teaches us. Therefore, without understanding they can never act properly until they learn it. If I don't know how to drive, getting mad at me for being a bad driver doesn't solve the problem. It only makes matters worse. But if you explain with patience the skills needed to drive I will learn and overcome my ignorance.
In order to forgive you must understand that the person needing forgiveness has little or no understanding of the wrong they've committed. In fact they probably feel that what they are doing is right. The continuation of forgiveness for someone continuously doing the same sin wrong is forbearance. A person takes time to get it right. Therefore God requires forbearance. Forbearance is part 2 of forgiveness. Always encouraging always forgiving always explaining the error until the person gets it. Explanation gives understanding. You must explain to the person what they did wrong. Perhaps they'll respond favorable and try to correct their behavior. If after some tries you see no improvement concerning their lying or what ever wrong doing, then you know (for your own edification) you've truly forgiven the person. What about if they don't change? Well, some people take a long time to get things right. However, unless we are captives to someone and subject to people in authority such as a prisoner, you are not required to endure anyone's abuse. Simply do what the apostle Paul recommends. Forgive them. Wipe the dust off your feet and move on. The blood is off your hands because you did what God required, namely: your forgave them: your forbore them over and over: you tried to teach them and they choose not to accept your teaching. If you decide to move on always leave the door open for the opportunity of repentance. They may see it your way eventually. That's love and forbearance.
Love and Forbearance Concerning Nation To Nation Relationships
Next to come!