Most of human history is a story of the struggle for authentic freedom against various forms of limitations, captivity, or enslavement.
Much of history is the hidden or open battle between the truth and a captivating lie.
People are often offended when lied to, and for good reason. Perjury is a crime in a court of law, also for a proper cause. Betrayals routinely begin with a sweet sounding, or even seductive, lie.
The First Lies and Temptations
In the ancient book of Genesis, after creating the universe, the earth, all creatures, and then finally humanity, those first two humans were placed in a garden known as Eden.
“15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 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.”
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2, NIV, Bible Gateway).”
But jump back a few verses.
“8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin[d] and onyx are also there.)” (Genesis 2, NIV, Bible Gateway).”
Keep in mind that in ancient times, there were no chapters, verses, or punctuation marks in scriptural texts. Those are latter editions designed to make references to a passage easier for a reader.
Also recall that the original biblical ‘books’ were scrolls written on parchment. 📜 Discoveries like the scrolls of Qumran are among the most ancient and most carefully preserved writings in human history. A comparison between our modern biblical texts and those ancient fragments reveals an astonishing accuracy.
Believers that lived thousands of years ago, before smart phones or electronic tablets, were careful to preserve what they believed to be the inspired word of God. They may well have carefully written and copied – millennia before Gutenberg’s printing press – what they sincerely believed was God’s eternal words to humanity.
You don’t mess with the words of the Creator, even if you don’t fully grasp their meaning. But let’s flash back to that account from Genesis about the garden in Eden.
“20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam[f] no suitable helper was found. 21 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[g] and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib[h] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 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.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
Of course, there was ‘no shame.’ There were no lies yet, no disobedience to God yet, and no sin yet.
Shame is a consequence. It is an embarrassment or recognition of some evil, however big or small.
Once more, the chapter or verse numbers and the words the phrase, “The Fall” would not have been in the original ancient texts. The term “the fall” means the fall from humanity’s original state of grace into ‘sin.’ Sin may simply be defined as ‘disobedience to the will of God.’ Now, jump back to Genesis, the names of the first book of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.
“3 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’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 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.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 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. 7 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.”
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring[i] and hers;
he will crush[j] your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
All temptations follow that same pattern. Before we do something that we suspect or know is wrong, there is a period – however brief or long – that the soul wrestles with the reasons to do or not to do what the temptation involves. People rationalize, and finally justify their decision to do what they suspect or know ought not to be one.
Let’s step back and understand that the Creator gave Adam and Eve Free will. They were given the freedom to choose between right or wrong. A world without sin would look like robots. One might say, God created a moral universe. That said, why is there evil in the world? Because of bad choices. Because of temptations – which are not yet sinful – and the succumbing to that temptation, which is the point of disobedience to God’s will.
Why does God’s will matter?
Because the Creator of all things and people made everything good, and out of pure love. The Creator’s will is for our good. Think of God as the perfect parent, who never loses patience, who may be described as ‘angry’ (disappointed over a bad decision) – but that’s a human term. God is changeless. He isn’t moody. Properly understood, God never stops loving us purely, but the Creator also never stops willing the perfect good of all. He doesn’t will only the good of a few. God doesn’t will merely the good of most. Rather, God wills the good of all humanity.
Recall, God has and had no need for the universe. As perfect, pure, eternal existence, God needed nothing. So why create? That is a kind of gift to share existence with mortals like you and me.
God is timeless, perfect in understanding, knowledge, power. None of us can manipulate or outsmart God. For God, yesteryear or a million years from now are all the same. As the short music video posted on the page from the linked text-image box below aptly says in the title, God sees all. Hiding from God is an ironic joke, because it can’t be done.
Angels and Devils
Before creating humanity, God created angels. They are creatures higher than us humans. They are pure spirits, without bodies, but may from time to time take on a visible form.
Scripture says that about a third of the angels rebelled, led by the devil known as Satan or Lucifer. The fall of those angels into sin occurred before the fall of humanity into sin. Devils – fallen angels – chose their state for all time.
Unlike we mortals, the angels – whose understanding and minds are higher than our own – make one choice for all eternity. Most angels opted to love and serve God by serving the yet to be created human race. But numbers of those formless creatures followed the ancient traditional cry of the rebel, Satan, “Non serviam!” In English, “I will not serve [implied: God or man]!”
Let’s hop back to the beginning, back to Genesis 1.1 and following.
The waters and some of the terminology used may be literal, and/or figurative or a metaphor.
Let’s skip to the creation of humanity, starting after the last part of Genesis verse 25, where the Creator deemed all that the universe God had made, good.
“…And God saw that it was good.
26 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, a and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”
In what sense did God make man in His own image and likeness? Once conceived, a human soul never dies. The soul is eternal, but the body the soul inhabits dies because of that fall from that original state of perfect grace the first parents had. If Adam and Eve had never sin, their bodies would have never died.
Why are we today born into a fallen state instead of a state of perfect grace? Because had we been one of those first parents, had we been Adam or Eve, we too would have been tempted in much the same way as they were. God’s perfectly fair.
So that original rebel, that devil who took the form of a snake or serpent in Eden, tempted man and woman with something they already had. God made the first couple divine like, in the sense that the Creator made humans good and with eternal souls.
It’s like Satan tricked Adam and Eve into doing something for the sake of a desire that they ironically already possessed. What was so different about that particular piece of fruit of that one tree? We can shake our heads, but we have done similarly ourselves. It goes beyond the scope of this column, but every temptation is in that sense the same. As eternal souls that live on after the physical body dies, any merely human temptation is selling out a higher good we already have a claim to in exchange for a lesser desire.
Each sin, properly understood, is a tempting but bad deal.
So, in a parental sense, via our first parents, we were there in Eden. We – through those first parents – made that fall from perfection into sin. Certainly, we each make to various degrees make similarly bad choices, day by day.
God didn’t make us all alike, as a look around at other reveals. Even twins or triplets differ in talents or interests. Yet a perfect and wise Creator does nothing that is unfair, we might not understand it at the time, but God makes no mistakes.
Thousands of years after Eden, let’s jump into and observe the events in the Garden of Gethsemane. That is where Judas Iscariot carried out the betrayal of Jesus that he had already decided to do when Judas bargained to get 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus.
Imagine. Judas had walked, ate, listened to and talked with Jesus. Judas had witnessed firsthand the miracles, including Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. And that same Judas sold Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver? The worst bad bargain of all time.
Let’s not be too harsh in judging the traitor Judas. That could have been you or me. Every time we opt for a lower desire instead of for a higher good, we’ve done something similar.
Judas betrayed Jesus like this. From Matthew chapter 26:
“47 While He was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, suddenly arrived. A large mob, with swords and clubs, was with him from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 His betrayer had given them a sign: “The One I kiss, He’s the One; arrest Him!” 49 So he went right up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.
50 “Friend,” Jesus asked him, “why have you come?”[a]
Then they came up, took hold of Jesus, and arrested Him.”
When you, I, or others are betrayed, it is often with a similar pattern. Some betrayals begin behind your back, out of sight, much like Judas plotted to betray Jesus out of sight. But then the plotters may act face-to-face. That can include nice sounding words, or even acts of faked friendship. In parts of the world – including the Middle East – it is not uncommon for men to kiss each other on the cheek, as a particularly friendly greeting. It’s the kind of sign a father and son might share in kissing each other on the cheek.
Jesus’ Betrayal and Our Own
To atone for the evil of sin, a perfect man had to make amends. Jesus, says Scripture, did no evil did, ever. God, says Christian faith, took the form of an actual man to atone for the sins of humanity. God allowed Himself in the person of Jesus to live, work, be tempted, suffer and die an unjust death. The goal was not so that people would keep on sinning. The woman caught in adultery that Jesus showed mercy to was admonished to ‘go and sin no more.’
No number or volumes of merely human laws can make this world perfect. That’s a fool’s errand. The Creator gave humanity’s first parents only one prohibition, ‘don’t eat of the fruit of that one tree.’ Adam and Eve fell into the slick temptation of the devil to do just that one thing. To eat of the proverbial forbidden fruit.
Jesus did more than just atone for sin, or more than perform miracles to reveal Who He Is. Jesus practiced what He preached. He gave us lived examples to follow. We can identify with Jesus, and those with Him.
So, your gifts or talents are different than mine, or my wife or son’s. We may co-exist at this time with the foreknowledge of timeless God. We can learn what the Creator sought to teach, or we can ignore it as Judas did.
Starting with the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, to that Garden of Gethsemane, humanity has struggled to keep the Ten Commandments that God gave Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai after the Exodus out of Egypt in search of the Promised Land.
Tonight, starts the Jewish feast of the Passover. That’s tied to the freeing of the Israelites from the slavery and oppression of the ancient Egyptians. The forms of slavery may have changed, but there is slavery now, and slavery then. Addiction, debt, or anything that has an improper control over you is a kind of enslavement.
The events of Holy Week, starting with the Last Supper on Holy Thursday are intertwined with Passover and the subsequent Exodus.
All sin is a betrayal, and every sin is based upon a fake promise of getting something we ought not have at that moment in time. Perhaps that desire is okay, later in life, when done honesty vs. dishonestly. With God the answer to a prayer is always in three forms, it is now, later, or never. What God doesn’t give you now is rationally for your own good. Nor should we pray for what we know to be forbidden.
The Ten Commandments – properly understood – are the most perfect laws possible. Those ten Jesus simplified into two. Those two? Love God with all your mind, strength, and heart, and then love your fellow human – your neighbor – as should love yourself.
There are different ways those ten commands are numbered, but they all cover the same ground.
Note that Jesus was a tekton – a craftsman who commonly used stone and wood. Jesus was a builder. Our industry should identify with and look to Jesus.
Our nation, our industry, both need rebuilding. We personally need a transformation too. My shortcomings are similar but different than yours. But we all have them, to various degrees. That’s why a degree of mutual understanding and forgiveness is merited, while at the same time giving no quarter to the deliberate and repeated acts of those who seek to defraud, harm, murder, rape, or steal.
Here on MHProNews we rail against deception and manipulation, be that political or in business. They are contrary to the divine will, as are any violation of the Ten Commandments.
A well-known personality in our industry claimed in a video interview to be an atheist. He’s given free will. He can’t be forced to believe. But my hunch is that soul – as intelligent as he is – knows that God exists. The Big Bang might have been the moment when time began, but where did that matter, and explosion come from in the first place? Logically, from the Creator of all things, Who could well have used a Big Bang to start it all off with.
Genesis says that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Once more, at Genesis 3:15, we read – with brackets added by this writer this time for clarity – the following.
And I [God, the Creator of all] will put enmity
between you [the serpent, the devil] and the woman,
and between your offspring [those who follow the path of evil] and hers [those who seek to follow the path of good];
he [the Savior, the Messiah] will crush your [the devil’s] head,
and you [the devil, those who follow the devil] will strike his [The Savior, the Messiah’s] heel.”
Trying to beat God is like nipping at the Creator’s heal. Pointless.
There was a first Adam, and a first Eve. There is a new Adam, and a new Eve. The children of humanity follow the path of evil or good. We slip, we fall. Ideally, we get up, dust ourselves clean, and start again.
Deliberate lies and deception often aim to deprive someone by trickery out of something that is their right. That’s why there are commandments in the first place, to give order and justice in a society that has deliberately bad actors.
The lies of today dimly reflect the betrayal observed in that second garden, when Judas knowingly sold out Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Those big boys who sell out others today do so for the sake of billions, not just a few coins. But in the end, will it be worth it?
Our bodies die, but the soul lives on. This life is temporary, but eternity means endless time. Why do some get tempted for what is a perceived temporary gain, to risk dying and falling into a pit of endless suffering?
The reason that biblical accounts – properly understood – have timeless value is because people keep doing the same things. It’s the struggle for human freedom. At its core, it can only truly occur in unity with the Divine truths and paths that a loving Creator has set forth for us.
It can be argued that most people want to earn their keep in a honest way. But some do so like the proverbial snake oil salesman, through cunning, deception, manipulation, and lies. There is always hope for redemption. But the wise don’t keep falling for the same old snake-like lies. Faith isn’t timid, it is for those made strong by the wisdom and courage that comes with faith in a God who Saves. That’s what Jeshua – Jesus – means. God saves. But that freedom from slavery occurs in the context of the mystery of humanity’s free will.
That’s why this terrible Friday is oddly called “good.” Humanity is given a sure path to be freed from slavery to sin. That’s why Passover the Exodus and Good Friday are intertwined. Thank God, it’s Friday. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, commentary, analysis.)
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By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony is the multiple award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
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