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From Figs to Britches

by Kristen C. Strocchia

“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21

Image result for Types of Native American clothingFrom the first sin on the planet to the last, only bloodshed can atone–that is make amends, make reparation, make restitution, or set to right. Adam and Eve’s very first sin allowed evil into the world, exposed their shame and guilt, riddled their relationship with God in fear, and required that an animal be sacrificed to cover their nakedness.

And here we see that God is the one who lets fall the axe. He kills one of His own creatures to cover the sin of the man created in His own image and the woman who was taken from his side. But why did God need to make them clothes form animal hide when Adam and Eve had already covered themselves in fig leaf clothing [Genesis 3:7]?

Clearly, God’s message to them is that the fig leaves were inadequate. Perhaps Adam and Eve didn’t cover enough of themselves. Perhaps the fig leaf garments would have worn out too quickly so that they would regularly find themselves remaking their clothes. Perhaps the evil that they’d allowed into the world would too easily tear through fig leaves, hurting Adam and Eve. Whatever the exact reason, we can be sure of one thing, their chosen sin-cover was insufficient physically as well as spiritually.

The same is true of our lives today. All we like sheep have gone astray [Isaiah 53:6]. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God [Romans3:23]. There is no one righteous, not even one [Romans 3:10]. Unlike Adam and Eve, we were born into sinful human bodies and a sin-bound world. But just like them, God has offered a sacrifice to make amends for the sin we’re in. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life,” [John 3:16].

When we try to say, “I’m a good person,” or, “I’ve never hurt anyone, at least not on purpose,” we’re trying to cover ourselves with fig leaves just like Adam and Eve did about 6,000 years ago. If we try to extract from the Bible a checklist of works that will get us into heaven, we’re denying the truth that blood must be shed to atone for our sins. Scripture is clear, that the wages of sin is death [Romans 6:23], but it is also clear that our own sinful deaths will never gain us access to eternity with our holy Creator in heaven. Only Jesus–the Son of God–and him crucified in our place can secure our eternity.

When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, we–like Adam and Eve before us–put on the fur garments that God has specially made to cover our sins. For all of us who are baptized into Christ have clothed ourselves with Christ [Galatians 3:27]. And it is His righteousness alone that can enter heaven’s gates one day.

Have you accepted Christ’s sacrifice for your sin? Or are you trying to cover yourself with good works in hopes you can do enough to gain eternity?

Where Are You?

by Kristen C. Strocchia

“But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Genesis 3:9-10

Image result for hiding in trees“Shh! I think I hear God coming!” Can’t you just hear Adam and Eve whispering and shushing one another like little children who know they’ve done something terribly wrong? Satan was right about this one thing, they would now know–by experience–good and evil. God’s goodness contrasted with the sinful evil that Adam and Eve had invited into the world.

But even though God is omniscient–all-knowing–He calls out to Adam with a very pointed question. It’s not to alert God to Adam’s presence that He asks, “Where are you?” It’s to bring Adam to a place of spiritual understanding about where he now stands–separated from God by his own choosing.

And make no mistake, the evil of sin shatters, first of all, our relationship to God.

How lovingly our Creator had prepared everything at the Creation, adding man as the pinnacle at just the right time. How carefully He endowed man with His own breath and image, forming him by hand as a unique individual among the whole of Creation. Adam was given life to love and be loved by God.

Yet the first effect of sin was for Adam to fear God. “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid…” [Genesis 3:10].

He was afraid because he now understood the holiness of God contrasted to the newly fallen sinfulness of his human nature. He was afraid because he recognized God’s sovereignty and felt the weight of his disobedience, his lawless, guilty and shameful choice to break faith with the One who made him. He was afraid, and he hid.

Six-thousand years later, we find ourselves in the same predicament as Adam. Sin pervades our human nature by virtue of being descended from Adam [Romans 5:12]. God lovingly knits us together in our mother’s womb [Psalm 139:13], maintains the order of the cosmos to graciously provide for our every need, and sends testimony after testimony of Himself in every possible way [Romans 1:20], and yet we humans still disobey Him.

We disobey Him. We hide from Him. We try to say that He doesn’t exist so that we have no God to fear but ourselves.

But just like with Adam, God speaks into every heart, asking one first question, “Where are you?” He asks for two reasons: 1) So we can come to understand our spiritual distance from Him; and 2) So we can choose to do something about it [James 4:8; John 3:16; Matthew 7:78; Isaiah 55: 6-7].

Have you heeded God’s first question to you? Where are you spiritually? And what are you doing about your relationship with Him?

The Pattern of Satan’s Lie

by Kristen C. Strocchia

“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.” Genesis 3:4-5

Image result for skink with appleHook–“Did God really say?”

Line–“You will not certainly die.”

Sinker–“You will be like God.”

After raising doubt, the enemy will always assure us that we won’t actually receive the consequence for our choices and actions. And when Adam and Eve first disobeyed God, it seemed like maybe the serpent was right after all. They didn’t die! Well, at least not until about 900 years later [Genesis 5:5]. But the wages of sin is death [Romans 6:23]. And Adam–and Eve–most certainly did die.

Satan lied.

He lied while making a very tempting and twisted promise. See, Eve knew God. She loved God. She was made in God’s image. So becoming like God may have sounded like a good thing. I mean, wouldn’t it please God to have two more someones just like Him? Plus, knowing good and evil would be a good thing, right? Easier to make right choices. Less that God had to worry about for them. More small talk possibilities when God came to visit.

But here again, Satan lied.

The French and Spanish languages both have two verbs that translate into the English to know: Savoir/Saber [to know facts/how to do something] and Connaitre/Conocer [to know /become acquainted with by having experienced]. Satan refers to knowledge with Eve as casually as if he’s just talking about–savoir/saber–book learning, being able to pass a multiple choice test about good and evil. But God was trying to keep them from–connaitre/conocer–becoming acquainted with, evil in particular, by experiencing it.

And Satan has told this same lie throughout his existence. He said in his heart, “I will be like the Most High,” [Isaiah 14:14]. He convinced half the angels in heaven that they could be equals to their Creator. He convinced Adam and Eve that they could be like God as well[Genesis 3:5]. And he’s still peddling the be your own God lie to mankind today.

     You don’t have to obey your parents. They don’t really understand you. You’re an individual. Make your own choices.

     You don’t have to listen your teachers. What do they know anyway?

     You don’t have to follow the laws. Look at everyone else who bends and breaks them and gets away with it. Why shouldn’t you?

     You don’t have to obey God. First of all, He probably doesn’t even exist. And second, if He does, He’s too intolerant and narrow minded to deserve your obedience anyway.

We need to pay careful attention to our own speech–and that of those who befriend, teach and/or advise us–to know if we’re repeating any of Satan’s pattern. If we hear ourselves or others say things like:

Did [authority name] really say…? That won’t happen! They’re just trying to…[i.e.]keep you from having fun. Be true to yourself.

Do you have doubts about something God said? Trust Him. Watch out for the pattern of Satan’s lie that you or others may be speaking into your situation to justify doing things your own way instead of God’s.

The Vegetarian Order

by Kristen C. Strocchia

“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.” Genesis 1:29-31

Image result for vegetables on hay bale + imageRewind to Day 3 when God made land and filled it with seed-bearing plants and trees with seed-bearing fruits. He did so, knowing full well that He intended these plants to sustain His creation–both in respiration and in nutrition.

Yes, man and every creature in his care were created vegetarian.

Why? Before sin, there was no death [Romans 5:12]. Humans killing animals for food and animals killing humans for food would mean death in the world before sin.

But even 726 years after Adam succumbed to the death purchased with His own sin, when Noah entered the ark with his family, every breathing creature was still vegetarian–which certainly made it easier to share the ark with all those animals for the better part of a year.

So then why aren’t we all still vegetarian today?

Well, after Noah and his family left the ark, God blessed them and told them–just as He commanded Adam and Eve in the Creation–to fill the earth. But rather than reminding them that He made them vegetarians, God told them this time that, “All the animals of the earth, all the birds of the sky, all the small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the fish in the sea will look on you with fear and terror. I have placed them in your power. I have given them to you for food, just as I have given you grain and vegetables,” Genesis 9:2-3.

Death and destruction were permitted access to the Creation through sin’s entrance into the world. And with each passing generation, the physical and spiritual effects of sin increase. The post-flood world would know death like never before–creation tearing one another apart to survive.

But when the sun set and rose for the third time, though the first time over the finished Creation, God looked on His ultimate handiwork–man–made in His image to rule over the animals. When He saw the perfect and peaceful symbiosis of all that He had made on the earth–land, seas, skies–and in the heavens. He proclaimed that it was very good.

Many people today question if God really is good because of the bloodshed in the world. But God never desired this to be so. He created us not even to shed blood for food. Sin brought bloodshed and the need for bloodshed. And man’s freewill brought sin.

Yet a day is coming, when the Creation will be restored to God’s original design. When God will once again say that it is very good. “In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all,” [Isaiah 11:6].

Are you ready for the day of the coming of the Lord when all will be restored? Do you have an answer for those who question God’s goodness based on the destroyed Creation around them?