Tag Archives: Creation

Separation from God

Commiphora africana light

Read Genesis Chapters 1 and 2.

On Creation Day 6 God planted a garden in the east in Eden (Genesis 2: 8-9).  Most scholars believe that the location of Eden “in the east” is in reference to Israel, where Genesis was probably written. In the ancient Hebrew language, Eden means “delight.”  The Garden of Eden was a place of pristine and abundant natural beauty.  All manner of plants were present. A river ran through Eden to water the garden. The Bible did not give the river a name.  After leaving Eden, the river formed the headwaters of four rivers: the Pishon, Gihon, Tigris and Euphrates.  It’s tempting to conclude that Eden was located near present day Iraq because rivers named Tigris and Euphrates are located in Iraq; however, these Iraqi rivers are probably not the original rivers named in Genesis.  The devastating flood of Noah’s time destroyed and changed the topography of the land.  Later peoples probably named the present day rivers Tigris and Euphrates in the same manner that early American colonists named American locations after sites in Europe, e.g., Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The Bible described the Pishon River as winding through the land of Havilah, noted for its gold and aromatic resin.  The aromatic resin was bdellium, the first plant named in the Bible.

What is a bdellium?

Bdellium’s genus and species names are Commiphora africana. The generic name ‘Commiphora’ is based on the Greek words ‘kommi’ (gum) and ‘phero’ (to bear).  The bdellium is a deciduous tree indigenous to sub-Saharan African.  In 2012, bdellium did not appear in Israeli plant data bases.  Bdellium grows best in red or sandy clay and rocky ground to include from escarpments.  It leafs before or at the beginning of the wet season and loses leaves as the dry season begins.  If rainfall is sparse and interrupted, two crops of leaves may be produced.  Underground roots spread many feet around the tree in search of water. The bark is pleasantly scented and exudes a clear gum or resin.  Nomadic peoples use the bdellium tree for several purposes.  Roots of young plants have a sweet taste and are chewed.  Timber is used for stools, milk containers, spoons and on occasion for building houses. Bark is brewed for red tea.  Soft gum is eaten while hard gum is used to make arrows.  Fruit is chewed to prevent gum disease and stop toothaches.   In ancient Egypt women carried small pouches filled with bdellium pieces as a source of perfume.

Bdellium Symbolism

The Hebrew word for bdellium is bedôlach, derived from the word’s primary root, bâdal which means to separate, divide or distinguish from. The symbolism of the bdellium plant in the creation story mirrored the separation or differentiation of the Biblical Garden of Eden from the lands outside.  The Biblical Eden included beautiful plants and plants available for man to eat; it was all sufficient.  In contrast, the land of Havilah was noteworthy only for its gold and one aromatic resin-producing plant, bdellium.  None of the lands outside of Eden were described as attractive, lush, or food producing.

Living inside of Christ is like living in Eden.  With Christ our lives are beautiful, fertile and satisfying.  When we are outside of Eden — separated from Christ – our lives are bland, unproductive and we are left hungering for something that is not there.  That something is Christ. Sometimes I feel like I am simply smelling the aromatic bdellium in Havilah, rather than living in Eden.   I worry that I am separated from Christ; that I am not spending enough time with him or the right kind of time with him.

At those times I am reassured by Romans 8:35 where Paul asked the question, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ. Will trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”  The answer Paul provided is as relevant today as it was to the Romans 2000 year ago.  Paul’s answer was, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:38-39).

Thought: Nothing can stop God from loving us. What stops us from loving God? Remember as we love God, we obey him.

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright: September 21, 2014: Carolyn A. Roth

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Esther’s Palace with Cotton Curtains

Cotton Flower, leavesThe description of the king’s palace at Susa is in Esther chapter 1.

Esther is the last of the historical books of the Old Testament. It is the story of a beautiful Jewish girl who became wife to Ahasuerus (Xerxes), king of Persia (486-465 B.C.). Esther’s Jewish name was Hadassah which translates as myrtle; she was from the tribe of Benjamin.

The story begins with Ahasuerus giving an elaborate banquet for his nobles and officials. The banquet was held in the palace’s enclosed garden. The garden had white cotton curtains and violet hangings fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings on marble pillars (ESV). Queen Vashti gave a banquet for the women in another part of the palace.  Feeling merry, Ahasuerus commanded that Vashti come before him to display her beauty to his guest. Vashti refused. Because of her disobedience, Ahasuerus divorced Vashti. Subsequently, Esther became queen.

Then, the plot of the book unfolds. Haman, an enemy of the Jews and chief advisor to Ahasuerus, determined to murder all the Jews throughout Persia. Ahasuerus consented to Haman’s plans not knowing that Queen Esther was a Jew. Esther’s uncle Mordecai sent word to Esther that she must plead to Ahasuerus for the lives of the Jews. Although frightened, Esther agreed to make the plea on behalf of her people. Esther planned two private banquets for Ahasuerus and Haman. At the second banquet Esther humbly admitted she was a Jewess.  She disclosed Haman’s scheme to destroy her people. Both Ahasuerus and Haman were stunned.  They were unaware that in ordering the murder of all Jews, they ordered the Queen’s death.

Angrily Ahasuerus ordered Haman to be hung. Because Ahasuerus could not undo his previous decree, he sent out another decree enabling the Jews to destroy any armed force that might attack them and to plunder the property of their enemies. On the 13th day of the Jewish month of Adar, the Jews destroyed all of their enemies; however, they did not plunder their property. From that time onward, Purim was a festival of celebration for the Jews.  Purim is the Hebrew word for “lots” and refers to the lottery that Haman used to choose the date for the massacre of Jews in Persia. Purim is celebrated on the 14 day of Adar which is usually in March. In March 2012 at the time of the Festival of Purim, the Prime Minister of Israel visited the United States President and presented him with a scroll of the book of Esther.

Cotton

The white cotton curtains (Hebrew karpas) of Esther were probably Gossypium herbaceum also known as Levant cotton and Arabian cotton. G. herbaceum was domesticated in India about 3000 B.C. and present in Mesopotamia about 1000 B.C.  Ahasuerus ruled lands from India to Ethiopia; consequently, finding cotton curtains in his palace is reasonable. In the 7th century B.C. cotton was present in Horvat ʽUza located in the Arad Valley in Palestine. Certainly, the exiles would have brought cotton fabric, if not plants, back with them from exile in Persia. G. herbaceum is not the same species of cotton grown in present-day Israel, nor is it grown in the United States. When cotton plants are irrigated, most flower mid to late summer. Large, showy, solitary blooms have five petals (1-2 inches long). Flowers are yellow (occasionally white) at first, then fade to a soft red or pink. The cotton plant fruit is called a boll. When ripe, the boll splits and a mass of fine white filaments or fibers exude.  The white fibers are the cotton of commerce. Seeds are contained in the white fibers. In ancient times seeds were separated from fibers by hand.  With the invention of the cotton gin in the 18th century, seeds and fibers are separated mechanically.

Symbolism: Curtain, Conceal

In Ahasuerus’ palace, curtains were made from cotton. Curtain has several meanings to include a hanging screen that can be drawn back, a device that conceals or acts as a barrier, or the time that a theatrical performance begins. In the first chapter of Esther, the cotton curtains were associated with all three meanings. Technically, the white cotton curtains were tied back by cords of fine linen and purple to silver rods. In inclement weather or to obscure the sun’s rays, the cotton curtains could be let down. Figuratively, the curtains symbolized Esther concealing her nationality. They symbolized Haman’s concealed desire to murder Mordecai; yet convincing Ahasuerus that all Jews should die because they disobeyed the king’s laws. Finally, the cotton-curtained plaza was the stage where the first act of the drama of Esther began.

Earlier in this book, we studied the importance of the veil or curtain in the Tent of Meeting. That curtain was made of linen not cotton but it also concealed, e.g., the Most Holy of Holies room from the Holy of Holies room. On a daily basis, priest entered the Holy of Holies and attended to the lamps and incense. The same was not true for the Most Holy of Holies where God dwelled.  The chief priest entered the Most Holy of Holies one time per year and then only after making blood sacrifice for his own sins and the inadvertent sins of the Israelites.

Christ death changed the curtain separating the two rooms of the Temple. When Christ died, the curtain separating the Most Holy of Holies from the Holies of Holy rooms tore from top to bottom. Similarly, Christ’s death tore the curtain separating us from God. God became open and available to us; no longer concealed by a curtain. Now through the blood of Jesus Christ we have confidence to stand before God (Hebrews 10:19). In a way I empathize with the ancient Israelites who requested that God speaking Moses instead of speaking directly to them (Exodus 20:18-19).  The thought of standing before the God of the universe can be somewhat intimidating. Then, I remember that the God of the universe is my loving Father; no one loves me more than God loves me.

Reflection:  We have ready access to God through Christ.  No more curtain between us and Abba, our Father.  Now the only one who can keep God concealed from us is us.

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright December 29, 2012; carolyn a. roth

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Man’s Relationship with Plants

Amaryllis, 2013, RoanokeRead Genesis Chapters 1 – 2.

On Creation Day 6 God planted a garden in the east in Eden (Genesis 2: 8 -9 ).  In the ancient Hebrew language, Eden means “delight.” The Garden of Eden was a place of pristine and abundant natural beauty. All manner of plants were present. God placed some plants there to delight the eye, while others were for food.

God took man, his ultimate creation, and put him in the Garden of Eden. The Bible does not record who named plants in the Garden of Eden other than that God named two trees: the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It is interesting to speculate whether or not God named all the plants in the Garden of Eden. When He made the stars on Creation Day 4, God gave each an individual name, so it would not be out of character for Him to name each plant in the Garden of Eden. God directed Adam to tend, guard and keep the Garden (Genesis 2: 15) and the plants in the Garden.

God brought animals and birds to Adam to name (Genesis 2: 19-20), and God gave Adam dominion over them (Genesis 1: 26, 28). In the  Dictionary,  dominion is defined as having supreme authority over, sovereignty, or absolute ownership. There is a significant difference between the relationship God ordained for Adam to have with the Garden and its plants versus animals, e.g., tend, guard and keep versus dominion. See Table for complete definitions of these words.

Words Meanings from Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 2005
Dominion Supreme authority over; sovereignty; absolute ownership
Tend To care for, watch over; apply oneself to the care of; cultivate; to take charge of as a caretaker.
Guard (verb form) To protect from danger through watchful attention; make secure; preserve; protect
Keep To have custody, charge or maintenance over; to be faithful to; to save or reserve.

Modern Christian scholars do not know exactly where the Garden of Eden was located. The Bible tells us that a river flowed from Eden and separated into four head waters. The names of the ensuing rivers were Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates. During the great flood of Noah’s time, the landscape of the earth was changed and the Garden of Eden was destroyed. The rivers Pishon and Gihon were lost. The prophet Ezekiel (27:23) mentioned a region named Eden near the Euphrates River which may or may not be associated with the Garden of Eden’s location. Today, the Tigris and Euphrates remain mighty rivers situated primarily in Iraq.

Although the Garden of Eden was destroyed, the symbolism of the Garden of Eden remained in the minds of Israelites. The prophet Joel (2:3) described the land of Judah before its destruction as similar to the Garden of Eden.  Both Isaiah (51:3) and Ezekiel (36:35) promised that after a time of exile and punishment, Judah would be restored like Eden’s garden. Even today in western Christian and secular writings, lush gardens ripe with fruits and flowers are often described as Eden-like or veritable Gardens of Eden.

Most individuals who garden today do not need to plant, cultivate, or raise trees, vegetables and flowers for food and/or beauty. We can buy flowers and produce; yet, many of us elect to garden.  We enjoy enriching the soil and nurturing seeds to full growth. We delight to see our flowers grow and bloom. We crave the rich, succulent fruits of trees and yearn to stimulate our taste buds with fresh grown herbs. There is something inherently satisfying and self enriching about gardening.

Our gardening instincts should not surprise us. Our spiritual father, God, was a gardener –the producer of all vegetation on the earth. Gardening is in our genetic makeup. God gave Adam, our forefather, the responsibility to be the caretaker of the perfect Garden of Eden. Unlike Adam and Eve most of us do not live in delightful gardens, however, God plan is for us to live in and with creation. God still wants vegetation — brightly colored flowers and leafy plants and trees — to delight our eyes and soothe our spirits.

When I lived in the northwest, often we drove to the mountains. One Saturday morning we were driving through the mountain ranges and crested a hill. Looking into the distance, instead of seeing acres of trees, I saw a mountain side cut clear of trees.  Majestic pines and furs trees were replaced by brown earth. What happened?  The owner sold these acres of trees to a timber company. Rather than selectively cutting or thinning trees, the company cut all trees from the mountain side. The owners did not apply themselves to the care of the trees (tend), they did not preserve or protect (guard) them, and they did not acting faithfully (keep) to God’s creation.

I remember telling my brother about this instance of clear cutting. His response was “God made creation to be used by man.” My brother was correct in that God told man to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it (Genesis 1:28). In this verse subdue the earth means using all its vast resources in the service of God and man. At the same time, God expects man to act appropriately in relation to His creation and to care for trees and plants.

Reflection: How often do you thank God for the beauty and bounty of the earth?  When did you last look – really look – at a blooming flower, appreciating the beauty of its leaves, stems and blossoms? Have you ever fallen in love with a flowering crape myrtle or a majestic blue spruce? Does God’s direction to use earth’s resources in the service of God and man mean we can use forests and natural gardens without respect and veneration?

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright December 4, 2010, Carolyn A. Roth; all rights reserved.

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Creation Day 3: Plants

Qumran desolationThe story of creation of the earth and of plants is in Genesis chapters 1 and 2.

On day 3 of creation, God caused the dry land to appear on earth. Initially there were no plants on the earth’s surface.  Prior to plants covering the land, carbon dioxide existed in high levels in the atmosphere secondary to volcanic action in the earth’s crust.  Once plant-like microorganisms appeared on earth, they converted carbon dioxide to oxygen. Subsequently, earth’s atmosphere became rich in oxygen which animals and man needed to breathe and live.

On Creation Day 3, God spoke plants into creation. God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it. And it was so” (Genesis 1:11).  Biology, the study of all life, divides life primarily into two groups: animals and plants. The Kingdom of plants (Plantae) includes trees, shrubs, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses and flowers.

The Bible recorded that initially there were no plants on dry land was because God had not yet caused it to rain upon the earth and there was no man to till the ground. This scripture implies that God’s earliest plan was for man and plants to interact, e.g., man to tend plants and plants to supply man with food. As I read the creation story, I wondered why God created plants before the sun. Plants were created on Day 3 and the sun on Day 4.  Yet, plants require light for photosynthesis; e.g., in the presence of light, carbon dioxide + water = plant sugars + oxygen.  If a bright sun was created before plants, the process of plants preparing the earth for man’s habitat would have moved quicker. Intuitively, I wanted to reverse Days 3 and 4 of creation and hurry the process along.

Then, I laughed at myself remembering God’s words that His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways; as the heavens are higher than the earth, God’s thoughts and ways are above mine (Isaiah 58:8). God did not need my input into the creation process. God is infinite and exists separate from man’s (my) perspective on time. God didn’t care if creation took millions of years. It is I, with a limitation of about 80 years of life, who wants to hurry things along.

Reflection : Have you ever made plans for God rather than let him make plans for you? Was the outcome good?

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright December 1, 2010, Carolyn A. Roth; all rights reserved.

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