Tag Archives: God as a Gardener

What should I wear today?

The Word of the Lord

 Genesis 3.1-10: 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’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 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.’ ” “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.” 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. 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. 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. 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.”

Meditation

Originally, mankind was created with free will. Adam and Eve could choose to obey or disobey God. While they obeyed God, they lived sinless lives and were destined to live eternally. In their innocence, neither Adam nor Eve wore clothes; but, they weren’t embarrassed by their nakedness.

After eating fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve became aware that they could act rightly (for good) or wrongly (for evil). Everything changed in their lives; they lost their innocence and sinlessness.

Adam and Eve became aware that they were naked. Adam was embarrassed for Eve to see his nakedness. Eve was embarrassed for Adam to see her body. They sewed fig leaves together to make coverings for  themselves. They wore the coverings when they attempted to avoid God in the garden. Was the Garden of Eden the first Mall? Could Adam and Eve select what they wanted to wear?

In God’s presence Adam blurted out, “I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (Genesis 3.10). In reality, Adam wasn’t naked; he was wearing fig leaf clothes. In Adam’s mind, the fig leaf clothing was adequate to cover his nakedness/shame before Eve, but, not before God.

It was Adam and Eve’s choice to disobey God, more than the act of biting into, chewing, and swallowing a fruit which introduced sin into the world. Some scholars argue that when Adam and Eve rebelled against God, they lost free will to choose to sin or to choose not to sin. Henceforth mankind would always sin.

Reflection: Do you think you can choose not to sin? Why or why not?

Copyright 6/16/2020.

Parables Illustrated By Plants

Living Life Fully

 The Word of the Lord

 Genesis 3.22-24: And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Revelation 22.1-2: Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Meditation

 God gave no prohibition against Adam and Eve eating fruit from the tree of life (Genesis 2.16). All trees in the Garden of Eden were attractive to the eye and/or good for food, so it is likely that Adam and Eve ate fruit from the tree of life while they lived in Eden. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they were expelled from the Garden of Eden.

Adam and Eve’s access to the tree of life was based on a proper relationship with God. After God expelled them from the Garden of Eden, they didn’t have access to the tree of life. They couldn’t eat its fruit. They couldn’t live forever with God, nor could their offspring. Further, God didn’t allow Adam and Eve to reenter the Garden of Eden after expelling them.

Although the Garden of Eden was destroyed before or during the great flood of Noah’s time, the tree of life wasn’t destroyed. It was transplanted to Paradise.

The tree of life is destined to return to earth. In the new Jerusalem, a river of water will flow from the throne of God down the middle of a great street. The tree of life is located on both sides of the river that flows from God’s throne. It will produce fruit.  Believers who overcome evil will eat fruit from the tree of life; thus, they will experience eternity with God.

Sometimes I ponder why mankind identified the tree species for the tree of knowledge of good and evil (an apple tree), but not for the tree of life. Perhaps, mankind thought that the tree of life was too sacred to reduce it to a species’ name.

The Hebrew word “chay” means alive, living thing, and life that lives. Chay (life) is contrasted with death. Most of us want to live now as well as have an immortal life with God.

 Reflection

Have you symbolically eaten from the tree of life, or are you dead?

Copyright May 30, 2020

Reality of Sin

The Word of the Lord

 Genesis 2.15-17: The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 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.”

Meditation

God placed numerous plants in the Garden of Eden; however, he is recorded as naming only two: the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. God warned Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil or he would die.

At times the entirety of Genesis chapters 1-3 was identified as an allegory or fable, presented so that early mankind could understand God’s creation. Further, many of us grew up believing the tree of knowledge of good and evil was an apple tree and the fruit an apple; however, the Bible never identified the species of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

The tree of knowledge of good and evil symbolized the ability to make moral and ethical choices. Moral knowledge is about principles of right and wrong. Today, individuals say that God adjusts his expectations as mankind’s conscience evolves. That is a human, self-centered view. God is unchangeable (Malachi 3.6). God doesn’t change his standards to accommodate mankind; rather, mankind must change his perceptions and standards to those of God.

My husband and I discussed that some religious traditions/beliefs could be wrong. Many were the  product of man’s decisions. Some were believed for so many generations/centuries that they became accepted as truth. An example is the belief that the tree of knowledge of good and evil is  an apple tree.

Reflection:  Ponder and identify manmade traditions that may be inconsistent with or inconclusive in God’s word.

Copyright: May 30, 2020.

Separation from God

 The Word of the Lord

 Genesis 2.8-14: Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 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.

A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

Meditation

 God planted a garden, the Garden of Eden, and placed mankind in it. The Hebrew word for Eden means “delight.” The Garden of Delight was a place of pristine natural beauty. All types of plants, i.e., trees, flowers, grains, etc., grew there. A river watered Eden. After leaving Eden, the river flowed through the land of Havilah, where bdellium (an aromatic resin tree) grew.

Perfume was made from bdellium tree resin. The resin seeped through tree bark after horizontal cuts were made on the tree. Ancient Egyptian women carried bdellium pieces in cloths which they lifted to their nose in foul-smelling surroundings or used to release a pleasant odor from their bodies.

Bdellium comes from the Hebrew word “bâdal,” which means separate, or distinguish from. The bdellium tree symbolized the separation between the Garden of Eden and outside lands. Eden included plants for beauty and food. In contrast, Havilah was notable for  only one plant—the bdellium tree which produces a sweet-smelling resin.

Living with Christ is like living in Eden;  life is beautiful, fertile, and satisfying. Separated from Christ (outside of Eden), life is flat and unproductive. Our surroundings  and our actions are a stink in our nostrils despite attempts to cover them over with perfume.

 Many times what we don’t do is as important as what we do in our effort to have a meaningful relationship with Christ.

At this time, my country is experiencing a pandemic. Churches are closed. By not having a set time each week to worship God, do we put space between God and ourselves? The best we can do when we can’t leave home is watch church services on social media and read biblical literature, such as devotionals.

Reflection

How do you put space between you and Christ?

Copyright 5/30/2020

Instinct in Us

The Word of the Lord

 Genesis 1.29-31: 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 2.8-9: Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.

Meditation

 Most of us don’t need to grow vegetables and fruit. We buy them in stores and markets; yet, many of us have gardens. There is joy in enriching the soil and nurturing seeds to full growth. We delight to see our own flowers grow and bloom, crave succulent fruits from our trees and yearn to stimulate taste buds with fresh-grown herbs. There is something inherently satisfying about gardening.

I have always lived in rural areas where almost everyone has a garden. Yet, I know urban dwellers have gardens. They use raised beds and tub gardens on patios and balconies. Individuals’ gardening instincts shouldn’t surprise us. Our spiritual father, God, was a gardener, the producer of all vegetation and fruits on earth. Gardening is in our genetic makeup.

God’s plan for us is to live with plant creation. God wants brightly colored flowers and leafy trees to delight our eyes and soothe our spirits.

The value of plants goes beyond food and beauty. In both Testaments, plants were teaching tools, i.e., illustrations in warnings, parables, miracles.

What do you see when you view your garden (and plants)? Do you go beyond looking at them as a whole and focus on the beauty of each? Do you imagine the produce you will have from them and how yummy it will taste? Alternatively, are you thinking about the myriad of challenges in your life so that you don’t see the beauty in front of you?

Reflection

Think about plants in your garden or in your home. How do they give you joy in addition to their beauty?

Copyright may/30/2020

 

God’s Plan for Creation

The Word of the Lord

 Genesis 1.9-12: And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1.29: 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.

Genesis 2.5: Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.

 Meditation

On day three of creation, God caused the dry land to appear on earth and spoke plants into existence. Plants include trees, shrubs, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and flowers. God gave plants to mankind for food and beauty.

Initially, there were no plants on the dry land because there was no man to work the ground. God’s earliest plan was for man and plants to interact, i.e., man to tend plants and plants to give food to man.

God intended mankind to have a different relationship with animals than with plants. God gave Adam dominion, supreme authority, or absolute ownership over animals. In contrast, God told Adam to tend, guard, and keep plants. Tending means taking care of, i.e., a caretaker. Guarding is defending against danger and/or destruction.  The archaic meaning of keep is “to protect.”

God entrusted plants and plant growth to mankind. What an awesome responsibility then and now! God’s trust encompasses being good stewards of the land and resources given to us by God.

Think about your feelings when you ponder your garden or the space around your home. God gave you this portion of his creation. You are its custodian. You have a responsibility to tend, guard, and keep the plants in your garden and surroundings.

Many of us, if not most of us, don’t think about responsibility to plants. We barely have time to take care of our children, spouse, home, etc. The notion that God gave us plants to protect, guard, and care for is beyond what we think about, even want to think about; it’s just another responsibility.

Reflection

 Does faithful stewardship of plants include plants in your community? What about in your state, nation, or world?

Copyright: May 30, 2020

Effect of Jealousy

Bible Reading: Genesis 37. 25-28

Jacob’s brothers, most of them sons of Leah and her concubine, were jealous of Jacob’s preference for Joseph, Rachel’s oldest son. Joseph didn’t help matters. He told them of a dream he had in which they all bowed down to him.

Jacob’s sons were tending the herds of sheep and goats in the area of Dothan in central Canaan. Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers. When the brothers saw Joseph approaching they discussed killing him but decided that there was no gain or profit in merely killing him. Instead, they decided to sell him to a caravan of Ishmaelite traders taking spices to Egypt. Thus, Joseph went from being a pampered son to a slave in a foreign nation.

There is so much wrong with this story that it is difficult to know where to start.

First, the Ishmaelites were offspring of Ishmael. Ishmael was the son of Abraham and brother to Isaac, Abraham’s son. These Ishmaelites who bought Joseph and planned to resell him in Egypt were his cousins.

Second, Jacob’s sons were half brothers of Joseph. The sons had the same father  (Jacob) as Joseph, despite having distinct mothers. All sons were reared in the same camp; they knew each other, they worked and traveled together from Paddan Aram to Canaan. Most likely at various times, they protected one another.

Third, Joseph’s brothers knew the degradation that often occurred in a slave’s life, particularly one as young and attractive as Joseph. Casual thinking on their part could anticipate that Joseph would be abused, likely sexually.

Four, Jacob’s sons and Joseph’s brothers knew how much their father loved Joseph. They knew how crushed Jacob would be to learn of Joseph’s death. They didn’t empathize with their father’s feelings.

Five, Joseph’s brothers and his cousins were more focused on gain (profit) than blood ties.

Turmeric plant

Turmeric is a product of the plant Curcuma longa, a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant, that has been used as a medicine dating back 4000 years. In Ayurvedic (traditional India) practices, turmeric is believed to have many medicinal properties including enhancing body energy, relieving gas, dispelling worms, improving digestion, regulating menstruation, dissolving gallstones, and relieving arthritis.

In addition to being used in traditional medicine, turmeric is used as a spice and as a component in religious ceremonies.

The root or rhizome is the principal component of the plant. The name turmeric derives from the Latin word terra merita (meritorious earth), referring to the color of ground turmeric, which resembles a mineral pigment. The turmeric plant needs temperatures between 20°C – 30°C (68°F – 86ºF) and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive. Curcuma longa is native to southern India and possibly southeast Asia. The plant doesn’t grow in Canaan or most other parts of the Middle East. When the turmeric rhizome is dried, it can be ground to yellow powder with a bitter, slightly acrid, yet sweet, taste.

Symbolism – Gain, Profit

Jesus asked, “what good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” “What can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Mark 8.36-37).

Joseph’s brothers selling him to Ishmaelites provided them with a profit or gain far less than the worth of the entire world. There may have been 6-8, even 10, brothers present when they sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites. When Joseph’s selling price was divided among the brothers, each would have had little profit from Joseph’s sell. Yet, they lived with their conscience. Possibly, some of the brothers weren’t bothered by their actions, but some could have been. They lived with their deception for decades before they learned that God redeemed Joseph’s life in Egypt.

Reflection

So much of our lives we spend getting educated for jobs and attempting to secure better jobs with more income. Would Christ say these are optimal goals?

Copyright 4/1/2020: Carolyn A. Roth

Idols we live with

People in the United States of America aren’t exempt from paying for sins. We are not in some way better than citizens of ancient Israel. Until the earth is restored and believers are transported to the new heaven, how should we live to avoid being attacked, overrun, and possibly expelled to other countries?

The answers is a two-step process. First, we need to avoid those actions (sins) that caused the ancient Israelites, both Northern Kingdom and Judah, committed. We only have to read the prophet Hosea’s book to realize the perversions of the Northern Kingdom.

The greatest sin of ancient Israelites was idolatry; they worshiped man-made idols. In the United States rarely do individuals set up and worship idols, i.e., Dagon, Buddha,  Moloch. We don’t believe that every country has a god that needs to be appeased and by extension the territory of the United States has a god that must be worshiped.  Although we don’t set up man-made idols in homes, on street corners, or on hill tops, possibly American’s worship idols. Allow me to share my own reflection of idol worship to assist you to possibly understand your own:

Yesterday, my husband told me that an executive was paid (I just can’t write “earned”) sixty-six million dollars a year. Did I momentarily wish I made that amount of money? Yes! It is relatively easy for Americans, including me, who live in a capitalistic economic system, to worship money.  As Bruce and I talked I mentally made a list of items that I wanted (not needed) for my home. Probably, the total cost was about six thousand dollars. I have no need for sixty-six million dollars a year. Candidly, I wouldn’t know how to spend it.

I guess money isn’t my idol but I have other ones, i.e., I want to be a best-selling author. I think that desire would qualify for an idol of fame or prestige. Just to let you know my husband is more sensible than I. He tells me that if my writing leads one person to Jesus, then all my work is worthwhile. I know he is right; but, often I let my ego get in the way of my Christian thought.

Other sins that ancient Israel was guilty of were lying, bribery, stealing, and taking each other to court. The prophet Micah addressed sins of the Northern Kingdom. One of his admonishments is remembered because it told Israel what to do rather than what not to do: To act justly, love kindness, and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6.8).

The second step Americans can take to avoid the Israelite experience of their land being made a waste-land by foreign invaders is found in teachings of Jesus. Jesus is God, Savior, and Redeemer in Christianity. He is my God, Savior, and Redeemer. Is he yours? A summary of what Jesus taught is “Love.” But, if you are like most Americans, you want a “how to” outline to go along with Love. That outline is found in Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7. This passage is commonly called, “Jesus Sermon on the Mount.” It is the gold standard for individuals to live their life in first century Israel and every century thereafter, even twenty-first century the United States.

Reflection: Because the USA doesn’t have household images or idols set on every street corner or on top of treed hills, doesn’t mean we don’s worship idols. What are your idols. Do you remotely consider that God may punish the USA for the many idols of its residents?

Avoiding Life

“On each side of the river stood the tree of life …. yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse” (Revelation 22.1-3 NIV).

 In Genesis chapter three, God cursed the earth to include plants. In this curse, God provided hope to Adam and Eve; that is they would be redeemed. God made no mention of restoration of plants.

When I get to heaven, I want to see flowers—flowering trees, flowering shrubs, and all manner of plants that produce flowers. When I am sad, I look at a plant and my emotions immediately lift. Inside my house, I have flower figurines. Doilies and placemats have flower designs. Even clock faces include flower illustrations. No wonder I look for evidence of plant restoration in the Bible?

At first, I concluded that of 1089 chapters in the Bible, only one (Revelation chapter twenty-two) gave specific information on the restoration of plants in contrast to the many chapters that identified redemption of people. A closer look showed that plant restoration was a theme throughout God’s word.  Plant restoration is tied to the restoration of creation. God promised that: “There will be a time for restoring of all things” (Acts 3.19-21 NIV). “All things” includes plant life. God promised mankind that he will hear them if they confess their sins, will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7.14 NIV).

Today, God waits for us to confess our sins so he can forgive us and heal the United States of America.

In the new heaven and new earth, plants in chapters two through eight (the bad/harmful plants) will no longer be present, or they will no longer have a harmful component. The Syrian thistle may have its beautiful purple flower, but not harmful spines. Poison hemlock with soft beautiful white flowers will no longer yield poison. No child or pet will become sick, and even die, if they eat lily bulbs thinking they are wild onions.