Archive for the ‘Paradise’ Category

“…And on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” That is from Luke 2:14 in the King James Version of the Bible. It was a message meant for all mankind, carried by angels to announce the birth of the long-expected Messiah, the peace-offering of God. Most of us use the name “Christ,” rather than “Messiah,” due to influence of the Greek language. I hope that you believe the message the angels brought.

Most ancient cultures, in the form of stories and myths, have retained some memory of God’s prophecies concerning the Savior of mankind. The mythological records don’t give us the detailed record that we have in the Bible however. I wish that all the prophetical and historical information concerning Jesus could be pulled together into one panoramic writing about Christmas. I guess it’s better to do something halfway, rather than to do nothing at all, so I’m writing a few inadequate words for the sake of Christmas.

After Adam and Eve chose to rely upon their own fragmentary comprehension of “knowledge” rather than to trust God, God gave us (Genesis 3:15) the first biblical hint of the virgin birth of a savior. It is the “seed” of the woman who will crush the serpent’s head, and finally bring peace to the earth. Only this “Seed” can fulfil the promise of God. The leaders of nations have long promised world peace, and the Antichrist will promise world peace, but only Christ can bring it to pass. Sad to say, that will only happen after mankind has brought the world to the brink of total destruction.

Unless you have studied genetics somewhat, you probably will not completely understand the following statement. According to the biblical account of his birth, Jesus would have received all of his human DNA from his mother, none at all from a human father. He would not have had the normal Y-chromosome DNA inherited from a human male, but only what he directly inherited from God. That’s why the Bible didn’t say “the seed of the man,” in Genesis 3:15 (reference Y-chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve, and my April 2012 post, “Genetics and Jesus”).

The prophet Isaiah may have been considering Genesis 3:15 and other such verses when he understood that a child would be born to a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). It is foretold in that verse that the child will be called Immanuel (God with us). In that name, “El” is the short form of the Hebrew word for God, and you also see the word “man.” “Man” in Hebrew however, is the word for the bread from heaven that fed the Israelites during their wilderness trek. We get our word “manna” from this.

Amaryah is a biblical name meaning God has promised. What has God promised? The secret is in the name itself. “Amar,” means “promise.” “Yah,” is the shortened form of “YHWH,” the personal name of God. “MarYah” is an Aramaic name for Jesus. In “MarYah,” you can see the name of the virgin mother Mary, and Yah, the name of God the Father. God has promised himself (Immanuel, or Emmanuel) to us.

When an angel informed Mary of her conception, she questioned how that could happen without seed being implanted by a man, yet she believed the answer that she was given. In Matthew 1:20-23, an angel told Joseph in a dream to give Mary’s child the name “Jesus.” The angel then reminded Joseph of the prophecy of Isaiah. I haven’t the time to go into detail but according to Old Testament prophecy, the Christ’s given name would be “Jesus,” (ref. the Septuagint translation of the name Joshua as “Jesus”). The name “Immanuel” (or Emmanuel) tells us who he really is, “God with us.”

In Luke 2:10, the announcement of the advent of Jesus the Christ is called, “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” The fact that we don’t yet see peace on earth doesn’t mean that God has abandoned his desires and plans for the earth. In the song, Bells on Christmas Day, there is a line; “Then in despair I raised my head, there is no peace on earth, I said.” We will all probably feel that way at one time or another in our lives, but the way we feel will not cancel God’s promise. Ideals should not be abandoned just because they are difficult to establish, and God is not a quitter.

Sometimes in the past, for just a little while, the coming of Christmas has interrupted the bitter conflicts of war. In some cases, common beliefs in Christ between countries have prevented them. A great monument called the “Christ the Redeemer of the Andes,” (not the great statue in Rio with a similar name) is erected at an elevation of 12,572 feet on the border of Argentina and Chile. It commemorates a peaceful resolution avoiding a war between the two countries because of their common submission to Christ.

One meaning of the word “mass,” refers us back to the communion, the bread from heaven broken for us (Matthew 26:26), the word “mass,” being taken from “maza,” a Greek word for a barley cake. Merry Christ’s mass! Spend the Holyday with your family, and remember the birth of our Lord and Savior. He will yet bring “Peace on Earth.”

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There is a lot of basic doctrine to be found in the pattern for prayer that Jesus gave us in Matthew 6:9-13. It is usually called “The Lord’s Prayer,” but it is actually a general prayer guide for his followers. It was given at the request of one of his disciples (Luke 11:1-4). I don’t see anything in the Bible that annuls this pattern or supersedes its particular doctrines. As usual, please forgive my inconsistent grammar in this writing.

“Our Father in Heaven,” I am glad that you have a haven where all would be welcomed if all would welcome you; a place where you can take us when this world becomes more than can be borne. Evolutionists believe in “Father Time,” but time is not our father. Time is a creation of God, our caring Father.

“Hallowed be your name.” The name of God; the name of Jesus, is despised, dishonored, and dragged through the mud.

“Your kingdom come.” The peaceful kingdom where the lion eats straw like the ox will become a reality. This earth whose nations now reject you, and wage war upon each other, will one day become a world where there will no more hurt or destruction. Your kingdom will become a physical reality (Isaiah 11:6-9).

“Your will be done on Earth as in Heaven.” Jesus is Lord, but we don’t yet see all things in submission to his will (Hebrews 2:8). We are far from it, which is why we are to pray for it. The perfect will of God has not permeated this world since the day Adam and Eve undertook to reinterpret all knowledge. Things are not beyond God’s control, but God is not a puppeteer.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Sustain us Immanuel (manna and man, Man of Heaven); bread that is broken for us.

“Forgive our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We all offend in many ways (James 3:2), but love covers a multitude of sins (1st Peter 4:8).

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” A man in the Old Testament (Proverbs 30:8-9) prayed for God to give him “neither poverty nor riches,” but only that which was sufficient for him. He recognized the fact that just about anything can lead to trials for us. Lead us in some other way Lord. Let us not enter temptation. God tempts no man (James 1:13), even though all are tempted by life itself. Do we really want what we feel like we want? Sometimes our freewill does not feel free. Deliver us from the evil one.

“For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, to forever.” You have the right, and the power when you choose to exercise it. Hallowed be your name. One day your name will be cleared. Man’s assumptions and accusations against God will be proven false, and the truth will be evident. That is the true definition of the “glory of God,” not the vainglory of human definition. One day Jesus will be seen in his own true light, without our shadows casting doubts and deceptions about him. “For your’s is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, to forever. Amen.”

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On a wooded hilltop overlooking a farm where my family once lived is an abandoned graveyard. Most of the markers are just flat stones with nothing written on them, dug up from some field nearby. Trees had already grown amongst them when I was a boy. I remember looking at the dates on a few of the stones which are carved, but I have no recollection of reading anything else.

Recently, when some of my family revisited our old farm, we stopped by the graveyard, but a particular epitaph yet went unnoticed. For some reason however, I took some digital photos of the markers. Looking through them later, I noticed the writing and was able to read it. It is on the marker of a child who was born in 1866, and died in 1872. The dates are etched very deep.

There is no name, for the top of the stone has broken off, but in faint, weathered writing below the dates are the words, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven can not heal.”

That saying is from a song by Thomas Moore (1816). David Crowder does a modern revision of the song. Leaning against this marker, setting upon what is probably the fragment with the missing name, is the broken top from another stone. All I can read from this stone is, “Born Sept. 2, 1846.”

The stones are shaped the same, and I have to wonder if someone has set the top from the marker of the mother, or another family member, against that of the child. The dates would be right for that. The good Lord knows. Life is not always good, and death is not good, but God has not forgotten those graves on the hill.

There was a time when death did not exist, but the possibility existed, for God warned the first humans of it. Now, it may appear as if there is no escape from it, but according to the Bible, Jesus holds the keys. God was telling the truth in Genesis 2:17, when he warned Adam, and he is telling us the truth in Revelation 1:18.

If we could experience life and creation without the devolution that has since occurred in this world, it would be easier to understand that God is good. Genesis 1:31 tells us that God made everything good. Then, according to Genesis 3:1-5, the first humans believed the lie of a fallen angel (ref. all posts in my Dec. 2011 archives).

The lie was that we would not “surely die,” but that by knowledge we could “become like gods,” interpreting all knowledge, and answering all moral questions for ourselves. The implications were that man would no longer need God, and that God should not be trusted to make all moral judgments. This rethinking of all things has progressed to the extreme that “educated” people can now believe that life evolved from lifeless matter, which in turn evolved out of absolutely nothing.

These two incredible points, usually lie buried and ignored beneath countless pages of evolutionary propaganda, but if “something” existed to begin with, where did that “something” come from? An atheist may as well admit the existence of God, as to think that in the beginning, “something else” existed. The idea that “nothing” must suddenly have become “something,” is equally inconceivable. It’s certainly no more difficult to believe the Bible than to believe in evolution, unless you just don’t like thinking about God.

The theory of evolution allows human beings to view themselves as gods, the highest form of intelligence in existence. Man was created with freedom of will. So were the angels, and the possibility of the creation of a lie would inherently exist in the mind of intelligent creatures. Freedom is good, but the abuse of freedom is not. The deception was framed in such a way that Adam and Eve did not think it all the way through.

How could they? The tree of knowledge continually grows, and only God could foresee the consequence of each thought and action. Adam didn’t suddenly “just know” all right from wrong, but he began to think that he could make that determination. Eve, of course, didn’t always agree with Adam’s every moral judgment, and argument was born.

If that sounds like a stage that all cognizant human beings now go through, I think that it is. Life, with all its moral struggles, now forces us into that state. Not everyone may remember making a conscious decision, but when I was around 11 years old, I clearly remember thinking, “this is my life. I will decide right and wrong for my own self.”

That sounds fair, but the problem is that we make many mistakes which involve other lives around us. Ripples from the wake of our lives flow onward affecting events that we may not see. I don’t think this would have become a forced issue if it were not for man’s original choice, but now we must decide what is good, and who is good. We must decide between things which we hardly know anything about, and that are much bigger than we are.

Who is lying? Who is mistaken? Is John 8:44 true? Are we really as smart, and as good as we think? Does science possess omniscience? Who, or what, are we going to believe?

We don’t have forever to make these decisions. I think it’s wise to call on the good Lord to help us. If the good book is telling us the truth, all the enemy must do to defeat us is cause us to wait out the clock. If we had forever to “make up our minds,” wouldn’t most of us take forever? Wouldn’t most of “forever” be wasted?

Though we turn it into an endless struggle, our freewill is actually evidence that God is good. He wants more for us than a robotic existence. He must eventually judge our abuses of freewill, but God is not the tyrant that man is. It is a good thing for God to be fair, and to establish justice in the earth. Rulers like Hitler can’t hide in death and escape judgment (Isaiah 28:18&20).

We encounter a problem there because none of us are always good, not even those who live the most sacrificially, and sometimes terrible tragedies stem from small indiscretions. We should also take into account the fact that some people are born into more difficult circumstances. Some lives are not as easy as others. It is a good thing that God is merciful, because ultimately, justice cannot save us. Though we may not yet understand or admit our need for forgiveness, God’s offer of mercy is evidence of his goodwill toward us.

I have given a lot of evidence for God in my writings, but it would do us little good to prove the existence and identity of God if we didn’t also understand that God is good. I hope to find time to write a little more about this.

We must not allow a world that is devolved from the perfection of its created state to fool us. “Earth has no sorrow that heaven can not heal.” Except for the precious hope of heaven, the lives of the mother and father of that child may have been utterly ruined in the year 1872. Someone who loved that child yet believed in the good Lord, or that writing on the stone would not be there. God has given us this hope.

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If you have ever been in a situation, or a relationship, where you have felt continually compelled to prove yourself, then you’ll know that it doesn’t work very well. I honestly believe that God deeply desires to prove himself to man, but how is the best way to do so? The ways in which we attempt to test him are shallow, and unfair. Our “tests” for God are usually ultimatums requiring him to cater to us in some way.

Before the fall, nature would have been a good witness for God, but now it seems to tell two stories. Nature yet testifies of God, but it is also shows evidence that something is very wrong with our world. Besides knowing that God exists, we also need to understand that he is good. Knowledge can be misunderstood, and it can be abused and used in deceptive ways.

Except for the authority to judge all knowledge, with its infinite facets relating to good and evil, God gave the world to Adam and Eve. He gave them practically everything, only withholding something infinitely harmful. Don’t let anyone con you with the shallow idea that this was about sex, for God had already told Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:27-28) to “multiply, and fill the earth.” The forbidden fruit has something to do with the interpretation of all knowledge.

Adam and Eve took from the tree of knowledge, and the harm that God warned them of has befallen us. Now, the world blames God for it. The world can’t go on forever in this condition. How is God supposed to prove his love to a misguided world that cannot be sustained forever in its current state? What if he were willing to die with us, assuring those who will trust him of resurrection and paradise?

According to the Bible record, that’s what God has done. His sacrificial suffering, and death on the cross, proves his love to us in a way that nothing else would, and his resurrection shows us that death is not the end. God is offering us a new world (Luke 23:39-43). By the way, the word “world,” (werald, or weralt) means “old man.” According to the dictionary, it comes from the old English words “wer,” which meant “man,” and “eald,” an ancient spelling of “old.” By the same token, the word “werewolf” simply means wolf man.

Getting back to the subject, this present world is harsh, and unfair in the greatest extremes. It is the contribution of created beings, primarily man, to God’s creation, but this isn’t the final state of things. Whether we accept it or not, God has revealed himself to man (John 1:1-4, and 1:14). His appearance in this world (Christmas) shows us what God is really like. He proves his existence, and the truth of the Bible, by fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies. The remaining prophecies will be fulfilled upon his return to Earth.

Christmas (the sending of Christ) means that someday there will be peace upon the earth. It means that God yet holds good will toward mankind. That was God’s greeting to us in Luke 2:13-14. Christmas means that God isn’t just out there somewhere, but that he is with us. That’s what the term “Emmanuel” means (Matthew 1:22-23, and Isaiah 7:14).

The Septuagint, a Greek version of the Old Testament, was translated in the centuries preceding the birth of Jesus. That is a matter of historical record, and the prophecies concerning the coming Christ were already written there. Christmas celebrates a coming salvation, freedom, and life in an incorruptible paradise. Our loved ones are not gone forever, but we can be reunited with them. This is all real, and has nothing to do with “religion,” That is what Christ’s advent into this world means.

I’m wishing you every good thing, and a whole new world, when I wish you Merry Christmas. Please don’t let any of a million things keep you from receiving Christ. When Jesus was born into my life, he entered a place much more unpleasant than a dirty stable.

Whatever we say in this life must be said in few words, and this post is already long. I hope you had a Merry Christmas. Happy New Year

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Fossils from around the world show that the earth before Noah’s flood was very different from today. Though mainstream science currently rejects the idea that Noah’s flood left most of the fossil record, there is yet basic agreement that the earth’s climate has changed dramatically since the days of the dinosaurs. We shouldn’t overlook this general agreement between the Bible and today’s science (ref. The Story in Stone, and other posts in my November 2012 through February 2013 archives).

If you attempt an internet study of Earth’s atmosphere in dinosaur times, you will find that the mind of science continues to change, and that individual scientists disagree about many details. In this post, I’m not speaking of the climate during the various stages of the ice age which followed Noah’s flood, but of the era when the earth was covered in lush vegetation; the earlier, warmer, world inhabited by the dinosaurs.

When we think of the garden of Eden, we think of a tropical paradise, and fossils show that such a climate prevailed over the ancient earth. There’s a lot of speculation about the causes of the ancient greenhouse effect that allowed a profusion of plants, insects, and other creatures to grow to gigantic sizes. Several ideas, such as the water vapor canopy theory, once held by many creationists, have been abandoned as inadequate, yet the ancient climate must have been accompanied by differences in Earth’s atmosphere.

Interpreters of Genesis 9:9-17 differ as to whether rain, and rainbows, existed before Noah’s flood. God could have used the existing rainbow as a symbol of his covenant with life on the earth. Since the earth’s atmosphere is certain to have been different however, and conditions can be such that a rainbow would not be visible, it’s also possible that this optical phenomenon was not seen before Noah’s flood (suggested research, diffusion of light, polarization, rainbow angle etc.).

It’s also possible to have rain and condensation without a rainbow so I’m not too particular about these Bible verses, but if rainbows were not visible, that could be a clue to ancient atmospheric conditions. Science should take a closer look at the rainbow with that in mind.

Also, scientific explanations for certain aspects of the rainbow and similar optical phenomena seem unnecessarily confusing, and incomplete. Studying the rainbow, moonbow, fogbow, and in particular the Brocken spectre (an observer’s shadow cast within a “glory”), at several scientific internet sources leads to some contradictory sounding information.

The Brocken spectre defies scientific rules that apply to other “lightbows.” It gets its name from a mountain in Germany where a climber reportedly fell to his death after suddenly encountering the phenomenon. After viewing photos of the Brocken spectre on the internet, I see how it could be startling in some situations.

The size and location of water droplets, refracting and reflecting light, are said to affect the color intensity of rainbows, moonbows, and fogbows, but not their form, size, and apparent distance. The size and location of water droplets however, are usually given as a possible reason for the varying size, and apparent distance of the Brocken spectre. Why would they be different?

Science explains that refraction and reflection of light causes rainbows. Diffraction, along with refraction and reflection, is said to cause glories, and of course light from behind the observer casts the shadow of the “spectre.” If “diffraction” answers my previous question, then I must ask; is diffraction operative in the mist of fog but not in rain? That sounds possible, but to verify that answer would require more study, and then there are other questions.

I’ve noted in photographs that the size of a Brocken glory ring is practically always proportional to the size of the shadow within it. In a few photos however, it doesn’t appear to be so, but why not? Science states that a glory is visible to an observer at an angle of 5 to 20 degrees, but that doesn’t seem to explain some photos that I’ve viewed. The primary rainbow, by the way, is only visible to an observer at an angle of 42 degrees from the sun’s rays behind them, and a secondary rainbow a little higher at 51 degrees.

I’ve read that a Brocken spectre sometimes appears to move of its own due to movements of its screen of fog, whereas rainbows appear to remain stationary. These tricks of the light can be fascinating, and frustrating to understand also. The field of atmospheric optics is very complex, but I believe science could offer a more comprehensive explanation for the behavior of the various lightbows, and resolve a few contradictions in the process.

The main point of this post however, is that Genesis 8:22-9:17 is evidence that the writer of this part of the Bible was aware of extreme changes in Earth’s ancient climate. It seems to be addressing concerns that the descendants of Noah will have about Earth’s changing environment.

God now sanctions the hunting of animals, and eating of meat (Genesis 9:3) whereas man’s diet was originally vegetarian (Genesis 1:29-30). This would allow a better chance of survival in the harsh winters of an ice age. Genesis 8:22 assures Noah that, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” I think these words were intended to reassure man during changes in all these things. They are part of God’s promise; his “covenant,” that he seals with the sign of the rainbow (Genesis 9:13).

The Bible predicts further changes in the earth, changes in its relation to the sun and moon, and eventually, the destruction of the earth and heavens as we now know them (Luke 21:25, Revelation 8:12, and 21:1). Science predicts the same thing, except on a different time scale. The Bible also predicts a new heaven and a new earth. The rainbow remains a symbol of hope, and nearly everyone wants to claim the symbol as their own. I think Genesis 9:13 is interesting, because in that verse God claims the rainbow also; he calls it “my bow, … a token of a covenant between me and the earth.”

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Without thinking, many times I’ve assumed that I knew the meaning of a word when I actually only understood it in a general sense. The difference can sometimes be important.

An old Webster’s dictionary states that sin is “an offense against God,” and a “misdeed, or fault.” That definition seems to convey the idea that sin is harmful to others, and to God. That is how life actually is, though only God is aware of all the repercussions of our actions. Only God can rightly define sin.

A Webster’s from a later date defines sin as “the breaking of religious law or a moral principle, especially through a willful act.” That definition isn’t quite so good, because people invent all kinds of conflicting “religious” and “moral” rules. The religious leaders of the day called Jesus a sinner (ref. the ninth chapter of John, esp. 9:24,25) though he was actually God in human form. Sin distorts our view others, ourselves, and God.

The same dictionary gives a definition of “innocence,” as “freedom from guilt or sin, especially through lack of knowledge of evil.” That’s a pretty good definition, but innocence is another word with many shades of meaning. It doesn’t mean a total absence of potential for sin. Webster’s gives the origin as the Latin word “nocere.” By attaching the prefix “in,” the literal meaning becomes “without harm.” “Nocere” means “to harm,” and is related to “gnosis,” the Greek word for knowledge. Knowledge is a tool often used in harmful ways.

Before going any further, I want to say that I’m afraid we sometimes try to define words and doctrines to such length that we unintentionally hinder the Lord’s desire. When there is so much fine print, the most important meanings can sometimes be overlooked. I don’t want to minimize the importance of correct doctrine, but interpretations of Bible doctrine cannot take the place of Jesus. Jesus is alive, and he is the savior.

I am sure that God had given Adam and Eve a high level of intelligence before they ate from the tree of knowledge, but there was an absence of guile. Now our world has become one great altar of the innocent. The innocent seem to get caught in the middle of everything, and even though God extends special grace to them, they yet suffer along with the guilty. They are dragged into the guilt.

God is often blamed for the suffering of the innocent, but the evils of this world are caused by the freewill of man, and not the ill will, or non-existence of God. We abuse our freedom of will in every way imaginable, and then blame God for failing to prevent us. Sometimes God, who is guilty of nothing, does interfere with us, and then we blame him for interfering.

Although we are all descendants of Adam and Eve, and God has made all of us of one blood (Acts 17:26), a divisive force called sin separates us from one another, and from God. A person who has wronged someone will often try to avoid that person due to feelings of guilt, even if the injured party is seeking reconciliation. If the offending party feels no guilt, that makes reconciliation even more difficult. If the truth were told, most often there’s enough guilt for everyone to share.

Obviously, man is not “good enough” to inhabit a perfect world for eternity. For a heaven to exist for us, God must alter (altar) the physics of our very being. We must be given a new “heart,” and even a new body (1st. Corinthians 15:40-57), or we would spoil paradise just as quickly as did Adam and Eve. The teaching of evolution is that the suffering and sacrifice of the innocent will continue so long as life exists, but the Bible predicts a very different future.

The day of at-one-ment has not yet been realized in the physical world, but the Lord who knows the potential of every child, and the secrets of every soul, has become the sacrifice of the atonement. The idea of the world being “as one,” was first the dream of God himself, and it is the height of vanity for us to imagine that we can achieve this without God and Christ. There is not only sky above us, but also the living God, who has shed his own innocent blood for us. Only he can deliver us into lasting communion.

To repeat something said in an earlier post; Noah was told (Genesis 6:14) to pitch the ark inside and out with pitch (Hebrew “kopher”), a substance formed along with tar (ref. my preceding post). You can see in that word the origin of our words, “coffer,” and “cover.” Noah’s ark was the only vessel to carry survivors to safety in the new, post-flood, world. In other cases, forms of the word are translated as “ransom,” or used in speaking of sin that has been purged, and as the name for the golden cover of the ark of the covenant (the mercy seat). The same basic Hebrew word (kaphar), is used for that which is known as the sacrifice of the atonement (at-one-ment).

Can God “cover” us within, and without, so that we can be “one,” and our sin become as if it had never been? Paul, in Galatians 2:20, speaks of himself as being crucified with Christ, and yet living, and Christ living within him. I think that God would experience a “crucifixion” just by living with man, and certainly by coming to live “within” us. Colossians 3:3 says of the believer, “For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” No matter how wild the storms may grow, those who are “in Christ” are ultimately as safe as Noah and his family were in the ark.

God has become one with us in the suffering of this world. The innocent, and the forgiven, will someday live in at-one-ment with God in a world far beyond the reach of suffering (John 3:16). The physics of the atonement are a mystery, but the existence of sacrificial love helps us to believe in it. People who love each other must believe in each other, and because of our human weakness, we must sometimes believe in something beyond each other.

P.S.   I’ve tried retyping a section of the text of this post where the font size appears different. It will not come out right, no matter what I try. I will have to leave it as it is.

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There were two trees in the midst of the garden of Eden; the tree of knowledge, and the tree of life. There was no prohibition against eating from the tree of life. Adam and Eve could have chosen life instead of unbridled knowledge. God continues to offer us a choice, but if man thinks he can create Utopia through knowledge, then he had better think again.

The word “utopia,” can mean either “good place,” or “no place.” There is no such thing as paradise without God, no matter how desperately it’s wanted. I understand that we must try to make our world a better place. Without hope, and without a dream, we resign ourselves to fatalism. Our dreams, and our buildings are fragile though. Someone is always tearing them down to make room for something bigger. Mans attempts to build a more utopian society have led to much violence over the course of history.

I can’t help but see the contrast between my poor paradise, and the Paradise of God. I once thought that you could obtain some measure of success if you would work. I still recommend work, but it takes more than that. Then there’s the promise of education. Some say you’ve got to work smarter, not harder. There’s truth in that also, but no guarantee. It’s hard to weigh the risks against the cost.

God understands that we need hope, but also that it must be in him. Dreams that aren’t grounded in reality ultimately do us more harm than good. Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV), “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God has a dream for each of us, but we must choose to go with him. We can’t keep running the other way.

Some interpret Genesis 2:5-6 to mean there was no rain until the time of Noah. I’m not certain of that interpretation, but it is possible that the river of Eden welled up from a great underground source. God created a paradise for man along the river, and the tree of life was in the midst of the garden, along with the tree of knowledge (Genesis 2:9). God barred Adam and Eve from Eden, not only to protect paradise from man, but ultimately to keep it for them. The geographical area of Eden was later destroyed by Noah’s flood.

Revelation 22:7, speaks of the “tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God.” The river flowing through the paradise of God (Revelation 22:1-2) springs from “the throne of God, and of the Lamb.” The tree of life grows along both sides of the river. The garden of Eden was designed following the same basic pattern as the new paradise of God will be. In the new paradise however, knowledge will only grow to its proper height. The days of mindless experimentation will be past.

There were two criminals crucified along with Jesus. Initially, both of them mocked Jesus, as did most of the crowd gathered there. As the excruciating day wore on, something changed the mind of one of them (Luke 23:42-43). Something convinced him that Jesus really was “the Lamb of God.” He decided, as I have, that he would love to have a king like Jesus. Since there is no one else like him; it must be him.

So, how do we reach the tree of life in the paradise of God? The one criminal finally stood up for Jesus against the other (about as well as he could stand in his circumstances). He said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” and Jesus answered, “…today, you will be with me in Paradise.” Revelation 22:17, “…Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”

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