When Painful Things are Good

And he said, “It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him” (1 Samuel 3:18).

God was going to totally wipe out Eli’s name from before his altar of service. Eli’s sons had lived corrupt lives (profaning the Lord’s sacrifices and taking prostitutes) and God was going to bring justice to this house for the flippant way they had treated service to God. Upon hearing this from the boy Samuel’s lips, Eli replied in the affirmative…not only this, but acknowledging that the Lord can and will do whatever he sees fit.

Not only this, but we read in chapter 2 that it is good to the Lord to put people to death (even those that carry the name priest). “But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death” (1 Sam. 2:25). Too many times we think that death is something that God does not know how to deal with adequately. People try to comfort people with the goodness of God, but they do not acknowledge that the Lord is the one who creates and destroys. There is nothing outside of his hand.

Fresh Fruit in the Garden of Eden

My wife read me this quote out of Goldsworthy’s book, According to Plan , last night and I thought it was helpful in thinking through what was happening in the Garden.

In Genesis 1:28 it is implied that we are created to make real choices between real options, even though this freedom is bound by the prescription to be fruitful and rule the earth. Without the freedom to make real choices it would be impossible to rule. In recognition of this, most English versions of the Bible translate Genesis 2:16 as permission to “freely eat” of all the trees in the garden. There is no “freely” in the Hebrew text which, in fact, uses the same construction here that is used in verse 17, “you will surely die.” In the context we see that Adam and Eve have the freedom to choose what to eat from all the trees, but they have no freedom as to the consequences if they eat of the one forbidden tree.
        Thus, with freedom and responsibility comes a test of obedience in the prohibition placed on eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Nothing in the text suggests that the fruit of this tree (which is never referred to as an apple tree!) has some magical quality which will produce the knowledge of good and evil in anyone who eats it. This would be completely out of character for biblical literature. It is more likely that God designates the tree as off limits as the means of showing the difference between good and evil. The choice for Adam and Eve was not between ignorance and the knowledge of good and evil, but between remaining good and becoming evil themselves. The nature of the test was such that whatever choice they made they would know right and wrong through their personal response to God. God is not a force or some other impersonal power. No matter how hard it is for us to conceive of God as person without at the same time reducing him to a superhuman being, the Bible consistently refers to him in personal terms. He is the source of personhood.
(p. 98)

In essence, Goldsworthy is saying that the fruit itself was not the issue that ejected Adam and Eve out of the Garden. Rather, it was their reaching their hand out and taking of the fruit. “Knowledge” does not have to refer to the metaphysical, but it can also refer to the experiential knowing (cf. Gen 4:1, 17, 25; Deut 34:10; Judges 19:25; Ps. 20:6; 41:11).

Therefore, the spotlight shines not on the tree, but on how Adam and Eve will live their lives. Will they obey? Or will they know evil out of their present experience of good? Taken this way, it helps to get into the Genesis author’s mind. This gives an even clearer picture of the original state of man and his rebellion because the issue is not God tempting Adam and Eve. We know that God does not tempt (James 1:13). Instead, Adam and Eve are in a covenant relationship with God, which has blessings (from all the trees they may eat) and its stipulations (from this one tree you may not eat). [[If you doubt this, William Dumbrell has a good treatment of this in Covenant and Creation, especially ch.1]]. So the issue is whether the man and woman will remain trusting the goodness of God or throw it away for the putrid fruit of self-governance.

Closer to Resolution

Okay. I could spend the time writing all my thoughts down and read a good book instead. I could do something a little more constructive as my dad taught me. I could spend less time in front of a screen clicking away and be outside moving my bones. OH! What to do?

I was lying in bed last night wrestling with whether I was going to commit to writing a blog. And this is what I came up with:

1. The internet is a connecting spot for the world.
2. I will probably never publish a book, so I shouldn’t wait for that to happen to share my thoughts with others.
3. Blogging enables me to encourage and challenge people without having to find a publisher.
4. I can make an impact in others’ lives and thinking by the things I type on this blog.
5. This provides an outlet for what I am learning in seminary rather than just filing it away never to be chewed on.
6. It could sharpen my own thinking as people affirm and challenge my thoughts.

With all that said, I am going to do this. I pray that this will be a way for you to be challenged, as well as myself. I want this to be a vehicle for Christ-centered discussion and culture-engaged thinking and action. May God be pleased with what is written here.

What's the Point?

That’s the question I ask myself and we should all ask ourselves when it comes down to making decisions. You see, too many of us just do without any conscious thought as to why I am doing what I am doing.

We plop down in front of the television to “veg out” for a while and wonder why there is not enough time in the day to do what I want to get done.

So the question I ask myself before I embark into the world of web logs is, “Why? With all the wonderful, culture-engaging commentaries out there already, why add more verbiage to the deluge of the internet? Why try to contend with such heavy hitters when you are trying to keep your head above water in right thinking?” Well, I want to add my voice because I think that the worst thing I can do is remain quiet and let this wave go by without attempting to out my hand to the clay and mold what thoughts are formed.

My hope in this blog is to be more of a mouthpiece to my meanderings than much a commentary on the culture. Rather, I want to impart some thought-provoking and thought-balming words to those who would join my venture.

I hope that you find what you’re looking for…and if you do not, at least you stopped for a bit and listened.