We are on day 3 of blogging through the Bible using the Murray M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan
The first temptation occurs in chapter 3 with inevitable succumbing. The serpent, aka Satan, lies with a twisted truth (it’s close to the truth, with two words changed). God had told them they could eat from any tree in the garden, except one. Satan asks “Did God really say you must noit eat from any tree in the garden?”. Can eat has been changed to “Must not eat” and that awful word really? So undermining!
Eve corrects Satan but extends the scope of God’s ban on the tree of knowledge of good and evil to also not touching it. Satan then snaps back “you will not surely die.” True in that they wouldn’t die physically immediately, but false in that physical death will come into the world and spiritual death was immediate.
In all of this exchange Adam, who was there (v6), is completely silent. God had spoken only to him and he neglected to pass the information on before Satan came and to refute the lies theer and then.
They ate and their eyes were opened – they are spiritually dead in their sin and they know good and evil and feel shame at their nakedness.
In v8 we can see part of God’s orinal purpose in creation – enjoying the presence of God. That has now been marred by sin and shame. God calls out – “Where are you?” He knows the answer, but is asking for Adam’s benefit.
Sin brings a curse
For Satan – we see the protogospel, the first gospel. From Eve’s offspring will eventually come soneone who will crush Satan
For Eve – childbirth will be more painful. Her “desire” for Adam here is not meaning sexual/romantic desire, but desire over (dare I say it feminism!) – it’s teh same sentence construction as 4:7 where sin desires to rule Cain. Adam will rule over Eve – so the battle of the sexes has arrived
For Adam – work will be harder
In verse 21 we get another pointing towards the Gospel – the first sacrifice is made to cover Adam and Eve’s shame – when God makes garments of skin.
John the Baptist begins to point the way to Jesus. He preaches a message of repentance – turning from wrongdoing, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Although not a popular message, people flock, confess and get baptised.
In v7-8 you can sense the frustration of the message – “produce fruit in keeping with repentance!”. John’s message and baptise deals with the past, but gives no power for future. So in v11 he announces that one whois more powerful will baptise with the Holy Spirit. This is a radical message, upto this point the “Spirit of God” was mainly called just that. Now John is adding an adjective to His name “Holy” (that only happens twice in the OT – one of which is when David is repenting and begging God not to take away his Spirit who is holy). So what the hearers would have understood is that they would soon be “drenched with God’s Holy Power in the person of the Spirit” – the baptism of the Spirit would provide power to be Holy!
Jesus comes to be baptised. Why? John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance and Jesus did not need to repent. Jesus did want to identify himself with sinners as their saviour though! Most importantly, the occasion of the public baptism recorded for all generations to come the perfect embodiment of the triune God revealed in glory from heaven. The testimony directly from heaven of the Father's pleasure with the Son and the descending of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17) is a beautiful picture of the trinitarian nature of God.
Once the Israelites had settled back after the Exile – they assembled as one man great unity!
Although they feared the people around them, they got on with the job of rebuilding worship. Someone once said “Courage is fear that has said it’s prayers” (attributed widely to Karl Barth, Dorothy Bernard and Joyce Meyers!)- Don’t let fear stop you serving God and worshipping Him.
In v7 we see great generosity in giving to the building project – I’d love to see us growing this year and getting some form of premises of our own for the mission – whether it be a weekday base or a warehouse unit that can host everything!
Surrounding building the house of God was exuberant praise and worship with cymbals and shouting – lots of noise. Praise and thanskgiving is totally appropriate for the people of God!
Jesus had most likely walked past the beggar at the gate Beautiful on His way to the Temple – it was Peter and John who get to heal him. “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” – this healing is just a declaration in the name of Jesus and it works! As Peter and John help him up, the healing happens. There is no formula for how we are to heal, the Bible gives lots of different ways.
It’s a great way to plant a church, heal someone and then reach the Gospel off the back of the healing!
Faith in the name of Jesus did it – it’s not the size of our faith that matters (after all Jesus said a mustard seed sized chunk of faith would do), it’s who we have faith in!
Peter’s preach gets from explaining the healing in short order to Jesus’s suffering as fulfilment of the prophets. He calls for repentance, so that times of refreshing can come.