Are you eating from a tree of life?

The Word of God is the Gate to immense treasures in this life and the one to come.

1 Peter 1:3-5 says, ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you….’   To miss that inheritance is the most terrible tragedy that can befall anyone.  We learn how to claim our eternal inheritance in the Word of God, the revelation of God’s plan for man.  It is a reliable document, but there is a world-wide attempt to sow seeds of distrust in it.

The keys to our inheritance

  1. The keys to open the way to our inheritance are: wisdom, knowledge and understanding.  We call it the ‘small trinity.’
  2. God used those keys to create: ‘By wisdom God laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding He set the heavens in place; by His knowledge the deeps were divided and the clouds let drop the dew.’ 1
  3. We need those ‘keys’ in our ‘creation’ process to become new people in Christ.
  4. But the glue that keeps the small ‘trinity’ together is faith (‘…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him’ 2).

How to acquire the keys 

  1. ’The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.’ 3
  2. Thus the command in Proverbs 2:1-6, ‘My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom, and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.  For the Lord gives wisdom and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.’  Then, 
  3. ‘…wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.  Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.’  4

The Bible calls these 3 keys, a tree of life

  1. ‘Blessed is the man who gets wisdom, the man who gains understanding for she is more profitable than silver, and yields better returns than gold….  She is a tree of life to those who find her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed.’  5
  2. We eat of it here (get knowledge, understanding and wisdom in the Bible) to eventually eat of the real Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem. 6  God banished Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden so that they could not eat of the Tree of Life and live forever in their fallen state. 7

Wisdom preserves life eternally, which money cannot do.

‘Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun.  Wisdom is a shelter, as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.’ 8 

Conclusion

Knowledge, understanding and wisdom, held together by faith, are the 3 keys to the Kingdom.  The foundation of these keys is the 66 Holy Spirit inspired books that together form God’s wonderful Holy Book, the Book of all books!

References

  1. Proverbs 3:19-20
  2. Hebrews 11:6
  3. Proverbs 1:7
  4. Proverbs 2:10-11
  5. Proverbs 3:13-18
  6. Revelation 22:2
  7. Genesis 3:22-23
  8. Ecclesiastes 7:11-12

Why did God allow evil?

In the previous blogs (What about evil, Part 1 and  What about evil, Part 2) we discussed how evil came into the world with the evil angel, the devil.  After the peaceful scene in Genesis 2, Genesis 4 testifies about the first murder, as well as Lamech’s belligerence.  He said, ‘I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me.  If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.’ 1  Violence became part of life, as history testifies.

The results of the tree of knowledge of evil on society. 

  • God’s verdict about the acquired knowledge of evil by humans, was short and clear, ’The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of his heart was only evil all the time.…  So God said to Noah, ’I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them.’’’ 2 
  • God later reiterated that evil has become part of man’s ‘constitution,’ ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of men, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood’ 3
  • Since Genesis 3 man’s cruelty towards man knows no bounds.  History testifies to rivers of blood, cruelty, inhuman treatment, et cetera.

To answer why God did not stop the devil, or at least evil (which He as omnipotent God can do), we have to look carefully at the following:

1. God gave man a free will.

  • When God created in six days, 4 He sent a powerful message to humans: He is the omnipotent King, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Leader who can accomplish what He intends to do.  He is God Most High, the Owner of His creation. 5  He is the Lord who deserves loyalty, love and obedience.  In the Psalms nature worships God and acknowledges Him as the King who is worthy to be worshipped.
  • God’s plan with His creation was an eternal Kingdom where He is the King (obviously it includes Jesus and the Holy Spirit).  The country He would rule is the renewed heaven and earth.  The citizens will be the people who chose to love Him and accept Him as King.
  • For that reason God created man to follow, love and be loyal to a leader.  That is why He also gave us a free will to choose the leader we want.  Without free will it is not possible to love and be loyal.  God did not make us robots that cannot choose and love, because those are the essentials for a successful eternal Kingdom.
  • If we have only one choice it is no choice at all.  So God allowed an alternative into the earth to make a choice possible.  On the one hand is the good God who desires a disciplined, obedient lifestyle.  On the other hand is Satan with whom anything goes.  It is because he knows where it leads.  His own life is an example.  If a person wants to be immoral, an alcoholic, a murderer, rebellious, or whatever, it is fine with him.
  • On the surface it looks as if the odds are stacked against God.  Who wants to live a moral life with principles when one misses all the fun?  However:

The choice shows in this life, but the real divide comes in the next life.  

  • God promises unbelievable benefits of eternal joy and happiness to His followers, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him – but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.’ God’s benefits are so great, because He wants to reward those willing to accept His leadership and obey Him.
  • Those who decided it is not worth to give attention to the Creator of the universe, will follow the devil to his dark destination, eternal suffering and torture.  At least they have one consolation, they don’t have to spend time with the supposedly ‘wicked’ God.  Matthew 25:41 shows their end, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’
  • The ultimate end of our choice on earth is the reason the devil desperately fights to keep people away from the Bible.  He wants to keep them ignorant of the two eternal destinations.  Then they won’t realize that it is crucial to follow and love the Lord Jesus if they want eternal happiness.

 

2. Why God did not stop the devil.

  • God made a decree, ‘the wages of sin [disobedience to God] is death.’ 7  It is because an eternal Kingdom of love and peace is not possible without obedience to the Ruler.
  • So when the devil disobeyed God in heaven, he lost his chance to live eternally in God’s presence.  His sentence was final, since he saw and served God.  He knew all about God.  His sin was, ‘I will ascend to heaven….  I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly….  I will make myself like the Most High.’ 8  
  • He and his demons have no second chance, which is one of the reasons Jesus came as a man.  He died for humans and the devil and his demons are excluded.  Since we do not see God, God is very patient with us.  He continually gives us chances to repent and love Him.
  • If God stopped the devil when Adam disobeyed, the devil could demand that God revoke his sentence.  He [the devil] disobeyed God, and was judged.  Adam disobeyed God, and should also be judged.  Yet God’s plan of mercy and love, from the beginning, was that Jesus would be the sacrificial Lamb.  That is why, as a type, He clothed Adam and Eve in the skins of slaughtered animals.
  • Untested love is not worth much.  The angels were given the opportunity to follow God or Satan.  Some chose God and some Satan.  Humans also have the opportunity to choose.  God will only remove Satan when all people who live, have lived or will live on earth, have had the opportunity decide whom to love and follow.
  • The devil’s work is to identify the rebels among humans, those who have no desire to obey God or to love Him.  God cannot have a successful eternal Kingdom with people who hate Him want to get rid of Him and refuse to obey Him.
  • Many people believe that they could have had a wonderful life if evil didn’t exist.  We agree, but it leads nowhere.  It does not lead to greater love for the Lord, greater obedience and a more moral lifestyle.  Look at the wealthiest countries in the world.  Are they more moral (morality is to live according to God’s standards)?  To only live according to moral standards means absolutely nothing to God.
  • Take the example of Adam and Eve.  If Adam and Eve chose to obey God and not the devil in Genesis 3, would they have lived with God in eternal happiness?  Who says their descendants would continue to love and obey God?  One of them might decide 500,000 years down the line to rebel, like the devil did.  Untested love was, is and will remain useless.

 

3.  Many people blame God for all the evil. 

Let us look at what Scripture teaches.

  • In Revelation 20:1-3 we read, ‘And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.  He seized… the devil… and bound him for a thousand years.  He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.’  During that time Jesus will reign in peace.
  • After the thousand years the devil is loosened.  He immediately begins to deceive the people.  In numbers like the sand on the seashore they march, with the devil as chief, to destroy God’s city, and logically, God’s people.
  • Those people lived under the rulership of Jesus for a thousand years, but when the devil appeared on the scene, they immediately rejected Jesus and followed the devil.  While he is chained and confined in the Abyss during the Millennium, there are no problems with sin and evil.  The moment he is released, the people rebel.  It is obvious that Satan is the author of sin, evil, violence, hatred, et cetera.

Conclusion

God does not stop the devil and his evil designs, because it will derail God’s plan for His eternal Kingdom of peace and happiness.  The devil is the rebel sifter for the citizens of the Kingdom.

A few more questions we want to answer:

If God created only good, where does the devil’s evil nature come from?

Why do we have natural disasters?

How did the devil became the ruler of the world?

References

  1. Genesis 4:23-24
  2. Genesis 6:5, 13
  3. Genesis 8: 21
  4. Genesis 1
  5. Genesis 14:19-20
  6. 1 Corinthians 2:9
  7. Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23
  8. Isaiah 14: 12-14

What about evil, Part 2

Who was the serpent?

Please see What about evil, Part 1

The last book of the Bible, Revelation, informs us that there was a spirit, a created angel, behind the serpent, ‘The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.’ 1

It is necessary to have some background knowledge about the serpent, called Satan.

  • The talking serpent is in reality a rebellious angel (an invisible spirit) who decided to defect from God’s Kingdom.  He convinced one third of God’s angles to join him.  For his insurrection, he was banished and will never be part of God’s coming Kingdom which will be established on the new earth.  He is sore and bitter about it, bitter that humans, made from dust, can inherit the Kingdom.  That explains why he constantly questions the Bible.  The Bible is the guide for humans to become part of God’s eternal Kingdom.
  • Because the Bible is the Key to the Kingdom, Satan leads the whole world astray concerning the Bible.  He always questions the Word of God.  If he can destroy people’s trust or interest in it, they will follow his way and be excluded from God’s presence in eternity.
  • Satan is the ruler of this world.  That happened when Adam obeyed him rather than God.  God gave Adam the right to rule over the created world, ‘Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ 2  Adam’s right to rule went over to the devil.  As leader of this world, he can lead the whole world astray.
  • This is just fact, ’We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.’ 3  The devil controls the media, entertainment, education, money, law and whichever systems are at play in the world.  So he can influence millions, even billions to reject the Bible.

The change from Genesis 2 to Genesis 4?

Genesis 2 presents a picture of peace, tranquility and harmony.  After the devil entered in Genesis 3, the next chapter, Genesis 4, records the first murder in human history.  The murderer, Cain, was not interested in God’s advice to avoid wrongdoing.  Why?  The New Testament answers it, ‘Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother.  And why did he murder him?  Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.’ 4  Jesus affirmed, ‘And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to….’ 5

What happened when Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?

It became part of man’s constituency to do either good or evil.  When the devil entered the garden of Eden, humanity divided into two groups.

  • One group does what the devil likes – evil.  They resist God’s plan for their lives.  The other group trusts in God and wants to do His will.
  • Satan wants to divide humanity in two groups as he did with the angels.  They were divided into those who follow and obey God and those who follow the devil.  The example of Cain and Abel is a ‘blueprint’ of what humanity would be like through the ages: pro or anti-God.
  • Compare the attitudes of Cain and Lamech to that of Abel and Seth.  In Seth’s time man began to call upon the name of the Lord. 6  Cain’s genealogy stops with Lamech, while the genealogy of Adam through Seth ends with Jesus. 7
  • Genesis 6-7 highlight the differences between the two groups among humans after the Garden of Eden episode.  It was hundreds years after Adam and Eve were evicted from the garden.  There was already a sizable number of people on earth.  Yet when God surveyed them, His conclusion was, ‘The Lord saw how great man”s wickedness on earth had become, and that every inclination of his heart was only evil all the time.’ 8 Contrary to that, the Bible records one family that was different, ‘Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of the time, and he walked with God.’ 9
  • A few Scriptures to illustrate the two groups:
    • 1 John 3:12 calls the devil ‘the evil one.’
    • Genesis 2:9 introduced us to the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
    • Genesis 4 describes the evil deeds of Cain. 10  Cain belonged to the evil one.
    • Matthew 24:35 describes Abel as a righteous man.
    • Genesis 6:9 describes Noah as a righteous man.  He walked with God, as did Enoch.11  See also Hebrews 11:4-5
  • Thus the devil caused this split in the loyalty of mankind, either pro or anti-God.  It was the same as with the angels. 12  The difference is clear in Revelation.  Many angels serve God.  They are with God in the New Jerusalem.  The devil and his angels are in the lake of burning sulphur.

Conclusion

When we hear about evil in the world, we have to understand that its origin is the devil.  He is the evil one who causes people to commit evil against others made in the image of God.  Scripture tells us, ‘He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.’ 13  Understand that the killing, torturing, maiming of people by people, is part of the evil problem and its origin is in the devil.

That leaves us with two important questions we want to discuss:

  • Why did God not, in His omnipotence, get rid of the devil?  The devil is a created angel, so obviously for the Creator to squash him would have been no big deal.
  • What about natural evil or disasters like hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, et cetera?  What is their origin and why doesn’t God prevent them?  If Jesus could still a storm on the Sea of Galilee, surely God can stop a tsunami or a hurricane.

References

  1. Revelation 12:9
  2. Genesis 1:28
  3. 1 John 5:19
  4. 1 John 3:12
  5. Matthew 24:35
  6. Genesis 4:26
  7. Luke 3:23-38
  8. Genesis 6:5
  9. Genesis 7:9
  10. 1 John 3:12
  11. Genesis 5:22
  12. Mark 8:38
  13. 1 John 3:8