Where we live, there is not very much snow…ever! But this weekend has seen a lot of it, our neighbours have made more snowmen and we managed to get a late night walk together in the middle of the heaviest part!
Aside from the snow, this week has been pretty good. I took a day off work on Friday to make up for some Christmas overtime. Went for a walk, played a couple of games of backgammon with wife and made significant progress on my ‘latte art’ technique!
This is the closest I’ve ever got to anything resembling a flower. Still a way to go, but making progress.
This week also saw me finish book 4 of the Wheel of Time series: The Shadow Rising. It was an incredibly good read, even if very long. I’m really enjoying watching the three main characters grow. And trying to keep track of what everyone else is doing, and whether they are good or ‘dark friends’.
I must admit…I’m using the glossary a lot!
I also managed to meet with a friend after work this week, we went for a long walk in the pouring rain. It was good to get out and see someone else for a change, even if we did get pretty soaked. One of the things we talked about was my future engagement with the Navigators UK. Something that has been put on the ‘back burner’ for me over the last year – not least of all because of COVID (I don’t think I’ve written about all the reasons, on this blog before, but I did mention it in this post: Reflections: A New Bible and a New Season
But this is something I’ll be thinking about over the coming month. Especially now that I’ve re-joined the preaching rota at my Church. Probably more detail on that later!
Any other highlights? Well, my wife has prepared her Valentines day card stock!
In the story of Noah, we are given three distinct descriptions:
He was a righteous man
He was a blameless man
He walked with God
Righteous – we know from Hebrews 11:6-7 that it was Noah’s faith that made him righteous. Blameless – we know from James 2:21-24 that true, saving faith is evident in the way that a person lives and therefore Noah was blameless.
Finally, Noah, like Enoch, walked with God. He continually and habitually maintained a relationship with God.
Righteous by Faith
Blameless by Conduct
Walked with God by Relationship
We also know from later reading that Noah developed a drinking problem and had failings as a father. This is a reminder that without God’s grace we will never be righteous, blameless or maintain a relationship with God.
I want to lean into God for provision of increased faith, power for self-control in my conduct, and the ability to grasp the height, depth, breadth and length of Him who loved me first.
To plead with the desperate father: Lord, I believe, help me with my unbelief. (Mark 9:24)
To ask like the son for a loaf of bread: Holy Spirit dwell in me, that the fruit of self-control would be manifest (Matthew 7:9)
To enter into the disciples’ experience and walk ‘in the dust of the Rabbi’ -t hat we might receive the Lord’s reply to Phillip in John 14:
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?…“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
‘I am deeply grateful,’ said Frodo; ‘but I wish you would tell me plainly what the Black Riders are…’ ‘Is it not enough to know that they are servants of the Enemy?’ Answered Gildor. ‘Flee them! Speak no words to them! They are deadly.’ – The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring – Tolkein
One of the questions that kept coming up in the various commentaries I was using was ‘where did the snake come from?’. In the first chapter of Genesis, we are told that everything was good, so who invited the evil serpent?
However, this question was not answered. Not by the commentators and not by Genesis 3. We know, when looking at this passage with New Testament eyes, that the serpent does represent the devil (Revelation 20:9, 12:9). But knowing where evil came from, is not the point of the story here. It is one of the mysteries of the Bible. That is why I have included the quote from Lord of the Rings above. Is it not enough to know, that the snake was a servant of the enemy, and the proper response was to flee, fight, resist and subdue it.
However, there are a few things we can learn about the snake from Genesis – it is not a complete mystery. And that is the subject of this post:
The Snake is not Eternal
We know that the snake/evil is not eternal, because it was not there in the beginning. In fact, in the beginning God declared all His work as very good (Gen 1:31).
The Snake is not (entirely) to blame
Interestingly, despite Adam and Eve’s attempt to blame the snake, the failure was on them. “The snake does not feature in this story as the cause of human failure, but as that which faces human beings with the reality of their trust in God.” (Atkinson) In other words, the snake provides an opportunity for mankind’s faith in the goodness of God to be tested.
Nevertheless, the fact that the snake is cursed, does imply that it was guilty, hence: ‘because you have done this…’ (v14)
The Snake is not our friend
In the beginning of this chapter, Eve and the snake are talking like friends. Back and forth. Forming an alliance, a conspiracy.
But no matter how fine an allegiance against God (and His ways) may seem, the message of Genesis 3 is that: those who unite in wickedness will not be united for long. We see this as Eve quickly seeks to blame the snake for her “mistake”. We see this as God places enmity between the snake and Eve’s offspring.
We also see parallels in the Psalms, why do ‘the rulers band together against the LORD?…The One enthroned in heave laughs; the Lord scoffs at them’ (2:2&4).
Therefore we should be wary about sinning with others, thinking it will join us closer. I find that gossip is very sneaky like this. We engage in gossip, because deep-down we think it will “unite” us with someone we admire (or who’s approval we seek). However, gossip quickly turns against us and causes division. A wise saying is: ‘there is no honour among thieves’.
The Snake was supposed to be ‘ruled over’
In Genesis 1, God decides to make mankind ‘so that they may rule over…all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground’ (1:26). Notice how Genesis 3 begins, ‘now the snake was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made’ (3:1).
There is no moral judgement in the word ‘crafty’, it is neither good nor bad, it is simply what the snake is like. However, by calling the snake a ‘wild animal’, the author of Genesis is hinting that this was one of the creatures that Mankind was supposed to rule over.
But this is not what happens. Instead of taking charge of the animal, and handling it with authority, Adam and Eve kowtow to the wishes of this crafty animal. They give it permission and space to question God’s goodness.
May we, as Christians, as co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8) as people invited to sit on God’s throne (Rev 3:21), not abdicate our authority anymore! If the snake, if the tempter must sit at the party or crouch at the door, may it be as our enemy – not our friend.
May we declare to God, like the Psalmist – ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies’ (Psalm 23). But let us not invite the snake to take charge.