“Did God really say that?” Series Part 1:
All children naturally test their parents’ boundaries, commands, and instructions. It’s one of the joys of parenting. Sometimes kids want to know what they can get away with. As parents we hopefully learn how to effectively communicate our expectations but if we’re not specific enough, ambiguous, or vague in our description of the rules-expectations our kids may look for and discover loopholes. A “loophole” is an ambiguity or inadequacy in the law or a set of rules that is open to exploitation. It’s also a gap, space, or chink in the armor for example. I can’t blame them for trying. I did it too.
When I was about 14-15 my dad told me to move a huge pile of rough sawn lumber. I can’t remember how specific his instructions were, but I did it wrong, and he had one of his fits. He started throwing lumber off the new pile that I had created raking me over the coals for doing it wrong. I will admit it was possible that I wasn’t paying full attention employing my special gift of selective hearing when he told me how to stack the new pile of wood. Also, things can get lost in translation, especially for teenagers with underdeveloped frontal lobes and short attention spans. So, it wasn’t really my fault, right? (Sarcasm Alert!)
I can’t remember if I tried to find a loophole for my failure to stack the wood correctly, or an escape clause to get me out of the dog house, but I probably kept my mouth shut. Challenging my dad’s authority was never a smart move especially when he was in mid fit or losing his mind mode. I may have used the standard “I’m sorry, I didn’t know what you meant” or “I didn’t hear what you said”. Using ignorance as an excuse or way out was usually unsuccessful. Dad didn’t fall for that or allow a whole lot of wiggle room or latitude for debate, to question what was “really said”? It was a little easier to plead my case with my mother, to challenge what she “really said” or meant, but if it ever got back to my dad that I was being difficult, argumentative, or challenging her authority it would be bad. So, I didn’t go there very often and only as a last resort or in a moment of temporary insanity.
“I plead the 5th having no recollection of the events in question and refuse to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate me.”
This is not a series on parenting, but it is about a relationship that is closely related. Sometimes we who are believers refer to God as our “Heavenly Father”. The “Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6:9 begins with “Our Father who art in heaven”, and Jesus, the “Son of God”, is instructing us to address God as “Father”. After all, we are His creation and He is our only reason for existence. He brought us into this world, so it’s only natural that we would think of Him as a Father-Creator. However, I know that viewing God as a Father is difficult for some because of bad relationships with an earthly father. Whether we choose to view God as a father figure or not He is God and our ultimate authority according to the Bible. He not only created us, but He also “breathed” life into us.
“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7 NIV
Children aren’t the only ones who test boundaries, look for loopholes, or employ creative interpretation techniques to question what was “really said” or meant by those in authority over them. Adults are quite adept at this skill too. As we’ll discover in this new series entitled “Did God really say that?” Humans of all ages have been honing this skill since the dawn of creation. The meaning behind “what God says” in the Bible, or God’s word is one of the most hotly debated topics in human history. So, let’s begin by seeing where it all began. Who was the first to question what God said and the meaning behind His words?
1Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”4“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5 NIV
It’s interesting that the first being to question the words of God was not human at all. It was a “snake”. I use quotation marks because the serpent in Genesis 3:1 is not what he seems. He is also referred to as Lucifer, Satan, the devil, the prince of darkness, a dragon, a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, the deceiver, and more. Most of us think of him in a red suit, pointed tail, large horns on his head, and carrying a pitchfork, but Lucifer or the “son of the morning” was actually an angel, a fallen angel, but an angel, nonetheless. It’s possible that he was a powerful archangel or guardian angel in the same league as Michael and Gabriel, and on top of that he was apparently drop dead gorgeous. However, he fell out of favor with God and was cast out of heaven. Here is one Biblical account of his downfall and expulsion from heaven. It also includes his connection to “Eden, the garden of God” where he took the form of a serpent.
13You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. 14You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. 15You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. 16Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. 17Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So, I threw you to the earth; Ezekiel 28:13-17 NIV
Next week, we’re going to take a closer look at Genesis 3:1-5, the scriptures surrounding it, and the serpent’s role in the “fall of man” that started with four simple words, “Did God really say…?”
Have a great weekend! Love y’all!
Director of Family Ministry and Facility Coordinator – Andrews UMC
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