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Where Sound Doctrine Endures
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men.  After the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Colossians 2:8

Issue #12

May & June 2004

Following the Biblical Stream:
By Philip Busby

     I wanted to take a moment of time and clarify something I said over the course of the last two newsletters. In the last issue (#11) of Following the Biblical Stream I said in the 5th paragraph, speaking of Gen. 1:28, "This verse tells us the first commandment of God unto men." However, if you go back to Issue #10, I started by talking about how God may have given the commandment to Adam not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil before Eve was ever created. This may have seemed to be a contradiction to some, so I wanted to clarify. In Issue #11 I was talking about the fact that we see the first commandments given to "men" or mankind. Adam may have been by himself when he was told not to eat of the tree, but he was definitely not by himself when God gave the commandments in Gen. 1:28. I did not do a good job portraying this point. I wanted to point out the fact that God never intended to leave us here alone. His presence and guidance was intended to be constant with every new situation we found ourselves in. God was not even through with His creation process, but He took the time to guide Adam about the tree and it's consequences. God was still not done with His creation at the time He stopped to give Adam and Eve words to live by as they started their lives together. From the very first steps of our lives God has desired to guide us, not just by telling us what we have done wrong, after we have done it, but He has tried to give us wisdom before we ever have the chance to mess things up! This was true then and it is still God's desire now. However, once again there is that question of, do you want His guidance?

     So, last time we ended by talking about Gen. 1:28, and now we're ready to move on to the next verse. Verse 29 tells us what God gave them for food. Here we see God giving mostly fruit. So, when mom tells you to eat your fruits and vegetables, she knows what she's talking about! This is what God gave men to eat in the first place. It is what our bodies were meant to digest. Now, keep in mind, even things like tomatoes are fruit. Many of the things we call vegetables still belong to the fruit family. God was giving us the parts of the plants that bore the seed. The seed was not necessary to eat but obviously not harmful either. This meant, the food man was given would be fresh. We would not eat the leaves of trees that may stay on the tree for a season, or possibly longer before the time of man's sin. We would not mow like cows by eating the grass. Leaves, grass and things of this sort are a part of the plant that do not ripen. Leaves and grass simply do the job for which they were intended, and a large part of that job is processing elements. Eating these parts of plants is a little like eating a digestive system. That is probably why not too many leaves and such taste very good. The fact that the animals were given these things to eat, shows they were a part of that cycle and process. However, when a plant produces a fruit, that part of the plant comes to a point of completion. We call this point "ripe." When the fruit is ripe, it is ready to go out on its own. It contains all kinds of nutrients, and it is not processing anything. If somebody or something does not eat it soon, the plant will expel it. If conditions are right, an expelled fruit may grow a new plant, but much of this fruit simply returns it's nutrients to the ground. This excess is what God created specially for man to eat.

     Current reports keep telling us that one of the biggest health concerns in the United States today is obesity. However, many of our health concerns, other than just the fact we have put on a little weight, can be traced back to this commandment. Man was never intended to eat half of the things he does. When you look at this scripture, it really is silly to think there used to be, and probably still are, many "health experts" who do not believe a vegetarian diet is a good diet. There are even those who contend that a human can't live without things like meat. On that point, the interesting fact is that many of our wonderful evolutionist friends now tell us we did not "evolve" with the right teeth to eat meat. The more they study God's creation, the more they prove the Bible is true!

     It was not until after the flood that God gave us permission to eat animals. This was mostly done because of the fact that the planet was falling apart. God knew that with harsh changing atmospheric conditions it would not always be possible for man to grow and have fresh fruits for food. This also meant that man would, and probably already had, learned to eat other parts of plants than just the fruit. God would give the Jewish nation very strict guidelines for what they could eat, but God still did not take meat completely away. So we see in this, the fact that the curse of the ground had broader effects on our lives than just the fact we would have to work hard. Consider the fact that God also gave the Jews a land flowing with milk and honey. This would certainly make it much easier to follow a stricter diet; once again, they would still be allowed some meats!

     There are those who say all believers should be following the Jewish eating laws, but God makes it clear in His Word that He did not put this burden on the Gentiles. (Acts 15:23-29) So, it is not required for non Jewish believers. That being said, I will say it is true, for health reasons, a kosher diet is a very good thing. This is why God asked it of the Jews. God wanted not just the most righteous nation in spirit, but also in body! They would live in a land flowing with milk and honey; they would be the most blessed nation on earth, but they would also be the healthiest. Once again, God's commandments are a blessing even if they seem restrictive!

     One more point to consider, is the fact that God told us we could eat animals before we had the technology to preserve food as we can today. It is true that a kosher diet is a healthy diet, but even the kosher law was given knowing the Jews could not necessarily sustain an all fruit diet. However, in some parts of the world today, if you wanted to talk about healthy eating according to the Bible, you could talk about an all fruit diet. It can be done!

     As we talk about these first instructions given to man, it is worth noting that most of these same things were told to Noah and his family after they got out of the ark. (Gen. 9:1-7) There were some revisions from the aspect that God gave man the right to kill and eat animals, but the just is the same. All through the Bible we see our quality of life and relationship with God being chiseled away by sin, but the basic plan of God is still the same. So, once again God is working to bring us back. To have the things He intended us to have in the first place, but He will not force it on anyone. So, it is only if we want it! It's also not something you are going to find in this world. Here, we can only do the best we can with what we have, and what we have, as we just talked about, is not all of what we were created with. So, if you are living for God with the false hope that everything will be good, you are badly mistaken. It is not always easy to live the life God asks of us, while here on this earth, in this sinful flesh. This is why Jesus told us, if we would lose this life we would find life. (Matt. 10:38-39) What God gives us, in the here and now, is for the sake of serving Him. People don't always understand why they must go through so many trials, but God's Word tells us that we will. (1 Peter 1:1-9) It rains on the just and on the unjust. (Matt. 5:44-45) That is why we give this life to His service and look forward to the next, if we are a true believer in Christ. When Christ was telling us we would know a true believer by their fruit, He was speaking in a large part about their attitude towards this life. (Matt. 7:15-16) Remember, not all of us will have many people to show for the testimony we give, but the fact that we give our lives for the sake of the cross is what is important. Noah hammered away on an ark for many years, only to have eight souls saved! However, what was important is that Noah built the ark instead of complaining about what things he could better spend his time doing!

     Moving on to verse 30 gives us the food regiment for the animals. I do not believe, this wording, is telling us all the animals were vegetarians. As I talked about in an earlier issue, most of the animals that eat other animals, mostly eat animals who eat herbs. God was giving the animals a base supply of food. Remember, God gave us a brain, but animals act on instinct. To kill or not to kill is a choice humans can make, but God did not originally give the animals to us for food. The verses after the flood tell us that animals were not necessarily afraid of man before that time, and did not kill men. The death of humans or death caused by humans, even of animals, was not meant to happen. However, I believe the animals did have a life cycle much like they do today; and just as there are small bugs who break down waste elements on the planet, there has always been larger animals who do the same. Just how much hunting the animals did before the fall and flood is something we will never know. However, animals other than insects, were created to break down and dispose of waste, such as other animals who died, is something I believe did happen. I believe this verse is telling man that the animals would stay on their side of the fence, so to speak, and we did not have to fear them. Note that God did not tell us what the plants were given to eat. Some may think this is a silly thing to say, but let's face it, God was not giving man a full lecture on the science of the planet. He was telling man where the boundaries were. So, this verse is not for the animals, it is for us!

     Once again, as I talked about in an earlier issue, plants, animals, rocks and water, are all part of a large system of creation that work in a balance together. There are many different plants and animals with very different jobs. Man was the special creature, created in the image of God. Everything God had made was to create an environment for man to live in.

     One more issue I will touch on here is the fact that some think animals lived forever, just like people, before the fall of man. I feel that most people probably think this idea is way out there, but let me just make a mention of something here, in case you are ever confronted with the thought or question. The reason man was going to live forever was not because he was created with the sustaining power in himself. No, if man was going to live, it would be because he had access to the Tree of Life. (Gen. 3:22-24) No where do we see God concerned about the animals being able to eat from the Tree of Life. So, it is silly, in my opinion, to believe that animals did not have life and death cycles before the fall of man, but did after. One more thing on this issue, is the fact that animals work on instinct alone. It is hard to believe there would be such a balance in a system of plants and animals living and dying post-fall of man, if they were created to live forever like man was. Man has intelligence, and part of the curse that God laid on man, after the fall, was a situation where he would have to use that intelligence to survive. God did not just curse the ground, for man; He cursed the ground because of man!

     Now we have to jump back to chapter 2 of Gen. and look at verse 25. Man had been given his commandments. They were in many ways very simple! There was more than just one, as we have discussed, but they were all relatively easy to understand. I started this segment by talking about how God has always given us instruction before we are given the chance to mess up and do something harmful. Here, in verse 25, we are told that both Adam and Eve were naked, and they were not ashamed. This is not just here to tell us a fact, so that later when we see them realize they were naked, it would make sense. This verse points out the true innocence of man. It says they were not "ashamed." We can all get out our dictionaries and look up the word "ashamed" now. What I'm trying to say is very hard to do with just words on a page, at least when those words are English. However, I will do the best I can to convey my meaning. Here we are told they did not feel shame or guilt for the fact that they were naked. This is not to tell us they were not embarrassed. They had nothing to be embarrassed about. The issue was not whether they needed to do a few sit-ups and tighten that tummy some more before summer! We are talking about the fact that being naked did not bring guilt. Now what is guilt or shame? These are emotions we feel when we believe our actions may have caused harm of some kind! Understand that whether Adam and Eve being naked had some harmful effect or not, was not the issue here. The issue was, they had no reason to worry that their nakedness would have harmful effects, because God would make sure that did not happen. This is what changed after they took of the tree God told them not to take of! They became responsible for what their nakedness might do. This is why we as humans were destined to fail if we became responsible for things like this. We, unlike God, do not know everything. There Adam and Eve were in the garden, all by themselves, but once they took of the tree, they became immediately concerned about their nakedness! They had no idea at what time or place it would be, or cause, a problem!

     We need God's guidance in everything we do! We never know when and where our actions may cause harm, and that is why we have fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) This makes the point loud and clear; if we are going to follow God, it's going to have to be a very personal relationship. It is not just about going to church and/or Bible study. It is about preparing ourselves for the everyday interaction with others. We should feel shame when our actions harm others. This is why Jesus taught us that an eye for and eye is a statute we should all grow past. (Matt. 5:38-48) We should realize that even if we are harmed by someone else, it is no excuse for us to harm back. Those truly living for God should grow to have the same kind of mercy God has shown us. (Matt. 6:14-15) Our attitude should not be the thought that, it's someone else's problem. "If they have trouble lusting after me, then that is their problem not mine," is one of the most ignorant statements someone confessing to be Christ like could ever make. We will never be able to control other's thoughts and actions but we should consider our own very carefully. We're not here to make excuses; we are called to make a difference!

     To wrap everything up, we have to make one more jump back to Gen. chapter 1 and look at our last verse in this segment, verse 31. I love statements like the one here. It tells us, God looked at everything He had made and it was very good! Hebrews tells us that God swore by Himself because there is nothing higher. (Heb. 6:13) Here we see a similar thing. God looked over His work because there was no one and nothing higher to receive an opinion from. He declares the verdict that it was very good. We have God's word on the fact that what He started us with, was perfect! We are not a mistake. God doesn't make mistakes. Further, there is the fact we were not created by some imperfect being who was just playing around.

     One day a man was brought to Jesus to be healed. Jesus told the man his sins were forgiven. This was not a scolding of the man but a statement of fact. Every bad thing that happens is because of our sin. The world we live in is sick and dying because of sin. Like we talked about earlier, it rains on the just and the unjust. So, everything bad that happens to us is not a direct result of a specific sin we have committed. It is, many times, simply because we live in a sin filled world. We should not let these things discourage us. We should take them as the evidence as to why we seek to be better ourselves, and why we look forward to the day when we will be freed from these sin ridden bodies and be with Christ!

     "And the evening and the morning were the sixth day." If the Lord wills, there to be enough days between now and then, we will talk next time about the seventh day of creation. Until then, I leave you with the words of 2 Corinthians 5:1-10.

2 Corinthians 5
1 For we know that if our earthly house of [this] tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in [this] tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5 Now He that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing [is] God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6 Therefore [we are] always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, [I say], and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9 Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that He hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.

I'll see you next time!

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