Archive for September, 2021

Two Trees In Eden

There were two significant trees in the Garden of Eden.

TREE NUMBER 1, The tree in the midst of the garden: “…of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die’” (Genesis 3:3). Tree number one is the tree of knowledge.

This was not a reference to physical death because he did not die immediately. He actually lived for a long time (Genesis 2:15-17; 5:4). Upon eating of tree number one Adam died spiritually as soon as he sinned by eating from it.

The expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden indicated their spiritual separation from God. This expulsion indicates their spiritual alienation from God.

TREE NUMBER 2, The tree of life. Of the second tree God forbid Adam to eat of it saying, “…lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” (Genesis 3:22).

Tree number two refers to physical life and death. It is logical that Adam did not eat of tree number two because he ultimately died physically. Their expulsion from the garden, symbolizing their spiritual separation from God, preceded the opportunity of eating from the tree of (physical) life.

Had they eaten from this tree, the tree of life, it would have made sinners immortal. We are blessed God expelled them before they could eat of this tree of life enabling them, and us living forever in an imperfect world.

The tree on which Christ died, the cross, proved to be the antidote to the expulsion. Thereby, death is defeated and our estranged relation restored. By His spiritual and physical deaths eternal life is once more made possible for all who repentantly rely on Him.

Our trust of and obedience to Christ reverses the result of Adam’s disobedience.

Christ’s cross is often looked upon as an instrument of death. It is actually the tree of life.

I Will Lift Up My Eyes to the Hills

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills — from whence comes my help? (Psalm 121:1).

A traditional old Hebrew understanding of this suggests this Psalm of Ascent represents a time when David was engaged in a battle in which he was out manned. He had sent for reinforcements, and knew the direction from which they would come. They would be coming from the direction of a ridge of mountains behind him. It is in that direction he is looking. That is the direction from which help is coming, but in reality it is God who is providing the help.

This is a psalm of confidence. David cannot see his help, it is beyond the mountain ridge, but he is confident it is there and coming to his aid. So confident is he in God.

In our lives we have needs and can’t see how they will be supplied, but we can have confidence “God will supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory” (Phil. 4:19). He already has it in reserve, out of sight just over the mountain.

Remember …

“… those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31


All of us feel hurt, offended, or vilified at times. What are we to do about it? The story Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers, gives insight. Genesis 50 gives the account.

There was a famine in Israel where Joseph’s brothers lived. Wisely Joseph had the people of Egypt stockpile food for a forthcoming famine. In desperation Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to beg for food. They did not recognize the ruler before whom they bowed and begged as being Joseph, their wronged brother. He did recognize them and eventually revealed himself. They were mortified and trembled in fear for their lives.

Instead of playing the “hurt card,” the Scripture phrases his response as,“you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Joseph in effect said, “God used what you did to me to make me who I am.”  If I had not been a slave I would not be Prime Minister.

In response to his brothers begging for mercy Joseph said, “Am I in the place of God?” Meaning God, not I, is your judge, He is the one who forgives. Later in Scripture God said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” Joseph trusted God to give them what they deserved. When we refuse to forgive we are playing God.

Joseph not only didn’t seek payback, he showed no bitterness. Bitterness is a self-inflicted wound. Being wronged results in us being bitter or better.

Joseph knew his God was bigger than his hurt and He forgives. 

Some say, “I just can’t forgive the person.” Often those same people under more pleasant circumstances quote the Scripture, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” If so, you can forgive.

A frequent response to personal injury is, “I can forgive, but I can’t forget.”  Forgive does not mean to forget. It means I will never hold it against you again.

In the model prayer is this statement, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” When we forgive we invite God’s favor. When we refuse to forgive, we have no reason to expect God’s forgiveness.

Did God Hate Esau?


Scripture notes God loved Jacob, but “hated” Esau (Malachi 1:3).

Scripture also notes God blessed Esau greatly (Genesis 33:9). God even warned the Israelites not to attack the sons of Esau at the risk of the withdrawal of His protection (Deuteronomy 2:4-6).

God loved Jacob with a covenant love which was a different kind of love shown to Esau. God knows a person’s heart, and He knew Jacobs’ heart was more committed to Him than that of Esau.

An understanding is found in the Hebrew word “soneh” translated “hate.” It is a relative term meaning to love something or someone in a different way as another is loved. It is not a word with the same meaning as good old fashioned modern day hate. 

The meaning is He loved Jacob, but He loved Esau in a different way.

This is the meaning of the word Jesus used in speaking of those who follow Him must “hate” their father and mother, and follow Him. It does not mean to have old fashioned hate. Jesus is also using a relative term meaning love for others is of a lesser degree than love for Him.

It teaches Jesus should be the object of our primary love without rivalry. When He is our love for father and mother is greater than otherwise.

The meaning of the words for hate have changed since the original words were translated from Latin into English.

Not only does God love Esau, He loves us also. The question is do we love Him.

Has God Just Busted Our Britches?

Johnny Cash told me he was asked to do a big benefit at which the First Lady Mamie Eisenhower would be in attendance. He had a new tight fitting suit made with dangles and spangles all over it. On stage before he could hit the first note he dropped his guitar pick. When he squatted to pick it up he heard a rip in the crotch. He did a number and stormed off stage. In the dressing room he tore off the suit, threw it on the floor, and screamed as he jumped up and down on it. June started laughing uncontrollably. He asked what was so funny.

She said, ”You have the number one song, just starred in a movie, got your own TV program, and God done busted yo britches.”

She knew he needed to be humbled in order to get right with God.

To say God might have just allowed the busting of our national britches is a crude, but understandable way of putting it.

We have told Him we don’t need Him in our schools, courts, and society.

Could it be God is saying what you are experiencing is what life is like without Me when things don’t go well? Now humble yourselves, and pray, and seek my face and I will show you a way out and what life can be like. He will sew up our britches. Crude but true.