Forbidden Fruit

Enjoying my first cup of coffee on a beautiful Saturday morning. I got to thinking… did Adam and Eve have coffee in the Garden of Eden?

There are two creation accounts in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Chapter one of Genesis describes the first creation story and isn’t at all about Adam and Eve. Instead, God creates man and woman. He did not give these two creatures a name at this time.  If you read the entire first chapter you’ll also notice that God creates everything else before creating man and woman.

In chapter two of Genesis, God creates man (Adam) first and then decides that it wasn’t good for him to be alone. He then puts Adam into a deep sleep, pulls out one of his ribs, and creates Eve. It was much simpler in chapter one because God had created man and woman at the same time.

To continue with the chapter two story, God told Adam that there are many trees in the garden and has allowed him to eat from any tree except for one – the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. I find it odd that God would create a tree that couldn’t be eaten from, but that’s how the story goes. I also thought it odd that God would pre-program Adam and Eve with language and the knowledge to understand language but decided to embed the knowledge of good and evil into a piece of fruit. But, that’s just me!

Along comes the serpent and slithers up to Eve. The serpent tells Eve not to worry about that fruit in the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Go ahead and eat it! Since Eve had no knowledge of good or of evil, she didn’t know that the serpent might be trying to trick her. How could she know that the serpent is good or evil? She doesn’t have the ability to make a value judgement because God chose not to program her that way. Eve tells Adam not to worry about eating that special fruit because the serpent said it was okay to do so. And they both ate from the forbidden tree.

And you know the rest of the story. God punishes both Adam and Eve (oh, and the serpent!) because they didn’t follow God’s command. But think about that! Adam and Eve were behaving the way that God had created and programmed them to behave. Doesn’t an omniscient being know what the outcome is going to be? Yet he punishes them anyway for behaving in a way that they were programmed to behave. I guess you can’t apply logic to this story. It’s another one of those mysterious things that God does.

My knowledge of coffee is good – sometimes evil. Come join me!

Big Mac or Brady Bunch?

What does a Big Mac, The Brady Bunch and The Ten Commandments have in common? You’d have to have a bizarre imagination if you came up with something.

big macA survey conducted in 2007 by Kelton Research showed that we Americans know more about the Big Mac and the The Brady Bunch than we do about The Ten Commandments. Out of 1,000 respondents, 35% could name all six Brady kids, 25% recited all seven ingredients in the mouth-watering Big Mac, but only 14% could recall all Ten Combrady kidsmandments found in the Bible. What does this say about our Christian Nation?

I just cannot get that Big Mac jingle out of my head, “Two all-beef patties…” But seriously! What are those pesky Ten Commandments? That’s okay, though. There are different versions of the Top Ten and it depends on whether you’re a Baptist, Lutheran, or Catholic. It also depends on whether or not you study your Bible. We get the Famous Top Ten from Exodus, Chapter 20. But if you flip a few chapters over to, let’s say Chapter 34, you’ll find an entirely different set of commandments (read Exodus 34:1-28). But, believe it or not, these are the “Real” Ten Commandments because God says so! I challenge you to read your Bibles, especially the Real Ten Commandments. Don’t bother reading about the punishments for violating any of these. Most people don’t.

The Lord said to Moses: Write these words; in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel. He was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” Exodus 34:27-28.

By the way, Commandment #10 is my favorite, “You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” What’s yours?

A Pair of Sevens?

There’s nothing like a great cup of coffee to start out a Sunday morning. For some odd reason I started thinking about the Flood and Noah’s Ark so I decided to read the story again. I thought that I knew the story well until I read it again – critically.

If you want to follow along open your Bible to Genesis, chapter six is where it starts. Let’s get right into the heart of the story – why God decided to wipe out all mankind including the animals and plant life – every living thing on the earth.

image

Genesis 6:5-7 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”

Genesis 6:9-17 God selected Noah because he was the only righteous person alive. He tells Noah to build this huge ark (boat) and that He will allow him to take his wife aboard along with his three sons and their wives. Then He’s going to flood the earth to kill off everything and start over.

Genesis 6:19-21 God tells Noah to bring two of all living creatures, male and female aboard. Oh, and don’t forget to bring enough food for the humans as well as the animals. I was curious so I looked up how much meat a lion could eat. In a day’s time a lion eats about 11-15 pounds of fresh meat. Using 11 pounds times 370 days 4,070 pounds or 8,140 pounds of meat for the pair. Wow! And that’s just for a pair of lions. I wonder how they kept all that meat from spoiling? Oh well.

Genesis 7:2 Uh, oh. God changed His mind. Now he wants seven of every kind of “clean” animal and a pair of every unclean animal. That’s going to increase the food load! I’m confused again. God didn’t discuss clean and unclean foods until later on in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 but, never mind. As long as Noah what He meant.

Genesis 7:4 God tells Noah that it will rain for 40 days and 40 nights starting in seven days. The writer indicates that Noah was 600 years old at the beginning of this voyage and that it started on February 17th.

Genesis 7:14-24 I think Noah didn’t listen very well because these verses indicate that he only brought aboard “pairs” of all creatures. Or maybe Noah didn’t know the difference between clean and unclean animals. I read it over and over again and there’s no indication that he brought seven of each clean animal. Anyway, the ark was loaded up and God shut them in and the flood waters started – and lasted 150 days, not to be confused with the original 40 days. I’m easily confused.

Genesis 8:3 At the end of 150 days on July 7th the water had gone down and the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat. By October 1st, the tops of the mountains become visible.

Genesis 8:6 The story gets a bit confusing here because the writer jumps back in time. He says that after 40 days Noah opens the window to send out a raven. I can’t imagine the stench from animal feces on the ark if there was only one window. But that was per God’s instructions.

Genesis 8:11 Noah sends out a dove and it returns with an olive branch. That strikes me as odd because God wiped out all living things on the earth. Where in the world would the dove get an olive branch? Did the flood not work?

Genesis 8:13-21 The voyage ends. The land is dried up. Noah is now 601 years old and the date is February 27th. They had been on the ark for 1 year and 10 days. God told Noah to come out with the animals. Noah built an alter and sacrificed burnt offerings of the clean animals to God. And God loved the “pleasing aroma” of the burning flesh. Wait a minute. If Noah only loaded the ark with “pairs” of clean animals, he’s in big trouble. Maybe God just created more.

I can’t imagine the look on Noah’s face when they got off the ark. No trees, no grasslands, no plants or animals to eat. Just one big sterile environment. I don’t recall God telling Noah to take some plants on the ark with them – but I’ll double-check. I can’t imagine an earth with no living thing on it. But then again, it’s one of those strange mysteries that God’s good at. What a sense of humor He has. Ha!

More coffee!

The Real Ten Commandments

Ahhh… It’s Friday and the coffee’s great! Let’s talk Ten Commandments. Every Christian knows what the Ten Commandments are but most of us aren’t able to recite them. That’s nothing new. A good percentage (I will not argue the numbers) of Christians, for some very strange reason, just don’t read the Bible.

Most Christians believe that the Ten Commandments they read in Bible class are the ones taken from the stone tablets that Moses carried down the mountain. I can prove that the ones you see are not the ones called the Ten Commandments by God himself. So, let’s get out our Bibles. It doesn’t matter what version you own – just open it to the following passages or click on the link that I have highlighted in this blog.

Exodus 20:1-18. This is where God starts reciting his commandments and most Christians stop reading at verse 18 and call these the Ten Commandments. But, God doesn’t call these the Ten Commandments – He keeps telling Moses more and more commandments, judgments, punishments, etc. God finally ends his speech to Moses in Exodus 24:3.

Exodus 24:3-7. Moses tells all of his people what God had just told him and writes everything down in what he calls the book of the covenant.

Exodus 24:12-18. God calls Moses back up the mountain, where he stays for 40 days and 40 nights (a lot of stuff to write down). God continues giving Moses instructions until chapter 32.

Exodus 32:15. Finally, God writes all this stuff on both sides of two stone tablets. Moses carries these two tablets in one hand (not with both hands or uMose Tennder his arm) and heads down the mountain.

Exodus 32:19. When Moses gets to the bottom of the mountain, he sees his people worshipping a golden calf, gets pissed off, and smashes the tablets on the ground. God tells Moses to kill off around three thousand of his own people (Exodus 32:28), which he does and God forgives him.

Exodus 34:1. God tells Moses to come on back up the mountain with his own stone tablets this time and He will “write upon these tables the words that were on the first tables, which thou brakest.”

Exodus 34:14-28. This is where God writes down the commandment the second time and it’s a duplicate of what he wrote on the first set of tablets. He now calls this set the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28).  So, there you have it – the Real Ten Commandments:

1. Thou shalt worship no other god.
2. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
3. The feast of unleavened bread thou shalt keep.
4. Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest.
5. Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
6. Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God.
7. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.
8. Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.
9. The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God.
10. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

Whew! That was a long one. Time for another cup of dark roast. See you all later!

Seventh Inning Stretch

“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.”  (Genesis 2:2 KJV)

Ahhh, good coffee this morning.  Did you ever wonder why an omnipotent (all-powerful) God had to “rest” as stated in Genesis 2:2?  I suppose that for us humans regardless of our strength and endurance, we would still need to rest sooner or later.  But, God?  Rabbi Dr. Michael Samuel says that the more accurate translation of Shavat in not “rested” but “abstained” or “ceased.”

Regardless of why he rested or ceased all His work, He chose the seventh day and made this day holy – and He called it the Sabbath day.  As a covenant between Him and His chosen people He listed it in his all time top Ten Commandments:

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.  On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.  (Exodus 20:8-10 NIV)

He was so adament about keeping the Sabbath that He imposed a severe penalty on those who disobeyed:

“For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of Sabbath rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death.” (Exodus 35:2 NIV)

So, you’re probably wondering what I’m getting at here.  Well, let’s take a closer look at the first verse I stated in Genesis 2:2 taken from the King James Version of the Bible.  It says that on the seventh day God ended his work, which implies that he did a little work on the seventh day but “ended” it on that day.  Then He creates a commandment for his chosen and tells them not to do any work on the seventh day even though he did work himself?  Doesn’t this pose a bit of a theological dilemma?  Why would God not permit the people to work on the seventh day when God performed at least a minimal amount of work on that day?

Come to find out, scholars have debated this issue for years.  The New International Version of the Bible tried to fix the boo boo by changing a couple of words:

“By the seventh day God had finished the work…”  (Genesis 2:2 NIV)

Nice try!  If you read the Hebrew (the Old Testament was written in Hebrew) text, or the Masoretic text, it literally says, “And on the seventh day God finished the work…”  But, the Greek Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Hebrew) has God finishing his work on the “sixth” day.  This verse was not found in the fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Scholars find multitudes of reasons to side with either interpretation.  But for me?  I sit here sipping on my dark roast, contemplating the plethera of textual varients of the Bible made available to me to peruse with my friend, Google.  And for now – time for a second cup…

Unicorns Are Real

My wife and I got into a discussion about unicorns last night.  I said that unicorns are real because the Bible says they are.  She didn’t believe me so I told her that I would prove it to her.  But first, my coffee is waiting.

Now, I don’t believe in Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman or anything like that.  But unicorns are mentioned in the Bible nine times.  And if one believes in the Bible, why would one not believe in unicorns?

Okay, maybe they just made a mistake when they interpreted the ancient Hebrew into English.  But, interpreters today realize that unicorns are mythological animals and all the modern day Bibles have changed the word to wild ox or something like that.  Well, maybe not all of the Bibles.  The King James Version still believes in unicorns!  Oh, and dragons, too!

Well, time for a second cup!

As promised to my dear wife – here’s my proof (King James Version):

Numbers 23:22 God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.

Numbers 24:8 God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.

Deuteronomy 33:17 His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.

Job 39:9 Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?

Job 39:10 Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee?

Psalm 22:21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

Psalm 29:6 He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.

Psalm 92:10 But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.

Isaiah 34:7 And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.

Black Sabbath

Did you ever wonder why God created the Sabbath?  Over coffee this morning I was able to find an answer in a couple of different places.  In Exodus 20:11 the reason was because God created the heavens and the earth, rested on the seventh day and made it holy.  Deuteronomy 5:15 has a different answer.  It’s because God wanted us to remember that we were once slaves in Egypt and God brought us out with his outstretched arms.  Well, since the writer of these two books was supposedly the same author maybe he just forgot what he had written earlier.

The Sabbath was important enough that it became one of the Ten Commandments that God gave to mankind:   “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God.  In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates” (Exodus:20:8-10).

The Sabbath is mentioned over 50 times in the four Gospels and the Pharisees accuse Jesus of breaking the Sabbath but according to Christian Apologists, this in an incorrect interpretation.  Maybe I’ll look into that sometime.  But for now, whatever the reason God created the Sabbath – death comes to those who do not comply (Exodus 31:12-15).  And it’s an interesting topic to ponder over a cup of dark roast.