As requested, Here is my final paper for SBS. Somehow I managed to get a B on it. I think it was a sympathy grade just so I would pass the school. Please leaves some feedback.
Some of the oldest and biggest questions that mankind has sought an answer for are, “Who am I?”, “Where did I come from?” and “what’s my purpose in life?”. Throughout history people have made assumptions and have come up with outlandish theories as to the origin and purpose of man.
In reality, writings explaining the very questions man has asked, were written over a span of 1,500 years, starting almost three and a half millennia ago. Yet, it has been rejected by the majority of peoples as the answer. In these writings, man is told of his origin, the purpose of man, the fall of man, why there is evil in this world, and the plan to bring redemption to man, because of the separation man had with God.
These writings are, of course, the Bible, the word of God. The Bible starts at the beginning; Or, I should say, as much of a beginning as man can comprehend, since the triune God had no beginning and is thus “always and forever”.
So, let’s start with the origin and the original state of man. In Genesis we find God creating all of creation, and after God had created all the earth, the heavens, the fish of the sea, birds of the air and beast of the fields, He looked at it and said “it is good”. Then he said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26).
And, that’s what God did. He created man to be just like him. Man was perfect in every way. He created man to think and to create, to have dominion over all that he saw. God gave man a mate, and the ability to procreate. He put man in the Garden of Eden and gave man a job; to work and keep the garden. Man had it made; work a garden that had no weeds, eat of the plentiful fruit, share it with a beautiful wife, to be fruitful and multiply, and commune with God when he came to visit(Gen.3:8).
God also gave man a free will, a will to make decisions and to think. Along with that free will, God gave man one rule. One simple, easy to follow stipulation. Man could eat any of the abundant fruits of the garden except of the tree of Knowledge of good and evil. With the stipulation, he also gave a consequence for breaking the rule; death!(Gen 2:17)
Enter the serpent, which Moses says in Gen. 3:1, “was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.”, and John talks of in Rev. 12:9 as, “that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.” The serpent finds Eve and starts throwing doubt into her mind. He ask “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:4-5)
So the woman, seeing that the fruit was good for food, chose to disobey God, and she partook of the fruit; and nothing happened. We don’t really know what Adam was doing at the time. The Bible does tell us that he was there(Gen. 3:6) so he was either doing his own thing and not paying attention, or possibly standing there watching to see what happened to Eve when she ate the fruit. The interesting thing here is, according to Gen 2:15-16, God put the MAN in the garden and commanded the MAN not to eat. There is no record of the woman being commanded by God not to eat of the fruit. But Adam, seeing that nothing happened to Eve, also eats the fruit. Immediately, when Adam eats the fruit, both of their eyes were open and they knew that they were naked.
About that time, God decides to go for a walk in the garden and, when Adam and Eve hear God, they try to hide themselves from His presence. But God called out, “Where are you?”. When man explained to God why they were hiding, God confronted him about eating the fruit of the tree. Adam did what any sinful man would do, he blamed it on the woman; and the woman in turn blamed it on the serpent. This started a vicious cycle of man, not wanting to take responsibility for his sin, blaming everyone and everything but his own choice.
God then curses that serpent and, in that, we first see a promise a savior. In Gen. 3:15 God declares, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” God continues by decreeing punishments on the man and woman. Woman would experience pain in giving birth, yet still desire her husband. Man would no longer have the luxury of just going around, plucking ripe fruit, but, because of the fall, would have to contend with thorns and thistles. He would have to work hard, by the sweat of his face. If that wasn’t bad enough, he would have to do it until he died. Death of the body was now a final curse on all mankind.
Adam and Eve were then kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Because of man’s blatant rebellion in going against the one rule God had given them, all of mankind now had to face the consequence of a sinful world. Eve bore children, and more sins appeared. First there was jealousy, then murder. Over the course of ten generations the sin of mankind had become so rampant that God said ENOUGH! And, sparing only Noah, his wife, his sons and their wives, destroyed all other mankind with a flood.
Four hundred years after the flood God calls a man named Abram to leave his home and go to a land that God would show him. Although Abram’s wife, Sarai was barren, In this God promised Abram that he would make him a great nation, and bless him, making his name great and that, through him, all the families of the earth would be blessed. In this covenant with Abram, God was birthing a people that would be called His People, and speaking of a savior that would be for all people. As time goes on, God makes more covenants with Abram promising a son and a land for his descendants. He makes a covenant of circumcision, which was to set His people apart from the rest of the world. He changes Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah and, when Sarah was in her ninety’s and Abraham was nearly one hundred, they had a son; Isaac. Isaac had Jacob, who later became Israel, and he had twelve sons. One of Jacob’s sons, Joseph, because of the jealousy of his brothers, is sold by his brothers and ends up in Egypt; only to become the second in command of Egypt. Through a series of circumstances that only God could have orchestrated , Jacob’s entire clan settles in Egypt, because of famine in Canaan.
Four hundred years later we find the Hebrew people, great in number, but no longer sojourners in Egypt, but slaves to Egypt. But, God had not forgotten the covenant he had made with Abraham and he raised up Moses, A Hebrew raised in the courts of Pharaoh as an adopted grandson. Moses leads the Hebrew people out of Egypt and towards the land of Canaan, which God had promised Abraham would belong to his descendants.
Once out of Egypt, they traveled for three months, and God provided for them, manna from heaven, bitter water made sweet and water from a rock. When they came to Mount Sinai Moses left them at the bottom, in the care of his brother, Aaron, and went up to meet with God.
There, God gave Moses the Law, rules that would make the Israelites his people, holy and set apart from the rest of the nations. And, even while Moses was getting these laws from God, the people, whom God had freed from slavery, had a golden calf made and were worshiping it and practicing rituals of Egypt. Because of Moses’ intercession, God spared them instead of destroying them all.
God led them to the edge of the promised land and told them to take it. But instead, they sent spies to scout it out. When the spies returned they told about how plentiful the land was and even brought back fruits form the land. But then they said that there were giants in the land and ten out of twelve of the spies said that they were too strong for them. Caleb and Joshua alone stood up and said that God would give them the land.
Because of this, the people wandered in the wilderness for forty years until the only ones where were adults that were left were Caleb, Joshua and Moses. They came back to the promised land, across from Jericho and Moses turned the leadership of the people over to Joshua, then he went up, looked across to the promised land and died. Joshua gathered the people together and they recommitted themselves to the covenant with God and went in, with the help and guidance of God, and took the land.
The people, however, quickly began doing evil and this started the cycle of the judges. The people would fall into sin and idolatry, they would be enslaved, they would cry out to God, God would raise up a judge who would deliver them and then the cycle would start again.
Then, one day, the people said “We want a king so we can be like all the other nations.” This upset Samuel, who was the judge over them at the time; but God let Samuel know that, the people hadn’t rejected him, they had rejected God being king over them.
God had Samuel warn the people of what a king would do in an attempt to get them to keep YHWH as their king over them. But the people insisted on having a king like the other nations. So God had Samuel anoint a young man from the tribe of Benjamin named Saul. A tall, handsome, young man which is said in 1 Samuel 9, that there was none as handsome in all Israel and, from he shoulders upward, taller that the others. He would seem just like the kind of king the people wanted. But, Saul tried to avoid his anointing. He told no one about it and, on the day he was to meet Samuel in Gilgal, Saul was in Mizpah. So Samuel went to Mizpah to ordained Saul as king, but Saul hid in the baggage area, trying not to be seen.
Over time, Saul did all of the things Samuel had warned the the people a king would do. He mistreated people he became power hungry, he even decided to perform a sacrifice for himself. He disobeys God’s directive to devote everything to destruction(1Sam 15:3, 14-15) Then he even rejects God as being his God. In 1 Samuel 15:15, 21, 30 he says to Samuel “The LORD your God”. That was the last straw for God and he had Samuel go Jesse, a Bethlehemite, and anoint one of his sons as king.
Samuel ends up anointed David, Jesse’s youngest son, who had been out tending the sheep. Unlike Saul’s anointing, which had just been between Samuel and Saul, David was anointed in the presence of his family, and the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day.
About the same time, the Spirit of God left Saul and he became troubled and tormented. One of the young men in the court knew of David’s skill at harp playing and so, David was brought into the kings court to soothe Saul.
Then came Goliath, a giant of a philistine, who for forty days had come to the scrimmage line between the Philistines and Israelites and challenge the people of Israel to a one on one. David happens to be there during one of these challenges and gets upset simply because this uncircumcised Philistine is defying the army of the Living God. So he steps up to the plate and faces his challenge head on with nothing but a sling and stone.
This got David in good with Saul, and his son Jonathan, who became closer than a brother to David. And, all was well, until Saul started noticing that David was getting more attention than he was and, in his jealousy, began to devise ways to dispose of David. David, however, even knowing that he had been anointed king, refused to do anything but stay one step ahead of Saul with the help of his wife, Michal(Saul’s daughter) and Jonathan. Even when he had opportunities to kill Saul twice, he would not do it(1Sam 24:4-7, 26:6-12).
In the mean time, David is doing what Saul should have been, driving the enemies of God and Israel out of the land.
Saul eventually dies, fallen in battle with the Philistines. And so, the king that the people wanted, A king like all the other nations had, Goes down in history as being a failure. A man who rejected the God of his fathers and let power, pride and jealousy reign his life.
David is anointed king in Judah(2Sam 2) but Abner, the commander of Saul’s army decided to split the kingdom and proclaim Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth, King of Israel. War began, Israel against Judah, brother against brother. But then, two years later, Ish-bosheth was murdered in his bed and, the ones who did it brought his head to David, thinking they would be rewarded. Instead they were killed for their evil.
Then, all the tribes of Israel came to David, acknowledging that it was David who had lead them even while Saul was king, and anointed David King over Israel, thus reuniting the nation. David drove the Philistines, who had been a pain the side ever since they had not been driven out when Joshua and taken the land and decided to co-habitat with them instead of doing as God had said and drive them out of the land.
David moved the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem from Baale-Judah. Though David wanted to build a house for God, not feeling it fair that he live in a house lined with cedar while The Ark was in a tent. He consulted Nathan the prophet, who at first tells David to do it. However, after a dream Nathan tells David that he was not to build the temple, but that his son would. In this He also made a covenant with David that his line would be on the throne forever. (2Sa 7:11b-16)
In contrast to Saul, David’s heart was to seek God, to the point that God called him a Man after his own heart, even before he was anointed(1Sam13:14). David not only had a heart for God, but also for people. He even mourned when enemies that he respected died. He wasn’t perfect, but when he did sin, and it was brought to his attention, he repented instead of being angry with the one pointing his sins out. And, he accepted the punishment God issued. He led the nation to victory after victory and, even though he was not allowed to build the temple, he did everything he could to prepare for it to be built.
In God’s covenant with David, he hinted to an eternal kingdom. This wasn’t the only mention of an eternal Kingdom belonging to God. In 2 Chronicles 13:5 David’s descendant, Abijah, in an attempt to avoid battle with their brothers of the northern kingdom, said: “ Ought you not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt?” and in Verse 8 “And now you think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD …”
It is clear that God did not intend for this kingdom to be only for the Jewish people. This was apparent from the time God called Abram. In Genesis 12:3
YHWH tells Abram that, “…in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Isaiah 2:1-5 talks about all the nations shall flowing toward the House of the LORD, and many peoples saying, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” Zechariah 2:11 says that many nations will join themselves to the LORD and be YHWH’s people. And when Solomon dedicated the temple he prayed that God would hear the foreigner, not of the people of Israel comes and prays toward God’s house, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know God’s name and fear him. In this it included the Gentiles who would turn toward the God of Israel. Isaiah 56:3-7 tells the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD, who choose the things that please God and holds fast His covenant, Will be give an everlasting name that will never be cut off. YHWH promises to bring them into his holy mountain, and make them joyful in His house of prayer.
So, we have an eternal kingdom, a promise that all who serve YHWH will be included. But what does this mean? Throughout the Old Testament are clues to a coming savior. They start at the very fall of man. Already mentioned is Gen. 3:15 where, in the garden, YHWH decrees that there would be a seed of the woman that would crush the serpent’s head. In Deuteronomy 18:15 Moses says:”The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—“. Isaiah Prophesied of a coming ruler in chapter 9:6-7: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Isaiah also spoke much about the coming salvation and the Suffering Servant.(Isaiah 52-54) A Servant who would bear our grief, carry our sorrow, who would heal with the wounds that he received, who would be crushed for our iniquities and pierced for our transgressions. Yet through this he would be silent, like a lamb taken to slaughter.
But, as hopeless as that seems, we find in the Psalms a promise for the anointed one; For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.(Psalms 16:10)
This brings us to the fulfillment of many prophesies; The birth of Jesus, he promised Messiah. Everything from the Linage, conception, birth, location of birth, all fulfillment of prophesy.
Jesus grows up, gets baptized, and is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to fast, and then be tempted by Satan. Then begins his ministry. As Jesus begins his ministry, he echos the voice of John the Baptist before he got arrested; Calling the people to repentance because the Kingdom was at hand.
What is the kingdom? In Matthew it’s called the Kingdom of Heaven, and is mentioned Thirty-one times. He also calls it the Kingdom of God Five times. The other authors of the New Testament call it the Kingdom of God, Sixty-nine times and in Revelation, John refers to it twice, calling it the Kingdom of our Lord and the Kingdom of our God. In many parables Jesus mentions what the Kingdom was like. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says to seek First the kingdom of God, Then his blessings would be bestowed upon the seeker. In Matt. 12:28 he challenges the Pharisees and tells them that, If he cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon them. He told the disciples that, to them were given the secrets of the Kingdom of God, but for those outside everything was in parables(Mark 4:11). In Mark 4:26 he says that the Kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seed on the ground. He doesn’t do anything else, yet he later harvest. In Mark 10:23 Jesus said that the kingdom belongs to the Children. In Luke 16 it is expressed again adding that no one can enter the kingdom unless they do so like a child. I believe this means the way a child is innocent and trusting. In Luke 17:20,21 Jesus tells the Pharisees that the kingdom of God isn’t something that could be seen, but they were in the midst of it. And in Mark 12:28-34, when the Scribe ask Jesus about the about the greatest commandment and then commented on Jesus’s answer, Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, Jesus told him that he was not far from the kingdom of God.
So, all things said, to me, Jesus’s teaching on the Kingdom of God isn’t so much a place as it is a state of heart. Loving YHWH with all your heart, mind and spirit, Loving others the way that God loves them. To be humble, caring, living life as Jesus lived his, always putting others first. Spreading the Good news to bring others into the kingdom. Always being ready for His return and helping others to be ready for his return.
How is this accomplished? Man in and of himself cannot do it. Even if man could do the physical outward appearance of doing all these thing, Man is still a sinful being. This is why new life must be found. The Gospel of John tells of the new life that must be found. John talks about the Word of God coming, the word of God that was with God and was God. Jesus wasn’t just a man, but God incarnate. John the Baptist in John 1:29 proclaimed him the Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world. Jesus lived a sinless life, did nothing but good, taught nothing but love and righteousness. He healed the sick and freed the possessed and oppressed. Yet he was hung on a cross like a criminal. Jesus, the Son of God was the Lamb of God; a lamb without blemish that was suitable for a sacrifice for the sins of all of the world.
Through the sacrifice of Jesus, man can find new life, freedom from the sins that have plagued mankind since the fall in the garden. Man can die to self and be reborn in Christ. 2Corinthiens 5:14,15 says: For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. Verse 17 and 18 go on to tell us that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
Because of the work that Jesus did on the cross, anyone who follows him, trust him, has faith in him is counted as righteous. While we are called to follow the ways of Christ, that is to Love God and to love our neighbor; feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the widows and orphans, that isn’t what makes us righteous. There is nothing that man can do to make himself righteous! Romans 4:2-3 says; For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” What make us righteous is faith in God through Jesus Christ. Romans 10:4 tells us “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Websters 1828 dictionary describes righteousness as being nearly equivalent to holiness, comprehending holy principles and affections of heart, and conformity of life to the divine law. It includes all we call justice, honesty and virtue, with holy affections; in short, it is true religion. This is how God sees each and every one who has accepted Jesus. Even though everyone messes up now and them. Just as King David was deemed righteous, Abraham was called righteous, You are called righteous.
Not only are we considered righteous, we are justified, as though we had never sinned, redeemed and set free as a slave that has been redeemed. And are one of God’s people, even a child of God. Romans 8:15 tells us that we “did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
We have all of this And the promise of the second coming of Christ. Several scriptures throughout the old and new testament speak of a time of final gathering and judgment. Isaiah 11:11,12 talk of the day that the Lord will recover, for the second time, the remnant of his people. Rising a signal for the nations and gather the banished of Israel and the dispersed of Judah from all corners of the earth. Isaiah 26:19 talks about the resurrection of the dead and verse 21 about the judgment on the earth for their iniquities. Daniel had a vision in 7:13-14 and said that he one, like the son of man with the clouds of heaven and dominion and glory and a kingdom were given to him, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. And his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, that will not pass away. And Zephaniah 3:18-20 says that, he will gather those who mourn for the festival and, at that time deal with all oppressors, save the lame and gather the outcast. At that time he will bring believers in, gathering them together; and restore fortunes.
The second coming of Jesus is far more evident in the new testament. There is no doubt about it. There are forty-four verses after the gospels that mention or hint to a second coming. Starting in the first chapter of Acts, as the disciples watched Jesus ascend into Heaven, standing there gazing up, two men dress in white said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (acts 1:11). 1Cor 11:26 talks about communion until he returns. 1Thessalonians 3:13 says that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
In Revelation1:4, John is given the letters to the seven churches in Asia and, in the very greeting says: To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from who is, and who was, and who is to come. And in Revelation 22, Jesus says twice “I am coming soon”.
So, that is God’s plan for mankind. A plan that restores the communion that was lost in the garden. Three short chapters leading up to man’s rebellion and everything else working toward the reconciliation of man with God.