Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sometimes, It's Hard...To Be...A Woman

Did anyone hear the song in their head. No? Anyway...

Consequences, consequences. Usually when we use the word consequences…it’s not good. We’ve seen the consequences for the serpent and that mostly worked out good for us, but today we’ll look at what God said to Eve…the consequences for her…and therefore all women. Read what God said to Eve in Genesis 3:16.

To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

As the mother of two, I wonder what in the world childbirth would have been like if not painful. Like the serpent who would now “crawl on [his] belly and eat dust for all the days of [his] life,” there is a physical consequence for the woman. In God’s mercy, she will still give birth, but again, there is a cost. It will be painful. Now let me tell you, I thanked God the entire time I was in the hospital for epidurals. Seriously. But still I did not escape the pain that comes with childbearing. I have a strong suspicion this is a larger reference. Let me explain…

My younger sister was the first to get pregnant in our family. We couldn’t have been happier. At 17 weeks, it was discovered her baby had severe birth defects, including his heart, caused by a chromosome disorder. Her baby died a couple of weeks later and it was one of our darkest moments. Pain in childbearing.

Before I was pregnant with my first daughter, I had a miscarriage. I was devastated. I hadn’t told my friends and family that I was pregnant so what would I say? I even felt guilty for being so sad because I didn’t feel it compared to the pain my sister had been through. Pain in childbearing.

A son is devastated at not making the basketball team…
A teenage daughter struggles with her lack of popularity…
A child screams, “I hate you!” when you have to discipline them…
Pain in childbearing.

As my children grow, I know that there will be pain. I know there will be times my heart will be broken either for them or by them. I know there were times I brought my own parents pain. It’s not just the act of giving birth that is painful but all of mothering children has become more painful as a result of sin. In God’s mercy, it has AMAZING moments and aspects…but as a result of sin, there is also now pain.

The second consequence is very important to understand as well. And it might explain a lot to you. I know it was an “Aha!” moment for me. It’s a little confusing at first but when we break down the language, I hope it will make a little more sense to you. Reread Genesis 3:16.

To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.

Sounds a little confusing doesn’t it? But I think there is a little something lost in translation. I was listening to a series of sermons by Tommy Nelson of Denton Bible Church on women in the Bible. Naturally, the first woman in the series was the first woman, Eve. While listening to his sermon, I learned that a more literal meaning might be, “Your desire will be [to rule over] your husband, and he will rule over you.” Now that’s a little different isn’t it? The word translated “desire” comes from the Hebrew word Teshuwqah(#8669). This word can refer to sexual desire, but it has another meaning as well. Look at Genesis 4:7 where the same Hebrew word is used.

“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
Clearly this is a different kind of desire isn’t it? The word used in Genesis 3:16 can mean sexual desire, but when it comes to your husband, that would be a blessing, not a curse. It is also used in terms of overcoming, “like a crouching animal ready to pounce.”

It still may not make sense to you so let me put it to you this way. Who wears the pants in your family? Who is the spiritual leader in your home, the one involved in Bible study, the one who makes sure everyone gets to church? Who makes the final call when there is a decision to be made? If you are blessed to be in a home where your husband is the spiritual leader, do you ever struggle with submitting to his authority? Have you ever wondered why it’s so difficult at times? IT’S PART OF THE CONSEQUENCES! Our sin nature wants the authority but God ordered things so that the husband is the one charged with that responsibility.

I’m not saying it’s easy friends. For the women, I know for a fact that LOTS of you struggle with this. And men, it’s not easy for you either. If this whole submission thing is new to you and seems old fashioned or unfair, I get it. I’ve been there. Let me just say, it doesn’t mean what you think it means. If you have specific questions, drop me a note and I would love to talk about it some more. But for those of you who know the Biblical meaning of submission, maybe this helps explain why it’s so hard with your husband sometimes. Anyway, on that note, next time we’ll look at what God had to say to Adam…

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm Covered...Or Am I?

So, Adam and Eve realized they were naked. What happens next is going to be something we can all relate to whether we want to admit it or not. Look again at Genesis 3:7:

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
They tried to cover themselves. Hmmm. Isn’t that what we do? Try to cover our sin?

Adam and Eve used fig leaves. What do we try to cover ourselves with?

I have tried through the years to cover myself with good deeds, acts of service, quiet times, tithes, etc, as if any of it would take care of my sin problem and my separation from God. What does scripture say about the coverings we make for ourselves? Earlier in this study, we looked up Isaiah 64:6.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…

Those fig leaves are like filthy rags. But…we do need to be covered. Soon we will get to the clothing that covers all our sin and makes us righteous before God, but first let’s look at what else Adam and Eve do. Read Genesis 3:8:

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

They covered themselves with fig leaves and sensing that it still wasn’t enough, they hid. Again, can you relate? We all try to hide our sin. We hide it from other people, we even hide it from ourselves by refusing to think about it and somehow, in doing this, we think we are hiding it from God. Let’s go to scripture again to see what God has to say about that. Look at Hebrews 4:13:

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

So we see Adam and Eve attempt to cover their sin and hide from God, both of which are impossible by the way. There was sin and there would be serious consequences. There were three involved in the incident and all will suffer the consequences for it and we’re going to look at it all a little more closely. If we don’t understand the consequences, we’ll never understand the grace. God had words for the serpent, for Eve, and finally, for Adam. Today let’s look at what God said to the serpent.

Read Genesis 3:14-15:

So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
First, God tells the serpent he will be cursed…“Cursed…above all the livestock and all the wild animals.” So what does that mean exactly? The word translated as “cursed” is the Hebrew word Arar. This word occurs 63 times in the Old Testament. It “has been interpreted as meaning to bind, to hem in with obstacles, to render powerless to resist.” Then God said, “you will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.” This seems a little more obvious. Doesn’t this bring the image of a snake to mind? Apparently, the serpent had some other way of getting around before, but now will be crawling on its belly and eating dust.

Let’s read the second part again. Verse 15 says that God will put enmity between the serpent and the woman and between the serpent’s offspring and hers and that he will crush the serpent's head and the serpent will strike his heel. What do you think this means? Don’t know? That’s okay because I’m happy to tell you we’re getting to the GOOD NEWS! The Gospel! But wait, let’s slow down and take a good close look.

Now, the head of anything is its most important part. We can live without several of our body parts, but not without our heads (though sometimes I feel I’ve lost mine). The head of a company is the big boss, the one in charge. The head of the serpent being crushed means that the serpent will be defeated once and for all. An offspring of the woman would ultimately destroy the serpent for good. Any idea who that might be?

That’s right! This is the part where we see Jesus was there from the very beginning! So there’s no mistaking, get your Bible out. I want you to see in black and white where it is recorded that Jesus is Adam and Eve’s offspring. Look at Luke 3 starting in verse 23 and then scan through to verse 38. Seriously, stop and get your Bible.

Isn’t that awesome? But lest we take this lightly, there is an addendum to the promise that the woman’s offspring would crush the serpent’s head. Verse 15 ends with, “and you will strike his heel.” What do you think that means?

When you think of someone crushing a serpent’s head, what part of the body would they use? I would imagine it’s a foot. But that foot that crushes the head will be wounded. There is a cost involved. That cost is the cross. That "heel" delivers a death blow to the head but is itself wounded.

Look at Isaiah 53:4-10 and consider for yourself all the words and phrases that describe what “strike his heel” looked like at the cross. Please take your time with this and consider the cost.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

Wow. Can you see Jesus? It is powerful stuff and it is good news for us. Next time (and I swear I won’t take so long next time) we will go backwards a little bit and look at the specific consequences for Eve. We'll quickly discover how those consequences affect us all. But don’t forget there is good news.

Until then, consider how you are attempting to cover your own sin and how truly insufficient that cover is. We will soon talk about an effective covering that brings complete forgiveness and freedom.

I’d love to hear from you!