Uncomfortable Obedience by Dr. Abidan Shah (2021)


Introduction: Once again, we want to welcome you to our Christmas Eve Service. For the past 3 Christmas Eves, we have been talking about “Uncomfortable Obedience.” There are many things that God commands us to do that we can do with a joyful and a willing heart. For example: studying his word, loving our family and children, and using our gifts in his service. But then, there are things that He commands us to do that are not as fun and exciting. They are uncomfortable. They push us past our limits. Sometimes, they are downright unbearable. How do we obey God even when it is uncomfortable? In 2018, we focused on how Joseph had to practice uncomfortable obedience in taking Mary to be his wife even though she was with a child that wasn’t his own. In 2019, we focused on how Mary had to practice uncomfortable obedience in being willing to carry a baby that had a supernatural origin. In 2020, we focused on how the magi had to practice uncomfortable obedience in following the star in the east and seeking the king of the Jews. Tonight, for the next few moments, we will focus on how the shepherds had to practice uncomfortable obedience in receiving the message from the angels and going into the town of Bethlehem to find the baby Jesus.

Luke 2      8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Context: Typically, the reason given for the shepherds to be included in the Christmas narrative is either “They represented untrustworthy sinners that Jesus came to save” or “They represented poor common folk that Jesus came to lift up.” (See Sarah Harris’s dissertation) When we study ancient history carefully, we find that neither are totally true. In fact, the shepherd imagery was commonly used as a designation for gods and kings among the Sumerians and Mesopotamians. Even the Egyptians depicted their Pharaohs with a flail and a shepherd’s crook. So also, the Greeks.

When we come to the Bible, the Old Testament, God is repeatedly described as a shepherd to his people Israel:

  • In Genesis 49:24, listen to how Jacob blesses Joseph – “. . . the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel).”
  • In Exodus 15:13, Moses describes God as a shepherd setting his people free from Egypt – “You in Your mercy have led forth the people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength to Your holy habitation.”
  • In Isaiah 40:11, listen to Isaiah’s prophecy about God’s future care of his people – “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carrythem in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.
  • In Jeremiah 13:17, listen to Jeremiah’s sorrow over the sins of his people – . . . My eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, Because the LORD’S flock has been taken captive.”
  • In Micah 7:14, listen to Micah’s prayer to God – “Shepherd Your people with Your staff, the flock of Your heritage, who dwell solitarily in a woodland, in the midst of Carmel; Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in days of old.”
  • Then the psalms are full of the shepherd imageries – Psalm 78:52 “But He made His own people go forth like sheep, And guided them in the wilderness like a flock.” Psalm 80:1 “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock. . .”

By the way, God’s greatest leaders have also been shepherds: Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and David. Of course, who can forget Psalm 23     1 “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

The point is that contrary to what we have assumed, shepherds were not always looked upon as the worst and the lowest of society. Instead, many times, God was depicted as a shepherd who guided, provided, and protected his people.

In fact, 800 years before the coming of Jesus, the prophet Micah gave a word of comfort to the Southern Kingdom of Judah as they were facing enemies from all sides.Listen to Micah’s prophecy to wait for their Shepherd King who would come to rescue them – Micah 5     2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to me the One to be Ruler in Israel, (Meaning: A King is coming from the City of the great king David. He is the rightful King.) whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” (A better translation is “whose origins are from of old.” In other words, “although he will be born yet he has no beginning.” He is no ordinary King.) 4 And He shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of the LORD, (Meaning: He will be a Shepherd King to his people unlike the unfaithful King Ahaz of Judah. He will be like his earthly ancestor David, who was the good shepherd king. Wait on Him!) In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God; And they shall abide, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth; 5 And this One shall be peace. When the Assyrian comes into our land. . .” I know what you are thinking. Why would God send someone 800 years later to save them from a problem they are facing right now? The time to put a band aid on their wound was over, it was time to schedule a major surgery.

Why were the local shepherds invited? Listen again to verse 8 “Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.” Some people have claimed that they were temple shepherds. That may be but we don’t have any solid evidence for it. I believe that they were symbolic of the faithful, brave, and good shepherds who were simply under shepherds waiting on the Chief Shepherd to come and take over his flock. Luke tell us that they came with haste and found the baby Jesus. What was their response? 15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 “Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. . . 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.”

Here’s the point:

  1. The shepherds had to overcome their fear of the angels.
  2. The shepherds had to overcome their fear of going into the town at night.
  3. The shepherds had to overcome their fear of the people and share the story with others.

So also, when it comes to following Christ, it’s not easy. There will be uncomfortable obedience. Even coming here this evening may not have been easy for some of you. You were willing to obey God than to fear human beings or anything else.

Not everything God tells us to do will be pleasant. Sometimes, it will be uncomfortable. But if we claim to love him unconditionally, we have to obey him joyfully.

What is God calling you to do? Maybe to make things right with someone. Maybe to give towards his work. Maybe to share the gospel with someone. Maybe to surrender to some calling he has for you. You will have to set aside your comfort, others’ opinions, and personal fears.

Has he called you to be saved? Have you responded?

A Wonderful Life (Article)

A WONDERFUL LIFE by Dr. Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on December 18, 2021)

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” Clarence to George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In our home, it is not Christmas until we have watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” at least twice on TV! I’m always touched by the character of George Bailey who sacrifices his dreams for others. However, the actor Jimmy Stewart who played the role was just as inspiring, if not more. Here are 5 little known “wonderful” facts about him:

  1. Jimmy Stewart grew up in the small town of Indiana, Pennsylvania. His father owned the Hardware store in town, passed down by his father. Jimmy once remarked, “My earliest memories are of hardware smells. The dry aroma of coiled rope. The sweet smell of linseed oil and baseball gloves. The acid tang of open nail kegs. When I open my nose, they all come back to me.” His small-town beginnings made him so likable by millions.
  2. Jimmy Stewart looked up to his dad. There were many instances when his father impacted him greatly, but one of the most influential was when a neighbor’s dog killed his dog, little Jimmy was almost ill with anger. He wanted to kill that dog. One night, his father took him behind their store and there was the dog tied in the alley. His dad gave him a rifle and “then stepped back for me to do my bloody work.” Jimmy saw the dog wagging his tail with his large brown eyes and “Suddenly the gun was too heavy for me to hold, and it dropped to the ground. The dog came up and licked my hand.” All three of them walked home without a word. “None was needed.” Jimmy always acknowledged the impact his dad made in his life.
  3. Jimmy Stewart chose to fight for his country. By the 1930s, World War 2 was brewing, and Jimmy was a Princeton graduate and a well-known actor. He could have easily gotten out of serving in the armed forces. He loved flying and transferred into the Air Corps, but they wouldn’t send him in harm’s way, because it would be a serious blow to morale to lose him in battle. He begged them and they reluctantly succumbed. He was so good that he became a squadron leader and led many bombing missions over Germany and France. During his years of service, he made many narrow misses and as a result, suffered from PTSD for years to come. He received many medals and retired at the rank of Brigadier General.
  4. Jimmy was dedicated to his wife Gloria. Other Hollywood stars at the time were going through their fourth and fifth marriages, but Jimmy Stewart was faithfully married to his wife for 45 years. Gloria had this to say about him: “Jimmy was working with some of the most glamorous women in the world. My constant fear I suppose was that he would find them more attractive than me and have an affair with one of them… I can honestly say that in all the years of our marriage Jimmy never once gave me cause for anxiety or jealousy. The more glamorous the leading lady he was starring opposite, the more attentive he’d be to me.”
  5. Jimmy had a spiritual side. His father was a strong Presbyterian. Although, he didn’t approve Jimmy’s going into show business, he was proud of him. When he came to visit him in Hollywood, he inquired, “Where do you go to church around here?” Jimmy stammered, “Well, I haven’t been going—there’s none around here.” His dad left for a little while and returned with four men – “You must not have looked very hard, Jim, because there’s a Presbyterian church just three blocks from here, and these are the elders. They’re building a new building now, and I told them you were a movie star and you would help them.”

In the movie, there is a scene where George is at the lowest point in his life and he prays, “God… God…dear Father in heaven, I’m not a praying man, but if you’re up there and you can hear me, show me the way. I’m at the end of my rope. Show me the way, God…” He later recollected that as he said those words, he felt the loneliness and the hopelessness of people who had nowhere to turn, and he broke down sobbing knowing that our Father in heaven is there to help the hopeless. Frank Capra, the director, knew that this was not an act, and there couldn’t be a second take. He captured it without coming near and spent extra time and money to enhance the frame for a closeup.

In a way, Jimmy Stewart was not playing the role of George Bailey; he was playing himself! This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the movie! Nothing could be more appropriate for where we are in this world. We need more Jimmy Stewarts. What a wonderful life!

Proclaim by Dr. Abidan Shah

PROCLAIM by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: Growing up, we did not have all the Christmas shopping and gift giving as we do in America. At the most, we would get a new set of clothes, a new shirt and a new pair of pants. That’s it. Imagine my shock when I was invited to a friend’s house for Christmas. They had boxes and boxes of gifts all around the tree and a couple of them had my name on it. Just when I thought that it was all done, the mom said, “Ok, now y’all can open your stockings!” Wait! There’s more?” They took down the socks from the fireplace, and they had more gifts in them! So also, when it comes to the gospel, just when you think this is it, there’s more. For the next 2 weekends, in light of Christmas, I want to PROCLAIM the “more” that came to us through Jesus Christ. Main point: The good news of salvation is that Jesus not only came to take the penalty of our sins, but he also came to free us from the repercussions of sin. Shame and blame, anger and fear, stubbornness and bitterness, little white lies and big fat lies, selfishness and self-worship are all coming from the Garden. The gospel also helps us overcome them.

Luke 4      17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”

Context: It was not coincidental that Jesus stood up to read the Old Testament in the synagogue in Nazareth and this passage from Isaiah was handed to him. It was quite intentional. This was an ancient prophecy regarding the mission of the Messiah. There is so much packed in there that we don’t have the time to get into this morning. For our message, I want to focus only on the statement – “to proclaim liberty to the captives.” The word for liberty in Hebrew is “derur.” It hints back to the book of Leviticus where slaves and debtors were to be set free every six years, the Year of Jubilee. The use of the same word here was about more than just physical slavery or financial debt. The idea was also about social, emotional, mental, and spiritual enslavement. In other words, the Messiah was coming to set people free from the bondage of sin. Listen to Paul in Titus 2     11 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” The Greek word for “redeem” is “lutrow,” which refers to the payment for the release of slaves. Same idea here as in Isaiah. But, what were we slaves to? Titus 3       3 “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Jesus came to take us from the life of a “doulos” (slave) to the life of a “kleronomos” (heir).

Principle: There are 2 kinds of lives. The life of slavery to sin and the heir life. The first is marked by foolishness, disobedience, deception, lust, self-serving, malice, envy, hateful and hating one another. The heir life comes from the cross, and it is lived face-to-face with Christ so that one becomes more like him emotionally, mentally, attitudinally, behaviorally, and relationally. It is possible to be saved and still live the life of slavery.

Application: Which life are you living? Are you still a slave to sin? Are you an heir/beneficiary according to the hope of eternal life?

To make the shift, you cannot do it the world’s way. Typically, the world’s answer to the sins is in 3 popular approaches (Ernie Baker):

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (Change your thinking, change your behavior)
  • Biomedical (Pharmacological treatment)
  • Maslow’s Need Theory (Basic needs are not being met – Physiological, Safety, Love and Belonging, Esteem, Self-Actualization)

Ultimately, they blame either our Nature or Nurture for our bad behavior. Nature (Physiology) is our Body, our Brain Chemistry, our Neurotransmitters, and our Chemical Levels. Nurture (Environment) is our Family Upbringing, our Social Situation, and our Past Experiences. There is a lot of truth here, but there is still so much that they fail to answer. The true answer is found in the Garden of Eden. It all began there. Prior to the coming of sin, everything was “very good.” The relationship of human beings with each other, the relationship of human beings with nature, and the relationship of human beings with God was beautiful, pleasant, orderly, efficient, and morally good. By choosing to listen to the serpent/Satan, they chose to disobey God. They thought that God was holding out on them. They thought that he was keeping them from becoming all they could be. Suddenly, a false god had come in that promised more than the Living True God had promised. Ultimately, it was a problem with their worship. Ernie Baker, professor of biblical counselling, said, “Humans do not just have personality disorders, they have worship disorders.” Because of that all the other problems followed: Desire problems; Food Problem; Social Pressure Problem; Pain and suffering Problem; Relationship Problem; Sexual Temptation Problem; Blame Problem; Anger Problem; Unforgiveness Problem; Materialism problem; Selfishness Problem; etc.

How can we overcome these repercussions of sins? We must return to a life of true worship. This is why Jesus came. As we return our worship to where it belongs, then we will see a reversal of the repercussions of sin. Here are the 3 steps:

  1. Reorient your life towards the gospel.
  2. Seek to magnify God and obey his Word in everything.
  3. Surround yourself with those who seek the same.

Here are some passages that give the assurance of the new worship that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings:

Titus 3       4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

1 John 3:8 “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

Colossians 1      13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Colossians 3         8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,

Romans 15       4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. 5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Invitation: Are you still struggling with the repercussions of the sins in the Garden? How is your worship? Do you know the Gospel? Have you received the Gospel? Are you surrounding yourself with those who seek to worship God?

Making Christ Reasonable (Article)

MAKING CHRIST REASONABLE (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on August 28, 2019)

“If God is all good and all powerful, why is there evil and suffering in this world?” “Why should anyone believe the Bible if Science and Evolution contradict it?” “Hasn’t the Bible been corrupted beyond repair? “Isn’t it offensive and arrogant to claim that Jesus is the only way to God?” “How can Christianity be good if Christians have supported evils like slavery, the subjugation of women, and the crusades?” These are just a few of the popular objections raised against Christians and Christianity by those who don’t believe. Unfortunately, many believers don’t know how to respond to these questions and some have even lost their faith (if they truly had any) because of them. It is imperative that those who claim to be followers of Christ give clear and cogent responses. This is Apologetics. It comes from the Greek word apologia, meaning a verbal defense.


Apologetics is not some new invention. It began in the early church when enemies of Christianity, and even neighbors and friends, began challenging the new believers for their faith in the resurrected Son of God. One of the first apologists was the Apostle Paul. In Athens, “he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.” (Acts 17:17) His discourse so intrigued the Epicurean and the Stoic philosophers that they took him to the Areopagus (Mar’s Hill) to hear more. My wife and I have stood atop the Areopagus in Athens. It’s a breathtaking sight! High above in the distance is the Acropolis with the ancient Parthenon. Down below is the Agora with the shops, the Stoa, and the temples. Everywhere one turned in those days, there used to be a statue to some god or goddess. Paul used this backdrop to introduce the Athenians to Jesus. When he was done speaking, some mocked him, others dismissed him, but a few joined him and believed. Apologetics may not always be successful but when done well, it never fails to open someone’s heart.


Our culture today is very similar to the one Paul addressed two thousand years ago. We are surrounded by idols, albeit they are not statues of gods and goddesses but material things. We are living in a post-Christian culture that is very close to the beliefs of the Epicurean and the Stoic philosophers. Not only that but our children and grandchildren are daily bombarded by worldviews that are contrary to the truth of the Bible. Failure to give reasonable answers is hazardous to their faith. It’s not enough to tell them—“Don’t question. Just belief.” We are obligated to do what Peter said in I Peter 3:15 “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”


So where do you begin? Start reading the Bible for yourself. It’s not enough to watch your favorite preachers on TV. Familiarize yourself with the writings of trusted Christian apologists. Attend conferences on Apologetics. Pray and remain open to the leading of the Holy Spirit to reason with those who may have questions about your faith. Be humble. The goal of apologetics is not to win an argument but to “Make Christ Reasonable.” Always remember—the best apology for the gospel is your own life.

First Gospel: The Cure by Dr. Abidan Shah

FIRST GOSPEL – THE CURE by Dr. Abidan Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, Duke and UNC, Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon, Steffi Graf and Gabriella Sabatini, Lebron James and Kevin Durant. What do all of these have in common? They are old rivals in their sport. They hate losing to each other. They talk junk about each other. Sometimes, many of these bitter rivals are actually best friends in private life. It is a publicity stunt. In today’s final message in our series called “First Gospel,” we are going to meet the oldest rivals in the history of the world. There is no publicity stunt here. This is as real as it gets. I am referring to Jesus and Satan. Main point: The ultimate rivalry is between Jesus and Satan. Unlike earthly rivalries, Satan is no match for Jesus. While Satan is just a fallen created being, Jesus is God’s Son, the King of kings, and he has already won the victory.

Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

Context: In the past two messages, we learned that Adam and Eve had a choice. Either they could trust and obey God, or they could fall for the Enemy’s lies. Obviously, they chose what was wrong. Consequently, there were damages. There was a damage in the relationship between Adam and Eve. Then, there was a damage in the animal world, but it didn’t stop there. There was also a damage in the woman’s life, especially with regards to childbearing, and in the man’s life, especially with regards to work and harvest. In the midst of all these damages, God also had the cure to Adam and Eve’s predicament. Listen again to Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” There are 3 important things that that were part of the cure:

  1. Enmity between the Serpent and the Woman
  2. Enmity between the descendants of the Serpent and the descendants of the Woman
  3. Enmity between the Serpent and the Messiah

Let’s look at each of them carefully:

  1. Enmity between the Serpent and the Woman

Although, we looked at the actual dislike of snakes by women in the last sermon, as I mentioned last week, there is more involved here. Since Satan tricked Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, there is now a natural dislike of Satan for women, and the women for Satan. Ladies – be careful. Satan still wants to deceive you. He will constantly try to get you to doubt your self-worth. Are you pretty enough? Are you smart enough? Are you successful enough? On the flip side, God has also given women the sense of discernment. Nicole can warn me about people even when I am gullible.

But there’s more: Revelation 12      1 Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. 2 Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4 His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. 5 She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. 6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. 7 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. 12 Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” 13 Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. 14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Who is this woman? This is Israel in the Tribulation being harassed by Satan. All throughout history, Satan has gone after God’s people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Hence, it is vital for us to stand with Israel. Right from the beginning God has warned us about this enmity.

  1. Enmity between the descendants of the Serpent and the descendants of the Woman

According to the curse on the Serpent, there will two groups of people in humanity: descendants of the Serpent and descendants of the Woman. The descendants of Satan are those who despise God and want to deceive others into disobeying God. These descendants are not biological but ideological. On the other hand, there are the descendants of the Woman. They are not perfect, but they seek to be like God. There will be hostility between these two groups. In the very next chapter, we meet the first brothers, Cain and Abel. Cain is warned – Genesis 4:7 “…And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Unfortunately, he chose to kill his brother. Then, we meet Esau and Jacob. Genesis 25      31 But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.” 32 And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” 33 Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. After Jacob rightfully got Isaac to bless him, listen to Genesis 27:41 So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” Then, Joseph’s brothers tried to kill him, but ended up selling him into slavery. Finally, the children of Israel were in bondage in Egypt. Have you ever noticed what’s on Pharaoh’s miter/crown? Snake known as Uraeus. It was a symbol of power, authority, and even deity. Down through the ages, the hatred has continued, even at the time of Christ. John 8      39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

When you reject Christ as your Savior and King, you opt out of the family of the woman and opt into the family of Satan. How about you? Right from the beginning God has warned us about this enmity.

  1. Enmity between the Serpent and the Messiah

Not only does the seed (zera) have a collective meaning, but it also has a singular meaning. The noun can be both collective and individual. After the collective meaning earlier, this is now a singular meaning. In other words, this is about one coming to bring judgment over the Enemy for what he did. Something very important to understand: Satan does not know which woman. Neither does Eve know which son. Therefore, he has been going after the young ever since. So also, Eve thought that Cain was the one. Genesis 4:1 “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “‘I have acquired a man from the LORD.’” She was mistaken again in Genesis 4:25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” Every woman had to raise every child as if he could be the one to break the curse. That’s why Paul said in 1 Timothy 2      14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

However, God was making it more and more specific – Genesis 12:7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants (seed) I will give this land.” Genesis 13      15 “for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. 16 And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.”

How will the seed of the woman break the curse? “…He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” The Hebrew word “suph” means crush, bruise, or strike. One will be a lethal blow and the other just an injury. This is exactly what happened at the cross. Satan tried to strike his heel, thinking that he had killed Jesus. What he didn’t realize is that this was all part of God’s predetermined plan. As he was striking one heel, the other heel was being lifted and positioned bull’s eye over his skull. When Jesus rose from the grave, he crushed Satan’s head. He still has some life in him to harass believers and mislead the lost but not for long. His time is coming. In the meantime, Jesus has destroyed death and grave, powers and principalities, Even before the coming of Jesus, the Jewish Talmud talked about the “heels of the Messiah.”

Which seed do you belong to? Are you saved? Are you helping reaching others with the gospel? Are you taking the cure to others?

Righteous Nation (Article)

RIGHTEOUS NATION (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on July 17, 2019)

 Proverbs 14:34 “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

What makes a nation prosperous? How can a people escape the trash heap of history? Will America last another hundred years if Christ does not return? The timeline of history is littered with nations and peoples that have ceased to be, not because of famine, earthquake, pollution, deforestation, or even war, but because of unrighteousness. From God’s perspective, righteousness is the secret to success and longevity as a nation. Let’s look at each word in Proverbs 14:34 carefully:

  1. Righteousness (Hebrew – tsedek): It refers to our subjection to God’s universal order of things that has existed since creation and will continue until the end of time. It’s the recognition that God is in charge and we’re to do things his way in every aspect of life – relationships, family, children, nature, government, commerce, justice, war, etc. This has to come from a willing heart not obligation. A word of caution: This thinking is not popular with the world. You have to be willing to face opposition and even persecution. The opposite of righteousness is Sin. It’s the Hebrew word “chatha” which literally means to “miss the mark” or “fall short.” It means missing God’s standard of righteousness.
  2. Exalts (Hebrew – rwm): It has many different uses but in the present context, it means success, prosperity, goodness, and longevity. The opposite of righteousness is Reproach. It’s the Hebrew word “chesed” which can mean either kindness or shame. The idea behind it is of an eager desire which is unexplainable. In this verse, it signifies “unexplainable shame” to those who choose to sin against God.

Let’s put this to the test. Have there been nations/kingdoms/peoples/societies who chose to disobey God’s standards and perished?

  1. Pre-flood Nations: Genesis 6 tells us that God saw the wickedness of people on the earth and that they were totally bent towards evil. As a result, God sent a worldwide flood and saved only those were on the ark – Noah, his family, and two of each kind of animals.
  2. Sodom and Gomorrah: Genesis 13:13 declares “the people of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.” The sin of homosexuality had reached an all-time low. Through Abraham’s intervention, God saved only Lot and his family but destroyed all the cities of the plain.
  3. Pre-exodus Egypt: When Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to free the Hebrew slaves, God sent 10 plagues against Egypt – the Nile River turned into blood, frogs, flies, lice, death of the livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and death of the first born, both humans and animals. If this weren’t enough, the entire Egyptian army along with their chariots and horses perished in the Red Sea.
  4. Babylon: King Belshazzar threw a big feast and, in his drunken stupor, demanded that wine be served in the temple vessels from Jerusalem. Just then, the fingers of a man’s hand appeared opposite the lampstand and started writing. He was so shaken up that his hip joints came loose and his knees knocked against each other. Daniel was called to interpret the writing and that very night Belshazzar was killed and King Cyrus entered Babylon as the new king of the Medes and the Persians.

There’s not enough space to list the demise of the Akkadians, Canaanites, Persians, Mongols, Aztecs, Ottomans, Indian kingdoms, Chinese dynasties, European nations, etc. The pattern is always the same. When unrighteousness takes over, the people/nations/cultures are destroyed.

The formula for survival and blessing is clear – 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”





First Gospel: The Damage

FIRST GOSPEL – THE DAMAGE by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  For the past few years, we have been blessed to take a trip to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Some of you have been there. It’s such a beautiful laidback place. We really enjoy going there. Last year, we went by a shopping center that had a boot store. I went in and asked for a size 11. The man brought it, and I put on the right leg. No trouble. Then, I tried to put on the left one and trouble began. It was impossible! I struggled and struggled. I finally got my foot in, and it loosened a little but not much. I even called a young man from church who had bought the same shoe sometime back, and I asked him if it was tight when he first got it. He said that it was actually loose, and he had to drop down a size. Now, I was really confused. The salesman tried to give me some pointers on how to break the boot in, but I didn’t think that was the problem. So, I asked him for a size 11 ½, and I began the process of removing the boot. The right was no problem, but the left was not going to come off. I thought it would be easier to chop my foot off! Finally, I got it off with the help of my boys. As I was putting it back in the box, I noticed on the bottom – size 9. Sure enough, right boot was 11, but left boot was 9. No wonder! Apparently, it was shipped that way by mistake. No amount of pushing and shoving would have solved that problem. So also, life in this world has been shipped this way since the Garden of Eden. It’s not that all of life is horrible, but there is a problem. All around us we can see and feel the impact of the Fall. We are in a series from Genesis 3 titled “First Gospel,” and today we come to the second message titled: THE DAMAGE. Main point: Life is wonderful, but it has been damaged by the fall. We try to enjoy life with the right foot, but repeatedly we are reminded by the left foot that not all of life is wonderful. Therefore, Jesus came – to fix what was damaged in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it’: ‘Cursedis the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.”

Last weekend, we learned how the choice of Adam and Eve to take the forbidden fruit brought original sin into the world. In this message, we will survey the damage that came into this world because of that choice. Of course, we know the fundamental damages: break in the relationship between God and man; and break in the relationship between man and woman; physical and spiritual death; but there’s much more. Before we start listing all the damages because of the Fall, let me clear up a common misunderstanding from Genesis 1:31 “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” It is often assumed that “good” means “perfect,” but that’s not true. The Hebrew word for good is “tov.” The word has the idea of being beautiful, pleasant, orderly, efficient, and morally good. It was not some static and rigid state. Some people assume that there was no entropy before the Fall. Entropy has to do with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Sometimes it is called the “Law of Disorder” or the “Law of Decay.” Keep in mind that God made matter and energy in the first week of creation. According to the First Law of Thermodynamics, “The total amount of mass-energy in the universe is constant.” In other words, “Energy is merely transformed from one form to another. It is neither created nor destroyed.” According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, “While energy is conserved, it becomes less useful over time.” In other words, “The amount of energy available for work is running out.”

Example: When you make your coffee in the morning, you add cold creamer to your hot coffee. Does your coffee get hotter or a little colder? It gets a little colder. The hot coffee loses some energy, but the creamer gains some energy. Energy is conserved. That’s the First Law of Thermodynamics. Here’s a question: When you pour the hot coffee into the cold mug, do you ever feel that the mug gets colder, or the coffee gets hotter? Heat is only transferred from hot to cold, and not vice versa. Energy is lost. That’s the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Important point: These laws did not begin after the Fall. They were there from the first day of creation, even the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Without the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the heat from the sun would not be transferred to the earth; Adam and Eve would be slipping as they walked in the Garden of Eden (friction helps us to remain stable); also breathing (movement of gas from high to a low pressure) and digestion (breaking down of complex food molecules) are all the results of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (Lee Anderson, Danny Faulkner). It is often claimed that Bible believers don’t understand scientific principles or that science contradicts the biblical account of creation. This is just not true. We believe that both the First and the Second Law of Thermodynamics line up with the biblical account of creation. Even in the sky, as good as things were before the fall, there were still craters on the moon, and supernovas and shooting stars occasionally. Someone may ask: If we believe that things were already running downhill or decaying before the Fall, doesn’t that mean that there was a “fall” before the Fall? It could be that God balanced out the energy until the Fall to keep diseases, suffering, and death away.

By the way, he has done that time to time for his people. Deuteronomy 8:4 “Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.” Deuteronomy 29:5 “And I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet.” Joel 2:25 “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust…” Psalm 103      2 “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: 3 Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases…5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Application: Has the Lord done that for you? Can you see how the Lord has turned back time in your life?

So, what were the real damages due to the Fall? In the last couple of messages, we have seen what the Fall did to the relationship between the husband and the wife.

  1. Animal World

Genesis 3      14 So the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

Next week, we will focus on the real culprit behind the Serpent and the enmity between his seed and her seed. Here, I want us to see that God first cursed the serpent and then also all the animals. Why? Animals were supposed to be under the dominion of the man and the woman. They were created for the benefit of Adam and Eve. When they chose to harm them, led by the serpent, they were harmed in return. First, the serpent – more than likely, he walked upright initially, but God changed his DNA. Now he would slither on the ground, sign of an unclean animal. He was “arum” (subtle), but now he was “arur” (banned). I know some people have pet snakes, and that’s fine; but typically, people all over the world are terrified of snakes and want to kill them. Also, they do literally eat dust with their forked tongue. At the roof of the snake’s mouth is an organ called the “vomeronasal organ,” that detects chemicals, and the tongue carries samples from the dirt to the organ (Sarfati).

Also, the animal world turned against each other in the form of predator and prey. Many went from being herbivores to carnivores. In the end, this will be reversed. Isaiah 11      6 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

Isn’t that a beautiful world!

  1. Woman

Genesis 3:16 To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

We’ve seen the second half of the verse, but how about the first? It refers to the entire process from pregnancy to childbirth. It is painful. This pain is not coming through some form of fear, but it is physically discomforting. The potential of pain may have been there before the Fall, but God balanced it out as we mentioned earlier. Now, things had changed, but it was not evil. Even Jesus talked about this: John 16     21 “A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.” Paul adds: 1 Timothy 2     14 “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.” We’ll see that next week.

  1. Man

Genesis 3       17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it’: ‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field.

A thorn is simply a leaf that is “tightly curled upon itself.” This was a product of the Fall.

 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

Now, the fruit trees would not be enough, he will have to become a farmer and sweat. Then, he will go into the same ground!

Romans 8      19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

There’s so much here! So much was damaged! This is why Jesus came, to undo the damage. Do you know him? Have you been saved from the damage? More damage is coming when you reject him.

Backsliding (Article)

BACKSLIDING (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on June 5, 2019)

Do you have to stay on your kids to clean their room, do their homework, or finish their chores? What happens if you get out of sight? They start goofing around. Some kids don’t but most, like ours, do. Then, when you return, they give you some lame excuse. You have to stand over them and hold them accountable. Unless they personally want a clean room, good grades, and finished chores, it will be a constant battle. So also, many Christians need a balance of accountability and personal responsibility to make it in the Christian life. Just like kids, they get distracted and start goofing around. They need others to hold them accountable but that’s not enough. They have to personally want to live the Christian life. If either accountability or personal responsibility is lacking, they will backslide.

Paul was in a Roman prison when he wrote his letter to the Philippian church. He wanted to visit them but he couldn’t. But, word was getting back to Paul, maybe through Timothy and Epaphroditus, that the Philippians were backsliding into their old way of life. They were starting to regress in their faith. So, he wrote them a letter encouraging them to press forward. First, he began by reminding them that he is “confident…that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) We all need a Paul in our lives who will remind us of God’s faithfulness in our lives. Next, he told them that he was praying that their “love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” I have many godly people who pray like this for me every day. Do you? Paul even assured them of his personal commitment to stick around and help them even though he was ready to go and be with Christ. Finally, he pointed them to the ultimate goal of having the mind of Christ in Philippians 2:5-11. What a great model of accountability! Do you have a Paul in your life who keeps you from backsliding? Are you a Paul to someone who may be backsliding?

Paul also knew that the Philippians needed to take personal responsibility for their spiritual growth. So, he said in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” In other words, he was saying, “You don’t need me to stand over you for you to behave as a Christian is supposed to behave.” Some people have confused “work out your own salvation” for “work for your own salvation.” There is a big difference. Salvation is only by “grace through faith.” (Ephesians 2:9) We can only receive it as a gift from God. In the context, Paul was telling the believers in Philippi to take responsibility to cultivate the mind of Christ in themselves. It’s great to have people in our lives who can hold us accountable but we have to do our part in reading the Bible, praying daily, turning and repenting from sin, obeying the Word, submitting to the Holy Spirit, rejecting the Enemy, attending church regularly, connecting with other believers, and sharing our faith.

Charles Spurgeon, one of my favorite preachers from the Victorian era, said it best, “The Christian life is very much like climbing a hill of ice. You cannot slide up, nay, you have to cut every step with an ice axe; only with incessant labor in cutting and chipping can you make any progress; you need a guide to help you…. If you want to know how to backslide, the answer is leave off going forward and you will slide backward, cease going upward and you will go downward of necessity, for stand still you never can.” Are you moving up or are your sliding back in your Christian life?

First Gospel – The Choice by Dr. Abidan Shah

FIRST GOSPEL – THE CHOICE by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  I grew up in paradise. What I mean is that my dad had planted a garden around the church and the parsonage which had all kinds of exotic trees from all over India. Everywhere he was invited to preach a revival or a crusade, he would bring some plant or tree from there. People driving past our home and church would stop and admire the beautiful trees, the flowers, and even the fruits hanging from them. It was known throughout our city as the most lush, beautiful, and cool spot. I remember as a little boy walking in the garden, sitting under the trees, and wondering if this is what it was like for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. For the next couple of weeks, with Christmas approaching, we will be going through a miniseries from Genesis called “FIRST GOSPEL.” The first prophecy of the coming of the Messiah was not in Isaiah or even to Abraham. It went all the way back to Genesis 3. Main point: God wants us to simply trust and obey him. Failure to trust and obey God leads to sin. Sin is senseless. It only brings death. Through Christ we have forgiveness and the power to conquer sin.

Genesis 2:8 “The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.”

Context: People often ask me – “Where do you think was the Garden of Eden?” No one knows for sure, but the best possible location is somewhere near the south of modern-day Iraq. The next few verses give us some important geographical markers. Genesis 2    10 “Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.” Moses gave those markers to help the readers of his time have some reference point for where Eden was located. Of course, we cannot pinpoint the location because much has changed since the great flood. In fact, the Garden was buried in the great deluge. We find this in God’s pronouncement against Pharaoh in Ezekiel 31:18 “To which of the trees in Eden will you then be likened in glory and greatness? Yet you shall be brought down with the trees of Eden to the depths of the earth; you shall lie in the midst of the uncircumcised, with those slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude,’ says the Lord GOD.” All these trees have now become fossil fuel. So, if you want to know where the trees are from the Garden of Eden, look in your gas tanks! Also, since the tower of Babel was in Mesopotamia, the Garden of Eden could not have been very far from there.

Bottom line: The Garden of Eden and what happened there is not a myth. Since the coming of Darwin’s evolutionary theory, the Garden of Eden and what took place there has become a myth that is considered indefensible in the face of millions of years of evolution. Along with that, Adam is no longer the first man created by God, but he could be a myth, if not, at best, a representative man that was picked as the one from whom the biblical tradition began.

Important point: Christian faith is revelatory at its core. It does not mean that we ignore science and history or stretch or twist them to fit our faith. It means that we subject science and history to scripture. We filter them through the grid of scripture.

Application: Where do you stand? How do you see the Scriptures? How do you see the book of Genesis? How do you take the Garden of Eden?

What happened in the Garden of Eden? For starters, the Hebrew word for Garden is “gan,” which means “an enclosed area that contained a variety of plants, water sources (streams and ponds), and animals” (NIDOTTE). The LXX translated it as “paradise” from the Persian “pairi-daeza,” meaning “walled enclosure” like a royal park. The word “Eden” is the Hebrew word meaning “delight.” So, the Garden of Eden was the “garden of delight” or the “paradise of delight.” Genesis 2:9 “And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food…” Does that sound familiar? Those are the first two justifications by Eve for eating the forbidden fruit. Genesis 3:6 “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” Everything was easily accessible to them. Genesis 3:22“…And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.”

Important point: God gives us everything we truly need, and he makes it easily accessible.

Application: Do you know what it means to be content? Don’t misunderstand this for a lack of ambition. There is nothing wrong with wanting more, as long as God is leading you. Then, he will also make that easily accessible. It may require hard work, but it won’t be a struggle where you lose it all.

Back to Genesis 2:9 “…The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” The first tree – the tree of life – is found several times in the Old and the New Testament, but the second tree – literally, the tree of knowledge good and evil – is found only here and in verse 17. Let’s look at the second one first:

  1. Tree of the knowledge good and evil: It is one phrase. Some scholars have suggested that it has sexual meaning. That does not make any sense when God says in Genesis 3:22“Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil…” Others have suggested that it implies that Adam and Eve had all knowledge like God. That is impossible. God can become man, but man can never become God. There are other suggestions, but the one that fits the context best is “moral autonomy.” An example of this phrase is found in Deuteronomy 1:39 “Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there; to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.” It represented moral innocence. Unlike their parents who saw the wonders in Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, drank the water, ate the manna and the meat, and saw the cloud of smoke and pillar of fire and still didn’t believe, they were innocent.

Illustration: Little babies and toddlers have this sense of moral innocence. They rely on their parents to guide them and make decisions for them. They simply have to follow their parents and obey them.

Victor Hamilton, “Man has indeed become a god whenever he makes his own self the center, the springboard, and the only frame of reference for moral guidelines. When man attempts to act autonomously he is indeed attempting to be godlike.”

Important point: God wants us to trust and obey him in childlike faith.

Genesis 2      15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” By the way, we know the event in advance – Adam and Eve did not die immediately. The Hebrew construction is “mot tamut,” which is literally “dying you shall die.” Like a branch cut off from a tree begins to die, so also Adam and Eve were cut off from God. It took 930 years for Adam to die, but he surely died.

Why did God even allow all this tree choosing business? This was a tangible way for them to show their childlike faith, trust, and love in and for God. Because God wanted the man and the woman to choose freely to trust and love him, he gave them the choice. They were truly morally free spiritual beings, but the choice should have been clear and simple!

Important point: God wants us to choose to love him and know that he is not holding out on us.

Application: Isn’t that the same with us? God gives us free will, but the choice is clear and simple – Love and Trust Him. What do you choose?

In this message, I don’t want to get into who Satan is and why he did what he did. Here, the point is very simple – Satan came and tempted Eve and then secondarily Adam and they both chose to eat the fruit. Eve was deceived and Adam disobeyed. Still the question is why. The answer is “Sin doesn’t make sense.”

Here’s the consequence – We are now corrupted by Adam’s Sin, and we are also guilty of Adam’s sin. We will also look in the weeks coming up what that means.

  1. How about the Tree of Life? It is mentioned a few times in the Old Testament, but it comes back in the book of Revelation. He bars them from reaching it so they won’t be locked into their sinful state forever.
  2. We need another tree in between – the Cursed Tree.

Acts 5:30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.

Acts 10:39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.

Acts 13:29 Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb.

Gal. 3:13   Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),

1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

Once we have accepted the Savior on the Cursed Tree, then we can have access to the Tree of Life.

Revelation 2:7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’

Revelation 22:1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 22      12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” 14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

Invitation: Have you been to the cursed tree? You have both the nature and guilt of Adam. Only Christ can remove both? Are you saved?