The Gift of Grace

Today I’m going to begin a deep perspective of the creation and how grace operated in that series of events.  This section will provide to us a basis of understanding the original intent of God and grace’s role in that intent.  We will have the opportunity to see man and woman in a completely different light also and how the enemy’s attack was purposeful and its affect even today.

Good Gifts

In the posting on the Goodness of Grace I elaborated on the creation events in regards to the nature of “good” and its association with pleasure.  I want at this time to bring a further point out about that term as it applies to our topic at hand.  There are a couple of passages I want to bring to your attention regarding “goodness.”

Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 

(Romans 2:4)

God’s goodness leads us to repentance.  I’m not going to get all religious here but do you understand by what it means to “repent”?  Religion has built up an edifice around the term that keeps people from its simple truth and unfortunately keeps a number of people out of the kingdom.  Obviously, the term means to show sorrow for sins committed, but there is something more in the word that should be revealed.  The suffix “re” has the meaning of returning back to the original condition or state of being.  The word “pent” has a number of meanings in its usage, one being the high place as in the term “penthouse”, and another being the Greek term that represents the numeric value of five, a number that bible scholars all agree represents “grace.”  So repenting means more than acting in a sorrowful state about a sin: It holds in it the ability to return us back to our original high position of grace.  Yet notice in this verse that only one thing leads us to this act of repenting – the goodness of God.

Now I want you to see something about this from the life of Moses.  In Exodus 33 God has brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and Moses has ascended up Mount Sinai for the second time.  In this chapter Moses encounters something very unique about the nature of God as he confirms that God will be them as they proceed into the promised land.

Exodus 33:12-20 

(12)  Then Moses said to the LORD, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’

(13)  Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”

(14)  And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

(15)  Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.

(16)  For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”

(17)  So the LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”

(18)  And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”

(19)  Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

(20)  But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”

I have stated before that the meaning of the Hebrew term for grace is different than the Greek term for grace.  It cannot be ignored but needs to be incorporated into the full meaning of grace (which will be developed in a later post).  In this passage we see that Moses found grace in the sight of God and he asks that God would show him the ways of God so that Moses would know God.  What occurs next is a fulfillment of Moses’ request.  Moses asks to see the glory of God.  He wants to see all of what defines the kingdom of God.  Recall that Moses when he was in Egypt as member of Pharaoh’s household was often in the display of a man’s kingdom glory.  His request here in verse 18 was a natural response to see the abundance of a kingdom in order to assurance the greatness of a king.

Don’t assume for a moment here that Moses is judging the kingdom of God.  When kings come in union with one another it is common for each to display the abundance that each realm contains because out of this abundance gifts will be presented one to another as display of the “grace” of the kingdom.  Moses’ request here is really a request to understand the protocol of the kingdom of God so that he may be able to properly represent the children of Israel in the Kingdom of God.  Yet notice what God’s response to Moses is: “I will make all My goodness pass before you.” This statement defines the ways of God.  His goodness, not His Glory, is how the kingdom is recognized and operates.  It is not defined by all of its wealth of material items but by the nature of the King Himself.

What is important here is that God clearly demonstrates that a kingdom display of any material objects does not make any reference to how those objects were obtained.  Things can be given, bought, or stolen yet once obtained no one truly knows how they arrived, let alone how they have been retained.  If we merely look upon things and say this is truly a king of many resources, we fail to know the true nature of the king and ultimately the kingdom itself.  By clearly distinguishing that His kingdom comes out of His goodness, God has declared that whatever “things” we see of Him, they all come from His nature of goodness.  So as the book of James tells us, “every good and perfect gift comes from the Father” not as indication of His wealth but out of His goodness towards us, a goodness which leads us back to the high place of grace.

Man’s Purpose in Grace

Now that you better understand the nature of “good” as you look at the creation event and the seven references to the term “good” you should be able to recognize that each event demonstrated not the capabilities of God merely to create but represented His nature in why and how He created.  In every occurrence when you read “It was good” you are reliving exactly what Moses experienced on the Mount as the goodness of God passed before him.  Understanding goodness also provides you with the ability to recognize when it is lacking.  Did you know the creation event provides an example of this?

Genesis 2:4-8 

(4)  This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

(5)  before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground;

(6)  but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.

(7)  And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

(8)  The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.

Chapter 1 of Genesis describes the creation events from day one to six culminating with the proclamation that all that God had created was “very good.”  The second chapter starts with God setting apart and blessing the seventh day as a day of rest for man.  We pick up in verse 4 an expansion of the narrative of the sixth day, operating fully in the nature of grace, to see how things progressed towards that ultimate proclamation.  Verse 5 tells us that the plants were waiting for the creation of man in order for them to begin to grow since the ground hadn’t been tilled yet even though it was being watered from the mist that was coming up out of the earth.  In the seventh verse we discover that God formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.

The term “formed” in verse 7 describes a process similar to the manipulations that a potter performs when drawing out the desired form of a piece of clay through the use of pressure.  Considering that the man was created from the dust of the earth this is an appropriate description of how God formed man.  This is also the only indication in the creation that God used His hands to create an object.  All other elements appear to be created from God’s word or command.  This distinction can’t be stressed enough since God declared that man was to be like Him in image and likeness.  All other items were dictated as to their purpose and existence while man’s formation indicates the free will purpose that marks man’s existence.

Genesis 2:15-20 

(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.”

(18)  And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

(19)  Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.

(20)  So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

We see in verse 8 that after man became a living being, God placed him in a garden east of where he was formed.  As ideal as the Garden of Eden is man was not created in it, he shares none of the properties of that environment.  In verse 15 we see that the man is contracted to be there for God’s purpose of tending and keeping it.  If the man had been originally created in the garden, he would have immediate dominion over that area and God would not be able to displace him from his “domain” except through battle.  By placing the man in the garden, God is indicating that the tending and keeping of the garden placed an expectation towards a moment of completion or subjection for dominion to be conferred.  Any failure in achieving this end would result in the delay of dominion.  Every kingdom must be fought for to be awarded and retained.  This is what Jesus meant when He said that the kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent take it by force.

So what does it mean that man was placed in the garden to “tend and keep it?”  Each of these words has separate and very distinct meaning as to the purpose that the man was to fulfill.  The Hebraic meaning of the word recorded as tend carries the meaning of to till the ground as a husbandman or laborer.  Much of society has lost its understanding of tilling as we have moved away from an agricultural social order towards a specialized, industrial social order.  We miss the nature of tilling to turn over and expose hidden matter; of the preparation of the soil to receive the seed; of the focus of keeping weeds from overtaking the crop; and of feeding the soil the nutrients required to promote the growth of the seed.  This same word also is used to describe a servant and worshiper.  So we see here that man’s job to till the garden was to uncover hidden things while preparing a place for the seed to be implanted and nourished acted as a service of worship towards God.

The Hebrew word for “keep” in this passage means to be a watchman, or a guard that watches with a very narrow, intent gaze.  It implies that the person is responsible for overseeing the life of the garden by restraining any invading force.  So we see that there were two functions that man was to perform while employed in the garden: Worshipful service to the seed of God’s creative word and protector of the environment that the seed was to produce its fruit in.  In verses 16 and 17 we see the contract restriction to man’s employment with God in the garden. It clearly defines that all of the work being performed in the garden had a limit upon man’s ability to enjoy all the rewards from those efforts.

God’s Gift to Man

But as great as the garden is please understand this was not a gift to man.  It was man’s work, duty, or service.  Today we often make the mistake of thanking God for the gift of our work.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t thank God for work, but that our employment whatever it may be is not a gift from the grace realm.  Yes, I realize that some of you may disagree with me about this but consider this.  Proverbs 10:22 tells us that the blessing of the Lord, while making you rich, does not add sorrow to it.  A job, while it can make you rich, it also will add sorrow.  If every good and perfect gift comes from the Father, contained in that gift is the blessing of the Father.  That blessing activates the abundant nature of grace in the gift making it a life-giving property to all that come in contact with it.  If you claim that God blessed you with a job as a gift of His grace, I simply have to ask you if that gift is giving life to all that come in contact with it and will that principle continue to operate if you’re not involved in it.  Employment is our worship to God where we demonstrate the nature of His kingdom to those that do not know Him.

So returning to our man in the garden verse 18 must stand out in this study, as well as any other study of God’s handiwork.  In this verse we hear God declare that something isn’t good, meaning it lacks the pleasure associated with the kingdom of grace.  Notice that God is declaring this about man, not about God’s kingdom.  Man was created to be in the likeness and image of God and yet God declares that man being alone is not good, or doesn’t align with the principle of a kingdom grace.  Throughout the entire creation event we have seen that “goodness” was God’s final declaration, yet man’s existence is deemed “not good” if he is alone.  Another way of saying this is the pleasure of grace is not complete in the life of man when there is no one to give to.

God’s decree of “not good” also contains within it the answer that will correct the matter and bring it to completion. God will make a helper comparable to the man.  But look what follows.  Adam names the animals.  No helper, just name the animals.  What gives here?  This is one of the examples of the ways of God.

As I stated a moment ago, God declared that it was not good for man to be alone.  Man did not make that observation, God did.  Man didn’t yet know that there was something amiss.  The Hebrew teachers say that the reason that God had Adam name the animals first was so that he could see for himself that there was something different between the pairings of the animals with the commission that God had placed upon them to be fruitful and multiply and himself with the same commission.  Only after he had completed this task could he fully recognize and understand that he did not have a partner to fulfill his commission.  We often are called to perform a task for God’s kingdom not recognizing that what we discover in our performance is the missing element in us fulfilling our commission.

Genesis 2:21-23 

(21)  And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.

(22)  Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

(23)  And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”

In the creation event we see the workings of abounding grace in that every thing that is made comes from the environment that it resides and abounds in: Stars made from the elements of space; birds from the elements of the sky; fish from the elements of the water; and beasts from the elements of the earth.  Man too is made from the earth, yet different from the animals since God formed him and breathed life into his body.  His body abounds upon the earth while his spirit abounds in the eternal realm.  But now we see the last creation act of God making a woman out of an element of man.  That element, the rib, tells us that the woman is to abound at the side of man, not at his foot, his head or his backside.  .

An important aspect of grace that many overlook has to do with honor.  This honor is evident in the kingdom by the presence of the throne of grace.  As grace operated in the creation event, the highest honor is given to each object that reflects the fullness of the elements it came from.  Man received the highest honor being the fullness of not only the dust of the earth but the image of God also.  In this same manner, the woman receives the highest honor being made from man.  This is not an honor of authority over man but honor as a crown upon man.

In verse 22 we find something unique about this creative act.  Here we find that God “made” the woman.  This word is entirely different from the word that described how God made man.  This word conveys the picture of God going away to a place to design and fashion the woman with serious intent.  Upon the completion of this creative act, we are told that God “brought” her to the man.  The word “brought” portrays the act of giving or setting down.  In this verse we witness the goodness and grace of the King giving a “crown” as a “gift” to the man. Said another way, the woman is the first grace-gift to man.  Yes, despite what you may feel or have heard in the past, a woman is a gift from God to man purposely designed and fashioned to work alongside and provide honor to man.

I feel it is best to stop here.  That last statement needs to be fully ingested before you go forward, since what occurs next is entirely dependent upon your understanding this truth.

Grace and Peace to You

Mike

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