Genesis 3:4-5 – 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Matthew 1:20-21 – 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
As I begin a new read through the Bible, I find myself in familiar ground. But there is great help and wisdom in these familiar places.
In Genesis 3, we see just how the woman was tempted to oppose the Lord. Note the serpent’s tactic. He wants her to feel foolish. He wants her to feel like the concept of death for eating a piece of fruit is ridiculous. He wants her to think that anybody with sense knows better than to let some sort of religious command about fruit impact what she desires for herself. Doesn’t everybody know that the penalty for such a supposed crime is merely a myth?
How familiar is this theme? The world around us looks at those who hold to the standards of God, and they scoff, “Come on man!” They argue that nobody is really going to be punished by God for something as small as that. They suggest that God would never demand that marriage only be between a man and a woman. They suggest that God is not hung up on gender identity at all. They tell us that it’s crazy to think that God would judge anybody for not believing in Jesus. They suggest that there is no way that anybody should fear the judgment of God simply for doing what they feel is right. No way does God care if you skip worship for a few weeks if you have something you want to get done. Like the serpent, they hiss into our ears that we should not take the faith so seriously that it puts us out-of-step with the changing times.
How do we stand against such a tide? Consider what the angel said to Joseph in Matthew 1. There Joseph planned to divorce Mary because it seemed as though she had been unfaithful. But an angel from God told Joseph not to fear such a thing. Do not fear marrying this young woman. Yes, she is with child. But this child is conceived by the Lord. This child is the promised Savior. He will save his people from their sins.
Compare the garden message of the serpent to the angelic message to Joseph. The serpent tells Eve not to worry about the judgment of God. No way would God do anything to you for opposing his commands and design. The angel says to Joseph not to fear to obey God, because God is doing something glorious. One voice tells us that nobody takes God’s commands seriously enough to change our lives. The other voice tells us that only the word of God is solid enough to shape our lives.
As I begin this new Bible in a Year plan, I find myself encouraged. Only God’s word is solid enough for me to rely on. I cannot listen to the voices in our culture that tell me that I should take the word of God with a grain of salt. Instead, I need to, as Joseph did, know that God has given me his word, and that word is sure. While it may seem crazy in the eyes of the world, God’s word is the only sure foundation for what I think, what I feel, and what I do. May I learn to be faithful to the word regardless of the scoffing world around me.