For nearly 3,000 years, and possibly longer, the Bible has remained a source of wisdom and inspiration—first for the Hebrew people, and then for the world.
The book contains many stories and lessons, but it also seems to contain many problems and contradictions. As a work of literature, the Bible gives us complexity, depth and implication. It remains full of ideas that must be interpreted in order to be understood.
Some purport to be biblical literalists, but even they must stray from an entirely literal understanding in order to make sense of it all.
The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden gives us perhaps the most potent such passage which demands a non-literal view. Why? Because God told Adam that he would die on the very day he ate of the forbidden fruit. But did he literally, physically die on that day? No, of course not. In fact, the way the Bible describes the incident, both he and his spouse were escorted out of the Garden and Adam lived for a rather full 930 years. Most of those years came after the birth of his children—Cain, Abel and Seth.
So, what did it mean in Genesis 3 by the word "die?"
More than anything, the Bible is a book about spirituality. That is our connection to God. In fact, Genesis 1:26 emphasizes this point by stating that we were created in His image and likeness. Perhaps it would help to point out that God is not Homo sapiens. Genesis 2:7 tells us that man was created, again, but this time from the dust of the ground. It should be obvious that God's image and likeness is not one of dust. So, man has a dual nature—one that is spiritual and one that is human.
Should it surprise you that there is a great deal more wisdom hidden in the Bible? The biblical literalist may find this idea abhorrant or even blasphemous. But isn't a literal view of anything a lazy way of looking at it? And isn't laziness considered to be sinful?
The story of the Garden tells us that God's children had fallen from grace—that they had died spiritually.
This fact of spiritual death and promised rebirth is emphasized and repeated throughout the Bible. We find this idea brought into sharp focus when Yehoshua, the Nazarene teacher, told Nicodemus that we need to be born again of the spirit. This rebirth is necessary before we can reclaim our birthright as children of God.
The spiritual nature of man is also emphasized in Genesis 6:3, where it states that God will not always strive with man, because he is "also" flesh. Hidden within that simple phrase is the implication that man is also something else. Man is something besides flesh or human. God will not always remain with the Homo sapiens species, because His purpose is to return His children to Him. Once done, there will be no more reason for concern about humans or their civilization.
Never before in the history of humanity have we had such an exciting opportunity. We have before us a chance to dig deep into the meaning of God's word. Before these modern times, interpretation and discussion were restricted. Very few had a copy of the Bible. Until modern times, very few could read it.
We now have the opportunity to dig for the implications—the true meaning buried within the Bible. And we are given permission to do so by God Himself. Why? Because He wants us to return to Him.
Some may fear losing their way. Some may fear becoming too secular or humanist by attempting to understand the Bible more deeply. They may fear that logic will spoil their faith. Our master, Yehoshua of Nazareth, made it clear that understanding is good, but that some are not yet ready. He even told his disciples that certain lessons he could not yet give them.
The beauty of exploring is that you can always move on to something closer to God. No one knows all of God's Truth, so we need to remain forever humble and hungry for answers. So, fear not. Let the small, still voice within guide you. Let the Love of our Lord show the way.
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