FIELD OF STREAMS (Ge 6-9)
If you have ever seen the movie Field of DREAMS you will know it’s about an Iowa farmer who hears voices telling him to plow under his corn crop and build a baseball field where the ghosts of old pro players, including Shoeless Joe Jackson, would play. Now of course, the neighbors and the town folk think he is nuts, and that he is risking his farm for the sake of old baseball players that no one can see but himself.
The decision for this Iowa farmer to listen to whispering voices saying, “If you build it, they will come”, and then to build a ballpark without having a real explanation of what this is all about takes some faith. So what about Noah?
The Bible tells us that Noah was a righteous man, and faithful to God in a world of sin.
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. Genesis 6:5-6
and so God tells Noah, If you build it, they will come. Genesis 6:13-21 in this case THEY are a literal ‘boat-load’ of animals.
If you think an Iowa farmer got funny looks plowing under his crop/ livelihood, so that he could build a ballpark, I am sure that's nothing compared to Noah building a humungous boat in the middle of a desert. It became Noah’s “Field of Streams”.
Of course this Desert Ark Building attracted some serious ridicule, or at the very least a few chuckles and smirks from the town folk.
Noah builds this ark out of cypress wood. It is 450 feet, 75 feet wide, and 40 feet tall.
Next, please note the Ark Project was constructed by 600 yr. old Noah with the assistance of his 100 year old sons.
Think about it, Noah was approximately 10 times older than me, and his three 'boys' were 3 times older than my two sons.
Anyways, the ark is built, and then the collection and storing of the animal pairs begins.
Let me add a little perspective here..
Also illustrated below are a few more boarding the Ark highlights.. including the demise of the Unicorn.
GRAB YOUR UMBRELLA
Once the animals were all boarded, God seals the Ark and the skies opened up which not one local Weather channel predicted, and those left behind did perish. These flood waters go higher and higher until on I believe the 40th day the highest mountains are covered.
I know the question sometimes arises as to whether or not this was a local or world widen flood. What I do know is it was a WHOLE LOT OF WATER.
LIFE AT SEA..
So now there is a time where God floats the boat. Loaded with animals of every kind I cannot imagine how this all worked out. I am challenged to get my one rescue dog out several times a day to ensure he does not do his 'bizness' on the carpet so 'say-no-more' bout' waste management on this sea sick petting zoo. But on the bright side the excursions and amenities not found on any other Cruise line, and since they would be in the Ark for I believe 371 days, they might as well make the best of what Noah's Luxury Cruise had to offer..
ALL ASHORE THAT'S GOING ASHORE!
Finally the the waters subsided and the ark settled on one of the mountains of Ararat .
Once it became safe to leave the Ark, the animals were let go, must have been as interesting as the boarding), and shortly there after the first pooper scooper was invented.
In all seriousness now, this was the new beginning for manking, and God signed with a RAINBOW His promise that he would never destroy the Earth by flood again.
Noah was a righteous man, and lived to be an incredible 950 years, just 19 years less than longevity king Methuselah.
THIS WAS ONE CRAZY BOAT RIDE..
I have to be honest the story of Noah, the Ark, the boarding of every animal two by two, all culminating with a Flood killing all life leaves me scratching my head. BUT just like the flood was an act of God, so was this animal control process. So I must distinguish between hard to understand and don’t believe. I believe, but can I tell you how it happened.. NOPE. It's as they say.. 'above my pay grade'.
I believe God hears our honest questions, and our lack of understanding, and in reply he may simply say, “Of course you don’t”.
One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 55:8,9 where God declares, “My ways are not your ways. Neither are my thoughts your thoughts. For as the Heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways than your ways and my thoughts than yours.”
So again.. when I don’t understand – but still I believe!
CUTE STORY? SOBERING TRUTH? or both?
In summary, the story of Noah has today often is told as a children’s story. Christian Gift Shops have cute figurines of Noah, and his Ark all filled with smiling animals. Also, in my cartoon world the story of Noah's Ark is loaded with silly fodder. BUT the story of Noah has a sobering message balancing perfectly God’s providence for the faithful and obedient with harsh judgment of a wicked world.
The story of Noah and the ark is our story
This is a world of great sin where the hearts of man (just like in Ge 6:5-6) appears to be on evil all the time. The Great News is those who love God receive His Amazing Love & Grace… but again realize.. HOW WE CONDUCT OUR LIVES MATTERS ETERNALLY. if we choose self over God than our eternity is the same as those outside the Ark. We may not get all wet by a supernatural Great Flood, but we will be just as lost, just as judged, and just as damned.
May God bless each of you to be faithful and obedient to God while living in this self indulgent world.
Jeff (wearing my waterwings today) Larson
Let's Grow Old Gracefully
I found a web site which lists the oldest people living today. When I checked it I read of a lady who was 115, and another that was 125, and then some lady I think from Peru that was supposedly 140! There was a picture of this lady and, yes, she looked every bit of 140. Of course I am not sure how we can really know she is that old (count her wrinkles like the rings on a tree?), but there is no doubt she is very, very old.
So segue back to Genesis after Cain kills his brother Abel we move on to a ‘a whole-lotta-begetting’ going on. God’s command to “go forth and multiply” was one command mankind took to heart well beyond just knowing simple math facts!
But old in Genesis is a relative thing. People in Genesis times lived to be sometimes 800 or 900 years old.
Adam lived to be 930 years old after God created him on the 6th day Genesis 5:5. His son Seth was 912 Genesis 5:8, Noah later on in Genesis we learn lived to be 950 years, and the long in the tooth award winner is .. Methuselah... the oldest man in the history of .. HISTORY. Methuselah was cut down in the prime of life at the age of 969 Genesis 5:25-27
I figure if I eat my veggies, drink milk, get 8 hours of sleep a night along with daily exercise and in only 908 more birthdays I will have Methuselah beat. That will be in the year.. 2928 when I am neighbors with George Jetson.
They say you are only as old as you feel and I find this to be very little encouragement some days when feeling 'Genesis5esque' old. Maybe not Methuselah old, but at least somewhere in the mid 500s. and to think they did not have Ibuprophen.
The other interesting pattern of this was how old people were still.. um.. still.. ‘begetting’. While one of today’s serious society concerns is teen pregnancies, this was not the problem with society recorded in Genesis.
In Genesis 5 it was not unusual for a couple to wait 70 to 500 years old before starting a family. I guess those 500 years were spent playing golf, world travel using up frequent flyer miles, paying off the mortgage(s), credit card debt, or marking hot yoga off their bucket list.
Maybe women in Genesis 5 wanted a career as a shepherdess, garden mogul, or working as a Mary Kay Cosmetics specialist before settling down and having kids.
Note: This parenting trend even held true even after Noah came onto the scene.
At age 500 Noah had three sons, and when he was about 600 years old when the Lord told him to start his Desert Ark Marina, and from what I read his sons helped with this process.
Ok, so picture this - 600 year old Noah, and his three 100 year old sons building a very big (BBIIIGGG) boat. Five hundred years old!? That would be like Columbus still being around, and working with those old people I found on that web site to build an ark. Of course Columbus may understand boats, BUT.. HE’S VERY OLD AND VERY DEAD, and those people from the website are VERY OLD and will be dead soon enough.
I do believe these stories we read about in Genesis, but in our modern world I have trouble picturing this Old Testament culture. But then again, I suppose IF Noah reappeared in the desert near the city of Las Vegas (aka Sin City), he would most likely sigh and say, “I better get busy building another ark in the desert again because society is certainly going to Hell.” (insert pun here).
Let me close these early chapters of Genesis with a few more images sharing a Back Pew perspective.
So while it is hard for me to grasp the fact that I am 62.. a Methuselah like age (969) boggles the mind. But like so many things in the Bible, just because I don’t understand does not make it not true.
From Genesis through Revelation I find the evidence and promise of God’s love and grace.
From the Garden to the Flood to the Cross all the way through life today sitting in my Back Pew there is this promise and evidence of a loving God.
May God bless each of you today in ways that are beyond your dreams. I pray you place your faith and hopes in the one true God of our Bibles.
Jeff (Methuselah like aches & pains) Larson
Life outside the Garden
So Adam and Eve leave Eden, and start a family with their two fine boys Cain & Abel. The Bible does not tell us too much about the boys lives, but that Cain liked veggies, whilst Abel tended animals. These both seemed like wonderful career choices as Silicon Valley technology opportunities were limited at this time.
All is fine and good livin' La-vi-la-Genesis until Cain and Able were to bring their gifts to the Lord. God accepted Abel’s gift, but rejected Cain’s. For this Back Pew cartoonist, this provided an interesting moment between these boys debating the health risks of too much red meat.
Admittedly Cain did overreact when his ‘garden salad gift’ was rejected by God by killing his brother. No more Red Bull energy drinks for Cain.
When God asks Cain what happened to his brother he gives the time honored answer. “Am I my brothers keeper?” and perhaps then deflected from his guilt mumbling about his PETA membership being disrespected.
So there you have it. Adam, Eve, a Garden neglected, and two boys that fight. God's creation is certainly off to a fine start.
Sin and the fall of man was inevitable, and was the result of man's free will choice just as our sins are.. but moving from apple eating to murder was a big jump on the sin meter.
The consequences of sin for Adam & Eve was they were evicted from The Garden of Eden, and for Cain became a homeless wanderer.
THE GREAT NEWS is that neither Adam's eating apples, Cain killing his brother, or any other creative sin of man is NOT beyond the redemption found in GOD'S GRACE.
My prayer is we all learn from these Genesis lessons of free will rebellion gone horribly bad. Most of us I like to think will never commit murder, but our sins great and small are all selfish rebellions of emotions and ignorance that fly in the face of God's will.
When this happens, and it will.. return to God just like the prodigal children we all are.
Repent and accept God's free gift of grace. If we don't repent we will be like Cain.. a homeless wanderer of this Earth and missing the greater purpose intended for each of us.
Jeff (not a murderer) Larson
A Garden Party Ruined
After creating the world God placed Adam and Even in the beautiful Garden of Eden (aka paradise), and in the center of this garden was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil Ge 2:17 which Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of its fruit. A Great setting for a Garden Party, until.. it was ruined.
So how do you ruin a Garden Party?
Rain, snow, gloom of night (mailman stuff), or maybe forget to send out the invites to your party? Of course snow & ice might happen here in Minnesota (paradICE), but not in paradise (Eden), so how Adam & Eve ruin this Garden Party?
Genesis 2:19-20 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
So as Senior Garden Engineer Adam did his best Dr. Doolittle imitation and talked to the animals naming them one by one. What a daunting task, but 'in the beginning' the streaming library on Netflix was limited, there was no Sunday football, and this task was assigned before Eve arrived with her 'Honey Do List(s)' so he had plenty of time to name a 'couple animals'.
Ok, admittedly all the animals are not pets, but I know my one little rescue dog could get into the right amount of mischief to ruin a garden party. Either chewing up something that is not his, sneaking food that is not his, or.. leaving little doggie-doo 'presents' that are his and I have stepped in.
But we do not read any animals (even a mischievous rescue dog ruined the Garden Party.
So if it wasn't the animals, then who was to blame?
Genesis 3:1-7 So next enters ‘ The Snake’ aka Satan, and the snake tempts Eve that eating fruit is a good thing and she does, and offers it Adam and he eats too.
In defense of Adam, though he did disobey God (being a married man myself) I remember early in our marriage my wife made a special dinner and she asked if I liked it and I foolishly answered "it was ok, but not my favorite".. This landed me on thin ice, and the waters below were icy cold!
But I digress.. So they both eat the apple, and all of a sudden they feel a draft, as they realize they are naked.
Naked, and uncomfortable (sounds like a Discovery Channel reality show) and more uncomfortable in a draft than a 1960's hippy was getting a draft notice from Uncle Sam!
In case of the hippy, he burned his draft card and headed to Oh Can-a-daaa Eh!, In contrast, Adam & Eve realized they were drafted while being naked.
There was no Old ‘Testament’ Navy, GAP (except between the leaves!), or levi's stores in the Garden so Adam & Eve being naked went for the ‘obvious’ line of clothing.. FIG LEAVES?
Ge 3:7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
But.. this 'Fig Leaf' line of fashion had at least a couple serious drawbacks.
1. Leaf blight, and squirrels, and
2. Fig Leaves were simply not all that flattering. No woman when asking how she looks, wants to hear the words.. "You look like a SHRUB".
And now seeing the bigger picture outside of the world of fashion, Adam & Eve realized life would never be the same. Sin caused a host of irrational emotions.
Ge 3:8-9 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
The Invention of the Blame Game..
Naked and afraid Adam & Eve were playing 'Hide & Seek' with God. This is where the time honored (or dishonored) 'Blame Game' was first used. First Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the snake, and the snake did not have a leg (literally & figuratively) to stand on!
This my friends is how you ruin a Garden Party!
About a week later a CSI investigation corroborated the entire Genesis 3 account.
So the fall out from this original sin was the snake, woman, and man were cursed and Adam & Eve were then EVICTED from the Garden while Willie Nelson played 'On the Road Again' in the background.
Since Genesis 3, our sinful flawed nature has compromised what God has intended for our lives.
The Sin Parallel
Adam & Eve chose to disobey God, eat the forbidden apple and then try to hide from God. While we may not live anything close to Paradise, the 'sin parallel' is the same. .. our sins are our willful choice that separate us from God, and then we hide! It matters what we do, say, and/or think, and our disobedience in big or small ways lands compromises the good God intends for us.
GOOD NEWS IS.. God's Grace is as they say AMAZING. He will accept us back after any big or small prodigal moments when we truly repent. BUT please note.. God will not be mocked.. an insincere whoopsie attitude towards our sin move us further away from the safety and blessings God intends for us.
My prayer today all of us to pursue a greater love for our God. To be in a place where obedience to our loving Heavenly Father is a natural expression of this love. May God impress on our hearts His love for us, He desires the very best for us, and realize His Word is a light to guide us in this dark world.
Jeff (weeding my garden) Larson
Final Garden Notes.. It was a strange new world in the Beginning ripe with a few more cartoon musings.
It was really GOOD!
Genesis 1 - In the beginning, God spoke the universe into existence. Some of those present claimed they heard a loud crackling sound like thunder, but most simply described it as sort of a.. BANG.. actually a BIG BANG!
At this point let me be clear, I am not here to discuss Old Earth v New Earth theories. This would be above the pay grade of this cartoonist, but what I will say is .. God created and it was GOOD!
Genesis 1:1-31 To summarize, this daunting project was completed in 6 days where Day 1: DAY , NIGHT , the SKY were spoke into existence by our Almighty Creator.
Genesis 2:1-3 Then on the 7th day God rested. In contrast I installed a bathroom floor in our town-home recently and I rested on the 5th, 6th, and 7th days and while it turned out nice it was not Hubble Telescope spectacular like God's Universe.
Those first 6 days His creation included the sun, stars, land, waters, and all the creatures in the sea and on land were created.
To rule over the lands and seas God created MAN Genesis 2:7 in His own image from the dust of the Earth followed by creating WOMAN from man's 'spare rib' declaring it is not good for man to be alone. Genesis 2:18
To which Adam declared.. "Hey beautiful, where have you been all my life?"
Then God commanded Adam and Eve to "be fruitful and multiply".. to which Adam quickly started working on his times tables.
This creation story is all recorded into the Bible book of Genesis. While many Cosmologists believe the Big Bang was the creation of EVERYTHING from NOTHING followed by billions of years of random collisions and explosions resulted in our ever expanding universe, all the planets including Earth including life with all it's complexities.
Ok, I believe you can collide a chocolate bar with a jar of peanut butter and end up with a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup.. but this Universe has too moving parts + complexities that are bound together with rules and order for me to believe EVERYTHING came from NOTHING.
So I choose to believe there must be an intelligent design behind creation. For me, I believe in a divine creator that exists outside the confines of time and space. I believe this Intelligent Design is described in the Bible Book of Genesis.
May God bless each of you greatly in your pursuit of truth. This is important stuff, and a foundation for life. If there is a God then the pursuit of Him is a greater science than can be found looking through any microscope or telescope. Bigger than Star Trek's five year journey exploring the stars.
Jeff (little bang) Larson
A while back our pastor gave a sermon on getting to know God by reading our Bibles regularly and systematically. During this very good sermon our pastor joked that the most read books of the Bible are Genesis and Matthew, because our inspired intentions in January to read through our Bibles fades once we are through Genesis, and Matthew. (Leviticus has killed many a Bible study ).. then the next year we are back in Genesis and Matthew. I call this bible study plan.. The BEGINAGAINS.
I must be honest and say I have followed the BEGINAGAIN plan many times and not until 2003 did I completely read my Bible from cover to cover AND I CARTOONED THRU IT TOO! Note: Neither Billy Graham or the Pope could say they cartooned through the Bible. Then in 2018 lightning struck again as I read through my Bible from Genesis through Revelations. YEAH ME!
Now here I am starting out 2020 in the BEGINAGAINS using a chronological Bible with the intentions of getting past those tedious Dos and Don'ts highlighted in Leviticus.
Now for many reading through the Bible from beginning to end is not appealing and I understand that. My wife is one of those good folks. In fact I was told in a men's group about studying it is wrong to simply read the Bible through in a year. I DISAGREE.. for me reading through my Bible in order gives me a context and flow of stories and cultures that I may otherwise miss. This is NOT the only right way to read my Bible but it is a way that works for me.
No matter if you use tried and true(?) BEGINAGAINS Bible study, or topical study, or other method the important message is to be in God's word. DAILY!
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
Oh we will have questions, and we will not understand it at times. Creation, Noah and his Ark floating on a universal flood, parting of the Red Sea, Elijah riding a chariot of Fire, the Virgin Birth of Jesus, the feeding of 5,000 on fish and chips leftovers, the raising of the dead, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the end time prophecies. All these subjects and many more challenge our reasoning while we scratch our collective heads, and even question what we believe. BUT I have found honest questions are different than doubts, and reading my Bible gives me answers to where I build my faith and love in God.
WHERE SHOULD I PLACE MY FAITH?
Of course in the end we are each challenged regarding where we will place our faith. Will it be science alone, a progressive secular world view, Christianity, or another of the worlds religions. I choose to place my faith in the God of my Bible and this is where I place my hope.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
May God bless each of you in your spiritual journey, and I pray that we all make a priority of reading God's word and be wise in where we place our faith and our hope.
New Year's Blessings
Jeff (BEGINAGAIN) Larson
note: Please understand I respect those who disagree with me (even on the existence of God). My intentions are simply sharing where I place my faith.
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson
Back Pew - Draw Close to God
116 pages of cartoons of 'Clean Humor & God's Truth'
CRITICS ARE SAYING..
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