Creation, evolution, and redemption

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Every time I make dinner for my family, I feel a little attached to it. I drag all the ingredients out of the fridge, slightly begrudgingly. I clang around the pots and pans, setting them out on the stove. I lay veggies out on the counter. I start to chop and dice. I begin to see the colors and think on what spices I want to add. I hear the sizzle of oil as it starts to light up in my bright red dutch oven. I mix and I stir and I ponder and I create. I begin to get excited. I set out our eclectic collection of cloth napkins. I hustle and I invite to the table. We all sit down and then someone says it…

“Ugh, what’s this green stuff?”

“Why did you put onions in here?”

“Well, I’ll eat this part, but there is no way I’m eating that.”

But…but…but…I want to say, “I made that!!! I worked hard on that. That is my creation!”

This is God with us. He is maybe less of a giant baby about it, but He looks on us as more than a hastily thrown together sandwich. He made us with His own hands. He breathed His own breathe into us for life.

Read Genesis 2:5-7 below.

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

We are a careful part of His creation. A thoughtful part of His creation.

This is an important concept as we dig into Redeemed. Let’s read Isaiah 44:21-24 and find out more about God’s thoughtfulness regarding His creation.

Remember these things, O Jacob,
    and Israel, for you are my servant;
I formed you; you are my servant;
    O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.
22 I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud
    and your sins like mist;
return to me, for I have redeemed you.

23 Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it;
    shout, O depths of the earth;
break forth into singing, O mountains,
    O forest, and every tree in it!
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
    and will be glorified in Israel.

24 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
    who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who made all things,
    who alone stretched out the heavens,
    who spread out the earth by myself…

Almost every single verse here has the concept of redeemed stated loud and clear. Underline each one, if you have your Bibles open.

The first time we hear it, in verse 22, God points back to the very beginning, to creation:

Return to me, for I have redeemed you.

Return to me recognizes that we were once in relationship with God to begin with. Verse 21 clarifies that relationship –

I formed you…you will not be forgotten by me.

God redeems us because He is our Father and our Maker.

The concept of evolution not only picks away at our value as the children of God, it messes with the concept of our redemption by God as well. Let’s see if we can see the creation and redemption connection in a fresh light.

In Isaiah 44:21-24 the same Hebrew root word is used in every reference to redemption – ga’al*. There are two Hebrew roots for redemption found in the Old Testament*, this word ga’al and another padah.

They both mean essentially the same thing – redeem, ransom, rescue, redemption price, buy back, etc. However, ga’al has one major difference…close relationship.
Ga’al has to do with the concept of kinsman-redeemer, which we’ll study later this week. What you need to know for now is that it is a relational word. It is redemption by a close relative, a kinsman, a family member.

Redemption in Isaiah 44 has to do closely with being redeemed by our Father God, by our brother Jesus, and not just a stranger. God wants to buy us back because we are part of His family, because He formed us and crafted every part of us.

Ephesians 2:10 starts to play in my head:

 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Glance back a few verses to Ephesians 2:4, and let it sit.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us…

You are redeemed because you were loved from the beginning. You are a work of art. God crafted your being, your DNA, your atoms and substance, your hair, your nails, your fingerprints. He birthed you and brought you into the light of day (Isaiah 44:24). Of course He’s going to redeem you!

Isaiah 44:23 is so full of joy that it bursts from the page.

Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it;
    shout, O depths of the earth;
break forth into singing, O mountains,
    O forest, and every tree in it!
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
    and will be glorified in Israel.

Why are the mountains, the forests, and every single tree singing? Because He created all of it. He wove each piece of this earth, fashioned each tall oak and every stout little flower. They are part of the redemption song. They sing Jesus’s praise every day. Why? If you read Isaiah 44 carefully, it’s not because of their restoration, which is to come, it is because Jacob, because God’s people have been redeemed. Wow!

Birds tweet a song – “You are redeemed.”
Mountains stand tall with joy – “You are redeemed.”
Trees sway and leaves rustle – “You are redeemed.”

Praises for His creation and the connection of His abiding Word from beginning to end. He does not leave us, nor forsake us, we will not be forgotten. We are His, in both creation, and redemption.

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Exploration:

Did you learn anything new about the difficult topics of creation and evolution today?

What have you learned that helps you to stand strong in God as creator? These might be Bible verses, a teachers influence, an experience, etc.

What is one of your favorite parts of His creation, beyond people, i.e. in the natural world?

*biblehub.com/interlinear

*The Lutheran Study Bible published by Concordia Publishing House

No Longer Held Hostage

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Day 1 – No longer held hostage

Ransomed.

I’m pretty sure this is the name of a movie. If not, it really should be. Doesn’t it sound like “Ransomed: Now playing in theaters everywhere” goes well together? What would this movie be about? Take 30 seconds to let images come to your mind. Create tiny snippets of a screenplay. I’d be so curious to hear what you come up with.

It’s interesting to think about, but Biblically, the word ransom can get really interesting. Listen to this verse from the Psalms, 49:15 –

But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.

Some Bibles translate the Hebrew, just as you see above…ransom. In other Bibles, the verse is translated like this –

But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.

The same is true for our theme verse of the week, Isaiah 35:10-

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Say these two verses to yourself again, substituting the word redeemed for the word ransomed in each one. See how it works? It still certainly fits.

The Hebrew root for the word ransomed in both passages is padah, pronounced (paw-daw’)*. This root word can mean to redeem, to ransom, or to rescue, so you can see where the back and forth comes in. Hebrew isn’t cut and dry. There’s room for some wiggle.

Both redeemed and ransom have a price tag involved. Someone is going to pay something to get something back. They are both action words. These are verbs that bring someone back, make a situation right, remove a situation where something was once captive in some way.

So, what’s a girl to do when something like this isn’t clear at face value? I dug deeper into the Word, searching verse after verse after verse, and…I asked my husband. 🙂

Do you have someone in your life whom you can talk through questions, like this one? They may seem slightly meaningless. Ransomed, redeemed, whatever. Just pick one. Why does it matter? Questions like these, curiosity, wonder, pondering; This is where Faith meets conversation. Discussing the Word is never meaningless. Time spent trying to understand what God is trying to say to us is always, always beneficial, and you might be surprised how these small conversations can impact your day.

When I hear the word “ransomed” images of kidnappings, hostage situations, and terrorism come to mind. Not pleasant, but also not far off Biblically.

In ransoming someone, the emphasis is on bringing them out of something, rather than where they are going to. The emphasis is on the action- going in, rescuing, being delivered, that action that brings redemption.

Most importantly ransoming means getting someone out.

There is a desperation in ransoming.

Get out.

Get out now.

Get out for the sake of your very life.

In fact, one of the definitions of the Hebrew word padah is “by any means, redeem.”

Any means. Any means.

Turn to Isaiah 53. We’ll settle on verses 3-6 and 10-12, here. Feel free to read the chapter as a whole if you have your Bibles open.

He was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Go back and highlight any action words in the verses above, or see some of them highlighted below.

laid on him (v.6)

oppressed, afflicted (v.7)

taken away, cut off (v.8)

his soul makes an offering for guilt (v.10)

anguish of his soul, bear their iniquities (v.11)

bore the sin of many (v. 12)

This is the language of ransom. Jesus was willing to bear the weight, to take any action necessary to save us. Any means necessary – for you. In Isaiah 53 we see it laid out in words 800 years prior to His incarnation, the actions that would be required of Him, the walk to the cross that would ransom each of our lives. Beautiful and remarkable.

What does He ransom us from? We’ll talk about this throughout the week. Here are a few verses to whet the appetite. Read each verse and see what God the Father has sent Jesus to ransom us from. Remember that your Bible may say redeemed for any given verse. Read each passage using the word ransomed for our purposes today.

Hosea 13:14 – We are ransomed from death, violence, and our enemies. When the world rages, we know that we have been ransomed. We will not be destroyed. Jesus brings us out of the violence of this world through the gift of eternity, and sometimes in the very real midst of it.

Job 6:23 – We are ransomed from people who are ruthless, from adversaries or those who antagonize us. Got anyone like that in your life? Any frenemies out there? Yuck. It’s good to know that Jesus doesn’t just care about enemies, but that He cares about those people who use us as targets, who are fake friends, and offer sugary sweetness while “keeping us in our place.”

Jeremiah 31:10-11 – We are ransomed from exile, from far off places, and strongholds. God brings us close to Him. He ransoms us from the people, places, and things that keep us from growing closer to Him, the roadblocks to belief, to faith, and to hope.

1 Peter 1:18-19 – We are ransomed from futile ways. Sometimes, we need saving from our own foolish selves. Sometimes we need saving from the generational sins that hold us captive and hold our families captive in destructive behaviors. Sometimes we need saving from sins that keep the devils thumb on us, holding us down, keeping us from growth.

He has brought us out. He has rescued us from whatever held us captive in the past and what we feel holds us captive now. By any means necessary, girls. He treasures you. He would not leave one behind.

You are ransomed.

 

 

Exploration:

What images come to mind when you hear the word ransom?

Who or what in your life has God brought you out of?

Looking for a little more community? Join us for an I Love My Shepherd Facebook Live event – It’s a bonus study!
He Calls you Neighbor, Helper, and Rebel!
October 6th @ 9-9:30pm EST

Check out more on the I Love My Shepherd Facebook Page.

Ransomed Scripture Engagement Tool

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*biblehub.com/interlinear

*photo used from pexels.com

Rising up from the dust

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Day 5 – Rising up from the dust

 
When I was a sophomore in high school my parents took me out of class to go to the 10AM Ash Wednesday service at church. I can’t remember the reason, but something prohibited us from going in the evening and this was how my parents rolled.
 
I came back to school about lunchtime, completely unaware of the cross blazed across my forehead. But instantly one of my male classmates, who shall remain nameless, walked up to me and stammered, “What’s on your face?” and proceeded to rub my head vigorously to remove the cross.
I stood in shock, all systems shut down from the basic humiliation, turned on my heel, walked to the bathroom, entered a stall, and promptly burst into tears. I didn’t know what to think. At that space in my life, I couldn’t recognize the spiritual significance of what had happened to me. All I knew was that something about his actions rocked me deep in my core.
 
I said a prayer of empowerment, gathered myself, and walked out of the bathroom stall, directly to unnamed classmate and said quietly, “You may not touch my personhood again. You may not defame what I hold dear. His name is Jesus and you should probably get to know Him.”
 
This girls, was a Holy Spirit moment, if there ever was one.
 
In my youth, I dutifully followed the religion of my parents, I embraced Lutheranism head on, not because I believed it at that point, but because I needed it to reign me in. Sophomore year was my worst and my moral compass was all over the place, laced with feminism, hedonism, and many other -isms thrown in for good measure. I knew Jesus because He called me in my baptism, but I didn’t trust Him enough to include Him in my life and I surely, at this point, wasn’t introducing anyone else to Him.
 
All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.” Ecclesiastes 3:20
 
Dust and ashes on my forehead were what woke me up from a youthful spiritual stupor. I started searching for Jesus with everything I had, to find out that He had found me long before and my heart was alighted with just how shockingly deep the Father’s Love is.
 
Dust isn’t our whole story, but it certainly is a huge component of it. Ecclesiastes shares the message that dust reminds us where we come from and where we are going (Ecc. 3:19-21, Ecclesiastes 12:1-8). The writer of Ecclesiastes, I’m sure, was just as wowed by God’s full plan, when He saw Jesus for the first time in heaven, as we are when we read it in His Word. Let’s take a minute to be wowed, sisters.
 
Let’s follow the trail of God’s dust from creation to purposeful destruction, to resurrection and on to restoration.

Everything is beautiful in its time. This is what our study, if anything, has taught us.
 
First – Creation…
Let’s read Genesis 2:5-7
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 
 
Formed from the dust, by the hands of our Creator. Our first breath, His breath. I wonder at the conversation between the persons of the Trinity at this moment. Matthew Henry tells us that the Hebrew noun for Creator in Ecclesiastes 12:1 below, is plural. How beautiful is that!
 
 
Second – Purposeful Destruction
Genesis 3:17-19
 And to Adam he said,
Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
 
Underline or circle every reference to the ground or dust above. Sin brought destruction to our world, but God would use it for His purposes. Even this, He will make beautiful. You could also look at the Babylonian captivity to see God’s work in purposeful destruction, of His temple, of His people, of the way people thought it would be forever…all to lead us to Him. (Check out Isaiah 17 or Daniel 9.)
 
 
Third – Christ in the dust.
Christ is born among the dust of animal feed (Luke 2:7). He bends down into the dust to lift up weary souls burdened with the weight of sin, oppression, and judgement during His time on earth (Psalm 113:7, John 8). He let His face be ground into the dust as He took our sins on Himself and bore our iniquities (Matthew 26). And He was eventually laid in a dusty tomb, carved out of the rock (John 19:41-42).

Fourth – Christ is risen from the dust.
Let’s read it fresh…Matthew 28:1-7 –
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”

Verse 6 proclaims beauty from the ashes, beauty out of the dust…
He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.
Come, see the place where he lay.
 
See where he lay. He’s not there. He did what He said. Thank you, Jesus.
 
Fifth – Restoration from the dust.
Whether we’re talking about personal restoration or the restoration of the whole of creation, Jesus is surely faithful.
 
Isaiah 61:1-3
he Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
 
A beautiful headdress instead of ashes. Comfort, freedom, praise.
 
Acts 3:18-21
But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the thingsabout which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.
 
Restoration…everything beautiful in it’s time. In His time.
 
What does this mean for you? What has Jesus restored or what are you waiting for Him to restore?
 
How will all of creation look different in the Restoration? The Last Day isn’t just about judgement and terror. For Christians, it’s about the culmination of all time, being eagerly restored by a God we know intimately.
 
Praise be to Him, girls! That day in high school years ago, I had no idea why my forehead dust meant so much. Today, when I go to Him in prayer and worship, when my husband places the ashes on my forehead and proclaims, “From dust you came, From dust you shall arise!” I know. When I heartily reply, “He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!” this Sunday, I praise Him for using moments of humiliation, moments of destruction, moments of struggle, moments of joy, moments of peace, moments of confusion, moments of understanding.
 
Everything beautiful in His time. Every moment, all in Him.
 
Oh, I will miss you girls! Thank you for taking the last 9 weeks to study with me. I have learned and been stretched and I pray you have been too. 
 
Until next time, in Him, much love,
 
🙂 Heidi