May 16, 2016
Genesis 3:8; Luke 19:1-4; I Peter 2:24
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Today is a bit different, in that for the first time in 500 blogs – yes, this is the 500th blog I have written for the Gems For Living website – I am featuring three Scriptures! The subject is Trees, and the first Scripture is Genesis 3:8:
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in
the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the
presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
This Scripture gives the idea that this was a regular practice – God meeting daily with His chief creation, man! The phrase, “…in the cool of the day…” could mean either morning or evening. But it was a regular meeting. Might this show us the importance for Christians to have a consistent quiet time with the Lord. But on this day Adam and Eve hid as God approached! Why? They had just sinned! God had told Adam in Genesis 2:16 and 17:
Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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.
They ate (see Genesis 3:1-7), and they died – not physically right away, for that took another 930 years for Adam, according to Genesis 5:5. But they died spiritually! They were separated from God in that they “…hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” And such separation is a good illustration of being dead spiritually – “…dead in trespasses and sins…,” according to Ephesians 2:1. And if that condition is not rectified, it will be permanent – eternity in hell! (See Revelation 21:8). Since we have all inherited this sinful condition from out first parents (see Romans 5:12), John 3:18 and 19 applies to us all before we relent and come to Christ:
And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and
men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the
light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
It is only when we get tired of running from God, from carrying the weight of our sins, that we stop hiding among the trees…from the presence of God, and we submit to Jesus Christ, asking Him to be our (my) Savior!
So Genesis 3:8 pictures the sinning man among the trees!
Next, Luke 19:1 through 4 shows us the seeking man up a tree! Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem:
Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was
a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.
And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd,
for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a Syca-
more tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.
“Zacchaeus…was a chief tax collector.” Tax collectors in general were hated by the Jewish people! They were Jews hired by the Roman government to collect taxes for the Roman Empire. They not only collected taxes, but were allowed to cheat their fellow Jews out of whatever more money they could get! And cheat they did! And many tax collectors got rich from such cheating! No wonder they were hated! Now Zacchaeus was a tax collector supervisor! He had worked his way up to that position – or maybe bribed his way to that position – and he was very rich! So despised were tax collectors (also called publicans in some versions of the Bible) that the worse slam of criticism given to Jesus by the Jewish leaders was “Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Luke 7:34 – English Standard Version).
Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus – this One who some people believed was the promised Messiah, and the reports of His teaching and miracles had touched something deep within this Jericho tax collector. And now he had heard the Lord was going to be passing through Zacchaeus’ very hometown! He wanted to see Jesus – just had to see Him! But when Jesus…passed through Jericho, there were so many people in the accompanying crowd, Zacchaeus, being of short stature, couldn’t see above the heads of the crowd! And no one was going to let this despised little man push through to see Jesus! No one liked him, and he was not about to get any assistance from this crowd!
So he ran ahead and climbed up a Sycamore tree! We will explore what happened to this seeking man up a tree in the next blog.