Monthly Archives: June, 2017

To Die or Not to Die

June 9th, 2017 Posted by blog 0 thoughts on “To Die or Not to Die”

Several readers of Who Told You That You Were Naked? have sent me emails asking about the scenario in the opening chapter where a lioness killed Lively’s mother. They had been taught that death did not exist in the world before the fall. So, why would I weave such an event into my book?

I appreciate questions like these very much because it gives me an opportunity to share my struggles in presenting the events surrounding the fall.

Genesis 1:26 ESV states, “Let us make man in our image and likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

After creating them in His Image, He said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

Finally, in verses 29 and 30, God gives the couple and all the other creatures the plant kingdom as their food.

In chapter 2, God planted a garden east of Eden and put Adam in the garden to work and keep it. Then, He said that Adam could eat everything that grew in the garden except the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Lord warned Adam he would die in the same day that he ate the fruit of that tree.

Let’s examine the bolded words from these passages in light of their ancient Hebrew meaning. But before I do, it is important to understand that the Hebrew characters began as pictographs — symbols representing some concrete reality — and that their inclusion in a word helps define its meaning. I say this because English offers no such clues. For example, the letters in the word “father” provide little direct meaning to the reader. A person would have to consult the word’s etymology.

But Hebrew is different. The word for “father” is made up of two characters, Aleph and Bet, the first two letters of their alphabet. The original pictograph for Aleph was the head of an oxen and signifies strength, a leader, the person who is first. Bet was represented by a symbol for a tent or house and signifies home, family. The word is pronounced Ab — where we get Abba from — and means father is the strength and head of the family. Unlike the word for father, most Hebrew words are made up of three characters. With that preface, let’s look at the words I bolded above:


     Reysh — The pictograph was the head of a man and meant head, chief, top, first.

     Dalet — The pictograph was a door. Think of Jesus as the door to the sheepfold.

                    This character means a door, path or way of life

     Hey — The pictograph was originally a man with his arms upraised in wonder or

                  admiration of something spectacular. It means behold or reveal.

Taken together, “Dominion” means to rule, have dominion, prevail, reign, dominate — literally, function as the chief/head person revealed/chosen to be the door.


     Kaf — The pictograph was originally an open hand and focused on the palm or

                 hollow of the hand, meaning to tame or to bend to one’s will — to the shape of one’s palm.

     Bet — As with the second character for father, bet means house or family.

     Sheen — The original pictograph was shaped like a person’s two front teeth and stood for what

                      teeth are or do: sharp, consume, devour, destroy.

Taken together, “Subdue” means to subdue, force, tame, dominate — literally to force, tame or bend to one’s will the house that consumes, devours or destroys.


     Dalet — We defined this character above.

     Ayin — The pictograph was originally a person’s eye. — visual perception

     Tav — The last character in the Hebrew alphabet was originally symbolized by two crossed sticks —

                  a final sign or signature. Think of signing with an X or the meaning of Alpha and Omega — Aleph and Tav.

Taken together, “Knowledge” means that which is gained through visual observation/achieved through experience — literally, your mental image/sign of the door — the way you have learned through visual observation/experience. Because of the concrete nature or Hebrew words, the image gained through this door is enabled by an intimate relationship with another person, idea or experience. (Adam knew Eve his wife and she conceived and bore Cain.)


     Mem — The pictograph was originally a wavy line indicating water waves, the ocean or sea, and stood for chaos, the


     Vav — The pictograph was originally a tent peg and stood for secure, unmovable.

     Tav — We defined this character above.

Taken together, “Die” means mortal death — literally a final sign of a state of existence that is unknown/chaotic.

Now that we have a better understanding of the Hebrew words, lets look at the texts again. God told Adam and his wife to have dominion over the creatures and to subdue the earth. Given the Hebrew definition of these two words, there must have been something about the state of their world and the creatures that lived there that needed to be conformed to their will.

The Lord’s directive states that they were to subdue the earth. But it is hard to imagine the earth or its vegetation as a house (the family of plants) that consumed, devoured or destroyed. A more plausible explanation for me is that the creatures living on the earth were eating, not just the plants, but each other as well. The lion was not laying down with the lamb. So, Adam and Eve were commissioned to extend the peace of their relationship with God and each other to all the creatures of the earth, conforming them to the hollow of their hands by reigning over them and taming/domesticating them like pets or cattle.

Next, let’s look at the other two Hebrew words: knowledge and die. The tree was named the knowledge of good and evil, and the warning attached to eating its fruit was that the person would surely die in the day it was eaten. The meaning of knowledge indicates Adam must have had some intimate visual association with death, or the Lord’s injunction would have had little impact. To get a better grasp of what I mean, substitute a nonsense word for die. “In the day you eat of it, you will most certainly qryst.” If you didn’t recognize qryst, you would likely ask for a clarification. But Adam didn’t ask for a clarification. He must have had some intimate visual association with this verb.

It is also doubtful that the Lord would have couched this injunction in terminology that could be misinterpreted by Adam. While it is possible that Adam’s comprehension of death was gained by his observation of the death of plants, I again appeal to how hard it is for me to imagine vegetation as a domain that needed to be tamed because it was devouring or destroying the environment.

You might choose to believe that since there is no mention of death in Genesis chapter 1, there was no death until after the fall. You might also appeal to the fact that God declared His creation to be “very Good.” So, death could not have been part of that creative activity. But the only mention of death after the fall was toward Adam and Eve. God cursed the ground for their sake. But nowhere does it say He also cursed the animal kingdom. So, if they were subject to death after the fall, what brought it on?

After wrestling with this scenario, I chose to have a lioness kill Lively’s mother so that Adam would have a visceral experience of death to relate to when the Lord issued His warning. Am I hard over on this interpretation? NO. There are a host of gray areas in the Bible like who are the Sons of God and the daughters of men in Genesis 6:2? Should we worship God on the Sabbath or on Sunday? Do you have to speak in tongues in order to be baptized with the Holy Spirit? Is immersion the only true form of water baptism? All of these side issues tend to divide us rather than bring us into unity with the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ.

We must focus on the main thing — the Gospel: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” “Love one another as I have loved you. By this shall all people know that you are my disciples, that you love one another.”

If after reading my explanation of when death entered the creature world you are still convinced that they did not start dying until after the fall, I am perfectly OK with your decision. Why? Because I trust the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth and that truth is broad enough to include the sincere and very different beliefs of the Jewish and Gentile church in the first century. So, why shouldn’t we have differences? I trust Him to lead you into His truth. We all see through a glass darkly meaning all these side issues will not be fully understood until we see Him face to face. They are nothing to divide us and keep us from loving one another.

If you would like to learn more about the meaning of ancient Hebrew words, you can purchase Ancient Lexicon of the Bible by Jeff A. Benner.

I’ll Fly Away !!

June 2nd, 2017 Posted by blog 0 thoughts on “I’ll Fly Away !!”

Perhaps this is a hymn you have sung many times in church extolling the blessings that will be ours when we die and go to heaven. You might even have read “near death” accounts of persons who have experienced heaven and returned to tell about it. There is no question it will be a glorious existence, something we can look forward to as Paul relates in Philippians 1:23. But you may also notice that Christ’s message was more than an offer of entry to heaven when we have finished our lives here.

Nor does His Gospel focus on being born again — a word given to only one person. Being born again, important as it is because it enables our entry into His Kingdom, was not Christ’s central theme. His central message was, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

Let’s take a look at His good news more closely. He began by issuing a command: “Repent.” There was an urgency to His preaching. Jesus wanted His hearers to experience the Kingdom of Heaven NOW, not sometime in the future. I talked in the last blog about two worlds or realms of reality. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” God is Spirit and they that worship Him must enter into that realm in order to worship Him in spirit and in truth. To walk with Him in His world introduces us to a whole new way of living — living by faith and not by sight. If we read the Book of Acts like a daily newspaper, we might be tempted to book a flight to Israel to get in on the excitement and the wonder surrounding the events portrayed in its pages.

But our intellect quickly reminds us that these events occurred nearly 2000 years ago and they are old news because we haven’t experienced anything even remotely similar. Of course, we can declare by faith that they happened THEN just as we believe Jesus died for our sins and rose again from the dead on the third day nearly 2000 years ago. We might even think that these New Testament folks got in on all the excitement and we just have to muddle through waiting for a new life with Him in the sweet by-and-by.

I was chastised recently by a reviewer of my book, Who Told You That You Were Naked? for suggesting that God still talks to His people as He did in scripture. This person said such communication was only necessary until the Bible was complete. Now that we have His Word, God talks with us through its pages. Can you imagine a fulfilling relationship where one person does not show themselves in any way, and does not speak or write but instead, sends the other person a manual to read outlining their relationship. If the other person has any questions or needs, he or she is told in the manual they can send an email. Of course, they will not receive any reply because all of the content of their relationship can be found in the manual. But, if their email requests can be backed up by some association with a statement in the manual, there is a better likelihood that their needs might be met.

If God loves us so much that He has redeemed us through the death and resurrection of His Son, does a silent, out-of-sight God, Who reveals Himself to us only through the pages of His manual the Bible make any sense?

The Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever. The reason for His word inscribed in the Bible is to let us know the extent of His covenant with us, and that He is well able to relate to us now just as He related to those who followed Him in the past. He wants to guide us today just as He guided all the persons in the scriptures. The path is the same for us as it was for them: we must walk by faith in the knowledge that the great I AM is just that — present right now as the Savior and Lord of our lives.

All profits received from the sale of books published will be used by the William Combs Foundation for charitable purposes.