I took a break while things were rough from teaching the kids in our small church meeting. I just couldn't manage it last year. This year, I started up again. I wondered what to teach and took a look at my class. I realized that they were toddlers when I started teaching the ones who are now in middle and high school.
Time to start again.
We begin again with Genesis. I firmly believe that without a good grasp of what happens at the beginning, the rest of the Bible doesn't make complete sense. So we begin again teaching the elementary kids. I have a class of six. I like that size. In a few years, I will need to begin again with the babies, when they grow.
So we spent a few weeks going through creation learning who God is, who we are, and the first things. We saw the temptation of Adam and Eve. The silence of Adam who stood with his wife at the tree and said nothing. We learned many things. Maybe one day, I will write these lessons down. I usually never write my lessons, but just teach. I take notes afterwards for review. I teach differently. If I have a thirty minute time spot to teach, we will spend twenty minutes on review and ten on the new lesson. Each review starts again at the beginning - God was, God never ends, God was before time; He is eternal. My goal is when we get to the end of Genesis, the kids can tell the whole story themselves. Review is so much a part of the lesson. It is the lesson.
Today, the kids did well. They are learning the story and what each tiny bit means. Then we moved on to the story of sin. I taught about the first reaction to sin was shame. Adam and Eve's first reaction was to cover themselves - with leaves! I mean, get real! Just try that - I'd love to do it for a summer camp activity - try to make something to even partly cover yourself made of leaves and vines! All man's attempts to cover their shame fell apart.
Then there is the runaway train that we get on after sin. Sin - Shame - Fear - Blame. The whole fear behind the runaway train is the fear of punishment. We feel shame and we fear punishment, so we blame. But in reality, this runaway train always end in a train wreck - smack into punishment. Always.
Interestingly, when God appears the first time after the sin, what does He do? He asks questions. Why? I mean, He knows everything! Why? He is giving man a chance. That is God's first action - not immediate blame and punishment and anger. His first reaction is giving man a chance. A chance to tell the truth and ask for help.
The exit off that runaway train of shame - fear - blame- punishment is simple. Truth. Telling the truth. God gives them the chance to do that. More than once. They don't take it.
That interested me. We think, "Must not let God know! Watch out! He's waiting to punish me!" The way out is the simple truth - "I did it."
It is the devil that does the accusing. He entices us to sin, and then slams us when we do. "Oh, oh, now you've done it! Better hide! God is going to so punish you!"
Lies. Truth twisted to lies! The truth - God will always punish sin. Always. He is holy.
So, the blame game is played and then God begins to deal with sin. This is what blew me away today. I should have seen it before, but I didn't. It blew me away. I'm sitting watching the Olympics opening, and still stunned by this, still in awe of God.
What does God do? He punishes the serpent. But, BEFORE He even speaks a word of punishment to man, He PROMISES. I guess I knew that the promise came at the very beginning, but I think I had sort of thought of it as punishment then promise. "I'm going to get you, but I'm going to provide a way out." No! God FIRST promises salvation BEFORE, BEFORE!!! He speaks a word of punishment to us!! Wow! What does that say about the heart of God?!
God's actions are seen like this:
Man sins - God gives chances to speak the truth - God promises salvation - God judges - God covers shame and in the very act of covering provides the first picture of His promise. The covering for sin requires the shedding of blood. He shows Adam and Eve that in His very dressing them - the first picture of His promise.
Wow. What an amazing God. All this fear of God being out to "get us" - those are lies! Yes, truth, God is holy. God always punishes sin. But God began the very first dealing with our sin by promising an answer. One who would bear our punishment. One who would take away our shame.
I sit in awe tonight, my eyes much more on the beauty of that thought than of the excitement of the Olympics. Why do we doubt and struggle to trust so much? Do you see what God is like?! Wow! My heart is finding peace right here. I can trust this God. He did not punish and then provide a way out. He provided a way out BEFORE a word of punishment was given to us. Wow!
I love teaching. When I teach, I learn.