Happy and Blessed New Year!
Greetings in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it. (John 1:1-5)
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”
And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day. Then God continued His creation for the next five days. So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!
On the seventh day, after God had finished his work of creation, He rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.
Among God’s creations, Adam and Eve were special. God created them in God’s image and placed them in the Garden of Eden to enjoy a perfect relationship with them. Adam and Eve talked to God as if they talked to friends, and God answered them softly and lovingly. Every day, they got up early and greeted God, and God gladly accepted their greetings and answered them with love. God truly cared for them, and they enjoyed God’s love and care. Nothing was lacking, and there was no sorrow, crying, pain, or death because none existed.
However, Satan tempted Adam and Eve, and they grabbed the temptation. They sinned against God by breaking God’s Word. Soon their sin took over their perfect relationship with God and replaced it with fear of God.
When the cool evening breezes were blowing, Adam and Eve heard God walking about in the garden. So they hid from God among the trees. Then God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”
“Who told you that you were naked?” God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”
The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”
Then God asked the woman, “What have you done?”
“The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”
Their sin also destroyed the loving and caring relationship between husband and wife. Adam cowardly transferred his sin to Eve, his wife when God asked why. When Eve was questioned, Eve did not take responsibility for her sin but accused the serpent. Neither Adam nor Eve admitted their sin. What would have happened if they had admitted their sin, repented, and asked for forgiveness?
After the first sin in the Garden of Eden, God had to send them out from the Garden of Eden, not because God did not love them anymore but because they could no longer live in the Garden of Eden. After sinning, they were afraid of God. Could they live with God in the Garden of Eden while keeping hiding from God? How miserable it would be if they were forced to live with God in the garden!
Adam and Eve chose their temptation over God. Then immediately, their intimate relationship with God became a curse. They had to hide from God’s face. God’s heart was breaking, but God had to send them away from the Garden of Eden for Adam and Eve. Suddenly they found themselves in the middle of the harsh world, not in paradise. They had to painstakingly work to make a living and feel pain, envy, jealousy, anger, hatred, and even murderous thought.
Cain and Abel were the first brothers, but Cain became jealous when he felt God loved Abel more than himself. Then the jealousy soon took over Cain and completely consumed Cain. Cain felt pain in his heart daily, and it became bigger and bigger. He could not endure anymore. Thus, he made a solution. What was Cain’s solution? It was getting rid of his brother so that his brother was no longer in between him and God. Then he did not have to feel the pain of not being loved by God. Then one day, Cain decided to take his brother to a remote place and kill Abel. An excellent opportunity came. Nobody was around except him and his brother Abel. As planned, he murdered Abel, his brother. It is a first sin committed by human beings in this world. The terrible murder was not committed against a stranger but against Cain’s own brother, Abel.
The beginning of human beings’ history was indeed terrible. Then our human beings have not changed since then. Our human beings have been practicing wicked thoughts and terrible sins, not just between individuals and families but also between nations. As a result, the enmity between people, families, and nations has never ceased, and wars continued throughout our human history, which is true even today.
Did God let all alone live in wicked ways as we see even today together? No. God cared for His special creation. From day one, God wanted Adam and Eve to return to Him. But they didn’t. Thus, God decided to send them to the world with God’s mercy and love to protect them and eventually made them return to Him.
God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife, which was God’s protection for Adam and Eve from the harsh world. The animal skins gave them needed protection from the harshness of this world. Thus, they prospered and multiplied rather than being diminished and disappearing on the earth’s surface. It was also the sign of God’s covenant of eternal salvation of His beloved special creation through His own Son, Jesus Christ.
However, Adam’s descendants did not come back to God. Instead, they had gone away while being bolder and bolder against God. One day, they started building a tower reaching the Heavens. They built the tower with all technological breakthroughs and the best materials available. The tower was getting higher and higher. All over the world could see the tower, which was their pride and achievement. It marbled all because there was none like it existed before. Fueled by pride and superiority, they worked harder to make it truly reach the heavens. None praised God but their own achievement. None talked about God and His love except the tower that was getting taller and taller every day.
How much different is the above scene from the scene of today? What’s our main topic today? Isn’t it what we have or what we have done?
Then what is the consequence after talking about what we have done and achieved? Aren’t we becoming jealous if we hear about our neighbor’s bigger and better achievement or earthly thing? How do we deal with such small jealousy? Don’t we all regard it as benign and does little harm to us? But please think again. How did the first murderous sin come into us? Didn’t Cain murder his brother Abel out of small jealousy?
Our jealousy is truly contagious. It does not stay just in our hearts while being dormant but slowly but steadily impacts our behaviors against our neighbors. Yes, it influences behaviors between families, communities, and even nations. Then what are the consequences? Can anyone guarantee that jealousy would not lead to a conflict, quarrel, dislike, hatred, murder, or even a war?
If so, then the last quarrel, dispute, hatred, and war had already become a distant memory among us, and nobody even remembers it. However, as we know, all of these have always been with us as long as we can remember. Surely, all of these will stay with us if we don’t fundamentally change ourselves from who we are now and have been.
DIdn’t God warn Cain? Yes, God did.
“Watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” (Genesis 4:7b)
But Cain did not listen.
Even so, God repeatedly told us how we should live together, and the Prophet Isaiah described the world without hatred and enmity but with peace and love:
In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;
the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.
The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,
and a little child will lead them all.
The cow will graze near the bear.
The cub and the calf will lie down together.
The lion will eat hay like a cow.
The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra.
Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.
Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
for as the waters fill the sea,
so the earth will be filled with people who know the LORD. (Isaiah 11:6-9)
In the world to come, there will be no more hatred and hostility but peace and love. All will care for each other, and no fear will prevail anymore because it simply does not exist on that day. Brothers will love other brothers, and nations will make peace with other nations. Again, Prophet Isaiah got God’s Word:
The LORD will mediate between nations
and will settle international disputes.
They will hammer their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will no longer fight against nation,
nor train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4)
Imagine a world where God will mediate between nations with His love and mercy, not by swords and spears. All nations will turn swords and spears into plowshares and pruning hooks instead.
Yes, God explained and showed how to live with each other through Prophet Isaiah, but human beings did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. Thus, Prophet Isaiah prophesized,
Their feet run to do evil,
and they rush to commit murder.
They think only about sinning.
Misery and destruction always follow them.
They don’t know where to find peace
or what it means to be just and good.
They have mapped out crooked roads,
and no one who follows them knows a moment’s peace. (Isaiah 69:7-8)
This world, as we now see, is now full of evil, misery, and destruction. None truly yearns for peace and just. People want their own justice. Goodness to others has become a foreign concept; instead, crookedness is favored. True peace is an endangered species, and people rush to violence. Many suffer, but peace is elusive and not near to them.
The year 2022 was not an exception. Although peace and love were preached, the world was filled with evil, murder, sin, misery, and destruction. A facade of peace was shown, but true peace was nonexistent except for crookedness which never left hearts. Peace always has been elusive, and human justice prevailed. Goodness and just were hardly found.
However, God is faithful. His love is always with us. His love was manifested even when Adam and Eve were sent out from the Garden of Eden. After the heartbreaking moment, God kept telling God’s peace, just, and love through prophets, including Prophet Isaiah. But human beings have not listened to God and not returned to God, who is full of love, mecy, and compassion. Then God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from the eternal bondage of our sins, which we cannot get out of by any means except Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ, we are saved, and God provided His eternal salvation to all. Indeed, Jesus Christ is the faithful manifestation of His Salvation Plan prepared for Adam and Eve and their descendants when God sent them away from the Garden of Eden due to their fear of God caused by their sin.
God’s Salvation plan is as perfect as His beautiful relationship with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Indeed, His Salvation plan is not restrictive but for all who believe Jesus Christ as their own Savior.
And through Jesus Christ, God becomes our Eternal, Ever-Loving Father forever. Adam and Eve hid because they feared God due to their sins. Now, through Jesus Christ, all sins are forgiven, and the most intimate relationship with God is restored. Now we can talk to God as if we talk to our friend, and God answers warmly and lovingly to us, His most precious and beloved children.
The year 2023 is now dawning, and it will be the most blessed year that God has prepared for us who believe Him as Our Eternal, Ever-Loving Father through Jesus Christ, who took away all our sins. Let’s lift up our eyes and see our Ever-Loving Father who greets us with His bright smile for us because God wants to give His most blessed year to each of His beloved children. His truly blessed eyes and gracious hands will be on each of His beloved children throughout 2023, every day and every hour. It is our blessing to you and our prayer to our Ever-Loving God, the Father, for you.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:1-2)