Two Brothers – Part 2

The day had finally arrived for their Harvest Offering. At the end of the season, the family brought together offerings to the Lord to thank Him for the bounty that He had provided for them. Each member of the family brought the best of what their labors had produced. Adam and Eve both brought their offerings first. Then it was the boy’s turn.

Cain hurriedly brought a basket overflowing with items that he had grown this season. Each one had been selected with care. Adam noticed that, even though the basket was overflowing, the produce was among the ripest, very ripe. Some were almost beyond use. He also noticed that the basket was one size smaller than last year. He was not pleased with what his son had done and decided that he would talk to him about it after the ceremony. His oldest son was quickly done with his portion of their ceremony and backed away from the altar.

Abel’s gift was from the best of his youngest lambs. They were without blemish of any sort. Some of them had already been sacrificially killed to prepare for this offering. He slowly and carefully placed them on the altar, along with the choicest fat. He took his time, making sure that everything was just so. He seemed to be talking to himself as he was working at the altar. When he was done, he bowed his head down low and backed away slowly.

Adam approached the altar slowly. He carried with him a torch and lit the wood that had been carefully arranged on the altar and the offerings were consumed. Almost. After the flames had leaped high into the sky and the smoke curled up toward the heavens, there was one item left on the altar that was left mostly untouched by the flames. It was Cain’s basket.

The rest of the family looked first at the basket and then at Cain in disbelief. Cain stared at the basket. His eyes then dropped to the ground. He then turned and ran toward his fields as fast as he could go. Eve started to go after him, but Adam held her back. “He needs to sort this out for himself, Eve. This is between him and the Lord.” Adam said.

Eve turned to her husband, looked into his eyes, and said, “Adam, what happened? Why was his basket not burned with the rest?” Adam responded, “Sweetheart, did you look at that basket? It’s smaller than last year and the produce was all past the peak of ripeness. He didn’t offer the Lord his best and the Lord rejected his offering. He needs to look into his own heart and be honest with the Lord about his motivations and his heart.”

“But, Adam, did you see his face. I have never seen him look so hurt and rejected before. His pride was severely damaged here. I’m really worried about him.” Eve countered. Adam responded, “I think that maybe his pride may have been the issue. It needs to be taken down some. This will be good for him. It’s a lesson he needs to learn. He’s just doing it the hard way.”

Eve looked at her husband and said, “Adam, I don’t see anything wrong with taking pride in who you are or what you do. I’m going to talk to him. I can bring him around. I always have.” Adam took her gently into his arms and said, “At least wait until he comes home for dinner tonight. He’ll have calmed down by then.” “All right, I’ll wait,” she said and nestled into his embrace. Adam looked around for Abel and saw him walking off in the same direction that his brother had run and thought that maybe a brother-to-brother talk was long overdue. Maybe Abel could reach his brother in a way that he had not been able to lately. He turned toward the house with Eve by his side and, together, they walked home.

Abel knew just where to look. Cain always went to the same place when things were tough and confusing. The two boys had spent a lot of time there together when they were little. It was a rock overlooking the river and shaded by a number of trees. Abel headed out across the fields toward the river in search of his brother.

Two Brothers – Part 1

Two Brothers

By: God

Adapted by: S.C. Mathisen

 

A long time ago, far, far away, back during the time when people were pretty new on this earth, there were two brothers. They were, in fact, the only two brothers that had ever lived up until that time…and they were adored by their parents.

Both Adam and Eve were overjoyed with the birth of each one, but the first one had been something special, especially to the mother. Eve was so pleased when Cain was born that she proclaimed that she had gotten a man from the Lord! He was hers! She was so…proud, of herself and of him. Always. Not much later, the second son was born. His name was Abel. Eve was very excited about Abel too, but…it just wasn’t the same as it was with Cain. Adam saw this and tried to focus more of his attention on Abel. They became very close as he grew to manhood.

The two boys seemed oblivious to what was going on with their parents. They were the best of friends. They did everything together. While Eve doted on Cain, Adam spent time with both of the boys. He worked with Cain in the fields and with Abel as he cared for the livestock, especially the sheep. Gradually, as they grew older, the boys took over the tasks on their own. Eve was full of pride for her little family.

Life was good.

Until…

“Abel! You and your sheep tramped through my fields! Again!! Can’t you control them? I have had to replant that whole lower field twice in the last two weeks.” Cain shouted and looked hard into his brother’s eyes.

“Cain, you know that you planted over the only path between my pastures and the river. How else am I supposed to get them to the water? We don’t really have much choice. Our sheep deserve water just as much as the crops. You planted that whole area and it would take most of a day to go around it. I chose a path for them that would affect the crops the least. You should be grateful for that.” Abel replied (as calmly as he could, looking straight back into his brother’s eyes).

Cain returned the stare. The veins on his forehead and neck began to swell, he slowly balled up both of his large hands into fists so tight that his knuckles were turning white and then turned quickly and walked away muttering oaths in his anger. Abel watched his brother walk away with great sadness in his heart.

The two brothers were much like twins in stature. They were both young, muscular and bronzed from the sun. Even though Cain was the older of the two, but you could not tell it from looking at them. In temperament, however, they could not have been more different. Abel was calm, measured and even tempered. Cain, on the other hand, was impatient, often unsatisfied with life in general and occasionally given to fits of violent temper. Working the ground to grow their food was not the easiest job. He often resented it. He resented his brother having only to tend the sheep & other livestock.

Their father had decided that this fall, they would each make an offering to the Lord. The offering was to give thanks for the food, the land, the sheep and all that they had.

Adam did not often speak of the time before the boys were born. The time in the Garden. When he did speak of it, there was a heavy sadness and melancholy in his voice. There seemed to be a great burden of regret.

He did, however, take great joy in his two sons and loved them deeply. And so, it hurt him deeply to see them face each other off like that. He wanted to step in. He wanted to take them both in his arms and, and… Well, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to yell at them, hug them or just knock their heads together. He just wasn’t sure what to do. He suddenly missed the cool, evening walks with the Lord. He yearned for them. His regret again seemed to wash over him and threatened to overwhelm him. He, too, turned and headed off. He was going to find Eve. Perhaps she knew how long this had been going on between the two boys.

Creation: The First Day

Creation: The First Day

By God

Adapted by S. C. Mathisen

Sometimes teaching the Bible to small children can be as humorous as it is rewarding. Picture, if you will, one veteran Sunday School teacher teaching the story of creation with a group of early elementary students. In this group, there is one particularly precocious student who is the youngest son of the pastor.

“Hey guys, remember we were going to start going through all the stories in the Bible? Well, today is the day we are going to start. We’ll be talking about how God created everything. The Bible tells us that it took God seven days to create the whole world. Today, we are just going to talk about the first day….”

Stanley interrupts, “Whoa! Mr. Mathisen, do you mean God created everything? Are you sure you mean absolutely, completely, positively, everything in the universe, EVERYTHING? They told us in school that it might have been something called a big boom or bang or something.”

“Yes, Stanley, I mean everything. If we look in the Bible in Genesis Chapter One, we can read all about it.

“It says here that: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was empty, a formless mass cloaked in darkness. And the Spirit of God was hovering over its surface.”

“Whoa!! What does that formless mass stuff mean? It sounds like what I get when I play with Play-Doh.”

“Well, Stanley, you’re not too far off. Let’s imagine for a minute with our eyes closed that we are floating in the air except that it is totally dark and there is nothing there at all. Then God creates something, but He hasn’t given it any shape yet. It’s just a blob like your Play-Doh. Only you can’t see it because there is no light. God hasn’t created that part yet. So there you are, floating in empty space with nothing but a blob of Play-Doh. Oh yes, it also says that the Spirit of God is there with you. So you’re not all alone. Just like today when we are never alone because when we have Jesus in our hearts, He is always with us. Isn’t that fantastic, Stanley…Stanley…(louder) Stanley!”

Stanley, coming back to earth, “Oops sorry, I was having fun floating with God’s Spirit.”

“OK, Stanley. Let’s go on. So the next part says, “Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.””

“Ooh, ooh,” injected Stanley, “we had a lamp like that once. All you had to do was clap your hands or make a loud noise, and the light came on. It was so cool!”

“I’m sure it was Stanley, but God didn’t have a lamp or electricity to plug it into or anything. The only thing that God used was His Word. The only other thing there was the blob and His Spirit.”

“And me, remember I’m floating there.”

“That’s right, and now you can see because God created light.”

“Right!! WOW! How cool!”

“Now let’s see, what comes next? Oh yes. “And God saw that it was good.” This is important because we need to remember that everything that God creates is good. We can use the good things that God created for sinful purposes.”

“Do you mean like a rock or my baseball. I can use it to play catch with but not to throw it at my sister?”

“Exactly Stanley. When you play catch with it, it is being used for good. When you do something bad with it, you are using it for evil. That is one of the choices that we get to make every day. Anyway, let’s get back to the story.”

“That would be good, right?”

“Right, now, where did we leave the story? Oh yes, God created the light and called it good. Next, we have: “Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” Together these made up one day.” Let’s just imagine watching God take all of the light and moving it to one side so that the light and darkness are not mixed up.”

“That’s not what I do with my Play-Doh. It gets all mixed up and looks ugly after awhile. I can’t separate it anymore. I just throw it away.”

“That’s part of what makes God so wonderful Stanley. He can do things that you and I cannot do. But we can also see here that created the first day separated it from the night, and that was His work for the first day.”

“What happens next? This is a pretty interesting story.”

“That’s all for this week. Make sure that you read the story at home and come back next week for the second day.”

Jairus Daughter – Conclusion

Well, by now I had figured out that this man was Jesus. He bent down and took Papa by his hand, pulling him up to his feet. Jesus looked him right in the eye and said to him, “Take me to her.” Papa stared into Jesus’ eyes for what seemed like a really long time and then he did something else that surprised me. He said in a very reverent tone, “Yes, rabbi.” and then began to quickly lead Jesus back up the street toward our house. I took off running as fast as I could back to the house so that I could tell Mama that Papa was coming home and bringing Jesus with him. Just before I reached the door of our house I heard people wailing and moaning. I had heard those sounds before, when someone had died. I got a real sick feeling in my stomach that something really bad had happened. I ran inside to find Mama and the other women wailing over Naomi. They were lamenting that she was dead. “Oh, NO!” I thought to myself, not after what Papa had just done, risking everything by defying his friends from the synagogue. Jesus is getting here too late.

I just stood there for a minute looking at my sister. She didn’t look dead to me. She couldn’t be dead. She was too young. This couldn’t happen to my sister. I was suddenly overcome with a deep sadness. And then I felt angry that God would allow this to happen. I was very angry. Then I heard a lot of voices outside. Papa must be arriving with Jesus. Mama was going out the door to stop them from coming in. I ran out right behind her to see what was going on. One of the women had sent a message to Papa telling him not to bother bringing Jesus, that it was too late. When I got outside, I could see them talking. Mama and Papa were both standing there with Jesus in the street outside of our home. One of the women kept repeating that Naomi was dead and that they should not come into the house. She said that they needed to begin the preparation of the body for burial and that Jesus would be in the way.

Mama and Papa looked at each other and then they both looked at Jesus as if he was going to tell them what to do. He did. He looked at each of them and then said, “Don’t listen to them and don’t be afraid. Just trust me.” He then moved past them toward the house. People were laughing at him, but he just ignored them. On the way in he told everyone to move away from the house. He called to Mama and Papa and to three of his disciples to follow him. They all went in the house with him. I ran over to the window so that I could see in. When I got there, Jesus was telling the other people that were in the house to leave. No one argued. They just left. Somehow people just obeyed him. Once everyone was outside except Mama, Papa, Jesus and his three disciples, he went to where Naomi laid, leaned over, took her by the hand and said to her, “Get up little girl.” I tell you it was like she had just been lying there waiting for him to show up and say that. She just popped right up as though nothing had ever been wrong with her. She looked at Jesus for a minute, put her hand on top of his hand and smiled at him.

Then she got up and walked right over to Mama and Papa and hugged them. It was amazing! I ran inside and got a hug of my own. I then looked at Jesus. He also looked at me. I felt something warm inside of me when he did that. I knew at that moment, deep in my heart that he had been sent from God. I understood later that He was the Son of God. But, anyway, life was never the same after that for my family.

Before Jesus left, he made sure that Mama got something for Naomi to eat. He wouldn’t stay to eat himself, but we made it a point to take food to him and his disciples every time they passed through our town. We all became followers of Jesus. I still didn’t understand a lot of things but I did understand that God loves us and cares for us more than we can ever imagine. And I will never forget the day that God sent Jesus to our house to prove how much He loves us.

Jairus Daughter – Part 2

Normally that would have been a good thing, but Mama said that something was wrong with the way Naomi was sleeping and that she was really worried. She turned to Papa and looked scared. I had never seen her look that way before in all my life. That scared me and it even scared Papa. I think it was then that he and Mama both began to believe that Naomi was going to die from this. The doctor had not been able to help, none of the ladies in the village had been able to help and now Naomi was sleeping in a very weird way that worried Mama. I started to understand that I might lose my sister. I went over to a corner of the room and sat down. I had never felt so sad before. It was then that one of the other leaders from the synagogue came by to tell Papa that the rabbi called Jesus was going to be arriving down at the lakefront in a boat with all of his disciples real soon and that they should go down to make sure that he did not lead any of the members of their synagogue astray with His crazy teachings.

Mama looked at Papa again. This time she was not scared. She simply said to him, “Jairus, you need to go and talk to Jesus and ask him to come and see Naomi. Maybe He can heal her. I am afraid that she is going to die.”

Papa was stunned. He could not believe what he was hearing. After all, he had just told Mama last night that they should all steer clear of this man named Jesus. Papa especially could not believe that he was hearing it from his own wife with the men from the synagogue standing right there. He was stunned speechless. I have never seen Papa unable to talk before. But, he stood there for a full minute moving his mouth but nothing was coming out.

He walked over to the bench by the window and sat down for the longest time, staring out. There was a crowd of people beginning to gather as word had quickly spread about Naomi’s sickness. There were also a few other men from the synagogue outside talking about going down to confront Jesus. And of course there was Mama inside staring at Papa, waiting for him to make a decision. She finally uttered just two desperate words, “Jairus, please!”

Papa turned from the window, stood up and looked tenderly at Mama. He then said to his friends, “You will have to excuse me. I have a very important errand to do for my daughter.” He then hurried out the door and headed down the street toward the lake. Mama turned her attention toward Naomi again. She kept wiping her forehead with a wet cloth, occasionally squeezing a few drops of water onto her lips.

Papa’s friends from the synagogue made their excuses and headed out the door. Outside, they met up with some of the other men from the synagogue that were in the crowd that was forming. They talked excitedly for just a moment or so and then they all headed down the street toward the lake, picking up their robes so that they could walk faster.

Since no one was paying any attention to me, I took off after Papa to see where he was headed and what he was going to do. I could run a lot faster than any of them could walk, so I caught up with Papa just about the time he got to the lake front. He looked around for a minute and then noticed the crowd that was gathering down on the shore where a boat had just come in.

Papa walked directly over to the crowd of people and pushed his way toward the man at the center of all the attention. I was right behind him when he suddenly stopped in his tracks, coming face to face with the most unusual man I had ever seen. I then saw something that I had never seen before in my life. Papa got fully down on the ground. He was laying face down right in the dirt and was almost shouting so that the man could hear him really well. Papa was pleading with the man to heal his little daughter. “She is about to die,” he said in desperation. “Please come and place your hands on her; heal her so she can live.” I had never heard Papa talk that way before. I was amazed.

Jairus Daughter – Part 1

Jairus’ Daughter

Mark 5:21-24, 35-43

My name is Amos. You don’t know me. I’m just a boy and not very important, I guess. But, I have a really good story to tell if you’d like to hear it. It’s not about me though. It’s really about my sister. Her name is Naomi. But, you probably don’t really know her either, at least not by name. I understand that most people only really know that she is my Papa’s daughter. You might know my Papa though. My Papa’s name is Jairus. This is about the day that my Papa met the Master. You know who He is. The Master is Jesus.

Well, it all started in a kind of silly way. You see Naomi and I were both still a little hungry one night. There was just a little bit of fish left over from a picnic that we had gone on the day before. Mama had said to throw it away because it was summer and food spoiled quicker in the heat, but Naomi and I had hidden some for a snack later. I had eaten mine the evening before, but she had saved hers until last night. She ate it just before going to bed and there was no problem at the time. That night we went to bed just like usual. But, Papa and Mama were talking about something really important so I kind of stayed awake to listen. They were talking about a rabbi named Jesus. I had heard about him from some of the other boys. They told me that this Jesus was healing sick people like leper’s and blind people. The blind people were getting to see, just like you and me. And some people were even saying that he was the Messiah that we Jews had waited such a long time for.

Well, anyway, Mama and Papa were almost arguing about this rabbi Jesus. Mama was telling Papa about all the wonderful things people were saying about Him. But Papa said that he had heard at the synagogue that Jesus was stirring up the people to rebel against the Romans and against the scribes and Pharisees in Jerusalem. Papa was sure that there was going to be some trouble with this rabbi and that we should stay away from Jesus and not go see Him if He came to our town. Mama argued that she wanted to know more, that this man might be a prophet or even the Messiah and she wanted to make up her own mind. Papa said that if this man named Jesus were a prophet, he would be recognized by the leaders in the synagogue or by the scribes and Pharisees in Jerusalem. But they were all sure He was some sort of troublemaker like those zealots that keep trying to stir up rebellion against Rome. Papa said he was going to stay away from Jesus and he made it clear that Mama and us children were to do the same.

That was pretty much all they said. Then they went to bed and we all had a peaceful sleep until about two hours before dawn. Naomi started moaning and groaning something awful. And she was holding her stomach saying that it was hurting really bad. Mama got up first to see what was wrong and to get her some water mixed with a little wine. That would usually help out an upset stomach, but Naomi just started throwing up all over the place. Mama then called for me and Papa to get up and help out. I had to get a big bowl with water in it and some rags to help clean up the mess. Mama asked Papa if they should send for the doctor and he said to wait a little bit to see if Naomi would settle down.

Two hours later the sun was coming up, we were all still very tired and Naomi was still moaning and groaning. Only now she was going at it with all she had. I am sure that they could hear her halfway across the village. Papa then decided that it was time to go and get the doctor. When Doctor Gomer got there, he mumbled a lot and gave her some of his medicine to take, but she just threw that up too. Some of the other ladies in the village came to see what they could do and each one of them seemed to have a favorite remedy to give someone with stomach pain. I think that Mama tried them all and Naomi threw them all up. Finally, about four hours after the sun came up it was high in the sky and warming the air pretty good, Naomi fell asleep.

Eber and the Tower – Part 7

The king made his entrance onto a balcony overseeing the courtyard, horns blaring. The guards commanded everyone to be quiet under threat of death. The king began to speak.

“Citizens of the great kingdom of Babel, thank you for meeting with me here today. It has come to my attention that the farmers of the valley do not want to sell me their crops of hay. No, I am told that they prefer to make their hay a gift to their king. Isn’t that generous?”

There was confusion and a great commotion amongst the farmers at this announcement.

“And indeed, they even wish to offer their sons as laborers for this mighty work of their king.”

Now the commotion grew louder as the farmers protested at the top of their lungs.

“I wish to thank you for your generosity and to promise you that if you should change your minds about this gift, I will have to make an example of one of your sons, to encourage you to continue your generosity until we have completed this tower that will reach up to the heavens.

As you can see, the tower is going to be completed soon because of your help. It will demonstrate the greatness of your king and his kingdom and new gods that I choose for us to worship.”

The commotion raised by the farmers continued to grow even louder in protest to what they were hearing.

“I can see that there are those among you who are not in complete agreement with my wishes, and are perhaps clinging to those old superstitions about the God of Noah. I am greater than any God of Noah; I am Nimrod, the most powerful warrior of all time. I will now show you that I mean what I say. Guards, take the boy that was selected to serve as a sacrifice to my will.”

The guards grabbed Joktan and pulled him to the center of the courtyard. He was surrounded by guards with spears pointed at him. Now instead of being filled with confidence, Joktan was suddenly filled with fear as he stared at the guards and their weapons.

The king resumed his speech.

“This tower and this city are a tribute to me, your king. You all owe me everything you have because I am the king. This tower is a tribute to me and what I can do. I will show you what happens to the sons of those that choose their mythical god over their service to me. Guards, exebla ga zornin!”

Suddenly no one could understand the king’s words any longer. When the guards asked each other what the king said, they couldn’t understand each other either.

The same thing was happening all over town and up on the tower. The workers couldn’t understand the foremen or each other, and they began to go back down to the ground where everyone was shouting at the tops of their lungs. Slowly small groups of those that could understand each other began to form and move off in one direction or another.

The same thing happened in the courtyard. The king continued to shout at the top of his lungs, but with so many other people doing the same he could not be heard. The sons and the fathers broke free from the confused guards.

Eber and Adah found Peleg. They were relieved they could still understand each other in their normal language. Together they looked until they found Joktan and sadly found that they could no longer understand him or he them. After a number of fruitless attempts to talk with him, Joktan grew angry and ran away.

When Eber and Peleg got home, they discovered that they same thing had happened there. Families were scattered all over the land as they tried to find groups of people they could communicate with. They found Joktan with a group of people that understood him, and he eventually migrated away from Babel with them, never to see his family again.

God was faithful and saved those who trusted in him. The others were scattered around the world as He had originally commanded. When you believe and obey, God is faithful, just you wait and see.