This morning, we turned to Genesis chapter two. We begin in verse three. We left off in verse three at the end of the introduction to chapter two. Thus, we will begin anew in chapter two, verse four and verse three, we read.
"So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it, God rested from all his work that he had done in creation."
The institution of the Sabbath is in the very structure of creation, with God himself resting on the seventh day. But that is really the introduction to what then follows in Genesis chapter two as a theological commentary that gives this additional detail in terms of what happened in Genesis chapter one.
Looking back to Genesis chapter one in the creation of humankind we have, in verse 27, "So God created man in his own image in the image of God, he created him," and the next few words are crucial, "Male and female He created them."
So, from the beginning, it was intended that human beings be binary and that the relationship of the man to the woman be the very picture of the perfection of God's creation. The pinnacle of the complexity of God's creation, and the mandated context for what will be one of God's greatest gifts to humanity, which would be marriage. Then there is the command. The command that follows along with the parallel commands that are found elsewhere in scripture have to do with multiplying. We read in verse 28, "And God blessed them. And God said to them, ``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."
This new week's issue of Time magazine was released on Friday. It will be on the newsstand this week. The cover story in the current new issue of Time magazine is on couples who decide not to have children. On how increasingly married couples are deciding not to have children. Even as marriage has been transformed into a lifestyle option by our society, now, also parenthood is being defined in that same way. I'll have some articles up this week about that. I created enormous controversy, not intending to, in about 2003. I published an article on the sin of deliberate childlessness. One of the most basic biblical principles is that you do not divide the goods that God has given. That by the way is exactly what comes down at the end of the book of Common Prayer in the marriage ceremony, "What God has put together. No let no man put asunder. God's goods are not to be divisible.
When God gives us a good thing, it has multiple good aspects. We're not to say I want that one and not this one. For instance, God gives us food for our nourishment. It is also for our enjoyment and in the wholeness of God's creation, the goodness, the enjoyment, and the nutrition should all come together. As God created, marriage and God gave us the gift of family—s even in the Bible family meals are well recognized as is the communal aspect of food. Even in something like the last supper, not to mention the Lord's Supper. So, you have not only nutrition, but you also have enjoyment and you have the communal or relational aspect of eating.
An article that recently appeared in Great Britain, indicated that people who eat alone, eat more poorly and eat more calories. That's just a little indication that when you divide all the goods— a family meal, for instance— everyone's healthier. The dynamics in a family when you have dinner together are remarkably different than when people eat standing up individually at different times in the kitchen. It's a different kind of experience. That's what you might call a rather daily, low-level example of the fact that when God gives us something, it is best when it is undivided. When all the good aspects of it are kept together rather than torn asunder— marriage comes with procreation.
Now, obviously there are exceptions. Two 90-year-old's getting married would not be expected to have children. It wouldn't be because they wouldn't want children, but because they're past the time of having children. The norm is for people to have children who are married. Marriage
isn't just about the husband and then the wife. The very clear implication of the scripture as a whole, and even something as specific as the 10 Commandments, is that what is represented by the husband and the wife coming together is the promise of generations yet to come. In our secular age we're not only dividing the goods, we're denying the goodness of some of the goods that God has given us. That's exactly what this cover story indicates.
What we have in Genesis chapter one is the creation of humankind as man and woman. Again, one of the great confusions of our day is the fact that gender is increasingly seen as something that is perceived rather than real. As much as, we would benefit by talking about that, and will later, at this point, it's just very important for us to recognize that gender—and by the way, if we use the word gender 50 years ago, people would think we're talking about nouns, not about people— but that word is now well understood as the replacement for the two sexes. We need to realize that gender that is being a man or a woman by God's design and decision, is a part of the goodness of God's creation. Again, you divide the goods, great moral risk, great moral injury.
Now, we have more information, in chapter two, beginning in verse four. We begin reading, "These are the generations of heaven and the earth when they were created on the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens."
Well, there you have a very clear indication that what's going to follow is going to be more information than we had in chapter one. " When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground." What in the world was that about? You have plants, but they're not growing. You have bushes that are not in the land. No small plant of the land had yet sprung up. Everything's ready, but it hasn't quite happened yet. What is it waiting for? In other words, it's as if your lawn is there, but it's never growing. It's waiting for something. Was it waiting for the arrival of man and woman. The arrival of the one who is going to have the responsibility for the stewardship and dominion of this creation. The one who is going to till the ground and the one who is going to receive the gifts. And that's a very interesting picture.
In other words, what we have right here in Genesis chapter two in verse four, and following, is a clear indication that humanity is not only not an accident, not only not an imposition on the planet, the planet was made for human habitation. The planet itself, and even the rest of creation is waiting for the arrival of the human being in order for it to flourish. "Then God formed," in verse seven, "Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature."
The Lord God forms the man out of dust. What is the importance of that? Well, from dust we came, to dust we will return. This is a very interesting, interesting point that might not seem to be any more than perhaps some accessory poetry if we're reading too casually. What does it mean that we're made out of dust? It means we are actual stuff.
We are not Gnostics. The Gnostic temptation that's—G N O S T I C— the Gnostics were identifiable groups, especially in the transition of the time, from what we would see as the Old Testament to the New Testament in the first century. In the ancient world, the Gnostics were groups that were unified by the fact that they believed in a secret knowledge. That illumination, and salvation, and meaning in life would come by being a part of their secret group with their secret gnosis or their secret knowledge. But they also had a very strong prejudice against material things, including the body. They believed that the mind was what was superior. The body was a problem. The mind, the human mind, is trapped within a body.
Now, why would they think that way? Well, you might think that way, if you recognize that your brain would do things, your body is not up to doing. If you think that the moral problem of humanity is a lack of self-discipline. This is one of the major problems. In other words, if you don't have the biblical metanarrative and you don't know the Fall, and the Christian account of why we sin, then you might think we sin simply because we're trapped in a body. Because this body wants to do bad things.
The Bible will have nothing of that. The Bible tells us that we are made out of stuff by God's intention. In other words, he didn't just say, "Presto, there's a man." He made man out of dirt, out of earth.
The other day, I saw a cartoon, showed a couple moms with little boys playing in the playground. They little boys are covered with dirt. The one mom said to the other, "Why does this happen?" And the other one said "From dusty came to dusty will return." That's very biblical; we're made out of this stuff and we will become this stuff once again. If we die and we wait for that day of resurrection, we are real. There is no ‘unreal’ to us. God took dust and he animated it. According to what we read here, he breathed into nostrils, the breath, the nefesh, the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. We are the product of God's divine, creative and sovereign act. He did make us entirely by his sovereignty and authority, but he made us out of the stuff he had already made: out of dust.
"And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
Well, here you have a sequence again, that tells us something that many people who've read the Bible and read many parts of the Bible and think they know about creation that they don't know. You don't know it if you don't read chapter two. Chapter two is this theological commentary on chapter one. Here we are told that creation, the growth of vegetation, the thriving of vegetation waited for the arrival of humanity. You had creation, you had vegetation, but until you have the arrival of humanity, you do not have a garden. God created the garden, not for the plants, but for the human creatures, he would put within the garden. Very clear distinction here we also need to keep in mind.
What's the difference between a garden and a wilderness? Well, you look at the garden, you recognize somebody, some somebody arranged this. Nature does not naturally plant itself in rose. One of the wonderful things about being out in the country, we're surrounded by all these farms, many of the Amish farms. We were there long enough to see the second corn crop largely grow. They were seedlings when we got there within a month. It's amazing. Of course, the weather was spectacular, but it was amazing to see how fast this corn grew.
This was the second crop of the season. And I tried to estimate how many stalks of corn were in this farm. I gave up because I know it's possible, but by the time they get large enough, you can't even distinguish the individual stalks. Walking down the row and it's as long as a football field and several times as wide. You start to look at it and you realize, "Look at all these neat rows, they're perfect rows. Anyone you would think looking at this would know someone did this, corn doesn't reproduce itself in rows."
The difference between a garden and a wilderness is design and intentionality, purpose, Also aesthetics. There's something beautiful about rows of corn. You go to a major garden and, you say, one of these gardens might attract a lot of people. You go to one of the cemeteries here in Louisville, something like one of the landscapes designed by Frederick law, Olmstead, such as Cave Hill Cemetery. You look at it, and you know, that intelligence did this.
That's the difference between wilderness and the garden. According to the biblical worldview, one of the purposes of humanity is to create and to tend a garden, not merely to appreciate wilderness. That's one of the reasons why a major worldview conflicts in our age, between those who think that the wilderness ought to reign, and those who think that the garden ought to reign. There are those amongst us—I don't mean here in this class, I mean in our culture— who clearly believe human beings need just to leave everything as it is. Nature should be left unto its own unto itself, unto its own natural processes. But the Bible says that the actual pinnacle creation is not the wilderness. It's the garden. We don't apologize for that.
" A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates."
Well, almost anyone who listens to the news immediately knows the Tigris and the Euphrates, both of which are found in the nation of Iraq. So, we do have some geographic placement here in terms of knowing where this is. Even we know where the headwaters might be. But there is no way in terms of our current geography to know exactly by reading Genesis two, 10 and following, what spot on earth the garden was in. Even finding the headwaters, you recognize that it's flowing out of the garden. In verse 15, "The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." Not merely to observe, not merely to say, look at wilderness at how beautiful it is.
Wilderness is beautiful. I just spent a good deal of the last month enjoying and looking at what is nothing but wilderness. But the gardens are even better. " The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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.'"
So there we have the garden, the garden built by God's design and God's intentionality. The garden is an indication, not only that human beings are now to arrive, but that human beings have a purpose, a viceregency. That is to say, we are to reign with God in this garden. We are to be the keeper of the garden, the tender of the garden. We are even to be the expander of the garden. We are to be also, as we are made in God's image, using the capacity God gave us, which is a small picture of himself in which we create. We don't create, as God created ex nihilo, we create out of the stuff he's given us.
But there is something that glorifies God, every time a garden is planted. Every time this mandate is fulfilled in terms of the purpose for which humanity was created, God receives glory. And the Lord, God put Adam in the garden. And he said, all of it is for you. All of it. Every herb, every plant, every, every vegetable, every fruit, all of it is for you. You are not for the vegetation. The vegetation is for you— except for one.
Now this is a very interesting point again, in the Talmudic literature of Judaism. There's some real wisdom here in looking at this. And it comes down to this. Let's say that you are a parent. Let's say that you're a parent, and you create a playroom for your children. In it you put many good things. The ultimate test would be if you put one thing in that room, and you said to the child, "you can have all these toys. You can play with all of them, but not that one." The ultimate test of the child would not be the child's willingness to play with all the toys he's permitted to play with. But his willingness to accept the parent's authority, not to play with the one that is forbidden. And we can immediately identify with that.
There is something about us that makes us want the one thing we shouldn't have. One of the things we need to keep in mind, however, is that we're understanding this at the wrong time. In other words, that Talmudic story makes perfect sense. After Genesis three. It's not supposed to make perfect sense now.
You see right now, if we created a playroom for our children and put in many toys and said, you can play with all of them, but not that one. We would know that the little five-year-old is now going to be more concentrated on the one he can't have, rather than all the rest of them that are there. And why? It's because he's of Adam's seed. It's because he is a sinner. In our sinful state we are going to be inclined to want the one thing we're not supposed to have rather than to enjoy the array of things that are presented to us lawfully. But that wasn't a problem for Adam. You need to hold that thought. I'll just give you a little clue.
It takes a snake to make that point. It takes a serpent to make that point. There is no reason to believe at this point in the narrative that Adam would've done anything, but to have joyfully accepted the restriction, the Lord has given. That he is to enjoy everything, but the fruit of this one tree. One of our problems—and that's why I hope we are benefiting so much by moving word, by word and verse by verse through Genesis— one of our problems, even as Christians, even as biblically literate, growing knowledgeable Christians, is that we tend to collapse the narratives. We, we, we tend to think of Genesis as one chapter, or especially of creation. We've put it all together and, and we forget there is a sequence here that is of incredible importance. But only now at this point, as we enter back into the narrative of chapter two only now at verse 18 does the Lord God say it is not good for the man to be alone.
So if we had only Genesis one, we would know that God created man in his image. "Male and female, he created them," but we would not know there was a sequence to that. God created the man first. According to Genesis chapter two, the garden is awaiting the creation of humanity. And the one who enters is Adam, out of the dust he made Adam; this is going to be very crucial. Out of the dust, the Lord, God took the stuff he had made, and he formed out that stuff and he breathed life into him. But now in verse 18 of chapter two, the Lord God declares, "It is not good for man to be alone."
Now God has already created all of the other living creatures. He has given them the mandate to multiply and fill the earth. So, we can rightly understand that when God made the rabbit, he made a male rabbit and a female rabbit. When God made the giraffe, He made a male giraffe and female giraffe. Go on down through all the species. But when he made man, he made only Adam, out of the dust. And he places Adam in the garden. But it is not good for a man to be alone.
There's something about Adam that's distinct from a male rabbit. Actually, there are many things, but in this case, there's one thing that is crucial. The rabbit would have no consciousness of being alone, but Adam will. How's God going to make this point to Adam?
Again, we tend to conflate the narrative. We tend to have our Reader's Digest, condensed version. I realize that's an anachronism, many people in those rooms don't have an idea what Reader's Digest, condensed books were. My grandmother had the whole set. About once a month, you got a bound volume with about four novels or nonfiction works in them. They condensed them all down. Instead of reading a 400-page book here, you had an 80-page condensation of the book. Historians now say that was kind of the apex of the middle class, literary culture in America. In the 20th century, people didn't have time to read novels. They read condensations and novels. No kidding, in the 1980s, Reader's Digest decided to condense the Bible.
So they came up with a condensed version of the Bible. A Christian satire magazine did a satire on the Reader's Digest, condensed Bible, and they put it all on one page, and it's hilarious. I wish I had it with me, I'd read it to you. But the funny thing about it is you look at it and it turns out not just funny, but tragic because there are many Christians who actually almost think of the Bible in this condensed way. Which is why we need not to condense it. The very purpose of expositional Bible study is not to condense it, but to take it in its fullness.
One of the ways we condense it even in chapter two, is by saying, "God said, it's not good for man to be alone. And then he created out of man, the woman." That's not how the narrative proceeds. Instead, after verse 18, the Lord God declares, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him." You'll notice the word helper. You don't describe a female rabbit as a helper to the male rabbit. That didn't really fit. But the rabbit is not given a creation mandate to create and to tend and to till, nor to rule and to reign and to have dominion. But the human is, the man was. This word 'Helper' is rightly thought of as a compliment. She is what he needs. She is the completion of him.
Now here's where biblical honesty is very important. This is not any kind of salacious, Biblical reference. It's just the obvious so that we can understand why God created us as he created us, and what it is to mean. Adam is in the garden fully equipped as a man. He has all the physical equipment a man needs, but you realize without a woman, much of this is nonsensical. There is even an Adam's physical constitution in the physical constitution of a man there is the declaration. There is a purpose for this that requires a woman to explain. One of the most interesting things for us to note is that Adam does not make the self-declaration, "It is not good for me to be alone." Adam, doesn't complain to God saying I'm alone. I shouldn't be alone. I'm lonely. He doesn't make a declaration. What's all this for? He appears to be just waiting.
God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him." It is right for him. Nothing else is right for him, nothing else. Only what God creates is right for him. Then in verse 19, "Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name."
So according to Genesis chapter one, the creation of these critters was on the day before. Now these critters are brought individually as species before Adam and he names them. Why didn't God name them? God doesn't have any reluctance to name certain things such as rivers. We just saw that God names what he wants to name. He doesn't name all the critters. He doesn't name all the creatures. Instead, he delegates that to Adam. What's that a picture of? It's a picture of delegated authority. It's a picture of what it means for Adam to be a co-regent with God. For Adam to exercise dominion. The rabbit doesn't name the human, the human name is the rabbit. The animals don't classify us. We classify them. They don't rule over us, We rule over them.
Years ago, I heard the story of a Quaker that had an obstinate mule, which I guess is a redundancy. He was trying to coax the mule into doing what the mule needed to do. The mule wouldn't do it. The Quaker believing in peace couldn't strike the animal. All he could do was try to persuade it, which wasn't working. So finally, in exasperation, he went to the face of the mule and he said, you will do what I tell you to do, or I will give you to a Baptist.
We are to rule over these creatures. And a part of that rule is even to name them. The nomenclature is itself a demonstration of dominion. " Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was no helper fit for him." Nothing is right for him. Now this is interesting, was he looking for something that was right for him? No. Is this a warning against bestiality? Well, no. It's a portrait of the fact that bestiality wouldn't even make sense. Bestiality would be irrational.
Adam can look at them and know they're not for him. He can just observe them as he is demonstrating his delegated authority by naming every one of these critters, he can also see at the same time, there's nothing here for me. Keep going, move along, move along, move along, keep going. And at the end of this process, when all the creatures have been named, Adam now knows there is nothing fit for him.
And then verse 21. "So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
Some crucial distinctions here. First of all, do all of the creating. It's all God's creative act. Adam, doesn't say, "Let me say you, what I want. I want a woman. Here's what she needs to look like. Here's the equipment she needs to have." None of that. The God who created Adam will create the compliment to Adam.
But the second distinction is that when God created the woman, he did not go back to the dust. He doesn't go back to the dust. He goes to Adam and it is a very important distinction with immense theological and spiritual significance. The woman is not a different creature made out of the dust. According to the scripture, the woman doesn't have an independent status from the man so there could be any confusion about the fact that we are for each other. Instead, rather than making her out of the dust and breathing into her nostrils, the breath of life, he causes deep sleep to fall upon the man. And when he slept, he took, it says, one of his ribs. It's the stuff on his side. When I was a little boy, I can remember reading this, I can remember one time wondering if my little sister had more ribs than I had because maybe all males at this point were short a rib. Well, that's a little too concrete. That's stretching the Hebrew, or pointing it a little too much. No, this is, this is not just a rib it's out of the side, the thorax. It's right out of the center part of Adam. It's Adam's stuff. It's Adam's flesh. It's Adam's bone.
The word rib there, the most important part is this is all the stuff, Bone, sinew, flesh. He took up one of his ribs and he closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman. He doesn't make the woman out of the dust. He makes the woman out of the man. And then he brings her to the man. What in the world is Adam going to say?
Well, let's ask the question, "Why does Adam need to say anything?" Well, he needs to say something because as you see in the preceding verses, God said to Adam, you named the creatures. It was an exercise. Not only in Adam's co-regency, in his delegated authority, it was also a lesson to Adam of his responsibility to recognize which creature is which. He still has that responsibility. And now the Lord God presents the woman to the man. In the same way that the Lord presented every living creature to the man that he would name it. He now brings the woman to the man. And now what will Adam say? Look at verse 23. "Then the man said this at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called ‘woman’ because she was taken out of man." He names her. The woman doesn't name the man; the man names the woman in the sequence. And what does he name her? He names her me, but not me. If I'm a man, then she is a woman. She's me, but not me. She's the compliment to me. She is not a rabbit. She's not a giraffe. She's not different from me. She is exactly me, but she's not exactly me. She is the completion. She is what I need. She is made for me. "This, at last, is bone of my bones, flesh of flesh; She shall be called woman because she was taken out of man." End of chapter.
Creation of man and woman, enormous theological significance, enormous spiritual importance. The very foundation of our worldview of understanding reality. Not only in the creation of the world and the cosmos and the universe, but the creation of the creatures; but not only the creatures, the creation of the human being; and not only the creation human being, but the creation human being as male and as female. As a man and as a woman. But that isn't the end of the chapter.
Immediately in distinction to the animals In distinction, even to those animals, which multiply by means of heterosexual reproduction. Indistinct to all the rest of creation, now that there is man and woman, what immediately follows is a 'therefore.' Therefore found in verse 24, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed." Very interesting.
Before we leave this, even for a few days to ponder it in order to come back to it, we need to see this: marriage isn't something that comes later. Marriage comes now. Human beings were made for marriage and marriage is made for human beings. God's intention that, human beings as man and woman, pair off in the faithful monogamy of heterosexual marriage is not something that is a process and product of social theological evolution. It is a structure of creation. It is in creation itself. It is so much in creation itself that human beings have lived for thousands of years and every single society, until the last decade., has found its way to the normativity of heterosexual marriage. Even in, in our sexually confused times with now 13 states having legalized same sex marriage, the vast majority of people, even in those states and in these confused times still find themselves to heterosexual marriage. In spite of the fact that the world is going to try to marginalize it and make it merely a lifestyle option still by its very existence, it judges all other relationships as inferior.
I spoke of the division of the goods, Heterosexual marriage in creation, which comes before the fall, is where the goods are undivided. It's where being male and female makes perfect sense. It's where the words 'husbands' and 'wives' make perfect sense. A husband and a wife in this union that makes perfect sense. It is where children naturally follow. It is where all the gifts of sex and of sexuality can be enjoyed without restriction or embarrassment. They're naked in the garden and they are unashamed. There's no division. They enjoy each other. They need each other. They are for each other.
The unitive principle of marriage is there, and the Bible is not shy to say there is something deeply sexual about this. That's why Adam knew he needed a wife. It was never God's creation purpose that he be alone. It was the Lord God who declared it is not good that the man should be alone. And it's God who provides the woman. "I will make him a helper fit for him."
Genesis chapter one tells us that men and women are equally made in the image of God. In the image of God, he created them, male and female; He created them. The distinction between the man and the woman is not one of status. It is not one of theological identities. We are both made in God's image. It is of purpose and pattern in creation. And in creation before the fall, there is already a pattern. The pattern is that the woman is made as a compliment to the man. The word helper here is true. That's true. But the word helper there is not as in slave or servant, it is in helper, as in coworker in the garden.
There's a pattern of authority that is here. There's a pattern of origin that is here. The man comes before the woman and the woman comes out of the man, not out of the dust. But the completion is what you find in the final verse in verse 25. "And the man and his wife were both naked and not ashamed." There's only one way to end up with a man and a woman naked and unashamed. And this is it.
When we come back, we'll pick up with some additional thoughts on what we learn in verses 24 and 25, and then comes immediately the fall. Adam and Eve are not in the garden long in this picture where they're naked and unashamed. Within the sequence of just a few verses, they're going to be clothed awkwardly. And very much ashamed, but it won't be because they're men and women. And it won't be because they are married. It will be because they sin. Let's pray.
Our father, we come before you so thankful that you give us so much in your word. So much that we can never plumb the depths of it or wring out all the meaning of it. But far more than most of us ever know, unless we go word by word and sentence by sentence and verse by verse. Father, thank you for giving us this privilege and for guiding our thoughts and minds. Father, we pray that you will, by your Holy Spirit, impress these words on our hearts. That we would lose none of it and ponder all of it and grow to be more Christlike as we do. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus Christ. Our Lord, amen.