Education in the Garden of Eden

Scripture: Job 36:22
Date: 10/03/2020 
Lesson: 1
True education will lead to true knowledge, the knowledge of Christ, and thus not only will we become more like Him, we may stand also to share our knowledge of Him with others.

Amazing Wonders of Creation - Paper or Digital Download

Amazing Wonders of Creation - Paper or Digital Download
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Carlos Muñoz: Maranatha, my loved ones, and welcome to another "Sabbath School Study Hour" here at Granite Bay Hilltop Seventh Day Adventist Church. We're excited to be with you today on this Sabbath day as we're coming together to continue to share the Word of God and learn and have a blessed, blessed time through the knowledge of God, through His wisdom, through His guidance. And it's interesting because we are starting a new Sabbath School Quarterly, and the topic is "Education," right?

Education is going to be our topic for the next three months, and so we're excited about this because education is a key, key tool in regards to how God is going to prepare us for the mission, for the purpose for why we are here and in regards as our end-time mission, as our end-time purposes, as our end-time role that God has given us in the closing hours of this earth. And so praise the Lord for all of you being here.

For those of you that don't know who I am, my name is Carlos Muñoz. I am the director of AFCOE. AFCOE is the Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism, right? So it's our training center. And I'm also part of the pastoral team here at Granite Bay Hilltop. And so before we start, we have a special gift that we're going to be giving out. It's from Joe Crews. It's called "Amazing Wonders of Creation." This is our free offer, and so free Offer Number 116, 116. You can also get a digital download if you text the code "SH142," and text that to 40544. Let me say that again: Text the code "SH142" to the number 40544, and you will get a digital download of "Amazing Wonders of Creation." And so just another wonderful resource. I remember, when I read this the first time, there's so much fabulous and good information as always.

And so, before we start our lesson for today, let's have a word of prayer. Heavenly Father, we thank You again for another beautiful day of life. We thank You for Your guidance, for Your blessings, for Your patience, for Your mercy, for Your love, and we see that all of these things are perfectly and greatly manifested through Your Son Jesus Christ. And so, Father, as we begin this new Sabbath School Quarterly lesson, we ask that Your Spirit may guide us, may direct us, so that this may be a blessing to our lives, and not only for You to finish the work in us, but also to finish the work through us. So thank you, Father, again, for this opportunity, and we ask this in Jesus' name, amen.

And so, as I was talking about, we're starting in this new Sabbath School Quarterly on the topic of education. Now, this is very interesting because, especially nowadays, with everything that's going on, education is a big topic, right? We're seeing that schools, districts around the country and around the world are trying to figure out how to manage this situation with teaching in school, in the classroom, and safety, and teachers are scared. Teachers unions are holding back. Classes are being suspended. Everything is going online or on site, and so this is a very interesting, interesting topic that we'll be talking about and very relevant for our times.

Now, when you talk about education, you wonder what is education, right? What is the purpose of education? Why is education important? And so, as you know, education is the cornerstone or the foundation, basically, for every society, for it can be the difference, my loved ones, between a well-organized, vibrant, functioning society, or a nation that could be reckless, chaotic, right? But, at the same time, education is a double-edged sword. So when we talk about education, education is really the process of facilitating learning or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits, and these skills, these values, all of these beliefs and habits can be through teaching, through training, storytelling, discussion, and even direct research.

So education is foundational, right? It's necessary in the society that we live in to function and it is a tool that not only gives students the resources, not only gives them the skills, but it also gives them confidence, right? It gives them the understanding of the world that they're living in. It gives them the understanding of how to develop, right? What are the paths that each one might want to seek and to become a contributor in society, right, and how one can improve either your own personal life or the life of those that are around you?

And so, I used to be a New York City teacher. I used to be a teacher, an elementary school teacher, in New York City, and education--this is when I learned really the power of education, and I'll give you an example. I had this one student I remember. This was my first year in teaching, so this is probably around the year 2008, and so I was teaching, and I remember it was the first week of class and, you know, my first experience. My students, I was just getting to know them, and I remember that I was sitting--I saw one of my students sitting by himself at the cafeteria, and I went up to him, right? And I just started to have a conversation with him. I noticed that he wasn't joining the other kids. I noticed that he was isolated. And so when I started to talk to him and ask him, you know, "What's going on? What's wrong?"

This young boy told me something that blew my mind away, and he said, "You know, I--life is not worth living." Now, this is an eight-year-old child, telling me, "Life is not worth living. I have no purpose. I have no meaning here. I prefer to die." And that broke my heart. I'll never forget that moment. That really broke my heart. This child did not believe that he had any value, any meaning for life, any purpose.

And, of course, this has to do with the way he was brought up--right? --in his upbringing, but the educational environment that he was brought up in also influenced negatively, in this sense, the way that he was interacting and the way that he was being able to acquire and develop as a boy, right? And so he came from these certain tribes, isolated tribes, in Mexico, and so his original dialect was not even--obviously not English. It wasn't even Spanish, right? It was this local dialect that they had, and so he learned Spanish when he comes to the United States. He was brought over. He learned Spanish.

And so he could not learn--he did not know how to read, he did not know how to write, he didn't know anything, and so he can barely get across with Spanish, which he did learn very quickly, and it surprised me. He had been in the country for about a year. And so, when I saw this example, I saw this child, you know, I kind of took him under my wing, compared to the other students that I had. You know, they all read, write. They were very, very good at their level, but this one student--and so I focused on him, and I said, "You know what? I want to teach this boy how to read. I want to teach this boy how to write."

And so I focused on his native language, which was--well, not his native language, but at least the language that he was most associated with me, which was Spanish, right? Some people say, "Oh, teach him some English first." Well, first, he has to learn how to develop his own language. And so I taught him to learn how to read in Spanish, and within a couple of months, right? Amazing. Then I taught him how to read in English. In six months, he learned writing. He developed into one of the best students in my class, right?

Now, he was kind of an outsider. He was always in trouble because he couldn't read. He couldn't write, right? He couldn't participate. And so most of the teachers that he had, had just pushed him to the side. But as I taught--and I brought him into the classroom. I made him part. I empowered him--right? --to be the best student that he can be, and I gave him the skills, the resources, and as he learned and developed, my loved ones, be became one of the best students in my class. Of all the boys, he was the top student in my class. And it was amazing to see this transformation.

I remember, one day, I was sitting down, and I just saw the smile on his face. He was just so happy and playing and as he was developing it, and that's when I understood and when I saw the power of education--right? --as a tool. Again, not only for somebody to acquire the skills and the abilities necessary to be able to be a functioning--a relevant person in society, but also for his own self-confidence, and I saw that.

But, again, there are limitations to education, my loved ones, right? Because we can have greatly inspired, greatly educated, greatly confident students, but at the end of the day, we're still sinners, right? And so, when we look at this, we see that, well, education could be a powerful tool for good. Education can also be a powerful tool for bad. And so we know this because some of the smartest people on the earth have committed some of the most horrific crimes and atrocities and, of course, it is through education, right?

You know this through Germany and through so many different countries and nations throughout history. And even now and today, the indoctrination of students into a specific ideology, a specific mind-set, a specific thought--right? --specific patterns, especially when you talk about, for example, racism, how it's taught on from generation to generation, to look at somebody else from a different culture, a different ethnicity, a different nation, different languages, and to invoke hate towards that person, that is also educated, right? That is also taught. That is also learned. And so we have to be very careful with this.

We see the story of Paul, right? Paul, as it says in the book of Acts, he was educated at the feet of Gamaliel, right, the great Pharisee teacher. And so he had great knowledge. Paul was one of the most--probably the smartest. He was a scholar of his time, and, yet at the same time, he was also using that knowledge, and he was persecuting the church, right? And so we have to be very careful with the mission that we have, the goal--right? --the focus, the methodology of the way that we're teaching. All of this comes into play, and all of this is very, very important when we're talking about education.

I want to read a quote from the book "Education." We're talking about the concept of education, especially higher education, and this is what it says. It says, "In these days, much is said concerning the nature and importance of 'higher education,'" right? "The true 'higher education' is that imparted by Him," talking about God, "with whom 'is wisdom and strength,' out of whose mouth 'comes knowledge and understandings.'" "True education means more than the pursuit of a certain course of study. It means more than a preparation for the life that now is." "It has to do with the whole being, and with the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come," amen? And so true education, while we do focus--and, again, it is a key.

Education is the key to move people out of certain situations in life, out of maybe poverty, out of maybe living in a chaotic situation, right, and be able to develop and grow on this earth. But at the end of the day, as Christians, we know that that should not be the only focus, right? The focus should not be on earthly growth only. The focus should not be on earthly development. The focus should not be on acquiring earthly skills and earthly knowledge, but at the end of the day, as Christians, we have a higher calling, and so our education should be motivated, should be focused, should be pursuing that higher calling that God has for us. And so this is the beauty of this topic, right?

And education, again, is also not just limited to children, although that is the foundational part of it, but all of us are consistently growing, right? We should be consistently seeking to have a greater understanding, a greater knowledge, a greater reason to understand the way that the world works on all levels, but especially, especially as Christians, we should be looking for that purpose in God, in the plan of God, in the kingdom of God, in the Word of God. And so, when we look at education in the Bible, it's very interesting because it's all over Scripture, really.

The concept of education is found all over Scripture. For example, in Hosea chapter 4, verse 6, God says, "My people are destroyed," or perished, "for lack of," what? "For lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge." And so we see the concept of rejecting knowledge, rejecting understanding, rejecting what God wants us to know, right? And so God's people, because they rejected the knowledge of God, what happens? There was a descendance, right? They fell into decay.

We also see this concept of education with Josiah. If you know the book 2 Kings chapter 22, Josiah, whose grandfather Manasseh was one of the most perverse kings of all Judah--his father, Amon, was also a perverse king in any way, but, yet Josiah, very interesting--I guess, I kind of look at it like, when Manasseh had converted--praise the Lord that Manasseh did repent--we see that maybe his son Amon was obviously off-track, but it seems that Manasseh, learning from the mistakes that he had, he raised Josiah into learning from the mistakes--right? --from teaching him, from guiding him, from educating him, in the ways that he had fallen so that he does not commit the same mistakes.

And so when you read, for example, 2 Kings chapter 22 to 23, it's a beautiful story of how Josiah comes across the Book of the Law, and it says that, when he found the Book of the Law--the priest brought it to him--he realized how far the nation had departed from the principles of God, how the teachings of the Word of God, how the teachings of the principles and the commandments and the statutes of God had fallen away from the nation, and that led--because of that lack of understanding and knowledge in the correct instruction that they needed from the Book of the Law, that teaches us then that the nation then fell down that same path, and so this is why education is key. It's--because it teaches, it guides us.

Remember, when we're born, we're born on a clean slate, right? We have these innate tendencies and these innate educational capacities that we do, but the knowledge is something that we're to grow into knowledge. And so that's why education could be a powerful resource, but it can also be an instrument that can cause harm. We also see that during the times of Jesus Christ, right? The Pharisees, the doctors of the law, they were the teachers, the scribes. They were the ones that were teaching the nation, and we see that, when Jesus shows up, the nation has also deviated profoundly from these principles, from the foundations.

We saw that with Josiah. There was a revival when the Word of God was brought back among the nation as he started to institute those principles and, in the same way, Jesus Christ also, when He returned, when He shows up on earth, right, and He brings forth, and He starts to show them the true education that God had planned. I want you to join me with a powerful verse that has to do with education.

Go with me to Matthew chapter 11. I just wanted to share this verse in regards to how we find the concept of education--right? --the learning, the instruction, the knowledge, the skills necessary to develop. And, again, we're not just talking on an earthly level. We're looking at the divine plan, the divine purpose that God has for education for every one of us, for our children, for everybody that's along with us.

So if you go with me to Matthew chapter 11, immediately, when I thought about this lesson, this verse came to my mind, and I wanted to share it with you. Matthew chapter 11, let's read in verse number 28. Jesus says, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," amen? A beautiful promise. And Jesus says, "Take My yoke upon you and do," what? "And learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

So what does Jesus say? Jesus says, "Come learn from Me." So Jesus is the Great Teacher, the Great Maestro, the Great Instructor, right? Sadly, the leaders of the nation of Israel, again, as it had happened had deviated from the purpose. They had the books, they had the information, but their motives were different, right? Their mind-set was different. And so Jesus comes along, and He's saying, "Look, this is what you have been teaching. This is what you're living by. You are not teaching it in the way that God planned."

And, remember, the foundation of all education, especially the foundation of the heavenly education is love. And so they had moved away to this religion of formalism, this religion of self-centered, this religion of self-righteousness, right? And Jesus then has to come along and teach them the true foundation of education. It is--what? Is love towards God and love towards men. And so He says, "Come, sit down with me. I am going to teach you." And then there's another verse that is profound in regards to the concept of teaching. Matthew chapter 28.

Another, again, another verse we know very well, but it's teaching us and going deeper into this concept of what is the biblical education that God wants for us as He teaches us, as He instructs us, as He guides us in His plan for us. And so it says in Matthew chapter 28, we'll go to verse number 19. Jesus says, "Go therefore and make," what? "Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit and," doing what? "Teaching them to observe," or to follow or to keep, "all things that I have commanded you." And so we are commanded, my loved ones, to make disciples.

Now, for me to be able to make a disciple, I have to be a disciple. Now, a disciple is a little bit different than a student, right? A student is somebody that will go into a classroom for a certain period of time, and then they go back home, but a disciple is somebody that lives with their teacher. So, when the young Jewish boys, when they wanted to study to become whatever they pursue or goal they would--but in this case, it would be maybe a rabbi--they would go under a rabbi's wing, and they would go live with their teacher, right? They would go live with the rabbi, and so it was a daily concept. This education was not just an intellectual education, but it was a lifestyle.

So when we talk about Christian education, Christian education, again, is the learning to live with our Creator. It's the learning to live. It's to be at the feet. Remember the story of Martha and Mary? And Martha was all caught up in business, all caught up in services, which is sometimes what happens today, and it could be we could be talking about the times of Jesus with the Pharisees, right? Everybody was so focused on doing X and Y and all of the formal traditions, the rituals and the rights, and, yet at the end of the day, Mary was--where? Mary was at the feet of Jesus, and Jesus said, "You see, Martha, you're focused in on this aspect," right? "You're focusing on service," which is good, but at the end of the day, the foundation for service has to be to learn at the feet of Jesus Christ. And that's why Jesus said, "Mary is doing what is correct. Martha, learn from your sister, Mary."

And so also us, right? Especially us who work in ministry, who live in ministry, and you who are probably watching, who want to live a good Christian life, remember the foundation of education is to be at the feet of Jesus Christ. It's to learn from the Maestro, to learn from the Teacher, and then, off of that learning and understanding, then the practice because, if the foundation is flawed, then the practice is going to be flawed also. And that's why we want to make sure that our education are bound on these principles. And, again, the principles in Scripture are the principles of love, love towards God and love towards neighbor. If we take that principle out, then education is just mere gaining or acquisition of knowledge and information that, again, could be used to good, but can also be a double-edged sword and used in the wrong way.

And so as we look in our first lesson, it teaches us that the first classroom that appeared in the human race was--what? Was the classroom of earth, right? The new heavens and the new--I'm sorry--the earth that God originally gave, the Garden of Eden--I'm already thinking about the new heavens and the new earth because of everything that we're going to be reaching because, when I think about the Garden of Eden, I think about also the new heavens and the new earth, right? We're caught right in between these two--I call them "classrooms," and we're caught, like, in the wrong curriculum.

We're, right now, we're caught up in this world as a school that is deviating from the original plan of God. But to understand what God's plan is for us, the original plan, we can go to that first classroom which would be the Garden of Eden. So if you would like to join me, let's go to Genesis chapter 2. Genesis chapter 2. And so we see in Genesis chapter 1 that God made man in His own image, right? And so, when God creates Adam, Adam bore the physical, the mental, the spiritual nature and likeliness of God, right? Adam had the character of God. That means that the thoughts of Adam, the inclinations, the desires, the mind-set of Adam was pure. It was clean, right? It was towards good. It was based on a reflection as--he was an image of God. He was a reflection of the character of God.

And so in this ideal educational setting, Adam was ready--right? --to learn, to fully develop, to fully become the plan that God wanted to do, not only with Adam, but also with the human race. God was trying to use Adam and Eve, in this context, as the foundation for what the human race would be able to develop and become throughout the rest of the earth. And so, at this beginning, right, that was the goal. The goal was to have a greater knowledge and to grow in knowledge of God, the glory of God, so that the human race could develop beyond our wildest dreams, right?

We are so limited, not only in our mental capacity and our physical capacities, intellectual capacities, I mean, we are so limited because of 6,000 years of sin that has degraded--right? --the human experience on all different levels. And so we see that, but when we look in Genesis, we see that that was not the plan for God.

God had created this environment for Adam and Eve and the human family to develop, to grow, to just go beyond what we can comprehend in these days, and so, in this beginning relationship, right, we see in Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2, that God, when He creates Adam, He creates Eve, they had this one-on-one connection with God, right, this face-to-face connection. And so Adam, thus, was instructed directly by the Great Teacher, who is God, right? He was directly in the presence of God. Him and Eve were being able to learn directly from the Master.

And so, again, what was the focus and the foundation of this relationship, of this educational system that was started in the Garden of Eden? Well, my loved ones, again, it was love, right? It was love, the basis of Creation, the basis of redemption also, and it is the basis of all true education. And so Adam and Eve receive this knowledge directly from their communion with God. They learn through Him. They learn creation.

For example, I imagine when God was giving them the tour of this beautiful planet, and He was explaining how all things were developed, Adam and Eve, I'm sure, were in awe. They saw the logic. They saw the purpose. They saw the majesty. They saw the beauty.

You know, when I was a nonbeliever, an atheist, agnostic, whatever you want to call it, it was interesting because the one thing--and people are surprised by this--the one thing that made me to realize that there was something beyond us, a supernatural being that existed, it was science, right? Studying science, studying the human brain, it just blew my mind away, studying biology, ecosystems, the universe. When I saw the complexity of everything and how life is really holding off on a thread on every aspect, the gravity and all the different dimensions and the scientific knowledge, that made me believe that there is a God. There has to be something supernatural above us that it must have created this order, this logic, this purpose, this reason, and so even when I was not a believer, I didn't even believe in evolution because it didn't make sense to me because everything was interconnected, everything was intertwined, and so this is me, here on earth, right, through fallen nature.

Imagine the experience that Adam and Eve had, seeing that very creation and God explaining and breaking all this down. I mean, it gives me, and it must've given them a sense of awe in who we are in front of this amazing being known as God, right, and to learn and to develop. I mean, it must've been beyond our wildest dreams.

Now, we know that in Genesis chapter 2, when it talks about God having created Adam, it says that there was a learning process, right? There was a learning process that he can remember. Even though we are born basically on a blank slate, at least our understanding or our knowledge, but we do have an innate ability to learn, to develop, and to achieve great things, and we see this, for example, if we look in Creation.

I'll give you an example. A beaver, right? Here's another example with things that just blew my mind away inside. A beaver builds a dam, right? That's engineering, right? He didn't go to engineering school. He just has this innate ability, right? And not only to build a dam, but also to--I don't know if you know this, but they can rebuild, right? When right? --When a dam is broken, they come, and they rebuild. They redo whatever they're doing. So this intelligence is in our mind.

There's another animal that really blows my mind away, and it's the sewing bird. I don't know if you know that. You've probably seen birds that they build nests off of weeds and sticks, but there's one bird called a sewing bird, and what this bird does is very interesting. This bird takes off of plants, and he threads little pieces like strings, and he uses this with his beak, and then he grabs leaves, and he'll start poking holes in the leaves in a very orderly way, very, very coordinated way, and then he'll put these little threads that he got out of other leaves, and he'll use it like a sewer. And so he sews the leaves together, and it creates a nest.

Now, that blows my mind. I couldn't probably even do that now, right? I probably have to go to at least some basic understanding. This little bird that we probably think, oh, these little birds, they're so small. They don't have the intelligence and the intellect that we humans have. Well, he does it naturally, right?

And so we see that God created in us, He put in our DNA, in this genetic code, He put the foundations so that we can become these vibrant, learning instruments--right? --that we can become a reflection, again, of the beauty and the power of God. That's why we see on this earth, despite sin, we see all the majesty. We see the wonders of how--the capacity of human beings to create.

I don't know about you, but one of the things, when I lived in New York City, I just loved to just stand under these skyscrapers and look up, and I was in awe, right? I am in awe by construction. I am in awe by engineering, right? I say, and I would've loved to study engineering if I would've had the opportunity because it just blows me away how creative we are, how amazing are the things that us humans are able to create and to produce and to make. And, yet this is, again, 6,000 years after sin has been degrading--our DNA has been degrading our nature, and, yet we still create wonderful, marvel things, and that gives us a glimpse into the glory of God. That gives us a glimpse into our Creator and what He has given into us.

Imagine all of this potential, all of these abilities, all of these talents, these God-given talents that we have. Imagine being, using these talents for the glory of God, right? It would be beyond our wildest imagination, and we see that. We have evidence of that through human history, people that have used their knowledge, their understanding, the skills that they have acquired. They have used it for the glory of God, and powerful things have come about it, my loved ones, so powerful that we're here together, standing and sharing.

And so, in the beginning, it was about character development, right? God wanted to continue Adam and Eve to develop, to have their children to create a world where the glory of God was reflected throughout the universe and that they can--it would be to enjoy, right? To delight in the creation of God, to delight in all of these things. And so, more and more, they would've fully been fulfilled, the object of this creation, but something happened, right? The educational system changed sadly, right? I say a new curriculum was presented here on earth. And so join me, please, in Genesis chapter 3. We're going to read a little bit through Genesis chapter 3, because the ideal setting, the ideal educational setting that God had created in Genesis chapter 1 in chapter 2, perfection--right? --was distorted, was deviated from God's original plan, and this is--so we're going to look at this because, to be able to understand what is happening today, my loved ones, we have to go back to the original plan, and we have to see how this plan was distorted and undone.

So go with me to Genesis chapter 3, and we're going to read on verse number one. Genesis chapter 3 says, "Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Has God indeed said, "You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" And so, again, remember, if the principle is flawed, if the learned technique, if the learned instruction is flawed, then that means the practice is going to be flawed also.

So what is the devil doing? The devil is immediately trying to--what? He is merely trying to distort God's original teaching. The original teaching was, when you look at the environment in Genesis chapter 2, was an environment where--of communion, not only with God, but with the creation, with the animals, between Adam and Eve. And so, remember, in this communion setting, God put a little test, right? He put a little rule which would be the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Now, in every classroom when I was teaching, I had rules too. And these rules were clearly stated out. You have to have structure. You have to have order. And it's interesting because, as a teacher, you don't know this. You think that children want to be running around like chickens without heads all day? No, children actually love instruction. They love guidance. They love to be disciplined, right? They love to have structure. And this goes back to, again, the power abilities that God has given us so that we can fulfill--so that we can fully develop into the potential that He has for us.

And so this one rule was to not eat off of the tree of good of knowledge and evil. And so immediately the devil comes, and he's trying to distort. He's trying to unravel God's educational plan. And he says, "Did God tell you, you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" Now, is that what God said? No, God said--what? "You have all trees," right? God gave an abundance of trees. There were probably millions and millions of trees on the earth that gave millions and millions of fruits that we have--probably beyond our wildest imaginations. For example, I love mangos. I love grapes. I just love fruits in general, right?

And so I can imagine those fruits there on the earth, and among all the abundance and all the options that Adam and Eve had, God said, "There's one test of loyalty, one proof that you want me to continue to be your Master, your Teacher," right? --your Instructor, to have the earth under the jurisdiction of heaven, and that is," what? "That would be not eat off of this tree." Now, is that a big test or a small test? Some people have said, "Oh, that's a big test." No, it's actually a small test. Why? Because you have options. You have millions and millions of trees, and God gave one tree--right? --one tree only was this very simple test.

Now, if there's only two trees, you have a problem because, if you're eating off of the same tree all the time, at some moment, you're going to look at the other tree and say, "I wonder what this tree tastes like?" But, no--right? There was abundance, and God gave us great abundance to choose, and, again, here is free choice.

The devil starts to distort God's original plan, and he starts to play with their minds, right? He starts to put in seeds of doubt--right? --seeds of distortion in regards to what God had said and what God was trying to teach them. And, remember, this is a very important aspect because he's going directly to the concept of obedience. The devil is going directly--he's attacking the very center of what it means to live and to honor and to give glory to God, which is through our surrender, through our lives, through our obedience, right? That's what obedience means. Obedience means to surrender. Verse number 2, "And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, "You shall not eat of it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die."'"

So here's another great educational principle. Don't open the door to the devil. Don't try to talk with the devil. Don't try to reason with the devil. Don't try to negotiate with the devil. It says very clearly, he is the most cunning of all created beings, the smartest, the most intelligent. It's inferred in Ezekiel chapter 28, he was the most beautiful, right, the most powerful of all God's created beings. And so we do not want to get on the enemy's territory, on his terrain. Why? Because we are not going to win this battle, my loved ones. And so this is Adam and Eve before the fall, and look at how cunning, look at how deceptive he is and how he's trying--notice what is his new curriculum: His new curriculum is to put doubt in the Word of God. His new curriculum is to distort the character of God.

The new curriculum that the devil is trying to present is to try to get humans away from trusting and loving and knowing the glory of God, the character of God, His motivations, His love for us. And so we see that Eve gets into this conversation with him. Verse number 4, "Then the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die.'" In other words, he was saying, "God is a liar," right? "God lied to you. Did God tell you, if you eat of that tree, you were going to die? God lied to you." And so we see the devil distorting the character of God, attacking the very nature, the beauty of who God is, when we know that he did this originally with the angels also, as well, as is mentioned throughout Scripture. And he says, "You will not surely die," right? "Oh, no, no, no, God lied to you, and look at this: Not only did God lie to you but," he says in verse number 5, "for God knows that in the day that you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God."

So it's interesting because Isaiah chapter 14, verse 12, forward, tells us that the one that wanted to be God was Satan, right? Lucifer, he wanted to be God. He wanted to reign. He wanted to be the king. He wanted the worship of God. He wanted the power of God. He wanted the throne of God, right? He wanted to be God. It says he wanted to be like God. He didn't want to be like God. That's what he was thinking.

Lucifer wanted to be God, right? But he did not achieve it. So what is his plan? His educational curriculum is to get human beings to think--what? "Oh, we can be like God, right?" "Oh, Eve, the reason God lied to you is because He's selfish. He's selfish. He does not want you to think--He does not want you to know that you can be like Him, that you can be God." And now the question is what does it mean to be like God? It says here, "knowing good and evil."

Now, I don't know about you, but the first time I read this, this really gave me a headache. I went, "What does it mean to know good and evil? What does it mean when it's saying that you shall be like--" remember, first of all, Adam and Eve were already in the image of God, right? They already had the reflection of the character of God, but he's taking them to another dimension. He's taking them to another level and says, "There's something that God is hiding from you, and God doesn't want you to be like Him, right?"

So he's distorting the principles, the foundation of the glory of God which is the character of God, which there is no selfishness, right? It is love towards others. It is love towards your Creator, and the devil is trying to distort this, and by distorting the character of God, then immediately the concept of Adam and Eve in regards to who God is will be changed and so will their practical lifestyle also because, once those foundations, those principles of educations are changed or implemented in a wrong way, then what is going to be the result or the seed of that interaction is also going to be flawed, is also going to be distorted.

And so, when the devil says, "You shall be like God, knowing good and evil," that word "knowing good and evil," I'm like, "What?" There's again the concept of education, right? To know, to learn, to understand. What does that mean? So I remember going around, studying a couple of different commentaries and asking people, but I couldn't find the answer. What does it mean "to know good and evil"? So what I did was--I should've done at the beginning--I went to the original Hebrew, and the word there for "knowing" is the Hebrew word "yada." Now, "yada" does mean the word "knowing," and it's correct. The translation is correct. But there is a deeper meaning of the word "yada," and the word is "to declare or determine." So when you go back and you apply it there, it says, "You will be like God, doing," what? "Determining or declaring good and evil."

Now, my loved ones, this is the foundation of the heavenly education system. Who is the one who determines what is good and wrong? It is God. He is the Creator. He is the source of all knowledge. He is the source of all information, right? And so, when we take that information, when we take the source, and we put him aside, and we make ourselves the center of what it means to be good and evil, when we declare on our own what it means to be good and evil, what we're basically doing is we're taking God off of His throne. And what the devil was saying is "You don't need God to tell you what is right or wrong. You can determine it on your own."

Now, that sounds like a school of thought, a school of philosophy, a school of education today known as relativism, right? What does relativism teach? It teaches you don't need anybody to tell you what's right or wrong. You can determine what's right or wrong on your own, and everybody has their own concept or understanding of what is morally right or wrong. And this is what was distorted. This is postmodern thought in Genesis chapter 3, my loved ones. We think that this is something contemporary in some way, shape, or form? No, from the very beginning, the plan of the devil was to--what? Was to take the focus of Adam and Eve, of looking at God as the source of education, of influence, of instruction, and doing--what? "You don't need Him. You can do it on your own," my loved ones, and this is where it distorted--is taking God off of the throne and saying, "I will be on that throne."

And I have a question: Do we see that today? Yes, we do. We look at the Word of God--right? --which is now the destruction*, the manual that God has given us, the instructions for how God wants to see His character being developed and how God has a plan for us. And what does the world say today? "I don't need God. I don't need a Bible to tell me what's right or wrong. I can do my own thing. I can declare, I can determine, I can know on my own what is right or wrong," my loved ones, and so this is how the devil contaminated--he poisoned the educational system that God had established, where God is the foundation of knowledge, and so now it has been transferred over from God to humans, right?

And that was the devil's plan because that's what happened with him, but he couldn't carry out his plan, so he's trying to make us to follow his distorted and his perverse curriculum in that sense. And so now, all of a sudden, my loved ones, what happens is that Adam and Eve have then moved and focused away, and we--you know what? We've read what it says in verse number 6, that Eve saw that the food was good for thought, that the tree was good for food. It was pleasant to the eyes and desirable to make one--what? To make one wise, right?

So there, again, the concept of wanting to say, "Oh, you know what? This is good for me. I can obtain a higher understanding. I can go beyond these limited restrictions that God has placed on us," as the devil taught the angels, "and I can develop into something much more better than the plan that God had for me. I don't need God to tell me exactly what the purpose, what the mission, what the reason I'm here for." And my loved ones, this is where our education system has been distorted because today in age, my loved ones, the same problem happens.

We have an educational system that has deviated from the foundational teachings of who God is, of the character of God, of the plan of God, of why we are in this situation, and an educational system which does not completely excludes God, and is completely focused on--what? On man-made righteousness, man-made guidance, man-made instruction. And because of that, that's the world that we're living in, my loved ones.

You ask, "Why do we live in a world with so much pain and suffering?" It's because everything is self-centered. Everything is me-focused, right? And we sadly see this in religion too. We sadly see this in Christianity. It's a Christianity that is focused on "me," right? "What can I get out of it? When I go to church, what am I going to receive?" And that, my loved ones, is not the plan. The plan is not self-centered. The plan is God-centered.

And so when our Christianity, and on all different levels, when we start to move the focus and start to focus on the glory of God, on the plan of God, on what is God's purpose for us, then we will start to see how all of these talents, all of these blessings that God has given us will be used for His glory, and we will start to see this in our own lives, in our own churches, in our congregations, and sadly, we know it's not going to happen around the world, but the plan is God to use us so that we can be a powerful teaching instrument.

That's what God wants to do with you and me. He wants to use you and me as an instrument to go out and to reach others, to teach others so that they can see who is the God that we serve. You and I are a notebook. You and I are a textbook, my loved ones. You and I are the teaching instrument that God wants to use to reflect to others the goodness of God, the glory of God, the beauty of God, the justice of God, the righteousness of God, my loved ones. And so the enemy we see here in the Bible, in this first chapter, does completely try to distort the original plan that God had for humanity, right?

But in the same time, I mean, I can't--I just can't let this one slide. While this happened--and we see that immediately after, in verse number--after verse number 6, we see that the human experience completely changed in reference to who God was, and it says in verse number 7, "The eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves covering." So it says in Genesis chapter 2, verse 25, that they were naked, but they were not aware of it. Why? Because they were in the complete presence of God. They had one-to-one, face-to-face communion with God. They were covered with His glory. But sadly, my loved ones, because of--what? Because of what happened, the presence of God departed, right? And it's interesting, not only because of their decision to say, "God, you know what? I don't want You on the throne," but also because of the love of God because there can be nothing impure in the presence of God.

So when humanity became infected with the virus of selfishness--right? God then, in His love, separates from them, to not destroy them, but God does not leave it there, and here's another teaching principle. Not only are we learning to follow the Word of God, to obey God in all ways, to not give the door--to not open the door to the enemy, but look at what it says here in verse number 8, "And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden."

So what can we learn from this? God is always on mission mode, amen? God is always mission-focused. When you look at the Gospel, my loved ones, the Bible is an evangelism manual. It's teaching us how God is focused on us. He's focused on saving us. He's focused on reaching us, right? So we see here again another teaching tool in regards to the character of God. God is showing us, "I love you so much that, despite this, I'm going to go out there and do everything to possibly reach you." And so this is another foundation of the divine plan of education, which is redemption, right?

God is constantly seeking to reach human beings wherever they may be, however they may be, or whatever condition they may be, and we see this through the example of Jesus Christ. And when you read through this, my loved ones, you see that Adam and Eve, they hid themselves, right? Because they were naked, right?

But, wait a minute, didn't they cover themselves, their nakedness, right? And so, with those leaves, the fig trees? And so we see here, my loved ones, another interesting teaching point is that those leaves, those fig trees represent human intent or human mission, on trying to cover up sin because nakedness is a representation of sin, and what did they do? They tried to cover it up, but it didn't work. Why? Because, my loved ones, as it says in Hebrews chapter 4, verse 13, "God sees everything." I can come here with my suit, with my tie, with my Bible. I can come here and talk and maybe be somewhat eloquent and maybe talk about the things--and people are like, "Wow, this must be a Christian." I can fool you, but I can't fool God.

And so, we see, my loved ones, that God sees us for who we truly are. There's no way to hide from God, and that should give us, then, a sense of the power, the majesty of God, again, that this Being that knows me so well would send His Son to the bottom of this--to the earth, to the most bottom part of this, to the most degrading, and immoral places on this earth, and the Son of God would go reach the sinners where they are, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, right? Showing us, again, the presence and the beauty of God as God is seeking us despite our fallings, and this is, again, my loved ones, is teaching.

The devil has distorted the curriculum, but God is trying to restore that original curriculum, to teach us who He is, to understand His goodness, His patience, His long-suffering, His mercy, His love for each and every one of us, my loved ones. That's what we see here. And so the question then is--when God had told them, "Wait a minute," it was "if you break the rule, you're going to surely die." That means you're going to cease to exist. But they didn't cease to exist, right? What happened? Did God change the rules?

Now, if you're a teacher as I was or if you're a parent, you know that, if you put a rule in your house and you don't follow that rule and the child breaks the rule, what's going to happen? If you don't follow up with the discipline, you're going to lose all respect. It says here, my loved ones, that God said, "The day that you eat of that tree, you shall surely die," but they did not die on that day, and the question is why? Why didn't they die? Well, my loved ones, it says in Genesis chapter 3, verse 21, "And also for Adam and his wife, the Lord God made tunics of skin and," did what? "And clothed them," my loved ones.

So, again, another teaching point, and this is the principle, the plan of redemption. God is saying, "Adam and Eve, because you have disobeyed me, the consequence, the discipline that shall be brought forth is that you shall cease to exist, but I'm going to give you a second chance." There's going to be death as there was death in the Garden of Eden, but the death was not of Adam and Eve. It was of a Lamb, amen? And so God, again, teaching the plan of redemption, teaching the plan of salvation, teaching the everlasting Gospel, the everlasting covenant that, despite the fall of man, despite us not listening and not surrendering completely to the will of God, what is going to happen? God has given us a second opportunity. God has given us a second chance, and it just shows us the mercy of God, the grace of God.

Again, it's giving us the reflections of the character of God, that we were to pay--it was our fault, and we fell, but God says, "You know what? I love you so much that I'm not only going to give you a second chance, but I'm going to take that very burden on Myself," amen? "I'm going to carry it. I'm going to carry your filthiness, and I'm going to go on the cross and pay for you so I can give you a second chance." And so it is through looking at the love of God on the cross of Calvary, looking at the love of God through the giving up of His Son, the greatest gift that any human being could give, my loved ones.

That should be the greatest teaching tool in all of the universe, my loved ones, and that will be the teaching subject to learn for the rest of eternity, how much God loves us. So in the new heavens and the new earth, that will be the principle, my loved ones. That will be the foundation. And not only that, God also gives another beautiful teaching point when he gives the prophecy of Genesis chapter 3, verse 16. He says, "Out of that woman shall come that seed.”

Not only is the seed going to pay the price for sin, not only is that seed, the Messiah, He's going to take up the fallen nature and fallen condition of man, but that seed is also going to destroy and put an end to the educational system that the devil has established here on earth, an educational system that has deviated completely from being God-focused, God-centered, looking for an understanding that God is the giver of good and evil, of good and beauty, right?

The devil brought in the evil, but God is the foundation of all goodness, of all--everything that is pure, everything that is holy. By deviating of that, that's how evil came in. That's how sin came in. That's how selfishness came in.

So when we, us, as individuals, as families, as a church, when we put our education back and we made it God-centered, we make our focus God-centered again, my loved ones, then God will be able to fulfill His purpose in each and every one of us. And, again, you and I are God's textbooks here on earth. So, you and I are here with a purpose, to show the world who God is so that they may also come and know our God.

I want to share with you just two verses as we finish up here, 2 Corinthians. What is the purpose of God's educational system? There was an original plan in the Garden of Eden. There was a distortion, but then God had brought in a new curriculum with a new focus and a new mission. 2 Corinthians chapter 4, verse 6, tells us now the principle of the foundation of the educational system that God is trying to establish here on earth. And it says in 2 Corinthians chapter 4, verse 6, "For it is the God, who commanded light, knowledge, to shine out of darkness, ignorance, who has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," amen?

I mean, that is the--I would call this the mission statement of the School of God, the mission statement is to do--what? Is to take us to the knowledge of the glory of God through Jesus Christ, that we can see who God is, and we can have a human understanding, right? A human reflection of the character of the glory of God.

And then there's just one more verse I want to share with you if you want to go with me, please, to 2 Timothy. 2 Timothy chapter 3. And this is also--I would say that this would be--the mission statement was that one. This would be the plan to carry out this mission statement. 2 Timothy chapter 3, and this is a beautiful, beautiful lesson. There we go. This is what happens when you don't have your Bible. You know where everything is blindsided. 2 Timothy chapter 3. If you're there with me, let's go to verse number 15. And this is, my loved ones, this is the educational plan. We have the mission statement through Jesus Christ, to understand and know the glory of God. And how is that going to be developed?

Look at what it says in 2 Timothy chapter 3, verse 15: "And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith, which is in Jesus Christ. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work," amen?

My loved ones, this is the plan, the educational plan that God has for us that, through the Word of God, through daily communion, remember, as Mary at the feet of Jesus Christ, that we can prepare, my loved ones, to see the glory of God, to see the Gospel, to see what God has in plan, not only for me as an individual, but for you as a family unit, for our church as a mission.

What is God wanting to do? He wants us to go to the feet of Christ and to learn through Scripture. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, he's going to give us not only the understanding, the knowledge. He's going to give us the discernment. He's going to give us the wisdom that is necessary for not only God to finish the work in us, but for God to finish the work through us, my loved ones. And so that is the beauty of this, my loved ones. That's why this lesson is so exciting in regards to God preparing us. He's training us. He's equipping us to do the work that he wants to do here, and then, when we get to the new heavens and the new earth, then it'll be beyond our wildest dreams.

And so I want to finish with a quote from "Education," and it says like this, "Education provides more than mental discipline. It provides more than physical training. It strengthens the character, so that the truth and uprightness are not sacrificed to selfish desire or worldly ambition. It fortifies the mind against evil. Instead of some master passion becoming a power to destroy, every motive and desire are brought into conformity to the great principles of right. As the perfection of His character is dwelt upon," talking about the character of Christ, "our mind is renewed, and the soul is recreated in the image of God."

Whoo, amazing stuff, my loved ones, and that is what God wants to do with me, with you, and with all of us, so I hope it is your desire, as we continue to go through this lesson on education, that we can have a mind-set, "God, I want to see Your glory. God, I want You to change me. I want to surrender everything that I am, everything that I have, everything that I possess. Everything that You have given me, I want to surrender it completely to You so that You can use it for Your glory and Your power." Let's have a word of prayer.

Heavenly Father, we thank You for this opportunity to come together and study. Again, we ask that Your Spirit guide us and be with us and strengthen us, Father, so that that educational focus, that educational philosophy of seeking the glory of God, of seeking the glory of Christ, Father, may that be the focus of our daily interaction with You and with others. We thank you, Father, for this opportunity, and we ask this in Jesus' name, amen, amen.

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Doug: On several occasions, scientists have demonstrated that people, and even creatures, can struggle with depression when exposed to continual darkness. This can be seen every year in the winter months in the Arctic regions. The beautiful village of Rjukan, Norway, is situated in a deep valley where mountains block the sun's rays for about six months every year. This, of course, keeps the 3400 residents in a state of shade and sometimes depressive darkness throughout the winter.

Then the town leaders got a bright idea, to help illuminate their village during the murky months. In October 2013, Rjukan installed an array of three gigantic 550-square-foot mirrors on a nearby mountain 1000 feet above the town. The computer-controlled and solar-powered mirrors track the sun through the winter months and reflect a giant beam of sunshine down to the town square, brightening their lives. If you visit Rjukan in the winter months today, you can often see the people gathered or sitting on benches around the town square bathing in the reflected sunshine.

Like those mirrors on the mountain, the Bible says that Christians are to reflect the light of Jesus who is the light of the world into this dark planet. Matthew 5:14 says: "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do we light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it illuminates everybody in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." So friends, use today to brighten the life of someone else by reflecting Jesus.

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