A pictorial guide to walks  in the beautiful Irish county of Wicklow
And a pleasant chat along the way

                   The Storyline of the Bible 1/30                  
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As you travel this Wicklow way in your imagination or memory , I invite you to travel also another journey - the storyline of the Bible. The Bible is not a collection of dull stories with little connection between them, but is high Drama with a central theme and a developing exciting plot where the character and nature of God are revealed.
Billions of Bibles have been published and distributed around the world.
Millions of people regard it as the inspired Word of God.
It’s been one of history’s most influential books, the foundation of Western civilisation. 
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For a modern translation of the Bible. The NET Bible which you can download free of charge from the following site http://www.bible.org Or if you prefer an audio Bible. Audio files of the NIV Bible can be heard or downloaded free of charge from the following site http://jcsm.org/1on1/NTBibleonMP3.htm

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God Establishes His Kingdom

Genesis chapter one

All stories have a hero and the Bible is no exception. The hero of the Bible is God and the Bible opens in chapter one of the first book with God creating the Universe. Care, planning and time are exercised by God in creation. And his verdict is pronounced upon all his work, that it is all very good. This is not a scientific explanation of creation but a foundation to establish a World-view where God is seen as the rightful owner of this world and the proper object of our trust, obedience and worship.
People of all ages and all cultures are familiar with the concept of a Kingdom. We in the democratic West may have an abhorrence with the term because we consider everyone equal. But there is no equality between the Creator and the created and so the Bible rightly uses this human political system to describe the relationship between God and mankind.

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God sets up his Government Genesis chapter 1
In government buildings and offices around the world it is a common custom to find a picture of the president or the sovereign hanging on the wall. The symbolism conveys the message that the business done in that place is done on behalf of that ruler. In the days when Genesis was written, the custom was not a photo but an image of the ruler.
God did not set up images of Himself made of wood, metal or stone but living images of men and women. Mankind was to be God's agent or steward upon this world.

"Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."  (Genesis chapter 1 verse 26)
Mankind was not only created the highest in the order of creation with superior faculties to the animals but created with a personal, intellectual, moral and spiritual resemblance of God, which enabled God and mankind to enter into a communion of friendship and love with each other.

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The Command of God - Genesis chapter 2

In chapter 2 the narrative is narrowed to a garden which God had planted. It is described as "Well watered and planted with all kinds of trees —trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food". To the Eastern mind a garden is synonymous with a paradise. In this garden God places the first created man and woman, Adam and Eve, and gives to them his specific command . And the LORD God commanded the man, You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." 

Thus mankind is to govern this world, not with absolute authority but with subordinate authority, and the symbol of their subjection the tree in the middle of the garden. From the scene here described, we can define the Kingdom of God as the place where God graciously rules and where he is willingly obeyed. The characteristic of generosity in the nature of God is evident in this story. Paradise was not earned but given as a gift.

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Rebellion - Genesis chapter 3

A tempter (Satan) arrives on the scene in the appearance of a serpent. Through a question Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’ "? and a statement "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil", he cunningly sowed doubt. And when the appearance of the fruit matched what the serpent had said, that doubt turned into disbelief.

"When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it".
Thus our first parents fell from their state of innocence to one of rebellion against God. This rebellion is all the more hideous, not only because of the generosity of God in his provision of all other trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food” but as the story is unfolded, the regular practice of God was to walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening, thus our first-parents sinned against the manifested friendship and love of God.  By this human rebellion  Satan was able to destroy God's Kingdom and usurp his dominion over this World.

Click here for D A Carson's leacture on the First Temptation

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Promise of the re-establishment of God's Kingdom - Genesis chapter 3              
In the confrontation between God and the parties involved in the rebellion, God declares this promise. He says to the serpent “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
 Here in God's statement there is a promise of a remedy for the awful situation that has resulted. From our humanity God will raise up a CHAMPION who in deadly conflict will defeat our enemy and undo the damage of our rebellion and restore God's Kingdom upon this Earth, but in the conflict he himself will also a receive a mortal wound.

The explanation, development and final fulfilment of this promise is the major theme of the Bible.

God's reaction to rebellious Adam and Eve (and his continual relationship with mankind ) reveals the characteristic of God to be gracious (kindness that is not deserved) and merciful (kindness given when the opposite is deserved).

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Banishment from Paradise -
Genesis chapter 3

In the imagination of many artists the sinful couple are flung out of the garden naked and ashamed by an angry God, but this is definitely not the case. The first act of God is a start at remedying the situation.

There is a desire on God's part that communion and friendship be restored and so the cause of their fear towards him – their nakedness – is removed. This remedy came at a cost, it was a cost paid by another, the cost was the life of an animal that had provided the skins to make their garments. In a symbolic sense the sentence of death  is transferred to a substitute.
But the consequences of their actions remain and Paradise is no longer a fit place for them, a place where Adam might “reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live for ever." So Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden and prevented from returning. 
But there is a problem introduced into the story that the Bible will later answer. Has God sacrificed his justice to satisfy his mercy and love?

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From bad to worse
the story of  Cain and Abel
 -  Genesis chapter 4 

The terrible implications of Adam and Eve's rebellion against God begin to be revealed. A sinful nature has been introduced into the human family and passed along  into the next generation. 
In the story Cain is angry and jealous because his brother Abel has been honoured by God while he himself has not been.
"Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast”? God enquires. God then gives this warning “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it" .

Cain does not heed the warning and goes out and murders his brother. For this act of murder Cain is banished from the presence of God. A division is introduced into the human family between those who follow after God and those who follow after Satan.

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The downward spiral - Noah - Genesis chapters 5 to 9

The book of Genesis now traces a family line of people that followed after God, starting from Seth the third son of Adam and Eve down to a man called Noah. The outworking of the rebellion of Adam and Eve is however not confined to Cain and his family line.The vast majority of the descendants of Seth and the other unnamed sons of Adam gradually become morally worse and worse.

Genesis records  “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” Genesis goes on to describe the effect this wickedness had upon God. “The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them".
God is gracious to one man and his family and warns of the coming flood. Noah builds an Ark and saves himself and his family.
This story of Noah reveals a theme running throughout the Bible, that people please God by believing Him. God warned Noah of a coming flood and Noah believed God and acted on his belief by building the Ark. 
From theses events we also learn that God's mercy is not an automatic right.  Mercy is the free exercise of God. He will give or withhold it as he wills. God was merciful to Noah and his family and withheld mercy from the rest of mankind.

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The Invitation to Abraham - Genesis Chapter 12 to 25

The story of Abraham opens in chapter 12 with God revealing Himself to a man called Abram, a resident in a the pagan city of Ur located in modern day Iraq. We read -The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” Abram (whom God later renamed Abraham) believed the promise of God and acting upon it, left his native land and at the age of 75 entered Canaan (located in and around modern day Israel ). God later promised  Abraham to give the land of Canaan to his descendants.

On the basis of Abraham's faith God credited Abraham as righteous. (God's approval is upon those that believe him.) Being childless Abraham lived for many years without any grounds to hope that God's promise would be fulfilled. Then in his 100th  year Sarah his wife (aged 90) gave birth to Isaac. The most severe test of his faith in God's promise came when God ordered him to sacrifice Isaac. God stopped the sacrifice and a substitute for Isaac was found, a ram caught in a thicket.
Returning to the verses of Genesis chapter 12 already quoted, God promises “I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” for emphasis he goes on and says all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Here the promise the coming CHAMPION is narrowed down to a descendent of Abraham.  This story  teaches us that God keeps his promises.

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TThe Kingdom of God re-established in a family
Genesis chapters
25 to 50

Genesis goes on to records the lives of Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and their families and how God was working out his gracious plans despite family feuds and treachery. The book ends with  Joseph the favourite son of Jacob. After being sold as a slave by his envious brothers, he became Governor of Egypt and is placed by God in a position to become the saviour to his family when drought and famine came to Canaan. The family of Jacob (whom God had renamed Israel) remains in Egypt.  

Genesis also records the prophetic blessing of Jacob to his 12 sons (whose descendants become the 12 tribes of Israel). Regarding the coming CHAMPION Jacob says to his son Judah “The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his” Genesis chapter 49 verse 10.
The CHAMPION is to come from the tribe of Judah and to have the office of a King.

The book of Genesis ends with this very important lesson about the power and character of God. God will bring good out of evil. In the words of Joseph referring to when his brothers sold him as a slave You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives”. Genesis