Shining a light on the weekly Bible Lessons published in the Christian Science Quarterly®
Adam and Fallen Man
from the Golden Text
Can God prepare a table in the wilderness? . . . He sent them food to the full.
—New King James Version
The Psalmist’s question is part of an account of the Israelites’ wilderness experience. Here he alludes to their complaints about God’s provision (see Exodus 16:2, 3).
In Psalm 78, explains a commentary, “. . . history is not recited simply to know the past but rather to be assured of God’s direction in later ages.”
from the Responsive Reading
The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
Although this psalm’s inscription names Abimelech, sources identify it as David’s praise for protection from Achish, king of Gath. David had gone to Philistia—the land of Goliath, the warrior he had defeated earlier—to escape the murderous intent of King Saul. But he encounters danger there as well and flees again (see I Samuel 21:10—22:1).
Even without a permanent place of refuge, David acknowledges God’s goodness. One scholar offers this interpretation for his tasting metaphor: “Find out for yourself how good the Lord is.”
Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. . . . For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; . . . A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; . . . When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.
Deuteronomy records Moses’ final instruction to his people, summarizing the laws given to them during the Exodus. The book’s name comes from the Greek word deuteronomion, signifying second law-giving. (The first law-giving—Moses’ sharing of the Covenant Code, including the Ten Commandments—is found in Exodus, chapters 20–23.)
In these verses, Moses urges his people not to forget God’s care for them in the desert. Over the ensuing decades and centuries, recounting of this divine deliverance became a traditional reminder of God’s continuous love (see examples in Psalm 78, Golden Text; Acts 7:36).
humble: take away pride and self-importance
scarceness: lack of necessary things
from Section 1
3 | Genesis 2:21
The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept.
“Lord God” or Yahweh was the tribal God of Israel. Chapter 2 of Genesis introduces Yahweh as a potter, fashioning humankind from clay and binding them to the earth.
The meaning of the name Adam has long been of interest to scriptural authorities. Some note the connection between the Hebrew terms for man or human (’ādām) and earth (’a dāmā)—not unlike the relationship between the Latin terms for man (homō) and earth (humus). The root of both Hebrew words refers to redness, the color of the clay in the ground.
4 | Genesis 3:1
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.
Mentions of serpents occur throughout the Bible, nearly always portraying evil in some form (see instances in Psalms 58:3, 4; Proverbs 23:31, 32; Isaiah 27:1). In Revelation, the “great dragon” is named “that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan” (12:9).
Christ Jesus promises his followers dominion over evil in these words: “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19).
4 | Genesis 3:6,13
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. . . . The Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
Pleasant is translated from the Hebrew word ta’a wâ, describing strong desire or lust. A commentator writes, “Probably good to taste, evidently fair to look on, and alleged to contain the secret of wisdom, the sight of the fruit stimulates desire . . . .”
from Section 2
5 | Matthew 3:16, 17
Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.
lighting upon: landing on
6 | Matthew 4:1–3
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
Jesus is recorded as seeking out solitary areas in which to pray alone several times (see examples in Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; 6:12). A scholar suggests that this wilderness was part of the Judean desert, covering over five hundred square miles (thirteen hundred square km) between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. This region was called Jeshimmon, meaning place of devastation or hopelessness.
The Savior’s temptations appear in all three Synoptic Gospels (see also Luke 4:1–13; Mark 1:12, 13). He answers each one with scriptural authority, citing Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:13, 16. These trials are seen as both preparation for the Savior’s mission and the model for his followers in withstanding temptation.
Only here and in First Thessalonians 3:5 is tempter used to represent the devil. (Some other New Testament terms are enemy, adversary, and accuser—see Matthew 13:39; I Peter 5:8; Revelation 12:10.) Tempted is translated from the Greek word peirazō, indicating testing or trying.
I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
. . . I am fearful, lest that even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, so your minds may be corrupted and seduced from wholehearted and sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
—Amplified® Bible Classic
corrupted: changed from good to bad; made impure
As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Some people of the time believed that everyone partook of the sin of Adam. Now Paul employs their reasoning to show that Christ’s gift of salvation redeems all humanity. “However we may estimate that way of thinking today,” notes one Bible authority, “it was convincing to those who heard it for the first time; and . . . it remains true that with Jesus Christ a new power came into the world to liberate men from sin and death.”
from Section 3
9 | Job 22:29
When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person.
“If people are in trouble and you say, ‘Help them,’
God will save them.”
—New Living Translation
11 | Matthew 5:5, 6, 8
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. . . . Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
“Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the gentle [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they will inherit the earth. Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied. . . . Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God.”
from Section 4
13 | Psalms 91:2, 11
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. . . . he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
I will say to the LORD, “You are my place of safety and protection.
You are my God and I trust you.” . . .
He has put his angels in charge of you
to watch over you wherever you go.
—New Century Version
Satan quotes this biblical affirmation when tempting Jesus to jump from the Temple (see Matthew 4:5, 6). Though the devil is portrayed as having angels (see Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:9), most scriptural references to angels depict heavenly messengers or guardians.
14 | Matthew 6:25, 26, 33
Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. . . . But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
“. . . don’t worry about the food you need to live. And don’t worry about the clothes you need for your body. Life is more important than food. And the body is more important than clothes. Look at the birds in the air. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns. But your heavenly Father feeds the birds. . . . The thing you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what God wants. Then all these other things you need will be given to you.”
—International Children’s Bible
Here the Master cautions against anxious concern that fails to trust God. A scholar points out, “Worry is practical atheism and an affront to God.”
Jesus isn’t counseling inactivity or inattentiveness to normal tasks. As the author of Second Thessalonians admonishes after hearing of some slothful followers, “We command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread” (3:12).
from Section 5
15 | Proverbs 23:6
Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats.
Don’t eat food with stingy people;
don’t long for their delicacies, . . .
—Common English Bible
Most sources interpret evil eye as a selfish or stingy nature, describing someone who shares food grudgingly. Another injunction uses this wording to illustrate a lack of generosity: “Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, . . . and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought” (Deuteronomy 15:9).
16 | I John 2:15–17
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
—New Living Translation
from Section 6
17 | Jeremiah 3:15
I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
I will give you shepherds who are loyal to me, and they will shepherd you with knowledge and skill.
—Christian Standard Bible
The Hebrew term translated pastor (rō‘e) signifies shepherd. One commentary offers this paraphrase: “I’ll give you good shepherd-rulers who rule my way, who rule you with intelligence and wisdom.”
Rō‘e also provides a shepherd image in Psalms 28:9 (citation 19): “Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed [rō‘e] them also, and lift them up for ever.” The same source renders this: “Save your people and bless your heritage. Care for them; carry them like a good shepherd.”
19 | Psalms 28:9
Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.
Save your people, and bless those who belong to you.
Be their shepherd, and carry them forever.
—GOD’S WORD Translation
I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: . . . And he had in his hand a little book open: . . . And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
While the book in Revelation 5:1 is sealed, this book is open—ready to be “eaten” or read, its meaning accessible.
Much of the vision reported here recalls the opening chapters of Ezekiel. The prophet describes an angelic presence with the appearance of fire and a rainbow. This angel has a scroll in his hand and commands the seer to eat it. As in Revelation 10:10, its taste is sweet as honey. The prophet is then told to speak—in this case, to the house of Israel (see Ezekiel 1:4, 28; 2:1–8; 3:1–4).
Read a related article: "The Bible and original innocence" by Michael Hamilton.
The Bible Lessons serve as weekly study guides as well as the sermon in every Christian Science Sunday church service. Learn more at BibleLesson.com
Resources quoted in this issue
GT: New King James Version®, copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
GT: Mays, James L., Joseph Blenkinsopp, et al., eds. Harper’s Bible Commentary. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988.
RR: Good News Translation in Today’s English Version—Second Edition, copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by permission.
Cit. 4: Perowne, John J. S., Kirkpatrick, Alexander F., Chase, Frederic H., Parry, Reginald St. John, and Nairne, Alexander, eds. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. 58 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1882–1922. Also available at biblehub.com/commentaries.
Cit. 6: Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1955. Revised and updated by Saint Andrew, 2001. Reprinted as The New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001–04.
Cit. 8: Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible: The Letters to the Corinthians. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1955. Revised and updated by Saint Andrew, 2001. Reprinted as The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters to the Corinthians. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001–04.
Cit. 14: Mounce, Robert H. New International Biblical Commentary—Matthew. Peabody, MA.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991.
Cit. 17: The Message, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Scriptural quotations marked Amplified® Bible Classic are taken from the Amplified® Bible Classic, copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.org.
Scriptural quotations marked New Living Translation are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scriptural quotations marked Amplified® Bible are taken from the Amplified® Bible, copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.org.
Scriptural quotations marked New Century Version are taken from the New Century Version®, copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scriptural quotations marked International Children's Bible are taken from the International Children's Bible®, copyright © 1986, 1988, 1999 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scriptural quotations marked Common English Bible are taken from the Common English Bible, copyright © 2011 by the Common English Bible. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Scriptural quotations marked Christian Standard Bible are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.
Scriptural quotations marked GOD'S WORD Translation are taken from GOD’S WORD®, copyright © 1995 God’s Word to the Nations. Used by permission of God's Word Mission Society.
© 2021 The Christian Science Publishing Society. The design of the Cross and Crown is a trademark owned by the Christian Science Board of Directors and is used by permission. Bible Lens and Christian Science Quarterly are trademarks owned by The Christian Science Publishing Society. Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptural quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.