Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Preachers and the Patriot, Part 1

  It has been my great privilege to have lived my life in a land where great religious liberty still exists.  Even in it’s decline, America has seen more freedom than possibly any other nation, but it would do the reader well to understand that it was not always so.  The Puritans who had fled to the New World for the chance to exercise their own conscience in matters of worship eventually became the very thing they fled.  Colonial America wasn’t an idyllic utopia of liberty, but rather a patchwork quilt of different understandings and tolerances of what freedom was all about. In many places, especially in Church of England dominated-areas, the line between church and state was so blurry as to be almost non-existent.    Church officials held  political offices and  church  officials exercised police powers, with a careful eye towards maintaining the status quo of doctrinal purity. This mindset revealed itself in activities like the witch trials in Salem or the ordinance passed in Massachusetts in 1644 that specifically referred to Anabaptists as “the troublers of churches in all places where they have been”. In 1656 when the first Quakers began to arrive on the shores of Massachusetts, the Quakers in question were imprisoned by their Puritan brothers, the women strip-searched under pretense of looking for witches,  and their religious literature burned as heresy.
  It was this way, at least in the beginning because that was how the people of a community chose to live.  Those who disagreed could leave, and often did, starting their own small communities a bit deeper in the great American wilderness.   Some were banished. But not everyone could leave, and not everyone thought they should have to leave.  For those that stayed, life was harsh in the ‘land of the free’.  With the codification of church law into secular law came an entire hierarchy of church officials and creeds that   attempted to coerce the consciences of everyone under their jurisdiction to worship as the hierarchy decided.  James Madison had said “All men with power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree ” and that certainly  rang true as well-intentioned men persecuted their brothers and sisters , using the power of the state to enforce their religious convictions.
  Existing side by side with these large religious behemoths were small pockets of men and women who followed their conscience regardless of what the ruling powers thought.   They worshipped both in secret, and in open, and preached outside of the established church buildings, taking the gospel out in public as the Bible commands.  For this they were fined, banished, beaten, arrested, and imprisoned. Their ears were, in some cases, cut off, and hot irons   driven through their ‘blasphemous tongues’. Their church buildings were burned, their properties seized.  They were Quakers, and Baptists, and Anabaptists, and a variety of other groups who simply sought to live and worship according to the dictates of their own conscience. They sought to practice what would later be called ‘soul liberty’.
  From these oppressions came a shift in the way of colonial thinking.  The heavy heel of ecclesiastical oppression was fuel for the fire of soul liberty, and as men began to ask themselves what freedom was all about, there came a rebirth of the commitment to religious liberty.  People saw what they were becoming, and it shocked them enough to change course. Because of that change, generations have reaped the benefits of religious freedom.
  This story is just one small facet of that larger story.  It involves a handful of Baptist preachers, and a famous name among famous names; Patrick Henry of Virginia. This story covers one small trial, in one small area, just a little sliver of the life of one of America’s founders, but this sliver set the stage for a discussion, and eventually a debate that changed the course of history.   Of course for the sliver to have any context, the lives of the principals prior to the incident must be presented.  Let me take this opportunity to encourage the reader to read beyond this work and to dig further into the lives of John Waller, Lewis Craig, James Chiles, James Read and Patrick Henry.  If you are an American or a Christian or both, this is not only their story; it is your story, and a heritage undimmed by the passing of time.
  Keep in mind that these were men of like passions such as we are, with wives and children and expenses and reputations, but yet they risked all for the proclamation of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. As their legacy, we should be willing to do no less.
John Waller
  John Waller was born 2 days before Christmas in 1741 to a respectable family in Virginia.  He however, was not respectable. As a gambler with a bad temper, he was referred to as “Swearing Jack” or more colorfully as “the Devil’s Adjutant”. From a single incident in which he was involved, he reportedly had three separate warrants issued for his arrest.  He had some legal training, and took great pleasure in the persecution of Baptist in Spotsylvania County, which in the minds of some in Spotsylvania County, made up for  his self-destructive tendencies .  He was assigned to a grand jury in 1766 and it was in this capacity that he first met Lewis Craig.
  Craig had been brought to trial for holding ‘illegal religious meetings’.   This charge was often brought against non-church of England ministers and particularly publick ministers.  Craig had a history of this, and the grand jury decreed that evidence was sufficient for him to go to trial. Many of the grand jury members felt that not only had justice been served, but that yet another of those pesky Baptist street preachers had been dealt with. They adjourned to the local tavern to celebrate.
  What happened next was to affect John Waller’s life forever.  That pesky publick preacher Lewis Craig followed them to the tavern, and bought them a round of drinks, telling them:
“ I thank you, Gentlemen of the Grand Jury, for the honor you have done me. While I was wicked and injurious, you took no note of me, but since I altered my course of life and endeavored to reform my neighbors, you concern yourself much about me.  I have gotten this mug of grog, to treat you with, and shall take the spoiling of my goods joyfully.”
  Such talk bothered John Waller, but his well-earned reputation as an enemy of the faith prevented him from letting his disturbed conscience show.  He began to secretly attend Baptist meetings including those held by Lewis Craig.  When Craig and his company would hold their publick meetings, Waller would stay at the edge of the crowd, listening, but appearing not to. In 1767, less than a year after the grand jury experience, Waller surrendered his all to Jesus Christ. He relates it this way:
“ I had long felt the greatest abhorrence  of myself  and began almost to despair of the mercy of God.  However I determined never to rest until it pleased God to show mercy or cut me off. Under these impressions, I was at a certain place, sitting under preaching.  On a sudden, a man exclaimed that he had found mercy and began to praise God.  No mouth can describe the horror with which I was seized that instant. I began to conclude that my damnation was certain.  Leaving the meeting, I hastened unto a neighboring wood and dropped on my knees before God to beg for mercy. In an instant, I felt my heart melt, and the sweet application of the redeemer’s love to my poor soul.”
  Following his conversion, Waller became one of the most ardent proclaimers of the gospel in Orange and Spotsylvania County. He was baptized by James Read.  He sold his property to pay off his gambling debts, and became the firm companion for his new friend and brother in Christ, Lewis Craig.  By the ungodly he was considered “a bold, inexorable fanatic, which would do much mischief unless restrained.”
   In time he would organize a church and be their pastor. During the course of his life he endured great persecution including a beating in 1771 at the hands of the local sheriff that scarred him for the rest of his life.  He would spend 113 days in 4 different jails over the next 35 years. But it is his arrest in 1768, while still a young man, that we must concern ourselves.
Lewis Craig
  Lewis Craig was born in Virginia to a pious family of Puritans, but according to   all accounts, he was dead in trespasses in sins despite an outward religiosity until his conscience was pricked under the preaching of Samuel Harris when he was 25 or 26 years old. For months he would follow Samuel Harris around, peppering him with questions about eternal things, and lamenting that he must surely be lost and undone before God. When he was 27, he settled it all within his heart and  immediately began to preach, even attempting to give the gospel to his old Anglican priest.( Note: Some accounts list him as the child of a good devout Baptist family) This newfound zeal caused a split with his family, and with the Anglican community.  Soon Lewis Craig found himself   preaching all over Virginia. His soul winning efforts led to the establishment of the first Baptist church in Lower Spotsylvania, according to James Taylor.
“ He travelled almost  constantly, and the large congregations which everywhere attended his ministry, were entreated to escape the divine wrath, with the most impassioned earnestness.  Nothing could exceed the burning zeal with which he persuaded men to be reconciled to God. His sermons consisted in a plain pungent exhibition of the evil of sin, and its ruinous consequences, with the glad tidings of redeeming love, through a Saviour. Hundreds of his hearers found in these announcements, the means to salvation. The Gospel came to them not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, with much assurance.”
  In 1780, amidst the lingering persecution in Virginia, he took his congregation and headed to Kentucky with them, where he established a profitable work until his death in his eighties. He was one of those who lived on both sides of America’s experience with religious intolerance, and could tell the tale of the way things ‘used to be’.  So much of his life, and his ministry happened   after his arrest in 1768,  and they are stories worth telling, but alas, it is there, in  June of 1768 that we must focus our attentions.
James Chiles
  Even less is known about James Chiles.  He was said to possess “a sturdy set of limbs and a resolute spirit” which he used to  “bruise the  bodies of his countrymen”. Converted while in his  20’s, he was with Craig and Waller that day in Spotsylvania
The Trial
  The facts of the actual trial are very scanty, and no court records exist. The story has to be pieced together from multiple eyewitness accounts.
  On the 4th of June 1768 John Waller, Lewis Craig, James Chiles and James Read were all arrested while preaching in publick.  The charge was that they were disturbing the peace, with the prosecutor at their trial claiming “May it please your worships, these men are great disturbers of the peace; they cannot meet a man upon the road but they must ram a text of Scripture down his throat.”  After their arrest, the charge of holding ‘religious meetings contrary to the law of the land’ was added as they had no license from the Church of England. The bond was set as 2000 pounds, which one historian cites as ‘a king’s ransom’.  John Corbly, a local preacher, met with them and offered to be surety for them, putting his family farm at risk, should they decide to   post bond. They declined.
 Waller, with his partial law school education, argued their case before the magistrates, and a deal was offered them.   They would be released on the condition that they agree to not preach in publick for the length of one year and one day. The preachers refused and were thusly marched to the jail in Fredericksburg. Along the way, they broke out in a chorus of an old Isaac watts hymn “Broad is the way that leadeth to death”:

Broad is the road that leads to death,
And thousands walk together there;
But wisdom shows a narrower path,
With here and there a traveler.

Deny thyself, and take thy cross,
Is the Redeemer’s great command:
Nature must count her gold but dross,
If she would gain this heavenly land.

The fearful soul that tires and faints,
And walks the ways of God no more,
Is but esteemed almost a saint,
And makes his own destruction sure.

Lord let all my hopes be not in vain,
Create my hope entirely new,
Which hypocrites could ne’er attain,
Which false apostates never knew.

   After a month in captivity, two of them had secured their release. Accounts differ as to whether it was Lewis Craig or Elijah Craig, but John Waller was certainly one of them.  The two preachers, whoever they were, made a trip to the Deputy Governor in Williamsburg to plead the case of their comrades still in jail. In July of 1768, a letter was written on their behalf from the deputy governor to the king’s attorney.
  I lately received a letter signed by a good number of worthy gentlemen who are not here, complaining of the Baptists; the particulars of their misbehavior are not told any farther than their running into private houses and making dissensions. Mr. Craig and Mr. Waller are with me and deny the charge. They told me they are willing to take the oath as others have. I told them the attorney general is of the opinion that the general court only has the power to grant licenses and referred them to the court. But on their application to the attorney general they brought me his letter, advising me to write you that their petition is a matter of right and that you may not molest these conscientious people so long as they  behave themselves in a manner becoming pious Christians and in obedience to the laws, till the court, when they apply for their licenses and when the gentlemen who complain, may make their objections and be heard. The act of toleration (it being found by experience that persecuting dissenters increases their number) has given them a right to apply, in a proper manner, for licensed houses of worship of God according to their consciences; and I persuade myself that the gentlemen will quietly overlook their meetings till the court. I am told they administer the sacraments of the Lord’s supper near the manner we do but differ in nothing from our church but in that of baptism, and in their renewing of the ancient discipline...they have reformed some sinners and brought some to be truly penitent; nay if a man of theirs is idle and neglect to labour and provide for his family as he ought, he incurs their censures which have had good effects. If this be their behavior, it were to be wished we had some of it among us; but at least I hope all men may remain quiet until court. I am, with great respects to the gentlemen, your humble servant.
July 16, 1768
 John Blair

  This  pleading failed, and  the case went to trial.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Church History: The Church in Rome

(NOTE: Please understand that I  am referring to the church in Rome, not the Church of Rome. There was a body of saved, born-again believers present just a few years after the crucifixion. Centuries later in that city , a monstrosity arose that claimed to be the one true church.  This isn't about them.)

  Though still significantly Jewish until towards the end of the book of Acts, the church in Rome consisted of people from all walks of life if the catacombs are any indication. Slaves, nobles, soldiers all found a place of repentance through the preaching of Paul and his disciples. Paul in the book of Philippians makes reference to those Christians who lived in Caesars house.  At least one high and noble lady , Pompinia Graecinia, wife of the general who conquered Britain under Claudius, was a Christian and met often enough with the assembled believers to  merit her a grave in the catacombs under the city. 
  Most of the early Roman emperors had a hard time distinguishing Christianity from Judaism, and Judaism was protected under Roman law.  This all changed with Nero, who took a particular hatred to Christians, but nobody is certain why. The early church never rebelled against the government; in fact the contemporary writers refer to them as the most loyal of Roman citizens, offering up prayers to God for the Emperor. None of the many conspirators or saboteurs captured under the Roman emperors was ever found to be a Christian.  But Nero hated them anyway. In AD 64 Rome caught fire , burning  for almost a week. Most of the city burned to the ground, and more than one person theorized that Nero had started the fire in his insanity. Nero blamed Christians for the fire  to divert attention away from himself and to provide a distraction for the thousands of people  made homeless by the fire. He used this as an excuse to have his soldiers round up local assemblies for questioning and torture. The Roman historian Tacitus says that the Christians were “well known and easily sought out”.
  In a mass show of power, the rounded-up Christians were taken to the Imperial Garden on Vatican Hill one day in July of 64. The official record says that the assembled Christians were of all ages and both sexes.  Wild beasts were turned loose on them. In some cases the Christians were sewed into the skins of dead animals and attacked by Imperial hunting dogs. Cruel games based on old Roman legends were invented as a way to kill main and torture the believers.  For example, a Christian was designated as ‘Hercules’ and then burned alive or ‘Icarus and, fitted with wings, thrown from a great height to his death and the roar of an approving crowd.  These games lasted well into the night, at which point the falling darkness threatened to end them.  Somebody had the idea to dip the Christians in wax and set them on fire , providing light  for the  further games.
  Eyewitnesses record the Christians singing, praying, smiling, and encouraging one another even as their numbers dwindled. The historians   say it was a ‘great multitude’ killed during the event, though no one knows how many.
  This action by Nero was used as a justification for the rounding up and killing of Christians all over the empire for many years. But it also emboldened the church in Rome. They found that they did not fear death, and proved that they could meet death with victory. They preached publickly, and  edified each other in private under the city in  chapels carved out of the rock, surrounded by the bodies of their brothers and sisters in the lord who had gone on before and who were buried in makeshift graves in the tunnels. Rich Christians would  hollow out caverns beneath their own homes as a resting place for their poorer brethren.  Some of these caverns were eventually joined up to become a vast network of Christian graves beneath the feet of Rome.
  They had  3 orders of ministers; bishops, presbyters and elders.  Linus (mentioned in 2 Tim 4:21) was one of the bishops (or pastors) over Roman assemblies soon after Nero’s death, (the papacy later names Linus as one the first popes, but consider the source) and there is almost no written evidence of what church life was like between Nero and Domitian.   We do know that the local assemblies communicated with each other by letter and in person, but almost none of these letters survived. We do know that, according to those trying to build a case against them, the early church would assemble, sing a hymn,have a common meal , a preacher would preach, prayers would be offered up and then they would  disperse to their own homes until the next meeting. Oversight of the small body of believers passed unto Anecletus after the death of Linus.
  Under Emperor Domitian, there were no large scale massacres of Christians in Rome. Instead there were a network of informers and secret trials. Just as many believers were killed, but there were killed one or two at a time.  Flavius Clemens, the Emperor’s cousin, was put to death but the Emperors wife who also converted was banished until his death.
  Clement became the pastor of the church in Rome in about  92 AD and died  under the reign of Trajan.  Clement had known the apostles personally and his opinion was sought out by assemblies all over Asia as the young church began to seek its footing, awaiting the completion of the New Testament. He wrote a lengthy epistle to the church of Corinth. This letter makes it obvious the churches felt that they were all one body. Clement writes “we are struggling in the same arena, the same fate us and you.” He asked for prayers from the   church of Corinth saying “Guide our steps to walk in holiness and righteousness and simpleness of heart…” His letter also covers doctrine with references to the  atoning blood of Christ, the pre-existence of Christ, and the  Trinity. Clement passed away in 100 AD. 
  Aristedes was a Greek Christian who, when  corresponding  with  the emperor Hadrian (124 AD) gave a great insight into his observance of the  day to day life of Christians in his  community.

“The Christians, then, reckon the beginning of their religion from Jesus Christ, who is named the Son of God most High; and it is said that God came down from heaven, and from a Hebrew virgin took and clad Himself with flesh, and in a daughter of man there dwelt the Son of God. This is taught from that Gospel which a little while ago was spoken among them as being preached; wherein if ye also will read, ye will comprehend the power that is upon it. This Jesus, then, was born of the tribe of the Hebrews; and He had twelve disciples, in order that a certain dispensation of His might be fulfilled. He was  pierced by the Jews; and He died and was buried; and they say that after three days He rose and ascended to heaven; and then these twelve disciples went forth into the known parts of the world, and taught concerning His greatness with all humility and sobriety; and on this account those also who to-day believe in this preaching are called Christians, who are well known……. Now the Christians, O king, by going about and seeking have found the truth, and as we have comprehended from their writings they are nearer to the truth and to exact knowledge than the rest of the peoples. For they know and believe in God, the Maker of heaven and earth, in whom are all things and from whom are all things: He who has no other god as His fellow: from whom they have received those commandments which they have engraved on their minds, which they keep in the hope and expectation of the world to come; so that on this account they do not commit adultery nor fornication, they do not bear false witness, they do not deny a deposit, nor covet what is not theirs: they honour father and mother; they do good to those who are their neighbours, and when they are judges they judge uprightly; and they do not worship idols in the form of man; and whatever they do not  wish that others should do to them, they do not practise towards any one, and they do not eat of the meats of idol sacrifices, for they are undefiled: and those who grieve them they comfort, and make them their friends; and they do good to their enemies: and their wives, O king, are pure as virgins, and their daughters modest: and their men abstain from all unlawful wedlock and from all impurity, in the hope of the recompense that is to come in another world: but as for their servants or handmaids, or their children if any of them have any, they persuade them to become Christians for the love that they have towards them; and when they have become so, they call them without distinction brethren: they do not worship strange gods: and they walk in all humility and kindness, and falsehood is not found among them, and they love one another: and from the widows they do not turn away their countenance: and they rescue the orphan from him who does him violence: and he who has gives to him who has not, without grudging; and when they see the stranger they bring him to their dwellings, and rejoice over him as over a true brother; for they do not call brothers those who are after the flesh, but those who are in the spirit and in God: but when one of their poor passes away from the world, and any of them sees him, then he provides for his burial according to his ability; and if they hear that any of their number is imprisoned or oppressed for the name of their Messiah, all of them provide for his needs, and if it is possible that he may be delivered, they deliver him.

And if there is among them a man that is poor or needy, and they have not an abundance of necessaries, they fast two or three days that they may supply the needy with their necessary food. And they observe scrupulously the commandments of their Messiah: they live honestly and soberly, as the Lord their God commanded them: every morning and at all hours on account of the goodnesses of God toward them they praise and laud Him: and over their food and over their drink they render Him thanks. And if any righteous person of their number passes away from the world they rejoice and give thanks to God, and they follow his body, as if he were moving from one place to another: and when a child is born to any one of them, they praise God, and if again it chance to die in its infancy, they praise God mightily, as for one who has passed through the world without sins. And if again they see that one of their number has died in his iniquity or in his sins, over this one they weep bitterly and sigh, as over one who is about to go to punishment: such is the ordinance of the law of the Christians, O king, and such their conduct….. And I have no doubt that the world stands by reason of the intercession of Christians. But the rest of the peoples are deceived and deceivers, rolling themselves before the elements of the world, according as the sight of their understanding is unwilling to pass by them; and they grope as if in the dark, because they are unwilling to know the truth, and like drunken men they stagger and thrust one another and fall down.”- Apology of Aristides

  10 years later, Hadrian was forced to deal with the church in Rome again when the priests of the pagan temples along the Tibur River came to him with a message from their idol. The message was that the prayers of the Christians were vexing the Roman gods.  Hadrian was just superstitious enough to buy this story, and had the accused, a lady named Sympharosa, brought before him along with her 7 sons. They were offered a chance to recant, which they declined, and they were tortured, then buried alive in a deep pit.
  It was the Christians loyalty to each other that deemed them a serious threat to the Roman Empire, and caused such a harsh official backlash. In Rome, the state was god, and the Empire the will of the gods. The emperor was god on earth. The countryside of Rome was dotted with altars and   monuments to every god anyone could think of.  The Christians however, had no temples, no altars, no priests, no idols. You could burn their buildings down, shred their scriptures, torture them, and it seemed to only encourage them. They would honor the Emperor, and pray for him, but not pray to him. Though officially loyal citizens, the Christians didn’t fit in, and so Rome persecuted the Christians whom they feared, but tolerated the Jews who they despised.
  But even under emperors neutral towards the gospel, the church had to contend with the pagan populace that they lived among.   It was common practice at pagan celebrations to capture some Christians and make sport of them. Such practices were outlawed, but the laws were practically unenforceable. 
 The church also faced a problem of divided loyalties. For example, in 198 AD, the Emperor Severus was overseeing a military award ceremony in northern Africa. The custom was for the soldiers to parade past the imperial presence while wearing the traditional laurel wreath on their head. One soldier marched past, with his wreath in his hand. He was quickly isolated and questioned, and his reply was that he could not serve two Masters. He was executed immediately, and Severus took this as proof of his suspicions that Christians were a threat to Rome.
  Victor was pastor of the church in Rome  from 192-202 AD
  At the  close of the  2nd century, it has been estimated that there were 50,000 Christians in Rome and the surrounding area.
  Zephyllus was the pastor of Roman churches  when the catacombs began to be used by  believers as not only  a burial place, but  hiding place. He put his deacon Callistus in charge of the tunnels, and when Castillus became pastor at the very beginning of the  3rd century, , catacombs were joined together for fellowship as well as escape. But he himself was taken in a persecution in 222 A.D. His successor was Pontianus, who along with presbyter Hyppolitus were arrested and transported to the Island of Sardinia in 235. Anteros took over the church, and Pontanius with Hyppolitus were tortured and eventually killed. Anteros died soon thereafter.

The Common Man's Commentary on Genesis: Chapter 2

( NOTE: I  am plugging away at finishing this book, which has turned out to be a much larger project than I had anticipated.  What was I thinking? Regardless, I  intend to  be finished sometime in the  spring of 2014 and will be self-publishing on Kindle. In the meantime, here is  Chapter 2, free of charge, because I'm a nice guy like that.)

Chapter 2
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished , and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made ; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made .” (V1-2)
  The reference to the ‘hosts of heaven’ could refer to  the armies of heaven, and beings such as cherubim, seraphim, etc. (Jer 33:22, Is 24:21, Eph 6:10-13).
  Following along  that the creation week lays out a rough chronology of history, we must realize that the 7th day is  not Sunday, it’s  Saturday. But it’s a great chance to demonstrate how to wrest scriptures to your own destruction.  The 7th day Adventist will run you to Matt 5:17-19 and then tie it to 1 John 2:3 and Ezek 20:20. The Sabbath observer will make the case from those scriptures that Sabbath-observing is a legitimate New Testament practice and some will even say that a failure to observe the Sabbath proves you aren’t saved.
  Interestingly, though God rested on that Sabbath, there is nothing to indicate that he rested on any other Sabbath after that. In addition, he never commanded anyone else to rest on the Sabbath until Exodus . That means Adam, Eve, Cain, Cain, Abel, Noah, Isaac, Jacob, Abram and everybody else in their generations had no commandment from God to rest on the Sabbath.  Nobody had any direction in this area until Moses.
  In Exodus 16:23, the Sabbath is given to Israel as a nation.  Unless you’ve ever had manna land in your front yard, that verse isn’t written to you. In Ex 31:12-13 and Exodus 20:12-13, the Sabbath is given to Israel as a sign. A sign of what? A sign that there was a day coming in which their Messiah would take them unto himself and fulfill the promises he made to Abraham ( Heb 4:1). They were to observe this day of rest as a reminder to them as a people of the  1,000 period of rest yet to come.  Not only was that promise not given to me as a Gentile, I didn’t inherit that promise when I received Christ.  Nowhere is the church commanded to observe the Sabbath, and nowhere in Scripture does Sunday become the ‘new  sabbath’.  As a matter of fact, Rom 8:2 and Gal 5:1 indicates I am free from all the  trappings of the old testament law.
 The last mention of the Sabbath in your Bible is in Col 2:16 when the commandment is to let no man judge you regarding your Sabbath observance.
  So why do we tend to meet on Sunday? I can find three reasons scripturally. One is that Christ arose the first day of the week. The second is that the Holy Spirit descended on the first day of the week, and the third is that Paul said in 1 Cor 16:2 to give offerings on the first day of the week.

“And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made .These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created , in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,  And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew : for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground” (V3-6)
  There seems to be a connection in your Bible between the number ‘7’ and sanctification. There has been plenty of preaching and teaching on sanctification, some of it scriptural, some of it not.  It’s really not that difficult a concept, and not even an exclusively spiritual one. Something that is ‘sanctified’ is set aside for a specific purpose.  In my garden I have a hoe which is ‘sanctified’ in that I use it for garden work. I don’t use it as a pogo stick and I don’t use it to shoot pool with.  The seventh day was set aside as a sign to Israel.
  Everything grows on it’s own, and the wording makes it plain that God created the plants before they were in the earth.  Also notice that it doesn’t rain until Gen 9, which must have made Noah’s proclamations to his audience rather hard to believe.
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” ( V7)
  We’ve already mentioned that God made man a 3 part being, like himself ( 1 Thess 5:23) and the fate of all three parts of a man  are described in scripture.  When a man dies without Christ, his body goes into the ground, his spirit returns onto God (Ecc 3:21) and his soul goes to Hell (Luke 16). The soul of a man seems to have all the members and sensations and appetites of the man, as well as his memories. The rich man in Luke 16 had eyes, and a tongue, and could recognize people that he had known in life. Lazarus had fingers.  Your soul is in the shape of your body, and every person I have ever talked to who has lost a limb still struggles with that missing limb itching or burning or cramping just like it did when it was still attached.  The lost man will be resurrected to stand before God (Rev 20:12-15), judged guilty, reunited with his body and cast into the lake of fire (Isa 66).
  A man who dies after having received Christ has his body put into the ground, his spirit returns onto  God, and his soul goes to heaven ( 2 Cor 5:8). At the catching away of the church, he is reunited with his transformed body (1 Cor 15) and will spend eternity with Jesus Christ.
“And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted , and became into four heads.  The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;  And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.  And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.  And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.” (V8-14)
So where was the Garden?  There are 4 rivers mentioned. Only two of them are still around, and geography was probably different before the flood, but Genesis is written after the flood and the countries mentioned tell us where they used to be
1)         Pison (river), Havilah ( land) Havilah is mentioned as a person  in Gen 10, 1 Chron 1, mentioned as being ‘before Egypt’ on the way to Assyria’ in Gen 25:18, 1Sam 15:7.
2)         Gihon- compasses Ethiopia
3)         Hiddekel- heads towards Assyria (Tigris)
4)         Euphrates-northernmost border of Israel (Gen 15)
B)        V8 to Amos 1:4-5 , 2 Kings 19:12 ‘house of Eden’, ‘children of Eden’
  The ‘Tree of life’ shows up in V9, and is guarded after Gen 3. It’s mentioned in Prov 11:30, but shows back up in Rev 22:14, Ezek 47:12. The tree of life, and its counterpart the tree of knowledge of good and evil are interesting in that they are (or were) real physical trees with real physical fruit on them.  This fruit had some sort of permanent effect on the eater.  God warns even after the fall that if Adam and Eve can get to the tree of life and eat of it, they will live forever. In Rev 22, the leaves of this tree have some sort of healing properties.  The spiritual applications of these two trees will be discussed later.
“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” (V15)
  Modern thought being the useless clap-trap that it is, we are often taught erroneously that man was given labor as a punishment for his fall, but here we see Adam before the fall being given labor to perform.  The Bible itself starts off showing God at work. Labor is not a curse, it can be a blessing. The most miserable people you will ever meet are people who don’t have enough to do. People who do nothing will eventually become bitter hostile scorners against those who do work (Ps 1:1)
 In his perfect state with complete unbroken fellowship with God, Adam’s job was that he was a gardener. That’s interesting in light of Ps 127;3, 128:3, Eph 5:25-28.  Modern man is still expected to be a gardener of sorts. Also interesting is that after Jesus Christ rises from the dead (he’s the last Adam, remember?) the first person to see him mistakes him for a gardener (John 20:15).
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying , Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat :  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die .  And the LORD God said , It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.  And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.  And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.” ( V16-20)
  Here we have two named trees, one of which is   available, and one of which is not.  It’s dangerous to speculate too much on things that the Bible is silent about, so we cannot prove either way that Adam ever took of the tree of life; all we know is that it wasn’t off limits.   God tells him he may eat freely. Some other times where God offers something freely can be found in Hos 14:4. Rom 3:24, Rom 8:32, 1 Cor 2:12, 2 Cor 11:7 Rev 21:6, 22:17.
 Since the tree of knowledge was a physical tree with physical fruit, God obviously intended a physical death. There is a teaching that says that Adam died ‘spiritually’ that day, and that when a man is saved, he gets a regenerated living spirit to replace the dead spirit he inherited from Adam.  I believe that teaching to be in error. The Bible never once describes an unregenerate man as having a dead spirit. 
  It’s worth noting that our definition of evil isn’t always the same as God’s definition. As the old saying goes, “Evil is not always sin, but sin is always evil.”. Evil biblically refers to destruction or harm.  If I find a rattlesnake about to bite one of my children, I promise you that I will visit evil upon him, but it won’t be a sin. Compare Ex 32:12-14 to James 1:15. Stay away from the tree, and you’ll never know sorrow, pain or destruction.
God had created animals all over the earth, but he made man in one spot and it would have been impractical for Adam to travel all over the earth to see them and name them. So God makes a representative of each kind of animal and brings it to Adam for the purposes of naming it. This also means that Adam named the serpent (Gen 3:1), but no timeline is given for how long that took. It could have easily taken a year or more.
  Notice that the term isn’t ‘helpmeet’ as it is usually cited. They are two separate words, ‘help’ and ‘meet’ with ‘meet’ meaning ‘fit for or appropriate to’ as in Matt3:8 or Mark 7:27.  One of the most damaging philosophies ever thrust upon our modern society is the issue of ‘equal rights’. Nowhere in your Bible are women referred to as inferior, but they are different with different roles, protections and responsibilities (1 Cor 11:3). When your ideas about social issues are informed by the news media instead of the word of God, you’re headed for trouble, or as  Pastor Kyle Stephens says “If you ignore what the Bible says about social issues, you’re lost.”
  That ‘help’ that a woman is supposed to be towards her husband can either be a blessing or a curse. (Prov 21;9, 19, Prov 25:24, Prov 19:14, Prov 18:22). A lady can affect her husband’s judgment seat. A Christian lady should never let worldly philosophy deprive her of the special status God has afforded her.
“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept : and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;  And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.  And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” (V21-25)
  There used to be an old joke about a conversation between Adam and God regarding the creation of the woman. Adam told God he wanted a wife, and God told him it would cost him an arm and a leg, to which Adam quipped “What can I get for a rib bone?”
  Seriously though, sleep is likened unto death in the Bible (1 Cor 15:51, I Thes 4:14, John 11:11-13) so here we have the first Adam dying in type for the creation of his bride. In the same vein the last Adam Jesus Christ died to give life to his bride.  Interestingly, it’s a rib that is taken; probably the 5th rib (2 Sam 2:23, 3:27, 4:6, 20:10) and probably the same rib area where the spear pierced Jesus’s side. The connection is made between churches and wives in Eph 5:20-25 as well as  a contrast made with 1 Cor. 6:16. The English word ‘woman’ simply is a combination of the words ‘womb’ and ‘man’. Eve is simply Adam with a womb.  Those that protest the illegitimacy of brothers marrying sisters in the first few generations of the human race should keep in mind that Adam married his own rib.
  Verse 25 is the last time in your Bible that it is OK to be naked.