Have you ever wondered where credit cards came from? I did a little research and discovered that they were first introduced in the United States in the 1920’s by oil companies and hotel chains for customers to use at company outlets. To all intents and purposes, they were created to be used for travel. It wasn’t until the 1950’s however, that a universal credit card was created for people to use at a variety of establishments.
Today of course, credit cards are widely used, especially in the United States and many people have sadly racked up a great deal of debt which they find difficult to pay back. Why? Because the whole nature of the credit system is to charge interest, or usury, so that the only one really benefiting from the credit card is the bank that hands them out. Very few people ever get out of credit card debt!
Keeping that last thought in mind, I want to show you something in the Bible that very much looks like a credit card to me. Now before you think I’ve lost my mind, hear me out and let me walk you through the entire process. I believe it will all make sense in the end.
In the book of Genesis we are told the history of creation. God created the heavens and the earth and everything that lives and breathes, including man. After He created man, he also created a woman from Adam’s rib, thus creating a counterpart for him. The two became one, or as Adam put it, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:23) Sadly, after God had created them they disobeyed Him. God had planted a garden East of Eden, where He put the two of them, and told Adam that He could eat from any tree in the garden, except from a tree planted in the middle, which God called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The details are given in the book of Genesis, chapters 1-3.
For our purposes today, I will focus on what happened that fateful day when Adam and Eve were walking through the garden, looking at the trees and deciding which one to eat from:
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5)
What the serpent said to the woman sounds pretty amazing doesn’t it? Here’s my modern vernacular: “Hey Eve, God’s lying to you. He just doesn’t want you to be like him. You won’t die. Trust me.” Long story short, she believed him and they both ate it’s fruit and the results were immediate: “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” (Genesis 3:7)
What happened was immediate shame and condemnation. The shame was so great that not only did they try to make themselves clothes to cover their nakedness, but when they heard the Lord walking in the garden, as was his custom before the fall, they hid from him. This whole story is called “the fall of man”, when sin entered the world. So where does this credit card I talked about earlier come in?
Let’s look at what Eve said to the Lord, when He questioned them about what happened. She said to Him, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13 NASB)
What she says here seems pretty straight forward, and so simple, in many ways. But I want to show you something. That little word “deceived” has some interesting origins in the original Hebrew. In both the New King James Bible and the English Standard Bible, the word used is nasa, which means to deceive or to lead astray. But, in the New American Standard Bible, we are given more information. In this translation, even though the original word is the same, nasa, we are given further revelation. In this case, it also means, “to lend on interest or usury, be a creditor”. I found this to be fascinating because it gives us so much more insight about what really happened that day. The serpent gave her a credit card: “Here Eve, if you believe me and eat that fruit, you will have wisdom and understanding, and in exchange you will forever be in my debt. But, you will never be able to pay back that loan, let alone the interest I’m going to charge you.” The serpent was right. There is nothing that we can do in our own strength or power that will ever pay back the debt of sin that we owe. We are born sinners, in need of a Savior.
No, they didn’t physically die that day. As a matter of fact, they lived for hundreds of years. What died was their spirit. They now had a sin nature which they would pass on to their children and even down to us. That sin nature has separated us from the living God, from a Holy God.
This is exactly why Jesus Christ, when He was dying on the cross, thousands of years later, cried out “It is finished”. (John 19:30) That word finished is teleo in the Greek and it means to “to end, i.e. complete, execute, conclude, discharge (a debt): — accomplish, make an end, expire, fill up, finish, go over, pay, perform.” Jesus paid our credit card off. He paid it in full! There’s only one catch. In order for His sacrifice on the cross to count towards that debt, we must be born again.
In the gospel of John, chapter 3, Jesus is talking to a ruler of the Jews named Nicodemus. Jesus tells him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” He goes on to tell Nicodemus in verse 5, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”. Your spirit must be born again. You must repent of your sins, acknowledge that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, died on the cross for your sins and then rose again on the third day. He is alive, sitting at the right hand of the Father in heaven. He is Lord of lords and King of kings. If you believe that and repent of your sins, you will have eternal life.
That credit card debt that all of us are born with can never be repaid in our own power. He is a holy God and we are separated from Him because of our sin. The good news, or what is commonly called the Gospel, is that He provided a way to get out of that debt: His name is Jesus.