Well after January’s series: “What’s going on here,” I got a lot of positive feedback. So, I thought I’d stick up all 5 in the ‘adopted from sermons’ menu in DM. So, after a bit of editing these should hopefully make for some encouraging reading. Enjoy!
What’s going on here? 1: After the Fall.
Genesis 1:26-30 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
Genesis 2:16-17 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 from it you will certainly die.”
Genesis 3:14-19 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush[b] your head, and you will strike his heel.” to the woman he said,“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” 17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Ok, so that’s a big bible reading this and there’s of course no way that we can delve into each verse in lots of depth. But maybe we can do a super quick summary of what we are talking about here; the Adamic covenant.
Here’s the three-part (not in order) summary of the Bible reading:
- 1: God outlines the boundaries for living in the garden and by extension, creation.
- 2: God outlines the perks of living under his care and will. For instance, they are capable of relationship, they can explore, taste, see and care for God’s creation. Part of the perks however, include responsibility and therefore warnings about what is going to happen is they stuff up.
- 3: Lastly (and the focus for this morning) God outlines both the punishments and promises post-fall.
Now that we have some context let me step backwards for a minute and do the intro to the whole series. Welcome to ‘what’s going on here?’ What we’re going to do is looking at the first 5 big covenants in Scripture and pay special notice to when and in what circumstances God gives them.
In case you don’t know, the simplest definition of a covenant is a ‘promise made in public.’ That is, there is an accountability factor involved as it is made before the eyes and ears of many. Last year, I began to notice a pattern with the big covenants of the bible, they do NOT tend to be given when everything is all ‘sunshine and roses’ but actually when it’s more ‘the wheels are falling off.’ I find this extremely encouraging, especially if you are in a place where you are beginning to wonder if the wheels are falling off your life.
I heard a quote this week, and I must apologise for not taking down the reference, please if you recognise it, let me know who it is. But it goes like this “you will come to a point where you believe that it is all over, when in fact this is the dawn of a new beginning.” This is such a great quote for describing what God’s promises are like. Let’s get into it.
- When and how it all went wrong.
Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
Here we have the last conversation in paradise. Up until now, there has been simply God and humanity. But here comes another creature. This creature is said to be a one of the creatures God has made, (so he’s part of creation) but it also points out that there is something special about him, over and above the other creatures. We see that he is in fact a composite being, not equal in God’s eyes to a human being, (no wonder he’s jealous) but, is crafty. That is he possesses such an awareness and intelligence that separates him from any of the wild animals.
He is the enemy of God. How do we know? Because he’s here. Of course he is, God has just said that “it was very good.” Where else would an enemy of God be than at the very centre stage of God’s activity, seeking to muck it up. Let me pause here for a moment and say that our only hope, individually and corporately is that The Spirit is more at work in us that Satan.
The content of the question is interesting, it encourages Eve to use her own reasoning rather than God’s. Meanwhile, Adam is simply useless, never once interjecting. In fact, the serpent’s question deliberately targets the woman because it reverses their roles. Part of Eve’s role as Adam’s helper (Genesis 2:18) is an adviser, a sounding board to aid him in making decisions. I’m not going to launch now into a sermon on the biblical doctrine of the genders, that’s for another time. But suffice it to say that by addressing Eve, firstly and directly, he places Her into a role she isn’t used to, and Adam in one that he’s not used to. In short, he catches them both off guard.
Why is this, ‘Did God really say?’ the key question that Satan uses to bring about the fall? Because he knows that if he can get them to doubt God’s word once…..they’ll do it forever more.
You see, the real ‘pandora’s box’ here is that humanity has failed to take God at his word once, now why would they suddenly ever change? We are launched out on to a trajectory of faithlessness in God’s Word. That’s a problem because all things are created and sustained through what? God’s word.
Now, God has to go to that much more effort to get them to believe anything again, including and especially, that he is trying to rescue them.
Fast forward to today and we arrive at the core of many people’s misery. They do not receive or believe God’s word when it confronts and challenges them and therefore, they cannot receive nor believe any of the wonderful promises of scripture. In other words, nothing inoculates you from the wonders of God like long term disobedience of his word. If you have noticed that you can hear wonderful promises of scripture and still merely think nothing more than ‘yeah, well that’s nice,’ I can tell you why; you’ve been ignoring God.
Here’s the good news, it works in reverse. Jesus said “they who hear my words and put them into practice are like a man who built his house on the rock.” He doesn’t mean everything will go well, he’s not talking a life unaffected by storms. He’s talking about a heart that can perceive grace. The road to intimacy is paved with obedience. When you know God loves you and has rescued you, you can stand in any storm. But good luck trying to gain a knowledge of grace outside of obedience.
- The promise.
Repeatedly in the scriptures, God takes Satan’s well-crafted plans and rather than simply working around them, actually uses them to achieve the very opposite that Satan intended. This is a tiny glimpse into the great mystery of God’s sovereignty.
Gen 3:14-15 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And 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.
Satan targets Eve, and here, God spells Satan’s eventual doom by the hand whom? In a sense….Eve. He will put enmity between the offspring of Satan and Eve. One will strike, the other will crush, but it is the seed of the woman whom God will inhabit, and only he will rise again.
Where Satan’s attack tried to neutralise a primary role of Eve, God utilises a central role of femininity; that is child birth, to bring Satan down. Notice that it does not say the offspring of Her and her husband? Why? because he whom would crush Satan’s head is not born of natural conception but of the Holy Spirit himself. How cool it that?!
- But wait there’s more.
Gen 3:16 To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labour you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
Ok, what’s going on here? Well childbearing isn’t fun, so at the very least that implies that there is a time of great suffering before the saviour can appear. But what is of interest here is the second half of the verse. The Hebrew word for ‘desire’ here happens only two times in the entire OT. The only other time is pretty soon later on when God says to Cain, ‘Sin desires to have you but you must master it.’ It is not a pure form of desire. It’s a manipulative, enslaving, idolatrous type of desire, one that produces misery. So Cain wants a helper, one who will support him but what he gets is one who will use him as an object of satisfaction. Meanwhile, Even needs a knight in shining armour, one who will protect her, and give himself up for her. But what does she get? A tyrant. When you consider these two things you realise that scripture tells us that because of sin, the default mode of all human relationships is manipulation.
This by the way is where I begin my pre-marriage counselling. I say to couples, “no matter what you think of each other now, the bible says, that this is where your relationship is heading save for the intervening grace of God.” To deny it is to guarantee it. To admit it is the beginning of guarding against it. You young crew, get God involved in your relationships, because this is the default mode without him.
It is possible that God in his common grace sustains some relationships without people even realising it, but I say again, this is the default mode.
And yet do you see the promise? One day, a man, will rule over you. In fact he’ll rule over me. He will rule over all the earth and everything in it, Not in a tyrannical way but there is one, who when mere men lord it over and abuse, he will flip the switch to reverse, He’ll give himself away……for the sake of his…….bride. There’s a reason why the New Testament relies so heavily on this analogy for the church.
- God’s got a plan
Gen 3:23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken
This is the most loving, gracious thing God ever does in this covenant. He blocks access to the Garden for fallen humanity. Why? Because what does the Garden contain? The Tree of life.
God blocks man’s access to immortality. Why? Because God loves humanity far, far too much to condemn us to an eternity of living in this fallen state. So he waits. He waits for his plan to be complete and fulfilled. It makes perfect sense that the tree of life reappears in the holy City towards the end of the book of revelation. Why? Because sin has been dealt with, Immortality is joy without sin, hell with it. God loves us far too much to let Humanity have access to immortality before he’s done something about our SIN.
So he protects us from our own greed as he sets about HIS plan of Salvation.
You see folks, God’s got a plan.
This is not wishful thinking. It’s the truth. It’s a truth that sometimes can seem too wonderful to be true but it is the truth. I cannot deny the consistent and coherent witness of the scriptures through many lives, through so many experiences that tell me, when I ask the question “what’s going on here?”……the answer comes back; God is in control. God’s got a plan.
In any situation, the question will always haunt us this side of eternity… “did God really say?” Our only task no matter how we may feel is to respond, “you bet he did he in fact went one better, his very Word became flesh.”