Great Rejoicing

Genesis 3:15

[15] I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.

The man and the woman are separated from God.  Conflict, sorrow, hardship, and death have entered the world.  Yet there is hope.

The serpent will not be the friend of the man and the woman.  Humanity will resist the devil.  And one day, the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, will come and crush the serpent’s head once and for all.

Evil will be destroyed and there will be great rejoicing among God’s people.

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Sin is Relational

Genesis 3:16–19

[16] To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,
but he shall rule over you.”

[17] And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
[18] thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
[19] By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.” 

The consequences of sin include pain, conflict, frustration, exhaustion, and death.  We may wonder, why must the consequences for sin be so great and so lasting?

One reason sin has lasting consequences is because sin is relational.  If I steal my friend’s computer but later return it, our relationship will not be the same because the monetary value is not the issue but the breaking of trust.

Trust requires time and commitment to be rebuilt.  Yet because we fail to love God rightly every moment, we are constantly increasing our alienation with God with no hope of rebuilding our relationship with Him.

If we are to be right with God again, we need someone to intervene on our behalf.  We need a Savior.

Willful Rebellion

Genesis 3:4–6

[4] But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. [5] For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [6] So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

The serpent speaks to the woman and now she has a choice of whether to believe God or Satan.  Unfortunately, she casts the tie breaking vote herself, choosing to follow her own perception rather than God.

Here, Genesis describes the fundamental human problem as willful rebellion, not biological or sociological determinism, outside circumstances, or even other people.  Even today, the biggest problem in our lives is not circumstantial but moral.  We choose to do something other than love God with all our hearts and love our neighbors as ourselves.

While this is a hard pill to swallow, a problem inside of us is to be much preferred to a problem outside of us.  Blaming feels better, but ultimately leads to despair as we are caught up in forces far beyond our control.  But if the problem is our own hearts, we can choose to admit our faults and ask for the forgiveness and power of God.  And Jesus is faithful to respond to such requests with grace.

True, Beautiful, and Good

Genesis 3:6

[6] So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

God declared that to eat the fruit of this tree would lead to death.  But when the woman looks (with the help of the serpent) at the tree, she sees something good, delightful, and desirable.

The battle that rages in the heart of every human being is whether to believe God or to try to be God and determine for ourselves what is true, beautiful, and good.

A Strange Description

Genesis 3:1

[1] Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 

The serpent really is clever.  With one question, he manages to paint the woman as a victim and suggest she has the right to stand in judgment of God.  Did God really say that?  How oppressive!   He doesn’t care about you!

Yet this description of God is strange in light of Genesis 1 and 2.  Thus far, God is glorious, generous, almighty, kind, creative, wise, and eager to bless.  Sadly, what the man and the woman do not know (why that one tree was off limits) trumps what they do know (who God is and what He promises).

Naked and Unashamed

Genesis 2:25

[25] And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

The man and the woman are naked, yet have no shame.  This nakedness is not just physically, but spiritual, emotional, and relational.  They have absolutely nothing to hide.

No matter how open we are, we do not want even our spouse or best friend to know everything we have ever thought, felt, said, or done.  Perhaps there is some false shame involved, but deep down we know that there are many things we are rightly ashamed of.

Something is wrong in us.  Something is wrong with our world.  But praise God, He has sent His Son to do away with our shame and to bring the Kingdom in which we will have nothing to hide.

Genesis

Genesis 1:1

[1] In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

The Bible could have begun with the book of Exodus, the story of how God took a nation of slaves and chose them to become His people.  This would have explained the history and origin of the Jewish religion.  Instead, the Bible begins in Genesis with God creating the entire world.

The God of the Bible is not the Lord of one ethnic or religious group.  He is not tribal, but universal.  God is not competing with a variety of options.  He is the only God of heaven and earth and He has a good and sovereign purpose for all of creation.

In the beginning

Genesis 1:1

[1] In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

In the very first verse of Genesis, God is simply there.  He is not explained or analyzed.  He is there, and He is sovereignly doing what He pleases.

Humanity does not come into the picture until verse 26.  Humans are not central.  God is.  He is not the servant of humankind, but absolutely independent.  He is not confined by the finite minds of His creatures, but incomprehensible.

God is not a subject to be studied or debated, but a reality and a person to be worshiped.

God Grieves

Ezekiel 33:10–11

[10] “And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: ‘Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we live?’ [11] Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

Man thinks “you get what you deserve,” but God grieves over the deserved suffering of sinners.

Who We Really Are and What Our Lives Are For

The Thing Is
Tony Payne

Isaiah 45:9–13

[9] “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?
[10] Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’”

[11] Thus says the LORD,
the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him:
“Ask me of things to come;
will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?
[12] I made the earth
and created man on it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
and I commanded all their host.
[13] I have stirred him up in righteousness,
and I will make all his ways level;
he shall build my city
and set my exiles free,
not for price or reward,”
says the LORD of hosts.

There is an inescapable truth here. If God is the creator and we are his creatures, then us telling God what to do is about as sensible as a coffee mug arguing with its potter. God is the creator and master of all—the great Potter who fashions and forms us, who decides what we are for and how he will use us. He is the one who determines what his creatures are for, and what they should do. The thing is: we don’t get to decide who we really are and what our lives are for—our creator does. Let’s be honest. We hate this idea.  It grates with everything we hold dear. A lifetime of Disney movies has taught us that you must be free to follow your heart, and that no-one else (least of all a Religious Authority Figure) can direct the course of your life. You must be yourself, and find the real truth about yourself within yourself. Only then can you believe in yourself, and be free to become your true self. There are very few beliefs that everyone in Western society holds in common these days, but this is one of them: the absolute right to personal self-determination. When an external authority tries to impose its rules or priorities or values upon us, we protest (too loudly perhaps) that “No-one has the right to tell me how to live my life”. In the words of the 60s anthem, “You gotta go where you wanna go, do what you wanna do, with whoever you wanna do it with…”

The strange thing is, this deep attachment we have to self-determination contradicts the equally deep sense we have that human life is purposeful and meaningful. As we considered at the opening of this chapter, this idea that human life is purposeful resonates with all of us. We know at a visceral level that our lives are not meaningless or random. And yet this can only be the case if our lives are the result of design or intention—that is, if we came to exist not purely by the result of physical forces acting randomly, but through the intention and purpose of a creator. And so we see the profound folly by which the human heart has always been bound. We sense very deeply that we have been made; that we were intended; that there is a purpose and meaning to human life that can only be the result of us being created by Another. And yet we also stubbornly rebel against the idea that the purpose and direction of our lives can only be given to us by Another—that is, by the God who created us. We want the freedom to live as if no-one created us, and yet we cannot abide the meaningless, purposeless nature of an accidental, non-created world. All in all, we desire to be in the position of the potter rather than the clay. And that desire, along with its tragic consequences, is as old as humanity itself.