(An audio recording of this message is available here)
It is said that once in the old days in an Eastern city a poor old beggar, his body shrunken and sick and covered with sores was sent to one of the great hospitals, and after being there for some days, was taken to the operating room. In those days they did not have anesthesia, as they have now, and the patient could hear all the preparations for the ordeal.
So before the surgeon began his work on this poor old wreck of a human being, he turned to the young medical students who were in attendance and using scholarly Latin, said to them,
"Let's perform an experiment on this worthless body."
He thought his language wouldn't be understood, but this old beggar was once a great scholar himself. Although he had drifted away into liquor and sin, and had gone down the primrose path until he was just a wreck, he still understood Latin. So he lifted himself on one elbow there in the operating room and said, in perfect Latin, mind you,
"Yet for this worthless body Jesus Christ has died."
And so, friends, it might seem like a worthless body, a worthless man, a worthless, shattered, character; but always remember: Yet for this worthless one, this worthless life, Jesus Christ has died. And that puts an infinite worth on every human being. A human being is infinitely valuable. (taken from "Revival Sermons by H.M.S. Richards" 1978 Hosanna House, Hollywood, California. pp158-159)
I love talking about Jesus and what He means to me, and what He has done for me and for those around me. On my previous post we talked about how Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him.
My grasp of the gospel, the good news, and my appreciation for what Jesus did and does for me, is magnified each time I study the Bible. Some may think it odd that we are spending so much time in the first few chapters of Genesis. Many tend to ignore the first 11 chapters of Genesis. Creation, the fall, the flood, these are accounts that some struggle with believing and many have tendency to downplay the importance of this portion of scriptures.
The majority of Christians seem to prefer to discuss the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. I love the New Testament. And something fascinating caught my attention as I studied the New Testament. One of them is found in the book of Acts chapter 8.
Here we have story of how Philip, a deacon, (Acts 6:5) was awakened by an angel and told to head south along the road. There he meets high ranking Ethiopian official who is returning from Jerusalem and reading Isaiah the prophet. The Ethiopian had gone to Jerusalem to worship and now the Spirit tells Philip to go and talk to the Ethiopian official.
Acts 8:35 says that Philip opened his mouth and beginning with Isaiah he preached Jesus to the Ethiopian. Philip preached the gospel, from Isaiah. Philip preached Jesus from prophetic books and the Old Testament. Which is the proper way of studying prophecy. If you are studying prophecy and you find nothing pointing to Jesus anywhere, you’re doing something wrong.
Another story that caught my attention is found in Luke 24. Here we have Jesus, after He raised from the dead, joining two disciples on the road to Emmaus. The disciples talk with Jesus without recognizing Him and Luke 24:25-27 records Jesus saying:
Luke 24:25-27 (NRSV)
25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah[a] should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
Here we have Jesus helping His disciples understand His ministry by teaching them from the Old Testament. Philip used the same approach when preaching to the Ethiopian official.
The careful and prayerful study of any book of the Bible will always give us a clearer understanding of who Jesus is, what He did, what He is doing, and ultimately what He will do.
We have seen Jesus in Genesis 1 as the Word of God according to John 1. So we have God creating through Jesus. Now we will continue our study on Genesis 3 and we will find the first gospel message of the Bible.
Last time we talked about how when we sin, we are pretty much telling God that we can do a better job than Him, that we are our own masters, and we know better.
This is evident int he text when we notice how many times the text says “God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 25, 31) and then we see the text saying “the woman saw that the tree was good…” (Genesis 3:6)
Even also behaves like God in that “she took of its fruit and… gave to her husband, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6) The three verbs in the quotation that I italicized have so far in the story only been associated with God. God “gave” to “eat” (Genesis 1:9); God “took” the man (2:15); and God “took” one of his ribs (2:21).
If you were a reading this in Hebrew you would notice how even the verbal forms match. Eve identifies herself with the Creator and Adam follows automatically, “and she ate” and “and he ate.” (3:6)
Now for the first time in their lives Adam and Eve experience disconnection with God. They are no longer covered and protected by Him.
Psalm 104:1-2 Describes God clothed with honor and majesty covered with light as with a garment. Some believe that Adam and Eve were naked but not ashamed in Genesis 2:25 because they had similar garments of light and now Genesis 3:7 that garment of light is gone making them feel the need to cover themselves. The original text also uses different words for naked, `arowm in Genesis 2:25 and a different word `eyrom in Genesis 3:7.
Now we also read that Adam and Eve “made” themselves coverings. Guess who had been the only person making anything up to this point? So far the verb used here for “make” was used in relation to God 12 times. 12 times so far the Bible says God “made,” and now that Adam and Eve ate the fruit suddenly they are also “making.”
Remember the temptation, remember what the serpent said?
“You will be like God.”
When we read the text carefully we notice how Eve than Adam slowly begin to do things that before only God had been doing. I am not saying it is wrong to look and judge if something is good or bad, I am not saying it wrong for someone to make, build, or create. I am only pointing out how the biblical narrative portrays the subtle shifts in the story with a careful attention to how the story is told.
Many of these narrative details I have pointed out have been noticed by scholars who deny that the story ever took place. They may not believe that Adam or Eve ever really existed, but they agree the storyteller masterfully portrays their separation from God and trying to become like God in the way he tells the story. These scholars may deny that the Bible is inspired, but they regard whoever wrote Genesis as an unparalleled master storyteller.
I believe that Moses wrote the account, I believe it took place, and I believe this careful attention to detail is one more evidence of the divine inspiration of this book.
Adam and Even made themselves coverings and they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden. And what do Adam and his wife do?
Apparently their own works (Gal. 2:16) were not enough to solve their problem. What Adam and Eve made was not sufficient to take away their shame and guilt and fear.
Now God speaks to Adam and Eve and asks them a series of questions.
This is interesting because God already knows everything. So why do you think God asks questions?
“Where are you?”
Is the first question. God knows where Adam is. Adam is the one who needs to understand his position. God here is playing the role of a judge, or the prosecutor in a court of law who interrogates the culprit in order to make him realize his fault and prepare him for the forthcoming sentence. You could label this an investigative judgment. God is gathering the facts, and exposing the truth. This process, God approaching humans to confront their behavior and judge them, is a theme that is repeated multiple times in Genesis.
It is important to note that God is not asking because He lacks information, but rather for the sake of the person being judged, to help him/her understand what he/she did.
We do similar things when we hear a loud crash and see a child standing by and we know what happened, but we still ask the child what happened. We want to make sure the child understands what she did and the consequences that are about to follow.
Adam answers God’s question stating he heard God and was afraid because he was naked and he hid.
God asks another question.
“Who told you you were naked?”
“Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”
Adam has a golden opportunity to confess his sin and beg God for mercy. Instead he throws Eve under the buss and blames even God before stating that he did in fact eat of the tree.
“What is this you have done?”
God now asks Eve a question.
Eve follows her husband’s template and blames the serpent (indirectly blaming God who created the serpent) and acknowledges she was deceived (also a way of diminishing personal blame) and finally admits she also did eat.
After God has asked these questions and Adam and Eve are both aware of what they did, God proceeds to the next part of the judgment. He pronounces the sentence.
The sentence begins with the serpent. No questions are asked, the serpent has no excuse. The serpent is cursed because of its actions, because of what Adam and Eve said.
At the end of the sentence on the serpent we have the first gospel message, or the first messianic prophecy
God places enmity, hostility, between the serpent and the woman, between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.
The seed can be understood as a reference to offspring, but because of the sentence that follows. “He shall bruise your head” we notice that the seed is also referring to a specific person who will defeat the serpent but also suffer in the process.
In the midst of the judgment, in the heart of the the chapter, we have a messianic prophecy, we have good news!
The serpent will be defeated!
SomeOne is coming!
The rest of the Old Testament will tell us more about this theme, and about what He will do. The Old Testament is all about announcing that someOne is coming to defeat the serpent.
By the end of the chapter God has to “make” one more thing. God made tunics of skin and clothed them. God could have made them clothes out of cotton or silk, but God made them tunics of skin. For Adam and Even to be clothed an animal had to die. Remember, the serpent would bruise the heel of the seed. To defeat the serpent, to solve the sin problem, there would be a cost. For Adam and Eve to be covered and innocent animal had to die.
Adam and Eve were given hope. Ultimately, the serpent would be defeated. SoneOne was coming! But until that day, there were consequences because of their choice, because of their sin. Their disobedience caused them to be banished form the garden and from access to the tree of life. The death process would now begin.
But in the midst of the sadness and guilt and regret. Adam and Eve had a hope to hold on to. for God had told them.
SomeOne is coming!