We often focus on the fall of man and the punishment that follows. Have you ever really taken the time to examine God's response to our rebellion?
So, as we continue the story of God, we should refresh our minds on what we have already learned. We started in Genesis 1&2:
We are created for representation & relationship
We are created in the image (icon/statue) of God for relationship with Him and others.
We chose self-representation & broken relationships
When Eve & Adam chose to believe the serpent instead of God and choose to make themselves gods instead of trusting THE God, their relationships with each other and God were broken. They no longer experienced pure, good relationships and they no longer represented God, but themselves.
When we left the story last week, we left off there, which is kind of depressing.
It’s like the last Avenger’s movie where all the good guys are dying and the bad guy wins. ?
How many of you have seen that movie? **SPOILER ALERT** Someone tell me how it ended.
Are you OK with the ending? Why? Because you KNOW that something has to happen. Good has to win over evil, right? Why? Because the hero stories we portray on this earth are all part of, or an imitation of the story of God. It is part of our DNA.
God makes everything good. The antagonist, the serpent shows up and mankind goes into a downward spiral in a hurry! But the hero of the story is God. The book starts by introducing us to the God who simply speaks things into being and who can make something out of nothing. Who, by his very breath can make all things good. The hero is still God, and always will be. But according to OUR perspective, the plot took a twist.
NOTE: The Avengers movie ending seemed to be an unexpected plot twist, it was the author’s design. Though man’s choice of self-deification seems to be an unexpected plot twist from our perspective, we see that it is all part of the Author’s original story line.
Heroes are not passive, couch sitters. Heroes are not fatalists nor are they apathetic. Every hero has a mission. We NOW get our first glimpse into the mission of God.
Let’s jump back to that passage in Genesis and see what God does.
8 When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. 9 Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” 10 He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” 11 “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” 13 Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.” // Genesis 3:8–13 NLT
He went looking for them in the garden. When Adam and Eve were in hiding, trying to avoid God, God called out to them.
It is the initiative of God that is on display here. He KNEW where they were, yet He called out, “where are you”. No matter how far you try to hide from God, He is there. No matter how ashamed you might feel, he still pursues. God knew they sinned, God knew they were hiding, and yet God sought them in the garden and called out to them.
I remember when my kids were really little. They would sit on the couch or floor and put a blanket over their head. Because they could not see me they assumed I cannot see them. I would call, “Tyler, where are you?” and he would pull the blanket off his head and smile. As the dad I knew where they were. They were not really hiding, though they tried to hide.
God does not simply ask, “why are you hiding?”. He asks, “who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree I told you not to?”.
God asks a pointed question, “who told you” and then asks a second question that implies that he already knows the answer, “did you eat that forbidden fruit?”.
Why would God ask these questions?
Why do we ask questions like that to our kids? You know, they have the sugar and crumbs on their faces and one of the sugar cookies is gone. “Did you eat that cookie?” If they answer “yes” you have a different response than if they say “no”, right? Why? Because confession leads to renewal, denial and lies lead to ruin. You are not so concerned about that cookie as you are their response to being caught.
Though they did come up with excuses to try to rationalize their actions or pass the blame, they BOTH confessed to eating the fruit.
God is giving them a chance to confess. Why? So he can renew and restore the relationship.
1 Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! 2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! 3 When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. 4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Interlude 5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Interlude // Psalm 32:1–5 NLT
God must punish and discipline. But he also desires to forgive and restore. For that to happen we have to take responsibility for our actions and ownership of our punishment. The great news is that if we are willing to do that, he is willing to forgive.
Not only will God forgive, but he even goes beyond that.
21 And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife. // Genesis 3:21 NLT
God covered them and gave them their dignity back. He could have left them to deal with their shame on their own, but instead he chose to cover them in a way only he could have:
Wait, they had made their own covering out of fig leaves. Why not just let them figure out how to make their own clothing? They got themselves into this mess, why not let them figure out how to deal with their consequences themselves?
God not only forgave them, but he restored them by covering their guilt and shame. His goal is still for Adam & Eve to represent him, but that means they must be clothed with dignity and not shame.
Even as the judge made the pronouncements of punishment, he also offered a seed of hope:
I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. // Genesis 3:15 CSB
Perhaps that seems a bit obscure, but that is referred to as “the promise of the seed of the woman”. It is a promise that someday a man, born of a woman, will crush the head of the serpent (Satan), killing it.
This is a promise of restoration. This is the mission of God that you will see all throughout the Scriptures. God’s desire is to restore creation back to what it was before the sin of man. But we will not jump to the end of the book just yet ? Highlight that verse, and Lord willing we will come back to it in the weeks to come.
Though God is a righteous judge who must punish sin, that is only a part of his character that we see in this Genesis 3 narrative.
As you read your Bibles, you will see how God’s character and actions in this regard are proven over and over. Let me show you a great example: [2 Samuel 12]
David summarizes that process of restoration in Psalm 51:
1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. 2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. 3 For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. 4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. 5 For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. 6 But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there. 7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. 9 Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. 11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. 13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. 14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. 15 Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. 16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. // Psalm 51:1–17 NLT
To understand the mission of God you need to know the heart of God.
God created mankind as his special creation to represent Him and have relationships with him and each other. We pursued our own self-deification by placing our will, desires and knowledge above God’s (sinned) and were cursed. But God, who is rich in mercy, continues to pursue us in hopes to reconcile our relationship with him and restore our original purposes of relationship and representation.
I am not sure what you believe about God, but do you believe:
This morning we celebrate communion. For those of us that have confessed our sins to God, this is a celebration of our restored relationship with God because of Jesus. It is a reminder that we do not need to walk around in shame for our wrong doings, nor do we need to hide. Because of Jesus we are clothed in righteousness and his blood covers our sins. It is a reminder that God is always loving and pursuing his children, even when we rebel.
As we celebrate this time, start by praying with me and with David:
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. // Psalm 51:10 ESV
Perhaps there is a hurt you refuse to forgive, an anger that you will not let go of, an addiction that has taken the place of God, or simply a pride of thinking you know better than God. We all wrestle with these things – today is a great day to start with confession and allow God to renew your heart and his relationship with you.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. // 1 John 1:9 CSB