March 21/22

MAIN TEXT: Genesis 3:1-24

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’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 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. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LordGod said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
    cursed are you above all livestock
    and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
    and dust you shall eat
    all the days of your life.
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.”

To the woman he said,

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

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;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
    and you shall eat the plants of the field.
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 man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And theLord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

The Good News of Jesus comes to us through the form of a story. The story reveals to us the truth of who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. This is God’s story. This is the story.

It is vital that followers of Christ understand the meta-narrative of scripture. The major themes of the Bible bring richness and application to the smaller stories. We must not merely maintain a collection of disconnected Bible stories without seeing the grander story of God, mankind, and His creation. God’s work of redemption in creation is comprehensive. We have a place in this story, and when we are in Christ, we have a role and mission within the biblical story.

Last week we marveled at the creation story and the new creation promised in the future. It caused us to see where we have come from, who we are, and where we are going. Christ’s redemption is comprehensive – all of creation will be restored. Genesis one and two make it clear that human beings were created good. The garden that God places Adam and Eve was rich, fertile, and God Himself dwelled there. Creation was brimming with peace – the rich relational wholeness that God intends for His creation.

Today we focus on what is ominously referred to as the story of “the fall”. Eugene Peterson put it well,

A catastrophe has occurred. We are no longer in continuity with our good beginning. We have been separated from it by disaster. We are also, of course, separated from our good end. We are, in other words, in the middle of a mess.

Eugene Peterson

 

what caused it?

We can all attest to the fact that the world we live in is very wounded. Our own experiences are so drastically different than what is described in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3 tells us what happened. Here are three limited things that we know from Scripture:

  1. A serpent appears. His origin is unknown. Later we learn that this creature is also known as Satan (Revelation 12:9). This creature would disrupt God’s good creation. There is much mystery surrounding the origin of evil in creation.
  2. Mankind had a freedom to choose to obey and to disobey and a freedom to love and not to love. The serpent tempts them by telling them things contrary to what God had told them (Genesis 2:16-17).
  3. The temptation was to be autonomous. Adam and Eve could obey God or defy God. If they obey God’s law they will enjoy life. If they try their own way and ignore his instructions they will experience death. They wanted to set their own law independent from God. The serpent cast doubt on God’s words and His character suggesting that God was afraid. They saw the tree differently because of what the serpent said. 

With these suggestions, lies, and half-truths, the man and woman saw the tree differently and they took the fruit and ate.

 

What are the consequences?

At first the serpent appeared to be right – they didn’t fall over and die immediately. Make no mistake, Genesis 3-11 clearly lays out that something in them and between them does die.

  • Their sense of who they are has been destroyed – they become deathly self-conscious and feel shame (cover and hide).
  • Their relationship with each other is shattered – blame is pointed.
  • Their relationship with God is broken.
  • God confronts them and declares judgment: serpent cursed; childbirth difficult; ground stricken so that work is made difficult and unpleasant; driven out of Eden.

Evil and sin is now woven into every aspect of God’s creation and every dimension of each person and humanity as a whole.

Physically – we are now subject to death and decay. We live in a cursed environment.

Intellectually – we use our massive powers of rationality to normalize our own evil ways. 

Socially – every human relationship is fractured–sexual, parental, family, and societal–it permeates all human cultures and every interaction. 

Spiritually – we are alienated from God and have rejected his goodness and authority. 

The death that came was more than an end to physical life. Death meant the distortion of relationships and specifically our vital relationship with our Creator. Romans 1:18-32 outlines the sobering depth of brokenness that has resulted from the original fall. 

 

God doesn’t give up

If there is good news for such horrific and permeating hopelessness, it better be big. The story of the world doesn’t end so sadly. Even with the entrance of sin into the world, God does not give up His purposes for His creation and His Kingdom. God’s redemptive and gracious character is displayed immediately:

  • Though Adam and Eve flee from God, He takes the initiative to seek them out. 
  • A promise that the woman’s offspring will crush the serpents head and defeat him and extinguish the evil forces that Adam and Eve have unleashed (Genesis 3:15). God will pay this great cost. 
  • God provides clothing for them. It is a sign that God has not given up His purpose for them. They will still bear His image and inherit the earth. 

Disobedience has brought catastrophe. Adam and Eve have a most uncertain future. The lush garden is closed behind them and a dangerous world looms ahead. It was excruciating to face their good Creator when he found them and yet He gave them clothes to wear and a mysterious promise to ponder. 

The Good News is that the Bible gives us a gospel (redemptive story) that addresses every dimension of the problem that sin has created. God’s mission is the final destruction and removal of all that is evil in His creation. The redemption of His entire creation is His mission and He calls us into that mission for His glory.

The serpent’s head will be crushed!


APPLY TO LIFE

This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.


BLESS RHYTHMS

This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.

Bless
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.

Listen
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.

Eat
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.

Speak
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.

Sabbath
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.

DISCUSS THE MESSAGE

Read: Genesis 3:1-24

Why is knowing the biblical story important?

In what ways do you see the effects of sin in our world?

Take a moment to discuss the phrase from the song Joy to the World that says, “He comes to make His blessings flow. Far as the curse is found.” in light of the message.

How does Jesus restore us to our intended design and purpose as humanity?