Genesis: means "origins or source!" This is a very first word of the first sentence in Scriptures! Genesis 1:1 In the beginning. People have waxed eloquent in singing the praises of this, the first book of the Bible and rightly so. For it contains the beginning of all great theology and has been rightly labeled as "The Starting Point of All Theology!"
- It is part of a collection of books, the first five books of the Bible called the Pentateuch.
- Traditionally Moses is seen as the author. While there is a lot of debate about this and rightly so because there is no place in the Bible where a direct and unmistakable claim maintaining Mosaic authorship. But there are a number of factors that do point to Moses as being the author. Not the least being a statement by Jesus himself!
- John 5:46 if you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say? I think the inference here is clear, which is why I have no problems crediting the Pentateuch to Moses.
The basic thrust behind the Pentateuch is the formation of the people of God!
- We see in the first three chapters God’s heart and purpose for his creation. Then we read about the fall of humanity and the devastating effect that had on the whole of God's creation!
- As we continue to read through Genesis, we discover the story of how the Sovereign Lord of creation, begins the road of redemption by choosing one man (Abraham) out of all of humanity, who now is lost in their sinful condition as a result of the fall.
- And through Abraham, he will continue what many calls the…
- The golden thread of lineage, is what the Old Testament not only follows, but keep careful record of, highlighting specific people, events and prophetic words that lay the groundwork for understanding the New Testament!
- It’s a thread that started with Adam, that went through Abraham, Moses, king David, and ending with the Birth of Jesus Christ! Now it would not surprise me to find out that most of you reading this haven’t given this much thought. But fact is, this golden thread of lineage not only helps us understand why the Old Testament was written the way it was, but how the Old Testament is intimately connected to the New Testament.
- The gospel of Matthew opens us by tracing the lineage of Jesus back to Abraham. This was important because Matthew was writing primarily to the Jewish people. And he wanted to help them understand that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the fulfillment of the promise God gave Abraham, that through him, all the nations of the world will be blessed.
- The gospel of Luke on the other hand, traces the lineage of Jesus all the way back to Adam, because Luke was writing primarily to gentile, non-Jewish audience, and he wanted to show them how not only was Jesus the Savior of Israel, but of the whole world. Men and women from every nation!
- The gospel of Mark gives us no lineage, because his primary audience was Rome, who loved stories of people who came from nothing and rose up to be heroes. In that vein, Mark portrays Jesus as one who was a slave, who went on to become a man of great authority and power, who then willingly sacrificed himself on behalf of others.
- And then there is the gospel of John, who takes Jesus lineage all the way back to God himself: in beginning was the word, and word with God, and the word was God!
There is Only One God
- :It is also significant to note that when God called Abraham, he called him out of a society that worshiped hundreds, if not thousands of false Gods. Every aspect of nature had a God assigned to it. For example, we have the sun God, and moon God, and multiple Gods ascribed to certain constellation of stars.
- Furthermore, people assigned a God to every physical aspects of creation as well as to certain animals, birds, and fish.
- Nevertheless, God calls this one-man to himself, through whom he will give birth to a nation, who will be known because of their exclusive relationship with God, marked by covenant.
- A nation, God promises to use to bring about the redemption of the entire earth! But before that can happen, God gives them this one stipulation, they must believe that there is only one God
- Practically speaking, So, every day, Israel would recite this phrase, which became the bedrock of their faith:
- Deut 6:4-6 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
- In retrospect then, what we have in the opening chapters of the Bible, then, is not a treatise about science or the age of the earth, but the foundation for historic monotheism.
- His purpose was to demonstrate for future generations of Israelite's that the God of Israel is the only God and that there is no other. And He could be trusted because he was the Creator of the heavens and the earth, meaning that it was he who created human beings, for the purpose of having a relationship with him and that they would be like him!
- That brings us to the first book of the Pentateuch:
- In all, this book itself covers 2315 years of history. dating back from 4000 B.C. up to 1689 B.C.
- But the first three chapters are of the most significance when it comes to understanding the bible as a whole!
- In the first three chapters of Genesis we are given five basic themes that God unfolds for us throughout the whole of scripture.
- Four mysteries, if you would, things we cannot fully comprehend, but nevertheless, God starting in Genesis and ending in Revelations, sets out to make himself known to us by progressively revealing more and more of himself to us as time marches on through scripture.
- In other words, the amazing revelation that God gives us in Genesis 1-3 is only the tip of the iceberg, that become increasingly clearer as God reveals more of himself throughout history.
- By the way, someone once said, history is nothing more than: His-Story! And the more we read of His-story, the more we will understand who and what God is after!
- That brings us to our first theme:
1. The Mystery of God Himself
- To fully understand what Moses is doing here, we all need a little more background information. Remember from our previous chapter, all meaning is context dependent. In other words, to understand the full impact of Moses is doing here, you need to hear his story the way the people heard it back then.
- The Canaanites were largely made up of a group of people called the Amorites. Their views on religion were for the most part the dominant views for the area of “Canaanites.
- They had four major Gods: 1) Ba’al 2) Molech 3) Ashteroth 4) the great El.
- Ba’al... the term the represented Gods over the land... who controlled it. If you wanted to see an increase of crops, fruits and cattle… you made sacrifice to him.
- Ashteroth… was the name of any of the fertility goddesses of the ancient near East. Her male consort was apparently Baal... and the two were worship in very lewd rites.
- Molech… who some called the fire God that people worshiped through gruesome orgies in which little babies were sacrificed.
- And then there was El. Ancient Near East cosmologies teach that El had dethroned his father and castrated him. And then there are stories that go on to describe how he had killed his favorite son and had cut off the head of one of his daughters.
- El had another daughter named Anath who was said to be so violent that as the gods fought (as they were thought frequently to do) she was often found plunged knee deep in blood and carnage.
- She told her father El that she would murder him if he did not build a temple for Prince Ba’al.
- From what is known about the Amorite peoples historically, it appears that they were just violent and gruesome and sexually perverted and evil like the gods they worshipped (cf. Gen 15.16).
- It was into this mindset that Moses begins to introduce to them is God.
Gen 1:1-25 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… right off the starting blocks, God shows us four things about himself.
- Eternal Existence: the very opening statement, “in the beginning God” is given without explanation or apology or argument of where God came from. He just is, always has been and always will be there.
- Who lives in another Realm: Clearly I am talking about the spiritual realm here where heaven exist. What we see here is the beginning of a new realm, a physical realm made up of time and space.
- Creator: The Hebrew verb “created” is incredibly significant. There are three Hebrew verbs that mean “to create:’ The word yasar means to form or mold and ‘asah means to do or make. Both verbs are used in Genesis 1-3 to describe different aspects of God’s creative work—but only in regard to using matter that exists. Genesis 1: 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… however, uses the word barac which is a verb in the Old Testament that only uses God as its subject. This implies that bara’ denotes a special kind of creating. The writer of Hebrews in the New Testament tells us that God created our world out of nothing (Heb 11.3). God created from nothing everything that exists.
- All-powerful: Genesis 1:2-5 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning — the first day.
- Now, just for a moment consider how different this God is from all the rest. This God simply speaks, and matter is formed. He speaks another word and life is created.
- This is significant because it comes against the idea of that day that creation was the result of a cosmic battle, as depicted in the Ancient Near East cosmologies!
- In fact, this whole portion of scripture was written in such a way that it demolishes every argument or pillar of understanding that the ancient world had of God.
- 1) chaos is not part of the created order and 2) is so easily ”defeated” that it is depicted as the first stage in creation and not the footprint of a great battle between the gods. Even the great “sea monsters” of Genesis 1.21 are just created beings in which God delights. The sun and the moon, great deities in the ancient world, are demoted to being just cool lights in the sky. Thus the creation story becomes the greatest “put-down” in all of ancient literature.
- Reality is there is only one God, the great “I AM” who created all things! He alone is in control. And not only is he in control and all powerful, but by looking at his creation we discover that he is the God of…
2. The Mystery of God’s Ways
- Let's consider the divine process of creation and see what insights we can gather into New Testament creations! That’s you and me! 2 Cor 5:17-18 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
- He starts with darkness, chaos and emptiness, what a great picture of our personal lives before God.
- God then sends us the Holy Spirit who comes and hovers over it all like a mother chick hovers over her eggs doing whatever is needed to prepare us for what God is about to do in our lives.
- God speaks a creative living word into our darkness, our chaos and emptiness!
- And this word brings Light into our lives! This brings conviction of sin!
- And God begins to separate the darkness from the light! This happens through repentance!
- Order and form begin to arise out of our chaos. Could this be a reference to the character-building process that begins within us and shapes us into who God is making us to be!
- And the Emptiness of our lives begins to be filled with life, the life of God’s spirit. And along with God’s spirit comes his spiritual gifts, given to us release his kingdom, his rule and reign in the earth.
- Climaxing in the coming forth of a life that clearly and truly express the image of God.
- This brings us to the next thread…
3. The Mystery of His Purpose
Gen 1:26-2:1 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; 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 of the sea and the birds of the air 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 the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground — everything that has the breath of life in it — I give every green plant for food."
And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning — the sixth day.
First thing you will notice here is that God speaks out of a mysterious plurality, which we believe reflects our understanding that while God is one God, he expresses himself as a community, the father, the son and the Holy Spirit.
- In my younger days I must confess that I never thought much of the Trinity. I couldn't get my mind to wrap around it and really saw it as not that important of a truth. So, when the Jesus only people came around and claimed that there's only Jesus, I didn't consider it a point to argue over.
- Now however, I would say over the last 10 to 15 years, Father God has opened my eyes to see the significance that God is a community within himself and how that understanding is woven into almost every aspect of our life!
- Whether we are talking about the makeup of people: 1 Thess 5:23-24 May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Or we are talking about marriage, or even the role of government and how it should work from God’s perspective, God’s three fold essence is expressed!
- In other words, this is not just some secondary doctrine of no importance, but an essential and foundational understanding to who God is!
- I think it is also important to note here that humanity is different than the rest of creation
- because humanity reflects something of the image of God that is not seen through the rest of creation. Evolutionists have labeled us as animals, and I couldn't disagree more. We were created in God's image for a purpose, to reflect His glory in this world.
- But it is also important to note that only when men and women are rightly related to God and one another is the image of God truly seen.
- Another important point that needs to be highlighted, is that while God is three, Humankind is two. This is significant in that while Humans are made in God’s image, we are not God/gods. This functions as a rejection of any attempt to liken humans as gods, as the Pharaoh had done prior to Israel’s exodus from Egypt or as the New Age Movement today tries to put forth.
- Nevertheless, humanity was the pinnacle of creation because only Humankind was created in God’s own image and likeness—and only after the creation of Humankind was the universe declared, “very good” (Gen 1.31).
- You get a sense of this from the words of the Psalmist PS 8.5 For you made us only a little lower than God, and you crowned us with glory and honor.
- What it means to be human, then, is to reflect the image and glory of God to the world. And this simple phrase has huge ramifications for today! First off...
- There are two things assumed in the text about the man and the woman.
- The first is that God was in an intimate relationship with them. We see this evidenced when God walked freely with Adam in the Garden, talking with one another with no barriers between them.
- The second is that Human Beings, created as male and female, were equally as intimate. The text says of them that they were, “naked and not ashamed:” meaning that there were no barriers between them as well.
- On the basis of these two assumptions, the man and the woman are then given three assignments.
- The first is the command to multiply by having children. Even as the Father desired to behold his own image, so also the man and the woman were created with a desire to procreate in (God’s) image. In other words, men and women, were to take such delight in one another that the intimacy of their perfect love would produce other image-bearers. Meaning, this Holy, loving and joyful relationship would produce other holy, loving and joyful relationships.
- The second is the command to fill the earth. According to Hab 2:14, God’s heart has always been…For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. As men and women multiplied, creating other image-bearers, they were to spread out over the earth, thus fully reflecting God’s image everywhere they went. (As one writer put it, God wanted to expand His Garden “project”) Of course, these two assignments become a huge stumbling block to those who are trying to make a case for homosexuality through Scripture. The emphasis in Genesis is only when male and female are brought together, do we have the full expression of the image of God. And the only way to multiply that image to fill the earth with the image of God through the coming together of males and females. Marriage is always more than just two people having feelings for each other. Marriage is meant to be a divine expression of God as seen in Paul's discourse Ephesians 5.
- Our third assignment was that they were told to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves along the ground. This was a mandate to govern the earth with God’s authority as co regents. By bringing creation under subjection, they were acting with delegated authority as co regents to creatively establish the rule of God “on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6.10). This is where we get our understanding of the word kingdom.
- When Jesus came in the New Testament to claim the kingdom of God is here, what he was saying was the rule and reign of God, as being expressed through himself, right now, right there, was manifesting itself in the midst of them.
- God's kingdom mandate had got lost through the fall of Adam and Eve, but now through Christ, was being restored!
5. The mystery of the fall!
- Gen 2:15-17 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 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 of it you will surely die."
A. God's Test
- At this point, it is necessary to refer to the creation account in Genesis 1 to highlight some information that we glossed over temporarily.
- Out of the darkness, God had brought forth light, and the light he called “good.” The light was to rule the day and dark was to rule the night. As we had mentioned before, Moses was showing Israel that the sun, moon, and stars were not “powers” as was thought in the ancient world. Nevertheless, light, and dark, day and night, would go on to become biblical symbols for good and evil.
- Which then sets the context for what God does in the Garden Eden. The text tells us that God planted a Garden in the east, in a land called Eden. This Garden was filled with trees and vegetation of all kinds.
- God then put two trees in the middle (or “midst”) of the Garden. That these two trees were in the middle of the Garden seems to concur with the thesis that God was saying through his creation that at the heart of the matter there are two options, or paths on which people could walk, God’s way or, as we will see, the way of the serpent—the path of light or the path of darkness.
- The tree of life might be seen then as representing the divinely sanctioned path of permission. Its fruit was eternal life, the result of putting your complete trust in God! To eat of its fruit was to live forever.
- The tree of the knowledge of good and evil might be seen as representing the unsanctioned path of presumption. Eating of the fruit of this tree would be an attempt to know what God knows, apart from his permission. Its fruit was death. Separation from God is to be cut off from the source of life. The result would be a return to chaos; where creation would be “uncreated.”
- In view of this, there is an interesting verse in Jeremiah. It says that God's people had fallen back into sin or in the words of Genesis, taken the unsanctioned path of presumption as seen in the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Notice consequences of their choice:
- Jer 4:22-23 "My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good." I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty; and at the heavens, and their light was gone.
- In other words, the result of taking the serpents path of presumption, cause God’s creation to be uncreated, or revert to the original state of being formless and empty. So, when God said that if the man or the woman ate from this tree, they would surely die, in this verse God reveals to us his view of death, a state of complete lifelessness, which is empty and without form or substance!
B. The serpent
- Gen 3:1-7 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'?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'" "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
- The writer of Genesis does not tell us what or “who” the serpent is. Although apostle John, in the book of Revelation, identifies the serpent as Satan himself. He writes... Rev 12.9... that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan who leads the whole world astray, he was hurled to the earth and his angels with him”
- The Hebrew describing the serpent sets him apart from the rest of the animals. There was something unique and different about this creature. The Old Testament does not tell us much about Satan. A fuller revelation will await the New Testament. What we do know, however, is that this account is the original writer’s attempt to explain how evil entered the world.
- Personified evil had come to tempt Human Beings to reject God as King and his commission to rule as co-regents over his realm.
C. The temptation
- The text says that the serpent was “craftier” than all the beasts of the field. The Hebrew word used here is morally neutral (evil is often difficult to discern). Interestingly, snakes in the ancient world were symbols of occult wisdom and evil. So, it should not surprise us that this crafty serpent knew just how to tempt the first Human Beings.
- Why he targeted the woman, the writer does not tell us, but as on scholar suggested, it seems that he started with a divide- to-conquer strategy; get to one to get to both, and get to both to stop God’s plan.
- The serpent began by asking the woman, “Did God really say that you cannot eat from any tree in the Garden?” Clearly, his intent was to plant a seed of doubt about the character of God. This is where all temptation begins—doubting whether God can be trusted.
- The woman then responds to the serpent and says, “We must not eat of the tree that is in the middle of the Garden, and we must not touch it, or we will die.” Interestingly, she is misquoting God, he did not say they could not touch the tree.
- And so maybe, this shows us one of the reasons why Eve was vulnerable to deception. Either she was not paying close attention to what God had said, or it was not important to know exactly what God has said or not said.
- Whichever the case, the words of the serpent had done their work. There was enough of a question mark in her mind and heart that she was set up for another alternative.
- Having now begun to erode the woman’s confidence in God, the serpent substitutes another “word:’ laced with a half-truth. He says, (4) “You will not 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.”
- In other words, God is holding out on you, he is not as good as he says he is. So, your only option is to take matters into your own hands and do what you think is best!
- Obviously, this suggestion eroded the women’s trust in God even more, therefore preparing her heart for sin by having her now doing some of her own research along the lines suggested to her by examining the tree more intently.
- And here is what she discovered: Gen 3:6-7 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. (ESV)
- Suddenly, in a moment of time, Human Beings had crossed over some kind of line. As Rikki Watts says, “Now begins the long descent into the night” (1997).
D. The fall
- Gen 3:7-10 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. 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. Then the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?" He replied, "I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked." (NLT)
- Adam and Eve, representing Humanity, would now reap the consequences of doubting the Word of God and trying to get their legitimate needs met in an illegitimate way. There were three immediate results from their/our disobedience.
- The first was that the man and the woman judged their nakedness different than what God had judged it. If you remember, after God had created them, scripture says: Gen 2:25 Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame. But now with them in charge, it was going to be different. You see, their sin led them to presumptively take on God’s role as judge, (the twisted fulfillment of them “4 becoming like God”) and decided that even though in God’s eyes, their nakedness was not wrong, they judged it as wrong and had to be covered up. This caused them to try and cover their nakedness with leaves sown together.
- The second was that they became afraid for the very first time of God, the one they had previously known only as the one who lovingly created them and had shown nothing but unconditional love. But now, as a result of their sin, their perspective of God became skewed to the point that they saw God as something to be feared. So, they attempted to do what they had known before was impossible, hide from God.
- The third result of our sin was the breaking down of our relationships with one another. We judged both ourselves and each other as shameful, thereby requiring us to cover and hide ourselves. This thereby eradicating the intimacy we had from being naked and unashamed. An intimacy I might add, that now only broke our relationships with one another, but also with ourselves. The act of Adam and Eve covering themselves was symbolic of us no longer willing to look at ourselves in an honest way! Thus giving birth to the practice of Self-denial!
- The text says that God came looking for Adam in the Garden during the cool of the day but that Adam hid from God. In response to God’s query, “Where are you?” Adam sums up the human condition in one sentence. He said, “I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”
- The New Testament says that Satan is a liar and Adam and Eve found this to be true. Satan had convinced them that by disobeying God, they would become equal to God, only to find out that was far from the truth! Their one true ally was now against them and out to do them in. (Of course, this was not true, but because of their sin, their perspective of who God was had become totally skewed, blinding them to the true nature of God!)
- Resulting in them immediately becoming afraid to face the holy God, so they hid from Him, even as they had hid from one another behind their new” clothing.”
- The downward spiral of sin might be summed up like this:
a. Dialogue with the enemy
b. Doubt and confusion (about the truthfulness of the Word of God)
c. Doubt about the goodness of God. (Maybe God was holding out on them)
d. Introduction of Fear by losing trust in God (resulting in anxiety about a secure future)
e. Pride (saying, “I’ve got a better plan than God”; unwittingly the plan has come from Satan but with our cooperation, for which we are responsible)
f. Rebellion (an act of transgression; our attempt to get our legitimate needs met in an illegitimate way)
g. Resulting in us usurping God’s role as judge, causing us to experience shame and guilt
h. Our sin now creating a barrier between us and God and one another.
i. Self protection (hiding from God and others through means of our own making to insure that no one knows the real “us”)
E. The consequences of sin as seen through the lens of the New Testament!
- First: Sinful humanity now had a broken relationship with the holy God.
- In the New Testament the apostle Paul told the Romans that sin entered the world through one man. Rom 5.12-13 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. NLT
- The reason this is true has to do with the laws of creation that are seen in the story of creation. If you remember, God also established the laws of reproduction and the seasons of sowing and reaping. Meaning, every kind of creature and plant would reproduce according to its kind. What was sown would be reaped in its season (cf. Gal 6.7-8).
- In other words, like produces like. When Adam’s nature changed when he cooperated with sin, his inclination to sin was transferred to his entire heritage. Paul would later go on to say that the entire human race was “in Adam” i.e., we were in his loins (1 Cor 15: 22).
- From this we understand the concept that Light produces a harvest of light and darkness a harvest of darkness. This of course results in all of us standing guilty before God for having sinned in the likeness of Adam.
- Secondly… The image-bearing reflection of the glory of God was now tragically dimmed and would not be seen again until Jesus was transfigured as dazzling white before Peter, John and James when he was changed into the appearance of lightening. (one scholar suggested that this might infer that Adam and Eve were originally bright in appearance).
- God’s solution to see this image restored to humanity, was to send his Son to die for our sins, thus making the way clear for us to have a personal relationship with God the Father, who would then send his Holy Spirit to live within us so he could write the his laws on our hearts.
- It’s then through the power of the Holy Spirit and our faith and trust in God, Paul encourages us to work with God is seeing God’s image restored in our lives.
- Col 3:7-11 You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don't lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. NLT
- Thirdly… Agape (God’s divine love) needed to be reintroduced into humanity now through the emergence of God’s church. Remember how Adam and Eve’s original sin left us feeling ashamed and fearful that our nakedness will be exposed! This state of being then caused us then to dedicate ourselves to self-protected by creating and putting up walls and working hard at portraying an image that we think is acceptable.
- We can see this self-protection in operation when God asked the man what had happened, and his response was immediate: “She did it!” In other words, true love was lost by our need to self-protect!
- The result of this was the introduction of man-made love, that was driven more by selfishness and self-protection resulting in us wounding and hurting one another. Hurt, anger, bitterness, envy, jealousy and feeling of revenge spread across the world which caused even more pain, hurt and brokenness.
- But now through the power of the Holy Spirit and the faith and trust of God’s people, God’s healing divine love could be reintroduced into humanity through God’s church to begin the healing process.
- We see this both taught and emphasized through Jesus and his disciples!
- John 13:34-35 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." NIV
- Phil 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. NIV
- James 2:8-9 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right.
- Lastly, let me point out that the consequences of the fall now made the the three Genesis mandates impossible to fulfill
- 1) Instead of giving birth to the perfect image of God, Human Beings now gave birth to a fractured image according to the laws of reproduction. Paul would later say that we are all born with Adam’s sinful inclinations (Rom 3.23).
- 2) Instead of filling the whole the earth with the knowledge and glory of the Lord, an marred image was spread, thereby filling the world with corruption and evil.
- 3) Instead of taking dominion as God’s ambassadors, Human Beings now become the ruled, rather than the rulers. God told the serpent that he would put enmity between its seed and the seed of the woman. New Testament revelation will show that Human Beings are under the dominion of what George Ladd has called “a hellish triumvirate” comprised of the world, the flesh and the devil.
Other consequences worth noting:
- For the woman, there was “pain” in the bringing forth of children.
- For the man, there was “pain” in growing crops.
- The relationship between men and women resembled more a contest for power than mutual love! Gen 3:16 Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."
- Interesting play on words here: The word desire here is the same word found in…Gen 4:7 where God is speaking to Cain and says to him that sin is like a crouching beast "hungering, intent upon" Cain.
- The word rule means to dominate over! So, basically you have two people who were called to rule together as God’s co-regents, are now battling with each other for power. Isn’t this exactly what we have seen played in everyday life around us?
- On one hand we see men trying to dominate women while at the same time we see woman attempting to control men. Of course, when Christ came, he set things in motion to completely undo this where now men are striving to love their wives the way Christ loves the church and women are striving to honor their husbands through respect and admiration in the same way they are to honor and respect the Lord.
- The fall of Adam and Eve infected corrupted all of creation which is why Paul says: Rom 8.19-22 the whole creation now groans in travail as it awaits the consummation of the end of the age and redemption from its bondage to sin.
- Finally, death became the just penalty for the sins of humanity. The New Testament says that Human Beings: are appointed to die once and then the judgment. (Heb 9:27)
4. The Mystery of Redemption
- In view of all these consequences, one might feel overwhelmed with grief over all that humanity lost, and a deep sense of hopelessness due to all the obstacles that now humanity must face.
- Some might even think that God was taken by surprise by all this, but scripture assures us that is not true. We are given both an amazing promise that despite all that has happened, God had plan already in place to counteract all that we just got done reading.
- And we find this in the promise God gives Adam and Eve as He curses the serpent… Gen 3:15 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."
- Notice the masculine pronoun “he” which according to the New Testament was speaking of Christ, who would “crush” and annihilate the serpent! In other words, destroy Satan’s ability to perpetuate evil!
- Another interesting note here, is that the words “crush” and “strike” are actually the same Hebrew word, meaning “to bruise, batter, crush. The bruising of both the male child and the serpent are parallel concepts.
- Furthermore, the verb tense implies that this will continue down through history. So why is the same word translated into two different words “crush” and “strike?”
- Answer: They are translated differently based on what happened in the New Testament. Bill Johnson points this out in his book.
- He says that the translators such as those composing the NIV, looked at this verse through the eyes of the New Testament where we see the strike of the enemy on Christ, was the Crucifixion.
- He died a horrible death, but then, something unforeseen happened. God raised Jesus Christ from the dead through his ability to create something out of nothing and thus brought life out of death!
- This resurrection from the dead then became the crushing blow to the serpent that broke the power of death that the enemy wielded. This is why we see the different use of the same word in the same passage i.e. “crush” and “strike.”
- But to truly appreciate the meaning of this word, we need to understand that it wasn’t just in the cross/resurrection that the devil was defeated; indeed, as we shall see, the “strongman” i.e., Satan was bound during Jesus’ earthly ministry and was seen falling from heaven like lightening at the hands of the disciples (Mk 3:27; Lk 10:18).
- The apostle John summed up Jesus whole ministry by saying, 1 John 3.8 “the reason why the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
- And then added to that, it would appear that the apostle Paul saw the church of Jesus as continuing the powerful ministry of Jesus in his declaration to the Romans: Rom 16.20 “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”
- Which points to the reality that all that was lost through the fall is now restored through Christ!
- 2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
- What does this all mean in view of Genesis? It means that through faith in Christ, God fills us with his Holy Spirit, which then resurrects our dead spirit and restores to us once again to the image of God.
- Did you catch the last verse… in him we might become the righteousness of God. In other words, Christ took our sins upon himself and gave us or imputed to us his righteousness, so once again we reflect the original image of God.
- And now that God’s image is restored, God gives… us the ministry of reconciliation: the job of sharing all that Christ has done for us so that others can experience the salvation of God and become restored images of God as well. In this we are now able to fulfill our first assignment of genesis, to multiply the image of God.
- This scripture also says that now… We are therefore Christ's ambassadors… meaning that our second genesis assignment has been restored, for we now must go out and fill the earth with others who reflect God’s image.
- And lastly, according to the great commission… Mark 16:15-18 He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."
- Our third assignment to extend God’s rule throughout the earth has been restored. We too, like Christ, are now sent out to preach the gospel of the kingdom (the rule and reign of God) that declares that God is here right now, and his power is able to change people’s lives.
- That kingdom rule is seen whenever we cast demons out of people or heal the sick or are given divine protection from some of the elements of creation.
- Where do we go from here? The rest of the Bible is all about watching these four themes unfold for us throughout history and how God brings about what he promised to do.
- And what is even more fascinating, is as we watch God fulfill his promises, we watch how the world’s history is being shaped!
- You see, watching how God brings about his promises, not only helps us understand the bible better, but all of history, because everything that transpired in history, happened to prepare the world for the baby boy, Jesus, who would come to crush the head of the serpent and destroy his works.
- History is what it says it is, HIS STORY! God has been in the business and still is of establishing his kingdom rule on the earth through his Son, the savior, for his own glory. And while Satan will try at every point to stop the promises of God. the fact is, there is nothing he can do, because God’s purpose is unstoppable!
- Isa 46:8-10 "Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. NIV