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Genesis 3: 1-24 Promised Child: Woman's Offspring

Advent 2018  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Revelation 2:7 NIV
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
Dearly loved people of God,
The Garden of Eden had many plants; many trees. I doubt it was an orchard with trees standing in straight lines and room for the sprayer to drive between them. I’m not sure that Adam ever sprayed for pests or disease. But we’re told, in the previous chapter about one two of the trees in the garden.
Genesis 2:9 NIV
The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Gen 2:
We know from the account we just read that Adam & Eve both ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The last verses we read are significant, for their disobedience broke the relationship between them - they felt shame. It also broke their relationship with their Creator - hiding and leaving the garden. But it also cut them off from the tree of life.
Genesis 3:22–24 NIV
And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
: 22-24
Now this isn’t the last time you read about the tree of life in the Bible. We’re read about it in the first book of the Bible, but you also find the tree of life in the last book of the Bible.
We flipped the calendar, it’s the 2nd of Dec.
Revelation 2:7 NIV
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
Today we begin the season of Advent.
During Advent, we celebrate Jesus’ coming: 23 days until Christmas; 552 hours until we worship on Christmas.
We get a more detailed picture in the last chapter of the Bible.
I don’t want Advent to trigger anxiety.
There’s a time for everything.
There’s a time for rushing around wildly to prepare everything and there’s a time to quiet your heart and prepare to meet someone. Right now it’s time to prepare ourselves to celebrate Jesus’ coming – both his 1st and 2nd coming.
If saying “there is a time for everything” sounds wise or biblical, it is both. We often read at New Year’s:
Revelation 22:1–3 NIV
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.
: 1-
The Bible describes the way that humankind gains access to the tree of life once again. The key to God’s rescue plan is mentioned in . We don’t get the full scoop here yet. But as God unfolds his plan of redemption, you can look back to this chapter and see that God had plan.
There is a time for everything,
The consequences of their actions are announced to the serpent, Eve, and Adam. It looks vaguely like a courtroom scene as God calls all three of them to account and then pronounces their doom.
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
Genesis 3:14–15 NIV
So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 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.”
a time to be born and a time to die,
Genesis 3:16 NIV
To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
: 16-
Genesis 3:17–19 NIV
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
GEn 3: 17-
a time to plant and a time to uproot, [etc.]
Y
Eve
(NIV)
God told Adam that it was NOT time. Adam & Eve were not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil. Instructions like that are hard to obey.
Serpent
Seeing a gift under the tree with your name on it,
it’s hard to wait for the right time to open it.
Now that recreational marijuana is legal for adults,
some wonder if it’s time to experiment. Seeing others use cannabis, some find it hard to reserve THC as medication.
When you’re dating seriously or engaged,
you wonder if it’s time to move past kissing and snuggling. It’s hard reserve sex for marriage.
Adam & Eve faced a similar challenge.
God told them not to eat from that tree, but it was hard to keep walking past it. It was especially hard after the crafty serpent pointed out how desirable the fruit was: “good for food and desirable for gaining wisdom.” Who wouldn’t want to be like God: knowing good and evil?
We aren’t told what would have happened. What would have happened if they didn’t eat it? Would the day have come when God said, “Today is the day. With my permission and guidance, I’ll give you knowledge of good and evil.”? We’re never told.
There is a time to open Christmas presents, there is a time to use cannabis, there’s a time to enjoy sex, but doing it at the wrong time opens you up to a world of hurt! Ask Adam & Eve.
By taking and eating the forbidden fruit in disobedience to God’s word, they opened themselves – and all of their descendants – to a world of hurt. This was NOT the way God intended humankind to learn about good and evil.
Yet the serpent wasn’t lying. Eating fruit from the tree did make the man & woman like their Creator. God acknowledged it:
The Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. (NIV)
(NIV)
It should be possible to learn about evil without participating in it. Instead, Adam & Eve opted for an insider’s knowledge of evil. And all their descendants share their doom.
We have an insider’s knowledge of evil, but we lost our insider’s knowledge of good. We don’t know goodness that hasn’t been tainted by evil. Even our best imaginations of our Creator’s holiness are tainted by experiences of relative goodness: a parent that let us down, a pastor who disappointed us, a deep friendship that went sour. Jesus said it in Mark’s gospel, “Only God is good.”
As God summons the serpent and Adam & Eve, as God gives judgement, pronouncing their doom, we learn good and evil.
The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust all the days of your life.
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.”
(NIV)
The serpent is cursed. The original audience knew how desert snakes were feared and hated. They would have observed how serpents seemed to lick the dust each time their tongue flickered out of their mouth. Desert snakes were dangerous. They were an enemy.
Knowing more of God’s rescue plan, our understanding goes further. The author of Genesis doesn’t identify the tempter. It’s called a serpent. Serpents are often associated with evil in the Bible and in culture.
When we read the NT book of Revelation we find the identity of this ancient serpent.
The great dragon was hurled down—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.
(NIV)
He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
(NIV)
The enmity between this ancient serpent and the woman and her offspring runs deep.
What does “enmity” mean? The word is related to “enemy.” They come from the same Latin root-word. If you have enmity with someone, you consider them your enemy. That’s the way things stand: enmity between the serpent and the woman and her offspring.
We’ll come back to this. There’s going to be a showdown. God promised the day when Eve’s offspring will crush the serpent’s head. It’s what Adam should have done when the threat arose.
God promised that their child would finish this threat.
Meanwhile, there was evil to endure.
To the woman he said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
(NIV)
I’m not going to say a lot about pains in childbearing. But we should take note of the breakdown in relationship between the woman and her husband. Husbands were not supposed to rule over their wives. Eve was never created to be ruled over, she was created to be an עֵזֶר, a strong helper, a companion in trouble. Maybe it helps to recall that the word עֵזֶר is often used to describe God in the OT.
Arrogant foes are attacking me;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
people without regard for God.
Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me.
(NIV)
That’s the kind of help a man and wife ought to give each other. But, as a consequence of the fall into sin, marriage relationships are damaged; knocked off kilter.
And then, the Lord addresses the man:
Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.
(NIV)
Work was never intended to be burdensome.
Thorns and thistles were never meant to hamper the production of food.
Returning to the dust is a sad reality of life in a fallen world.
But note: while the serpent was cursed, neither the man nor the woman were cursed.
Their doom includes painful labour and the ground is cursed, but they are not cursed.
Here we see the goodness of the Lord. When found by their Creator, Adam & Eve gain knowledge of Good as well as evil.
Remember from last Sunday how Jesus said, Only God is good”?
I tried to point out God’s goodness in the daily readings this week. After their disobedience, the Lord doesn’t blast them for disobeying. He goes looking for his trembling, hiding image-bearers. In a way, he says, “Let’s reason together, though your sins are as scarlet . . .” The consequences of sin are unavoidable and God doesn’t sidestep them. Being completely just, the Lord cannot ignore sin. But he does sit down with them to plan the next steps. So here’s what’s going to happen now.
Like a mom talking with daughter caught peeking at wrapped gifts. Damage is done; how to pick up the pieces?
Like dad picking up son, arrested for drug possession. Damage -
Like a wise elder sitting down with a teenage couple surprised by news that they are expecting a child. Damage -
Hiding from God won’t work. Fig leaves can’t cover all your shame. Damage is done; how to pick up the pieces?
3 things:
1. Garments of skin
The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.
(NIV)
2. Banishment – not as punishment, but as harm-reduction
And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.
(NIV)
3. A promised child
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.”
(NIV)
Each person is stuck with their shame before the Lord. Because we fall short of God’s instructions for holy living, we stand guilty before the Holy One. It’s uncomfortable, because there’s nothing to say. Our excuses don’t wash – no more than Adam blaming Eve or Eve blaming the serpent. Our best efforts can’t make it right. On our own, we’re doomed.
But Advent has come. We look forward to celebrating Jesus’ coming. On Christmas, we celebrate the arrival of the promised child, for God’s plan of salvation has been revealed.
Jesus is completely God and completely human. The suffering throughout his life, especially in his betrayal and crucifixion are the remedy for human sin. He was stripped naked and bore human shame so that we can be clothed in his goodness, his righteousness. It’s in his resurrection that Jesus defeated the ancient serpent. Jesus conquered the tempter, sin, and death. You gain the victory by faith in him.
Is there anything that would prevent you from trusting in him?
And if you are a person who trusts Jesus for your salvation, won’t you strive to imitate God’s goodness? We were created to live in loving relationships with God and neighbour.
This side of Adam & Eve gaining knowledge of good and evil, we shouldn’t be surprised about evil. Presents get opened early; people make bad choices about alcohol and drugs, teens get pregnant – it shouldn’t catch us by surprise. We should be prepared to deal with sinful behaviour with grace and truth.
This side of Adam & Eve gaining knowledge of good and evil, we shouldn’t be surprised about evil.
Presents get opened early;
people make bad choices about alcohol and drugs,
teens get pregnant
It shouldn’t catch us by surprise. We should be prepared to deal with sinful behaviour with grace and truth. God has demonstrated how to proceed with grace and reconciliation. Can we be like him, reasoning together with people who have done wrong, even done wrong towards us? Can we discuss next steps: the damage has been done; how shall we pick up the pieces?
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