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When the Chickens Come Home to Roost

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Genesis 3:6‑19

When the Chickens Come Home to Roost

Within each member of the human race is the confidence that there is a God and that ultimately each individual shall give an account to that God.  There is no such critter as a “born atheist.”  The atheist is an individual who, knowing he shall face judgement, vainly attempts to deny responsibility by denying the existence of God.  Each man, I say, knows there is a God and that he shall face that God one day.  This prospect brings only dread and fear if the individual allows himself to think about it.

The dread of facing God grows out of the results of the Fall of our first parents.  When they fell they experienced three grievous reminders of their exercise of self-will.  We, as their heirs, experience these same three reminders of our fallen condition.  We experience a sense of guilt, a sense of condemnation, and a separation from God.

Before God, all mankind experiences a Sense of Guilt.  The eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

As soon as they ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve knew they were naked.  This is more than mere consciousness of their condition, as we have discussed in a previous message.  They sinned against God and at the very moment they disobeyed, fellowship was broken.  They were guilty, but more importantly for the purpose of this particular study, they felt guilty.

In our study of First John this past Wednesday evening we reviewed the relationship of love and obedience.  This particular study was in relation to 1 John 2:3-6. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.  The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.  To know God is to submit to His commands.  Loving God is revealed through obedience to His commands.

To reinforce this point I cited several passages from Deuteronomy.  Perhaps one of the best known passages of Scripture cited was Deuteronomy 6:4-7.  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.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  As soon as the command to love God is given it is evident that such love is contingent upon obedience to the commands of the Lord.

This relationship of love and obedience becomes more apparent still in the following verses.  Now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good [Deuteronomy 10:12,13]?

Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always [Deuteronomy 11:1].

Our first parents demonstrated that they had replaced love for the Creator with self-love through disobedience to the express command of Him who gave them life.  Immediately they felt their guilt because they were guilty before God.  They were disobedient and they had displaced love for God with love for self.  Their guilt is evident in their actions.  They attempted to cover over their nakedness, hoping God wouldn’t notice, and they attempted to hide from God.  Trying to cover over the evidence of our sin and trying to hide from God are to this day evidence of our guilt before God.

To this day we each experience a sense of guilt before God.  We are frustrated since we know we are created in the image of God.  We are to be more than we are and we are powerless to become what we should.  The guilt is always present with us.  An excellent example of the guilt we feel is found in the 38th Psalm.  David writes:

O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger

or discipline me in your wrath.

For your arrows have pierced me,

and your hand has come down upon me.

Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;

my bones have no soundness because of my sin.

My guilt has overwhelmed me

like a burden too heavy to bear.  

[Psalm 38:1-4]

A similar sentiment is expressed in Psalm 69:5.

You know my folly, O God;

my guilt is not hidden from you. 

Worse still, when we are confronted by the presence of God we attempt to excuse our lack of righteousness through accusing others.  Adam blamed God for his failure.  The essence of Adam’s response to God’s query is, “Had you not placed that woman here I would not have sinned.”  Eve blamed the serpent.  How could she help herself?  After all, she was just a woman and the serpent was an expert in deceit.  To this day we think we can excuse our sin through accusing another … even God.

Nationally syndicated columnist Christie Blatchford had an insightful column in yesterday’s edition of the National Post.[1]  The article questions the commonly held view that girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, whereas boys are made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails.  Ms. Blatchford’s position, a position readily supported by the Word of God, is that women are notorious liars … just as are men.  Karla Homolka is as capable of murder as is Paul Bernardo. 

Both men and women are sinners before God and both alike, when confronted by their sinful nature, make excuses for their actions.  Though we may excuse ourselves, God weighs our motives just as Solomon states.

All a man’s ways seem innocent to him,

but motives are weighed by the LORD. 

[Proverbs 16:2]

Perhaps we don’t think of ourselves as awful sinners, but that is because we don’t think often of the perfect standard by which God judges an individual.  God sets a standard of perfection.  He says, Be holy because I am holy [1 Peter 1:16].  Holiness has but one standard—perfection.  Against this standard no one can stand.  Isaiah has accurately described us when he says,

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to his own way.

[Isaiah 53:6]

Knowing we were created to enjoy fellowship with God, knowing we are created in the image of God, knowing we are only a little lower than God—we are frustrated to know we cannot achieve the position we were created to fill.  The nearer we draw to God in our own efforts the more we are condemned.  This is the observation which James notes in James 2:10.  Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

We are deluded if we imagine that we can somehow please God through our own efforts, or even think that we may somehow keep the Law which God gave through Moses.  There are over three hundred fifty prohibitions and two hundred fifty positive commands which are recorded in the Law.  I am confident that no one of us is capable of reciting those six hundred thirteen laws to say nothing of obeying them perfectly.  We misunderstand the purpose of that Law.  The Law was given to point out our weakness and to compel us to look to God for a Saviour.  This is the essence of Paul’s message.  Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.  So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith [Galatians 3:23,24].

Before God, all Mankind has Received a Sentence of Condemnation.

“Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all the livestock

and all the 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.”

[Genesis 3:14,15]

These are the words of God to the serpent.  While all creation suffers as result of the curse of sin, the curse pronounced on the serpent is greater still.  Even during the millennium there will be a curse on the serpent.

The wolf and the lamb will feed together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox,

but dust will be the serpent’s food.

They will neither harm nor destroy

on all my holy mountain,”

says the LORD.

[Isaiah 65:25]

The essence of God’s pronouncement is that the serpent will be humiliated throughout eternity.  Crawling upon its belly, its mouth in the dust, the serpent will know the lowest station of all creation.  The curse is, as you well know, dual.  The beast is reduced to crawling upon its belly, but the power behind the beast will taste constant defeat and humiliation.  Eating dust speaks of humiliation throughout the Word of God.  Consider these various texts in the Word to substantiate that view.

When God warns Israel of judgement throughout the Gentiles, He looks beyond the discipline to the effect it will have after His people have repented and again serve the Living God with their whole hearts.  He speaks of the nations which were once employed to discipline Israel.

They will lick dust like a snake,

like creatures that crawl on the ground.

They will come trembling out of their dens;

they will turn in fear to the LORD our God

and will be afraid of you.

[Micah 7:17]

In a similar fashion when God speaks through Isaiah of restoring His ancient people he speaks of Gentile kings and queens humbling themselves before Israel.

Kings will be your foster fathers,

and their queens your nursing mothers.

They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground;

they will lick the dust at your feet.

Then you will know that I am the LORD;

those who hope in me will not be disappointed.

[Isaiah 49:23]

In a Messianic Psalm, Solomon speaks of the humility of Christ’s enemies.

The desert tribes will bow before him

and his enemies will lick the dust.

[Psalm 72:9]

Licking the dust, crawling in the dust, is a symbol of humility.  Thus God is saying that He will humiliate and frustrate Satan continually.

The Lord God continues by pronouncing enmity between the serpent and the woman, again looking beyond the mere physical distaste that most women have for snakes to the conflict between the serpent and the seed of the woman.  God is speaking of the continual efforts recorded throughout the Word as Satan attempted to destroy the Lamb of God.  The whole of the Old Testament recounts the continual efforts of Satan to thwart the will of God in bringing the Messiah.  The Gospels record the continuing efforts of the evil one to slay the Son of God.

These efforts to disrupt the plan of God are destined to fail, for from the pronouncement of the curse God has said that the seed of the woman will crush the head of the serpent.  The serpent would suffer crushing, humiliating, final defeat because of the fulfilment of God’s promise of a deliverer who would be the seed of the woman.  While Satan knew that a child born of the woman would be his nemesis, he could never know until after the event when the child would be born.  From the day of the Fall he existed in abject fear of the ultimate deliverer for mankind.

The woman was also sentenced, and the sentence has passed downward to all women since.

I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;

with pain you will give birth to children.

Your desire will be for your husband,

and he will rule over you.

[Genesis 3:16]

Take a moment to review the sentence God pronounced.  The woman will experience increased pain during childbirth.  Childbirth is not a curse, but the pain of childbirth is part of the curse.  Women sometimes speak of the oestrus cycle as “the curse.”  It isn’t even part of the curse.  It is the greater pain of childbirth than Eve had known to that point which God focused on.  The birth of each child is a reminder of the sentence of condemnation.  Literally, God said, I will greatly increase your conception and your pain.  Since the Fall, conception has been facilitated and the pain of childbirth has been intensified.

The woman would no longer experience the same degree of freedom she had known before her sin.  Now, with the pronouncement of judgement she will desire her husband.  Knowing the pain of childbirth, she will desire her husband in spite of the consequences!  Where once there existed a truly coequal status, there would henceforth be a deep, natural attraction to her man.  This portion of the sentence was an act of divine mercy, for the desire was given to alleviate the sorrows of womanhood and to bind the hearts of husband and wife ever more closely together.  Woman would seek the protection man offered, and this is an act of mercy.

The final pronouncement of divine judgement was to sentence that the woman shall be ruled by her husband.  Portrayed is a marriage relation in which control has slipped from a purely personal realm to that of instinctive urges both passive and active.  “To love and to cherish” becomes “to desire and to dominate.”  Woman shall no longer rule in the home, but she is instead to be ruled.  God is pronouncing ongoing conflict.  Instead of equality, woman will struggle against her man to be boss and man will struggle with woman to be a tyrant.  Far from being a reign of coequals over God’s creation, the relationship now becomes a fierce dispute as each part attempts to rule the other.  The two who once reigned as one attempt to rule each other.

The two concepts of desire and rule are worthy of our careful consideration.  The two words occur in close conjunction in Genesis 4:7b.  Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.  In this verse sin is like an animal that when stirred up will attack Cain; it desires to overcome Cain, but the challenge God puts to Cain is to exercise rule or mastery over it.[2]  If the structural and lexical similarities are intentional, then God’s pronouncement to the woman describes a struggle for mastery between the sexes.  The desire of the woman is her attempt to control her husband, but she will fail because God has ordained that the man exercise his leadership function.

The force of this pronouncement will be more plainly seen if instead of and we read but—but he will rule over you.  Rule is not given to the man in this pronouncement, for that was already given in Genesis 2:15,18.  The issue of rule is found in God’s pronouncement to the woman because she is required to submit by divine edict.  The Lord God is here confirming in His oracle of judgement the order of creation: the serpent is subject to the woman, the woman to the man, and all to the Lord.

However much this teaching must dismay contemporary women imbued with a false sense of freedom from divine fiat, if our homes are to honour the Lord God both Christian men and women alike will embrace this condition.  To refuse to do so is to ensure that conflict continues in the home and misery attends our family.  For woman to think that she can do better than submit to God’s plan is to invite deep sorrow and grief.

The woman set out to lead man into evil.  The result of her rebellion is that she now shall be led.  Where she had once been a ruler she finds herself now ruled.  She experiences humiliation and that of a sort which she herself shall bring from within as she struggles against her man even as she longs for him.

In mercy the curse is on man’s realm and not on the man himself.  To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;

through painful toil you will eat of 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.”

[Genesis 3:17-29]

The ground is cursed.  Where once work had been a joy, now man will experience toil to achieve that which is necessary for life.  Man becomes responsible before God for providing for his family.  He must ensure that they are fed and that they are protected.  Never again shall the man be free of this responsibility until he at last lies in the silence of death.  He will struggle with the woman, but he can never surrender responsibility for his divinely appointed role in the home.  Moreover, man lives with the knowledge that he has imposed his own death sentence.

Paul surveyed creation and drew the following conclusion.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies [Romans 8:22,23].  Creation reminds us of a bride dressed for her wedding.  At the last minute she has learned that her bride died.  Now, arrayed for the wedding, she spends the remainder of her days in mourning.  With the choirmaster dead, the orchestra of creation can only grind on in disharmony.

Before God, all mankind Receives a Sentence of Separation.  Man was created to fellowship with God.  Yet man finds himself estranged from God.  The word which our Lord employed when He came to this earth is instructive.  He spoke of man as lost.  Man does not find God; rather it is God who finds man.  God had said to the man that the day he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would certainly die.  Man did die.  Death is but separation.  In the day man ate from the tree he died spiritually in that he was separated from God.  That death was instantaneous.  Death was transmitted to the entire race so that each individual in this world is dead before God.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath [Ephesians 2:1-3].

I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.  They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more [Ephesians 4:17-19].

With the Fall man began to experience physical death—living in anticipation of separation of soul and body.  All men would have one thing to look forward to—death.  Ultimately, due to his rebellion and because he was separated from God, man had but eternal separation to anticipate—the second death.  I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.  If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire [Revelation 20:11-15].

Consider our plight.  We each bear a sense of guilt.  We have received a sentence of condemnation.  We have each received a divine act of separation.  This describes the most dismal prospect imaginable for each member of the race.  However, in mercy God has offered a remedy for our condition.  We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.  Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord [Romans 8:28-39]

There was a sense of guilt.  In Christ there is no guilt [Romans 8:33].  There was a sentence of condemnation.  In Christ there is no condemnation [Romans 8:34].  There was an act of separation.  In Christ there is no separation [Romans 8:35].  The message of life is that the curse has lost its power in Christ the Lord.  The invitation of the True and Living God is an invitation to life, not a life which begins at some undefined future point, but a life which begins now.  God offers life which is real life, abundant life, eternal life.

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.  As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”  For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” [Romans 10:9-13].  Our invitation is the invitation of the Lord God to believe this Good News and receive the life which He offers.  Amen.


[1] Christie Blatchford, Have I ever lied about sex? Certainly, National Post, Saturday, April 8, 2000

[2] Kenneth Matthews, The New American Commentary: Genesis 1–11:26, vol. 1a, Broadman, Ó 1996, pg. 251

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