Faithlife Sermons

Ready or Not - Promised

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →

Ready or Not…

Don't you love it when toddlers play peek-a-boo"  And it's always fun to watch kids play "Hide and Seek."  Well, now that we are grownups things really haven't changed much.  We still play games with God.  Sometimes we try to hide from His righteous ways and chase after our own desires.  Other times the guilt of sin overwhelms us and we hide from His presence.  Well ready or not, Jesus is coming to find us.  

This Sunday with opening of the Christmas Season we begin to think about the birth of Jesus.  I want to remind you that the birth of God in human flesh is the first scene in the last act of a dramatic theatrical-like tragedy. 

In this tragic performance there were several acts

Act I – Paradise is Created… and Lost

Act II – The Patriarchs build a Nation

Act III – A People are Chosen

Act IV – The Promised One Comes

Act V – All People are Chosen

Act VI – The Promised One Returns…

And Paradise is Regained

This drama played out over thirty-three years.  It’s most memorable scene was when Satan attempted to destroy all that God had created - by destroying Jesus.  But not only was Jesus not destroyed - he was victorious.  Jesus took all that Satan could dish out and then crushed him. 

It was all a part of a promise - the promise from God that Jesus is coming.

Today we begin… at the beginning.  Act I; Scene 1.  Let me recap it for you.

Act I; Scene 1 – Paradise Created

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

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.

Genesis 1:1-2

We see God in the beginning.  He is Elohim.  This is the plural form for the mighty God.  It is majestic and stately.  This is the Almighty Creator. 

There is the Father God – Jehovah or Yaweh – The “I AM” God of Abraham and Moses

There is the Creator God – who formed the universe and fashioned the earth.  He is the son of God. 

Holy Spirit – Shinina, Glory of God.  This is the closest God comes to the Star Wars idea of “The Force” with Luke Skywalker and Yoda his teacher, except the force doesn’t even come close to an accurate description of the spiritual presence of God.  The force is impersonal.  God is the originator of personality.  The force can be used by men for good or evil.  God is good and his very existence demands that we fall on our knees and bow before him. 

No, like the presidential debate so many years ago, I’ve met the Spirit of God.  He’s my friend and the force is no “Spirit of God”!  It’s a sham and pretense.

This is the God who created paradise.

Act I; Scene 2 – Paradise Shared

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.”

Genesis 1:27-28

A sunset is not nearly as beautiful when you are alone as when you share it with someone.  And a beautiful sunset is a radiant memory when it’s experienced with someone you love. 

God made a beautiful universe – a spectacular world – and it is meant to be shared!  The Grand Canyon is just a big ditch until you look at it with awe and wonder – standing next to your children. 

A shooting star is just a flicker, a quick flash and a streak of light – unless you are looking at the sky with your mate and you both shout in wonder at the same moment.

God made the world to be shared – not only with one another but with Him.  And God didn’t create the world to show off his skill as a creator craftsman.  He’s not like me when I show you the work I did on my house…  No God’s work was done for our benefit.  He made the world for us!  Now that’s just stinking cool.

Act I; Scene 3 –Stewards of Paradise

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 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.”

Genesis 2:15-17

Adam & Eve created by God for the pleasure of both God and Man.  The world was made for us to enjoy!  We were given dominion and told to care for it… 

Dominion is stewardship by the way.  That doesn’t give us the right to take the world and trash it. 

How would you like it if you gave an $400 Xbox 350 magnum 3qrlz fuzzy womp your child for Christmas and a few hours later you find it broken, smashed, and in pieces because they used it for second base in a game of softball?  Huh?  You’d probably be ticked. 

God gave us the world to take care of and watch over – it’s ours – no restrictions – no rules we have to follow – no limitations – well there is one.

That one tree in the far corner of the garden with the little sign in front of it, “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” – you know that tree?  Don’t touch it and don’t eat its fruit.  It’s noxious, poisonous, and you will die.

That sets up the next scene – conflict between man and God.

Act I; Scene 4 – Paradise Lost

1 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’?”

Genesis 3:1

His strategy… is clear and easy for us to see. 

First, the serpent appealed to Eve when she was alone.  Temptation is always first entertained in isolation and separation. 

Second, the serpent questioned God’s words and in so doing he opened up a variety of possibilities and questions. 

What did God really say?  And what did God really mean? 

This is the beginning of temptation.  This is the seed.  It is not the end.  If the serpent had handed her an apple right then – she would have handed it back and stomped off into the garden – offended and angry.

But the serpent is crafty.  He didn’t ask that anything be done… He just asked a simple question…

What did God really say… ???

Act I; Scene 4 – Paradise Lost

2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 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.’ ”

So she told him – quite accurately what God had said. And the serpent went into full bore action.

Act I; Scene 4 – Paradise Lost

4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:2-4

The serpent called God a liar and he calls into question what will happen when you eat of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil…  You won’t die – you will become like God…

That’s not what he said… or at least that’s not what he’s afraid of!  God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

In this simple statement the serpent questioned God’s motives.

It really is a fairly complex statement because it opens up for us the notion of evil. 

What is evil? Does it exist?  Did God create it?  Why would God created evil.  Does he cause the wars, the death, the rape, the destruction, and evil we see on our world.  It is very real isn’t it!  Where does it come from?

Before we seek the answer, let me ask you another question?  What is cold?  

Let me tell you clearly that according to science and all that we know about the world there is no such thing as cold – not really.  Cold does not exist.  What exists is the absence of heat.  It’s all about the movement of molecules.  When they move quickly there is warmth generated.  When they don’t move there is nothing.  Absolute zero is –459.67 on the Fahrenheit scale.  At that temperature the molecules don’t move at all. 

Evil exists only in the sense that it is the absence of Good. 

So evil is simply the knowledge of another way – a way that is far away from God.  God is good.  He is as far from evil as the hot sun in our sky is from the absolute cold of 460 degrees below zero on the far side on the darkest part of the universe. 

What all this means is clear.  God is not a liar!  The serpent was the liar for when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree they would not become like God – knowing good and evil – they would became like Satan – knowing good and evil. 

Act I; Scene 4 – Paradise Lost

6 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.

Now, this didn’t just happen overnight.  You get the idea when you read this text in a couple of minutes that this is what happened.  Eve walked up to the tree grabbed an apple and took a bite…  Not so!  

No Way.  Sin does not work that way.  Sin takes time to ferment.  It’s not a piece of meat on the grill that you pass over a flame for a few minutes.  It’s a stew that slow cooks over 10-12 hours. 

I imagine they walked by that tree often on the way to the other parts of the garden and looked at its fruit carefully as they thought about what God had said and compared it to what the serpent had said.

Surely something that looks so good and offers such a potential reward can not be bad.

So she took some and ate it.  She gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

The serpent appealed to their pride, to their senses and over time he weakened their resolve and they turned away from God’s way to another way – their own way - a way that lead to guilt and shame.  They began to be like the serpent – knowing good and evil for they had turned away from God.

And so they did what any other guilty sinner would do in the face of God’s glory – they hid.

Act I; Scene 4 – Paradise Lost

8 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.

We’ve been hiding ever since.  Our guilt causes us to look down and look away from the one we hurt.  Our eyes cannot stand to see the hurt we have done to the ones who have loved us.  So we pull away.  We put on a pretense.  We play the part of a merry and happy soul who is aching with pain on the inside.

It is that pain and guilt that either drives us to seek forgiveness or hardens us into a people untouched by conscience and whose eyes are no longer averted by sin.  We become a broken or a hardened people.

But this is no the end of the play.  This is only Act I and there is a final hopeful line in the last scene.

Act I; Scene 5 – The Promise of Paradise Restored

14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “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.

There is a good reason that people don’t like snakes.  Now it isn’t that snakes are evil – but unhappily for the snake – Satan, the enemy of God, used a serpent as his way of reaching out to the man with his plan to destroy what God created. 

God cursed the snake – not to punish the snake – heavens it’s just an animal.  He cursed the snake to remind us of a simple fact – we had paradise right in our hands, it was ours, and we lost it because of the lies of a snake. 

Every time you see a snake on its belly crossing your back yard it should remind you of what we lost.  But it’s not the end.  God’s word is not done.

Act I; Scene 5 – The Promise of Paradise Restored

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.”

Genesis 3:14-15

With this simple statement God made a promise.   At the very beginning he left us with the hope that even though paradise was lost – someday we’ll get it back. 

One of the titles of the Messiah is the “Son of Man”.  God, all-powerful, all-knowing, every where present, designer, and creator was born into a world of humanity – the offspring of woman. 

Jesus is the enemy of Satan.  He would strike at Jesus.  From the temptations in the wilderness to the doubts he sowed in the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed for deliverance Satan was spitting and hissing at Jesus. 

And then in moment of the crucifixion he sunk his fangs into Jesus heel.  Satan brought Jesus down from the heights of heaven to the world he created and then he struck and took his life.

But that is not the end.  Jesus rose from the dead and crushed death.  He stepped on the head of the snake and drove his skull into the earth while his body writhes and twists and turns – but there is no escape.  Satan is done.  The serpent is crushed. 

Ready or Not

Jesus is Coming

It’s Christmas time in 2007.  Are you ready?  I’m not talking about your shopping list.  I’m not focused on the traffic at the malls and the busy internet sites. 

Are you ready for Jesus to come?  He’s coming and he wants to find you – because he loved you – this much (hands in position as if nailed to the cross)

So are you ready?  Are you broken by your sin?

Are you hardened by your sin?

The choice is yours.  Jesus came for you.  Ready or not… He’s coming to find you!


Related Media
Related Sermons