But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”-Matthew 4:4 (ESV)
Throughout 2012, Christ Community Church is participating in Project 4:4, a plan to read through the entire Bible in chronological order. Project 4:4 gets its inspiration from the above passage in the Gospel of Matthew.
On Sunday mornings, Lead Pastor Mark Ashton, along with other CCC Teaching Pastors, will preach a message centered around that week’s readings. The first message Mark preached was based from the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis. We also had sand animator Mark Demel performing throughout the message as well.
Here are some of my thoughts from Mark’s message and Genesis 1-3.
Right off the back, God is actively creating. There’s no mincing of words here. “In the beginning, God created…”. I like how Lead Pastor Mark had us focus in on those five words for a few minutes. It is the linchpin for so much of what is to come. Often, people zero in on the science of the verses in Genesis 1. While I think it is important to process the science of what is going there, especially since the stereotypical evangelical Christian’s account of creation is a difficult idea for a lot of people to accept*, I think it’s good to look at the foundation of what is being communicated. Genesis 1 is not a scientific text. Genesis 1 is about God. God is the worldview. God timeless. God all-powerful. God creative. God artistic. God personal. God is, was and will be. As Mark put it, God is prime reality. Take it down from five words to four. “In the beginning, God…”
*I’ll also post some resources at the end of this post that delve more into the science of creation. The scientific questions that arise from Genesis 1 are important to ask. And, there are a number of differing perspectives one can have about creation that still fall safely under the Christian banner. Christians should not fear science.**
**For the record, I lean toward a historic creationism point of view and not young earth creationism.
With God as the benchmark, the foundation, we then see God’s power on display when he speaks the universe into existence. Not only does he speak something into existence from nothing, but he speaks it into a perfectly fine-tuned existence that can sustain life.
And amidst this power, creation and beauty, God creates Adam and Eve…he creates humanity. The pinnacle of creation. Humanity is the only thing God breathes life to, according to scripture. Humanity is unique amongst God’s creation in this regard.
Growing up, I read about pioneers who headed west. They often faced disease, violence, weather, despair and more. Many who headed west in the pioneer days did not survive the westward trek. Contrast that with God who places Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The garden is already established. It is beautiful, orderly and fruitful. Adam and Eve did nothing to get it to that state. Humanity isn’t placed in the wilderness, God sets up the pioneers of humanity for success. All Adam and Eve have to do is tend to the garden.
We don’t know how long Adam and Eve were in the garden before the fall. And, we don’t know when or how the serpent became evil. This could seemt to run counter to Genesis 1:31 where “everything he had made…was very good”. However, one way to look at it is at some point after Genesis 1:31 evil entered the created world.
Eve was tempted to sin, by the serpent, and it’s interesting the lie she is told. It’s a slight alteration of the truth. Someone once said that the best lies are 99% true. Whatever the lie is, it sounds so true that the person believes it. Let’s break it down.
What God said to Adam: You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.
What the serpent said to Eve: Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?
What Eve attributed to God: ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’
Little twists take the truth just a little bit away from what was originally said, but that’s all it takes. As Pastor Mark said in his message, what was Adam telling Eve? Did he even say anything? We don’t know for certain. (And really, what is Adam doing during all this?) The serpent twists what God says, and Eve tries to correct with what she thinks is the truth.
When Eve does take the fruit, she probably thinks it will be okay to eat. Why? Because if you go back to what she said to the serpent, she mistakenly thought that she couldn’t touch it and live. And here she is touching it and not dying. She probably surmises that she can eat the fruit and not die either. She eats the fruit. She then gives some to Adam. He’s not deceived, he’s just a fool by blatantly disobeying God’s command to him.
They sin, and they experience the effects of sin. They attempt to hide their shame. As a former addict, I know this feeling too well. You are tempted and trick yourself into thinking that your vice will satisfy, but after you indulge in it you immediately feel guilt, remorse…shame. You hide from God.
God, in his infinite mercy, comes to Adam and Eve. And, depending on your translation, it would appear that God came to them immediately. This is speculation on my part, but one could think that if God did not come immediately, the serpent could have tempted the two of them to eat from the tree of life. And then, they would spend eternity in a fallen state.
Adam and Eve play the blame game, when talking to God, neither of them taking responsibility for their sin. What is interesting to me is the serpent is there. What is the serpent doing? I imagine a smirk, at first. The serpent (Satan) thinking it has defeated God’s creation, getting vengeance against God, but God declares the serpent’s downfall.
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 3:15 (NIV)
Genesis 3:15 is the first prophecy of Jesus. This verse is called the “protoevangelion”, meaning first gospel. It is fitting that the first mention of Jesus encapsulates what his life would do. We get a hint of the virgin birth with God saying it would be through the offspring of “hers”. (He would be Mary’s offspring and not Joseph’s.) His heel would be struck by the serpent (Jesus’ crucifixion), but he would crush its head. (Jesus defeating sin and death because of the cross.) Two moments in the Bible where Satan thinks it has victory, however it only finds defeat.
Adam and Eve face the consequences of their sin, and it seems harsh that God would push them out of the garden for a simple sin. Pastor Mark explained this well. It was in mercy that God banished them from the garden. They did not eat from the tree of life and thus eternally live in a fallen state. For me, I think about the bondage that came with being an addict. If I had to live in that state forever? That would be hell.
Yet we don’t have to experience that hell. God loves humanity. In a moment of defeat he declares the coming hope of Jesus, who would be humanity’s redeemer. He is our redeemer now. As Pastor Mark said, we cling to the hope of the cross as we wait in the “in between”.
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
-Revelation 22:20 (ESV)