God's End Game - Part 7
Series: My Preaching Bucket List
November 11, 2018
We’ve spent a good while looking at the beginning of the game to figure out God’s end game, and the beginning of God’s game is found in Genesis.
Genesis tells us where we, and all we know, came from. “In the beginning God…” That gives us information, but more so it gives us meaning and purpose because Genesis also tells us we are God’s image bearers.
Spend a little more time in Genesis, and it reveals what life was like in the beginning: good. If you or I say something is good, it’s relative. You might say watching that football game is good. I wouldn’t. I might say biking 30 miles on a beautiful day is good. Some of you wouldn’t.
But when God, the sovereign, loving, perfect, Lord of the universe declares something good, it’s not relative. It’s absolutely good.
In the beginning the whole earth was good. The two people on the earth were good. Life was good in a way hard for us to comprehend. This is all reflected in a verse we tend to overlook or underestimate:
Genesis 2:25 (ESV) — 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Even us adults we giggle a little bit when we read that, maybe even blush. It makes us uncomfortable to think about nakedness. We focus on the physical but it goes much deeper than that. DA Carson says…
[In the last verse of chapter 2, we read: “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” Whatever this is saying about their wardrobe or lack thereof, the point is the symbol-ladenness of it. They are completely open to each other and feel no shame. What would it be like not to feel any shame whatsoever about anything you have ever said or done?
You men, would you like your mother, your wife, your sister, your daughter to know everything that you’ve said and done and thought? You women, would you like your father, your husband, your brother, your son to know everything you’ve said or done or thought? Every little nurtured resentment and hatred, every unbridled lust, every little sluice of bitterness, and every uncontrolled temper? Would you? Let alone the bigger, obvious things that you can take a camera to. We have so much for which to be ashamed. That’s the truth.
It wasn’t always so. At this point, they were naked and unashamed. They had nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing. They were innocent.]
As I shared last week, in the beginning, in God’s good world there was a child-like innocence. There was no shame. There was no baggage in people’s lives, no hangups. Adam and Eve were completely at ease within themselves. Completely transparent with each other and completely comfortable in their skin.
And because of that, they were able to enjoy a close, personal relationship with the One who made them and gave them all they enjoyed.
Their creator gave them only one rule: don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We focus on the restriction but we should wonder at the liberty!
And then, abruptly, the opposite of all that goodness, a danger to all their freedom, invaded the garden.
Genesis 3:1–5 (ESV) — 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘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.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 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.”
If you remember from last week, the devil deceived Eve in three ways…
- He deceived Eve into believing that it’s the knowledge of good and evil that makes God God – WRONG!
- He deceived Eve into believing that she could know good and evil like God – WRONG! We can’t handle the truth.
- He deceived Eve into believing that God was jealous and insecure and that was the real reason behind the one rule about the tree. Also WRONG!
Above all, the serpent attacked God’s goodness. If he were really good he wouldn’t withhold something from you.
What happens next is such a tragedy, it hurts to see it…
Genesis 3:6 (ESV) — 6 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.
After listening to the serpent, Eve took a long look at the fruit hanging from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (which was most likely not an apple). Not only did it appear irresistibly delicious, the wisdom it would give her, seemed irresistibly desirable.
She reached up, plucked, and ate. Then gave some to her husband. In an instant, God’s good world was changed forever.
How was it changed? In the simplest of terms, it was no longer good, good in the way God had made it.
In Greek mythology, the Titans Prometheus and Epimetheus were responsible for making man and all the animals. They did so, giving man fire so he could be above all the other animals.
“…The first woman was named Pandora. She was made in heaven, every god contributing something to perfect her. Venus gave her beauty, Mercury persuasion, Apollo music, etc. Thus equipped, she was conveyed to earth, and presented to Epimetheus, who gladly accepted her, though cautioned by his brother to beware of Jupiter and his gifts. Epimetheus had in his house a jar, in which were kept certain [harmful] articles for which, in fitting man for his new abode, he had had no occasion. Pandora was seized with an eager curiosity to know what this jar contained; and one day she slipped off the cover and looked in. [Immediately] there escaped a multitude of plagues for hapless man,- such as gout, rheumatism, and colic for his body, and envy, spite, and revenge for his mind,- and scattered themselves far and wide. Pandora hastened to replace the lid! but, alas! the whole contents of the jar had escaped…”
Eve’s eating the forbidden fruit was not unlike Pandora’s opening the box. Perhaps it’s no accident the ancient Greeks held a woman responsible for unleashing all the bad in the world. All myths, when traced back far enough, lead to some truth.
Folks have been tempted to spend a lot of time trying to figure out where to place blame here.
Once again, Eve has been given a bad wrap. Look back at the verse: “her husband who was with her.” Many scholars believe Adam was present and did nothing to protect her. Paul revealed in the NT that…
1 Timothy 2:14 (ESV) — 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.
At first, that appears to point a finger at Eve. But add it all up. The command was given by God to Adam. Adam was present when the deceiver tempted Eve. He stood there, letting her partake, having not been deceived like Eve. And then he knowingly partook.
Oh, so it’s all Adam’s fault.
It’s both their fault. Playing the blame game causes us to miss the point. The blame game is coming!
The point is Eve and Adam both broke the one rule God gave: one deceived and the other undeceived.
And this explains why things are the way they are. Paul explained to the Romans that…
Romans 5:12 (ESV) — 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—
Now look at verse 7…
Genesis 3:7 (ESV) — 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Just as verse 5 was about more than them just being naked and not ashamed, verse 7 is about more than just realizing they have no clothes on. R. Kent Hughes writes…
[Adam and Eve had fallen from the pinnacle of innocence and intimacy into the pit of guilt and estrangement… What Satan had told them was true—half true. They did not die that day, as they supposed they might. Indeed Adam lived another 930 years. Yet they did die. Their constant communion with God underwent death. They would go to earthly graves. They would need a Savior. Their eyes were opened—grotesquely. They got the knowledge they sought, but they got it the wrong way. They saw evil. And they saw themselves. They realized they were naked and desperately sought to cover themselves. Their innocence evaporated. Guilt and fear gripped their hearts.]
When sin came in, the first thing Adam and Eve experienced was shame. Sin brings shame. Tim Keller takes us even deeper…
[Now, you see, originally there was no problem with nakedness. They were naked and unashamed. Have you ever opened to somebody and told them something where you showed your weakness, and they looked at you, and they said, “Oh, I really admire you. I admire you more for having told me that?” That kind of experience is to die for, because, you see, we were built to be known. We want to be known. We want someone to look in and say, “I love what I see!”
We die for it because that’s what we were meant for, to be naked and unashamed, which means to be known and loved. Most of us feel like the best we can do is just be loved. In fact, the essence of the human condition now, Genesis 3 tells us, is we feel like we can only be loved if we’re not known. What happened is that now because of sin, as soon as we disobeyed God, the vulnerability became a painful thing, which means nakedness is actually a sense of being unacceptable.
Have you ever been talking to somebody, maybe you wrote in a letter, maybe you were speaking on the phone, and you were saying something very nasty? Suddenly you realized somebody has heard you. You’ve been overheard. You feel naked. Why? Your unacceptability, your “flawedness,” your smallness has been shown to somebody you didn’t want to see. You lost control of the information about your flaws. You feel naked. Nakedness in the Bible is being vulnerable, being unable to control people’s knowledge about your flaws and your weaknesses and about your unacceptability…
We have a nightmare about that because that’s exactly the reason all of us are afraid of being exposed. We were originally built to be known and loved, and now we believe we can never be both together. Oh, we want to be both, but we feel like the best we can do is be loved, because if someone really exposes us, if someone really looks to the bottom and sees we do not live by principle, we do not live even up to our own standards, we don’t want people to see just how anxious we are, how upset we are, how depressed we get, how unhappy we are, how disappointed we are, how weak we are.
As a result, Genesis 3 explains a fact that I don’t know if anybody else has been able to explain. Why is it that we so desperately need to control what other people see of us? In fact, why do we so desperately need to be in control what we see of ourselves? We’re even hiding from ourselves. Genesis 3 tells us the reason why we feel nakedness, why we have to control what people see.
Do you know what the answer is? Because everybody in this room, every one of us knows there really are two eyes out there somewhere. They are pure. They are true. They are totally honest. They are completely unbiased. They are incorrigibly just, and not one of us will be able to stand before them.
You know, if there aren’t two eyes like that out there, there’s no hope for the world. Evil will triumph. If there’s not an unseen seer, if there’s not a judge of all the earth, if there aren’t two eyes that are completely pure, completely honest, completely truthful, totally unbiased, incorrigibly just out there, what hope is there for the world? If there are two eyes like that, what hope is there for us? We can’t stand before them, and we’re desperately afraid of those eyes.
It says in the book of Hebrews, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Don’t you know what happened to Adam and Eve? Adam and Eve didn’t lose their physical clothes. They never had their physical clothes. They lost something, though. They lost their righteousness. They lost their acceptability. They lost their greatness. They lost their glory. They lost their purity.
That was the thing that enabled them to stand before any eyes without any kind of fear. That’s why they weren’t defensive. That’s why they were vulnerable. That’s why they could be known. But now they know they’ve lost something. There’s been a sense of loss. They’ve lost their real clothing, their purity, their acceptability. They feel inadequate. They feel small, and they can’t stand to be known.]
Conclusion: There’s so much more to unpack here, but we need to wrap this up today. We’ll build on what happens here for a while. Let’s look at our illustration. There’s a big change.
Now we’re beginning to see why God needed an end game. When those just eyes of the one who made this good world look on you, what do they see? Hopefully Jesus!
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