God's End Game - Part 8
Series: My Preaching Bucket List
November 18, 2018
We are now in sermon 8 of the series God’s End Game. It’s part of a bigger sermon series called My Preaching Bucket List which began in March of last year!
God’s End game is about where everything is headed, about what God’s up to as he wraps up his plans for us and this world.
Eight sermons in and we are still looking at the beginning of the game, found in Genesis. You can’t figure out the fulness of God’s end game until you look at how it all began. And all it began in a state of divine goodness. God made it all, God made us, and it was good and even very good.
It was a time of joy and beauty and child-like innocence, summed up in a verse we usually gloss over…
Genesis 2:25 (ESV) — 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
But something happened to mess it all up.
Genesis 3:1–7 (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.” 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. 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.
Over 60 years ago the brown tree snake was accidentally brought onto the island of Guam. The consequences have been devastating. With no natural predators, its population exploded, and as the number of brown snakes increased, the sound of birds singing decreased. To the point that 10 of the 12 species of birds on the island have disappeared. Those that remain will probably be gone before long as well.
That little island 30 miles long and 15 miles wide was never intended to know what it's like to have the brown tree snake invade its paradise.
In the same way, this world was never intended to know what shame was like. The sin that brought it was and is an unwelcome invader.
We spent a fair amount of time last week looking at how their rebellion brought shame, but it also did something far worse…
Genesis 3:8–13 (ESV) — 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Remember, Eden was more or less God’s house on the earth. From it he’d oversee the affairs of man. Adam and Eve were part of his divine family (along with certain angels), commissioned with the task of making the rest of the earth like Eden, filling it with his little image bearers.
Because there was no sin, no shame, Adam and Eve enjoyed something no one else ever has: unhindered fellowship with God. That fellowship with God was so sweet and real, God would actually walk about the garden and visit with Adam and Eve.
Here in verse 8, it’s almost as if that was his routine. Evidently, God loved to take a stroll when the cool evening breeze rustled the leaves of all those beautiful trees. And maybe it was then he’d meet up with his prized creations. They’d hear him (wonder what that sounded like?) and come running like children to meet their father.
Can you imagine living in a world like that? A world where you got to commune with God face-to-face? A world where you could actually, literally walk with God?
But now, instead of running to meet God, they run away and hide. What does that signify? Something has changed. Not on God’s part but theirs.
Let’s keep reading in Genesis 3…
9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
This is the most important question ever asked of anyone in the history of the world. God wasn’t asking where Adam was geographically (He’s God!) but spiritually. He was giving him a chance to confess and repent. To admit his wrongdoing and ask forgiveness. But instead, Adam says…
10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
Once again, God wasn’t looking for information but giving Adam a chance to repent. Instead of repenting, he starts the blame game…
12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Was it Adam’s fault? Was it Eve’s fault? Was it the serpent’s fault? Was it God’s fault? It was everybody’s fault but God’s.
There’s way more to see here, but we’ve got to keep moving. Now comes the infamous curse, which we’ll look at in more detail next time…
Genesis 3:14–24 (ESV) — 14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” 16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” 17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” 20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
This is where I want us to listen closely because it signifies what ultimately happened as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin…
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
God cut off their access to the Garden, to the Tree of Life in the garden, but worse he barred their access to him. It was his house.
Sin brought shame, but it also brought a breaking of fellowship with God.
That’s the death God meant when he gave the one rule:
Genesis 2:15–17 (ESV) — 15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 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.”
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—
*** Look at illustration. What’s missing? What colors are there?
This is what brought about the need for God’s end game. Everything that God has been doing in this world ever since, leading up to the wrapping up of all things, can be traced back to this.
Conclusion: Has anyone ever asked you, “How is your walk with God?” The framing of man’s relationship with God as walking is a favorite in the Bible.
Genesis 5:22 (ESV) — 22 Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters.
Genesis 6:9 (ESV) — 9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.
To walk with God means to be in close fellowship with him. That phrase, that idea, is linked to what things were like before the fall when God walked with man.
There are nearly a hundred references like this, but one in Leviticus is very interesting. The Israelites had been delivered from bondage in Egypt. They were on their way to the Promised Land and made a stop at Mt. Sinai, where God gave them the provisions of his covenant. Listen closely and see if you don’t hear a parallel to what we’ve studied…
Leviticus 26:3–6, 9–12 (ESV) — 3 “If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, 4 then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely. 6 I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land. … 9 I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm my covenant with you. 10 You shall eat old store long kept, and you shall clear out the old to make way for the new. 11 I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.
You can hear the longing in God’s voice for things to be like they were. God longs to walk with us. God longs to have back with us what we had with him in the garden. God longs to be in fellowship with you. Oh, the lengths he’ll go to make that happen.
Listen to the words of Spurgeon..
[Man had sinned against God. Mark the alienation of heart which sin causes in the sinner. Adam ought to have sought out his Maker. He should have gone through the garden crying for his God, “My God, my God, I have sinned against thee. Where art thou? Low at thy feet thy creature falls and asks mercy at thy hands. My Father, thou hast placed me in this lovely Paradise; I have wickedly and wilfully eaten of the fruit of which thou saidst that I should not eat of it, since in the day I ate thereof I should surely die. Behold, my Father, I submit to the penalty. I confess thy justice and beseech thy mercy, if mercy can be shown to such an one as I am.”
But instead thereof, Adam flies from God. The sinner comes not to God; God comes to him. It is not “My God, where art thou?” but the first cry is the voice of grace, “Sinner where art thou. God comes to man; man seeks not his God. Despite all the doctrines which proud free-will has manufactured, there has never been found from Adam’s day until now a single instance in which the sinner first sought his God. God must first seek him. The sheep strays of itself, but it never returns to its fold unless sought by the Great Shepherd. It is human to err, it is divine to repent. Man can commit iniquity, but even to know that it is iniquity so as to feel the guilt of it, is the gift of the grace of God. We have and are nothing but what is vile. Everything which is Godlike, everything which aspires towards righteousness and true holiness, cometh from the Most High.]
What would you say, if God asked, “Where are you?”
Would you say, “I don’t believe in you! How could I believe in a God who allows evil and suffering? How could I believe in a God who let this happen to me?”
Don’t you see? God never intended for those things to be. They are invaders. He’s working to set all things to rights. Very kindly let me ask you: if you don’t believe in God because of the evil in the world or the suffering you’ve experienced, then where did you get the idea that there could be such a world?
CS Lewis, who was at one time an avowed atheist, famously said, “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
What you want is a world exactly like the one God created!
Would you say, “I’m right here in church God. Look at all I’m doing for you. Look at how much Scripture I’ve read. How much I’ve tithed. How many of your rules I’ve kept. You owe me a place in your kingdom.”
Don’t you see? You could never be good enough to work your way back into fellowship with God. If you could, why the cross? You aren’t any closer to God than the one who denies. I’d go so far as to say, you’re farther away.
Would you say, “I’m as far away from you as I can get. I’m not worthy to look up, to speak your name. If you don’t reach down and help me, I’m done for.” You are so close!
Just surrender. Just throw yourself at his feet. He longs to be in fellowship with you, to walk with you. If you come to him through his Son, Jesus, by faith and repentance he will.
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