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Showing posts with label Genesis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Genesis. Show all posts

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Genesis, Part 3 - Joseph

            Last week we talked about Father Abraham.  Abraham had Isaac, Isaac had Jacob, Jacob had twelve sons—including his favorite Joseph. All these men are known as the Patriarchs, because they are the fathers of our faith.  One thing Genesis shows us is how God’s plans play out over many generations. Genesis tells the fascinating stories of individuals, but the grand story sweeps through the generations right down to us today.
            God said in Isaiah 55:9 – “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”  Our thinking is so small, but God has a grand plan. You are part of it, but never forget you are not the whole of it.  Perhaps the Patriarchs could imagine how their lives might affect their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren; but Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob could not even begin to imagine that 4,000 years later, you and I would be sitting in a sanctuary—with central heat and air conditioning, electric chandeliers, and visual illustrations of their story on our televisions.
            You are part of God’s story—your life, your family, your struggles, and your hopes and dreams. But always remember, your story has more significance than just what you can see and imagine. It will reverberate through the generations to come, possibly for thousands of years. You can only see a small part of what God is doing—and that only if you are very perceptive. So, you must trust God with it all—especially that part you cannot see or understand.
            Today we will pick up the story of Jacob’s son Joseph. Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son.  He was born into a dysfunctional family.  His father had two wives, concubines, and twelve sons.  If that were not already a recipe for disaster, add to it Jacob's favoritism for one wives over the others and on son over the others.  Furthermore, Joseph was a punk little daddy's boy who, in arrogance, liked to taunt his brothers with his status as the "golden boy."
             Joseph had a big-headed dream.  In the dream (which he promptly told his family with selfish-pride), he said, “The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me.”  The sun and moon represented Joseph’s father and mother; the 11 stars his 11 brothers.  Even Joseph’s father was offended by Joseph’s arrogance in telling the dream.  "Will even your mother and I bow down before you?"  When I was a kid, my mom used to refer to this episode any time I got to conceded or sassy.  She would say, "So, you think the sun moon and stars bow down to you."
            Joseph dream came from God and would eventually come true, but in his youthful arrogance, Joseph didn’t realize the trials that would lead up to the fulfillment of that dream. He would endure decades of hardship and humiliation before anyone would bow down before him. Joseph would need to learn humility, leadership, integrity, and endure the cost of remaining true to God before he was ready to be used as God’s instrument for God’s glory, not his own.
            One day, Joseph's brothers saw him coming and the seized him, beat him, and threw him in a pit.  Rather than kill him, they decided to sell him into slavery and lie to his father and say a wild beast killed him.  So, Joseph was taken to Egypt where he became a slave in Potiphar's house.  But God was with Joseph and he prospered in Potiphar's house so that Potiphar put him in charge of everything.  But Potiphar's wife often sexually harassed Joseph.  And when he wouldn't play along, she accused him of trying to rape her--even though he was completely innocent.  Potiphar had Joseph thrown into prison so he became even lower than a slave.  Yet God was still with Joseph.
            All together, Joseph spent 22 years as a slave or in prison in Egypt before one day Pharaoh had a troubling dream than no one could interpret.  Word came to Joseph about the dream and he was able to interpret the dream for Pharaoh, saying Egypt would experience 7 years of bounty followed by 7 years of famine.  This pleased Pharaoh to the point he made Joseph his second in command and put him in charge of the famine relief efforts.  They stored away surplus food  during the 7 good years and lived off the stores during the 7 years of famine.  Additionally, they were able to sell food to some of the peoples and tribes surrounding Egypt.
            The famine even drove Joseph’s brothers to Egypt to buy food and his dream was finally fulfilled.  Joseph’s brothers bowed low before him, though they don’t recognize him.  Joseph finally reveals his identity in Genesis chapter 45. 

Slides - Genesis 45:3-8
“I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt.But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.

It was God
            Joseph says something incredible to his brothers. He declares them innocent saying, “Don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here, not you!” (45:5, 8)  Consider the faith it takes to make such a statement.  Such faith sees that God is in charge of everything.  This great faith believes that God can even take the evil plots of other people and turning them into good.  Furthermore, it is a great faith that recognizes God has the right to subject us to suffering for the sake of His plans.
           You are His creation. He has all rights to you. Why do we ever think God must always treat us well?  You are an instrument in His mighty hand. Your purpose is to serve Him. Why should the God of the universe need to justify Himself to you if He chooses to use you as the hammer that pounds in a nail to His master plan?  Or suppose He decided you should be the nail that is hammered?  How can you rightfully object?
            Consider Jesus. Jesus was nailed to a cross and died a cruel, agonizing, and humiliating death for the salvation of the world.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed—“Father, if there is any other way to accomplish Your plan, please remove this cup of suffering from me. But not my will but Yours be done.”  Ultimately, Jesus was willing to die, because he trusted God and knew his crucifixion would wash the sins of the world clean forever and and reconcile us to God. 
            Jesus is the only one who didn't deserve to be crucified, yet he was willing for the sake of our salvation.  We do not deserve good, but we usually get it anyway.  Why should we complain if we receive trouble instead of a life of ease?
            In faith, Joseph saw God made a way to preserve his whole family. Furthermore, all of Egypt was spared from the ravages of the famine.  And how many lives of people from neighboring tribes were spared?  Were all these lives--and ultimately God's plan which came through Jacob's decedents--worth the suffering Joseph endured?  You decide.  But also consider how sending Joseph to Egypt as a slave refined his character and ultimately save Jacob and his 12 sons and all their wives and children and servants and livestock.

Do You Have Faith in God?
            Do you have the faith to trust God to accomplish His master plan for you—even if it is hard?  Do you trust God to use suffering to humble you and refine your character?  Joseph was a good boy with great potential. But he was also full of pride and arrogance. He could also be cruel—flaunting his status as “the favorite” in his brothers’ faces on purpose even though he must have known they were already wounded by their father's favoritism.  So God used those 22 years of slavery and prison in Egypt to humble and refine Joseph’s character.  Does your suffering make you bitter and resentful or does your faith enable you to see God is making you a better person?
            Do you have the faith to forgive those who have wronged you?  Do you trust God enough to relinquish your claim to vengeance?  Do you trust God to punish those who have done wrong (even to you or the people you love) according to His great wisdom and mercy? Do you trust Him to be fair—to forgive those who need mercy and to punish those who need justice? (Isn’t it ironic that we want mercy for ourselves, but punishment for others?)
            Do you have the faith to reconcile with those whom you have forgiven?  Forgiveness is one thing. It is wiping away the debt someone owes you.  Reconciliation is another thing. It is rebuilding a new relationship with someone after the debt is forgiven.  Joseph did more than forgive his brothers. He reconciled with them. He loved them again—caring for them, protecting them.  Jesus does more than just forgive us. He reconciles with us. Rev. 3:20—“ “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”  Do you have the faith to reconcile with those who have hurt you?  (Not everyone can be reconciled; and some it may not even be possible or healthy to reconcile with.  But if it is, are you willing?)

            I suppose not many of us think we would do such a despicable thing as sell our brother or sister into slavery.  (Although there might be some…)  But listen to the Word of God in Psalm 14:2-3 – “The Lord looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God.  But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt.  No one does good, not a single one!”
            Brothers and sisters, we have all sinned.  We have all turned our backs on our brother Jesus.  We have all betrayed him, by what we have done or left undone.  Sometimes, by our very attitudes, we have nailed him to the cross.  We crucify him whenever we prefer the comforts of this world over the calling of God.  We crucify him whenever we are ashamed of what someone might think of us if they find out we are one of those “church people.”  We crucify him whenever we give in to the temptations of the flesh—whether it is sexual sin, or gossip, or cheating, or lying, or eating too much, or indulging our ego.  In those occasions and more, we are little better than Joseph’s brothers (according to God’s holy standards).  So do not think yourself innocent or better than any other sinner in this world.
            There may be a few here who feel as though they have done worse.  Perhaps you feel about as low and vulnerable as Joseph’s brothers as they bowed before him.  Perhaps you feel as though God is standing over you poised to execute His terrible judgment at any moment.
            That is why the message of Christ is called the Good News. It is Good News to everyone who realizes their sin and repents because God does not give us what we deserve.  Instead of punishment, He gives us pardon.  Instead of banishment, He gives us a new relationship.  Instead of death, He gives us eternal life.  Instead of sorrow, He gives us joy.  And in faith, even the suffering we face is a blessing because we know God is working out His master plan for us and for the whole world.
            So I woul like to invite you to listen to God and respond to Him.  Perhaps you can respond by trusting God through Jesus Christ instead of depending so much on yourself, others, or the things of this world.  Perhaps you can respond by forgiving someone or forgiving yourself.  Or maybe, God is calling you to reconcile with someone.  Whoever has ears to hear, listen to the Word of the Lord.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Genesis, Part 2 - Abraham

            This is the second in a series of blogs about Genesis, the first book of the Bible.  Last time, we examined the story of creation. God created humanity in Adam and Eve. Everything was perfect in the beginning, but they sinned and brought on the corruption of all creation—leading to evil and suffering. Yet God had a plan to restore people (and all creation) to a right relationship with God. God’s plan began with a man named Abram (later God changed his name to Abraham). God’s the plan of salvation—from the beginning—was based upon faith and we see that faith exemplified in Abraham.  Note:  Abraham was originally called Abram, but God changed his name to Abraham.  Thus, Abram and Abraham refer to the same man in scripture and this blog.

Genesis 12:1-6
1The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.

So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth—his livestock and all the people he had taken into his household at Haran—and headed for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in Canaan, Abram traveled through the land as far as Shechem. There he set up camp beside the oak of Moreh. At that time, the area was inhabited by Canaanites.

The Chaldean Empire
Why Leave?
            In hind sight, it’s easy for us to say, God blessed Abraham.  Three of the world’s major religions call Abraham their father—over half of the world’s current population.  For Christians, Abraham is a hero, and his story is an essential part of our faith.  It is easy for us to admire him, because we know how his story turned out and the huge influence he had on the world.  However, we mustn’t forget Abraham’s did not know what we know. He did not know how things would turn out, but he did know what he was leaving behind.
            Abraham was born and lived in Ur of the Chaldeans[i].  The Chaldean empire was a wealthy, safe, and advanced civilization. They were a world power.  You can thank the Chaldeans the next time you drive a car; they invented the wheel.  Do you like looking out a window?  The Chaldeans discovered how to make glass.  They developed astronomy and were some of the first people to use a writing system and a yearly calendar with 12 months.  They invented the sundial[ii] and developed an advanced form of mathematics.  How many seconds are in a minute? You can thank the Chaldeans for that too.[iii] 
            I grew up thinking Abraham and Sarai were nomads who had always lived in tents and tended goats.  However, Abraham and his wife Sarai (later renamed Sarah) were city folk.  They grew up and lived in what was in their time the equivalent of New York City.  And God told them to leave the comforts of Ur to go off on a trek to some unknown land, all the while living in tents—far from everything they knew: the comforts of city life, their hometown, their family, friends, business relations, etc.
            So we look at the story and think, “Sure. It makes sense for Abraham to go when God calls.” But that’s not what people in Abraham’s day would have thought. Imaging the questions they would've asked: 
Chaldeans:  "Where are you going Abraham? How long will the journey take?"
Abraham:  "I don’t know. God will show me when I get there."
Chaldeans:  "Who is this God? Where is his temple? Where is his statue?"  (The Chaldeans gods all had an idol and a temple.)
Abraham:  "My God doesn’t have a temple or a statue. My God is invisible."
Chaldeans:  "What are you going to eat?"
Abraham:  "The Lord will provide."
Chaldeans:  "How will you get to this ‘Promised Land’?"
Abraham:  "My invisible God will show me the way."
Chaldeans:  "How can this ‘Promised Land’ your 'invisible god' is taking you to possibly be better than our incredible city?"
Abraham: I don’t know, but if God says it is better, it must be far better than anything we could imagine."

            All Abraham had was his faith in God. And his faith was the key to God’s blessing.  You might protest, “But Abraham was a holy man.”  No, not really. He was a sinner—just like you and me.  Abraham did some very questionable things: he lied multiple times, he killed, he became frustrated with God, he had sexual relations with multiple women other than his wife...  The Bible says Abraham was a righteous man, but it also says he was righteous because of his faith.  It was not good deeds that made him righteous.
            “But Abraham spoke to God.” Yes, but we can all speak to God through prayer.  And God speaks to all of us as well (through the Bible and other ways).  We just have to cultivate sensitive ears—through practice and (most importantly) through faith and obedience.
We are all called by God.  But who really answers the call? 
           I saw a post on Facebook this week that said, “Do y’all ever wish God would just walk into your room and sit on your bed and say, ‘OK, so this is what you should do…’”
            This is a common feeling. The problem is our attitude. God knows your heart. And God knows that—for most of us—if He did indeed come into our room and sit down on the bed and say, “OK, so this is what you should do…” Most of us would be like, “Yeah but…”
            We are a lot less like Abraham than we should be. We do not have the faith of Abraham. We want to argue with God. We want to explain ourselves or our situation (as if God doesn’t already know everything about you and your life and hasn’t already considered everything at a deeper level than you will ever be capable of…).
            And we always have written Word of God’s in the Holy Bible.  In these pages are already written so many of the answers to our questions if only we would read and obey.  We say “But I don’t understand the Bible…” That’s not necessarily true. There may be some parts you do not understand (maybe even a good bit you do not understand). But there are also many parts of the Bible that are very plain and easy to understand, and yet we still struggle to obey them:
  • “Do not worship any God accept the Lord.” “Do not steal.” “Do not bear false witness.” “Do not covet.” (Exodus 20)
  • “Don’t be greedy…” (Colossians 3:5)
  • The Bible is plain that we should engage in “…quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior.” (2 Corinthians 12:20)
We all struggle with these things, though they are easy to understand.  God speaks plainly to us about them, but we still don’t listen.
            But you say, “It’s still not the same. Writing is one thing, but if only God would speak to me, I would listen.”  Really?  If writing is not as valuable as speaking, why do we have the expression, “I gonna need to see that in writing”?  When you buy a house or a car, you sign a written contract. Everything is spelled out in writing. And you better obey the contract (even the fine print) or you will be in trouble!  Wouldn’t you comply if your boss wrote you an email or sent you a memo directing you to complete some task? Yes you would (or you would be in trouble). In many cases, it is preferred to have the request in writing so you can be very clear what is expected and you can refer to it again and again for clarification.  For those who are in sales: Don’t you often receive written purchase orders? Some purchases must be in writing to be valid.  
            So why is it so important to us that God speak to us in person rather than through the writing of His Bible?  It all comes down to faith. We want God to speak to us so we have some proof He is real. And yet, even that would not be enough.
            Jesus was real.  Jesus was flesh and blood.  Jesus spoke to people, healed people, taught people, fed people, and walked with people.  In case that were not enough, Jesus died on a cross for people. Then on the third day, Jesus rose from the grave and appeared to over 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:6).  And yet many people still did not believe or obey him.  The problem is not God or the methods He chooses to speak to us. The problem is our lack of faith and unwillingness to obey. 

Children of Abraham 
            Galatians 3:7 – “The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.”  If you are to be a child of God, you must trust in Him more than anything else.  Do not trust in your money.  Do not put your hopes in your marriage.  Do not let your family be the most important thing in your life.  Do not cling to your heritage or your hometown or your traditional way of life.  If you feel too at home in this world, watch out! You are in danger of missing out on the promise of God.  Why would you leave all these things behind when God calls if you trust or love them more than God? And if you don’t answer the call of God, you are—of all people—to be pitied.  What good does it do a man to gain the whole world and loose his own soul?
            God Calls us all, but who is willing to answer? Who is really a child of God, a spiritual ancestor of Abraham?

How is God calling you today?
  • Calling you to receive Christ - to turn away from your own selfish ambitions and to choose to follow Jesus as your Lord and Savior
  • Calling you to join a church
  • Calling you to be baptized as a sign of your faith
  • Calling you to be a minister - we are all ministers, but some are called to be pastors who work in a church
  • Calling you to serve in another way besides as a pastor
  • Will you trust and obey?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Genesis, Part 1 - The Creation

            We are starting a new study on Wednesday nights and Thursday mornings at my church.  it's called THE STORY and it studies the whole Bible in chronological order, starting in Genesis.  So I thought I would share a series of blogs about the story of Genesis.  Today, I want to work through some of the highlights of the creation story from Genesis.  In particularl, I want to focus on how the story relates to people, how God’s perfect creation was spoiled, and the consequences of that spoilage on the world and us today.  So let’s look look first at Genesis 2:25

Genesis 2:25 Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.

            It's a short verse, but there is so much we can glean from it.  This is a picture of the perfect creation God made in the beginning.  Notice the total innocence of Adam and Eve.  They are naked, but they felt absolutely no shame.  When was the last time you could stand naked and feel as Adam and Eve?  They could because they were perfect in every way--just as God originally intended for humanity.
            Their bodies were yet to be touched by any sickness.  They had perfect sight, perfect senses, a body that functioned perfectly.  Have you ever known anyone who was a perfect physical specimen?  The closest we find to this in our time might be professional athletes or Olympians who are gifted with raw, natural talent and then spend their whole life developing that gift.  And yet, Adam and Eve were infinitely better than eve the best athletes we find in our world today.
            Their bodies were untouched by the slightest mental dysfunction.  They had perfect memory, perfect clarity of thought, perfect understanding.  Again, think of the most brilliant person you know or of whom you have heard.  Adam and Eve had infinitely better mental capabilities.
            They had no emotional problems, not eve the slightest.  For, no one had ever betrayed, harmed, spoken an ill word, had a misunderstanding or disagreement, been insulted or even perceived an insult, been depressed or sad or angry or anything other than at perfect peace and harmony with all God and all of His creation.
            So that Adam and Eve could stand completely naked before one another (and God) and have absolutely no shame.  They had no thoughts about blemishes, for there were none.  They had no feelings of vulnerability.  They felt perfectly safe.  They were not cold or concerned about getting a sunburn.  They did not have even a thought that there was anything to be ashamed of or that they were even naked.  To them—completely and utterly innocent as they were—it was an absolutely natural state of being. 
            And these attributes applied not just humanity. All of Creation was perfect. No wild beast threatened to harm Adam and Eve or any other animals, whether by malice or accident or necessity of food. No natural disaster existed on the earth—whether tornado or hurricane or wildfire or earthquake or frigid temperatures or scorching sun or flood or drought.  All nature was perfectly balanced and in harmony so as to make life completely sustainable and fit to enjoy.  And God and humanity were so close they lived in perfect harmony—talking to one another as friends walking through a garden on a beautiful day.  All this was the gift God gave to Adam and Eve. And yet, apparently, this couple wanted more.  The Serpent used that desire to tempt them.
Genesis 3:4-7
4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

            You might ask: "What was so bad about eating the fruit?"   It was direct disobedience of the one and only commandment of God--a test of their loyalty and love.  It was distrusting God – Eve (and Adam) believed the Serpent who contradicted God and even insinuated God was holding out on Adam and Eve. They wondered if they could get more. (How could you possibly have more?). They somehow believed they could get more if they disobeyed God (even though God had never done anything to make them question His love for them).
            It was appealing to Adam and Eve to be free of total dependence on God.  When my son was a young child, he loved Cheez-Its.  I remember vividly on time we were sitting in the car together--he strapped into his car sit.  I gave him some Cheez-Its and he loved them.  He wanted more.  I was delighted to give him some decided I would give him as many as he liked, but I didn't give him the box for fear he would spill them or soil the contents with his sloppy hands.  So I handed him a handful again and again each time he asked for more.  After only a couple handfuls, Gavin determined he was not satisfied to let me feed him one handful at a time.  He wanted the whole box for himself.  Even thought I would give him as many Cheez-Its as he liked, Gavin didn't want to be dependent on me.  In that moment, I perceived an aspect of our human nature.  We want to be independent--even from God.
            Don’t you see the seeds of your own human nature at work in Adam and Eve?  We are so easily tempted to disobey God.  We often distrust God though He loves us completely and unconditionally--even giving up His own Son on a cross to redeem us. We say:
  • “Why is God so mean to me?”
  • “Why can’t I find a husband? ...have a baby?"         
  • "Why can’t I have more money?  ...a better house? ... a nicer car?  Why is God holding out on me?”
  • “Why do bad things happen to ‘good’ people?”  (As if we are good people.  Romans 3:10 clearly tells us, "No one is righteous--not even one."  There are no good people, thus bad things do not happen to good people.  Yet we accuse God of making this happen.)
            We just want to live our life the way we want to without God.  I mean, we want God in our life--especially when we are overwhelmed or in trouble--but we don’t want to be dependent on God.  “Just help us out, God, when we need You and, otherwise, we’ll visit when it’s convenient.”  Who really wants God to be their All in All?  So we see in Adam and Eve the birth of the very sickness in our own souls.       
            Adam and Eve took a chance on the Devil... and lost.  And now we see the aweful result:

Genesis 3:8-11
When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”
11 “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”

            Adam and Eve were afraid of God--their best friend, the giver of all good things, their protector, sustainer, source of life and peace and love.  They were so afraid they hid.  So add to their malady: desperation and confusion.  For, how can you “hide” from the Creator of the universe--WHO created stars a trillion lightyears away and also created the very heart beating inside your chest?  But their fear filled them with desperation and--being otherwise innocent and unskilled in the black art of sin and deception--all they could think to do was “hide.”
            Oh, we are so much better at sin and deceit than Adam and Eve were.  We’ve had thousands and thousands of years of practice.  Some are so skilled they can go their whole life never letting a single person know the secret sins of their dark heart; some can even deceive themselves.  But NO ONE can hide it from God.  For THE ONE WHO KNOWS HOW MANY HAIRS ARE ON YOUR HEAD will come looking for you.  “Where are you?”  He calls and we cannot help but reveal ourselves, “I hid from you because I was afraid.”
            The innocence was completely gone.  Now Adam and Eve were agonizingly aware of their nakedness.  They were ashamed where before they were joyful and happy.  Their once perfect bodies now suddenly bore the awful marks of age and deterioration that must come upon every aging body. (Can you imagine terror that seized Adam and Eve as they saw for the first time in history their once perfect bodies reduced by stretch marks and wrinkles and age spots and a thinning hairline?  We take these things for granted now, but Adam and Eve had no experince to build upon.  Can you imagine their horror as they felt for the first time in history the aches and pains of old age and arthritis and the dulling of their senses--sight, sound, the ability to remember--the degrading of their reflexes, the onset of vertigo?)  And the ONE PERSON they could ask anything and completely trust for help they feared was now their enemy.

            However, despite their evil and rebellious and ruinous decision, God still was not their enemy.  They turned their back on God, but God did not turn His back on them.  God provided a sacrifice and protection.  

Genesis 3:21 – 21 And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.

            Despite their sin, God took pity on Adam and Eve.  Concerned for their fear and shame and safety, God sacrificed the lives of animals to make clothing for the naked humans.  Imagine the horror of the man and woman as they saw animals slaughtered for the first time in history.  The animals’ innocent blood was spilt because of human sin.
            The only protection suitable was animal skin.  Adam and Eve needed protection from a now hostile world.  The elements now were a deadly threat--exposure to cold or scorching sun could wipe them out.  And the inevitable consequence of sin is death.  The animals died in place of Adam and Eve.  They wore the skins as a tangible reminder of the cost of sin and yet also of God’s continuing love for people as the most important part of His creation.

             God made Adam and Eve perfect and gave them the freedom to love Him or not.  They chose to love selfish desires and independence instead of God. They betrayed God for a deceiving snake and lost.  Their sin corrupted all of creation--sin, death, destruction, and disorder are now the norm of this life. The only thing holding back the doom is the loving hand of God--who despite being betrayed--still hopes and longs for a restored relationship with His people.
            Eve is the mother of all who live (Genesis 3:20). And so, we inherited Adam and Eve’s sinful nature and their resulting suffering. But God has not left us without hope.  Through Christ, our sins are forgiven and we are given new life and eternal life.  Through Christ, we can once more come before God and each other with an innocent heart.  For our sins are no more.  They have been crucified with Christ!  His blood has washed our sins away!  The blood of animals was only a temporary solution.  It was insufficient to truly wash away our sins.  But the blood of Christ is all-sufficient.  It washes us clean for all time--every sin we ever committed and every sin we might commit in the future are scoured clean by the blood of Christ shed on the cross. 
            One Day, God will even restore Creation.  Romans 8:21 - “...creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”  I invite you then, to take hold of this hope through God’s promise in Christ.  Turn away from your sin.  Stop chasing your own sinful desires.  Turn back to God.  He is your only hope, the hope of all Creation.
I invite you to bow your head and pray to God and turn your life over to Him completely.

“Lord God, forgive me my sin.  Just like Adam and Eve, I listened to the serpent in my heart and tried to find happiness on my own without You.  It did not work.  I am so sorry I turned away from You. Please forgive me.  Restore me, by the blood of Jesus Christ, to a right relationship with You so I may walk with You unashamed and unafraid all the rest of my days, and I can have everlasting life with You in eternity.  Amen.”