April 29, 2018 – Good News in a Bad Context
Recorded at low volume. Increase volume level to hear.
Preacher: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: Genesis 1-4
Genesis 3:1-15 (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.
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. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 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?” 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.”
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.”
In the midst of a very bad situation, God speaks a word that proves good to those who will listen to it.
I) The Goodness of a Warning
- v14 “on your belly… and dust shall you eat”
- the serpent’s craftiness was used to deceive, and the serpent becomes a picture that gives wisdom to those tempted to use their gifts for evil (don’t: humiliation will result)
II) The Goodness of a Calling
- v15 “I will put enmity between you and the woman” (offspring)
- everything has become hard, especially doing good – but God calls a people to be a blessing in the midst a world that now bears a curse
III) The Goodness of the Outcome
- v15 “he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel”
- these words foretell the work of Jesus, who calls us to be children of God
Questions for Reflection
- The serpent used his craftiness, his asset (wisdom), to deceive and suffers humiliation as a result. In what ways can your greatest assets/gifts be used for evil? What kinds of temptations do you face, given who you are and the resources you have? If you are not careful, where can you do the most damage?
- How do you avoid deceiving yourself into thinking you are fighting for good when you are really acting corruptly? What principles help you engage this world as a force for good without inadvertently working against it?
- In what ways do you (or can you) rationalize passivity? What excuses do you make for not struggling for good?
- God’s plan for history is fulfilled through Christ, who triumphed over evil through his suffering on the cross (Col 2:15). How does Jesus’ invitation to trust him and to be in a renewed relationship with God through him (where God is our Father) create new possibilities for how we live? In what ways can we expect that following him means we follow in his pattern of experiencing enmity with the serpent? How do we keep focused on hope and persevere in faith?
- Consider reading and reflecting on the following passages in light of Genesis 3:14-15: 1 John 3:1-17; Romans 16:17-20; Acts 3:11-26; Revelation 12:1-17; John 8:31-59
Prayer of Confession
Our Father in heaven, we don’t always recognize your goodness, especially when it comes to us in this complicated and confusing world. We don’t see your warnings as kindness, nor do we heed them. We don’t experience the struggle to do good as a privilege or calling; instead we experience it with resentment, or we overcompensate and wield power for harm. This betrays our need to trust in the one you promised, Jesus, who was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, and upon whom was the chastisement that brought us peace. Thank you that we are healed by his wounds, and made your children through his work on our behalf. Amen.