Sermon #2 in our series, “66 in 52” January 8, 2023, Glynwood Baptist Church, Prattville, AL, James Jackson, Lead Pastor
Good morning! Please take your Bibles and turn to Genesis 3. Actually, Genesis 2, because we are going to start there. I’ve been so excited about the response to the 66 in 52 Challenge. Our Facebook group is over 120 people now, and I know of one Sunday school class that is planning on using this for their weekly discussion..
I want to remind you that I’ll publish the Discussion Guide each Monday for the upcoming week’s readings, and that can be used for anyone that wants to organize a small group for accountability and discussion. That will be posted on the 66 in 52 Facebook page.
Some people have asked me what they are supposed to do if they don’t have Facebook. Here is the solution. You subscribe to my blog and get most of what you would get on the Facebook page emailed to you. You can get the weekly discussion guide and all of the daily posts I write. If you have questions about anything you see in the daily readings, you can ask them on the blog. The one thing you’ll miss is the ability to interact with each other.
There is a reading plan in the Bible App that uses the chronological plan we are following. And that’s important because not all chronological plans follow the same order, because scholars are not in 100% agreement about when different events took place. So just to avoid confusion, I encourage you to use this plan. We also have paper copies available of the plan if you would rather keep up that way.
Now, if you started Day One on January 1, that means Sunday will be the start of a new week. And in the sermon time, we will look back on a big idea from the previous weeks’ reading and expand on it in the sermon.
So this morning, I want us to look back at Genesis 3-8. We are going to look at how sin came into the world, but even more importantly, we are going to look at how God already had a plan to deal with our sin. And we are going to see how God illustrated that plan over and over, just in this first week of reading, and hopefully this will give you the tools to see how this foreshadowing runs throughout the Bible. Because remember, just as we saw in the opening video, every story casts His shadow. Let’s pray together, and then we will jump in.
If you were a first grader in the American colonies between 1690 and 1780, you would have learned how to read using the New England primer. It was the most successful textbook published in the 17th century, and you would have learned your ABCs with pages like this. Each letter had a little two word couplet that went along with the picture, and would help the child remember the letter. For example:
- B is “thy life to mend this book attend”
- C: The cat doth play and after slay. Apparently even the Puritans knew that cats were evil. In later versions, the rhyme for C “Christ crucified for sinners died.”
- F: The idle Fool is whipped at school (Those were the good old days!)
- For all of us that started Job this week, check out J: Job feels the rod / and blesses God.
I doubt we would see a textbook in the public schools that taught the letter C with “Christ crucified / For sinners died.”
But I want you to take a close look at how children were taught the letter A: “in Adams fall we sinned all.” We definitely wouldn’t hear THAT in public school. We don’t talk about sin in public places.
The truth is, we don’t talk much about sin in our culture today. We talk about mistakes. We talk about bad decisions. But no one talks about sin anymore, unless they are being intentionally ironic.
In Adam’s Fall, we sinned All. The Bible teaches that sin entered the world through Adam. And we have been sinning ever since.
So how did we get there? Let’s look at it together. When God first created the first man, even before Eve was created, Genesis 2:15-16 says,
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[d] of it you shall surely die.”
Now, there is a very important detail in that verse, and we are going to come back to it in a bit. But right off the bat, we’re like “Um, Lord, I have questions”
- First, what’s so bad about having the knowledge of good and evil? Wouldn’t that be a good thing? Parents, don’t we work hard to teach our children right from wrong? Wouldn’t it be great if they were just born with that knowledge already? Why is that tree forbidden?
- But, God, if you’re going to make it forbidden, why make it look so good? It’s not poisonous; we know from the story of Eve and the serpent in Genesis 3 that Eve “saw that the fruit was good for food.” And it’s not ugly, like a Georgia Pine. I hate those trees. Grew up with them in our yard. I’m not throwing shade on Georgia. But neither do the pine trees. They just grow straight up like a telephone pole for 40’ and then put out a few pitiful pine needles. But Genesis 3:6 says that the tree was “a delight to the eyes.” So why God? If you didn’t want them to eat from it, why not make it a pine tree? Has anyone ever been tempted to chow down on a pine cone?
- And maybe the biggest question of all: Why would God create a tree that they weren’t allowed to eat from in the first place? You created everything, so why couldn’t you just plant a garden without any forbidden trees?
we send all if we believe the story of Adam and Eve that maybe you wondered why all of us should have to deal with something that happened in the garden thousands of years ago why do we still have to bear the consequences of original sin we didn’t bite the fruit did we?
Let me try to give you my best answer on these. They aren’t the only answers, but here’s how I understand it.
First, understand that “ knowledge of good and evil” isn’t about information, it’s about determination.
God’s desire is that human beings would trust Him as the ultimate authority of what is right and what is wrong. But if Adam eats from this tree it’s going to be a rejection of God’s authority to determine right and wrong, and claiming that authority for himself.
See, this is the original sin. We think moral relativism is a modern problem—that we’ve only just recently started to say, “Well, my truth might not be your truth.”
“What might be right for you may not be right for some.” (It talks diff’rent strokes, it takes diff’rent strokes…)”
Second: Temptation always looks good. If it didn’t look good, it wouldn’t be a temptation. Think about every single beer commercial you’re gonna see when you watch the championship game tomorrow night. Everybody’s young and good looking. No one has a beer gut. They all look like they are having the time of their lives. You’ve never seen a commercial that says, “You’ve just thrown up in a dumpster. It’s Miller time.
Third: It is true that God could have made a temptation-free world. He could have removed anything and everything mankind could choose instead of him. But listen, in order to choose to follow God, it has to be possible to choose something else. There is no free will if there is no other option.
And you know what happens next. In Genesis 3, you see Eve deceived by the serpent. You see her give some of the fruit to her husband. You know their eyes get opened, and they realize they are naked, and they hide from God because they are ashamed.
And you know what happens after that. They start blaming each other. Adam blames Eve for giving him the fruit. And then he blames God for giving him Eve. Genesis 3:13:
12 The man replied, “The woman you gave to be with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.”
Then Eve blames the serpent: Genesis 3:14: The serpent deceived me, and I ate.
Again, you know what happens next. Sin separates them from God. It breaks the perfect fellowship they have with each other. And it even disrupts their relationship with creation. They don’t get to live in the garden anymore. They don’t get to talk to serpents anymore. Later on, after Noah and his sons leave the ark, God says that “the fear and terror of you will fall on every living creature.” (Genesis 9:2)
In our readings last week, we saw the continuing spread of sin. Cain, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve, killed his brother because he was jealous that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice but not Cain’s (Genesis 4)
God becomes so fed up with the sin of the world that he decides he will destroy the world and start over. He chooses one man, Noah, and his family to build an ark, gather two of every kind of animal, and then shut themselves inside the ark while the Lord pours out His wrath on the earth for 40 days and 40 nights. After the floods subside, God tells Noah’s sons to multiply and fill the earth.
They obey… half of God’s command. They multiply, but they don’t fill the earth.
So, within just a few generations after the earth is destroyed, mankind once again decides they can decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong, and so they decide to stay in one place and make a name for themselves by building a tower.
And we know what comes next. God confuses their language, people abandon the tower and scatter all over the earth, and that’s why we can’t understand people from Japan. Or Zimbabwe. Or Louisiana.
By the time we get to the book of Job, sin is so pervasive throughout the world that when Job experiences unbelievable suffering, the first response of his friends is “You must have sinned. We will spend the next two weeks on Job, so hold that thought.
So, all of this is familiar to us. We grew up with these stories. That’s why you’ve heard me say, over and over, “You know what happens next.” But let me ask you another question:
Do you know what happened before?
Before Job and his trials. Before Babel. Before Noah. Before Cain and Abel. Before Eve and the serpent. Do you know what happened before?
I want us to take another look at the Scripture we began with: Genesis 2:15-17. Remember I told you that there was a very important detail that we would come back to? Well, here it is.
It’s the letter d. It’s a footnote. And if you are using an online Bible, you can click on that little letter d, and it gives you an alternate translation of the Hebrew. Instead of “in the day you eat of it you will surely die,” or “if you eat of it, you will surely die.”
When you eat of it, you shall surely die.
And that little change changes everything about how you read the rest of the Bible.
If it’s “If,” then Adam and Eve’s fall in the garden caught God by surprise. He’s like, Oh, Me, what are we going to do now? We’ve got to scramble to put something together.
If it’s if, it changes how you read the beginning of the flood story:
5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
If you think the Bible starts with God not knowing what’s going to happen next, then you imagine verse 6 as God saying “I just never thought it would be like this. I’m just going to start over.
But friends, sin did not catch God by surprise. God regretted the choices man had made, to the point that he would pour out His wrath on all creation, but He wasn’t surprised by it.
The right way to read Genesis 2:17 is “when you eat of it, you will surely die.” God knew from before the foundation of the world that we would sin against him. Which is why, according to Ephesians 1, he chose us before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:3
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us[b] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
Which is why, according to Matthew 25, we are going to inherit a kingdom prepared for us “from the foundation of the world”
There’s a song from about 20 years ago by a Christian band called Caedmon’s Call that I love. The song is called “Table for Two.” In the song, two friends are make a late night pancake run to Waffle House, and they wind up talking all night. They talk about life and death and God and soccer and heaven and hell and girls and what’s going on in their lives. And in the last verse of the song, the narrator begins to speak to God directly, and he sings:
You knew how you’d save me before I fell dead in the Garden
You knew how you’d save me before I fell dead in the Garden And You knew this day long before You made me out of dirt. And You know the plans You made for me. And you can’t plan the ends and not plan the means.
Listen to the whole song here:
Focus on that last line. God has a plan for us. We know from Jeremiah 29:11 that God has a plan to give us a hope and a future. And that plan was set in motion even before we sinned.
So put this together with Ephesians 1:4—5, that before the foundation of the world God had predestined us for adoption through Jesus.
Write this down in your notes: God planned it all before the fall.
Before the first man and the first woman ate of the fruit, God knew that one day He would send his son into the world to redeem the world. Job saw it, even in the middle of his suffering. If you’re caught up with the reading, this morning you got to Job 19:25:
For I know For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.[a]
I know we talk about Genesis 3:15 a lot—we talked about it just a couple of weeks ago in one of the Advent sermons.
“And I will put enmity (open hostility) Between you and the woman, And between your seed (offspring) and her Seed; He shall [fatally] bruise your head, And you shall [only] bruise His heel.”
I have it on the screen the way it reads in the Amplified Bible. If you aren’t familiar with that version, you need to know about it. Because it unpacks the nuances of the Greek and Hebrew right there in the English texts, using brackets and parentheses. It’s not great for just reading through because it interrupts itself so often, but its awesome for studying a passage. So look at what the Amplified Bible amplifies:
- Her Seed is capitalized. This is how most translations emphasize nouns and pronouns that are referring to God. And since it’s the seed of the woman, we know its pointing to the virgin birth.
- That seed will deliver a fatal wound to the serpent’s head, while the serpent will “only” be able to deliver a non fatal wound to the seed.
When God says the seed of the woman will crush the head of the serpent, it means that the power of sin will be crushed. It will be forgiven. Humans will be redeemed. Death will be swallowed in victory.
But this victory would come by the shedding of blood. Before the seed of the woman crushes the serpent, the serpent is going to bruise His heel. The Seed (Jesus) will suffer when He sheds his blood on the cross. Hebrews 9:22 says that without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness for sins. As I read this week, I started noticing how many times, even in these first few chapters of the Bible, there were signposts pointing to Jesus’ sacrifice for sin:
- Genesis 3:21—when Adam and Eve were naked and ashamed, God covered their nakedness with clothing made from animal skins. For shame to be covered, something had to die.
- Genesis 4—Abel’s sacrifice was accepted, and Cain’s was rejected. Scripture doesn’t explicitly say why, but it does point out the difference: Abel’s sacrifice involved the shedding of blood. For an offering to be accepted, something had to die.
- Genesis 9—the first thing Noah did when he came out of the ark was to build an altar and offer up burnt offerings. God’s word says that “When the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, he said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of human beings, even though the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth onward. And I will never again strike down every living thing as I have done.” For the covenant to be established, something had to die.
- Job 1:5: Job made burnt offerings on behalf of his children every time they had a banquet. Let’s close by looking at this verse more closely:
5 Whenever a round of banqueting was over, Job would send for his children and purify them, rising early in the morning to offer burnt offerings for[a] all of them. For Job thought, “Perhaps my children have sinned, having cursed God in their hearts.”
Let this sink in: The father purified his children by making a sacrifice on their behalf.
For the children’s sin to be atoned for, the father shed the blood of a lamb from his own flock.
This is the gospel. For God so loved the world that He gave His son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but will have everlasting life.
For sin to be forgiven, Someone had to die.
And God planned it all before the fall.