Reversing the Curse (Genesis 3:16-24)

2016-Week 6“At the very moment of the fall, God is working for human redemption.” -Justo Gonzalez

The Bible is an epic story. It is a historical narrative of redemptive history which tells the true story of God redeeming His chosen people. This is true for Genesis just as it is for the Gospels. The inspired and inerrant (without error) Word of God is fully true. We can trust it, always. With this in mind, let us examine Genesis 3:16-24.

Sin, the Seed and Separation

In this passage, God is handing out punishment for the disobedience of the first human beings. Adam was given the very clear command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (2:16-17). The serpent, Satan, deceived Eve into taking the fruit from the tree, which she shared with Adam who was by her side, a joint act of rebellion. The result was devastating.  First, God punished Satan by confining him to the earth, setting his offspring at war with the woman’s offspring (v. 15). As noted in the previous post, a unique promise was made. The seed of Eve, a human deliverer, would bruise Satan’s head while the enemy would wound his heel. This verse is the first mention of the Gospel in the Bible! It was the beginning of the end for Satan. Jesus is the seed of the woman and would later crush Satan at the cross and will finally at His return. Before these events, God punished Adam and Eve. First, Eve with pain during childbirth. Then for Adam, hard toil to eat and provide as well. The punishment culminated in spiritual and physical death (vv. 17-19).

In verses 22-24, the Lord banished Adam and Eve from the paradise of Eden. There is a deeper meaning of divine separation here. Sin drives a wedge between a holy God and sinful human beings. Now, Adam and Eve had to survive apart from God’s perfect provision. In essence, the punishment for sin was separation. Both separation from perfect union with God in this life and in the life to come. Sin blanketed the whole of creation. As Paul writes, “just as sin came into the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). The curse was death.

The Curse-Reverser

Tucked away in verse 21, God provided for the sinners by clothing them, covering their shame. What an act of grace! Despite their defiance, the loving Father chose to provide for his wayward children. This also points to a greater reality. The God of Scripture is fundamentally a God of love. And this love is proven by offering salvation to a fallen, corrupt world. God the Father sent God the Son to pay the debt for guilty sinners. If we repent of our sin, receive and believe in Jesus Christ we will be saved. The first Adam brought the sin-curse upon humanity. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, brought the sin-cure to humanity. In essence, Jesus reversed the curse by dying for sinners in their place. Again, Paul writes in Romans 5:17,

“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

Jesus is the only way to be free from the bondage of sin. It has enslaved us. Jesus liberates us. Do you believe him today? If not, I pray you turn from your sin and receive him as Lord and Savior of your life (Rom. 10:9-10). Amen.

Reflection Questions:

  • Do you believe the Bible is true? If so, do you take seriously the punishment of sin?
  • Have you reflected on the truth that Jesus sets you free from sin? Is this reflected in your daily walk with him?

This week’s devotional was written by Steve Sering. He has been a follower of Jesus since high school. By God’s grace, he has served in different ministry roles in different churches in Indianapolis. He is currently a Masters of Divinity student at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY.  He also writes at his blog www.inthevalley413.com.

A Strange Verse with a Powerful Promise (Genesis 3:1-15)

2016-Week 5Did you know the Gospel was first preached by God? He proclaimed the good news to the first man and woman right after they sinned (Read Genesis 3:1-15)?

Most people understand the big idea in Genesis 3. There, we have Adam and Eve sinning against their Creator. Due to the temptation of Satan, the prohibition not to eat from the forbidden tree was violated. Consequently, man’s relationship with God, himself, and the world in which we live has been corrupted. But, as is customary of our Lord, God did not leave the man and woman in their sin. Rather, He gave them good news. He promised a deliverer.

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 (Gen 3:15).

By his deception, the Devil was not only capable of bringing sin into the world, but he was even able to cause man to obey him and not the Lord—causing enmity between God and man. It would appear that Satan had succeeded in turning God’s image bearers against Him. Ever since he was cast out of Heaven, this has been Satan’s goal—to ruin the Kingdom and frustrate the will of God. Now, he has the first man and woman serving him and defying the Lord.

So, has he won? Not at all, because God pronounces judgment upon Satan. The Lord judged him when He threw him out of Heaven with a 1/3 of the angels and He is judging him now in Genesis 3:15.

How does he do it? How does he judge him? He reverses the enmity. Look back at verse 15. The Lord says to Satan, “I will put enmity between your offspring and the woman’s offspring.” The Lord is promising, despite Satan’s deceptive work in turning man against God, that He will reverse the enmity the Devil caused and make the woman’s offspring at enmity with Satan’s offspring.

What is God saying? He’s saying there are going to be two types of people in the world. There will be people in this world who are have been so transformed that they will not only love God, but they will hate the Devil. That’s what enmity means—deep animosity, and that’s what Christianity is, isn’t it? Aren’t we the people who love God and hate Satan? That was promised back in Genesis 3. These transformed people will be delivered from Satan’s deception. They won’t, like Eve, distrust God’s word. They will love God’s word and obey it. And the hostility caused by man’s first act of disobedience will be put away. On the other hand, there will also be people who hate God and love the Devil. Who’s that? That’s the world. That’s everyone who doesn’t submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They are the offspring of Satan.

So, the history of the world then, can be summarized as a conflict between the offspring of the woman (the redeemed) and the offspring of Satan (the world). If you want an example of this, turn over to chapter 4 where you will see Cain (offspring of Satan) kill his brother, Abel (offspring of the woman). The history of the Jewish nation can be characterized as God’s people vs. Satan. Why do you think when Jesus was born Herod killed all the little boys two years old and younger? Satan has been trying to blot out the promised Messiah ever since He was predicted. The same can be seen today with all the hostility towards Christianity.

But, it isn’t the whole of the woman’s offspring that would defeat Satan. It’s just one offspring. Look back at the text. V.15— he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” So we’ve just went from the offspring (plural) to “he (singular) shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heal.” So there will be enmity between the woman’s offspring and the serpent’s offspring, but there will be one man who will deal the decisive blow to Satan. We know, as we trace this promised offspring through the OT, it is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

The seed of the woman will defeat Satan. John MacArthur notes, “This is the only place in the Bible where it talks about a seed of a woman. It talks a lot about seed of men, because the seed is in the man; it’s not in the woman. But there was One born without a human father, and the seed was in the woman. And that is the virgin-born Christ, the Son of God. He is the only human who was not produced by the seed of a man. The only time a woman had the seed of her own. He is virgin-born.”

Satan’s decisive blow came when the eternal son of God took on flesh and sacrificed Himself upon the cross. “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). Christ took on flesh so that He might die a sacrificial death and thereby destroy the Satan.

How did His death destroy the Devil? Christ’s death took away from him the only power he had against believers and that was their sin. Colossians 2 says, He cancelled “the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This (the record of death) he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” God triumphed over Satan through the death of Christ. Satan used to be able to stand before God, hold up the list of your sins and say they’re mine. They deserve to go to Hell with me. He knew that God’s justice demanded that sin be paid for. But Christ has taken our debt out of Satan’s hands. So, Satan’s deception in Genesis 3 has been conquered by the cross of Christ.

The whole of human history since the fall of the first man and woman has been moving towards a climactic event when God would save His people from their sins through the offspring promised in the beginning. Now, on this side of the cross, we are moving toward another appointed end, whereby the offspring of the woman will return and He will bring with Him the sword of final judgment upon the offspring of Satan. By doing so He will save the offspring of the woman forever and restore God’s creation back to its original, undefiled state where Jesus Christ will reign as King and Lord.

This week’s devotional was written by Brandon Sutton. He is married to Sherrie and they have a baby daughter, Emma. He is also the lead pastor at Blue Ridge Christian Union Church outside of Shelbyville, Indiana and executive director of The Grace House, a men’s recovery home. He is currently pursuing his Master of Divinity degree at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

Made By Design (Genesis 2:18-25)

2016-Week 418Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 

Within the creation account, there was a pattern: God created and it was good, God created and it was good, and so on and so forth. On the sixth day God finished creating the world, and He said, “It is very good.” This teaches us something practical: wait for the finished product. When trials come we only see part of what God is doing, and when we trust in Him we believe that He does work all things for the good of His people (Romans 8:28). Therefore, though we struggle today, the sixth day is coming.

Alas, not everything was good. God said, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). We always say you are never alone because you have God. But if God is the one who keeps us company, who keeps God company? The beauty of the creation account is how it reflects the Creator. For instance, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky proclaims his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1). And because we are made in his image we can have a basis for the natural things we experience like knowledge, logic, or even, in this regard, relationships. Contrary to popular belief, this concept of Adam being alone does not show a need for marriage, it shows the need for relationships in general. We need relationships because our Creator has had an eternal relationship with His Son and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, because Adam was not reflecting God’s Trinitarian relationship, God made Eve.

19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 

The fact that Adam was naming the animals in verse 20 shows how work is not a bad thing; it is a good thing. We work because we bear God’s image and God works. If God did not work, this post would not exist because life would not exist. This concept of Adam working removes the confusion about salvation by works or faith because God gave the gift of life to Adam, and he responded by giving the gift of obedience. In the same way, salvation is the free gift of God that causes us to respond with the gift of faith and obedience.

21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Clearly, marriage is something God controls and God establishes for his people. If God is not behind who we marry, how can we expect the marriage to last? God ordained marriage will last because God lasts. Now the reason God has submission requirements for a woman is not only because the Trinity consists of the Son submitting to the Father, but because of how God made the woman: out of the man’s rib. Matthew Henry mentions this in his commentary on the text: “Man was from the dust and refined into a man, but woman was from the man, which means women are double-refined.” But he also adds the need for submission because of the way God made the woman: “[Eve was] not made out of his head to be the head…But out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him” (Henry, Matthew, An Exposition of the Old Testament).

In conclusion, God saw something bad (man being alone) and made it good (by providing Eve). God did the same thing for you and me. Our bad is clearly seen by God in this psalm: “The Lord looks down from heaven and saw none good no not one (Ps. 14:2-3).” God saw bad in the earth, so he sent good to the earth: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).” Just as God gave Eve to resolve a relational problem, God gave Jesus Christ to resolve a sin problem.

This week’s devotional was written by Cameron Fathauer. Cam is a sophomore at Boyce College participating in Southern Seminary’s “Seminary Track” program to receive His undergrad in Biblical and Theological studies and receive a Masters of Divinity. He also blogs weekly on DearMrChristian.com.

Made for Stewardship (Genesis 2:1-17)

2016-Week 3“This is what you were made for!” Whether it is said of a player during a critical point in the game or of a teacher enjoying their vocation in the classroom, such a statement feeds the importance of purpose. However, without understanding who we are, we cannot know what our purpose is. That is why it is important we turn to God’s Word and base our lives on it. Already, we have observed God is our eternal and good Creator and He has created humanity in His image. In other words, the foundation of our faith begins with asking “Who is God?” and then “Who are we?” When we find the proper answers to those two questions, we can address the next, “What is my purpose?” Our purpose points back to our Creator. We have been created for the glory of God (Isaiah 43:7). But what does that mean? Certainly, the glory of God is multi-faceted and permeates the pages of Scripture. For our purposes in Genesis 2, let us look at it from the perspective of stewardship. We honor and glorify God by obeying God. As we know God is our Creator, we realize we are not our own and we do not serve as our own authority. Rather, we are stewards of what has been entrusted to us. It should come as no surprise, then, in Genesis 2 we see we are made for stewardship. Genesis 2:4-7 reiterates the reality God has created us. He also has created everything around us (2:8-14), including a garden in Eden which plays a role in this stewardship. God takes the man, Adam, and puts him in the garden of Eden. There, He entrusts him with responsibility and gives him accountability. Notice the twofold aspect of this stewardship. The LORD calls for Adam to “work it and keep it”, referring to the garden of Eden.  Likewise, the LORD gives Adam a warning if he goes outside the bounds of God’s command. Responsibility and accountability both operate in the framework of stewardship. Work is not a result of the Fall, although the toil of work is (Genesis 3:17-19). Our work is a stewardship as it was for Adam. This work was coupled with a warning:

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'” (Genesis 2:16-17)

God’s giving man responsibility came with accountability. If Adam disobeyed God and failed to listen to His command, severe consequences would be the result, culminating in death. So, what happened? As we will see, Adam took the bite and the result is we live in a fallen and sinful world. Not only that, but we all have followed in his footsteps. We all have sinned and we are told “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). We have failed to be good and faithful stewards. We have rebelled against our Owner and what we deserve, the only thing we are entitled to, is death. But God has entrusted to us the very thing we do not deserve, His grace. Because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can be forgiven of our rebellion. When we repent of our sin and trust in Jesus, we are saved. We no longer live for ourselves but we live for Him! As stewards, our response to this salvation is to realize we are responsible and accountable to Him, not clinging to our rights nor attempting to usurp His authority. We live as those who have been entrusted by Him with His gospel!

Reflection Time:

  1. How does the Word of God help us understand what our purpose is in life? How does this affect our daily lives?
  2. How does the concept of stewardship cause you to look at your relationship with God and your relationship with others?

Who is Man? (Genesis 1:26-31)

2016-Week 2When considering the Foundations of our Faith, one of the most critical questions we can ask is “Who is man?” Who are we? How did we get here? What are we here for? These are all questions to which we, as humans, want answers. But where do we find these answers? We cannot find these answers within ourselves, because we were not present at the creation of humanity nor were we the creators of ourselves.  This means we must go to a source that was breathed out by the One who was present at creation and who is the Creator of humanity. We must look to Creator God, and we must go to Genesis 1.

In Genesis 1 we find a special telling of the creation of man. We’re given in verse 26 what seems to be the conversation of the Godhead amongst the trinity. In this conversation God says,

Let us make man in our image, after our likenessSo God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them…And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

There are a couple of things that we can pick up from this conversation of the creation of man.

  1. We Are a Reflection. (Gen. 1:26 – “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”)

Has there ever been a time, say prom or your first date or your wedding day, when you took some time to look good. Like, pretty good. No. I mean, really good! After you get done fixing yourself up, you take that first look into the mirror and all you can do is say, “WOW! Man, I look good!” That first look in the mirror affirms that all the time and effort you put into your appearance was well worth it. The image in the mirror satisfies the work put in.

This example is exactly what happened when God created man. He created man in His image so that mankind might reflect back to God everything that is beautiful about Himself. We were created as a reflection. You were created as a reflection. And when God looked in the mirrors of Adam and Eve in Genesis, He said within the Trinity, “it was very good.” God looked into the mirror of the first humans, representative of all humans and how we were originally created to be, and God basically said, “WOW! Man, I look good…in them!” God’s first look in the mirror affirmed that the creativity and effort He put into “forming” us was well worth it. The image in the mirror satisfied the work He put in.

  1. Our Primal Identity is Beauty. (Gen. 1:27 – “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him.”)

When God created man, he gave mankind a primal identity. God did not begin with the creation of man by calling him a flop, or shattered, or damaged. Though this is true, too often in evangelical circles we begin by discussing the sinfulness of man, the brokenness of man, and the damaged state of this world. Too often we forget the this is not our primal identity. A primal identity indicates an original distinctive. And the original and distinct fashion in which God formed humanity was “Imago Dei,” in the “image of God.” I like how Jefferson Bethke describes this idea of our primal identity:

“God got particular and creative with us human creatures. He rolled up his sleeves when he made us and declared us to be Imago Dei. Image of God. He did not call us broken, sinner, or failure. (Check Gen. 1:26-27) Which means our primal identity (the one most at the depths of who we are — in our very bones) is one given by the Creator himself. We are his. While it is true that after Genesis 3 we are sinners, we are still made in the image of God, no matter how broken that image is. Beauty is more primal than the curse; and we were children before we were runaways.”

When we skip God’s original creation of man as beautiful in Genesis 1 and skip to Genesis 3, we overlook the one of the most important answers to the question, “Who is man?” The answer found in Genesis 1 is that humanity was created with the primal identity of beauty because we are created in Imago Dei.

To be sure, Adam and Eve sinned when tempted by the serpent, which passed a nature of sinfulness on to the rest of humanity. Not only has sin affected humanity, but also the rest of creation has been placed under the curse of sin. This sin has shattered the mirror of humanity that originally, perfectly reflected the beauty of God. We experience this broken and shattered state daily. The beautiful conclusion of this story is that Christ is making all things new. Jesus declares after establishing the new heavens and new earth in Revelation 21:5:

“Behold, I am making all things new. It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”

This week’s devotional was written by Kasey Clark. He is the High School Bible Teacher at Traders Point Christian Academy. Kasey is also an aspiring pastor and currently serves as a church planting intern at New Circle Church in Downtown Indianapolis. He loves digging deeper into theology and helping his church family do the same.

In the Beginning, God (Genesis 1:1-25)

2016-Week 1In a recent episode on television, two characters share their view of God. One utters their view of God is as a vengeful and wrathful deity. The other character quickly asserts their view of God is not as an angry divinity. Rather, they see God as a loving and forgiving God. So, who is right? In some sense, both are right and both are wrong. God is holy and will justly release His wrath on those who rebel against Him. Yet, God is loving at the same time and will forgive those who repent and trust in Jesus because He has saved them by living a sinless life, dying a substitutionary death, and rising again from the dead. The deeper issue with this television scene is the characters conform God into their image instead of understanding God as One who has made them in His image. In other words, their view of God is based on their perceptions and not on the truth of the Bible. To know God and to know the Christian faith means we must know the foundations of our faith. Genesis 1 is our starting point. In the first verse, we read, “In the beginning, God”. Before anything was created and before any matter came into being, God was there. God is eternal. He has no beginning and no end. The Christian worldview holds fast to the truth that the source of origin is God Himself. Simply put, He is the Creator of the world and the things in the world. Genesis 1:1-25 lays this out for us. Our eternal God chose to bring glory to Himself by creating the heavens and the earth and all which dwells in them. Moreover, take notice of how God creates: God creates by speaking, He sees what He has created, and He orders creation.

God creates by speaking (1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24). In the beginning, God created and He created by speaking. “And it was so” is a repeated phrase in Genesis 1. God’s speaking will surely bring about His ends. When we read and study Scripture, we do not erroneously view it as man’s thoughts about God. When we dig into the Word, we understand it to be the Word of God. God has revealed Himself in the Bible and He spoken through prophets and apostles, culminating in speaking through His Son, Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 1:1-4).

God sees His creation (1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). God not only speaks in creation but He also sees creation. And what does He say about what He has made? Six times in Genesis 1 we read “And God saw that it was good”. While humanity was the only creature made in the image of God, all creation reflects the character of God. God’s creation was good because the Good creator had made it. It certainly has been distorted because of the Fall, but all of creation points us back to some knowledge of God.

God orders His creation (1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23). A biblical view of God reveals to us our God is eternal, He is our creator, and He is good. From creation, we also see our God is a God of order. With each day of creation, we read “And there was evening and there was morning”. The phrase gives us a sense of pattern. God orders His creation. Even when life seems disorganized and chaotic, we can rest in the truth our God is a God of order.

So, who is God? The Bible informs us on that. God has revealed Himself in Scripture. To be sure, Genesis 1 does not tell us all about God. That is why studying the whole counsel of God is crucial. But, unlike the television characters, we do not answer the question with our own ideas but with the Bible’s proclamation. He is eternal, He is an orderly Creator, and He is good.

Reflection Time:

  • How do you answer the question “Who is God?” How do you arrive at your answer—by studying the Bible or by relying on your own thoughts?
  • Spend some time this week giving thanks to God for His order, His creation, and His goodness.