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Jesus the priest - Genesis 3:15-15

This is a sermon by Malcolm Peters from the Riverside Church service on 10th December 2006.

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I wonder if you saw the paper this week the story of Paul Barnes. Mr Barnes was killed outside his home after he confronted a gang whoíd been vandalising his car. His 11 year old son, Kieron, understandably said that he really missed his dad. And this grieving 11-year old boy said that his dadís killer should be locked up for at least half their life. Not a big ask, you might be thinking; officially, thereís still a mandatory life sentence for murder in this country. And so last Tue, the judge passed sentence on Mr Barnesí killer. But he didnít get life. He didnít get even half a life sentence. Mr Barnesí killer got just 2 and half years. One broadsheet newspaper put it like this: "Family outrage at Ďjokeí killing sentence".

When judges pass overly lenient sentences, thereís outrage. Why? Because people feel that justice hadnít been done. Justice isnít simply about restoration. We instinctively feel that crimes should be punished. Punished not simply to help the criminal lead a better life. No, most of us instinctively feel that crime shouldnít pay: criminals should pay the price for their crimes. There should be an element of retribution in the justice system.

But of course, thereís a problem with retributive punishment. Itís fine when itís applied to criminals out there. But weíre not so keen when it comes nearer to home. We donít like it when people receive heavy sentences for what we might regard as minor offences. A few months ago I got fined for not renewing my car tax. Now before you think Iím a tax dodger, I always pay my car tax; I usually renew it weeks early. But this year, the DVLA didnít send me their usual reminder, so it never got onto my task list. So it wasnít my fault right. Suppressing my self-righteous indentation, I rang the DVLA to tell them why I didnít deserve to be fined. Maybe youíve been flashed by a speed camera or got a parking ticket recently. And if you have, then no doubt you were as outraged as I was at the excessive punishment.

Thereís always a reason why itís not fair isnít there. It doesnít matter that actually I hadnít paid my tax as the law requires; it doesnít matter that you were breaking the limit or parked on a yellow line. Weíre outraged anyway. Iím not that bad. Why donít they spend their time going after the real criminals?

And when it comes to Godís punishment of Adam and Eve in Gen 3, many of us feel uncomfortable. Maybe some of you were even thinking Godís sentence was excessive; Godís being unjust isnít he? After all, "whatís the big deal, itís only an apple". And thatís the issue we need to get clear in our minds as we look at the seeds of Jesus in the OT. Because unless we understand Godís justice, weíll never understand His mercy. Unless we understand Godís justice, weíll never understand what Christmas is really all about.

Recap of Gen 1 - 3

But before we get into Gen cpt 3, we need to remind ourselves of the context. So turn back with me if you would to Genesis 1 on p1 and look with me at v1:

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth". [Repeat 1:1]. And the pinnacle of His creation was mankind. Look onto v27: "So God created man in his own image. In the image of God He created him; male and female, he created them."

And in cpt 2 the Lord God put Adam in of the Garden of Eden, a place of peace and security that had plenty of food. Look with me at v9:

2: 9 "And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the groundótrees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

And onto v 16:

V16: "And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

The Lord God had graciously provided the perfect home for man; Adam was free to do anything he wanted, including eating from the tree of life. The only one thing he couldnít do was to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

But as we saw in our reading, in the form of a snake, Satan tricked Eve; she ate the forbidden fruit. And then Adam listened to his wife and he ate some too. And the result of their disobedience was cursing. And in v14-19, we see the details of Godís cursing judgment. In v17, the ground is cursed. Because of Adam and Eveís fall, the whole creation is now cursed and groaning. Mudslides. Earthquakes and Tsunamis were never originally part of Godís perfect creation. They only occur because of this curse. In v14, the serpent and the animal kingdom are cursed. In v15 we see the cursing of marriage: the perfect complementary relationship that was meant to exist between husband and wife is now cursed. Thatís why no marriage is perfect and thereíll always be problems to work through in our marriages.

And in v17-19 we see manís relationship with the rest of creation being cursed. And this has a major impact on our work. Work was a blessed part of creation. But after the Fall, after the curse, thereís no such thing as perfect job satisfaction. Am I ringing any bells. Ever wondered why your home life or your work life seems to be so painful at times. Itís because of the Fall; because of the curse.

But, of course, the ultimate curse is death. Look with me at v19:

Gen 3:19: "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."

God never lies. And so Godís word must come true. Back in cpt 2 God had said, the day you eat of the forbidden fruit, you will surely die. And in a spiritual sense, Adam and Eve did die that day. Because of the curse. And the ultimate curse wasnít physical death, which happened years later. No the ultimate curse was spiritual death. Being excluded from Godís presence: Look with me at v24:

[God] drove the man out, he placed on the east side [p] of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Being driven out, or exiled, from Eden meant being excluded from Godís presence. Just as Godís people were later exiled from the land of Israel because of their sin. Being expelled from the special Land which God symbolically dwelt in, meant being rejected by God. It meant no longer looking forward to eternal life in Godís presence. No, Adam and Eve were now on the road to Hell. The ultimate curse for disobeying God.

And so weíre back where we started. Has God gone over the top? Because if we think he has, if we have any sympathy with the view that Godís over-reacted, then we wonít understand the Gospel. If by the end of this morning, you still think God lost the plot when it comes to Adam and Eve, then you wonít understand Christmas. So to help us understand this first seed of Jesus in the OT, weíre going to examine v15 from 3 angles:

  • The Lordís judgement is Just
  • The Lordís judgement is merciful
  • The Lordís judgement is resolved by Adamís Seed (v15)

    The Lordís judgement is Just

    So first of all then The Lordís judgement is Just. The Lordís judgment is Just. And to see this we need to understand the seriousness of the sin in cpt 3. Look back with me to v1

    V1 "Did God really say, you must not eat from any tree in the garden?"

    Notice how Satan first twists and then questions Godís Word. God had permitted them to eat from all the trees in the garden except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Satan first questions Godís good provision and then suggests Heís a killjoy. Did God really say that you mustnít eat from any tree in the Garden?

    Godís not really looking after you; heís not got your best interests really at heart and he doesnít care what youíre going through at the moment.

    How many people have swallowed these types of lies Ė especially when life is tough?

    Look at v2:

    V2 "The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die."

    Notice straight away that Eve is beginning to buy Satanís lie. While outwardly appearing to resist temptation, she too begins to distort Godís word and even adds to it. God hadnít said that they couldnít eat from the tree in the middle of the garden, but only the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God hadnít said that they couldnít touch it, only that they shouldnít eat from it. She is beginning to buy the lie that God is keeping something good from her.

    Look onto v4:

    V4 ""You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 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."

    You will be like God. Thatís the essence of sin my friends Ė wanting to be like God. God had created a perfect world and provided every good thing for Adam and Eve. God was the Creator and Adam and Eve were His creation. And the Creator makes the rules for His creation. By definition, what God says and does is good is right and good. And what God says is wrong is evil. Knowing good and evil in this context implies having the authority to decide whatís good and bad. Wanting to replace God as the ultimate decider of whatís good and evil. Look onto at v6:


    Gen 3: 6: When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.

    She wanted that authority. She wanted to be like God. And in any case, itís such a nice piece of fruit. It looks good and I bet it tastes good. God wouldnít really want to deny me this nice piece of fruit.

    Like us, sheíd decided in her heart to sin, but was trying to justify it. Sheís bought the lie that God didnít have her best interests at heart. I want this piece of fruit and if God says no, He must be wrong.

    Look again at V6 " when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband and he ate it". Iím not missing out on becoming like God. And if sheís done it, then it must be OK for me too. Rather than be obedient to the God who made him, Adam "listened to his wife" instead.

    Thatís the big deal about eating the forbidden fruit. Thatís the big deal about all sin. All sin is ultimately a reflection of our desire to take Godís place. Because we want to rule our own lives. Naturally, we donít want to submit to Godís authority. We want to decide whatís right and wrong for ourselves and live by our own rules and God can get lost.

    But the problem is, God doesnít get lost. Because Heís God; Heís the creator. The one who really decides whoís right and wrong. And the perfect and almighty Creator cannot tolerate any challenges to His authority. By His very nature, He must judge sin. And if he didnít then Heíd be as bad as the unjust judge in that murder case.

    Godís judgement of Adam and Eve and all sin is just. Itís just because itís in line with Godís holy character. The Lordís judgement is just. And if we donít agree, then itís a reflection of our continuing rebellion against His authority. If you think God over-reacted in the Garden of Eden, then youíre still rebelling against Godís authority.

    The Lordís judgement is merciful

    So the Lordís judgment is just. But secondly, the Lordís judgement is also merciful. The Lordís judgement is merciful. Flip back again to cpt 2:17.

    Gen 2:17 "but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

    The most amazing thing about 3:7 is that itís not the end of the Bible. On the day they ate of the forbidden fruit, God would have been totally justified in carrying out the death sentence there and then. Yes they did die spiritually. Yes God cursed them as weíve seen.
    But look at 3:9: "The Lord God called to the man: "where are you?"

    Having postponed the death sentence, God begins to call out to sinful man. In the midst of Godís just judgement, we see His mercy. And this is most clear in v21.

    Gen 3:21 "And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

    God got rid of the pathetic fig leaves and provided proper clothing so that they could survive in the harsher environment outside the Garden of Eden. And this is a pattern we see through the rest of the Bible; in the midst of Godís just judgement against sin, we see His mercy. In the midst of Godís judgment, thereís mercy for Godís people. Mercy for God people, because the Lord provides a way through His just judgement. So for His people, the Lordís judgment is merciful.

    And, of course, the supreme example of this pattern is where the OT is heading: the cross. On the cross, Jesus was experiencing Godís wrath and judgment. On the cross Jesus was bearing the punishment for all the sins of all Godís people for all time. Jesus literally went through hell for His people. Jesus hadnít done anything wrong. Jesus didnít deserve to be punished. But he was punished in the place of His people. Like Adam and Eve, I deserved hell as a just punishment for my sins. But Jesus died for me. And he died for you if youíre a Christian here this morning.

    On the cross, we see the ultimate meeting of Godís wrath and mercy. On the cross, we see the just punishment of sin and evil. And yet it was an act of mercy. It was the fulfilment of God's plan to find a way of saving His chosen people. God must punish sin. His character demands it. Otherwise Heíd be like the unjust judge in that murder case. And yet God longs to be merciful to His people. The lordís judgment is just. But, for His people, the Lordís judgment is merciful.

    The Lordís Judgement is resolved by Adamís Seed (v15)

    And that brings us to the final heading. The Lordís Judgement is resolved by Adamís Seed. The Lordís Judgement is resolved by Adamís Seed. Look at our main verse again: v15:

    Gen 3:15: "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring [l] and hers; he will crush [m] your head, and you will strike his heel."

       

    The NT makes it clear that the serpent and his seed or offspring are the devil and his demons. But whoís the offspring or seed of Eve. Whoís the one who will crush Satan beneath His feet? Well flip on to a well-know Christmas passage: Luke 3:23.

    And as you can see the section is titled Ďthe baptism and genealogy of Jesus Christ. Letís look at v23:

    Luke 3:23 "Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph

    And then we get a whole load of so-in-so being the son of so-on-so, all the way down to v38:

    38the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

    Jesus Christ is the ultimate seed or offspring of Adam & Eve. The son of Adam, or the second Adam as the NT puts. So Jesus is the seed of Eve. But how did he crush Satan beneath His feet. Well listen to these words from Gal 3:

    Gal 3:13 "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us--for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"--

    On the cross, Jesus was bruised by Satan; he was pierced and crushed because of sin. But it was also part of Godís plan. Because on the cross, Jesus was taking upon Himself the curse of the Fall; he was taking upon Himself the curse of Godís just judgment; So on the cross Jesus, the offspring of Eve, was crushing Satanís head. On the cross, Jesus was dealing with the curse of the Law. On the cross, Jesus was finishing Satan off one and for all. On the cross, Jesus died and suffered Hell so that His people donít need to. The cross is where the seed of Gen 3:15 finds its ultimate fulfilment.

    And so if youíre one of Godís people, then thereís no condemnation for you to fear. The Lordís judgement is just: he must punish sin Ė His holy character demands it. But Jesus has taken the punishment for you. If youíre a Christian, then the Lordís punishment of Jesus is mercy for you. Because the Lordís judgement is resolved by the Adamís Seed, the Son of Man, the Son of God. Jesus had crushed Satan under His feet, and when he returns a second time, this fact will be acknowledged by everyone. When Jesus returns, both His people and His enemies will all acknowledge Jesusís victory over sin and Satan; but only His people will benefit from it.

    And so the key issue as we close is this: are you one of His people? If so, then praise the Lord for what Jesus has done for you. Jesus took the curse for you. Nothing can separate you from the love of God. It doesnít matter how tough life is at the moment. Nothing can prevent you spending eternity in Godís presence. So praise the Lord and keep your eyes fixed on your future home in the perfect new creation. Eden restored.

    But if youíre not one of His people, then the curse of Adam remains on you. One day you will suffer eternal separation from God and all thatís good in His creation; The Lordís judgment is just, but there will be no mercy for you. And if thatís you, then, just like Pharaoh, you need to repent of your rebellion against Him; you need to seek Godís forgiveness before itís too late. You need the seed of Jesus in Gen 3:15. The seed that came to fruition at the first Christmas.

    And if you want to explore further what seeking Godís forgiveness would involve, then you can do one of 3 things:

  • You could come back to more events here at Riverside over the Christmas period. Come back next Sunday to look at the next seed of Jesus in the OT: Moses. Come back to the Community Carols on Christmas eve.
  • Secondly, you could come alone to a Christianity Explored course which will be starting in January. And if thatís for you, then pl fill in one of these contact cards youíll find at the back.
  • But if you want to become a Christian here this morning, or you need to know more today, then come and speak to me after the service or over lunch.

    The first seed of Jesus in the OT. The first promise of Christmas. And the only way we can be made right with our maker and our judge. Letís pray.

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