Long Story Short: Chaos

Good morning and welcome to Journey.  My name if Phil Human- A little more than 9 years ago we started Journey Church with one goal in mind.  To help people discover the real Jesus.  Specifically, we felt called to start a church for people who are just starting their spiritual Journey, or are restarting their walk with God.  And for people who are skeptical about the existence of God, or maybe cynical about the church.

If any of those descriptions fit you, then we are really thrilled that you are here.  We started this church for you. And this series that we are going through is a good series for you to be here for because it will summarize the bible for you in only six weeks.

Contrary to what you might believe…  This Bible is not a collection of a bunch of random stories – like Aesop’s fables – stories that intend to teach a moral.  Rather, the Bible is a single story – about what went wrong with the human race and what God is going to do to make it all right again.

This book describes for us why this world we live in is prone to evil, selfishness, corruption, violence, and greed.

And here’s the deal – You can throw a dart at a timeline of human history and whenever the dart lands – you know what you will find?  I’ll tell you – you will find, corruption, atrocities, violence, greed, evil, selfishness.   Pick a year, any year.

Today is the most advanced day in the history of humanity.  And yet – no amount of education, money, or science has been able to solve the brokenness of humanity.  We are fundamentally broken.

How did we get here? The Bible is one coherent story about how we got to our current state and what God has done and will one day do to make it right again.

Last week we looked at the first chapter of our story – Creation.  Genesis chapter 1 – the first page of the Bible – declares that we are not space debris.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made – and we are more loved than we ever dared dream possible.

In Genesis chapter 2 we are introduced to the first two humans – Adam and Eve.  Created to be with God in the Garden – where they walked with God in the garden in the cool of the day.  They enjoyed his presence.

But paradise doesn’t last long.  And by the end of Genesis chapter 3 – it’s chaos!

So what happened?  How was paradise lost?  Here’s our outline for this morning.

The Garden.  The Tree.  The Temptation. The Fall.  The foreshadowing. The Tree.  The garden.

First – the Garden. 

Genesis2Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made. The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The Garden of Eden was paradise. And Chapter two ends with one of the most beautiful single sentences in the Bible.  25 Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.

This sentence sums it up.  They were at peace with God, with one another – with themselves.  No shame.  No guilt.  No condemnation.  Nothing to fear.  Nothing to hide.  They lacked nothing.  They feared nothing.  Because God tended to their every need.

So what happened?  Where did it go wrong?  Well, there was this one tree… 

Genesis 2

15 The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. 16 But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

Why was there a tree?  What gives?  Why did God give Adam and Eve an option to eating from that tree?  Well, it’s not hard to answer that.  If there is no tree – then Adam and Eve are not in a garden they are in a prison.

Let me ask you, if you could create a potion and give it to someone that made them fall in love with you, they had no say in the matter, would that be love?  You’d probably be arrested for giving that to someone.

Which is truly love – that I gave my wife Jody a spell that made her love me – she had no other option BUT to love me?  Or that Jody one day said, I love Phil Human and want to spend the rest of my life with him.  Isn’t that the greatest love?

Relationships are built on trust and respect.    And God said, I want you to trust me.  Trust me enough to believe me – and so – the garden is yours – including this tree.  But I want you to think highly enough of me to believe me when i tell you that – if you eat from this tree it will be the death of you, and us, and this garden.

See, God is never interested in mere obedience.  What has always been most important to God is our faith in him.  That we think highly enough of him to believe him.  To Trust his leadership.

And, by the way – what God is asking of us is no different than what we ask of our loved ones.   You want to be trusted, and want to be able to trust them.

So you see, the tree had to be there.  Without the tree there is no opportunity for Adam and Eve to demonstrate their faith in God.

Alas – next comes A temptation.  Genesis 3:1

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

We learn in Revelation 20:2, what we can figure out fairly easy, that the serpent here is actually Satan, manifesting himself through this snake.

It’s interesting that the Bible doesn’t really give us much of the backstory of the devil.   That’s because the bible is the story of mankind and God.  We do learn in books like Ezekiel and Isaiah that apparently – Satan was once an angel who rebelled against God’s leadership and governance – and now stands opposed to God in the spiritual realm.  Here we see him turn his sights on destroying the relationship between God and mankind.

And how is he going to do this?  He will tempt Adam and Eve to break their faith in God by eating the forbidden fruit.  And let’s notice a couple of things about this first temptation.

Author Timothy Keller notes that this temptation begins with a sneer.

I play golf with a guy named Jim – and Jim has this thing he does – where he will ask me what I scored on that hole – and I’ll say – I got a par.  And sometimes he says, “Really?”  And he stares at me sometimes will raise an eyebrow and then say it again.  “Really?”  And I know what he’s doing.  It sounds like he is asking a question but he’s really making a statement.  He’s sneering at me – because he thinks that I’ve made an error.  The worst feeling is when I do make an error and have to correct my score – “check that, I got an eight.”

People do this all the time though.  Ever hear someone say, “Did he really say that?!” That’s unreal.   It’s not a question but a sneer.  It’s like, “I can’t believe he said that, what an idiot.”

Listen, you know sometimes students – you go to college and the atmosphere in a college environment can be characterized by a sneer.  “You really believe in Jesus?”  Really?  You really believe in the bible?  Really?”  There’s no cogent argument about why your beliefs are wrong – instead – there’s a mocking spirit.   “Really?”

Adam and Eve get sneered at, Satan mocks them for believing God.  Really?  Did God really say that?  You believe him?  It’s an attitude.  Listen – don’t for a minute think he’s changed his tactics – if he can get you to break your faith in God with a sneer… you bet he will.

Along with the sneer was an insinuation.  God is holding out on you.  God can’t be trusted.  God’s drag, man!

Finally – there’s an invitation – Take a eat.  And really start living!

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “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.”

What was the invitation?  Not just to eat – The invitation was for Adam and Eve to take control of their own lives.  It’s your life – you decide what’s right and wrong for you.  What right does God have to govern your life.  Who is he to suggest boundaries – who does God think he is to tell you not to eat this fruit.  Give me a break.

If you do what you want to do and then YOU will be the one to decide what’s right and wrong for you.  You will be the arbiter of right and wrong.  You can do your own thing – You will be able to put yourself in the place of God.

And listen – want to know why you can throw a dart on the timeline of humanity and find corruption and evil and greed?  It’s because Adam and Eve decided that God isn’t trustworthy.  That they better look out for themselves.

And that disease has been passed down through every generation.  We are all connected, each one of us, like links in a chain, we are born with a diseased soul that wants to do whatever it feels like doing.  Whatever it wants.

How dare God tell me how to live my life?  Who does he think he is to give me boundaries about life?  Boundaries are curses – I will make the decisions for me, thank you.  I will decide what’s right and wrong.

And listen, every sin is a decision.  It’s a decision to put myself in the place of God.   I will do what I please, thanks you.  Keep your suggestions to yourself, God.  I’ll take what I want, I’ll take WHO I want, thank you, I’m in charge over here.

The Fall.

Genesis 3

 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. 

Let’s note the immediate results of sin.  Because humanity has been plagued by these things ever since.

At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

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. 

What the result of sin being introduced into the human heart?  We become hiders.  We hide from one another and we hide from God and we hide from ourselves.  We human beings were built for relationships – and sin crushes all of them – so we hide from God.

We spend a lot of time hiding from one another.  Projecting an image.  trying to get people to believe we are something – trying to hide the ugly parts of us.  Heck we can can barely stomach an honest appraisal of ourselves.  People are paralyzed by the thought of going to see a counselor – what will they uncover in me?

We cover up.  We spend time and energy managing our image.  Remember the movie, the Wizard of Oz – and how at the end it turns out the Wizard is a pathetic little man hiding behind a curtain trying to get people to believe that he is great and mighty.  We are the Wizard of Oz.   Like Adam and Eve, we are hiders by nature.

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?”

12 The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”

13 Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?”

“The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”

What else results from the introduction of sin into the human race?  Blame shifting!  It’s the first time anyone ever played the game, “Not it!”  Who did this?  Adam?  “Not it!  It was Eve.  Her fault.  (Notice also the very subtle – “the woman you gave me” – Adam was the first but not the last to blame God for his sinful decisions.)

Adam – NOT IT.  Eve says “Not it”  – Serpent made me do it.  (Eve wouldn’t be the first to blame the devil for her failing.)

Listen – nothing much has changed, has it.  There’s something in all of us who wants to shift blame for our decisions – my spouse drove me to this, my parents don’t understand me or treated me poorly – my employer didn’t give me what I deserved, whatever it is, we excuse ourselves from the stark reality that we chose to sin because we wanted to sin.

Now – notice how what God does here.  In the midst of it all we see God responding with both justice and also mercy.

First – did you notice God that God came seeking Adam and Eve?  From the beginning – God shows that it is his nature to seek out people who are hiding from him.  Maybe you’ve been hiding from him – not ready to come to terms with the idea that there is a God who loves you more than you’ve ever dreamed?

Jesus himself said that he came to seek and save the hiders.  The lost.  The runners.  God is a seeker – and had he not sought us we never would have found him.

Next – notice how God arrives –  and what is he doing?  He is asking questions.  Where are you?  Why are you hiding?  Did you eat that fruit?

Why is he asking that?  He’s certainly not in the dark about what has transpired.  He knows what has happened, right?  Why ask?

Because he is trying to get them to own up to their behavior.  To take ownership of what they have done.  To take responsibility.

Listen – there is no healing – in any relationship, especially a relationship with God – without taking ownership of your decisions.  Is there anything more disgusting than a non-apology from someone who says, “I’m sorry if anyone took what I said the wrong way.”  That’s no apology.  I’m sorry of you were wrong.  I did nothing wrong – sorry if you are an idiot.

God’s not going to let Adam and Eve off the hook.  Own up to your decision Adam.  Own it.  And I’ll tell you that God is the same today and he was then.  If you want to heal your broken relationship with God, it begins with an admission that, Father, I have sinned.  Forgive me for my rebellious and selfish decisions.

We have to get to the place where we own the fact that we’ve contributed to the brokenness of this world.  Sin places us all on the same playing field.  We are all to blame, we are all in need of mercy, and that mercy has been made available to all equally by placing our faith in Jesus.

Notice the mercy of God in this story – what does God do for them?  If we kept reading you’d see that God makes them clothing – from animals.  He knows what Adam and Eve don’t know which is that now even their relationship with creation is broken – and clothing made of leaves isn’t going to be enough to protect them from the now broken environment.

(By the way, the Bible says that one day God will come back and fix our broken world.  No more tornadoes and earthquakes and floods and droughts and hurricanes and the like.  One day it will all be made right.  But we will talk more about that on our last talk in this series.)

God also shows them mercy by kicking them out of the garden – lest they eat from the tree of life.  See, God promised that they would surely die.  And when they ate the fruit, they didn’t die immediately did they?  But they introduced death into humanity.  It’s an interesting idea that Adam and Eve weren’t created to die.

After they sinned, God made sure that Adam and Eve wouldn’t stay in this state forever by removing them from the garden and not letting them back in.

But God isn’t finished yet.  I want you to notice that God foreshadows his plan for saving humanity from it’s plight.

In Genesis 3:15 God turns to the serpent and says – Because you have done this – some day- from the seed of a woman – will come a child who will destroy you.

15 And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

Imagine you are on a hike with your family and all of a sudden you hear a rattlesnake hissing and you look down and it’s heading for your spouse.  Your spouse doesn’t see it – so you jump in there to protect your spouse by stomping on it’s head but it strikes you in the heal and poisons you but you come down hard on it’s head and kill it.

See – by the way – that’s what Adam should have done when he heard this snake tempting his wife – he should have stomped that thing – even if it killed him.

God says – one day there will come someone who will take the poison but kill off the snake.  He will die but in the process he will put an end to sin and death itself.

And – as we continue the story – we read about another tree.  And another garden.  We will read about Jesus.  God in the flesh.  Born of a woman.  The Garden of Gethsemane.  And Jesus is struggling with a decision – like Adam and Eve – He has to decide whether or not to trust his Heavenly father – and, like Adam and Eve the decision is about a tree.

The tree that Jesus is dealing with has been cut down and it fashioned in the shape of a cross.  Adam and Eve were in a bright and sunny garden and were told – if you obey me you will live. But they don’t listen and the result is death for all of mankind.

Jesus is in a dark and gloomy garden and is told – if you obey me you will die. But he does obey God and the result is now life for all who will place their faith in Jesus.

He turned the tree of death into a tree of life.

In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve put themselves where God deserved to be, and we died.

At the cross, Jesus puts himself where we deserve to be, and now we live.

What more does God have to do to show you he loves you.  What is yet to be proven that God is trustworthy?  What more must be done to get you to think highly enough of Jesus to trust him with your life?

And get this – the result of trusting God with your life through faith in Jesus?  God begins to grow a garden in your heart.

The last chapter of the Bible ends with a description of a new garden – where we will one day live with God forever, but the good news is that we don’t have to wait for that.  Through faith in Jesus God begins to transform us from the inside out and we become the kind of people who grow fruit in our lives – the fruit of the spirit – love joy peace patience… Naturally and easily – a garden….

Just as Adam and Eve walked with God, through faith in Jesus, we once again can walk with God as two friends, walking in the cool of the day.  We live in a place where God tends to our needs….

Through faith in Jesus – Our broken relationship with God is fixed.  Our broken relationship with ourselves is fixed – there is now no condemnation.  No shame.  Now there is no need to hide from one another.  We are all equally sinners forgive by the grace and goodness of God.  Amen!

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