What’s the big deal?

Based on: Genesis 3

Today we begin a journey through the Old Testament.  Throughout the summer months we will take a look at some of the  events that preceded the coming of our Savior.  We will notice that the Old Testament continually points us to Jesus Christ and we will watch as God works throughout history to bring us the Savior we need.

The first event to look at is Adam and Eve and their sin against God. What happened in the Garden of Eden effects all of us deeply.  It is the beginning of our need for a Savior.  We heard a portion of Genesis 3 in our first lesson for today.  For now let’s hear about the events leading up to that reading – Genesis 3:1-7:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 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.’ ”

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

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, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

So God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of that one tree and they did.  Do you wonder, like so many other people, what’s the big deal?  It was just fruit from a tree.  More fruit would grow back.  I’m sure there are many people with a fruit tree in their backyard that don’t at all mind if a neighbor comes and picks fruit occasionally.  In fact, they may even encourage it.

Was God trying to keep the fruit for himself?  How absurd! He created it.  He could easily create more!  Perhaps God was trying to be mean to Adam and Eve by withholding this fruit even though it was in plain sight.  I feel horrible even to suggest this because I see God’s immense love throughout Scripture, but some people think that way.

So why was the tree even there if God did not want them to eat the fruit?  Well, what would you want to do if someone gave you a tremendously precious gift?  Wouldn’t you want to thank them?  I hope so.  Would it bother you if you had no way to show your appreciation?  This tree was a way for Adam and Eve to show their appreciation for all God had given them and so it was another one of God’s blessings. 

Adam and Eve could come to this tree and say, “God, you have blessed us.  You have given us this whole world to enjoy.  We will show our appreciation for your gifts by obeying your command concerning this tree.”  Martin Luther called this tree the altar at which Adam and Eve could worship God.  By not eating the fruit from this tree they were saying to God, “I believe you when you say the fruit of this tree is bad for me.  I trust and love you and I will obey this command.”

Then Satan came.  He told them the tree was good for them, that they would be like God and know both good and evil.  What Satan said about the tree contradicted what God said.  But who did Adam and Eve believe?  Do you see the real problem.  Who did Adam and Eve believe?  In whom did they put their trust? Satan. 

It wasn’t just that Satan tricked them into eating it, but they decided for themselves to eat the fruit.  We are told, “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.”  The woman decided in her own mind that this fruit was something good and then Adam followed.  They made the choice and by their choice they were saying to God, “I know better than you, God.  I know what’s best for me and God, I don’t believe what you say is good.  I am going to trust Satan instead.”

Every time we sin we are saying the same thing.  God promises to bless us when we obey his commands and Satan promises we will be happy if we disobey, so every time we sin we are saying, “I’m going to believe Satan on this one, God.”

Every sin you commit, no matter how small in your own eyes, makes you guilty before God of turning your back on him. You have made yourself into your own god by acting as if you know better than God. 

Of course some sins have greater consequences than others here on earth – hating someone wouldn’t get you into jail, but murder would.  Before God they both have the same penalty because at the heart they are the same sin – unbelief, rejecting what God says is true.  So, as Jesus says, hatred is murder, lust is adultery and we could go on, coveting is stealing, ignoring God’s Word is the same as blasphemy.

Do you understand why taking that fruit was such a big deal?  The fruit was nothing magical.  Even before the act of eating the fruit, the choice to believe Satan over God made them enemies of God.  They were immediately separated from God and all of the good things he provided.  Now they were friends of Satan and shared in his evil.

Understand also that every sin you commit separates you from God.  We may think that at least we don’t commit any big sins.  I haven’t murdered.  I haven’t robbed any banks.  I try to be a good person.  It doesn’t matter.  I have had unkind thoughts.  I have spoken careless words.  I have sinned against God.  So have you.  Every sin separates us from God and makes him our enemy without any way on our part to reverse the situation. 

That is a big deal.  But there is an even bigger deal.  It is God’s response to sin that is the really big deal.  

When Adam and Eve sinned they knew things had changed.  God was now an enemy to be feared and so they ran away to hide.  That’s what sin does – it drives us away from God.  But God did not let them stay hidden.  He came to them.  He called to Adam, “Where are you?” not so that he could find them, but to call them to repent of their sin. He gave them the promise of a Savior.  Here it is in Genesis 3:15 as God talks to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Here God says the Savior will crush Satan’s head.  He will undo Satan’s work and again restore the relationships as they were before Adam and Eve sinned.

God would put enmity between Satan and the woman.  He would make them enemies.  Through sin Adam and Eve became enemies of God and friends of Satan.  Through the Savior Adam and Eve would become enemies of Satan and friends of God, in fact, children of God again.

With every sin we run away from God and hide.  We turn our backs on God and make him our enemy, but God comes to us.  He turns us around so that we come face to face with his grace and mercy.  He extends to us the forgiveness earned for us by the offspring of the woman.  And through faith we become enemies of Satan and he makes us his children.  Over and over again he does this. As many times as we hide from him he comes to us.

All our choices to believe Satan’s lies over God’s truth have been laid on Jesus and God punished Jesus for those choices.  Every sin, no matter how big or small in our eyes, has been covered equally by the blood of the lamb.

Now there is no reason to hide from God.  Jesus has been punished in your place and God has restored you to a right relationship with him.  That’s a big deal.

Amen.

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