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Fall: When Good Isn't Good Enough
01/08/2006
Scripture: Genesis 3
Track 2 of 27 in the Transforming Story As God Gave It series
Running time: 43 minutes, 54 seconds.


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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.


Sermon for Sunday, January 8, 2006
2nd sermon in a 27 part series
"WHEN GOOD ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH"
The Transforming Story As God Gave It
(Genesis 3)
Copyright 2006 G. Charles Sackett


I hate to interrupt your fun, but you can be seated. If people come in late and think they've missed most of the service, just tell them "no", we just did things backwards this morning and they are really okay.

I guess you know we live in a fallen universe. Doesn't take long to figure that out. In spite of all of that language in Genesis 1 & 2 about how everything was good (in fact six times he says, God saw that it was good. Or in the last case, saw that it was very good.) That didn't last long.

I did a quick perusal of just a couple of web sites this morning to catch contemporary-first-thing-Sunday-morning-news and I was reminded one more time that the universe that we live in is a mess. They had a report there of some people who are going around stealing the donation cans that sit on counters in stores, like if there's a child that has a special illness and they're taking up a collection in a community. They've now got videotape records of people doing that. There's one guy that got arrested after stealing eight of those. They finally caught up with him.

On a little lighter side they've discovered that there is now a thing where they are doing predatory towing. You park your car in a parking lot and after you get out of sight, the tow company walks up, grabs your car, hauls it off and charges you $180.00 to get it back. Whether it was parked illegally or not, doesn't seem to matter at all.

Of course, there's that ongoing wildfire situation down in the Southwest. Six hundred thousand acres, 470 homes, 5 people have died. The world is just a disaster. We live in a fallen universe. The fall of man has caused a lot of bad things to happen. That shouldn't surprise us.

Genesis 1 & 2 God created the universe. He created it good, but apparently it wasn't good enough, at least not for Eve. You know that we're in the midst of this transforming story. That's all we're going to do for the first several months this year, just simply tell the story and the story is a really simple story. God created the universe. The universe was good. Man messed it up. That's the fall.

Genesis 3. We'll look at it today. From Genesis 4 on it, it's all about the fact that God created a possibility of redemption. Everything from Genesis 4 all the way to the book of Revelation is about the redemptive story of God. You get to the end of the book and you get the consummation. You get the whole thing wrapped up in the coming of Jesus. We started in a garden. We end up in a garden. We started in a relationship with God. We end up in a relationship with God, but in between, things can be a bit of a mess.

Just a quick Bible study before we start on Genesis 3. Look back at Genesis 2:4. The story that we're really telling, the text that we really wrestle with this morning is actually all of Genesis 2, 3 & 4. At least that's the way it's divided up in Genesis. If you'll notice in Genesis 2:4, the opening words of that text are: This is the account of the heavens and the earth. . . . If you turn over a page or two to Genesis 5:1 you'll find this same phrase. This is the written account of Adam's line. If you turn over just a little further to Genesis 6:9 you'll see the same statement. This is the account of Noah. That's the way the book of Genesis divides itself up. It uses that phrase in a number of places. "This is the account of" and that tells you that you're marked off into a new piece of territory.

This is the account of the heavens and the earth. . . . except that we're going to reverse them. Remember last week? Genesis 1 is all about the heavenly perspective from God's perspective. The heavens and the earth Genesis 2 is about the earth's perspective. This is the earth and the heavens. And we've got the creation account moving in Genesis 2:25. We came to the end of that account and it said they were naked and without shame. Unfortunately in our English translations we don't have a clear connection between Genesis 2 and Genesis 3 but it is very clear if we could have read the way it was written, in the first place. There is a verbal connection between Genesis 2 and Genesis 3. It's that word "shame".

Genesis 3 starts this way. Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more craft than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. "Crafty" "Sly" "Underhanded." It happens to come from the same word as "ashamed" and so there's this verbal catch for the reader to know that these stories are not disconnected.

While there was no shame in the garden, the one who produces shame has just showed up on the scene. You know this story, but, let's read it together.

Now the serpent was more craft 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.'"

Now that should have arrested you immediately. At least a couple of things should have arrested you about that. For example, God didn't say they couldn't touch it. Only that they couldn't eat from it. But Eve has added that restriction. You'll notice that she omits the idea of "free", "eat freely" from. Somehow she has made this whole thing much more restrictive than God intended to make it. And, you'll notice, she renamed the tree. It's not just "a tree" in the middle of the garden. "This is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil". But when Eve talks about it, she takes it out completely out of the area of meaning and significance and sticks it in a location andsays, "You can't eat from the tree in the middle." She's already begun to lose sight of what it was that God was trying to communicate.

Satan comes along in Genesis 3:4 and says, "You will not surely die,". . . . 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.

It kind of makes you wonder where he's been, you know?? Here this conversation is going on between Satan and Eve and Adam apparently is standing right there watching this whole thing unfold, not saying a single thing. Not taking one ounce of leadership and before you even get out of Genesis 3 you got a bunch of apathetic men in the picture.

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.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, . . . . .

Now wait a minute. There's been a rather subtle shift here and you don't want to miss it. You notice Genesis 3:1 . . .the Lord God had made. . . . Followed immediately by Satan's question. Did God?. . . . . Do you remember the distinction between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2? Genesis 1, it's always God. Genesis 2, it's always Lord God.

Genesis 1 is about the God who is Sovereign, who had creative power over all of the universe. Genesis 2 is about the relational God, who enters into connection with humanity and produces man, made in His image because He loves humanity and He wants a relationship with God. When Satan comes on the scene, you'll notice what he refers to. Not to the relational God. Not to the God that we can connect with, not to the God who loves us and walks with us in the cool of the garden, but to the remote God, the one who is out there Sovereign over everything. And Eve falls for it. And she forgets about the relational nature of God and finds herself referring only to the Sovereign side of this distant creative God.

They're walking in the cool of the garden. It's a great Genesis theme, by the way, to walk with God. We don't have time to trace it out but I would encourage you to simply take your Bible and look at that theme in Scripture because those people who know God are the ones who walk with God. Remember Enoch who walked with God and was taken. Noah was a righteous man who walked with God. God comes seeking in the garden. He comes looking for humanity in the cool of the day. But, they've hidden themselves according to Genesis 3:8 from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?"

He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."

And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"

The man said, "The woman you put here with me--she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."

There's a typical male response. Blame it on somebody else. It was the woman you gave me. She did it. She gave it to me and I ate.

And so, Genesis 3:13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

You notice a pattern here? Nobody wanting to take much responsibility for themselves. The man says "it was the woman." The woman says, "it was the serpent." In fact, if you'll take note of this, you'll discover that Adam comes dangerously close to stepping over some invisible line in the sand, I'm sure. Let me re-read that phrase for you. Here's how it sounds when a man reads it. The man said, "It was the woman you gave me--but I wonder if it might be read this way. "It was the woman YOU gave me--almost as if he's blaming God for his mess. Either way you read it, it comes down to the same thing. None of us want to take responsibility for ourselves. Let's find somebody to blame. If we can't blame our wife, blame God.

Genesis 3:14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this,

"Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.

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."

To the woman he said,

"I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,'

"Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.

It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.

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."

Remember last week? "Adam" and "adamah", man and earth--ground. We're back to that same place. Adam you came from the ground and that's where you're going to return.

Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.

He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

So what happened? Well, the very first thing that you encounter in this particular text is an encounter with Satan that begins to inform us about the nature of temptation.

In this text, Satan turns everything around. He moves things in the sentence. We don't see it much in English and unfortunately, it does make a difference. He replaces phrases. He moves them from one place of emphasis to another. He ends up saying that "not eat" is totally removed from the idea. He moves that around in such a way that Eve is given the distinct impression that God really didn't mean what He said. He stiffens everything up by getting rid of the idea that you can freely eat.

But this is a statement of freedom. He makes it a statement of restriction. He adds "you can eat from any tree of the garden." God only said there was one they didn't have access to. Eve gets everything all messed up. She begins to talk about God rather than the Lord God, the creator rather than the relational God. She adds the idea "if you even touch it" you could be in trouble. And she omits the idea that you would "surely die" if you ate it. She buys into this whole thing that God must not really mean what He said.

It is interesting isn't it? How sometimes, when things don't happen immediately, you get the impression they're not going to happen at all. She said, not only can we not "eat of the tree," we can't even "touch" it. And Satan comes along and says, "Oh God didn't really mean what He said." And so she reaches out and she takes it. And guess what? Nothing happened! And she ate it and nothing happened!

Sometimes delayed consequences are the very thing that entices us to keep doing stuff that we shouldn't do. We've been told that a certain action is going to have some kind of consequence, but because it doesn't happen right then, we think we can just keep getting away with it, over and over and over again. Satan entices us to keep doing the stuff that we know, internally, we know is not going to be good but we do it because nothing seems to happen when we do it.

My father died of lung cancer. He got it legitimately. He couldn't blame anybody else. He spent his whole life smoking. I'm sure that when he was a teenager and had taken up smoking, somebody would have come along and said, "You know if you smoke, you're apt to get lung cancer." But he didn't. Didn't have lung cancer when he was eighteen. Didn't have lung cancer when he was twenty-five. Didn't have lung cancer when he was forty. Didn't have lung cancer when he was fifty. So he just kept smoking. By the way, he did quite smoking, six years before he died from the disease it gave him.

That's the nature of temptation, isn't it? To entice you into believing that you can get away with what you're doing because nothing happens right that very second and so you just keep doing it because you think you can.

You probably should note someplace in your Bible, either underline it or mark it, or write it in the margins someplace. John 8:44 Satan is the father of lies. That's the nature of temptation. The nature of temptation is just simply to lie to you. To tell you that something bad won't happen from an action that you happen to be participating in. And its interesting isn't it, when you look at Scripture and you see the pattern of temptation? The pattern of temptation is typically the same in almost every situation. It shows up over in 1 John 2:15-17. If you are taking notes, writing down things, I would suggest that you might want to know about 1 John 2:15 & 16 particularly. There, John says, We should not love the world and we shouldn't love the things of the world because the things of the world are not from God. But rather they are the lust of the eyes, the appetite of the flesh and pride, or, boasting. Things that appeal to the physical body, the gratification of our self, things that appeal to our eyes that feed our imagination and then, just that sense of arrogance and pride that we can do things our self. Did you notice that in the garden? Satan came along and said "Boy, that piece of fruit sure does look like it would taste good. And it's appealing to look at. Oh, and when you're all done, you'll be as wise as God." It's an appeal. It's the same appeal that is made to Jesus in the wilderness temptation after His baptism. "Here, turn these stone into bread and satisfy that." "Oh hey! Take a look at all the things that I can give you. Oh! You're so important, you jump off of the tabernacle. Nobody would let you get hurt."And Satan lies to us and tells us what makes us feel better, what feeds our imagination, what makes us important is going to be that which is good, always wholesome, and then he lies to us.

In this particular text we see this encounter with Satan where God is removed and the meaning of His Word is made to look as if it doesn't really matter and what you begin to see as people fall to temptation is the rapidity with which they fall.

Come back over here to Genesis 3:6 and just notice the way the language works. It's kind of a slow start. 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, (Now listen how the gears shift in the text.) she took, she gave, who ate (four snaps of your fingers). Temptation is like that. It slowly entices you. But once you make the decision, then it all begins to come one right after the other. She took, she ate, she gave, he ate.

Not only do we see in this particular text an encounter with Satan but we also see an encounter with God. Genesis 3:9-13 and in that encounter with God we are taught about personal responsibility. God comes seeking His people. That's one of the marvels of this particular text is that God chooses to come looking for His children. And He comes gently, walking in the cool of the day, calling for them, wondering where they have gone. And, that, is in fact, the very first thing that you have to notice about sin, is it causes you to want to hide from God. It appears, from all appearances in this text, that this was the natural course of events; that they simply spent time walking with God. They would spend time, in the cool of the day having a relationship with the Creator of the universe. This was the Lord God, who entered into their lives and entered into a relationship and now all of a sudden, because of one decision to violate His command, they've been removed from that presence and they don't even want to see Him.

One of the reasons that as a preacher I find myself looking over the congregation and wondering why some folks are or aren't here, is because I have come to discover in my own life and I think in the lives of an awful lot of people, that one of the first things that happens when people get involved in things they shouldn't be involved in, is they don't want to come to church any more. 'Cause they don't want to have to deal with God. So church attendance begins to slip. Because, to be here, to encounter the Lord's Supper or to encounter the music, or to encounter the text, is just too uncomfortable.

In this particular text, one of the things that happens is that there is this sense of separation because sin has entered into their life. That is such a common theme. How sin separates, particularly from other people and from God. In fact, it finds its way into an awful lot of literature. I don't know if you've noticed that; "Paradise Lost" by Milton and other places. One of the places that most high school students end up reading is Hawthorn's book, "The Scarlet Letter". And Hester Prynne has to walk around with a big embroidered "A" on her sweater because she is an adulterous. And she's separated from the rest of the people when everybody knows what she's done and there is this alienation that begins to occur.

It is interesting to me how that theme gets carried out in the life of Scripture. Remember what happens to those who have touched an unclean animal? Or, have been involved in some kind of unclean activity in the Old Testament, they are not allowed where? They're not allowed to come to the Tabernacle because they are not allowed in the presence of God because of their uncleanness.

And then you think about that getting carried over into the New Testament era during the days of Jesus. If you are an unclean person, if you had an unclean disease, you know what your responsibility was? Your responsibility was to walk down the street and if anybody came near you, you had to shout out--UNCLEAN, I'M UNCLEAN!-- STAY AWAY! Sin separates. It causes distance and part of the frustration in this particular text is that we, somehow, don't want to take responsibility for that.

The heart of this text is, let's blame somebody else. "It was the woman you gave me." "It was the serpent. He did it." "It was my mother's fault." "It was because of what happened to me when I was a little kid." "It's because my friends were doing it." I'm sorry, some of those things are true. There's hardly a person sitting in this room that has not been impacted by a decision that somebody else has made. I understand that, but at some point in your life, you have to begin to take responsibility for the choices that you make. In spite of what somebody else has done, you have to be able to say, "I'm responsible."Adam couldn't do it. Eve couldn't do it. And so here we are confronting a text where we've got a bunch of victims wanting to blame somebody else instead of just standing up and saying, "I'm the one who sinned."

Maybe you remember the trip we took through the book of James here last year. You'll remember this text from James 1. Where James reminds us in James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

It's our choice, not somebody else's. And, you can't blame anybody else for the choices that you make.

Not only do we see this encounter with Satan, and not only do we see this encounter with God; we also see an encounter with Reality. That's one of the things about this text that is suddenly reality becomes, well, it becomes reality. God said at creation, "If you eat of this tree, you will surely die." Look over here at Genesis 5. It's just a passing kind of remark. But it's such a powerful reality check.

Genesis 5:5 Altogether, Adam lived 930 years, and then he died.

You may wait a long time before you see the consequences of your choices. But if no one has told you this yet, I just want to go ahead and tell you now. You'll eventually see them. God said, "And if you eat of this tree, you will surely die". And Adam died. Sometimes reality is a rather harsh thing to have to actually deal with the consequences of your choices. To be confronted by them.

You may have seen in the news here last summer, summer of 2004 actually; that a bunch of pelicans apparently got tired of California or there wasn't enough to eat in California or something and they made their way to Arizona, obviously geographically deprived pelicans.

If you've been in Arizona during the summer, have you ever looked at the pavement, and how it looks like water? These pelicans were flying over Arizona looking for food and water and they saw what they thought was water and so they set their wings and down they came expecting a nice cool dip in the pool. What they ended up with was hot pavement and desert. A rather rude reality check! Fortunately the Arizona Game and Fish Department saved them. But life is like that isn't it? You think you're going for a dip in a cool pool and you come smack dab into reality of hard pavement. It's the nature of the consequence of sin. It's real.

And so, in this particular text, God says to the man, "You could have spent your life living in the cool of the garden, having a meaningful life, taking care of this, being over it, having a life where work was good. But instead, what you're going to do is you're going to toil and work is no longer going to be just a pleasure. It's now going to be absolute work and you're going to sweat and the ground is going to produce stuff that you don't want it to produce because life is going to get hard as a result of your choices.

And Eve, your life was destined to be a mother. Your life was destined to populate the earth. To have the joy of reproduction, but, by the way, it's now going to be really painful. To bring children into the world is going to 'hurt'."

And then, there's this interesting thing that happens. In Genesis 3:16. "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." That same word shows up in Genesis 4:7. If you look over at Genesis 4:7. There it says about Cain and Abel, particularly about Cain, that sin is crouching at the door and it desires to have you. Sin desires to conquer you. That's exactly the same word that is used in this context in the relationship between Adam and Eve.

Remember last week when we looked at the creation? Eve comes from Adam's side. She is the same stuff he is. Ish and Isha. She doesn't come from the foot or the head. She comes from the side. And yet here, in this text, one of the consequences of living in a fallen universe is conflict between men and women. Because she desires to rule over him. But he will rule over her. And what should have been a collegial relationship of equality becomes the source of pain and conflict within our families and within our culture. Sin always has consequences. Always!

And part of that rude reality check is that we will deal with those consequences for the rest of our lives. Some consequences never go away.

Just as a little bit of a side issue. I only want to take a moment to say this, but because there is so much confusion about the sin of Adam and Eve leading to guilt in their children, I just want to say to you, there is no teaching in the New Testament or Old Testament about original sin, as if we are somehow responsible for somebody else's actions. That's not to say that we don't suffer the consequences of our parents actions, it's to say that we're not guilty because of our parents actions.

Let me ask you to just mark in your bibles, Ezekiel 18. I'm just going to read a piece of it. I would encourage you to go back and look at it and spend some time in it, if this is an issue for you. Ezekiel 18 starts this way. The word of the Lord came to me: "What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: 'The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'?

So here's the question. There's this proverbial statement floating around that says this. I eat a sour persimmon in Quincy, Illinois and my daughter, who is in Bel Air, Maryland finds her jaw hurting. Why do you say that? He wants to know. And then he turns around and says, As surely as I live, (Ezekiel 18:3) . . . . .you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son--both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.

And then throughout the rest of Ezekiel 18 he paints different kinds of scenarios. Righteous father, wicked son. Wicked son dies. Unrighteous father, righteous son. Righteous son lives. Why? Because it's the soul who sins, that suffers the consequences. We are personally responsible for our choices, not guilty because of somebody else's. Important principle.

Well, when you read this text, frankly, what you come face-to-face with is that we live in a fallen world, even the environment itself gets destroyed by the fall of humanity. Thorns and thistles and fires and cancer and broken relationships and separation from God and separation from each other, but all through this text are these incredible signs of hope. Sprinkled through this whole text are indications of grace. And so, even buried in this text, a woman is going to have pain in her childbirth. But she is still going to give birth to children. I think it's Carl Sandburg who said, "A child is God's opinion that the human race should continue."

The fact that Cain and Abel and Seth are all born to Eve is an act of grace. What's really fascinating is that, that story gets told again and again and again, in the Old Testament is about how God is in the process of propagating the earth in spite of sinful, fallen humanity.

In fact, the first announcement of the Gospel, the first announcement of the Good News is right here. Genesis 3:15. Coming from this relationship between Adam and Eve there is going to be enmity between the snake and the woman, between the offspring of the snake and the seed of the woman. The seed of the woman is going to crush the head of Satan.

By the way, if you haven't read Romans 16:20 in that light, you should. If you haven't seen the Passion Movie, then you won't recognize this, but one of the most moving scenes in the entire movie is that scene in the garden when the snake slithers out from the grass and Jesus stomps his head. This text.

This announcement of the Gospel is this announcement. The woman is going to bring forth offspring. Offspring is a neuter term. If you were going to use it in English and you needed a pronoun to go with it, the pronoun would be "it", until they translated the Old Testament into Greek. And when those early Jewish writers began to bring this text into the language of the people; when they came to this text and they talked about the offspring of Eve, they didn't use "it", they used "him" because already they began to understand that the offspring of Eve would become Jesus.

Glimmers of hope in this text. Signs of grace.

I sat down on Saturday night, as I often do, to read the last bit of e-mail before the day is over and I got one of those e-mails that you typically don't want to get. I'd mentioned to you my friend Jack, out in California. I got an e-mail from his wife last night that he is losing his battle with cancer. They've done everything for him that they're able to do. In fact, they have taken him home from the hospital. His two sons have been there with their wives over the weekend. They will leave sometime today or tomorrow to go back to their places of life and work and Carolyn said it will be the last time that they see their father this side of eternity. We live in a fallen universe where people die.

Somewhere in my reading as I was getting ready for this chapter and this sermon, I ran across something that quite honestly I had never seen said in quite this way. It hasproven to be extremely helpful for me. The writer said, "Death is an act of grace". I had never thought about it, in quite those terms. I had said something similar to it in funerals, particularly at the funeral of someone who had suffered greatly. I would say to folks who were enduring the loss of a loved one, "You probably wouldn't want to bring them back, unless you could bring them back healthy." You wouldn't want them to continue on in the suffering that they were going through.

As I was reading, I was struck by the idea that as a result of Adam and Eve's fall, we live in a broken universe. If God had allowed Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of life then chaos would have gone on forever. If Adam hadn't died, he would have had to have lived in that chaos forever. Even death itself is an act of God's grace which releases us from the chaos and the pain of this life and endues us with the hope that there is something on the other side where we are free from the chaos, and the pain and the destruction.

There are little hints of hope including this one. It was God Himself who provided the first sacrifice to cover the sin of humanity. It was God who enacted the first death in the Garden. He killed animals to provide skins to clothe His creatures and thus began a whole system of animal sacrifice leading up to the sacrifice of the Son of God to cover our sin.

Even in the fall there is a sign of hope. In fact, this carries all the way to Chapter 11. It's at Chapter 12 that we begin to pick up the Covenant language. That's where we're going to start next week is with the Covenant between God and humanity for redemption. But in the intervening chapters of Genesis 4 - 11, the same pattern is always there. Sin, God's announcement of judgment, a word of grace, and then the judgment itself.

And so, Cain and Abel come along and Cain murders his brother and God says, "Where are you? What have you done?" "The blood of your brother comes up from the ground." But before there is this separation, there is this promise. "I will not let them kill you." And then he's banished from the Garden.

And then you have the Sons of God marrying the daughters of men which is one of the most confusing passages in the whole section. I'm not here to try to explain it other than to say, the sin is that the Sons of God marry the daughters of men and God said, "I will not contend with that." But before judgment, there is this announcement of grace. Before He announces the punishment, He says, "There's a righteous man on the earth and is name is Noah." Then there's judgment. And then, of course, there's the flood in which all of humanity is corrupt. That's the nature of what the text says. They're doing everything wrong. And God decides, "I will put an end to the whole thing, but, before He says this is over, He says, 'build an ark' because it's the ark I'm going to use to save humanity." An image, by the way, that shows up in 1 Peter 3 in the act of baptism. And then the flood comes along and cleans the earth.

And then there's the Tower of Babel in which they try to make a name for themselves. And God says, "I will not allow them to continue what they plan" and His act of grace is to give them diverse languages lest they be able to cooperate and get themselves in more trouble. And then He scatters them.

The pattern in Scripture is always the same. Man sins. In fact, frankly, man's addicted to it. It's like he can't do anything but sin. And those sins always bring consequences. They may not be immediate. But there are always consequences to our sin. In fact, the book of Hebrews reminds us that it's appointed unto man once to die. After that, the judgment. Sin and judgment. But before that, there is always an inkling of grace whereby God says, "This is the nature of man to sin and his sin will always have consequences." God always announces grace. I will do something to fix it.

Now, my job has been to make you miserable. To remind you that you are sinners. If I haven't accomplished that up to this point. Let me just say now, "you're all a bunch of rotten sinners." The job of the rest of our service is to announce to you redemption. Everything else that we're about to do is to point you in one simple direction, right here to this table.

For even as God slew animals to cover the sins of Adam and Eve, God put to death His Son, to cover our sin. And so we begin to move with hope to this act of grace, to gather at this table and to be reminded that God, wants again, to walk with His children in a relationship that is alive and well.

Stand with me and let's begin that process of moving toward grace.