The Greatest Story Ever Told part three

20 Aug

If the first part of the story is called CREATION, we can call this second section THE FALL.

Some of the Bible passages that explain this are Genesis 3, Romans 1, Romans 3, and Romans 5.

I think the fall is a very good description for what happened after creation because though God made everything so glorious, here in this part of the story we watch it all come crashing down.  When we look at this world, God made it and He made it good, that is part one, but that’s not the way things are right now is it, and it’s because man broke it and he broke it bad, which is part two.   

This is the part of the story that explains why we have the problems we have.

The book of Job indicates to us that the angels were watching what God was doing in the creation and in His relationship with men. We can imagine that most of the angels must have been rejoicing to see God pour out His lavish love (Job 38:7); but at the same time, we know not all of them were responding like that. 

At some point, and we don’t really know when exactly, there was some kind of rebellion amongst the angelic beings, a rebellion that was led by an angel that we now call Satan.

When God first created the world he saw that everything he created was good, but not long after, this angel Satan led an angelic revolt against God and the result of this revolt was that he, Satan and these other angels who we now call demons were cast out of the glory of God’s presence.  And while the Bible doesn’t tell us a whole lot about exactly what happened you can get hints if you are interested in passages like 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6 and Isaiah 14.

The important thing to know for now is that Satan decided to wage war on God by waging war on God’s creation. I don’t know, perhaps because Satan was jealous of God’s generosity to man, we find that very soon after the creation of men, he entered into that creation in the form of a snake. Satan is a spirit being, which means he doesn’t have a physical body, so he took on the body of a snake.  And again we know that it was Satan who was behind the work of the snake in this story because the Bible tells us so in Revelation 12:9. 

So Satan in the form of a snake approached the woman in the Garden of Eden, attacking God’s Word and God’s character and persuaded her that in spite of the fact that God had created this amazing world, that God had constantly sought after her good, in spite of the fact that God had only given them this one rule, Satan was able to deceive her into thinking that in spite of all the evidence, God must not really want their best and so Eve and then Adam, shook their fists at God and disobeyed, saying basically as they did so, God we do not want you to rule over us.   It may seem a small thing, eating this fruit, but it was not, there was more going on here than Adam and Eve eating something they shouldn’t. 

This was Adam and Eve representing all of us as human beings and saying to God, “we do not want you to be our king, but instead we want to be our own lord and master.”

If you want to understand the problems of the world, you have to understand this.  

God made us for Himself, but we walked out on God. 

Men replaced God’s purpose for the world with their own.  Instead of gladly worshiping God, men chose to worship themselves.

That’s how the story of the universe begins and this act of rebellion sent “shock-waves” throughout the whole creation. 

It was really like a nuclear bomb. 

First of all, Adam and Eve’s act of rebellion destroyed the relationship they had with God and the relationship their descendants would have with God as well.

We often find people asking questions like why can’t we see God or why are there all these different ideas of God, we sometimes are confronted with people who hate God or don’t believe in God, and the reason for all of that begins here with the disobedience of Adam and Eve because one of the most tragic consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin is that men and women are born enemies of God. 

God said you eat and you will die, and they did die spiritually. Spiritual death entered the world through Adam’s sin.

The apostle Paul explains it like this in Romans 1:18ff.  He says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So they are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”

The revolt of Adam and Eve however not only had consequences on man’s relationship with God, second of all, it also had consequences on everything else in creation as well.  This world came under God’s curse and is now enslaved to corruption.  That is why life in this world is so hard and painful.  It is a little like we are living in a war zone.  Whereas the way things were before the fall could be characterized by the word LIFE, the way things are now after the fall can be characterized by the word DEATH.  

And this death not only impacted our relationship with God and our relationship with the world, third, it impacted our relationship with one another.  Ever since man walked out on God, people have been having problems in their relationship with one another. 

For example, we find right away after the story of man’s rebellion against God a story about the very first brothers, and if you are familiar with your Bible, you know as well as I do that this story is not one of brotherly love, instead it is a story about one brother killing the other.

Man’s wanting to be his own master broke this world and it broke it good. 

I don’t know if you have ever broken something, or especially if you have ever broken anything something valuable, but sometimes when you break something that belongs to someone else, you get this sinking feeling in your stomach, and you wonder how are they going to respond when they find out and that’s the question really we are asking as we look at the beginning of this story and we watch men deciding to go their own way and men ignoring God’s good plans and men breaking all of the beautiful things that God has created for their good, breaking their relationship with Him, breaking the creation, and breaking their relationship with one another. 

How is God going to respond?

To start, God responds to what men have done with judgment and that is totally right.

It’s totally right for God to respond with judgment.

We don’t usually like the idea of judgment and I find that sometimes people don’t take God’s judgment very seriously.  In fact, I will sometimes ask how can sin be fixed and they will say well God should just forgive it, but that’s not fair to the idea of justice at all and we know that deep in the bottom of our hearts. 

If someone murders your child and then goes to the judge and says please forgive me and the judge says that’s fine, I do, you and I know that’s not just at all, that’s not a good judge, that’s a bad one and God is a good judge and He must punish sin to be a good judge and we see in fact that He does just that.  He casts Adam and Eve out of the garden and He gives them specific consequences for their sin; but even in the middle of His judgment God shows mercy. Because right at the beginning of the story God makes a promise that the seed of the woman one day will crush the head of the serpent.  In other words, we find a promise of salvation even in the middle of this declaration of judgment.  This will become what some think is the theme of the entire Bible, actually.  God glorifying Himself through showing mercy to sinners and through judging sin. 

We see though in what happens shortly after man’s rebellion against God in the Garden that men definitely deserve judgment, because believe it or not, after Cain killed Abel in the next chapters, things keep going from bad to worse.  It’s not all that long after the creation of the world that God looks at mankind and sees that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was evil only continually.”

Only evil continually.

We like to think of ourselves as good, and if we are going to be really humble, we will think of ourselves as neutral, we have the attitude that if God leaves us to ourselves we would probably run to Him, at worst, we would say we might not move towards Him but we would at least be open to a relationship with Him, but that’s not the case at all actually, we are born running as fast as we can away from the one true God and we will do everything in our power to avoid a real relationship with Him.

What men deserved then, these men whose thoughts were only evil continually, was judgment and they got it, God decided to blot out everything that He made, but again even in the middle of this act of judgment God showed mercy and He picked one individual to rescue, a man named Noah. 

In spite of all the wickedness in the world all around him,  Noah was a righteous individual, and so with Noah, it’s like God gave the world a bath, we call this bath the FLOOD, where water poured down and the whole earth was covered with it, and it’s like God was cleaning up the world a bit, hitting the restart button to give man a chance to try all over again.   

I wonder if you have ever thought about what would happen if we had a clear demonstration of God’s justice and hatred of sin, and if then God in His grace set the most righteous man on the earth once again in the middle of a beautiful place, so that he could serve him and have a relationship with Him?  Would that be enough to fix things? 

Unfortunately, with Noah we see the answer is definitely not. It’s not too long after Noah’s boat hits dry ground that we see exactly what would happen if God did that and that is men start rebelling against God once again – to the point where they as a group say something like, “let’s not live for God’s glory but instead let’s live for our own and to make sure God doesn’t get in our way let’s build a tower.”  We don’t know everything that was going on with that tower but we do that when they talk about the purpose of building this tower, the way they express why they are building it is basically because somehow they think this tower will enable them to be able to do what they want and not what God wants for them. 

This world is broken because we as people are broken. We do not want God to be our king.  We don’t want to enjoy and worship God.  We want to worship ourselves, and the result of this rebellion is judgment. 

There was judgment for Adam and Eve.

Judgment for the Serpent.

Judgment for Satan.

Judgment for the world in Noah’s day.

And there is judgment for every disobedient sinner. 

As Paul puts it in Romans, the “wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness.”

The Bible says in Hebrews 9:27 that it is “appointed for a man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”

And it is so important that you come face to face with this reality.  It is part of why all these stories are told in the Bible, to help us understand how seriously God takes sin. 

I find so often where you will talk with people that they have a fairy tale view of themselves and sometimes even other people. In spite of how bad this world is, they talk about it as if it really weren’t all that broken, they talk about themselves as if they really were are not that all broken and as if with just a little work they can fix things and make them right. 

But you can’t, I can’t, we can, there’s none of us who can.

Do you really think that you or anyone else can fix the way man’s rebellion against God has broken this universe? 

Things are too bad for that. 

That we can stop earthquakes?  That we can through your efforts defeat death?  There’s no way, this world is too broken for that.  

We can put band-aids perhaps on it, but we can’t stop the bleeding.

And do you really think that you or anyone else can fix the way man’s rebellion against God has broken people’s relationships with one another? 

There’s no way. 

Every time we pick up a history book, every time we pick up a newspaper, we are reminded of man’s coldhearted brutality towards one another.  This is true on a national level, this is true on a personal level, and there’s no amount of governmental programs and there are not enough psychologists or psychotherapists to fix it. 

And what’s more do you really think that you can fix the way man’s rebellion, more specifically the way your rebellion against God has broken your relationship with Him? 

We have all done what Adam did.  We have all said to God, I don’t want you to be my king.  Maybe we haven’t said that with our actual mouths, but we have definitely said it with our lives.  If you have lied, you have said it.  If you have gotten angry, you have said it.  If you have been selfish, you have said it.  You have all walked out on God, just like Adam did and do you think you can fix it that, you can’t, you can’t.  The truth is, if God left you to yourself, you wouldn’t even really want to fix it because this is what people are like, we are all doing exactly what these people in the first chapters of Genesis were doing and that is running away from God, seeking to be our own god and trying to find ways to keep ourselves from having to do what God tells us and absolutely destroying ourselves, our relationship with Him, our relationship with others, and our relationship with this world as a result.  

The tragedy and the ugliness is that through our rebellion we destroy ourselves, but we can give thanks because the story the Bible tells doesn’t end there, it doesn’t end with that, God stands against sin in judgment, it is true, but he also stands over us in love because He is that kind of God and across the storyline of the Bible, He comes after us, which really leads us to the third important part of this story.  

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