The Significance of Genesis 5:1-2: Being Created in the Image of God

The Significance of Genesis 5:1-2: Being Created in the Image of God

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland OH on Saturday, March 5 and Sunday, March 6, 2022.

We have been talking about the importance of Genesis chapters 1-11. I do not believe that we are accidents. No, we are created and created in the image of God with intent. The following comes from the updated “Evidence that Demands a Verdict”:

Evolutionary biologists have faced great difficulty in trying to explain the origin of human language in evolutionary terms. A 2014 paper coauthored by leading evolutionary paleoanthropologists admits that we have “essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved” and “the origins and evolution of our linguistic capacity remain as mysterious as ever” since “studies of nonhuman animals provide virtually no relevant parallels to human linguistic communication, and none to the underlying biological capacity.” (Hauser et al., MLE, 1) Under a biblical view, however, one would expect humans to have a distinct form of communication not seen among lower animals.

A biblical view also makes it reasonable to expect that stories concerning our ancient ancestors would persist in cultures around the world. These stories would have been preserved as oral traditions until systems of writing were developed.

The Sumerian civilization in southern Mesopotamia (c. 3500–2000 BC) is credited with developing the world’s first written language. The oldest written Sumerian records date to 3100 BC. (Britannica, s.v. “Languages of the World: Language Isolates”) The system of writing used was a pictographic type of cuneiform, which gradually changed to conventionalized linear drawings. These were pressed into soft clay tablets with the edge of a stylus, giving it a characteristic wedge-shaped appearance. Cuneiform was adopted for use in other languages, for example Akkadian and Babylonian. (Britannica, s.v. “cuneiform writing”) Archaeologists have uncovered thousands of cuneiform tablets in the Middle East. Many of these have been studied and translated by scholars around the world, enabling them to gain great insight into ANE beliefs about origins. Collins has described how three texts from ancient Mesopotamia demonstrate some parallels with Genesis 1–11. (Collins, DAERE, 137–160)

Chinese characters

There is written evidence for the first humans from a civilization far from Mesopotamia: ancient China. Modern Chinese can trace its roots to inscriptions that have been found on oracle bones dating back to the second millennium BC. (Thong, FOF, 46) Chinese has remained a pictograph-based language since that time, although the characters have changed over the centuries. The characters used today have been grouped into six categories. (Thong, FOF, 47) As described for example by Chan Kei Thong, two of these categories are pictographs and ideographs. (Thong, FOF, 51–52) Pictographs depict objects while ideographs convey abstract ideas and are composed of two or more pictographs. A study of ideographs reveals some of the stories that inspired the ancient people who developed them. Thong demonstrates how several ideographs show clear consistency with the Genesis account of Adam and Eve and their disobedience in the garden of Eden. The three examples listed below are formed using these pictographs: (mouth), (tree) and (female).

The symbol (shu), meaning “to restrain,” is represented by a mouth superimposed over a tree. This correlates to the first restraint placed on Adam, namely the prohibition from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Thong, FOF, 56–57)

The symbol (lan) meaning “to covet,” is represented by two trees on top with a female on the bottom. The use of two trees correlates with the two key trees in the garden of Eden: the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life. The female correlates with Eve, the first human to covet something forbidden (fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil). Thong notes: “The composition of this character is even more interesting when one recalls that in ancient China, women had no place in society. . . . Yet, the ancient Chinese chose to use the character for ‘woman’ rather than the one for ‘man’. . . . This shows that the ancient Chinese had some knowledge of the story of the first act of disobedience against God.” (Thong, FOF, 58)

Finally, the symbol , meaning “death,” shows that death is associated with two mouths eating from a tree. This correlates with Adam and Eve’s disobedience, for which they suffered the promised consequence of death. (Thong, FOF, 61)

The fact that these three characters have ancient forms demonstrates that they were formulated long before the first Christian missionaries visited China, generally considered to be Nestorians in AD 635. (Neill, HCM, 95) While Thong has acknowledged that Chinese calligraphy scholars do not necessarily agree with his interpretations, he argues that one of the artifacts from the San Xing Dui civilization discovered near Chengdu, Sichuan Province, a bronze tree dated to 1600 BC, supports his view that the ancient Chinese had some knowledge of the events from the garden of Eden. The tree includes fruit, knives protruding from the branches as if to guard the fruit, a feminine hand reaching to the tree, and a serpent. (Thong, private communication)[1]

God created us in His image. We are designed and created with purpose. We are not accidents and neither is our language ability.

Today, my theme:

In Genesis 5:1-2 we see the restatement of God creating male and female in His image.

My application: we are not accidents. We are image bearers.

Read with me Genesis 5:1-2:

This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.

  1. Paradise has been lost.
    1. Allow me to review last week’s message and put this passage in context. More than that, allow me to review Genesis thus far.
    2. Here we are in Genesis 5.
    3. In Genesis 1 God creates everything. We have the big picture of creation.
    4. In Genesis 2 we have the micro. We see creation specific to Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden.
    5. In Genesis we see the devil, in the form of a serpent, enter the Garden of Eden and we see the people sin. Paradise has been corrupted.
    6. Everything was paradise. Everything was perfect and then sin.
    7. Sin enters and everything changes.
    8. God in His grace says that it is better than man and woman leave the Garden of Eden lest they live forever in a sinful state. After they leave the Garden of Eden they do not have access to the Tree of Life and they will die (Gen. 3:22).
    9. God set up a guard around the Garden of Eden to keep man out (Gen. 3:24).
    10. In Genesis 4 Cain and Abel are born and we have the first murder.
    11. Paradise has truly been lost.
    12. They were in paradise and now they are out of paradise and there is pride, jealousy, anger, murder, polygamy, among other sins. Yet, Adam and Eve would be alive for quite awhile and see the corruption.
    13. If I was a betting man I would argue that Adam and Eve wept over the corruption. I would bargain this was very difficult for them to see. I would bargain Adam and Eve longed for redemption.
    14. At the end of Genesis 4, in verses 25-26, Eve gives birth to Seth.
    15. This brings us to Genesis 5:1-2.
  2. Life continues
    1. In Genesis 5 we see that life continues.
    2. As we see that life continues we see that God is giving grace.
    3. As long as life continues there is potential for redemption.
    4. God had promised a redeemer (Genesis 3:15). God is faithful.
    5. So, in Genesis 5:1 we have an introduction to the book of generations.
    6. This is called a Toledot which means “family records.” We see it 11 times between Genesis 2:4 and 37:2.
    1. Allow me to share a few words about the geneology in this chapter, though we will share more next week.
    2. The purpose of the genealogy is showing death. They could not correct the problem of death.
    3. Only Enoch escapes death.
    4. Christians must respond to death by calling on the name of the Lord as the previous verse says.
    5. Notice verse 1: This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.
    6. This is the book of the generations of Adam.
    7. So, this the record of the descendants of Adam.
    8. Verse 1 is powerful.
    9. God created man. God made him in the likeness of God (See Genesis 1:26-27).
    10. Verse 2 continues: male and female He created them.
    11. It takes male and female to reflect the image of God (Gal 3:28).
    12. God blessed them.
    13. God named them man, that literally means “adam.”
  3. The likeness of God/image of God:
    1. Male and female were created in the image of God. This is repeated here.
    2. This is showing design and intent and I want to focus on that for the remainder of the message.
    3. There is great danger of a naturalistic worldview. There is grave danger of saying that we evolved from random chance.
    4. Do you realize that evolution across species is based on death?
    5. In Genesis chapters 1-2 we do not see humanity coming about by a process of death.
    6. Let me ask a question: are we getting better? Evolution says that we are getting better, we are evolving better, but we are clearly not getting better.
    7. A naturalistic evolutionary worldview leads to the idea that people are of no greater value than animals.
    8. Look at this quote from Peter Singer a professor of Bioethics at Princeton University:
    9. Therefore, Singer says, causing these animals pain—killing them for food, caging them while they produce eggs, shackling them and kidnapping them for exhibition in a zoo—subverts their preferences and is wrong.  The fact that animals are nonhuman makes no difference.  In fact, an intelligent adult ape has more conscious interests than a newborn human infant. Therefore, faced with the choice of rescuing from a fire either a severely retarded infant, who is unlikely to develop many preferences in the future, and an ape, we should rescue the ape.  To think otherwise is simple bigotry, an example of speciesism.[7]
    10. Another quote:
    11. “[Darwin’s] general theory, that all life on earth had originated and evolved by a gradual successive accumulation of fortuitous mutations, is still, as it was in Darwin’s time, a highly speculative hypothesis entirely without direct factual support and very far from that self-evident axiom some of its more aggressive advocates would have us believe.”[8]
    12. It (Darwinism) is atheism and utterly inconsistent with the Scripture . . . [a] denial of design in nature is virtually the denial of God (Charles Hodge, 1874)
  4. Significance and applications:
    1. Let’s make some applications:
    2. In God’s grace the human race continues. We must trust in God’s grace.
    3. We must trust in God’s plan. God is faithful and His plan is still going forth. God is allowing humanity to continue.
    4. We had sinned against God and yet we continue.
    5. In Genesis 5:1 the Scripture says that they were created in the likeness of God. This corresponds with Eph 4:24; Col. 3:10 and Genesis 1:26-27. We are image bearers of God.
    6. We were created: this means that we are subject to the creator.
    7. We must submit to the creator (James 4:7).
    8. We are finite and dependent. We must depend on the creator.
    9. We are physical creatures and can expect to be in a physical realm for all eternity (Rev 21-22).
    10. Being physical means that we need work, sleep, exercise, food, hygiene, relaxation, laughter, diet, etc.
    11. We are a unity of material and immaterial parts. A physical body is essential to humanity, but we are more than our body.
    12. It is not correct to refer to the “inner you” as the “real” you.
    13. Our body is not evil. That comes from Greek philosophy.
    14. Being created in the image of God shows that we were created with intent.  
    15. We are not accidents.
    16. We are not the product of random evolutionary accidents.
    17. We have worth before God.
    18. Am I valuable for my performance?  What if I fail to live up to my own or society’s standards?  Am I then of no value? No, we have value being created in the image of God.
    19. Am I valuable because other people think I have worth?  Will rejection destroy my value? No, we have value being created in the image of God.
    20. Am I valuable because I decide to invent “self-esteem”? No, we have value being created in the image of God.
    21. Being created in the image of God sets us apart from animals. We have the ability to think metacognitively, to feel, and to choose. We have moral responsibility to God for our behavior. We have the potential to glorify God by choosing to live in fellowship with Him.
    22. It takes male and female to represent the image of God.
    23. We must not look down on male or female as both represent the image of God.
    24. We must not commit idolatry knowing that humans are visible representations of God.
    25. There is no room for bigotry, or prejudice. Everyone is unique and to be treated with respect[9]

Close:

C.S. Lewis writes:

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations ― these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit ― immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously ― no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.[10]

Since there are no ordinary people, I challenge you to write a letter to someone this week. It could be an email, or a card, or a written letter. But write a letter to someone telling them how much they mean to you. Write a letter to someone sharing your love and respect.

Prayer        


[1] McDowell, Josh; McDowell, Sean. Evidence That Demands a Verdict (pgs. 440- 441). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Hb Hebrew

[2] Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 13.

[3] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ge 5:1.

[4] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 59.

v. verse

[5] Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 13.

[6] Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham, eds., “Genesis,” in The Moody Bible Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 54.

[7] Christian Century, July 3-10, 2002

[8] Michael Denton, Evolution, 1985, p.77

[9] Some of the content under point IV comes from Cedarville University; Christian Life and Thought notes around 2003.

[10] C.S. Lewis; C. S. Lewis. The Weight of Glory (pp. 26-27). UNKNOWN. Kindle Edition.

Life After Paradise (Genesis 4)

The Significance of Genesis 4; Life After Paradise; The People Leave the Garden (selected verses from Genesis 4)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, February 25 and Sunday, February 26, 2022

In 1991 two hikers in the Italian Alps stumbled upon a 5,300-year-old corpse that would later be dubbed “Ötzi the Iceman.” Preserved for more than five millennia in the ice and dry mountain air, Ötzi is the oldest intact corpse ever found. Forensic investigation revealed that Ötzi was most likely a shepherd. Ötzi was also a murder victim. He had been shot in the back with an arrow. As a Bronze Age shepherd who became a murder victim, we might think of Ötzi as the Abel of the Alps. In other words, the oldest human corpse was not found resting in a peaceful grave with attendant signs of reverence, but sprawled upon a bleak mountainside with an arrow in his back.

It’s a distressing commentary on the origins of human civilization. It seems that human civilization is incapable of advancing without shooting brothers in the back. From the lonely death of Ötzi in the Italian Alps to Neda Agha-Soltan in Iran, whose violent death in Tehran during the 2009 election protests was captured on a cell-phone camera and witnessed around the world, the number of Abels who lay slain by a Cain are incalculable. In a world that spills the blood of the innocent, it’s easy to despair. But the world Abel, Ötzi, and Neda were slain in, Jesus came to save.[1]

We have been focusing on how Genesis chapters 1-11 are foundational to our faith. We come to Genesis 4.

In Genesis 3 we have the devil slithering around as a serpent, talking, tempting, and distorting the Truth and Adam and Eve fall into sin. Then we come to Genesis 4 and we have a description of sin as an animal crouching at the door with a desire to overtake an individual, what an image.

In Genesis 3 we have the “why.” Why do these bad things happen, why sin? In Genesis 4 we have the “what.” What is happening that is sinful. Chapter 3 gives the cause and chapter 4 the effect.

In Genesis 4 we have this picture of sin wanting to overtake Cain, like a snake, a lion, a bear crouching, ready to pounce. When Cain gives into sin it does not stop with him. This is life outside of paradise.

We are not going to read this whole passage. Also, a few years ago I preached on Cain and Abel, so today I want to focus on a few verses. To start I want us to read a few passages of Scripture.

Let’s start with the New Testament:

1 Cor. 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Now, let’s look at a key passage in Genesis 4:6-7: The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”

Now, Genesis 4:8: Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.

Lastly, Genesis 4:25-26: And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.

Now, we are ready to talk about Genesis 4 as foundational to our faith.

My theme is: The Significance of Genesis 4; Life After Paradise; The People Leave the Garden

  1. How did we get here?
    1. So, at the end of Genesis 3 God sent man and woman out of the Garden of Eden.
    2. In Genesis 4:1 Adam and Eve have children. They are named Cain and Abel.
    3. They both make sacrifices and God is pleased with Abel’s sacrifice, but not Cain’s. There may be reasons for this, possibly because Abel gave of the first fruits.
    4. Cain is angry.
    5. God speaks to Cain, we read that verse earlier, but let’s read those verses again. Genesis 4:6-8: The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.
    6. They have left paradise and now paradise has left them.
    7. They had sinned in Genesis 3 and the consequence of the sin is spiritual death and physical death. They needed a redeemer, but God has not yet provided the redeemer.
    8. They are out of the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve lived a long time (Adam lived 930 years, Genesis 5:5) so we do not know how old Cain and Abel were at this time. One source makes the case that Cain is already married.[2]
    9. As I thought of this I was convicted to think about this from Adam and Eve’s perspective. Think with me. Allow yourself to go there. Have you ever gotten yourself in a pickle? Have you ever wished that there could be a do-over? Have you ever wondered how something was going to get taken care of after a BIG mess? Maybe something was irreparable?
    10. We all know what it is like when family relationships are divided. For many of us we wish that we could take the words back. We wish we could take back actions. We may wish we could make the phone call to repair things, or write the letter, or knock on their door.
    11. We know what it is like when things seem perfect, or almost perfect, and then we lose it. Maybe we did not realize how good we had it. Then we always wonder “what if…?”
    12. I wonder if after Cain killed Abel, Adam and Eve were thinking, “What if we did not eat of that tree?”
    13. I wonder if after Cain killed Abel, Adam and Eve were wondering where they went wrong.
    14. More than that, I wonder if after Cain killed Abel, they are so emotionally distraught. They did not know what to do.
    15. Murder is wrong.
    16. Murdering your own sibling is certainly not supposed to happen.
    17. This is the first sibling rivalry.
    18. This is the first jealousy recorded.
    19. This is the first anger recorded.
    20. This is the first murder recorded.
    21. BUT Adam and Eve’s emotions were not recorded.
    22. If Adam and Eve had a journal, what would it read?
    23. I imagine Eve running to Cain and letting out a blood curdling scream, “What have you done! What have you done! What have you done!” as she pounds her fists on his chest.
    24. Then, I imagine Eve going to Adam, but what would she say to him? Was it, “you should have intervened?” Or, did they grieve together.
    25. We don’t know what their thoughts were, but we do see a little bit in Genesis 4:25-26. We will come back to that.
    26. This is life after paradise. I wonder if Adam and Eve are realizing this is the new normal. Adam lived 930 years (Genesis 5:5) so he saw a lot of suffering in his descendants.
  2. What about Cain’s descendants (Genesis 4:17-26)?
    1. What was life outside paradise like? We will not read the next several verses but allow me to summarize a few key insights.
    2. In verse 19 Lamech starts polygamy. In Genesis 2:24 Adam marries one wife, but now Lamech has two. Genesis 2:24 says that a man is united to his wife, not wives. They are fallen.
    3. In verse 21 we see musical instruments (The pipe).
    4. In verse 22: we see iron and bronze. This means significant advances.
    5. In verses 23-24 we have more murder.  Lamech wants protected like Cain.
    6. Notice that these are real records. These do not read like fictional myths or allegory. They are records.
    7. They may skip generations and not include everyone but they are records.
    8. Adam and Eve sinned and now they are in life after paradise. We now see the consequence of sin. When we disobey God there are consequences. We must obey God’s ways (Genesis 4:7).
      1. Jealousy (Genesis 4:4-5)
      2. Anger (Genesis 4:4-5)
      3. Murder (Genesis 4:8, 23)
      4. Revenge (Genesis 4:14)
      5. Polygamy (Genesis 4:19)
    9. Where did Cain get his wife? Genesis 5:3 says that Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born. He lived another 800 years and had other sons and daughters.
    10. Cain married his sister! Yes. Now, there is the belief that Adam and Eve were one specific family that God spotlights and so there were more people and Cain’s wife was from other people. But here is the problem with that.
    11. Remember the first Adam-second Adam sermon? In Adam all die, so that in Christ all can be made alive. Romans 5:12-21 is about that. Also 1 Cor 15:21-22: For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
    12. Look at Romans 5:18: Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.
    13. Jesus paid the price of sin from the line of Adam. Plus, the New Testament seems to show that Adam’s sin trickles down to all humanity.
    14. God is faithful. He provided redemption.
    15. To be saved all humanity must go back to Adam and Eve.
    16. Now, how does that biologically work? Well, Adam and Eve would have been created perfectly. Their genetics were perfect so at this point that would not be a problem. But the longer human beings are in this sin-filled world their genetics got worse and the closer people are genetically related the more likely deformities would come.
    17. Did the law forbid marrying a relative? Yes, but the law came much later. By the time of the Law genetics would have been corrupted by sin and so God told them not to marry relatives (Leviticus 18-20).
    18. So, now, outside of paradise there is sin.
    19. Commenting on his performance in the gangster drama Black Mass, actor Johnny Deep said, “I found the evil in myself a long time ago, and I’ve accepted it. We’re old friends.”[3]
  3. God’s grace outside of paradise
    1. We see God’s grace in Genesis 4:7. We read that earlier.
    2. We see God’s grace in Genesis 4:15 when God protects Cain.
    3. We see God’s grace in Genesis 4:25-26. Let’s re-read that passage. Genesis 4:25-26: And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.
  4. God gave Adam and Eve another son (Genesis 4:25-26)
    1. The Lord provided more children.
    2. That is NOT to say that other children replace a child lost, NO WAY. Let me repeat, That is NOT to say that other children replace a child lost, NO WAY. However, Eve said it herself “for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.”’
    3. We see God’s grace.
    4. I wonder if she was concerned that they populate the earth. God told them to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28).
    5. I wonder if she was concerned that without more children there would not be a redeemer. Remember in Genesis 3:15 there was the first prophesy of a redeemer. With every child Eve may be wondering, “Is this going to be the redeemer?”
    6. Adam and Eve knew paradise.
    7. Adam and Eve probably wanted paradise back.
    8. They were the only two to live in paradise, to live without sin.
    9. I am sure they wanted redemption more than anyone.

Sin is destructive.  Does sin offend us?

Parishioners of a conservative, small-town church in rural Indiana were surprised one Sunday when a biker came to visit. He stuck out like a sore thumb—pony-tailed, tattooed, and wearing bikers’ colors. But the church came alongside him and showered him with love and acceptance. He kept coming back and eventually became a Christian.

But there was one lingering question: Why did the biker always wear long-sleeved shirts—even on the hottest days of summer? One day he finally confessed to the pastor that he had a tattoo of a naked woman on one forearm, and he didn’t want the other people in the church to see it.

A few weeks later, the biker walked up to the pastor and asked, “Want to see my new tattoo?” The pastor turned a little pale as the biker proudly rolled up his sleeve. “You know that naked woman tattoo I told you about awhile ago? I had the tattoo artist put clothes on her!”[4]

God provides a way out of sin. Let’s re-read 1 Corinthians 10:13.

1 Cor. 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Seek the Lord, seek paradise. Someday we will be in the New Heaven and New Earth (Revelation 21-22).

Prayer


[1] Brian Zahnd, A Farewell to Mars (David C. Cook, 2014), pp. 60-61. https://www.preachingtoday.com/search/?query=Genesis%204&type=scripture&sourcename=illustrations

[2] https://answersingenesis.org/bible-characters/cain/cains-wife-who-was-she/

[3] The Talk, Celebrities, Chicago Tribune (9-5-15). https://www.preachingtoday.com/search/?query=Genesis%204&type=scripture&sourcename=illustrations

[4] Source: As told by Pastor Danny Janes, Lighthouse Community Church, Kalamazoo, Michigan. https://www.preachingtoday.com/search/?query=Genesis%204&type=scripture&new-gr-c-s-check-loaded=&gr-ext-installed=&sourcename=illustrations&filter=pttype%3AHumor

The Significance of Genesis 3 and the rest of the Bible

The Significance of Genesis 3 and the rest of the Bible (Genesis 3 and selected verses): The fall, the punishments, the first prophesy of the Messiah; the exile from the Garden of Eden; they move east…

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, February 12 and Sunday, February 13, 2022

Most of you know that I do not like snakes. I think it was 2007 when a friend of mine asked me to come down to Kentucky to work with him on a property he had. We were working outside and he told me, “One time in 10 years I saw I copper head snake.” So, I had been warned but it was only one time in ten years. We worked cutting down brush and burning it in a big fire. I was then cutting it with a lawn mower and I turned around to see a copper head slithering away. I do not like snakes. A few years before that my friend had a contractor come to look at something in that house. He had to go in the crawl space. He comes out and says, “The good news is that you do not have a leak down there. The bad news is you have a black snake.” He was crawling through the crawl space and saw a snake skin. He then looked up and saw a blacksnake coiled in the corner.

In Genesis 3 we see the devil take the form of a snake to tempt Adam and Eve. I will summarize parts of this story and I want to focus on the first prophecy of Jesus.

I am in a sermon series showing that Genesis chapters 1-11 are foundational to our faith. In Genesis 3 we see the beginning of sin and the plan for redemption.

My theme today is:

In Genesis 3 sin enters the world, but we also have the first prophesy that God will provide a Savior.

  1. First, let’s talk about sin.
    1. In Genesis 3:1-7 we see Adam and Eve tempted by the devil and they give in to temptation.
    2. The devil temps them to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
    3. This passage is telling us what is wrong with the world, which is sin.
    4. Think of sin like death.
    5. Actually, isn’t it interesting that because of sin there is death and because of death there is decomposition.
    6. A few times we have noticed that a mouse has died in our house. How do we know that a mouse has died? We smell the mouse. You see, we notice a smell and we usually know that the mouse is dead in a wall and we just have to wait for the smell to go away. That smell tells us something is not right. What is wrong? Sin brought death into the world.
    7. In Genesis 3:8-14 Adam and Eve hide from God.
    8. They knew they were wrong. They knew they had disobeyed God.
    9. God talks to them and they blame each other.
    10. Adam says, “the woman ‘You’ gave me…” He blames God and Eve.
    11. In Genesis 3:14 God begins to give the consequences.
    12. Within the consequences we see grace.
    13. God gives grace and it is that He will provide a redeemer.
  2. The prophesied redemption.
    1. Read with me Genesis 3:15: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
    2. I like what Dr Rydelnic shared: Some reject this as Messianic thinking why would God give grace in the midst of judgment, but that is common:
      1. God did that with Cain giving him a mark.
      2. Gen 6 judgment of earth with grace for Noah.
      3. Then Lot is rescued in the midst of judgment.
      4. Some think this is just a story showing why there is hostility with snakes… but this is a surprise in that the snake talked. The devil was possessing the snake.
      5. Seed: even in the next chapter the Word for seed means an individual.
      6. This is predicting the Messiah’s death.
      7. In defeating Satan, the Messiah will die.
    3. Hark the Herald Angels Sing: clearly Genesis 3:15 was in the mind of Charles Wesley when he wrote the 4th verse:
      1. Come, Desire of nations, come!
      2.  Fix in us Thy humble home:
      3. Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring seed,
      4. Bruise in us the serpent’s head;
      5. Adam’s likeness now efface,
      6. Stamp Thine image in its place:
      7. Final Adam from above,
      8. Reinstate us in Thy love.[1]
    4. This verse is known in Christendom as the protoevangelium, or “first good news,” because it is the first foretelling of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Using an emphatic Hebrew construction, God announced here that a male descendant—He—would someday deal the serpent (meaning Satan) a fatal blow. The NT writers understood Jesus Christ to have fulfilled this prophecy (Heb 2:14; 1Jn 3:8).[2]
    5. Verse 15 is Messianic. This is the first prophesy of the Messiah. Her offspring will give a death blow to the devil, bruise his head means death.
    6. Verse 15 does say that there will be enmity between her offspring and the devil, and the devil’s offspring (maybe demons). There is still that sin struggle. Often times I think that would mean all of us as her offspring; however, “offspring” is singular.
    7. Seed in the Bible just means offspring: Hagar and her seed Ishmael. This does not mean seed as in sperm just as offspring.
    8. Again, this passage uses her offspring saying “He” and that is masculine, singular, meaning One person, the man, Christ Jesus.
    9. Think about that. There will be One offspring, Jesus, that will deliver the death blow to satan.
    10. So, right here after the first sin God gives grace.
    11. But how important is this to the rest of the Bible?
    12. First, we can compare this narrative with the wording in Genesis 4 with Cain, then with Noah later on, and other Old Testament passages. We will not do that today. But if you want to see how they are similar contact me during the week.
  3. The fulfilled redemption
    1. I have been emphasizing how these narratives in Genesis are critical for our interpretation of the whole Bible. Think about it. If we were to throw this out of the Bible we lose:
      1. God’s grace in the midst of judgment.
      2. The first prophesy that God will provide a redeemer.
      3. Within that first prophesy we see that the method of our redemption will come through humanity. If we do not believe this passage we lose the foundation for how God will bring salvation.
    2. When do we see this fulfilled in the New Testament?
    3. When do we not see this fulfilled in the New Testament?
    4. Galatians 4:4: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
    5. Notice how that passage says “born of woman.” It seems that God is making sure we know that our Savior was born of a woman. He was a descendent of Adam and Eve.
    6. Luke 24:27: And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
    7. All of the Scriptures point to Jesus.
    8. One more passage that connects with this verse is Revelation 12:9: And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
    9. We needed a Savior and in the judgment against the very first sin, God pointed to our redemption.
  4. Applications:
    1. Salvation comes from the Lord. We must trust the Lord that He will provide a way of forgiveness.
    2. We can be encouraged that all the way back in Genesis God prophesied a way of redemption.
    3. We must be encouraged that God is faithful.
    4. We must have confidence in God’s Word.

So, once again we see how the Bible links together like a chain.

I read the following:

The distinctive mark of theology today is its dreadful ambiguity. The chaos of American theology today can be traced back to its roots in the rejection of biblical infallibility. Preaching is not the act of unfolding our personal convictions. It is the duty of informing men of all that God has spoken. To move off from the pages of Scripture is to enter into the wastelands of our own subjectivity. Scripture plays an important role in the salvation of men. The Bible is a divinely provided map of the spiritual order. It contains the directions and markings to guide a person into reconciliation with God.

—Clark Pinnock, Bibliotheca Sacra, October–December 1967[3]

Prayer


[1] Dr Rydelnic; Bible Study moment; 12.02.2021

NT New Testament

[2] Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 11.

[3] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 49.

The Significance of the First Adam and the Second Adam; How is the Historical Adam Foundational to Our Faith (Selected scriptures from Genesis 2 and 3; Romans 5:17-20; 1 Cor. 15:20-22, 45-49)

The Significance of the First Adam and the Second Adam; How is the Historical Adam Foundational to Our Faith (Selected scriptures from Genesis 2 and 3; Romans 5:17-20; 1 Cor. 15:20-22, 45-49)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, February 5 and Sunday, February 6, 2022

In Christ and the Meaning of Life, German theologian Helmut Thielicke tells the story of a young [soldier] who reached out to pick a bouquet of lilacs and uncovered the half-decayed body of [another] soldier beneath the bush: “He drew back in horror, not because he had never seen a dead man before—he drew back because of the screaming contradiction between the dead man and the flowering bush.”

Thielicke notes that the soldier’s reaction would have been different if the man had come upon a dead and faded lilac bush instead: “A blooming lilac bush will one day become a withered lilac bush—this is really nothing more than the operation of the rhythm of life—but that a man should be lying there in a decayed condition, this was something that simply did not fit, and that’s why he winced at the sight of it.”

We can only understand the mystery of death if we see it through the lens of Adam’s rebellion against God. We are pilgrims who traverse an “empire of ruins” with death as our fellow traveler. Unable to rid ourselves of this cheerless companion, we attempt to rehabilitate it instead, treating death as if it were a neighbor and not a trespasser.

We clothe it in our best dress and apply make-up to its waxen features. Laid out before us in stiff repose, death looks as if it were merely asleep and if we do not look too carefully, we can almost convince ourselves that it has a beating heart within its breast and warm blood pulsing through its veins. We whisper to ourselves that it is not as alien as it first appeared. But this fool’s dream vanishes the minute we attempt to embrace death, finding that it repays our kiss with only sorrow and loss.

Death is not a natural stage in the cycle of human development. Death is a curse. The presence of death is an intrusion. It is “natural” only to the extent that nature itself suffers from the stroke that fell upon Adam as a consequence for his sin. Nature endures death but not willingly. It groans in protest, loathing the bondage to decay which death has brought upon it and yearning for “the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). Death is “the last enemy,” a tyrant who acts on sin’s behalf and whose sway over us was finally broken at the cross but will only be fully realized at the resurrection (Romans 5:211 Corinthians 15:26).

Death is our enemy but, like the law, it is also a schoolmaster that leads us to Christ. Death’s hard lesson exposes the true nature of sin. Indeed, the law and death are strange allies in this mysterious work. In the hands of God both act as a goad, puncturing our denial and prodding us to turn to Christ for relief from death’s sting.[1]

We are in a sermon series showing how Genesis chapters 1-11 are foundational to our faith. Last week we talked about the historical Adam and Eve. Today, I want to talk about how Adam’s sin points to Christ’s redemption. Today, I want to talk about how the New Testament shows how Adam was a type pointing towards Christ.

Theologically, a type is an OT person, object, or event that had a useful function in its own historical setting, but that also was designed by God to prefigure a greater, more spiritually potent situation or person. In this case, Adam was a “type” of Christ since he functions as the founder of the human race and his action had a profound influence upon it. Jesus, of course, is the superior “antitype” to Adam.[2]

Theme:

My theme is that Adam was a type and Jesus is the antitype. Adam’s sin led humanity into sin, but Jesus’ redemption makes salvation possible for all of humanity.

Let’s use three New Testament passages to show the importance of the historical Adam.

  1. Let’s first look at 1 Cor. 15:20-22:
    1. 1 Cor. 15:20-22: But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
    2. Notice how in that passage Paul is looking back to Adam. Paul is showing how Adam is a type.
    3. 1 Corinthians 15 is known as the great chapter on the resurrection.
    4. So, here in this section Paul is showing that Jesus is the first fruits of the resurrection. This speaks of the first installment of harvest to eternal life, in which Christ’s resurrection will precipitate and guarantee that all of the saints who have died will be resurrected also.[3]
    5. For as one man came death— that would be Adam— as one man, Christ, comes the resurrection.
    6. As in Adam all die.
    7. We all die because of the sin of Adam.
    8. Yet, we all can be made alive through Jesus.
  2. Next, let’s look at 1 Cor. 15:45-49:
    1. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
    2. Adam became a living being, right? Paul quotes from Genesis 2:7 about Adam becoming a living being. Jesus gives us spiritual life. Paul is saying that Jesus gives us our spiritual resurrected bodies.
    3. The first man, Adam, from the dust. The second man, Jesus, is from Heaven.
    4. Notice all the comparisons and contrast.
    5. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust: they die right? Those in Adam die. But: As is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of Heaven- we live. We have resurrected bodies.
    6. Paul is comparing and contrasting the first Adam who brought death, versus Jesus being the second Adam bringing life.
    7. We will bear His image fit for Heaven.
    8. Notice that it is clear that Paul thought of Adam as a real man.
    9. More than that, Paul built theology around Adam. Adam was the prototype and Jesus the antitype.
    10. Adam was a type pointing to Jesus.
    11. I love this quote:
    12. Here’s the gospel: you’re more sinful than you ever dared believe; you’re more loved than you ever dared hope.[4]
  3. Last, example: Romans 5:17-19:
    1. I have preached on the Romans passage, so I only want to briefly look at it.
    2. This passage is extremely important for the theology of the first Adam and second Adam.
    3. The section on the first Adam and second Adam begins at verse 12, but we will begin at verse 17:
    4. Romans 5:17-19: For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
    5. In the broader text, there is a dash at the end of Romans 5:12 because it is not picked up again until verses 18-19.
    6. Notice how verse 17 is an explanation and then verse 18 an inference.
    7. Adam is a type.
    8. Again, Theologically, a type is an OT person, object, or event that had a useful function in its own historical setting, but that also was designed by God to prefigure a greater, more spiritually potent situation or person. In this case, Adam was a “type” of Christ since he functions as the founder of the human race and his action had a profound influence upon it. Jesus, of course, is the superior “antitype” to Adam.[5]
    9. I like how one source shares: In this passage Paul explores the contrasts between the condemning act of Adam and the redemptive act of Christ. They were different in their effectiveness (v. 15), their extent (v. 16), their efficacy (v. 17), their essence (vv. 18, 19), and their energy (vv. 20, 21).[6]
    10. Again, verse 19 is restating this. The disobedience of Adam versus the obedience of Christ. Humans were made sinners through Adam’s sin because he represented humanity. As stated before, we were all in his loins. But in Christ we can be made righteous.
  4. Application:
    1. Paul knew nothing of denying the real history of Adam.
    2. We must recognizing that cutting Adam out of our Bible has consequences on the reality of sin and forgiveness.
    3. Adam was a type and Jesus is the antitype.
    4. These texts (1 Cor. 15:21-22; 45-40 and Romans 5:17-19) show that Christ is the second Adam. This means that Adam was a type of one to come. We cannot, we must not, take the real Adam out of the Bible.
    5. We must worship Christ for doing what we could not do on our own. We all failed in Adam. We all sinned in Adam.
    6. To me, these are worship passages, do we worship Christ for the awesome salvation which He has freely provided?
    7. Do we try to earn our salvation? We cannot earn our salvation and that is why Jesus gave us the free gift of His righteousness.
    8. Adam sinned and we all sinned in Him, we needed Jesus to fix it.
    9. We must serve and worship Jesus who gives us His grace.

Close:

Most kingdoms do anything they can to protect their king. This is the unspoken premise of the game of chess, for example. When the king falls, the kingdom is lost. Therefore, the king must be protected at all costs. Another notable example comes from the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill desperately wanted to join the expeditionary forces and watch the invasion from the bridge of a battleship in the English Channel. U.S. General Dwight David Eisenhower was desperate to stop him, for fear that the Prime Minister might be killed in battle. When it became apparent that Churchill would not be dissuaded, Eisenhower appealed to a higher authority: King George VI. The king went and told Churchill that if it was the Prime Minister’s duty to witness the invasion, he could only conclude that it was also his own duty as king to join him on the battleship. At this point Churchill reluctantly agreed to back down, for he knew that he could never expose the King of England to such danger.

King Jesus did exactly the opposite. With royal courage he surrendered his body to be crucified. On the cross he offered a king’s ransom: his life for the life of his people. He would die for all the wrong things that we had ever done and would do, completely atoning for all our sins. The crown of thorns that was meant to make a mockery of his royal claims actually proclaimed his kingly dignity, even in death.[7]

Prayer


[1] Source: John Koessler, “Death: Our Enemy and Teacher,” on his blog A Stranger in the House of God (6-30-10)

OT Old Testament

[2] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1752.

[3] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 1 Co 15:20.

[4] —Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian and author of The Reason for God

Source: Tim Keller, in the sermon Treasure Versus Money, PreachingToday.com

OT Old Testament

[5] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1752.

[6] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 5:15–21.

[7] Source: From Philip Ryken’s sermon “Long Live the King!” PreachingToday.com

The Significance of Adam and Eve as a Special Creation (Genesis 2:15-25)

The Significance of Adam and Eve as a Special Creation (Genesis 2:15-25)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, January 29 and Sunday, January 30, 2022

We have been talking about how Genesis chapters 1-11 are foundational to our faith. Today we will talk about Adam and Eve. I read the following humorous story:

My 7-year-old daughter, Jessica, is a deep thinker when it comes to theological questions. Recently we discussed why bad things happen sometimes, re-reading the story of Adam and Eve and how sin came into the world.

Later that week, Jessica was ill and had to stay home from school. Feeling miserable, she told me: “If only Adam and Eve hadn’t eaten the fruit, I wouldn’t be sick.” Before I could answer, she added: “Of course, if they didn’t eat it, we’d be sitting here naked.”[1]

We can probably think of other humorous jokes about Adam and Eve. Today, I want to make the case to you that they were a special creation. They did not evolve, God specifically created Adam and Eve.

My theme today is:

The special creation of Eve and the purpose of Adam and Eve.

  1. In Genesis 2:15-17 we see instructions for man.
    1. Genesis 2:15-17, ESV 15The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
    2. So, now we have one man, Adam. He is the only one. He has been created and he is in the garden by himself. Now, we see his purpose: God put the man in the garden to work it and take care of it.
    3. We see the idea of stewardship.
    4. Notice it says that God put the man in the garden.
    1. Verse 17 is the command not to eat of a certain tree: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Throughout the coasts of the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and even in south Florida, there can be found a pleasant-looking beachy sort of tree, often laden with small greenish-yellow fruits that look like apples.

You might be tempted to eat the fruit. Do not eat the fruit. You might want to rest your hand on the trunk, or touch a branch. Do not touch the tree trunk or any branches. Do not stand under or even near the tree for any length of time whatsoever. Do not touch your eyes while near the tree. Do not pick up any of the ominously shiny, tropic-green leaves.

The aboriginal peoples of the Caribbean were familiar with the tree and the sap was used to tip arrows. It is believed that the Calusa people of Florida used it in that manner to kill Juan Ponce de Leon on his second trip to Florida in 1521.

This is the manchineel, known in Spanish-speaking countries as “la manzanilla de la muerte,” which translates to “the little apple of death,” or as “arbol de la muerte,” “tree of death.” The fruit, though described as sweet and tasty, is extraordinarily toxic.

Nicola Strickland, who unwisely chomped down on a manchineel fruit on the Caribbean Island of Tobago, describes what it was like:

I rashly took a bite from this fruit and found it pleasantly sweet. My friend also partook (at my suggestion). Moments later we noticed a strange peppery feeling in our mouths, which gradually progressed to a burning, tearing sensation and tightness of the throat. The symptoms worsened over a couple of hours until we could barely swallow solid food because of the excruciating pain.

Over the next eight hours our oral symptoms slowly began to subside. Recounting our experience to the locals elicited frank horror and incredulity, such was the fruit’s poisonous reputation.[2]

  • The consequence of death would happen if they eat of that tree.
    • Now, we know they did eat from that tree and they did not die right away. But they did die spiritually right away and they died physically later on.
    • This is suicide. To eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil means to take their own life.
    • Realize that the first sin in Genesis 3 was satan tempting Adam and Eve with suicide. He is still tempting people with suicide today.   
  • In verses 18-23 God creates woman.
    • Genesis 2:18-23 (ESV)
    • 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones
          and flesh of my flesh;
      she shall be called Woman,
          because she was taken out of Man.”
    • God observes the problem of man being alone.
    • “It was good…” was repeated in the creation account. That is a benediction. “Bene” means “well” or “good.” “Diction” is speaking. This means “good-word.” “Good word” is repeated.
    • “Malediction” is speaking evil, a curse. The first malediction is Gen 2:18 when God says it is not good that man is alone.[3]
    • This is an ethical statement: “it is not good for man to be alone.”
    • There has never been aloneness before. In the Trinity there was/is socialness, individuality and community.  Social order is bound up in the nature of God because He created social institutions with the imprint of Who He is.[4]
    • Better translation of “helper” is “counterpart.” Oftentimes in the Old Testament that Hebrew word is used for God as our helper.
    • NET Bible note:
    • Genesis 2:20 (NETBFEN): Here for the first time the Hebrew word אָדָם (’adam) appears without the article, suggesting that it might now be the name “Adam” rather than “[the] man.” Translations of the Bible differ as to where they make the change from “man” to “Adam” (e.g., NASB and NIV translate “Adam” here, while NEB and NRSV continue to use “the man”; the KJV uses “Adam” twice in v. 19).
    • The Lord causes animals to come before Adam to show that they are different. By the way, it is likely that there are not as many animals as there are today. There would not be as many species either.  
    • The NIV says “had formed” as past tense.
    • The Lord God caused sleep to come upon man.
    • This is not unlike anesthesia today prior to surgery.
    • Does God use the DNA of man to form woman?
    • Verse 23: Adam names the woman as he does the other creatures.
  • Verses 24-25: marriage:
    • Genesis 2:24-25 (ESV) 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
    • The idea of marriage is told. This is the foundation, the idea that a man leaves his parents to join with a woman and have family.
    • They are naked and there is no shame.
    • This is an ironic statement considering the next chapter.
    • R. C. Sproul shares: In Biblical times nakedness brought shame…
    • The ultimate defeat of an enemy was not just stripping them of their weapons but clothes. Even Jesus was crucified naked.
    • First redemption is God giving clothes. He could have said you must stay naked and shivering.
    • We can be comfortably naked in 2 places: 1) with God and 2) family.
    • Why is divorce so bad? That person knew you… [5]
  • Significance in the rest of the Bible.
  • Adam and Eve had purpose before sin entered the world (verse 15).
  • Work is not because of sin. Work gives us purpose. Adam and Eve were to be stewards of the Garden of Eden.
  • We also must steward the resources that God gives us. Adam was not to be alone (verse 18), we, also, are not to be alone.
  • This may not mean marriage for everyone, but it does mean we need each other. Animals were not the helper that Adam needed (verses 18-20).
  • Likewise, humans need human companionship and other humans of the opposite sex to procreate.
  • God met the need for Adam by creating woman (verses 21-25).
  • God provided what Adam needed. God did not create another man for Adam, nor multiple women, but one woman for one man.
  • Likewise, marriage to this day is patterned after the first marriage.
  • Jesus and Paul endorsed this passage: Matt 19:4-5; Mark 10:6-7, 8; 1 Cor 6:16; Eph 5:31.[6] Therefore, if we believe it is not actually true then that changes other parts of the Bible.
  • Jesus affirmed the special creation of Adam (Mark 10:6) and so must we.
  • Luke connects the human lineage of Jesus to Adam and so must we (Luke 3:38).
  • Paul connects the doctrine of the church to Adam and Eve and so must we (Eph 5:30-32).
  • Paul argues for family order because of Adam and Eve and so must we (1 Cor. 11:8-12).
  • Paul references Adam in 1 Cor. 15:22: “as in Adam we all die.”  
  • Paul attached the origin of sin in the world to Eve (1 Tim. 2:13-14). We cannot change this part of the Bible without it changing the rest. Paul also connects death from sin to Adam and Jesus as the second Adam (Romans 5:12-14). We will talk more about that next week. Again, we cannot change this part of the Bible without it changing the rest.[7]

One writes:

“Adam and Eve must have had fun working together in the garden. No commutes, no child care, no financial worries. Just the opportunity to be with each other all day and feel the satisfaction of doing something together that neither could do alone.

We hunger for this today: cooperating together, meshing, working like a mountain climbing team, ascending the peak of our dream, and then holding each other at the end of the day. God has planted this hunger deep within every married couple. It’s more than a hunger to create new life. It’s a third hunger, a hunger to do something significant together. According to God’s Word, we were joined to make a difference. We were married for a mission.

Marriage expert Dennis Rainey says, ‘One of the missing ingredients of couples today is they do not have a mission; they do not have a sense of God having called them together to do something as a couple.’ But often, as we begin to feel this basic longing, we don’t know what it is. We get the ‘seven-year itch’ or the ’12-year anger’ or the ’18-year blahs.’ We think, WHAT’S WRONG WITH US? OUR COMPANIONSHIP MAY NOT BE PERFECT, BUT WE HAVE EACH OTHER. AND, many can add, WE HAVE OUR CHILDREN. SO WHAT ARE WE MISSING?

We may be missing one-third of what God created marriage for—serving Him together. Counselor James H. Olthuis writes, ‘To try to keep love just for us . . . is to kill it slowly . . . . We are not made just for each other; we are called to a ministry of love to everyone we meet and in all we do. In marriage, too, Jesus’ words hold true; in saving our lives we lose them, and in losing our lives in love to others, we drink of life more deeply.’ “[8]

Prayer


[1] Sarah Ames, “Kids of the Kingdom,” Today’s Christian (January/February 2006), p. 6

[2] Source: Dan Nosowitz, “Do Not Eat, Touch, Or Even Inhale the Air Around the Manchineel Tree,” Atlas Obscura (5-19-16)

[3] Sproul; Renewing Your Mind; 06.07.2021

[4] Truth Project lesson 7

[5]  Sproul; Renewing Your Mind; 06.08.2021

[6] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

[7] https://answersingenesis.org/adam-and-eve/

[8] Source: Kevin and Karen Miller, More Than You and Me, Touching Others Through The Strength of Your Marriage, Focus On The Family Publishing, 1994, pp. 8, 9.

The Significance of the Seventh Day as Consecrated (Genesis 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11)

The Significance of the Seventh Day as Consecrated (Genesis 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, January 22, and Sunday, January 23, 2022

Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?

I’ve been to London to look at the queen.

Pussy cat, pussy cat, what did you there?

I frightened a little mouse under her chair.

Stupid cat. She had the chance of a lifetime. All of London stretched out before her. Westminster Abbey. The British Museum. Ten Downing Street. Trafalgar Square. The House of Parliament. The Marble Arch in Hyde Park. She could’ve heard the London Philharmonic or scrambled up an old wooden lamp post to watch the changing of the guard. I doubt that she even cared she was within walking distance of St. Paul’s Cathedral. She probably didn’t even realize it was the historic Thames rushing by beneath that big rusty bridge she scampered across chasing more mice.

After all, she didn’t even scope out the queen as Her Majesty stood before her. Not this cat. She is such a mouseaholic, she can’t stop the same old grind even when she’s in London. What a bore!

There is an old Greek motto that says:

YOU WILL BREAK THE BOW

IF YOU KEEP IT ALWAYS BENT.

Which, being translated loosely from the original means, “There’s more to being a cat than tracking mice.” Or, “There’s more to life than hard work.”[1]

I love that! Think about work, and overwork, and rest, and ceasing from labor. Think about being tired. Imagine perfect rest. Imagine, really imagine what it is like to be rested. At the same time, rest is not the same as not working. Right? We may rest while doing a hobby. Still, at some point we must cease from certain labors.

I am in a sermon series on Genesis chapters 1-11 and my goal is to show how these chapters are foundational to our faith. Today, I want to talk about God ceases from His labor. Today, I want to talk about how God consecrates the sabbath day.  

My theme today is:

The Significance of the Seventh Day as Consecrated (Genesis 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11)

  1. The Sabbath in Genesis
    1. I want to begin talking about the sabbath being set apart, sanctified, consecrated in Genesis Then I want to show that in another place in the Old Testament, and then the New Testament.
    2. My goal is NOT to show that we are bound by the sabbath law now. I do not think that is the case. The sabbath is the only one of the Ten Commandments not repeated in the New Testament.  
    3. My goal is to show that Genesis matters. This passage matters. We cannot cut verses out of the Bible without that effecting other parts of the Bible.
    4. We will see that God uses this text in Genesis 2:1-3 as the principle for the sabbath command in Exodus 20:8-11.
    5. We will see that in the New Testament this idea is shown to be even greater in that we will have true rest through Jesus.
    6. Read with me Genesis 2:1-3: Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
    7. We see in this passage that God is done creating.
    8. Then verse 2 shows that God finished working and He rested.
    9. In reality this means that God ceased from creating.
    10. This is not God taking a nap. Actually, God does not grow tired or weary.
    11. This is showing that after 6 days God’s creation is complete.
    12. This is also setting an example for us.
    13. Look at verse 3: God blesses the seventh day. God makes the seventh day holy. God is saying that this is a different day. God consecrates the seventh day. God declares the seventh day sacred, holy. Now, this is not the commandment, we see that in Exodus 20:8-11. Let’s go there.
  2. The Sabbath in Exodus
    1. Read with me Exodus 20:8-11: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
    2. Now, we see the commandment. Now we see it. Remembering the sabbath is the 4th commandment.
    3. Six days you labor and on the seventh day you cease from your labor.
    4. Your animals are not to work. Your servants are not to work. The strangers are not to work.
    5. Now, later on, there will be more laws about this and they are permitted to work to save a life.
    6. What does God do? He appeals to creation. In six days the Lord created and the seventh He rested. In Deuteronomy 5:13 and following Moses, inspired by God, refers to their slavery, but here God has Moses refer to creation.
    7. Now, this is why this matters.
    8. The Hebrew word “yom” is translated as “day.” It can also mean a period of time as well as other things. But think about it. Suppose we believed that the days in Genesis 1 were not 24 hour days but ages, maybe even thousands of years. But that would not work here, would it? That would mean it should have the same meaning here. If we believe the days in Genesis 1 were thousands, or millions of years, that should be the same in Exodus 20:8-11. In that case, it should be “for six thousand years God created and then rested.” That is my paraphrase. That would mean we should work for six thousand years and then rest for a thousand years. But that is not what this is saying.
    9. So, right here, we see that cross referencing Genesis 2:1-3 with Exodus 20:8-11 clarifies that the days in Genesis 1 were solar days.
    10. Further, we cannot tamper with one part of the Bible without it affecting other parts of the Bible.
    11. But what about the New Testament?
  3. The Sabbath in the New Testament
    1. Read with me Colossians 2:16-17: Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
    2. One person writes about this:
    3. “What Paul says here is remarkable,” Tom Schreiner writes, “for he lumps the Sabbath together with food laws, festivals like Passover, and new moons. All of these constitute shadows that anticipate the coming of Christ” (40 Questions About Christians and Biblical Law, 212). And since Christ has now come, observing the Sabbath is no longer a matter of obedience or disobedience. Rather, Paul says, “Let no one pass judgment on you.”[2]
    4. The author of Hebrews brings us closer to the heart of why the new covenant does not require a literal seventh-day rest. Christ’s first coming did not abolish rest; rather, it ushered in a deeper kind of rest than the Sabbath could ever offer.[3]
    5. Read with me Hebrews 4:9-10: So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
    6. According to Hebrews 4, Israel’s Sabbath day always pointed forward to a far greater day: the still-future day when all creation will enter fully into the rest foreshadowed and promised in Genesis 2:2–3, the very first seventh day. “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). The ultimate Sabbath rest is coming, when God’s people will enjoy work without toil, hearts without sin, and an earth without thorns.[4]
    7. Yet even now, Hebrews implies, we feel the first waves of the coming rest. In Christ, we “have [already] tasted . . . the powers of the age to come” (Hebrews 6:5), rest included. For, the author writes, “We who have believed enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:3) — not “will enter,” but “enter”: fully later, truly now.
    8. And how do we enter that rest? Not mainly by putting aside our weekly labors for one day in seven, but by believing: “We who have believed enter that rest.” Faith in Jesus Christ brings the rest of the seventh day into every day.[5]
    9. So, again, we see the sabbath of Genesis 2:1-3 referred to in other parts of scripture.
  4. Summary
    1. The Exodus passage links back to Genesis 2:1-3.
    2. Notice that these Sabbath passages think back to the origin as authentic.
    3. Also, we are not bond by a sabbath law today, but there is a principle here. We do need rest.
      1. We must understand the significance of this teaching to the rest of the Bible.
      2. We must not compromise the sabbath part of the creation narrative.
        1. This means we must understand that God did not literally rest, but He did cease from His labor.
        2. This means we must understand that God also did not literally labor, but He did cease from creating.
        3. We must not view this as only part of an allegorical story. No, this is significant in the rest of the Bible.
        4. We must recognize that the Scripture says that God rested for a day, and we are to rest for a day (Ex. 20:8-11). This has significance for our interpretation of the rest of the creation narrative.
      3. We must believe that this part of the Scriptures is accurate just like all the rest of the Bible.
      4. We must understand that as God ceased from labor we also need rest one day a week.
      5. Further, we must understand that as God ceased from labor, some day as Christians we will also have rest in the new heavens and earth.
      6. We must understand that through the Gospel we have a taste of this sabbath rest now.
      7. We have rest through the peace of God Jesus gives us through the Gospel (John 14:27).
      8. We have rest from the weariness of trying to take care of our sin problem.
      9. We have a relationship with God (Romans 5:10).
      10. We have the Holy Spirit within us (John 15:1-5).
      11. We must understand, the seventh day as consecrated is significant in our faith.

I read the following:

I smile when I read this from the newspaper. “The world is too big for us. Too much going on, too many crimes, too much violence. Try as you will you get behind in the race. It’s an incessant strain to keep pace. You still lose ground. Science empties its discoveries on you so fast you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world is news seen so rapidly you’re out of breath trying to keep pace with who’s in and who’s out. Everything is high pressure. Human nature can’t endure it much more!”

Now it wasn’t that that made me smile. It was that it appeared June 16, 1833—150 or more years ago. That was the “good old days.” And you don’t have any idea, nor did I, what the Boston Globe had as its headlines November 13, 1857—three words: “ENERGY CRISIS LOOMS.” That’s 1857. The subheading said: “World May Go Dark since Whale Blubber So Scarce!”

You’re smiling, aren’t you? You can’t help but smile, because everything has to do with perspective. For some, the “good old days” means what was simple and uncomplicated and beautiful and free of the horrors of our present times. Or was there ever a time like that?

My “good old days” take me back to a world war where there were little markers on windows up and down the little street where I lived in Houston. And grieving parents peeled those little markers off when their son died in that war.

The “good old days” would take you back to the time when, horses died in the streets of New York because of cholera. The “good old days” were times in my father’s era when cars couldn’t be started from inside. You had to go outside and crank them. And you had to walk in rainy days on boggy streets because back then there weren’t hard surfaces and beautiful freeways and roadways.

One news commentator said it very well. It was Paul Harvey. “Had the first product using electricity been the electric chair, we would all be afraid to plug in our toasters in the morning!” It’s how you look at it, isn’t it?[6]

Prayer


[1] Charles R. Swindoll, Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life. Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 621–622.

[2] Desiring God; April 20, 2021; Scott Hubbard: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/should-christians-keep-the-sabbath?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=120563864&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_50obWsswcOOhLNjqHCTWasXFk1va5FEva0hYzAyvW1R-6cylZcrk_3K2kn68HFafFe0E6RniJJeNfvJdovo5nhUyRug&utm_content=120563864&utm_source=hs_email

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6]Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 624–625.

The Significance of the Creation Account (Genesis 1:1-31)

The Significance of the Creation Account (Genesis 1:1-31)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, January 15, and Sunday, January 16, 2022

Last week we began a sermon series on foundations. My aim is to show how Genesis chapters 1-11 are foundational to our faith. Today, we talk about Genesis 1 and God’s orderly account of creation.

I read the following:

There are two very practical and human answers to the creation of man and woman. One is the man’s view; the other is the woman’s view. Are you ready? The woman’s view of creation is this: God made the man and looked at him and said, “I can do better than that,” and He made the woman. Now the man’s view is: God made the beasts and man and then He rested. And then He created woman. And neither beast nor man nor God has rested since.[1]

However, think about this:

On August 21, 2011, an American software engineer named Jesse Anderson created the Million Monkey project, which featured millions of virtual simians typing away randomly. In just forty-six days, Anderson claims, the mindless authors recreated all of Shakespeare’s thirty-eight major works. “This is the largest work ever randomly reproduced,” he crowed.

The media trumpeted the achievement uncritically. Yet the claim is so misleading as to border on deception. In truth, what the digital monkeys produced randomly were unbroken strings of letters. It took a computer program (a digital maestro) working behind the scenes to recognize correct sequences and break them up—intelligently, not randomly—into the proper words.

My purpose is not to criticize Mr. Anderson or accuse him of any wrongdoing, nor even to lament the ignorance of the popular press. It is to illustrate the lesson that creativity is not a random process. Science and the Bible agree that in order to create something from nothing, there needs to be something or someone behind the scenes directing the show.[2]

In Genesis chapter 1 we see how God created everything in six days. We see a broad view of creation. This sermon series is about the significance and because of that I am going to emphasize certain verses and not read the whole text.

My theme:

The Significance of the Creation Account (Genesis 1:1-31)

Read with me Genesis 1:1-2, and 31:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 31And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

  1. Overview:
    1. In between Genesis 1:2 and verse 31 we see the six day creation. How important are these six days to the rest of the Bible? In a moment, we will talk about that. First, let me give an overview of this chapter.
    2. God created the earth. Now, the first two verses are an overview of the creation of time, space and matter. Starting in verse 3 God gives order to this matter. God arranges His creation so it is not such a mess.
    3. So, the rest of this chapter deals with the details of the earth and its surroundings. God chose to create everything in 6 days.
    4. On day 1, God creates light, this light may not be the sun. Most have believed the light is light emanating from God.  On day 1, God also created the idea of the day and night.
    5. On Day 2, God creates the atmosphere. Notice the waters are already there.
    6. On day 3, God creates land and vegetation.
    7. There is an idea that days 1-3 are forming and days 4-6 are filling.
    8. On day 4, God creates the moon and the stars.
    9. Notice that the Bible doesn’t use the noun “sun,” or “moon.”
    10. If you study the ancient religions of the Middle East, you can see that they worshipped the sun and the moon. So, Moses was careful not to use those terms.  In fact, if you really study this text, you can compare it with the other religions of the Middle East. In comparing you can see that Moses is writing this correcting those religions and showing that there is one God, and He is supreme.
    11. On Day 5, God creates the creatures of the sea and the air.
    12. On day 6, God creates the land animals and humans. Humans are the only creation specified. Humans are also created in God’s image.
    13. Notice also that it takes male and female to reflect the image of God.
    14. How did God do this?
    15. Why do we limit God? Were you there? If we don’t believe God created in 6, literal, 24 hour days because you don’t think it could be done, that is problematic. If you think because of evolution, God didn’t create in 6, literal, 24 hour days, then that is a problem. That is idolatry, you are putting something else in front of God.
    16. How did God create daisies? I say, “Like a child.” You throw a child up in the air or bounce him off your knee. When you sit him on the floor, the first thing the kid says is, “Do it again!” Throw him in the air; catch him; bounce him off your knee; set him on the floor. The kid’s going to yell, “Do it again!” Do it fifty times. The fiftieth time, the kid is yelling hysterically, “Do it again! Do it again!” The excitement of a little child.
    17. That’s how God created daisies. He created one daisy. I’m sure of this. In the childlike heart of God, he clapped and said; “Do it again!” He created daisy number two. Something within God said, “Do it again!” He created daisy number three and four and five. Fifty billion, trillion daisies later, the great God of the universe is still creating with childlike excitement and joy and yelling, “Do it again!”[3]
    18. I have read a lot and studied a lot on how to interpret Genesis chapters one and two. There is a lot of geological evidence for a young earth. There are definite complications with the Bible if you take evolution to its fullest form, called macroevolution. 
    19. If you have an NIV study Bible it says this:
    20. In the ancient near east most of the people’s had myths relating to how the world came to be. Prevalent in those myths were accounts of how one of the gods triumphed over a fierce and powerful beast that represented disorder, then fashioned the ordered world that people knew, and finally was proclaimed by the other gods to be the divine “king” over the world he had created—a position ever subject to the challenge of disorder. Over and against all these pagan myths, the author of Genesis taught a totally different doctrine of creation: the one and only true God did not have to overcome a mighty cosmic champion of chaos but simply by a series of His royal creation decrees called into being the ordered world, the visible Kingdom that His decrees continue to uphold and govern.
    21. God created, this implies, God is in charge. Let’s apply this.
    22. Why be afraid?
    23. We must trust God; why shouldn’t we, if He is powerful enough to create everything we see, then He is trustworthy.
    24. If God didn’t create than we shouldn’t trust Him. Why trust God if He didn’t create, but if you believe Genesis chapters 1 and 2, then you have every reason to trust God.
    25. If God is not limited by time, then we don’t need to worry about the future.
    26. God knows the future and that is important. More than that, Revelation chapters 20-22 teach us that God has a plan for the future. That plan includes followers of Christ.
  2. Significance
    1. In between Genesis 1:2 and verse 31 we see the six day creation. How important are these six days to the rest of the Bible? What is the significance?
    2. Scripture affirms God as creator and a 6 day creation:
    3. Exodus 20:11: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
    4. Nehemiah 9:6: “You alone are the Lord.
      You have made the heavens,
      The heaven of heavens with all their host,
      The earth and all that is on it,
      The seas and all that is in them.
      You give life to all of them
      And the heavenly host bows down before You
      .
    5. Col. 1:16: For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 
    6. Rev. 4:11: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
    7. Mark 10:6: But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’
    8. 2 Peter 3:5-7: For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
    9. In that passage Peter is referring to creation and the flood and talking about people who deny these things.
    10. To change the creation account of Genesis is to change the foundation of our faith.
    11. Genesis is foundational to our faith.

In Crazy Love, Francis Chan writes:

Why would God create more than 350,000,000,000 galaxies (and this is a conservative estimate) that generations of people never saw or even knew existed? Do you think maybe it was to make us say, “Wow, God is unfathomably big”? Or perhaps God wanted us to see these pictures so that our response would be, “Who do I think I am?”

R. C. Sproul writes, “Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God.

Did you know that a caterpillar has 228 separate and distinct muscles in its head? That’s quite a few, for a bug. The average elm tree has approximately 6 million leaves on it. And your own heart generates enough pressure as it pumps blood throughout your body that it could squirt blood up to 30 feet. (I’ve never tried this, and I don’t recommend it.)

Have you ever thought about how diverse and creative God is? He didn’t have to make hundreds of different kinds of bananas, but He did. He didn’t have to put 3,000 different species of trees within one square mile in the Amazon jungle, but He did. God didn’t have to create so many kinds of laughter. Think about the different sounds of your friends’ laughs—wheezes, snorts, silent, loud, obnoxious.

How about the way plants defy gravity by drawing water upward from the ground into their stems and veins? Or did you know that spiders produce three kinds of silk? When they build their webs, they create sixty feet of silk in one hour, simultaneously producing special oil on their feet that prevents them from sticking to their own web. (Most of us hate spiders, but sixty feet an hour deserves some respect!) Coral plants are so sensitive that they can die if the water temperature varies by even one or two degrees.[4]

We serve an amazing God!


[1] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 122.

[2] Michael Guillen, “Amazing Truths: How Science and the Bible Agree,” (Zondervan, 2016), Page 98

[3] Source: Tony Campolo, “If I Should Wake Before I Die,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 124.

[4] Excerpt From: Francis Chan. “Crazy Love.” iBooks.

The Significance that God IS Creator (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-5)

The Significance that God IS Creator (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-5) Why does it matter that God created? I will also introduce the series in this sermon.

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, January 8 and Sunday, January 9, 2022

On Christmas Day 1968, the three astronauts of Apollo 8 circled the dark side of the moon and headed for home. Suddenly, over the horizon of the moon rose the blue and white Earth garlanded by the glistening light of the sun against the black void of space. Those sophisticated men, trained in science and technology, did not utter Einstein’s name. They did not even go to the poets, the lyricists, or the dramatists. Only one thing could capture the awe-inspiring thrill of this magnificent observation. Billions heard the voice from outer space as the astronaut read it: “In the beginning God”–the only concept worthy enough to describe that unspeakable awe, unutterable in any other way. “In the beginning God created”–the invasive, the inescapable sense of the infinite and the eternal.[1]

G. K. Chesterton shared:

It is absurd for the Evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into anything.[2]

Today, I begin a new series on Genesis chapters 1-11 and my goal is to talk about how these chapters are foundational to our faith. Today, we begin with God as creator.

My theme today is:

God as creator is foundational to our faith.

Read with me Genesis 1:1:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

  1. Let’s talk about God as creator from Genesis 1:1.
    1. God created….
    2. The passage begins with “first” or “the beginning.”
    3. It is like this is a lesson on when time began.
    4. This is the beginning of time.
    5. God created. God is creating.
    6. In the beginning is the best translation, “beginning” implies the definite article within it, though in Hebrew there is no definite article “the.”[3]
    7. This is also the beginning of the Torah. Torah means “instruction” not “Law.”
    8. The Torah is a book of instruction about the Law.[4]
    9. First, distinction in Scripture is the separation between Creator and creation. Later distinction between humans and the rest of creation.
    10. God created the heavens, plural, and the earth.
    11. They would view heavens as plural and the earth.
    12. This encompasses everything.
    13. This means that God created matter.
    14. God had to also create the space to fit the matter.
    15. This is a figure of speech called a “merism” this means He created everything. Dr Rydelnic believes heaven has always been there (Open Line, Moody Radio, Oct 19, 2019).
    16. Dr Rydelnic: There is nothing in Genesis 1-2 that reads like poetry until the end: “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh… the rest is narrative and narrative we read as narrative.[5]
  2. Why does this matter for the rest of the Bible?
    1. I aim to make the case that Genesis chapters 1-11 are foundational to our faith.
    2. This means that we start with God. In a moment, I will share applications as to why God as creator matters to our life, but what about the rest of the Bible?
    3. Why do foundations matter?
    4. I heard about a building at Ohio State University, it is a postmodern building. It has staircases that go nowhere and all kinds of odd stuff.
    5. One author writes about it: I remember lecturing at Ohio State University, one of the largest universities in this country. I was minutes away from beginning my lecture, and my host was driving me past a new building called the Wexner Center for the Performing Arts.
    6. He said, “This is America’s first postmodern building.”
    7. I was startled for a moment and I said, “What is a postmodern building?”
    8. He said, “Well, the architect said that he designed this building with no design in mind. When the architect was asked, ‘Why?’ he said, ‘If life itself is capricious, why should our buildings have any design and any meaning?’ So he has pillars that have no purpose. He has stairways that go nowhere. He has a senseless building built and somebody has paid for it.”
    9. I said, “So his argument was that if life has no purpose and design, why should the building have any design?”
    10. He said, “That is correct.”
    11. I said, “Did he do the same with the foundation?”
    12. All of a sudden there was silence.
    13. You see, you and I can fool with the infrastructure as much as we would like, but we dare not fool with the foundation because it will call our bluff in a hurry.[6]
    14. The foundation is critical. Genesis is the foundation of our faith. God is teaching us important foundational elements to our faith.
    15. If we cut out the foundation what happens?
    16. Is Genesis 1-11 we have:
      1. The origin of the doctrine of marriage.
      2. The origin of clothing is in Genesis.
      3. Genesis records God’s plan for gender.
      4. The Gospel is found in Genesis: We need a Savior because Adam (the father/head of the human race) sinned and brought literal death into creation (Genesis 3). That’s why Jesus had to come and literally die a physical death to take our place.[7]
    17. We see these ideas repeated in the New Testament and the rest of the Bible. We will talk about them in the coming weeks. But what about God as creator?
    18. John 1:1-3: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
    19. Colossians 1:15-17: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
    20. Those texts in the New Testament connect God as creator with Jesus as creator.
    21. God created through Jesus.
    22. As Piper writes: So Paul teaches us that Jesus Christ created all that is. They were created through him. He was with and in God — and was God (John 1:1–3) — as God created all things through him.
    23. And all things were created for him. All that came into being exists for Christ — that is, it exists to display the greatness of Christ. Nothing — nothing! — in the universe exists for its own sake. Everything from the bottom of the oceans to the top of the mountains, from the smallest particle to the biggest star, from the most boring school subject to the most fascinating science, from the ugliest cockroach to the most beautiful human, from the greatest saint to the most wicked genocidal dictator — everything that exists, exists to make the greatness of Christ more fully known — including you, and the person you have the hardest time liking.[8]
  3. Some applications:
    1. If God created then, we have a purpose.
    2. God created: this is NOT nihilism which means life has no purpose. We have a purpose because God created us. We are created and if we walk through Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we see God giving man and woman a purpose. Man and woman were called to tend the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15). We are still called by God to steward the planet. We are called to have children, that is still part of our purpose.
    3. God created: this is NOT existentialism, which means I must find meaning in my life because my life has no meaning.
    4. No, God gives us meaning to our life. God created us.
    5. God created: this is NOT hedonism: life has no purpose, have fun, go for it! Funny as it is, those who make life all about their own purpose are the most unhappy.
    6. No, life has a purpose and it is not simply about our fun.
    7. God created: this is NOT humanism, I must make the world a better place for humans.
    8. No, God is the creator. Humanism is closely linked with naturalism, which I already mentioned.
    9. God created: this is NOT transcendentalism which is nature is God, not pantheism, not panentheism.
    10. God created: this is NOT Pantheism which teaches that all is God. “Pan” means “all” and “theism” means God.
    11. God created: this is not panentheism which teaches that everything is in God. “Pan” means “all” and “en” means “in” and “theism” mean God.
    12. God created: this IS Theism
    13. God created and this also means that God is separate from His creation. God is not the same as His creation. God is separate from His creation.

As we build on this idea about Genesis 1-11 being foundational to our faith. I want to share that the whole Bible is about Jesus. I did not write the following, but it is good:

Whole Bible is about Jesus[9]

Genesis: He (Jesus) is the promise to Adam and Eve. He is the seed of the woman that would crush satan’s head.

Exodus: He (Jesus) is the Passover Lamb that saves us.

Leviticus: He (Jesus) is our great High Priest.

Numbers: He (Jesus) is our smitten Rock.

Deuteronomy: He (Jesus) is the prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:15).

Joshua: He is the Captain of the Lord’s armies, Captain of the Lord of Hosts.

Judges: He is the Creator and final judge.

Ruth: He is the Heavenly Kinsman Redeemer.

1 Samuel and 2 Samuel: He is the Anointed One.

1 and 2 Kings: He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

1 and 2 Chronicles: He is the glory of God in the Temple.

Ezra: He is the teacher that comes from God.

Nehemiah: He is the rebuilder of broken lives.

Esther: He is the protector of His people.

Job: He is the only comforter in times of trouble.

Psalms He is our good Shepherd.

Proverbs: He is the Wisdom of God.

Ecclesiastes: He is the preacher of the Kingdom of God.

Song of Solomon: He is the bridegroom whose coming to His bride, the church.

Isaiah: For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given and the government will be on His shoulders and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6).

Jeremiah: He is the Potter that shapes the clay of our lives into the image of God.

Lamentations: He is the weeping profit.  

Ezekiel: He is the Wheel inside the Wheel (Ezekiel 1).

Daniel: He is the Son of Man coming on the clouds in Great Glory; the fourth man in the furnace (Daniel 7 and Daniel 3).

Hosea: He is the Love of God to the back slider.

Joel: He is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Amos: He is the author of judgment and mercy.

Obadiah: He is the God of vengeance.

Jonah: He is the Salvation of our Lord.

Micah: He is the great intercessor.

Nahum: The stronghold in the days of trouble.

Habakkuk: He is the God of mercy.

Zephaniah: He is the establisher of the Kingdom of God upon the earth.

Haggai: He is the Desire of all nations.

Zechariah: He is the Branch of Jehovah.

Malachi: He is the Refiner’s fire, the Son of righteousness that will rise over the whole world with healing in His wings.

Matthew: He is the Kingly Messiah.

Mark: He is the miracle Worker.

Luke: He is the great physician.

John: He is the Lamb of God that takes a way the sin of the world (John 1:29).

Acts: He is the Risen Lord.

Romans: He is our justification.

1 and 2 Corinthians: He is our Sanctification.

Galatians: He is Liberator.

Ephesians: He is our perfection.

Philippians: He is our joy.

Colossians: He is the Head of the body, the church.

1 and 2 Thessalonians: He is the coming Lord Who will reign and rule forever.

1 and 2 Timothy: He is the judge of man.

Titus: He is the redeemer of the world.

Philemon: He is the Friend that sticks closer than a brother.   

Hebrews: He is the author and finisher of our salvation (Heb. 12:2).

James: He is the healer of all nations.

1 and 2 Peter: He is the Chief Shepherd and bishop of our souls.  

1, 2 and 3 John: He is the Word of God.

Jude: He is the coming Lord with 10,000 of His saints to exude judgment on the earth.

Revelation: He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of Jesse, the root of David, the Lamb of God, the Word of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

Prayer


[1] Ravi Zacharias, “If the Foundations Be Destroyed,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 142.

[2] Source: G. K. Chesterton in The Quotable Chesterton. Christianity Today, Vol. 31, no. 13

[3] Open Line, Dr. Rydelnic. Moody Radio; 11.28.2020

[4] Dr Rydelnic; Open Line; Moody Radio; 05.08.2021

[5] Dr. Rydenic; Moody Radio; Open line second hour; 06.27.2020

[6] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/ravi-zacharias-on-postmodern-architecture-at-ohio-state/

[7] https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2016/12/29/genesis-foundation-of-christianity/

[8] https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/all-things-were-created-through-him-and-for-him

[9] Dr. Michael Yousseff; His radio program, Leading the Way, LTW; Nov 1, 2019

The Angels Visit the Shepherds (Luke 2:8-20)

The Angels Visit the Shepherds (Luke 2:8-20)

Prepared and preach by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, December 26

Christmas is over, I pray that you all had a very delightful Christmas.

Augustine wrote:

Our Lord came down from life to suffer death;
the Bread came down, to hunger;
the Way came down, on the way to weariness;
the Fount came down, to thirst.
—Augustine, Sermon 78

He so loved us that, for our sake,
He was made man in time,
although through him all times were made.
He was made man, who made man.
He was created of a mother whom he created.
He was carried by hands that he formed.
He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, he the Word,
without whom all human eloquence is mute.
—Augustine, Sermon 188, 2

In 1224, inspired by the sight of shepherds tending their flocks in the moonlight, St. Francis of Assisi asked a wealthy friend from Greccio, Italy, to help him construct a live manger scene (the first ever). The idea caught on. By the 15th century, nativity scenes proliferated in monasteries and churches throughout southern Europe. Today, perhaps the finest collection of miniature nativity scenes in the world is found in Munich’s National Museum of Bavaria where more than 200 are displayed.[1]

We have been preaching about the accounts of angels in the narratives of Jesus’ birth. Today, we will look at the angels visiting the shepherds. Recall the definition of angel: The meaning of the word angel: Angel. The Hebrew word malak simply means “messenger”; it may refer to a human messenger (1 Kings 19:2) or a divine messenger (Gen. 28:12). The basic meaning of the word is “one who is sent.” As a divine messenger an angel is a “heavenly being charged by God with some commission.”1 The word is found 103 times in the Old Testament. The Greek word angelos occurs 175 times in the New Testament; however, of men it is used only 6 times. The word angelos is similar to the Hebrew malak; it also means “messenger … who speaks and acts in the place of the one who has sent him.”[2]

  1. Angels visit the shepherds and they worship God (verses 8-14).
    1. Jesus has now been born and this passage is picking up right after His birth in Bethlehem.
    2. Luke 2:8-14 reads: And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest,
          and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
    3. Notice:
    4. The shepherds were in the same region.
    5. They were out in their fields.
    6. They were out there for the purpose of watching their flocks by night.
    7. A lot of study could be done about shepherds and the humility of that job. We often hear shepherds were the lowest class. They always go back to Genesis where Joseph’s brothers sold Joseph to shepherds but those were Egyptian shepherds, or Egyptian views of Shepherds. There is some Rabbinic literature negative of shepherds but that is from the 4th century AD.  Dr. Rydelnic does not think they were the lowest class. Dr Rydelnic agrees with the Life Application study Bible that these might have been the shepherds supplying the lambs for temple sacrifices that were used for forgiveness of sins. This would be true regardless of the season.[3]
    8. They [the shepherds] were literally guarding their flocks for the night.
    9. Verse 8 tells the place. Verse 9 is about to tell what happens.
    10. This is all happening simultaneously to the previous verses. Jesus has been born and it seems that at the same time as His birth, or right after His birth, this happens.
    11. An angel of the Lord “appeared” or “stood.” The NASB says “suddenly.”
    12. The Greek verb for “stood” carries the idea of “suddenly.”[4]
    13. What is it like to have something appear suddenly?
    14. The shepherds didn’t see the Angel coming over the hill.
    15. The shepherds didn’t hear the angel of the Lord be given clearance for landing.
    16. There is also Theological debate about what “Angel of the Lord” means. Sometimes that can mean an appearance of Christ in the Old Testament, Christophany. Or, a bodily appearance of God the Father, which could be Christ, Theophany. In this case I think this is a high-ranking angel.
    17. The “glory of the Lord shone around them”
    18. What does this look like? Ezekiel chapter 1 is similar.
    19. We do know they were scared.
    20. R.C. Sproul makes the case that this is the Shekinah glory of the Old Testament. The angel of the Lord is bathed in the Shekinah glory.[5]
    21. The word shekinah does not appear in the Bible, but the concept clearly does. The Jewish rabbis coined this extra-biblical expression, a form of a Hebrew word that literally means “he caused to dwell,” signifying that it was a divine visitation of the presence or dwelling of the Lord God on this earth. The Shekinah was first evident when the Israelites set out from Succoth in their escape from Egypt. There the Lord appeared in a cloudy pillar in the day and a fiery pillar by night: “After leaving Succoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people” (Exodus 13:20–22).[6]
    22. The shepherds were terribly frightened.
    23. The Greek uses the verb for “frightened” once and then a noun describing them as frightened along with an adjective to describe them as “greatly frightened.”
    24. Verse 10: The angel now speaks.
    25. The news the angel brings has three parts:
      1. 1. Good news;
      2. 2. Great joy;
      3. 3. For all people: that is deep;
      4. Jesus blesses all people.
    26. Verse 11 explains this even more:
    27. The city of David, that is Jerusalem
    28. A Savior has been born today.
      1. So, how long did it take the shepherds to get to Him?
      1. He is Christ: this is not Jesus’ last name but a title meaning “the anointed one.”
    29. Verse 12: The angel is about to give them a sign of who Jesus is. Jesus will be found in swaddling cloths (strips of cloth), lying in a manger (a feeding trough).
    30. I heard Swindoll say that the shepherds wouldn’t be surprised because they did the same thing when their wives delivered. They would lay the baby in a feeding trough.
    31. Verse 13: Suddenly (adverb, unexpectantly): A great multitude of Heavenly Hosts (angels) appeared.
    32. This really happened. I wonder what it was like. What is it like to see Angels appear from thin air???
    33. “Hosts” carries the idea of an army.[7]
    34. These angels were praising God and saying:
    35. Verse 14: Glory to God in the highest!!
      1. There is no greater glory to God.
      2. I can’t describe a way to worship God high enough.
      3. they may not have had words to describe how the Angels were worshipping God.
      4. The shepherds hear the angels praising God and this might be among the words they heard.
    36. and peace among those with whom He is pleased with: Jesus will bring peace in eternity.
  2. In verses 15-20: the shepherds go to Jesus and worship Jesus.
    1. We are not going to read those verses today, but allow me to make a few comments.
    2. Verse 15 shares that the angels went away from them and they went away into “the Heavens.”
    3. This must have been a sight to see. A visual picture of this would be awesome.
    4. The shepherds spoke to one another about what to do.
    5. They want to go to Bethlehem right away.
    6. They want to see what the Lord has done.
    7. Verse 16: so they go in haste.
    8. They didn’t linger, they didn’t waste time.
    9. They found their way.
    10. They had to search for the stable to find Mary and Joseph and the baby.
    11. Jesus was still in a feeding trough.
    12. They must have gotten there quickly.
    13. This shows that this event happened likely the same night as His birth.
    14. Verse 17: Once they saw this they explained what the angel had said.
    15. This must have happened so that the incident could be written down.
    16. Verse 18: They wondered about what was told to them. It seems that this mesmerized them.
    17. They were amazed.
    18. Verse 19 is key and it seems to be a key verse for the Gospel according to Luke. Mary remembered these things. This may be how Luke received the material.
    19. Later on in verse 51 this is repeated.
    20. Verse 20: the Shepherds went back but they were glorifying and praising God.

Some final applications:

  1. This was not a silent night.
    1. All was not calm and bright.
    2. It was hard a very difficult night.
    3. He was born not in a hospital, or in a guest room, but in a stable.
    4. We all have journeys that are difficult:
      1. Jacob’s son, Joseph, was sold into slavery (Gen. 37).
      2. David fled Saul and fled to the Philistines for a few years (1 Samuel  19ff and chapter 27) and he wrote Psalms asking, “Why do You allow my enemies to prosper?” “When are You going to save me?” That was not the end of the story.
      3. Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego were told to bow down and worship the king’s image, but they didn’t (Daniel 3). That was not the end of the story.
      4. The people of Israel were exiled for 50 years but that was not the end.
      5. Now, the child born in a stable would walk to Calvary, but that was not the end of the story.

All of us take difficult journeys but God walks with us on the journeys. God redeems the journeys and that is not the end of the story.

Mary could not see that the angels would be rejoicing. She could not see that we would be reading the story two thousand years later.  However, we are.

Prayer


[1] Source: Nan Bauroth in Christmas: An Annual Treasury (Vol. 66, Augsburg). Christian Reader, Vol. 34.

1 Gerhard von Rad, “Mal’āk in the Old Testament,” in Gerhard Kittel, ed., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 10 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 1:76–77.

[2] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 286–287.

[3] Open Line on Moody radio 12.22.2018

[4]Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg and Neva F. Miller, vol. 4, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Baker’s Greek New Testament library, 183 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2000).

[5] Renewing Your Mind, 10.03.2021

[6] https://www.gotquestions.org/shekinah-glory.html

[7]Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg and Neva F. Miller, vol. 4, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Baker’s Greek New Testament library, 358 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2000).

3 Kings and the providence of God, Jesus is Born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7).

3 Kings and the providence of God, Jesus is Born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7).

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Friday, December 24, Christmas Eve

3 Kings and the providence of God.

I like to play chess. I like the game of chess a lot. I do not play it much, but I really like the game. My dad taught me to play chess when I was in elementary school. Correction, my dad taught my older brother, then my older brother taught me. I like chess, it is a game of strategy.

J. Oswald Sanders reports that years ago, Paul Morphy was the world’s champion chess player when he was invited by a friend to look at a valuable painting titled, “The Chess Player.” In the painting, Satan was represented as playing chess with a young man, the stake being the young man’s soul. The game had reached the stage where it was the young man’s move; but he was checkmated. There was no move he could make which would not mean defeat for him and so the strong feature of the picture was the look of utter despair on the young man’s face as he realized that his soul was lost.

Morphy, who knew more about chess than the artist, studied the picture for a time, then called for a chessboard and pieces. Placing them in exactly the same position as they were in the painting, he said, “I’ll take the young man’s place and make the move.” Then he made the move which would have set the young man free.[1]

That is a powerful illustration about God’s love, but also God’s providence. God is the ultimate chess player.

Do you believe in coincidence? I do not believe in coincidence. I believe in the providence of God. God is sovereign, this means that He has total control. Further, God uses His control to arrange things the way He needs them to carry out His will. Somehow, God can bring together our freewill with His sovereign will and plan. Further, God can bring together our freewill with His plan.

My theme today is:

The providence of God in Jesus’ birth.

In Luke 2:1-7 we see the birth of Jesus.

  1. Read with me Luke 2:1-2: Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
    1. Isn’t this interesting. It was prophesied in Micah 5:2 that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. This was hundreds of years before Jesus. God is working out the details.
    2. R.C. Sproul has called this passage “Three Kings.” We have God the Father, Jesus, and Caesar.
    3. Caesar orders a census, but in reality this is God’s control.
    4. Look at verse 3: And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.
    5. So, everyone is traveling. Now, verses 4-5: Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.
    6. As a consequence of the census Joseph and Mary must travel to Bethlehem.
    7. Mary and Joseph are engaged to be married. We know from Luke 1 and Matthew chapter 1 that Mary is already pregnant with Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior.
    8. Now, look at Luke 2:6-7: While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
    9. Here they are in Bethlehem and the baby is to be born.
    10. Do you think they knew Jesus would be born in Bethlehem?
    11. Obviously, they knew 9 months and things like that, but a year before they did not know anything about this. A few months before they did not know they were going to have to travel.
    12. Here is Mary, obviously pregnant, and in God’s sovereign plan, in His providence, He brings Mary and Joseph to the right location for birth.
    13. 3 kings: God, the Father, Caesar, and now Jesus. Jesus is born in a barn and laid in a feeding trough.
    14. Jesus came in humility.
    15. God is in charge, this is how God wanted the Messiah to enter the world.

One writes:

Piper:

You would think that if God so rules the world as to use an empire-wide census to bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, he surely could have seen to it that a room was available in the inn.

Yes, he could have. He absolutely could have! And Jesus could have been born into a wealthy family. He could have turned stone into bread in the wilderness. He could have called 10,000 angels to his aid in Gethsemane. He could have come down from the cross and saved himself. The question is not what God could do, but what he willed to do.

God’s will was that though Christ was rich, yet for your sake he became poor. The “No Vacancy” signs over all the motels in Bethlehem were for your sake. “For your sake he became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

God rules all things — even hotel capacities and available Airbnbs — for the sake of his children. The Calvary road begins with a “No Vacancy” sign in Bethlehem and ends with the spitting and scoffing of the cross in Jerusalem.

And we must not forget that he said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross” (Luke 9:23).

We join him on the Calvary road and hear him say, “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).

To the one who calls out enthusiastically, “I will follow you wherever you go!” Jesus responds, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:57–58).

Yes, God could have seen to it that Jesus have a room at his birth. But that would have been a detour off the Calvary road.[2]

Jesus came for you.

God is the Master chess player because He knows all things (omniscient). Further, He is all powerful (omnipotent), further He is present everywhere (omnipresent), further, He wants a relationship with you.

 What is Christmas all about?

In a nutshell Christmas is all about Jesus’ birth. God became a human being so that He could die for our sins. God brought events involving kings, common people, and shepherds in order to bring His Son into the world. Jesus lived among us for 33 years and then died in our place. He died for our sins. Do you believe that? I want to ask you a personal question: have you come to a point in your life where you have accepted Jesus into your heart for forgiveness of your sins. Jesus didn’t come to earth just to live with us; He came to instruct us and to die in our place.

The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Bible says that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by Him (John 14:6). The Bible teaches that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible says that God will not let the guilty go unpunished (2 Thess 1:8-9). Yet, the Bible teaches that God loves the people of the world (John 3:16). That is a dilemma. God can’t tell a lie, or He wouldn’t be God (Numbers 23:19). God doesn’t change His mind (1 Sam 15:29). That is why God sent Jesus. The guilty must be punished. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. The penalty of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life (Romans 6:23 and John 14:6).

One of the most exciting things that you can do while celebrating Jesus’ birthday is to make it your spiritual birthday as well. You can accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation right now.

Pray with me and if you would like to believe in Christ today. This prayer is not a magical formula. It is just telling Jesus what you are doing.

Dear Jesus, I know that I have sinned. I know that you died to forgive me for my sins. I know that you rose again. Today, I confess that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I believe in You, that You died in my place to take care of my sin, and that You rose again. I am committing my life to You, and trusting in You as Lord and Savior. Today, I am firmly making the decision to be with You, in order to become like You, to learn and do all that You say, and arrange my affairs around You. Please come into my life, and help me to live for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


[1] https://www.sermonsearch.com/sermon-illustrations/3937/the-chess-game/

[2] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/no-detour-from-calvary?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=79633190&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9diDeyg3hy1fWBXTf72yuh_yDsyHlvMuXH6dwzFpEd4qDq4Z_W3ZzxEjVu6MOR7_zYUuUJb6-yXk_iqcttOqMNDnd9rg&_hsmi=79633190