The OT Gospel: Genesis 3

The OT Gospel: Genesis 3

Passage: Genesis 3
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Overview of Genesis 3

  • So, God placed the first man and woman in the garden of Eden to till it and maintain it.
  • The garden had everything imaginable, jewels, foods, animals, and two special trees: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
  • Then in Genesis 3, here comes the crafty serpent who begins inject doubt about God into the first woman. “Did God...say?” “Are you really going to die? You’re not going to die…You’re going to be like God in knowing good and evil.”
  • They saw that the fruit was good, ate, and found they were naked and were ashamed.
  • Then God comes “Where are you? How did you know you were naked? Did you eat of the tree?”
  • And then he curses the serpent, curses the couple (much debate about what that curse means btw) and sends the couple out and places a cherubim to guard the gardens so that they can’t get eat from tree of life.
    • BONUS: Later in Gen. 6:1-8, people still lived for thousands of years. But they’re so sinful that God regrets making them and sends the flood. And afterwards God reduces the lifespan to 120 years.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

  1. There are a lot of mysterious things in this passage – like the curses and the cherubim that guards Eden. However, the central thing in this chapter that must be discussed is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
    • The first question that comes to mind is “Why does God put it there?”
      • There is a matter of being creatures with free will and the need for a choice. Without a choice to reject God, we cannot choose God, we cannot love God.
    • But there’s another significant question that is glaring right at us. It’s one of those cases where we are so focused on finding some deep spiritual truth, that we miss the obvious: Isn’t the knowledge of good and evil is a good thing?
      • It would be great to be able to judge between the two
      • Tell right from wrong…
      • This prompts a second question: Is God withholding something good from us?
    • So, what does this have to do knowledge of good and evil?
      • Wisdom and knowledge are great if we are mature enough to be trusted with it.
      • EXAMPLE: It is like the gift of fire. It’s great for light, warmth, cooking, scaring away animals…but it can also burn you or others, cause a brushfire, and do some serious damage. Would you let a child play with fire? No. Would you let an adult? Maybe.
    • So, can we be trusted with this? Obviously not, but why not?
  2. In 3:5, we are given a clue.
    • 3:5: “…for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
      • And the serpent isn’t lying either because in 3:22 God says that “the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil.”
    • You see, the serpent was playing off something deep within us: our desire to be like God.
    • We are not mature enough to handle the gift of the knowledge of good and evil because something within each one of us running wild, something that wants to be free, uncontrolled, in control, on our own.
      • ILLUSTRATION: It is a challenge for all of us to maintain a good relationship with our bosses. The relationship can begin on good terms, but your boss will eventually do something that you don’t agree with or hurts you in some way. Now, if that dissatisfaction is allowed to fester, we’re tempted to jump ship, find a new job, or be our own boss.
    • Flat out: We want to be like God so that we can have the benefits of God without God.
      • One problem is that without God, we can’t live. Only death and emptiness await us.
        • We’re left to manufacture life and meaning.
          • We can try to prolong our lives – 80, 90, 100 years – and look young for as long as possible, but we will ultimately pass away.
        • We try to find meaning in other things, but we will always be unsatisfied.
      • A second problem is that if we’re in control, that means that someone else is not. And we usually use or hurt those people. Instead of seeing them as equals, we see them as objects – things to be used for our means or things to be consumed.

One Biblical Parallel

  1. Genesis 3 is the story of Israel:
    • Put in the promised land, given a job, they turn from God, and they are exiled.
      • Put in a garden, given a job, they disobey, and they are exiled.
    • 1 Kings 9:6 “If you turn aside from following me…then I will cut Israel off from the land that I have given them.”
  2. One specific example: Solomon - the epitome of wisdom in the Bible, but also one of the greatest tragedies of the biblical narrative.
    • He has a few stories of where his wisdom was used for good.
      • The one where he figured out who was the real mother
      • He answered every question that the Queen of Sheba threw at him
      • He built up a prosperous nation
    • But here’s the kicker: He was wise, but he wasn’t a good king. He was a selfish king.
      • It’s revealed in 1 Kings 5:13 that he “conscripted forced labor out of all Israel.”
      • He also made life hard on the citizens. 1 Kings 12:4 “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke that he placed on us, and we will serve you.”
      • And of course, there’s the infamous idolatry and thousands of wives.
      • Plus all the deals with foreign nations.
    • So, we’ve got a person who is there to lead the people into God’s plans, he’s given wisdom, but he does not have the maturity, the character to handle it.
      • Eventually his heart turns from God…and in his turning from God, he hurts, oppresses, and uses others. And this is what all the future kings did too.
      • And so God tells Solomon that the kingdom will be taken away from him (1 Kings 11:11)
    • And…we’ve all got a little bit of Solomon in all of us…that desire to want to be like God, to want the benefits of God without God.
    • And we know the punishment is death or exile.

The Good News: God is Merciful and Gracious

  • But something amazing happens in the garden: Despite our huge overreach, despite our disobedience, despite our corruption The man and the woman did not die.
    • 2:17 says that we will die on the day that we eat of the tree.
      • The Hebrew says that they will surely die on the day.
    • There are two ways of reading this:
      • We are destined to die because we are cut off from the tree of life (which btw was not forbidden to eat)
      • More literal: We will die or be judged instantly.
        • If we adhere to option 2, then is God a liar for not judging people instantly? No, God reveals that God is merciful. And this is the good news of Genesis 3: Our God is merciful and gracious.
      • And as the couple leave the garden, God does something interesting: God clothes the man and woman
        • Amid all this mess, God does not want us to die or remain in shame.
        • God has ZERO responsibility to clothe them, but God does.
          • Just as how God could have cut Israel off completely, but chooses to bring about a remnant.
        • Lastly, there is the Promise of Jesus
          • In the curses for the serpent, God says that there will be enmity between the serpent and the woman. The woman’s offspring will strike your head and the serpent will strike his heel.
          • This is the first foreshadowing of Jesus.
            • On the cross, the serpent struck his heel.
            • But upon resurrection and the return, Jesus will strike his head (Revelation 20)
          • Through Jesus, we are shown how to truly live and love others.
          • Jesus takes the punishment of our turning away, our rejection of God upon himself. He is exiled in our place, and we are restored as the people and children of God.
          • Through Jesus, the Spirit lives inside of us helping us become like him – one who can know good and evil and handle it.
        • The Good news of Genesis 3 is that our God is a God of mercy.
        • If you think about it, it’s amazing that there’s even a chapter 4 to Genesis. By all means, the biblical narrative could have stopped there.

The Grace for Us Today

  • Maybe because the passage is so familiar, we forget that it was written to be a wakeup call.
  • For us, we need to wake up to the reality that our God is incredibly merciful to us.
  • MERCY: Parable of the unforgiving servant: have mercy on others as God has mercy with us (Matthew 18:23-35)
    • James 2:13 Mercy triumphs over judgment.
  • LOVE: Woman who has been forgiven much, loves much. (Luke 7:36-50)
  • GENEROSITY & RESTITUTION: Zacchaeus: Jesus has gone to be the guest of a sinner  “Half my possessions, I will give to the poor…and if I defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” (Luke 19:1-10)

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