Prologue: Creation - Radical

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Prologue: Creation

What does the nature of God, creation, man, satan, and sin reveal to us? In this message on Genesis 1:1–11, Pastor David Platt emphasizes the way redemption can be seen in the first verses of the Bible. He shares three truths this passage highlights.

  1. Gives us glimpses of grace
  2. Leaves us holding onto hope
  3. Points us to the centrality of Christ

If you have His Word, then I invite you to open with me to Genesis 1. I want to show you His wonder in His Word today. There is so much in these first eleven chapters of Scripture. I want us to see the glory of God in these foundational chapters of the Bible…so foundational, if we miss these truths in Genesis 1–11, then we will miss the entire point of the Bible. It sets the stage for everything. The truths here show us why we even need the rest of the Bible.

What I want us to think about today is just the mammoth truths about who God is, and who we are as a part of creation, and the truth about Satan and sin and the need for redemption. I want us to see over the course of this year, as we read through the Bible chronologically, I want us to see the grand story of Scripture. I want us to see how it’s not just a bunch of fragmented writings and stories. I want us to see how they all fit together in one grand story.

So, this morning we’re going to look at “Prologue” and really look at the whole of Genesis 1– 11, and then the last week of the year, end of 2010, we will look at the “Epilogue” where the story ends, but the reality is the story never really ends. In the middle, I want you to see how the Bible is one grand story of redemption. We’re going to split that story up in the middle…prologue, epilogue, and six parts in the middle.

Kind of like with a book…sometimes maybe you have different parts. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and then different chapters, and that’s kind of the route we’re going to take this year. I want you to see six parts of Scripture and parts of the biblical story, and then every sermon will be a chapter, so to speak. So, we’ve got “Prologue,” 50 chapters, and then “Epilogue” at the end. I just want you to see how it all comes together to show us how God redeems His people for His great glory. We’re going to start this morning with these opening chapters in Genesis that we have been reading this week. What I want us to see is the nature of God, man and creation, and sin and Satan, and see how that points us to the need for redemption. Here we go…you ready?

The Nature of God …

Genesis 1–11 reminds us that He is the supreme Creator.

The nature of God. What do we discover about God from the very beginning of the story? We discover that God is the supreme Creator. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” That sentence alone…that verse alone could capture our attention the rest of the day. “In the beginning, God created…” which means that God was not created. He was there in the beginning. Who created God? No one created God. He was, is, and always will be, and He brought creation to an abrupt beginning.

 

Obviously, we know that there are theories and ideologies prevalent in our day that would seek to refute that reality. I love what Robert Zastrow said. He was the director at one time of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He wrote this:

The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same. This is an exceedingly strange development, unexpected by all but the theologians. They have always believed the word of the Bible, but we scientists did not expect to find evidence for an abrupt beginning because we have had, until recently, such extraordinary success in tracing the chain of cause and effect backward in time.

He wrote,

It seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance. He is about to conquer the highest peak. As he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.

God is the supreme Creator. He is transcendent above all creation. This means as the supreme Creator, He is distinct from creation. God is not a part of creation; creation is not a part of God. God is supreme over and above, transcendent over creation. The supreme Creator.

Genesis 1–11 reminds us that He is the sovereign King.

As the supreme Creator, He is also the sovereign King. His sovereignty means that He exercises kingly rule and power over all creation. There is nothing…absolutely nothing…in Genesis 1 that is happening that is not under His control, and for that matter, there is nothing…absolutely nothing…that happens in Genesis 3 that is also not under His control. Everything is under His kingly rule and reign.

Genesis 1–11 reminds us that He is the righteous Judge.

Third, He is the righteous Judge. As God creates things under His rule, He establishes laws that govern His creation, and they’re evident in Genesis 2 and in Genesis 3, as you know, they are disregarded. Immediately, we see God as the righteous Judge, who judges sin, and all of His judgments are right; all of His judgments are pure; all of His judgments are holy. This is clear all throughout Genesis 1–11. When God brings the Flood, this is right, pure, holy, and this is a deafening reality for our lives. Ladies and gentlemen, every single one of us in this room will one day stand before God as judge. He will judge you in your sin, and He will be just.

Genesis 1–11 reminds us that He is the merciful Savior.

God is not only the righteous Judge, though; He is also the merciful Savior. He is a Creator and Judge who is not indifferent to our needs. He is supremely loving and infinitely good, and whether it’s His grace and mercy that we see even before sin entered the world, or right as sin does enter the world, we see a picture here in Genesis 1–11 of God as merciful Savior.

This is the portrait of God that we see…supreme Creator, sovereign King, righteous Judge, merciful Savior…from the very foundation of Scripture. He is all these things at all times. He is not a Judge at one time and a merciful Savior at another time. He is always a righteous Judge and a merciful Savior. Always supreme Creator and sovereign King. These are never compromised in the character of God, all throughout Scripture or in our lives all throughout history.

The Nature of Creation …

Fashioned by the Word of God.

I want us to look first at the nature of creation. Creation…according to Genesis 1 specifically…fashioned by the Word of God. “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. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” All He did was say something, and it was. He spoke and light. “He spoke,” it says it over and over again. Verse 6…you can just underline it. Verse 3: “God said…” Verse 6: “God said…” Verse 9: “And God said…” Verse 11: “And God said…” Verse 14: “And God said…” Verse 20: “And God said…” Verse 24: “And God said…” Verse 26: “Then God said…” God is speaking, and everything in the universe is coming into existence in response to His word. All creation formed by His word, subject to His word.

Sustained by the power of God.

Creation is fashioned by the word of God and sustained by the power of God. See the omnipotence of God all over Genesis 1. The stars are put and held in their place by the power of God. The oceans stop at the land at this precise point because of the power of God. The sun and the moon rise and fall as they do on the earth according to the power of God. He is sustaining every single thing. Every single fish of the sea and bird of the air and creature on the ground is sustained by Him. Man is sustained. The reality that our breath…the only reason you and I draw breath at this moment is because God is sustaining our breath.

The only reason our heart is beating at this moment is because God Himself is sustaining our hearts. Even if you were here this morning and you hated God, the reality is your breath right now comes from the very one you hate. God sustains all of creation…every detail of creation…by His power. If He were to withdraw His power for a split second, everything in the universe would cease to exist in that split second. Students, as you sit in your science class, and you hear about how climates change and plants grow and bodies work, and they’re attributed to all of these theories and rules that govern creation, know this: not one of those things is self-sustaining; every single one of those things is God-sustaining.

See the glory of Christ here. Hebrews 1:3 says, “He upholds the universe by the word of his power.” Colossians 1:17: “In [Christ] all things hold together.”

Evidence of the goodness of God.

Fashioned by the word of God, sustained by the power of God, and creation is evidence of the goodness of God. You know; you’ve read; you’ve heard, starting on the third day, “God saw that it was good…” verse 10. Genesis 1:12: “God saw that it was good.” Verse 18: “God saw that it was good,” and so on and so on, all the way to the end of the chapter. Genesis 1:31: “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”

This is not some standard of goodness that is outside of or apart from God. This is goodness that emanates from God. The creation is a reflection of all the beauty and infinite loveliness and goodness that is found in God. Creation reflecting that. All the order and all the beauty in creation, resounding to the glory of God as a reflection of the goodness of God. So, when we see all the wonderful things in creation, they point us…Romans 1 says…to the character of God. This is the picture of creation, including man.

The Nature of Man …

Created in the image of God …

Think with me now about man as a part of creation, especially before sin enters the world. This is the verse 27 that we have been memorizing this week. So, Genesis 1:27…not the easiest verse for two and three-year-olds to memorize, but memorizable. With enough hand motions, anything can happen. So, Genesis 1:27…if you know it, say it with me. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” I don’t know how many of those words my sons even understand, but they’ve got it memorized.

So what does that mean? God created us in His own image. We were sitting there last night, family night. We built a fort in the den, and we were having family worship under the fort. We were talking about, “What does it mean, guys…two and three-year-old Joshua and Caleb? What does it mean to be made in the image of God?” Heather and I kind of look at each other, and we’re like, “I don’t know…like, how do we explain this?”

How do we explain it to us as we see this three times in these first eleven chapters? Genesis 1:26, Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 9:6 all talk about how we were made in the image of God, but not one time do we really see it spelled out what this means. So, based on this picture of creation and man, how are we to understand what it means to be made in His image? Well, think about what we do see in this text. To be created in the image of God, we are a unique reflection of God in a way that is different from everything else in all creation.

We are crafted as a reflection of God. Now, we know there are obvious extreme differences between us and God that separate us from God, but there’s something about who we are that is different from everything else in all creation, that is a reflection of our Creator. When someone says about a boy, “He is the spitting image of his father,” there’s some sense in which you look at man or woman, look at any one of us in this room, and say, “He or she is a reflection of God,” in a way that nothing else in creation can say.

To be in the image of God is to be utterly reliant upon God. Not just in the sense that we talked about earlier, that our every breath, our every heartbeat is dependent upon God and reliant upon God, but that our very nature, our makeup, our character, who we are made to be, is dependent on the nature, makeup, the very character of God Himself. Don’t miss this: to be made in the image of God means that we are ultimately responsible to God, and this is huge in Genesis 1, 2, and 3. We need to see this. We like to think of ourselves in charge. We set our own pace. We make our own rules. We chart our own course, but the biblical doctrine of creation goes totally against that kind of thinking, because the reality is, everything we have, we have been given from God. Everything we have, including our very breath, and every one of us is responsible to God for how we use everything He has given to us. The mantra in our day is that you are accountable to no one. At most, you are accountable to yourself. “Be true to yourself.” Not true! To every man, woman, boy, and girl in this room, you are accountable to God. Responsible to God for what you do and say.

Oh, this is so against the grain, even in common psychology in our day that attributes what we do… “We are factors of this or this,” and “You couldn’t help it, you were this.” The reality is every single one of us is responsible for what we say and do. Ultimately responsible to God for these things. Now, I want you to see here one of the mysteries of creation from the very beginning of creation…God’s sovereignty, man’s responsibility. They’re both here. Genesis 2, man is given commands, and in Genesis 3, we see that man has a choice…has some sense of freedom by which he either chooses to obey that command or disobey that command.

So, man is responsible for the choices he makes, and so we see God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. God is in control of every single detail here. God’s in control, and at the same time, we are making choices, and to minimize either of those is to drift into error. From the very beginning of Scripture, we see a tension between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man, and we resist this responsibility. We see it here in Genesis 3. As soon as man sins, what does he do? He shifts the responsibility; he shifts the blame, doesn’t he? “Adam, what have you done?” What does Adam say? “She did it.” “Eve, what have you done?” What does she say? “Serpent did it.” It’s deeper than even just blaming one another and shifting responsibility to another. Listen to what Adam says in 3:12: “The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me.’” “You’re the one who put her here.” Man is shifting responsibility to God for his own sin, and the biblical truth that we must see in the beginning of Scripture is that you and I are responsible, accountable to God.

Just let this soak in. Teenagers, you are accountable to the God of the universe for every decision you are making right now. College students, you are accountable to the God of the universe for every single decision you are making right now. Every single, every husband, every wife, every mom, every dad, grandmom, granddad…your decisions are not small. They are big, and they are accountable. You are accountable to the God of the universe. It’s humbling. A reflection of God. Relying on God for our very makeup. Responsible to God.

Created for the purpose of God …

We’re not just created in His image, though. Right after we see verse 27, we see the purpose for which we were created in verse 28. We’re not here haphazardly. We’re here for a reason. Genesis 1:28 says, “God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” We are created in the image of God for the purpose of God. What’s the purpose of God?

Well, first it’s to enjoy a relationship with God. First words, “God blessed them…” The pure, unadulterated, beautiful, bountiful, full, free blessing of God unhindered upon man. See this picture of man…and you see it in Genesis 2…man enjoying God, walking with God, fellowshipping with God in wonderful beauty. This is what we were created for. When we asked under the fort last night, “What does it mean to be made in the image of God,” Caleb’s first response was, “It means that God loves us.”

I said, “Buddy, I am totally writing that one down.” That’s so true. We were created with the capacity to know God and relate to God in a way that nothing else in creation was; created to enjoy and delight in God. Think of it! Then, second, to rule over all creation. The responsibility that God has given us…Genesis 1:28 says, “Subdue the earth. Have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” We read this week Psalm 8:5–6 which talks about how God has made us a little lower than the heavenly beings. He’s crowned us with glory and honor given us dominion over the works of God’s hands. Psalm 8:6 says, “[God] has put all things under our feet.” Talk about responsibility…there’s an order, there’s a rank here. Obviously, everything is ultimately subject to God. We are subject to God, but the picture in Genesis 1:28 and Psalm 8 is that creation is subject to us…which is why, when we see man fall in Genesis 3, we also see creation fall as well into bondage and to decay. We were created to enjoy God, to rule over creation, and to reproduce God’s glory to the ends of the earth. “Fill the earth, multiply it with my image. Take my image that you have been crafted in and multiply it to the ends of the earth.”

We’ve talked about this before. We were created to enjoy God’s grace and extend God’s glory. This is the whole point of the sin in Genesis 11, right? Tower of Babel. Instead of scattering and multiplying, what were they doing? They were settling to one place. They were living in direct disobedience to the command of God to scatter. Not only that, but they were building a tower for themselves, which was total disregard for the glory of God. That’s the sin in Genesis 11…total disobedience to the command of God to scatter, total disregard for the glory of God by making a name for themselves.

They were living contrary to the very purpose for which they had been created. So, get the picture before sin entered the world. Just picture with me a moment the beauty of Genesis 1 and 2. God having fashioned creation by His word, sustained by His power, evidence of His goodness in all of its beauty. Man enjoying creation in perfect harmony. Enjoying God in perfect delight, in perfect fellowship. Like, you see this picture in Genesis 1 and 2. Don’t you want that? Don’t you want to know God that purely? Don’t you want to experience physical life, total harmony with creation? What a picture here!

The Nature of Satan …

Significant truths …

Yet, when we get to Genesis 3, enter the nature of Satan. Now, there’s not an explicit reference to Satan here, but we do see Revelation 2:9 calls Satan “that ancient serpent who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.” Same thing in Revelation 20:2. The picture is Satan… “serpent called the devil and Satan.” So, what do we learn from the beginning about Satan? First, I want to show you a couple of significant truths that are huge to hold onto, both here in the beginning of the Bible as well as the rest of Scripture.

When we think about the devil and demons…significant truths. First, God is Creator, and Satan is creature. Now, this seems obvious, seems evident, but don’t miss the point here. Satan is not the supreme creator. When it comes to the Creator/creature divide, Satan’s on our side of this divide. He is not supreme. He is not omnipotent. He is not sustaining all things. He is not sovereign. God is sovereign, and Satan is subordinate. God is in control of all things. Satan is controlled, and that’s a huge truth. This is not dualism.

Dualism is kind of a Star Wars kind of picture of good and evil battling together, warring against one another, and you don’t know who’s going to come out in the end. There’s two equal forces warring against each other. Absolutely not. Here in Scripture from the very beginning, this is not dualism; this is total domination. This is God supreme and Satan subordinate, from the very beginning here. This is important to remember. When we get to Job in a few weeks, know this: there’s not one page in the book of Job where Satan is sovereign. God is sovereign and in control in the whole picture.

When we see…even sooner than that…when we see Joseph sold into slavery, God is in control of every bit of that. When we see all these evil kings in Israel’s history, know this: God’s in control of every single bit of that. When we get to the New Testament, when we see Christ sentenced and tried and nailed to a cross, know this: God’s in control of every single detail there. When we see Christians advancing to the nations and being killed as a result, God’s in control of every single detail there. When we get to the end of this story, and there’s a cosmic battle for the souls of men and women in all history, know this: God will still be in control of every single detail of that. This is important to remember from the very beginning.

Significant characteristics …

Now, a couple of significant characteristics about Satan from the beginning here in Genesis 3. First, he can speak, and he is smart. Satan is not a fool. He is cunning and knows how to attack. He goes to Eve, who did not directly hear the command of God regarding the tree in Genesis 2. He begins with a seemingly innocent question: “Did God really say this?” Then, he begins to talk to her about what she is missing out on, and begins to promise her…don’t miss it…Satan promising goodness apart from God. He is cunning. He is smart. See Satan’s schemes here. He does not come to you or me dressed in a cape with a pitchfork saying, “I am Satan, the murderer of your soul. Follow me.” This is not the way things work. He comes to us in music we hear or things we watch or affections we are gripped by in this culture. Or maybe it’s an extremely brilliant pagan professor on your campus.

He comes to us in ways that we would totally not expect. An angel of light, Scripture talks about, and in the context of truth, he begins to twist it, and he begins to promise you goodness. He doesn’t say, “Follow me, and you’ll experience destruction.” He says, “Do this and it will be better. It will be really, really good. Totally worth it.” See his schemes and resist him, brothers and sisters; resist him. He is a malicious liar and an evil murderer. He twists God’s truth, and his deception leads to death. This is what Jesus told us in John 8: “When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies, and he is a murderer.” Now, this is the picture we see here from the very beginning in Genesis 3.

The Nature of Sin …

Now, how does it happen? The nature of sin. Now, as we think about this, think about this in light of Romans 5:12: “Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men because all sinned.” Romans 5 teaches very clearly that we have inherited a sinful nature from who? From Adam. So, when we read the story of Adam and Eve, this is not a story about others…two people long ago in history. This is a story about who? A story about us.

The core of sin …

See, in Genesis 3, a reflection, brothers and sisters…see a reflection of our hearts in their sinful condition. See ourselves in this picture. What is this nature of sin about? Well, it’s at the core of what’s going on here. This is more than just eating a fruit; this is deeper. What does it boil down to? Three facets: sin is…quoting Genesis 3…first, it’s rejecting God’s Word. Genesis 3:1 is the first question in the Bible. “Did God actually say this? Eve, let’s talk about God’s Word and think about how we feel about it.” All of a sudden, God’s Word is suddenly being reduced to a question.

One writer said, “For the first time, the most deadly spiritual force was covertly smuggled into the world: the assumption that what God has said is subject to human judgment.” That’s exactly it. We read the story, and we think, “Well, what’s so wrong with knowing good and evil?” The picture is deeper than just knowing good and evil here in Genesis 3. The picture is that of determining good and evil; determining what is good, determining what is evil. Becoming the arbiter of truth. Deciding on my own what I think is good and what I think is evil, and living according to those standards.

See in this the relativism that pervades, not just our culture, but cultures of the world today that say what is wrong is based on how you feel, how you perceive things. There’s no absolute right or wrong. See this, not just in the relativism of our culture; see this in our own hearts and our own lives whenever we are tempted to sin. Whenever we sin, we are saying…no matter how small the sin might be in our lives, we are saying, “I know what is true and what is good, so I’ll choose for myself what is good instead of accepting His Word. I determine what is good for me, not God.”

In the process of rejecting His Word, we spurn God’s authority. When we look at God’s Word as a lesser authority, we assert our supreme authority over God Himself. We assert our independence from God. “God, you may be the author of my life, but you’re not the authority in my life. I choose what I do, not you. I’m in control here, not you.” We think of what an affront this is in light of what we have seen in creation, for God to say to the stars, “You go there,” and they respond in immediate obedience. Waves to stop, “You stop here,” and they respond in immediate obedience.

The sun and the moon to go here and there at these different times. The fish of the sea and the birds of the air and the creatures of the ground to move according to His bidding. All of creation responding in absolute obedience to the Creator, and then you and I looking at our Creator in the face, and when He says to do something, we look at Him and say, “No. No, I’m the authority here.” Ultimately, we not only reject His Word and spurn His authority, but we deny God’s character.

Oh, see the essence of sin here. Eve trusted herself instead of God. She trusted herself instead of the good, wise, loving Creator that had fashioned her, made her. She believed that she knew what was good for her better than God did. Isn’t this the essence of sin? Think about it. Any time you or I sin, see that it’s more than just this action, no matter how small or big we may measure it according to our standards. See the core here. At the core, the horror of the thought that any time I’ve sinned in my own life, I’ve said to God, “Your Word is not for me, and I reject and spurn your authority in my life, and I do not trust that you are good. I trust that I know what is good far better than you do,” and so I do this or avoid this.

The conflict brought about by sin …

Feel the horror of sin. Think. This is us…this is you, me. What happens? The conflict results from rejecting His Word and spurning His authority, denying His character. The conflict is expansive, and it’s conflict between man and God. Isn’t it interesting that, as man wanted to be like God, He found Himself totally separated from God? Now, man finds Himself in guilt, a loss of innocence. For the first time, man felt the sting of his conscience and shame, trying to cover themselves. Ashamed to even be seen by God. Fear…just think of the contrast here.

In Genesis 2, what was the supreme delight…fellowship with the presence of God…in a matter of moments is now the supreme terror…running from God, hiding from God. Whereas they used to run to God to enjoy Him in boundless love, now they are running away from God, fearing even being near Him, afraid of Him. Guilt and shame and fear, but not just conflict between God and man. The conflict goes deeper. Conflict between man and woman, as real as God’s curses upon Adam and Eve were and the effects of sin in their relationship with God. See how this union that was so absolutely beautiful in 2:24–25.

 

The union between a man and woman and the most intimate of human relationships is now filled with pain and sorrow and struggle for power and marked by conflict. Woman no longer wanting to lovingly submit to her husband’s leadership, and a husband no longer leading his wife with sacrificial care and love and concern for the one that God has entrusted to him. Do you see conflict here? Mark this down. This is not in your notes, just remember this: every sin before God affects the people around us.

There is always a vertical and horizontal effect of sin, and there is no sin in our lives before God that does not also have a disastrous effect…maybe small, maybe big…but an effect on the lives of those around us. Don’t buy the lie from the Adversary that you’re in this, and you’re giving yourself to this, but it’s not affecting anyone else around you. It is affecting everyone around you, including those who are most close to you. Feel the weight of the vertical/horizontal effects of sin.

Then, it goes even deeper: conflict between man and creation. Whether it’s pain in childbearing or the curse upon the ground, the harmony that we see between man and creation is gone, totally disrupted. All the good things in creation have fallen with man, leaving toil and trouble for man.

The consequences of sin …

This leads, ultimately, to the consequences of sin. God had said, “If you sin, you will surely die,” and God is faithful. He’s faithful, and so we see a picture of immediate spiritual death. They’re still alive, but we see very quickly that to live is to live in unhindered fellowship with God. Immediately, man is separated from God, cast out of the Garden, blocked from the tree of life, eternal life. Picture enjoying eternal life with God…blocked from that, and eventual physical death. It doesn’t take long, does it? We hit the next chapter, Genesis 4. We see the effects. We see sin now rampant, leading to murder. Then, you get to Genesis 5, and it’s so depressing, isn’t it? The end of every paragraph. Think, this was just unimaginable at the end of Genesis 2, but then by Genesis 5:5, “All the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died.” Then, Seth…verse 8…he died. Enosh, and he died. Kenan, and he died.

Over and over and over again you have this one, like, bright, refreshing couple of verses in 21–24 with Enoch. Isn’t that a great little paragraph? “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” What a commentary on life right there. Like, you walk with God…one preacher of old said it was as if God and Enoch were walking together one day, and it got near the end of the day, and God said to Enoch, “Well, we’re closer to my place than we are yours, so why don’t you just come be with me?” I don’t know how theologically correct, but enjoyable to at least think about.

However, the picture is otherwise, “then he died,” “and he died,” “and he died.” This picture of physical death. The reality is…don’t miss this…the reality is for every one of us in this room, the reality we’re confronted with here in Genesis 3. Hear this…because I know that maybe the greatest lie of the Adversary in any one of our lives is his attempt to convince us that when we die on this earth, first of all, to live as if eternity is not even a possibility. To live like the things that matter today are most important as opposed to the things that will last for all of eternity, but then when we die, to convince us that, “Well, when you die you’ll just go off to the happy hunting grounds, or you’ll go through this black tunnel and see some light, or reincarnation. Or maybe you just cease to exist.” It’s not true. It’s a lie of the Adversary. There are effects of sin, yes, in physical death that we will all experience, and in an eternal spiritual death separated from the blessing of God. Immediate spiritual death, eventual physical death.

The Need for Redemption …

Genesis 1–11 gives us glimpses of grace …

Aren’t you glad the Bible doesn’t stop at Genesis 11? Know this: the Bible could stop at Genesis 11, and God would be completely holy and righteous and merciful and loving and all that’s in His character, but, thankfully, we have a chronicle of redemption, and this Bible reading plan does not just last one week. What I want you to see is the stage is set here in Genesis 1–11 for the need for redemption to come, but I want you to see how, even in these first few chapters, there are glimpses of grace and threads of hope. We’re going to run through them quickly, but I want you to see them. I want you to see them clearly.

We see here in the very beginning, Genesis 3, sin enters the world, this glimpse of grace: the promise of Christ. Genesis 3:15 talked about, in the middle of the entrance of sin into the world, what Christians for centuries have called the “protoeuangelion” or “the first gospel.” A promise from God that, yes, there will be enmity between you and the woman, serpent, and between your offspring and her offspring. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. This is a picture of a forthcoming battle between Christ and the serpent, and the serpent will be crushed.

Romans 16:20, Paul says it: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” The picture is in the very beginning, the entrance of sin in the world…Martin Luther said, “This verse…” verse 15 “…embraces and comprehends within itself everything noble and glorious that is to be found anywhere in the Scriptures.” That God in the very beginning of sin entering the world would immediately give this promise. It’s not that God just thought, “Oh, man, things are not working out the way they were supposed to, so what shall I do?” He comes up with this plan on the spot and says, “I’m going to send Jesus.”

No. This is a picture that was known and ordained by the sovereign God, King of all creation, from the very beginning. Before the creation of the world, Ephesians 1 talks about, God had set in motion already a plan to bring men and women in their sin back to Himself, to redeem them, to rescue them from sin. It comes through this promise of Christ from the very beginning. Not just the promise of Christ…another glimpse of grace here…the presence of a covenant. The other really dark part of Genesis 1–11 is Genesis 6–9, right? The Flood. Not a good day. Not a good few days. Picture the judgment of God.

However, go to Genesis 6 with me real quick. Look at Genesis 6:18. It’s the first time we see this word. It’s an extremely important word all throughout Scripture. “Covenant.” We’re going to talk about it more next week, but just circle it here in verse 18, because I want you to see from the very beginning, the first mention of this word, verse 18: “I will establish my covenant with you.” Circle it there. A covenant is a promise from God. An agreement, a promise from God toward His people that He will bless them, provide for them, in accordance with terms of the covenant for the purpose that God sets out.

This is a covenant we see here with Noah. We’re going to see a covenant with Abraham, with Moses. We’re going to see God establishing a people through covenants. That’s what He’s doing from the very beginning here with Noah. The covenant here is to save a people for Himself. Amidst all that will experience His judgment, God is calling out a people by His grace to Himself here in Noah. Promising…don’t miss it…to preserve His creation. Not to do this again among His creation. You have the sign of the covenant. So, the picture here is in the middle of this dark picture of Flood. Covenant reappears in Genesis 9 over and over and over again when God talks about this covenant that He’s made with Noah. The picture is God showing us a glimpse of His grace in the middle of this extreme picture of judgment. Righteous judge, merciful savior at all times. Not only glimpses of grace.

I want to show you these glimpses of grace and these threads of hope. Now, in order to see these threads of hope, I’m going to do what you’re totally not supposed to do when it comes to a story, and I’m going to take us to the end, like, from the very beginning, but it’s worth it. Go with me to Revelation 20, and I want to show you…I want to go ahead and show you…I mean it’s a long time until week 52 of this process. So, I want to go ahead and

show you some of the Epilogue from the beginning of the Prologue. I want to show you where this story is headed.

Genesis 1–11 leaves us holding onto hope …

I want you to think about all that we’ve seen so far, and I want you to think about how we’ve got threads of hope. Even as we’re seeing sin and Satan, I want you to see hope in the middle of this. I want you to see a hope that you can hold onto. As you read through the Bible this year, and as you see different things, I want you to have hope that’s gripping you, anchoring you. Not just as you read through the Bible this year, but as you walk through your life this year, be anchored with these threads of hope.

Revelation 20…first anchor of hope that we hear about in Genesis 1–11, that we see in the Epilogue at the end of the story. First, Satan will be defeated. Now, we saw this promised in Genesis 3:15. He’s going to be crushed. Now, I want you to see this in Revelation 20:10. There’s so much in this passage we could talk about, but verse 10 we will talk about. “The devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” And ever and ever and ever.

Trampled, crushed, vanquished forever. So, when you see the tactics of the Adversary, the lives of those in this story, know this: every time you see his tactics, know his future, and when you experience his temptations in your own life, and when you struggle with the temptation of sin in your own life, know this: you are struggling against a defeated foe, and he has no power over you. Do not underestimate. He is smart, cunning, liar, deceiver, but he is defeated. Not only is he defeated, the end of the story tells us sin will be destroyed.

Sin will be destroyed.

Revelation 21:1: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city…” no sin “…the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” It goes on to talk about no more tears, no more pain, no more mourning, no more crying. You get to the very end of this chapter, listen to this. Verse 27: “Nothing unclean will ever enter it, no anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” The picture is purity, holiness…sin gone.

Sin gone and all the effects of sin gone. So, when you see the disastrous affects of sin in this story…when you’re surrounded by, in this life, the disastrous affects of sin, know this. Hold onto this hope: there’s coming a day when sin will be gone and destroyed, and it will not affect you and it will not affect your family any more. There will be no more crying and no more pain and no more sorrow from sin. It’ll be gone. Satan defeated. Sin will be destroyed. God’s creation will be restored. That’s the whole picture here in Revelation 21.

A new heaven. A new earth. The picture is creation restored. This is what Paul talked about in Romans 8. We long for this day. Creation longs for this day when everything will be made right and new and whole. The picture that we long for in Genesis 1–2 will be a reality.

 

Creation restored, and God’s people will be rescued. We will be His people. Says in 21:6: “I am the Alpha and the Omega the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”

Without payment; the payment is gone. Rescued. Freed from the payment, and we saw this. We see this hope in Genesis, don’t we? Genesis 3, we see a picture…God is seeking the guilty. When man is hiding in his sin, what does God do in the Garden? He seeks after man. Think of it. Adam and Eve running from God. You and I in our lives running from God. Praise God, He comes running after us! He seeks the guilty; covers the shameful. He did it in Genesis 3. He took the skin of an animal…a sacrifice…to cover over the shame of the man and woman and their sin.

Foretaste of the day when God would take a spotless lamb in His Son and His sacrifice on the cross and through His sacrifice would cover over all the shame of our sin and wickedness. God seeks the guilty, He covers the shameful, and He protects the fearful. This is my favorite part. When Adam and Eve sinned, Genesis 3:24 said, “He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” Man separated from the tree of life…this picture of eternal life with God. Man totally separated from it.

You get to Revelation 22, check this out: “The angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. Also on either side of the river the tree of…” what? “…life, with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” It was a picture of curse in Genesis 3. Revelation 22:3: “No longer will there be anything accursed. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.”

Verse 4, underline these five words: “They will see his face.” Hold onto this hope when life is difficult and hurtful, and you don’t know where the light is at the end of the tunnel. Hold onto this hope. One day, you are going to see His face and experience life with Him. Where we don’t even need a sun because the light of God and His presence is our light. This is great hope. Satan will be defeated, sin will be destroyed, creation will be restored, and we will be rescued, people of God, and ultimately, God’s name will be praised for all of eternity as our King and our Creator and our Judge and our Savior.

Genesis 1–11 points us to the centrality of Christ …

I want us to leave with this thought. This is most important. Out of everything we’ve talked about, this is most important as we walk through the rest of this year, and even for our lives in here this morning as we respond to this Word. Genesis 1–11 points us to the centrality of Christ. Here’s the deal: the Bible is a story of redemption that spans from creation to re-creation. A picture, I hope, we have seen this morning is Genesis 1–2, creation in all of its beauty, all of its loveliness. God, man and creation in perfect harmony. Beautiful picture in Genesis 1–2; no sin.

The picture at the end of the Bible, Revelation 21 and 22, same picture. New heaven, new earth, God with His people, no sin. The rest of the Bible in between is the story of how you get from Genesis 3 to Revelation 21. It’s a story of how God is redeeming His people for His glory. That’s what the Bible is about, and what we need to realize is the only way redemption is possible is through a Redeemer. What that means is…don’t miss it…everything in this story is intended to point us to our Redeemer.

David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

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