Genesis 3:20-24 | When God is Believed | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: Genesis 3:20–3:24
Turn to Genesis 3 for the final time—probably. I’ve entitled the message this morning, “When God is Believed.” We’ll be in Genesis 3:20-24 this morning.
20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 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.
Where were you six years ago? Six years ago this summer? Do you remember that far back? Some in here weren’t even born. Some had been born, even then, a long time. Six years ago this summer (2012, if my math is correct, and it’s not always) I was at a camp—the same camp our students just got back from, Camp Regeneration—the same place, Glorietta, New Mexico. And it was truly a memorable experience. Pastor Jason was there. He was not a pastor at that time. He was the one running that camp. That was his first year running that camp.
Will was there. He was just a seminary student, no pastor, kind of fresh from Afghanistan. He was there serving in the high school ministry of the church that we all previously attended. We were there for summer camp. Now, I preached, as have the other men, at a number of summer camps and winter camps and youth events and things like that. This year, 2012, will always stick out in my mind.
Hearing stories of the past six years of how many students were converted by the gospel which was presented at this camp is astounding. I still hear about it. Even just about a month ago, I heard of another student pointing back to their salvation happening when the gospel of Christ was presented to them at that camp. Camp Regeneration 2012 will always have a soft spot in my heart.
One of the messages preached at that camp was a message on Matthew 26 on the difference between Peter and Judas and what they did after they sinned. They both felt remorse. But one went to Christ, and he’s the one who was redeemed by Christ. And the call for all the students at that camp was to go to Christ. He’s your first love. When you sin, you go to him.
Another message preached at that camp was on the exclusivity of Christ. Christ is the only way for salvation. That was one of the things taught at that camp. You see that in this concentrated effort, that there was the gospel message, after gospel conversation in small group, after gospel exhortation by youth leaders throughout the day. There was just this concentration of gospel ministry for these students.
Another message was Psalm 2 where the nations declare, we don’t want any of God. We don’t want his Son; we don’t want his anointed; we don’t want his bonds around us; we don’t want his shackles around us. Isn’t that what the world seems to say today? They think of Christianity as being constraining, when really Christianity is about life. The end of Psalm 2 exhorts the listener in this way.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
That was an exhortation to the students at that time.
I preached a message on Revelation 12, God’s final defeat of Satan, showing students that Satan hated them and that God is the one that can free them from the tyranny of the evil one. There are a number of students at the time who are now adults and who are even part of this church who were at that camp. Taylor Blocker attributes her salvation to the gospel being heard at that camp.
A lot of powerful things happened there. Why? Because of the fame of the speakers? No. Because of the organization of the camp? No. Because Jesus Christ was presented. Jesus’ gospel was presented. Jesus said, when he was living on earth, I will be raised up and I will draw all men to myself. I will be raised up on a cross, and because of his death, people from all over the world will come to him. That was a promise, and Jesus has kept it for thousands of years. He kept it in 2012 at that summer camp. He keeps it today.
He is still doing that salvation work. Why is this important? Because when the saving message of God is proclaimed, people believe. It happens. How many of you were saved after hearing the gospel? And, by the way, that’s the only way to be saved. How many of you were saved after hearing the gospel in a church setting? How many? A lot. How many of you were saved after hearing the gospel outside of church? A lot. It’s not the environment. It’s the message that saves.
Adam was evidently saved in the garden. We’ll see that in a little bit. How many of you were saved when you were young? Young is—let’s see, I’m 40 almost 41—young is under 42. How many of you were saved when you were older? Wow. How many of you were saved when you read something in the Bible? A number. How many of you were saved when you heard the gospel articulated to you? Yeah.
The message of the gospel changes lives, saves sinners. It does that converting work to make them new in Christ. This passage shows us what happens after the gospel is proclaimed. After the gospel is proclaimed, things happen. This message will show us what happens after the gospel is proclaimed. Now, here’s the first thing that happens when the gospel is proclaimed.
1. People Believe
People trust that message. They trust that announcement. You see this in verse 20. Now, before we jump into verse 20, I’ll remind you of what I reminded you of last week. Genesis 3:15 is the first gospel message preached, the first explicit reference to Christ in the Scriptures. This is the first place the gospel is mentioned in the Scriptures—Genesis 3:15. He’s saying this to the serpent. “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.”
We know that this is a reference to Christ; therefore, this is the first announcement of Christ. This is the first place that salvation is promised through the seed of the woman. So what happens after that gospel message is proclaimed? First, people believe. People will trust God that that message, that statement, is accurate. They will trust in that message. Look at verse 20. “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. This is Adam believing God. I’ll explain that in a moment.
But let’s just note for a second, Adam starts leading again. Adam fell down on the job of his leadership earlier in the chapter. He allowed his dear wife to be tempted by the serpent and did nothing about it. He didn’t protect; but now, evidently, he’s going back to his leadership position. Remember when he was naming the animals earlier in Genesis 2? As a way to show that he’s now leading, he’s responsible, here he’s doing the same. The man called his wife’s name Eve. Before, she was simply called woman or his wife. Now she’s got a name, Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.
Now, Eve means life. Eve means life. What did God say would happen if they ate of the tree? They would die. So why in the world is Adam naming his wife Life? He should be naming her Death or Dust. I’m not saying that would go over well at the dinner table, but that’s what her name should be as should his name. Death or Dust.
This is showing us that Adam believed that, because of the one who would eventually come from her, Adam believed that there would be life in that one. That one later on down the line would give life. Adam is here believing the message about the seed that would come from the woman, Christ. Adam didn’t know he would be called Christ. He didn’t know he would be born in Bethlehem. He didn’t know any of that, but he knew one was coming from her line that would give life when they deserved death.
So this is Adam saying, we deserve death; you promise life; her name is Life. This is belief. This is faith. It is belief in what God has said. And this is the way that salvation has always come to sinners. You believe in what God has promised. It’s not your belief that saves you. It’s what you believe in that saves you. God will make a way of salvation by his Son, by the Promised One, by the One that came from Eve.
Now, sometimes people get this mixed up. They think that the Old Testament taught salvation by works. If you do this many sacrifices on these days, go to these festivals, you will be right with God. The Bible never teaches that. It never teaches that. Maybe if you’re circumcised to prove that you are Jewish in the line of Abraham, you’ll be saved. The Bible doesn’t teach that. In fact, it makes clear that that’s not how one is saved. Listen to Romans 4:3. “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’”
Belief is always the way of salvation. Not just belief in any old thing, by the way either, belief in Jesus Christ the one who gives life instead of death. Belief, faith, trust are all synonyms. Believing, trusting, having faith in Jesus is the only way to have eternal life. This is God’s plan.
Years later, Jesus would come on the scene, and he would be teaching and doing miracles. Many would flock to him, some for the right reasons and some for the wrong reasons. They just wanted the benefits without the following. He was interested in having people follow. Jesus preaches and as he preaches some things that are difficult, many of his “disciples” turned away, proving that they really weren’t willing to follow him. The demands were too difficult.
66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
So notice what Peter says at the end of that statement. He says the same thing Adam would have said. He claims to know that Jesus is the Holy One of God. Adam knew that there would be one coming that would give life from God. Peter and Adam both know that. Peter says that you have the words of eternal life. God announced that there would be a savior coming in Genesis 3:15. Adam believed that. He believed the word of God. And he believed the word of God would bring life. Peter knew that. Adam knew that.
The way you obtain salvation is the same from Adam on until now. You believe God’s message of salvation, the one is coming who will give you life despite your sin. Can you trust in him? Christ! Adam knew that his sin had caused all of this pain. Now he’s determining to believe in God’s promised holy one as the remedy for sin. This is the way salvation happens.
So, I asked you different questions about the environment you were saved in, the way you were saved, whether it was reading or hearing. There are different testimonies. If we go through everyone in this church and hear your Christian testimony, they all happened in different places, different locations, different times; but they all happened, in a sense, the very same way. You understood God’s announcement of salvation. And you trusted in that. You knew you were sinful and didn’t deserve life, but you trusted in that message of salvation. Whether that was in a very childlike way at four years old, or whether it was just four weeks ago, that’s the message that you believed.
It reminds me of a testimony of a young Chinese girl. She came over with her parents when she was young to the United States. Her father was actually converted after the 1950s in China. He was converted while he was in college. And she says that he would regularly present the gospel to her, the saving message of Christ. Growing up, she kept hearing the gospel. Here’s what she said.
I understood from the Bible, that Jesus had come to die on the cross, not only to show how deeply God loved us, but also to save us from our sins. The Bible says, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And that the wages of sin is death.
My problem was that I couldn’t come to terms with the idea of sin. In Chinese, the word sin and the word crime is the same word; therefore, sin sounded too big a word. It didn’t seem to apply to me, an 8- or 9-year-old child at the time. But God’s grace had its firm grip on me.
One day, during a conversation with my father, something stirred my heart. He said, Jesus is coming. We need to prepare ourselves to meet him. I knew in my heart I was not ready. My problem was standing in the way. With a sense of urgency, I prayed to God to help me understand how I was and still am a sinner.
That night as I was falling asleep, God brought to my mind various memories of things I’ve done. Images flashed through my mind, images of how I grumbled against my mother’s instruction, how I laughed secretly at my classmates for asking stupid questions in class, how I lied to my father one time.
I was jolted awake! I clearly saw that I was a sinner. I also realized that my bigger sin was that I had been so blind to my own sinfulness. At that moment I felt deeply sorry for sinning against God and against people.
Then she says this:
But strangely more than sorrow and guilt, there was an unspeakable joy and comfort in my heart. I knew that God had already solved my problem of sin, and he accepted me even though I was oblivious to my sinful state. I thanked God immediately that it is he who showed me and convicted me of my sins.
Finally, the missing link was found, and I was connected to the gospel in full. Now, Jesus is my Savior because he has borne my sins on that cross and has given me a hope that lights my future.
This girl came to be aware of her sin against a holy God. Adam knew about his sin against a holy God, but for some reason, that no longer dominated his thinking. What dominated his thinking? Life. We can have life again. That’s belief in the saving message of salvation, the saving message of God, the only way of salvation.
When God’s gospel is proclaimed, he uses that to save people. People believe. What else happens when the gospel is proclaimed?
2. God Atones
We see this in verse 21. Now, atone is a reparation for a wrong. God makes a wrong become right. He covers a wrong and makes it right. God atones. In the Bible, the blood of an innocent creature is said to cover the sin of another, said to atone for sin. Here God kills an animal to cover the shame, the sin, the consequences of Adam and Eve. God covers up their sin, as it were. Not in the sneaky Richard Nixon way, okay? He covers it up by punishing it in Christ and not considering it any more.
Verse 21: “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” Adam and his wife are ashamed of their nakedness, and God is the one who covers them and their shame. Now why is this such a big deal? Because he covered them with— does he say wool? No, he says skin. What needs to happen to get the skin of an animal? The animal needs to die.
This is the first death recorded in the Bible. An animal is executed because of Adam and Eve. They sin. Someone else pays. Someone else pays to cover the consequences of it. They feel bad. Someone else will pay, so that they can feel better. God kills an animal, clothes them with skin.
Now, the original readers of Genesis would have clearly understood this. The original readers are the Israelites in the wilderness. God’s given Moses this history of creation and beyond for them to understand who God is and how he works. They probably sacrificed that day when they first heard this account. We understand death for sin. We just went to the tabernacle and slaughtered a goat. We understand a bloody culture because of sin. They got that.
Someone else died, so they could be considered right with God. All pointing to the future sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Again, this isn’t wool. He didn’t sheer a sheep. There was an execution done in order for them to be right with God. And it would have been a violent death—blood all over the place. Why a death penalty for sin? Doesn’t that seem a little harsh?
It might be if you consider sin against someone else in a small way—like if someone takes something from you that’s worth $100 or so. Yeah, a death penalty might seem too harsh. But when you sin against a holy God who created you to commune with you, to enjoy a relationship with you, and for you to enjoy a relationship with him; when he created you that way, and you rebel against a holy God and desire your own way, death is the only logical consequence.
As I mentioned last week, it’s not about the transgression, but about the object of the transgression—the one whom you sin against. This is the beginning of a bloody Bible—a bloody Old Testament and a bloody New Testament. Death required for sin. You see that in the tabernacle sacrifices and in the temple sacrifices.
You see this when Jesus came. Jesus comes on the scene at the very beginning of his three-year ministry at the end of his life, and John the Baptist announces what? Behold the Lamb of God. When people heard “lambs,” the people thought slaughter. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Revelation 5. The Bible ends by praising the one who was slain, the Lamb who was slain. This is just the first place here in Genesis 3 where we get a picture of this reality. God atones for sin by the death of another. He atones for our sin by the death of his own Son, and he clothes them.
I find it fascinating. God didn’t just kill an animal and say, make a covering out of that. God is so gracious. He executes an animal, and he creates the garment, and he clothed them. You could almost see like a wealthy benefactor taking someone from the slums (someone who’s sinned and done crime and done all of these things), clean them up, bring them to a place, and himself make the suit and put the suit on the person. God is involved in the whole thing.
He’s going to make sure that their shame is covered. This is all grace. Do Adam and Eve deserve this treatment? Yes or no? No. Do we deserve this treatment? Yes or no? No. But look at your God. Look at your God. That’s who he is.
Now, do you remember earlier when God came to Adam and Eve? God came to Adam: What have you done? I told you last week, Adam didn’t immediately say, I’ve sinned against you, which he should have said. His immediate thing was, I’m naked and afraid. He’s still not thinking of the fact that he’s offended a holy God. He’s still thinking of himself. God says, who told you that you were naked? Did you do what I commanded you not to do? Did you eat of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat from?
So, Adam’s focusing on himself. Poor me, I’m naked and afraid. God is saying, did you violate what I told you? But now look at this. Adam is still naked and afraid, and, yes, God has dealt with this idea. You have violated my word, but I’m still going to come to you now and take care of your nakedness. What a God! What a God. He could have said no, kill your own animal, cover yourself. You ate of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat. He doesn’t do that.
God atones for sin. He does the covering. He does the covering out of a heart of grace. When we come to faith in Christ, our sin is covered by the death of another.
1 Peter 1:18-19: “… you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers …” Doesn’t that sound familiar? “… you were ransomed from the futile ways [you could think sinful ways there] inherited from your forefathers …” Who were your forefathers? Well, let’s go back to the beginning: Adam “…you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
We understand what Adam was experiencing in the garden. He deserves death. He believes in the promise that God makes, and he stands there as the Lord executes an animal in his place, makes a garment, and covers him and his wife. I just imagine Adam and Eve going, can you believe this? This is the one we were hiding from. This is the one we sinned against. Look what he’s doing for us.
Think of the sin that you’re most ashamed of this week. Think about it. Something you said or did, lied about. Jesus Christ’s body was pulverized for that sin that you just committed this week. Now think of the smallest sin you committed this week. And I’ll help you out with this. You won’t be able to. There’s probably sin you’ve committed this week that you can’t even think of right now—so small. Jesus Christ’s body was pulverized for that one as well. And he suffered the wrath of God as if he committed that sin himself.
So when we call on people to believe the gospel. We’re calling on them to open your eyes and see how gracious and how just this God is. He is just, and he is gracious. He saw to it that his Son would be executed for what you did. So, in the words of Psalm 2, “Kiss the Son.”
What happens when the gospel is proclaimed? People believe it, and God atones for sin. God atones for sin. What else happens?
3. God Limits
I’ll explain what I mean by that. God limits access to himself in any other way. He does not allow access to himself unless you come by trusting in the promised seed. You cannot get to God in any other way than how Adam came to him—trusting in the promised seed. You cannot get to God in any other way than how Peter would tell you to come to God—through the blood of Christ, through the death of Christ. I come because he died.
That’s the only way to come. God presents this message of salvation, and then he limits salvation by coming through that message. The gospel. It’s not that some people believe in Jesus, and some people just do a bunch of good things. And at the end God will go, you believe in Jesus? Good job. You did some good things. You’re both in. No, he’s presented a way, and it’s the death of his Son.
So to say, ahh, there should be another way, is really to belittle the death of our God’s precious Son. God has limited his salvation to come in this way. Hope can only be found in God’s provision. There should be no hope in human effort for eternal life, only in God’s gift of Christ.
Look at verse 22. “Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—’” And then he stops. Evidently, there’s a Trinitarian dialogue going on here. God speaking in his own nature to himself in the personhood of the Son and the Spirit—this Trinitarian dialogue happening.
“Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” And again, he pauses there. God is saying these people know good and evil. Now, this is what the serpent promised. You’ll be like God knowing good and evil. But what Adam and Eve didn’t realize is that they would know evil experientially and the consequences of evil. And they’d hate it.
God says, therefore, since they know good and evil, man will want to reach out his hand and eat of the tree of life and live forever. Adam’s looking at a dead carcass. He knows what is promised to him—the curse, the painful toil, the sweat of his brow for food. He knows that his wife is going to go through pain in childbirth.
So, he’s going to want to take of the tree of life and live forever. The tree was a means of blessing before sin, so Adam’s going to be tempted to go back to that tree. He’d want to reach, take, and eat. Notice, God doesn’t finish his sentence because evidently, that shouldn’t happen. The sentence doesn’t need to be finished. We understand the horror of that sentence before it is even finished.
God says, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” Pause. You don’t need to go on. You don’t need to go on.
If you’re on a mountain trail somewhere and you see a mountain biker going toward a bridge that is closed down because it’s structurally unsound, and there’s a sign and maybe some caution tape kind of put up or dangling from it because it has been there for a while, and you’re kind of looking at this mountain biker turning this corner, and you’re a distance away, and you’re there with a friend and you see him going around the corner, you say, “If he doesn’t pay attention to that sign and that caution tape—” You don’t need to finish the sentence. The mood has been set. We all know what’s gonna happen.
So notice, God is saying they’ve become like one of us knowing good and evil. So, if they reach out and take from this tree—. Notice what God does right after that. He doesn’t finish the sentence, but evidently, he does something right away. He does not finish the sentence, but look what he does. “… therefore, the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.”
Get the picture. Adam will want to live forever even if it means living in a sinful condition. And God will not let that happen to Adam. If he reaches out and takes from this fruit … God banishes them as an act of mercy. “… therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man …” That’s a strong word. “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.”
So evidently the entrance to the garden was at the east side of the garden. He drives out the man, and places the cherubim there with a flaming sword, not allowing the man to come back. God removes them from the tree and from his presence for a time. God’s dwelling place has been the garden of Eden. Man has enjoyed communion with God, as did Eve, in the garden of Eden, in the presence of God.
No longer is man able to have access to what he once freely had. God removes him. And again, the rest of the Scriptures bear this out, don’t they? How many people were allowed from Israel to go into the holy of holies, the dwelling place of God? One. One a year, after going through the proper ceremony showing that you’ve got to go through a lot of work to be able to enter the holy of holies. All pointing to the work Jesus Christ can do in bringing you into the holy of holies.
You’ve got to have a sacrifice, a death, if you’re going to enter into the dwelling place of God. This is what the Scriptures continue to teach. God, in a sense, is removing people from his presence here. There’s a barrier here. You can’t just saunter into the presence of God with your sin. You can’t do that. He’ll put two angels—angels who in the rest of Scripture guard the presence of God.
In the holy of holies was the ark of the covenant, said to be the dwelling place of God. What was on top of the ark of the covenant? Two cherubim. Do not come in here. Do not come in here. You’ll die. So, God’s removing Adam and Eve from the garden is an act of mercy, lest they die.
He drives them out says verse 24. This means expelled or kicked out. You know, when you’re a kid and you’re at school and you hear about the fact that Johnny got expelled from school? I mean expelled was like, ughhh, expelled! Like gone! Like not coming back tomorrow! Expelled—the same idea here. Expelled them from the garden, drove them out.
And he put a flaming sword, a flaming sword that went this way and that way. No one is coming in. It’s like trying to make a left turn onto Wilshire Boulevard at 5:30 on a Friday afternoon. Cars coming this way and that way, just sitting in a parking lot, just not going to get out of it. You’re not going to come in. You’re not going to get back to the presence of God in your own effort, Adam. You’ll need someone else to bring you into the presence of God so that you don’t die when you get there. That’s what this is pointing to.
God limits people from accessing him apart from Jesus Christ. He is not accessible on peaceful terms apart from Jesus Christ. You come through Jesus to get to God the Father. Now, even people who do access God through Christ, and that is us. If you’re a Christian, that is you. If you’ve come to God the Father, whom you’ve offended, by his Son’s death and by his Son’s righteous life in your place, you come to God through him. That’s why God is pleased to be our Father because we’re in his Son.
There’s no wrath for us today. Not one bit. The Father does not ever have a frown in that sense for us. He can be displeased by our sin, but he is still our Father. The same way a father is displeased by the sin of his children, there might be a discipline or a punishment, but there is no fracture permanently in that relationship. That’s what we have with God because we come by the merit of his Son.
Even people who do access God through Christ, who do have God as their Father through Christ, must still wait for a final freedom from difficulty. And that’s us. God is our Father. We come in the name of his Son. We are promised heaven. In that sense, there’s a hope, but life if still difficult. Sickness, fractured relationships, loss of job, whatever it may be, and life is still difficult for the people of God.
Adam believed in the promised one to come, but he would have to go out and work the dry ground to try to produce something from it. We get that. We get the curse. We know that when we sin there is pain and there are consequences. We understand that. We know that when we sin there is loss. Some have sinned and wasted years of their life. Some have sinned and still are at odds with family members. Sin brings pain and fracture.
Sin is costly, but Christ is greater. Christ is a healer, a reconciler. Christ is our ultimate hope. For a believer, sin and loss are not the end of the story. I mean, think of Adam and Eve’s life. Again, pain in childbearing, pain in work. Next week, we’re going to get to Adam and Eve’s first two children. One murders the other. This is Adam and Eve’s lot because of sin. This is what they have. But what are they hoping in? They’re hoping in something greater than sin.
When we sin, we feel what Adam and Eve felt—a distance from God, difficulty, trials.
Now, I’m going to read you five passages, and I want you just to sit back in light of all that. Sin has consequences. There are fractures in the relationship with God, even when we sin, and he’s our Father now, there’s a feeling that we still aren’t close to him. I mean, you know the feeling. When you sin, you do not feel close to God even though he is actually your Father. You still don’t feel close to him, do you? In light of that, and that inner turmoil, listen to these passages. As I go through them, worship. Sit back and worship.
Mark 15:37-38: “And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. [He died.] And the curtain of the temple [What did the curtain do? Separated God from sinners.] was torn in two, from top to bottom.”
Adam and Eve were removed from accessing God in their own way. There was a fracture in the relationship. Christ died, and the temple veil doesn’t tear from the bottom up as if some man were tearing it. It tears from the top down. God himself tears the veil of the temple and says come in. Come into my presence. Come into my presence without dying.
Listen to John 10:9. Jesus says this: “ I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” Now, bring your minds back to Genesis 3. Adam and Eve removed from the garden, and Adam turned and instead of going to a lush garden, goes to dry ground where he’s got to produce some sort of thing to help feed his family. Adam’s not at ease there. Jesus says, I am the door. Come in through me. I’m the door. Think of the door to the garden, the dwelling place of God. I am the door, if anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. Don’t worry. There’s plenty of grass for you to feed on. Plenty for you to feed on. You’ve got access.
1 Peter 3:18: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous [think of that innocent animal, the righteous suffering for the unrighteous], that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” Christ is the one slaughtered to bring them back to God.
This hope we have seen as an anchor of the soul. Are you weary? Are you tired because of your sin or the sins of others? Here’s the hope that anchors your soul. Hebrews 6:19-20: “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Your hope is not outside the veil in that difficult cursed world. Your hope is inside the veil, reconciled to the Holy One that lives inside the veil. That’s where our hope is. Revelation 22:1-5:
1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, …
See the presence of God here?
… and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
There is a time coming when we will one day be ushered into the presence of God, eating of the tree of life. And guess who will be there? Adam and Eve. Imagine seeing Adam and Eve eat from the tree of life, being with God without any angel wielding its sword to keep them from him. That’s what we experience.
So, are you a tired, Christian? You feel the effects of the curse. You feel it. Someone said something to you this week, and you responded the way you shouldn’t. You’ve thought and done things you shouldn’t have done. Your soul is tired. Hebrews 4:16 is for you. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
We have access to the throne of God even though we have done things that should remove us from his presence forever. We’ve not been removed from his presence forever. He’s made a way for us to find mercy and grace in a time of need. So we draw near to that throne with confidence.
If you’re not a Christian, God has determined to make his Son the way back to him, to make his Son the way of salvation. There’s no other way to be right with God than to trust in the death and life of his Son. John 14:6, remember Jesus getting ready to go back to heaven, and he told his disciples, “I’m going to prepare a place.” He wants them excited for where he’s going. And they’ve been doing what for three years with him? Following him.
And when he starts talking that way, they want to be there. And one of them asks, how will we know the way? If you’re leaving, how will we know the way? Maybe in that question there was some, ‘just tell us where to go, and we’ll find it.’ Just give us directions. But there’s no way for them to get there on their own. There’s no way for Adam to have the eternal life that he wants by reaching for the tree of life and eating it. It’s impossible now. You’ve sinned. You’ve ruined it.
What does Jesus say to the disciples? I am the way. I’m the way. I am the truth. I am the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. And I always say this when I think about this because our world doesn’t like that message: you said the only way to be right with God is through Jesus. How harsh is that of God to make only one way. And to that, friend, I tell you, how gracious is that of God to make a way. There is a way. There’s a way that heaven has made to be reconciled to God. We don’t deserve a way, but he has made one. And it cost his Son his life.
When the gospel is declared, people will believe. When the gospel is declared, God will atone for sin through the death of another. And when the gospel is declared, God will limit access to only those who come by that message. Only those who come by that message. It reminds me of the hymn by Augustus Toplady, “Rock of Ages,” one of my favorites.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress,
Helpless, look to thee for grace;
Foul, I to the Fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
Adam and Eve knew that their hope was in the grace of God at this point. Our only hope is in the grace of God. They hymn ends like this.
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.
I hope you’ve hidden yourself in Christ. There’s no escape from judgement if you haven’t, and there’s no better understanding of grace if you have. He’s there for you. Let’s pray.
Father, we thank you for the fact that you initiated this grace. Sin came into the world in Genesis 3 and yet our Bibles are filled with 65 more books. There must be more to the story. And we know that it’s your grace. You’ve made a way of salvation for sinners. You save sinners through the death of your Son.
Father, May today be a day where someone comes to your Son truly for the first time. They stop trying to earn their favor with you. They can’t do that. They stop trying to compare themselves with other people. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. May they lay their sin down, even lay their righteousness down, and come to you and ask you for grace. And may they find it. Give them the joy that comes from experiencing forgiveness. May they walk out of here not thinking about the curse that is on them, but thinking life—I have life. We pray this all in the name of Christ. Amen.
More in When Everything Falls Apart
August 26, 2018Genesis 5 | A People of Hope | Andrew Gutierrez
August 19, 2018Genesis 4:17-26 | Society Falls as it Rises | Andrew Gutierrez
August 12, 2018Genesis 4:1-16 | Battle of the Offsprings | Andrew Gutierrez