Genesis 4:1-16, Genesis 8:15-22
Sin Attacks – Family and Religion; Ignorance and Anger
Gen 1-11: Parabolic stories. Twists to make us think. How did we get in alienation and exile?. 1: Creation of Cosmos. 2: Creation of Human. 3: Knowing good and evil and exile from life.
Gen 4: Sin emerges: Family/brothers. Religion. Cain and Abel bring offerings. God’s two views! Most striking is what we don’t know! Why does God favor Abel? Justified? Arbitrary? No explanation given. Humans, like Job, want to know “Why?” We must deal with not knowing.
Cain burns in anger. Unfair to me. God comes but doesn’t explain. “Go forward. Do the good you can do.” Anger at God/Abel is the opening for sin to attack. You must rule over it. But rage empowers sin, breaks relationship of brothers. Murder. Uncaring. The ground exiles Cain, people threaten him, but God is still gracious and protects him even in wandering.
Paul also personifies sin using a good command to kill. Jesus: don’t react to evil and be drawn in.
Floods Don’t Work to Turn Hearts from Evil
How does God deal with sin? 10 long generations ... evil and violence. God regrets creation! Wipe sin off the earth. Start new with Noah. The Flood is an interim story (like making animals), not the great narrative (Abraham...). Fascinating details about ark, flood, birds.
But what God sees after the flood is that it didn’t work. We learn a Human heart universally inclines to evil. Weakness, meanness show even in Noah. The earth is good but suffers under human rule. The failure points to why God chooses such a long road to deal with sin: Abram, Israel, Moses, David ... Messiah, all the world. God stays with broken people.
Let’s Talk About God ...
Jesus tells his disciples about saving their life or losing it (Mk 8:35). The issue goes back to the beginning. We’ve heard the story. Strange, amazing. No mention in Gn 3 of a “Fall,” of sin, Satan. The Snake: clever: Different reality. The woman and man seem still united: Before they eat, they act as one. Yahweh, creator, is absent as creatures discuss him.
Snake asks an innocent, knowing, probing question. Woman defends God. Only one tree. “God said not to eat or touch it.” Warned us of death. Woman shows humans have reflected on God’s command. Good intent, cautious. They’ve expanded the forbidden sphere. They attribute that to God. They’ve learned good and evil, and control how to obey. Snake shows he knows more: Responds to lie. Suggests alternate reason for God’s command, not so benevolent, blocking something wonderful God has: insight, wisdom.
The woman sees, eyes open! They don’t seek to be God. She sees food, beauty, wisdom, all good things. God may not intend warning but hindrance. They’ve already chosen to control their obedience. They take and eat. The snake was right. They see more: that they are naked and vulnerable. They cover themselves – from each other, from God? Now they both know and experience good and evil. Fear, hiding, avoiding God. Lost self.
Brokenness Begins: Life that Mixes the Worst with the Best.
The fruit doesn’t poison. God doesn’t kill. But human life becomes mixed – our present. Snake: mystery symbol. Woman, bearer of life, in pain. In conflict with Human, oppressed. Human, producer of food, with thorns, pain. Clarity about their limit, made of dust: death.
But life continues. “Human” (Adam) and “Life” (Eve) wear skins (?). She’ll begin all life.
Exile Begins: The Real Death and Finding the Way to Life.
Humans have fallen and risen – “like us,” God says. They share fully in moral choice. Also in vulnerability, fear, deception. God exiles them from the garden of delight into our world.
How much will fear and delusion grip them? How can humans learn the way to true life?
The beginning: Yahweh god first makes the human-formed from Dust and Gdos' breath. Yeahweh plants a great garden of delight and in the middle trees of life and knowledge. Four rivers from one source flow from the garden, marking out vast portions of the earth. God assigns responsibility to the human with freedom to eat all except one deadly fruit. The human is alone. God makes animal life, and the human names them. But is still alone. Looking at the creation again humans and relationships. The human in God's garden of wonder, work, and worry. Finding an ally for the journey, responsibility, and delight.
Genesis 1:1 - 2:3
Living in the World of Science and Faith
We breathe the air of science and technology: a smartphone is a powerful computer connected to a vast network. We share in a stream of discoveries in medicine, genetics, microbiology, physics, chemistry, geology, cosmology, archeology, paleontology, various fields of biology, etc.
We also live in a world of Biblical faith, the reality of Jesus, which reveals the deep meaning and purpose of human life, its freedom and brokenness, its hope and destiny. This event and story was firmly in place before modern technology. We embody the interplay of modern and ancient, both part of us, both flowing into the future. We feel the tension. Who are we? What is right? Does our life have purpose? We’re thinking, conscious beings, and our every thought has intention, is about something. Do we live in a world without mind, intention, purpose?
Learning to Read the Book of Scripture
Often tensions grow from not letting the scriptures be themselves. They were given to us long before modern science, which grew up based on the Biblical view of a world created by a wise, consistent God. Scriptures don’t speak in scientific terms even for their own day. In telling of creation, Genesis uses an everyday view of the world to teach about God and humans: vault, lamps, no planets, two different narratives. Not the scientific “Ptolemaic system.”
Modern Christians decided God could not use such a non-factual story to teach anything. Gen was re-conceived as scientific fact, distorting what God gave us into what moderns desired.
Rachael Schaad, a Princeton Seminary MDiv student and ACU grad, is our intern for the Spring and Summer of 2017. Rachael preached this sermon on Mother's Day.
Genesis 32:6-13, 23-32
Through an examination of Jacob's struggles in the book of Genesis, this sermon encourages Christians to trust the great promises of God over against self-reliance. Within this context, Jacob's limp offers an example of the ways human vulnerability and God's grace make it possible for each human person to be a place where heaven and earth can meet. This capacity calls us away from wrestling with earthly circumstances toward God's miraculous provision.
Genesis 1:31 - 2:3
Jesus and the Meaning of Sabbath
Our congregational retreat topic, "In God's Presence -- Seeking Rest and Delight in Everyday Life," began from meditation on the understanding of Sabbath in both the OT and NT.
The Sabbath, "Rest," is one of the 10 Commandments, linked to the story of creation in which God sanctifies the seventh day (Saturday). It has always had a very prominent place in both Jewish and Christian thinking. In late antiquity as the Roman empire became Christianized, the use of 'Sabbath' shifted for Christians from Saturday to Sunday as a legal rest day.