[Jan 07]--Judgment and Mercy

Genesis 3:8-24

I know that we looked at this passage yesterday, but I couldn’t leave this story on such a negative note. The final word here is not sin or punishment but grace. Our God is the seeking God, the merciful God, and the promising God.

What do we mean by a seeking God? Many in the church-growth movement talk about a “seeker-sensitive” church. There may be some merit to that concept, but it's at best the second half of the story. He seeks us first, because on our own we'd never seek him. Lewis said that to talk about “man’s search for God” is like talking about a mouse’s search for a cat, and this chapter illustrates that perfectly. Ours is the missionary God, not waiting for us to come to him.

He's also the merciful God. Ever try to cover yourself with fig leaves? Would you be comfortable in walking around in nothing but leaves? But instead of mocking them, he graciously covers their nakedness with “garments of skin.”

Finally we have the promising God. I believe that one of the first presentations of the gospel (literally “good news”) is found not in what he said, but in what he did. First, a question: Where did the “garments of skin” come from? I suppose he could've just whipped them up out of thin air, but more likely they came from another source. Most likely they came from an innocent animal, an animal that had nothing to do with our first parents’ sin, but who was slaughtered right in front of them.

What message did this send to them? "When you sin, something has to die. In order for your sin to be truly covered, something has to die in order to cover it. You can try to cover yourselves with the “fig leaves” of self-righteousness or works-salvation, but it won’t work. Only I can cover you, and only when something dies in your place." The author of Hebrews later tells us that "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." What was promised first here in pictures and shadows was fulfilled and made flesh when a man named John proclaimed to all the world "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

The other glorious promise is known as the Proto-Evangelium, literally the “First Good News.” It’s located in 3:15, ironically addressed not to humanity but to humanity’s great enemy (but overheard by us). Here are some things to point out:

1) God is the one who initiates this battle between the woman (and her offspring, or “seed”) and the Serpent (and his seed).

2) It is a perpetual battle throughout human history. From this point forward, there is “Seed of the woman” and the “Seed” of the Serpent, and their bloodlines will constantly be in mutual hatred and mortal combat

3) It shows how Satan will wound the “Seed” of the woman (“strike his heel”).

4) However, the Serpent’s head will be “crushed." Both the Seed and the Serpent will be wounded, but the Serpent's will be mortal.

The wonderful news is that through the Lamb of God, we share in this victory. Shortly the God of Peace will crush this Serpent beneath our feet.

Thank you Lord, for your victory over the Evil One. You took the wounds meant for me, and you crushed the Serpent’s head under your feet. Your victory is mine, and it is glorious.

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