Journey In Genesis: God Pursues Sinners

desert (10.13.18)

Journey In Genesis: Selected Passages 2

We continue our 2nd post in Genesis.Foundational book of the Bible. Lays an important framework for understanding many Bible themes, especially the Gospel.

Genesis 3: death & banishment would be the results of sin/eating the forbidden fruit.

May seem like an over-reaction.We must understand the nature of sin.
Sin isn’t just breaking a rule, though it is that.

At its core, sin is rebellion & treason against God.

We see this in children: many times when they break a rule, they’re wanting to rule!
So they’ll consciously/unconsciously try that act again, hoping we’ll overlook it,
intending it to become habit, routine, normal.

Their disobedient action is a symptom of them wanting to be in charge,
wanting to supplant the parents, at least in some ways (not paying bills!),
do things their way. Disobedience is often acts of aggression to assert who is the authority.
Decision-making is a central act of anyone in a position of authority.

This isn’t throwing children under the bus; adults do this too!
For example, to bosses/managers in one way or another, or to other authority figures.
A few miles over the speed limit, 11 items in the express checkout, dubious tax-deductions, etc.

We’re asserting control, putting ourselves in charge, at least for a moment.

  • I know of a person who got pulled over for speeding, was given a ticket,
    & then peeled out from off the side of the road kicking up dust.
    They weren’t just in a hurry—they were making a statement of control,
    rebelling against the authority of the police officer.

So all sin is rebellion, a coup attempt against the LORD’s right
to be in charge of both the universe & each of us.

  • We understand harsh punishment for treason against one’s country—
    seeking to overthrow it.
  • We understand consequences for setting up other governments in a sovereign nation.

But we often still don’t see “what the big deal is” regarding all sin.

And so the LORD’s response to Adam & Eve seems heavy-handed. It isn’t, but it seems that way. Some even look at the cross as an over-reaction of God the Father. All of these reactions stem from having a misunderstanding of the nature of sin.

But banishment and death are both just punishments and logical consequences
for the rebellion of sin.

  • If a baby were to intentionally sever the umbilical cord in the mother’s womb, there’d be a disastrous natural consequence from the baby being cut off from the mother as the source of nourishment/blood/oxygen. Death would inevitably occur.
  • If a branch were to proclaim a declaration of independence & confidently cut itself off from the vine/root/plant, for a while the branch would still look healthy. But it already would be dying/decaying, & death would inevitably come from being cut off from the plant as the source of nourishment & life.

That’s exactly what happened to Adam & Eve—they didn’t just disobey the LORD,
they severed themselves from intimate relationship with Him,
they declared independence, blaze their own path & forge their own destiny.

God’s response to their rebellion/treason was just…BUT…
He didn’t leave them lost in their hopelessness!

Immediately after Adam & Eve’s rebellion, the LORD begins
pursuing them, pursuing humanity, pursuing us.

  1. Where are you? God seeks sinners.

Genesis 3:8-9: “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

Spiritual hide & go seek. We hide from Him, He seeks us. Like bank robbers running from the police, we run from Him; He chases us, not to throw us in prison but to set us free from the prison we’re already in. There is an eternal prison for all who reject Christ, but His pursuit of us on earth is to set us free.

This points ahead to the Lord Jesus:

Isaiah 61:1: “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me…
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners…”

Refers to spiritual prison; in the Gospels, the Lord Jesus
never set free anyone from a physical prison.

2. Animal skins: the first sacrifice.

Genesis 3:21:“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife
and clothed them.”

Death of innocent animal to cover Adam & Eve’s nakedness/shame.

Restaurants: no shirt, no shoes, no service.
Just like heaven: we must be clothed to enter.

Revelation 22:14: Blessed are those who wash their robes,
that they may have the right to the tree of life
and may go through the gates into the city.”

Prodigal son: When he admitted his sin & turned from it to his father,
father gave him a robe of sonship to cover his pig-pen rags.

Points ahead to the Lord Jesus: He, the Lamb of God, covers our sin/shame/nakedness
in His death & return to life.

Galatians 3:26-27: “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God thru faith,
for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

Isaiah 61:10:“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness…”

3. Noah: The LORD pursued Noah to spare him & his family
& ultimately preserve a remnant of the human race—
from the worldwide flood to come.

  • “Noah found favor in the eyes of God” (Genesis 6)—
    not deserved, but favor granted as a gift;
  • God gives Noah the specific instructions for the ark, for survival (Genesis 7);
  • “God remembered Noah” (Genesis 8),
  • “God blessed Noah” (Genesis 9)—
    all this is God going to Noah & pursuing Him.

4. Abraham: The LORD pursued Abraham, chose him & gave him promises.

Genesis 12:1-4a“The Lord had said to Abram,“Go from your country,
your people and your father’s household to the land I will show u.
I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed thru you.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him…”

Genesis 15:1-18: “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield
[or sovereign; your “in charge/control”],
your very great reward.”

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me
since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?”
And Abram said, “You have given me no children;
so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

4Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir,
but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.”
5He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—
if indeed u can count them.”
Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

[This points ahead to Christ Jesus & how He will save His people:
by grace through faith, and this not of ourselves, it is the gift of God,
not by works, so no one can boast 
(Ephesians 2).

It’s not that actions don’t matter, but they are not the cause of our salvation.
As the Father blesses us with faith in the Lord Jesus (pursuing us!),
we exercise that faith in Christ (CAUSE) & our actions of faithfulness
become the EFFECT of our faith, not the cause of our faith.
Righteousness is credited to us by our faith, as an undeserved gift.
Oh the Gospel seeds in Genesis!]

7He also said to him,“I am the Lord, who brought u out of Ur of the Chaldeans
to give u this land to take possession of it.”

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”

[Even Abram’s faith needed strengthening, even he wanted/neededevidence/support thatthe LORD really wouldfulfill His promise.Humanity hasn’t changed, loved ones, & thankfully neither has the LORD!]

So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram,
each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”

10Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves
opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half.
11Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

[In the ancient near East, there is evidence that kings would enter into treaties with lesser/weaker nations.The stronger king/nation would promise to provide protection to the weaker nation, & the weaker nation would promise to submit to the stronger nation, pay certain financial requirements, not rebel/make treaties with other nations.

Animals would be cut in two & the lesser/weaker party would walk thru the halves of the animals. This was a unique equivalent of our modern day handshake or signature!

If the weaker nation would not fulfill its promises, curses/consequences would fall on it like the animals that are cut in two.

And so the LORD has pursued Abraham, making promises,
& really He‘s been pursuing humanity, working out His plan of salvation.

But there is a twist to the promises & the covenant
that the LORD is making with Abraham:

12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick & dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own & that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, &afterward they will come out w/great possessions.15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates…”

[Please hear this, my friends—this is key: the LORD made a covenant with Abraham, a promise to bless the whole world thru Abraham’s seed (Genesis 22)—Christ Jesus.

The righteous/perfect law of God says we must perfectly obey in order to be saved/enter heaven. That’s our responsibility.

But Abraham did not walk thru the animals cut in two; God Himself did. He makes this binding covenant, this promise, putting Himself in the line of fire if—WHEN—Abraham & humanity fails to honor our responsibility. The covenant is based on God’s faithfulness, not ours.

The curses, the fate of the animals, will not fall on Abraham, but for all who believe,
the curse will fall on the LORD Himself, on His Son. Staggering.

The LORD is saying, “You can’t fulfill this covenant, and so your curse will fall on Me.”

Galatians 3:13-14: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” [Deuteronomy 21:23] 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

Isaiah 53:4: Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.” [We considered Him cursed!]

All this was planned by the LORD before the Garden of Eden,
all the way to the Garden of Gethsemene,
all leading to the Garden of heaven.

God pursues sinners!

We hide from Him, He chases us.
We run away,He runs after.
We flee,He pursues.

Let’s stop running; tap out in submission to Him, my friends;
wave the white flag of unconditional surrender,
sign the full plea bargain—trade your guilt for His innocence,
your shame for His purity.
Declare chapter 3 bankruptcy—Romans chapter 3!

Romans 3:10-11. 21-25:“As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;
11there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away…

 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.

Have you surrendered to the pursuing God?

Closing Challenge

What’s the application of this passage in Genesis 15?

The application is adoration—adore the Savior Who pursues us sinners
at the cost not just of time, not just of energy, not merely of money,
but at the cost of His own blood.

Enjoy Him, surrender to Him, quietly read His Word w/Him, know Him, dare to pray for longer periods of time, seek Him, pursue Him, scream-sing songs of worship to Him when no one else is around, bask in His pursuing mercy/compassion to sinners like us.

Then go/show/tell others of His awesomeness, His amazing plea bargain
offered to all guilty sinners to set us free, erase our record,
make us new & transform us to be like Him.

Let’s launch out of your local church building—an aircraft carrier!—
with Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians:

1:17-19: I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened
in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,
the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,
19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”

aircraft carrier (9-11-17)