Garden

Preparing our Hearts: Stop Hiding, Genesis 3

Preparing our Hearts: Stop Hiding, Genesis 3

In Genesis 3, Adam failed to protect this proto-sanctuary called Eden. He took of the fruit that his wife gave him and ate it with gusto. Genesis 3 says, “Then the eyes of both were opened.” But this is one of those rare cases where opening your eyes is actually a bad thing. When their eyes were opened, they saw their nakedness. The emperor had no clothes. And we find the first hide-and-seek game in the Bible. Genesis 3:10 says, “So I hid.”

They developed elaborate excuses for being afraid. Adam began the blame-shifting game. He tried to outwit God. He tried to be omnipresent. But who in their right mind would think they can hide from God?

This morning we come to worship knowing that we have been found out. God sees us as we are and clothes us with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Do not come afraid of punishment, but come expecting forgiveness and grace. Stop your excuses. Stop hiding. Come to worship and confess your sins.

The Ethics of Creation

When God made the world he made it in divine priority. He made all things with an agenda, and to use the oft-repeated line, “he saved the best for last.” He made man on day six, and at the end he breathed with the breath of perfection (Gen. 1:31): “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

Could God have created man on day one or day three? No. This was a divine priority. Man was created last purposefully. He made him on day six and then affirmed (Gen. 1:26-28) that he was to be over all things. Man receives a place of honor in creation because he is made in the image of God.

Under the Old Covenant he crawled in his infancy. He was unable to do much, and so God gave him tutors, angels to keep watch over him. But as he grew in maturity, man learned to walk. He walked with a limp (Gen. 32) to remind him of his humble beginnings, but he became more theologically civilized and warrior-like, capable of confronting bigger challenges. But God never left man alone. He was never made to be alone. In the New Covenant, God takes man from crawlers to inheritors (Rom. 4:13). As a promise, the ascended Lord gives man his Spirit. He provides mature and able man a comforter and a divine guidance counselor, namely, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity.

All of this was already symbolized in the creation account, but needed to wait until the New Creation to be put into place. Man was always meant to have a place of prominence in God’s world. This prominence is a not a blank check, it is conditioned on the faithfulness of redeemed man to serve and fear Yahweh with grace and truth (Rom. 12:11).

But when this divine creational pattern is broken, the world is also broken. When the order of creation is switched, the world suffers ethical consequences. When trees and living things are placed at greater prominence than man, then we have a disordered creation. This is largely the fruit of the environmentalist movement.

When day six is not prioritized, the sacredness of life is also not treasured. Abortion is the result of a disordered creation narrative. When God said “Let us make man in our image,” he was prioritizing the life of man over the life of other created things. Yahweh stamped on mankind his image; and that image needs to be treasured above all else. The taking of human life is a phase of disorientation in the created order. It is a direct violation of the way things were meant to be.

The ethical consequences also apply to marriage. When day six is taken out of its place, the joining of man and woman—which is a joining officiated by God himself—is misplaced, and the doors of polygamy and sexual deviance are open (Rom. 1). And when mankind and current social norms disrespect the created order, God gives them over to their mis-prioritized minds. This is God’s way of saying that that which he made he made orderly and purposefully, and that order cannot be tampered with.

Ultimately, man can choose to honor God’s creational pattern, or build a week of their own. But if they do so, they will never come to the seventh day of rest.

An Exhortation for Mother’s Day

Grace, Mercy, and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We cannot begin to think of mothers without speaking of our first mother, Eve. Eve was given the task of beautifying Eden. Her duty was to make Eden a place where God would dwell forever. The first task of a mother is to consider her actions in light of the future. In other words, in what ways am I preparing my home, my labors, and my offspring to exalt the name of Yahweh? The problem of Genesis 3 can be defined as a problem of a poor eschatology. The first lesson mothers need to understand is that the future matters. This is why mothers are called to live in such a way that influences her children and her children’s children.

On this Mother’s Day, Children must bless their mothers! Husbands must praise their wives! A good queen beautifies the home, and makes the king look respectable and honorable in his kingdom, and at the gates of the city. A good queen makes the name of Yahweh known in her garden. A good queen awakens to hear her children call her blessed!

As mothers get older and gain more and more biblical wisdom, they become wise matriarchs in communities. People begin to say: “Go to her. Seek her counsel.” But this does not come easily. Mothers need to be good theologians. They need the rhythm of resurrection to grow in wisdom. They need to be constantly reminded that God’s grace is strengthening and building them up in their darkest moments; when they are overwhelmed by their duties. Mothers as a New Eve need to embrace the resurrection as a model for life. They need to so cherish the empty tomb that they realize that their perspective on life now and the future is shaped by it.

Christian mothers in one way set the rhythm for the rest of the world. C.S. Lewis put it this way:

“To be a mother is a woman’s greatest vocation in life.  She is a partner with God.  No being has a position of such power and influence.  She holds in her hands the destiny of nations, for to her comes the responsibility and opportunity of molding the nation’s citizens.”

Mothers, do not ever allow someone to say that your role is not valued. You are co-heirs of grace. Your children are arrows that pierce the kingdoms of darkness, because you trained them to be great warriors. For every diaper you change, for every alphabet letter you teach, for every kiss, for every song, for every meal you make, for every joy you instill in your children and others in your community, therein is the testimony of God’s grace in the world. So on this day,

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss this year through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, we walk with you.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

And to those who are pregnant with new life, we anticipate with you.[1]

Moms, you are God’s gift to the Church, and to your families. Be encouraged in your calling. We need your wisdom, and the world needs it also. Happy Mother’s Day! And may the God of all peace sustain and nourish you with His grace now and forever. Amen.

Jesus and Temptation: A Meditation on the First Sunday of Lent

As we embark in this Lenten Journey, we follow the footsteps of our Lord from His entrance into the wilderness and His entrance into death for three days.

Luke 4 offers an extraordinary glimpse into the temptations Jesus endured in the wilderness. The typological significance of the event is inescapable. Jesus is the Final Adam. He puts an end to a long line of failed Adams. He hears the whispers of the Tempter and strikes back. When Adam heard those first words he sat attentively in the classroom and absorbed every lie as if it came from His Creator. Adam lost his ability to discern truth. He mastered listening, but forgot that to be a good theologian in God’s Garden, you need to be a good exegete.

In the wilderness, a garden stripped of colors, fruit, and water, Jesus faced the devil again in a re-match. He knew well that temptation had a triumphant history of subtly winning arguments. Jesus wasted no time and rebuked temptation. Just like He would do with the demons and the demonic-like religious teachers of the day.

We are not to sit at temptation’s classroom. God already said we are to flee from it; to rebuke it with the only source of authority that is permanent and stamped with divine truth.

On this first Sunday of Lent, the Church finds herself in a wilderness scenario. She is stripped of its former glory. But she is destined to journey from glory to glory like her Lord and Master. As in Luke 4, we need to sit in Yahweh’s house. We need to be instructed by the two-edged sword that muzzles the Tempter and tells him to not come back again. He is not welcome and neither are his offers.