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Third Sunday after Pentecost -- June 9, 2024
 

Genesis 3:8-15

8 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. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock
    and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
    and you will eat dust
    all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”

 

          “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Gen. 1:1,31) Those two sentences provide a summary of the 6 days in which God created all that exists and his evaluation of everything that he had made.  God had created a perfect world.  He placed two perfect people into that world and gave them one command that would enable them to show their love for him.  They were not to eat of one particular tree in the middle of the garden, a tree called “The Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
          Adam and Eve broke God’s one command.  They each ate from the forbidden tree when they were enticed by the lies of the devil.  They let the devil convince them that God had withheld something from them even though they had been given everything that they needed as they lived in God’s perfect world.
          In an instant, their perfect world came crashing down on them.  They suddenly felt fear, an emotion that had previously been unknown to them.  They felt shame when they realized that they had no clothes to cover themselves.  They tried to hide from God when he came to walk with them as he had in the past.  They heard the voice of God asking, “Where are you?”          Today’s text takes us back to that moment when God confronted Adam and Eve.  It will show us that…
 

“God’s Best Is Better than Satan’s Worst”
 
I.  Satan attempts to destroy
II.  God intervenes to save

 
          God warned Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  He told them that if they did, they would “certainly die.”  They did eat from that tree, and their disobedience separated them from God.  They were now spiritually dead—no longer children of God, but now under the power of the devil.  They were also on the path to physical death, something God did not intend for them, and it would lead them to eternal death.  The devil had done the worst thing that he could possibly do when he convinced God’s children to disobey him.
          That’s when God came looking for them and asked, “Where are you?”  If you were reading this story for the first time, you might think that God had come to unleash his wrath against Adam and Eve and send them directly to hell.  He had seen what they had done.  He knew that they had disobeyed him even after his strict warning and generous goodness.  He had every right to punish the disobedient pair for what they had done.
          Instead, he asked the simple question, “Where are you?”  God obviously knew where they were.  His question wasn’t asked to acquire information that he was lacking.  It was more like the question a parent asks a young child after finding a mess in the house, “What have you done?”  God asked Adam and Eve where they were to give them an opportunity to admit their sin.
          God’s question didn’t intend to terrify Adam and Eve.  He didn’t intend to bring death and destruction to Adam and Eve.  He had come to show his love, not his anger.  He had come to come to counter the evil that Satan had done with his own gracious mercy.  But in order to do that, God had to confront the sin that had brought on the problem.
          This is what God does.  He calls people to account for their sins because it is the first step in removing the guilt of those sins.  Cain killed Abel and was sought out with the hope that he would admit his sin and seek God’s forgiveness.  David committed his heinous sins of adultery and murder, and God used his friend, Nathan, to confront him.  The goal was to lead David to repent and be forgiven.  The Children of Israel repeatedly fell into sin and were confronted by God’s prophets and chastised with various punishments to make them realize what they had done.
          God continues to confront those who have sinned against him.  Some people react quite angrily as the Pharisees did who stoned Stephen to death when he confronted them with their sins.  The sinful nature in all of us doesn’t like to be confronted and will defend itself when it is confronted.  God deals patiently with us, knowing that undoing the evil that Satan has done may take some time.  The sinful nature in people may ignorantly resist the saving efforts of God.
          Adam and Eve tried to offer excuses When God asked them why they were hiding from him.  Adam answered, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  Adam even began to blame Eve when God asked if he had disobeyed him. “The woman you gave me,” he called Eve, also implicating God for giving him the woman who tempted him.  Eve tried to blame the devil, saying, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Such excuses didn’t change what they had done.  They had sinned, and at that point they were still responsible for what they had done.
          God asked them, “Where are you?”  That question was an act of grace from God, a life-line thrown to Adam and Eve to rescue them from the death that could one day claim their souls eternally.  He knew that Adam and Eve’s excuses were the result of what the devil had done by leading them to disobey the Lord.  He also knew what he had to do to save them from the fate that their sins would have on them.  When Satan unleashes his worst on us,…
 

II.  God intervenes to save

 
          God saw what Adam and Eve had done, and he had every right to punish them eternally in hell.  God’s justice would have been served if he had chosen to do just that.  His anger over sin was revealed, but he directed his anger toward the one who had brought on the sin.  He turned his attention to the devil.  He said, “Because you have done this, ‘Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals!  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’”
          The serpent that the devil had used to tempt Adam and Eve would be relegated to crawling in the dirt.  This was to be symbolic of God’s feelings toward sin.  The devil himself was going to be dealt a crushing blow.  An offspring of the woman would crush his head.  God’s best would overcome the worst thing that the devil could do to try to hurt him and his people.
          God showed grace to Adam and Eve by offering to save them from the sin that they had committed.  He offered forgiveness instead of vengeance.  Crushing the head of the one who had enslaved them to sin would free them from his hold.  But it would cost God to do that.  He said, “He (the offspring of the woman) will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
          Written in between the lines of Genesis chapter 3 is a story of the love and grace of God.  You see, long before he created Adam and Eve, long before they disobeyed him, God knew it would all happen.  He knew what would have to be done to save them from the sin that they would commit.  God would have to sacrifice his Son and punish him for the sins of his people.  His innocent Son would have to suffer the pain of hell.  God still created Adam and Eve because he knew that the eternal result of his love would allow him to bring his children to his eternal home.
          God still created us even though he knew that Jesus would also have to carry our sins to Calvary.  He knew about the original sin that would be passed on from sinful Adam and Eve to every person on earth.  He knew of every sin that would ever be committed whether accidentally, intentionally, or even ignorantly.  He knew that he would have to punish his perfect Son so that he could offer us forgiveness for our sins.  And he did it.
          God often asks us, “Where are you?”  Where are you in your relationship with God?  Where are you in your spiritual life?  He knows.  He wants you to know.  Graciously he wants you to know so that he can offer you the forgiveness that Jesus won when he crushed the head of the devil from the cross of Calvary.  He wants you to know so that you will follow him along the path that leads to eternal life.
          Granted, facing our sins and admitting our shortcomings and failures is not easy.  Adam and Eve were rightly afraid when they were confronted by their holy God.  But they were equally as relieved to experience his grace in the promise of a Savior.  When a parent asks his/her child what happened as they look at the mess they have come home to, they are not only interested in punishing their child.  They want to discipline the child and teach him good behavior which will be a valuable lesson for the rest of his life.  Confronting the wrong gives them an opportunity to teach the right.
          God will come looking for you when you sin.  It won’t feel comfortable when you are confronted with your sins.  But remember that he is asking in love so that he can lead you back to where you need to be – in his care and on the path to eternal life.  God’s best will overcome the devil’s worst.  Amen.