Genesis 3 is a critical chapter in God’s story that continues to unfold. Without this chapter, things would be completely different. Without this chapter, we’d be in harmony with God and with each other. Without this chapter, there would be no need for the cross.
Yes. This chapter is that important.
Last week, we finished with a beautiful image of the relationship between God and humanity as a dance. Hand in hand, breath by breath, heartbeat by heartbeat, the dance continued in the Garden of Eden. All was as it was meant to be. And that vision of a beautiful dance where all of humanity is in perfect sync with our Creator God was intended to continue today. God continues to dance amongst His creation. When you look around, however, it’s quite obvious that many have fallen out of step with the Lord of the Dance.
There’s a heartbreaking example from the news the last two weeks that illustrates my point. Have you heard the news out of Chicago? No, I’m not talking about all of the Olympics hype and the supposed embarrassment of being knocked out of contention in the first round of voting, but the national attention that was brought to the south-side of Chicago after a video surfaced of a gang beating a 16 year-old honor student to a pulp on the city streets. If you haven’t seen this video, it’s out there – but I don’t think you want to see it. It’s savage. Absolutely brutal. They attacked this teenager with a railroad tie. And when he fell to the ground, they didn’t stop. They continued to beat him with the railroad tie, as well as kicking and punching him. The video is simply horrifying.
After a few minutes, the gang fled and some students and workers at a nearby community center attempted to rescue the young man and they dragged him into a building. But many already knew they were too late. The young man, Derrion Albert, was brutally beaten and killed in an assault that lasted less than five minutes.
The video sparked outrage. And questions. Pundits and commentators have been asking what kind of society would allow such a tragedy to occur. Some have tried to blame it on the pandemic level of absentee fathers. Others point fingers at the culture of violence that’s prevalent in many communities around the nation. Chicago community leaders have described these neighborhoods as war zones. They’ve called for parents to “reclaim and protect” their children.
While these answers and explanations do carry some merit, they only scratch the surface of a much deeper issue. It’s a disease. And it’s impacted more people than the H1N1 virus, HIV, polio, smallpox, and the common cold combined. And it’s much more deadly. Everyone has been touched by it. It has stained every part of creation.
And it has torn apart that which God created. It has made ugly that which God had called beautiful. It took the hand in hand, heartbeat by heartbeat, breath by breath, step by step, stunning dance between God and humanity and ripped it apart. Sin has forced us out of step with the Lord of the Dance. And being out of step with the Lord of the Dance also leads us to be out of step with one another. Instead of a beautifully choreographed dance with humanity following the lead of the Father, giving God the glory that He deserves, sin has led all of us to dance to our own beat, seeking glorification and gratification of the self.
And it all began with that single act in the Garden of Eden.
If you have your Bible with you, please turn with me to Genesis 3. If you don’t have your Bible with you, you’re welcome to use the one in the pew in front of you. Genesis 3 is found on page 2 of those red Bibles.
Up until this point, everything was perfect. It was just as it was supposed to be. Adam and Eve were walking hand in hand with each other and also walking with the Lord in the cool of the evening. It was a perfect picture of unity, harmony, and beauty. And everything fell apart. If Genesis 3 wasn’t in the Bible, there would be no Bible as we know it. Why? Because the rest of Scripture is the story of the consequences of this event. This is the hinge upon which the rest of the story of God’s relationship with His creation turns. If these events hadn’t occurred, there would be no senseless deaths like the murder of that honor student in Chicago. There would be no wars…no family feuds…not even any sickness or death. And, more importantly, there wouldn’t have been any need for the cross. This is one of the most momentous events in all of human history.
Read Genesis 3:1-4
A few things we should note before we continue here. Although the text here does not say that it’s Satan himself, we understand that Satan had influence over this animal. And on a side note, this is one of only two times in Scripture where we see an animal actually talking. The other instance is Balaam’s donkey in the book of Numbers. You can tuck that way as your useless Bible trivia knowledge for the week. (J)
Satan has been caricatured so much by writers, artists, actors, and comedians that most people don’t really believe that he actually exists. Or if they do believe he exists, they don’t take him very seriously. We name sports teams things like Blue Devils or Red Devils. We dress our children up as cute little red demons with horns, a tail, and a pitchfork. We hear people say “the devil made me do it” and we chuckle like it’s a joke.
But in reality, Satan is a murderer and the father of lies (John 8:44). And he’s no pushover. We must be careful not to give him a foothold into our lives. And he can be very deceptive in trying to gain that foothold.
Did you see what he did here with Eve? He twisted God’s command. He asked her, “Did God really say that? Did he really mean what you think He meant?” He put the seed of doubt. And instead of going back to the source, he encouraged her to continue down the road of relying on her own memory.
And that’s exactly what Eve did.
Read Genesis 3:6-13
Just so you don’t think that Eve is the only one at fault here, notice where Adam was during this whole process…right there with her. He heard the snake’s crafty lies. He saw Eve take the fruit. And he watched her eat it. No warning. No reminder of what God really said. He was an accessory to the sin that Eve committed. And he didn’t stop there. He joined in her disobedience by eating of the fruit himself.
They chose to dance to the beat of their own drummer. They chose to do things their own way and the end result was disaster.
Their eyes were opened. They suddenly had something to hide. They had a secret they didn’t want anyone to know about – even each other. The sin they committed left them feeling very exposed and very much alone. They couldn’t even trust each other anymore. They knew they were in trouble. They knew that when the Lord returned for their regular walk in the cool breeze of the evening that He’d see something was different. And they would surely die.
And so they tried to cover up what they had done. They grabbed whatever they could and tried to hide their nakedness. They tried to hide their shame. They tried to become invisible.
When I read this part of the story, I can’t help but think of my brother when he was a toddler. His favorite possession as a child was this little red velvet pillow. It was approximately a foot by a foot in dimension. And he carried it around wherever he went. When my brother would get embarrassed or know he did something wrong, he’d curl up on the couch, take that red pillow, and hide his face. I’m sure it’s a stage of development in a toddler’s life when he thinks that if I can’t see you, then you can’t see me. Obviously, we know that’s not the case. And when Kevin was trying to hide, he’d just cover his face and think he was completely invisible.
The same thing is happening here. Adam and Eve know they’ve messed up. They’ve disobeyed one of the few commands God had given them. And they’ve fallen out of step with the Lord of the Dance. They must do something. They can hear him coming in the distance and they’re still completely naked. So they rush and try to cover themselves with fig leaves and hide in the bushes, trying desperately to pretend that they’re still dancing in sync with the Father. But now they have two left feet.
“Adam! Eve!” God calls out to them. “Where are you?”
You hear rustling in the leaves as they try to stay quiet and invisible from the all-seeing Father. And once they realize they’re not going to get away with this, they finally come out of the bushes with haphazardly placed fig leaves covering various places on their bodies.
It would be a comical scene if it wasn’t so heartbreaking. With that lone act of disobedience, sin entered into a place where it wasn’t intended to go. And it ruined everything. It’s a deep, nasty cut that has impacted all of creation. Even you. And even me. And the end result is death.
Read Genesis 3:21-24
Following the example of Adam and Eve, history is full of people trying to cover up the sins they’ve committed. You’ve tried to do it. I’ve tried to do it. We’ve all tried to do it. But it’s just like my brother trying to be invisible by covering his face with a tiny red pillow. It would be a comical scene if it weren’t so tragic.
As a result of the sin of Adam and Eve, blood had to be shed. That’s the cost of sin – death. With the animal sacrifices that began at the expulsion of Adam and Eve, people continued to offer animal sacrifices to cover up the sins they had committed. The problem with animal sacrifices is that all they can do is cover up the mess. It doesn’t resolve the problem. It’s like putting a fresh coat of paint on a piece of rotten wood. The wood is still rotten regardless of how pretty you make it look.
God doesn’t want us to stay in our pit of destruction. But we cannot do it on our own. No matter how much we try to cover things up, no matter how much we try to dance like the Lord of the Dance, we cannot do it on our own. The only way we can have a right relationship with the Father is through the amazing sacrifice of His son. When Jesus Christ willingly spread out his arms and took on your sin and my sin, He provided a way to have our sins washed away. No more covering up. No more pretending. No more trying to do it on our own. It’s only possible because of the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
And that’s what we celebrate every Sunday when we come around the Lord’s Table. That’s what we remember when we eat of the bread that reminds us of His broken body and drink of the cup that reminds us of His blood that was willingly poured out for us. We celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ whenever we gather because we know that we cannot do it on our own.
Have you been dancing solo? You can’t do it. At best, it’s like you’re dancing with two left feet. And you’ll eventually trip over your own feet and everything will come crashing down.
What are you hiding? Have you been trying to cover up your sins and pretending like everything is just fine? It’s not. You know it. God knows it. So stop pretending. Because you look like a toddler that’s covering his head with his red pillow. Even if no one else knows what you’ve done, God does. He knows your innermost thoughts and your innermost actions. So why try to hide from Him? Instead, allow Him to work in your life and change you from the inside. He and only He can wash you clean. He and only He can erase whatever you’ve done. So why not stop trying to pretend everything’s OK and allow yourself to be washed in God’s amazing grace?