The Promise

Sermon 1736 Genesis 3.1-20 March 14, 2021

About every two years I have a “book fair” at the start of the school year for our Green Valley Lutheran School. I peddle one book. Zondervan’s The Beginner’s Bible. I discovered it in time for my boys and my youngest always was talking to his neighbor friend about it. The cartoons were well drawn and I thought the printed word was about the right reading level (K/1). They read it every night before they went to bed.

I was happy and I am hoping that other young families discover the same joy in their children being enthralled by the Bible, in whatever shape it takes.

But one day I ran across something and I thought, “That can’t be right.” I looked in The Beginner’s Bible and, sure enough, the story of Adam and Eve falling into sin. The serpent was there. So was the forbidden fruit. Eve, Adam, God coming to find them. The two of them leaving the Garden of Eden really sad. But that was it! God told them their life would be hard because of sin and out they went. The whole point of the story was missed! They never talked about The Promise. What was wrong with them? Or was something wrong with me?

Am I too much of an optimist? Optimism runs in our circles. I blame it on my professors. They made me this way. Always look for The Promise. The old joke was a former synodical president as a boy woke up on his birthday and, descending the stairs, found manure piled up halfway to the second story. He was ecstatic! “Oh, boy! There must be a pony in there somewhere!”

Let’s revisit the Sunday School lesson of Sin Enters the World. That’s how the Missouri Synod Bible curriculum we are using puts it. Am I too much of an optimist? It’s the story of how God gave sinful Adam and Eve

The Promise.

1. Without The Promise life is sad.

2. With The Promise there is real life.

As with last week’s sermon, I am not going to wade into a lot of deep theological pondering. When you have some depth to a shallow sink, that only means one thing—a drain! I don’t want this sermon to go down it.

God had created Adam and Eve in his own image. Adam and Eve were chips off the old block when it came to holiness and righteousness. Adam and Eve were morally perfect. God had given Adam one command. Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam was good with that. He relayed the command to Eve. She agreed and (as all true mothers do) added to it. She wouldn’t even touch it. The devil, newly expelled from heaven for sinning against God, enters a serpent’s body and tempts Eve. “You will not surely die.” It is the first lie she has ever heard. She is deceived. She eats. Adam watches it all go down. You would think someone who is the earthly reflection of God’s holiness and righteousness would have said something. “NOOOOO!” comes to mind. But he is strangely silent. She gives it to him. He has a choice. Eve or God. Life or death. Go your own way or rely on God. He eats. They feel terrible, so dirty they can’t even look at each other, not in the way they did before. They make the worst clothes possible out of fig leaves slapped together.

The LORD God, the Savior God, the God who will send the Savior Jesus into the world, doesn’t give up on them. He comes looking for them and tries to get them to confess what they have done. He strikes out. Adam tries to save his own scrawny neck by throwing Eve under the bus. Eve plays hardball with God. There is not a hint they even thought of saying, “Yes, yes, we did it! Make it better!” Perhaps with the same sigh Jesus gave Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane when he said, “Friend….do what you came for,” God places a curse on the serpent. Snakes will be icky to people from now on. Then he address the devil in the serpent.

Oh, oh. It’s happening again. My optimism is showing through. The bad news is piled halfway up the stairs and I am thinking there must be a glimmer of hope from God in there somewhere. Let’s take a look at the manure, first. Without The promise Pife is sad.

“To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you (16).” One of the most wonderful moments in a woman’s life, bringing life into this world through childbirth, will be painful. That’s why we call it labor, not picnic. It’s going to be dangerous. To show how powerfully the LORD protects his believers, the Apostle Paul will one day write to Timothy that “women will be saved through childbearing (1 Timothy 2.15).” Even in the most dangerous time in her life—and you just go into some of these old cemeteries and look at the ages of the women who are buried there; there’s a reason pioneer men married twice, three times—even in the perils of childbirth the LORD would be with them to bring them through.

Then God tells Eve her most important relationship to another human being, her husband, would be polluted with sin. Ladies, that knight in shining armor you marched down the aisle to wed, your Prince Charming, because he, like you and like every other human being now has a sinful human nature, he will often act like a tin horn dictator. The LORD wasn’t giving him permission to be that way. The LORD was describing what life with a sinner will be like. Life without The Promise is sad for Eve.

God moves on to Adam, who must have been dreading his turn. “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return (17-19).”

The fertile soil Adam was bringing such wonderful things out of almost at will would rebel against him as he had rebelled against God. Thorns and thistles, the toughest of weeds, would sprout up. He would sweat to bring forth food from the earth. It would be frustrating and he would not feel like he was compensated enough for all his labors. It would be work! And then he would die. Work, work, work, and then you die. Sad. Without The Promise, life is sad for Adam.

The Beginner’s Bible says that’s about it, folks. Adam and Eve are seen walking out of the Garden of Eden, hand in hand, heads bowed in sorrow. The end.

I have a different message for you today. I am not sorry in the least for delivering it. I can tell you all know what God said to Adam and Eve has come true in your lives (and mine) as well. It was scary to go to the hospital for that first child’s birth. Why even go to a hospital unless there was a better than remote chance things would go south real quickly. And you gals weren’t exactly playing tennis the next day. God’s curse on work makes Mondays the most dreaded day of the week. That dread ruins Sunday nights for 80% of employees, even if they like their jobs! And no matter how wonderful you remember great grandma or grandpa, that tombstone back in the family’s hometown in Nebraska, proves to us they were sinners who received the wages of sin—death. And we’re on deck unless we are already in the batter’s box facing the Grim Reaper on the mound. Life without The Promise is sad for us.

Here’s the better part of the story. This part makes me an optimist, and hopefully every pastor in our fellowship an optimist and every member of our congregations an optimist.

The LORD speaks to the devil. “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 (15).”

Every English teacher knows enmity is not the end of the story. It is the beginning of the story. There is conflict. One side against another. It eventually will be resolved. One side will come out on top. Winners and losers. That’s the way it is. There will be conflict, fighting to the death between the woman’s offspring and the devil and his fallen angels who followed his terrible lead. But this fight will center on one person. He. One person. He. A human being, the offspring of the woman. He. A male. This one male hero will win the victory over the devil. He will crush the devil’s head. When a snake’s head is crushed it is a dead snake. Manage to shoot off the tip of its rattler because your hand is shaking so badly on the Smith and Wesson and all you get is an angry snake. Crush its head, it is dead. Can’t you just picture that bare heel coming down hard, stomping hard, on the snake’s head? But at the last moment, that snake rears back and sinks its fangs into the sole of the hero’s foot. The fangs stick in the flesh as the head is flattened. The venom flows throw the immobile fangs. The force of the foot coming down on the serpent’s head makes the hero’s blood surge through his leg, spreading the deadly poison. The serpent is dead. But the hero soon sinks to the ground, struggling to raise himself on one hand before the poison reaches his heart and stops it.

One human being, one man, will win the battle over the devil and sin and everything that goes with it, physical death and eternal death in hell. One man will win the victory but it will cost him his life. What could that possibly mean?

The disciple Jesus loved once wrote, “The reason the Son of Man appeared was to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3.8).” Jesus destroyed the devil’s hold over us. Jesus did it by paying for our sin. Once the debt was paid, there is no more debt. Once the punishment is meted out, the firing squad goes home. This is The Promise of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross. God answers the problem of man’s sin with the solution of God’s Savior, Jesus. Jesus is the answer to sin. “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1.29).”

But I have yet to prove my point. With the promise there is real life.

“Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living (20).”

Eve means life. Eve would be the mother of all the living.

If there was no Promise, if death was all there were, then every child Eve brought forth would be bound for death, more fuel for the fires of hell. That’s all existence on earth would be. The one who takes the longest to die wins. Whoopee. But the LORD’s words, The Promise, did something to Adam and Eve. The Promise created faith in their hearts. One moment they didn’t trust the LORD enough to tell him what they did, although in their heart of hearts they already knew he knew. Now they hear of forgiveness, victory over sin. With victory comes peace. No one goes to war everlasting. War brings peace. There will be peace between God and mankind. He will be our God and we will be his people. One fine day we will go to live with him in a Paradise no sin can mar.

Adam showed his faith in The Promise by naming his wife Eve. Life. There was life with God, real life, life eternal.

I said it last week, but some of you weren’t here and it bears repeating in this sermon as well. The hope that means the most to me is the life everlasting. Life goes fast. I never envisioned myself being sixty-six years old. Where did it go? If this life were all there is, I don’t have a lot of hope. The Apostle Paul thought so, too. “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men (1 Corinthians 15.19).” But there is another world, another Garden, waiting for us. That’s the life that doesn’t end. That’s the life where every expectation is met and every goal achieved. That’s the life we all long for and eagerly await.

Life on earth is real. What we do here matters. Day by day, hour by hour, it matters. But it will pass. It will end. Dust you are and to dust you will return. But there is more. The life everlasting. Believe in

The Promise.

1. Without The Promise life is sad.

2. With The Promise there is real life.

Am I an optimist? Yes! The Promise has made me an optimist. Jesus has set my sights on high. No matter how much life piles up on my doorstep, there is a way forward. The Promise has made you into an incurable optimist, too.

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