Summary: This sermon focuses on creation's fall from God's very good creation. The sermon is both a theodicy as well as laying out the next phase of the biblical story.
Creation In Crisis
Introduction: The story descends.
Last week we began a series about telling the story of the Bible in six acts. The first act is about a good God who created a good creation. Everything was as it should be. The Hebrews call it “shalom,” which implies more than just peace, but an ideal harmony between God and his creation. God saw that everything was very good.
But something is wrong with the story. We read our news headlines and hear about shootings and tragic accidents. We are stunned by the sudden destructive force of nature in devastating events like we have recently seen in Japan. And much closer to home we are grappling with the death of a young boy who seemed to have the world at his fingertips and just inexplicably died in bed last week. What happened to that good creation from our good God? You see; if we only know the first part of the story, then we are at a loss when we encounter such terrible tragedies.
Creation was very good; just as God intended, but then it underwent a descent into crisis. A few weeks ago, my family visited the Carlsbad Caverns. If you take the trail down into the depths of the cavern you experience an impressive descent of over eight hundred feet. As you take a turn away from the opening all natural light is vanquished. The cavern is beautiful, but only because it is lighted. If something happened to the light, unimaginable horror would grip any of us and certain doom would befall us. This is very much what happened in the early days of creation. We were lured down into a cavern and then someone turned off the lights. But what does that mean? Is creation forever trapped in a pitch dark hole of horrors? The story itself will help clarify our situation. Read Gen 3:1-19.
Move 1: Why things got the way they are.
We never knew the world the way Adam and Eve did firsthand. We were meant to, but it never came to fruition. Adam and Eve enjoyed complete intimacy with each other and they knew no shame. Imagine that, if you can, an existence completely apart of any shame or embarrassment. Imagine a world where God personally visits you in a garden he created just for you. Imagine a world where the thought of suffering and death simply do not occur. In this world, you never have to toil for food, it is always simply on the nearest tree. I don’t know what their weather was like, but probably a lot less windy than Portales! It is hard to image a world like that, because ours is now so vastly different, but we have to try, if we are to understand what has been lost.
In this world, this paradise, are two trees at the center of the garden. One is called the Tree of Life and the other is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. You may eat of the TOL, but not the TOKOGAE. This is the only law our Creator has given us. Any other tree we may eat from, but just not that tree. It seems simple enough. And if we do eat from it, God warns us, we will surely die. Though we have never experienced human death in this Paradise, we know what that words means. It means it is all over. It means Paradise is lost, but still it is a very simple law to follow. No problem, right?
And we know what happens next. Here comes the serpent slithering up to us and asking ridiculous questions like, “Did God really say you can’t eat from any tree in the Garden?” That’s ridiculous! We set the serpent straight. No, he said we may eat from any tree in the Garden except this one. “What, this one right here? What’s wrong with this tree?” Don’t know; God said just don’t eat from it. “Oh, I can’t believe you are falling for that. You aren’t going to die. God knows if you eat from this tree that you will be as smart as him, even knowing the difference between good and evil.” Hmm…will I’ve never thought about it like that. The fruit does look pretty good and I wouldn’t mind knowing as much as God. I believe I will have a bite after all.
Now you are thinking, “Preacher, why are you telling the story like I was in the Garden? I would never eat the fruit. That was Adam and Eve who messed up.” But I told the story as if it were you, and as if it was me standing at the tree that day. The story isn’t really about fruit. It is about a choice. Will we trust the word of God simply because it comes from God? Or will we reject his word and pursue our own way in an attempt to become our own gods? You see, we have all eaten the forbidden fruit of Eden. We hear this story and we are yelling as Eve puts the fruit to her lips, “No, don’t do it!” And we fail to recognize the story in our own lives.