Title: His Story
Introduction: We’ll be in Genesis this morning, and then on through the Bible.
When we enter a book of the Bible, it is almost as if we do so as if we’re walking among the trees in a forest. We stop at different points and look at flowers, birds, leaves, limbs, pine needles, dirt, insects. We don’t just pass through the forest, we stop and smell the flowers; we run our fingers through the dirt; we look up into the trees and shield our eyes from the sun, trying to stay in the shadows; we feel the wind, we hear the wind as it passes through the branches. I love with the deepest of passion to go through books like that.
But I want to do something different – gain a different perspective, if you will. I want to rise above the trees – high above the trees; higher than a drone, higher than a bird. I want to approach the Bible from a bird’s eye view – or maybe an aerial perspective, like flying in a plane. From a plane, you can see how the river flows. You can see the bends in the road. You can see the shape of the lake.
If we were to fly across the US, we could see certain cities, towns, mountains, rivers, etc. We would notice certain landmarks from the sky: where the desert is and where the woods begin and where the mountains are and the plains.
Transition: Today, I want to show you the map we’ll be following through the summer. The first sighting on our map is Creation.
- Creation: “It was very good”
Ill.: Steven Curtis Chapman’s All Things New
You spoke and made the sunrise, to light up the very first day
You breathed across the water, and started the very first wave
It was You
You introduced Your glory, to every living creature on earth
And they started singing, the first song to ever be heard
They sang for You
You make all things new; You make all things new
I love the story of creation: broken up into six days. One of my Venture students pointed out something very interesting about those six days: the 2nd three days, mirror the 1st three days. On days 1-3 he separates and creates. On days 4-6, he fills what he has made on the 1st three days.
Day 1: Separated Light from Darkness Good
Day 2: Separated Expanse from the Waters
Day 3: Separated the Water from the Land Good; Brought forth plants, trees, vegetation Good
Day 4: He filled the Expanse w/ Lights
Stars; moons; Sun Good
Day 5: He filled the waters with Fish/Sea creatures; He filled the Expanse with Birds Good
Day 6: He filled the the lands, the vegetation
with animals, the beasts of the fields Good
Also, God made man in His own image:
1.27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. …. Then, 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.
Now in Gen. 2, we find deeper details to the creation story concerning the man and the woman. It was a wonderful existence. It wasn’t just that they were the only two people on earth, that they were the happiest people on earth! Rather, their existence with God has made it that there has been no one on earth as happy as they. No one has experienced the garden like they did. No one has walked and talked with the animals or enjoyed life quite like they did. It was all so very good.
But that ended the day Adam and Eve ate the fruit that had been forbidden to them. The serpent had lied to them. He disguised the truth and tricked them. That is so like him! Adam and Eve rebelled against what God had strictly instructed them to do – or rather, not to do. They were no longer perfect. Sin entered the picture. And because of their tarnished nature, they could no longer dwell with a perfect, untarnished God. It just wasn’t possible. So they were banished from the Garden. Things would never be the same again – at least not to them.
But God is so good. While it is true that he cursed them both and the serpent, too, God gave them a promise. The promise was that the offspring of the woman would always be at war with the offspring of the serpent. Now, that sounds bad in itself; however, the promise gets better. God promised that one of her descendants would eventually crush the head of that snake.
Just when that would take place…well, that wasn’t made known…. Yet! But, one day, He would come and he would crush the serpent’s head and restore things.
Transition: Next on the map is…
- The Fall: “It was not so very good anymore”
The bad news is that although the promise was in place, nothing appeared to be moving in the direction of the promise being fulfilled. The situation went from bad to worse. Adam and Eve had some kids; two brothers to start with. Abel loved God and his work showed it. Cain loved himself and his work showed it. Each brother brought his gift to God, but Cain’s was rejected. So, some of the very effects of sin rose up in Cain: Jealousy, Anger, and Pride. Cain let those things grab a hold of him and build up inside to the point that Cain plotted and planned how to kill his own brother. Oh, God was merciful to him and gave him a chance to repent and make things right, but he just couldn’t get over his Jealousy, Anger and Pride.
And so Cain killed his brother Abel. Now, that is a bad story in itself, but what is truly amazing is how sin spiraled further and further into chaos and trouble. In fact, the world got so nasty that God decided he would destroy it and start over. In Gen. 6 it records: 5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
You see, God decided to flood the earth and wipe everything clean. Well, almost! God chose one family to save. The very next verse says: 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
So God flooded the whole earth, but saved one family by having them build an ark of gopher wood. God then commanded Noah to get his family and the animals on board. God brought the rain and flooded the earth. God’s anger was poured out on a world that had rejected him – and so he rejected them. He started over with a new Adam. There was one problem with this New Adam, though. He was just like the old Adam.
As a matter of fact, so much of the 1st story is repeated in this story. Noah is told to go and be fruitful and multiply just like Adam was. We see one of Noah’s son’s be cursed, just like we saw in the 1st story. Why, Noah and his family had barely gotten the animals off of the boat before Noah starts behaving badly.
And as the people multiplied, so did their sinful behavior. One story in Scripture records how a group of people decided to build a tower that would go up to heaven. They must have thought it was pretty big, but it couldn’t have been that big, because God had to come down to see it. The problem with this work that they were doing is that they thought they could do things without God. It appears they had the same thoughts that Adam and Eve had as the serpent had tricked them. So, God scattered the people and gave them different languages so that they couldn’t work together anymore.
But the story doesn’t end there; it really starts to get pretty good from there. God wasn’t done saving his people.
- Abraham: The Promise of a Nation
In the next chapter we meet a man named Abram. God chose him and told him to leave his kin and his country for a new land: a place that he would show him when he got there. From the beginning, God promises Abram some pretty big promises. These are the promises boiled down into a short presentation in 12.1-3:
- Blessings upon anyone who bless Abram
- Curses upon anyone who curses Abram
- A land and a people to dwell in that land. Basically, God promised Abram that he would be the Father of a great nation and that all nations would be blessed through him.
Now, you might think that God chose Abram because he was such a great guy. But the truth of the matter is that Abram could be a liar and deceitful, just like everyone else. But there was something very special about Abram and it was simply this: He had the promise of God and he believed God would keep his promise.
It wasn’t that easy though. While Abram, whose name was changed to Abraham, held to the promise of God, it sometimes seemed like God was never going to keep his promise. For example, Abraham was 100 years old before he had his son Isaac. And added to this problem, God told Abraham to go to a special mountain and offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. So great was Abraham’s faith in God’s promise, that he believed God would actually raise his son from the dead. But, just before Abraham sacrificed his son, God stopped it and gave a Ram to Abraham to offer instead. I guess it was God’s way of saying to Abraham – Never stop trusting me. I’ll always provide for you and keep my promise to you.
Well, Isaac grew up and got married and had two sons of his own: Esau and Jacob. Esau should have received the blessing because he was older, but God chose the younger brother, Jacob. For some reason, that is another theme we find repeated in Scripture. God doesn’t always do things in a logical manner. He has a plan – and he’s working that plan!
God’s plan was to begin building a nation through Jacob’s sons. Jacob had 12 of them! And it wasn’t the 1st or the 2nd or even the 3rd son who got the blessing, but rather the 4th son! His name was Judah. He was told that through him a king would come – one whose scepter shall not depart from Judah. The kingly line would come through Judah, but even more, the promised one – or the one promised from the beginning would come from the line of Judah.
Now, we could take some time to talk about all of these men. I could spend the entire summer on these guys, telling you horror stories of their sinful, rebellious behavior. But I won’t. What I want to tell you is that in spite of these men, God kept his promises. And while they couldn’t see it exactly, they trusted God that he would keep his promises and bring the one who would crush the serpent’s head. They couldn’t see it because it was so far off in the distance.
- Israel: A Nation is Born
So far off indeed! Hundreds of years would pass before God would begin to work with this nation that they would become. More years than all the years of history that these United States have accumulated. Think about it. It would be like God promising the settlers of Jamestown a Messiah. Go back to 1608 – it has been 409 years since then and we would still be waiting! That’s a similar time period for these descendants of Jacob – or as he was also known, Israel. Do you remember the promise of God to Abraham: A land and a people to dwell in that land? That land would be like the garden that Adam and Eve lived in. At least, that is what they would be reminded of …. It would be a beautiful land – a land flowing with milk and honey! But for some reason, it didn’t turn out that way. The way it turned out was the people were enslaved in the land of Egypt. Egypt? You say! Enslaved? You ask! How did that happen? God had promised them the land of Canaan.
Well, it’s a long story about a bunch of brothers who hated their baby brother and sold him into slavery. He was a slave and later an inmate at the local prison. As the years passed he rose up through the ranks and eventually became 2nd in command of all of Egypt. A famine throughout the land brought the brothers there looking for food. Because of Joseph’s position, he took care of his brothers and their families. And for the next few hundred years, they lived in Egypt.
Through time, a pharaoh rose to power who did not know Joseph and he was bothered by the multiplication thing going on with this tiny nation called, Israel. So he made them slaves. And as the years passed, their oppression was great. So, they cried out to God and God sent them a deliver: Moses! And Moses delivered them from their oppression. Actually, it wasn’t Moses, it was God – but it was Moses God chose to use. Moses was their leader, but God was doing the leading. God led them in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He led them across the dry seabed to safety and he drowned the Egyptian army when they tried to follow. As Moses followed God, the people followed, too. God was always at work saving his people.
It’s funny… not funny ha-ha, but funny ironic that He was always having to save his people. When they were in the wilderness, he set them up to be distinct. He gave them his commandments. His commandments were outlined so they would know how to act as his people. If they would only obey his commands, then he would lead them to the Promised Land and life would be good. Their crops would be bountiful and their vats would brim over with new wine. Their storage bins would be too full to handle the plenty.
But, if you know the story, and I’m guessing most of you do: you know that they didn’t. They didn’t obey; they didn’t follow. Like Adam, Like Noah, Like the brothers, they rebelled against God’s design, too. God kept his promise and delivered the people to the promise land. They in turn, didn’t do what they were supposed to do to drive the other people out. That hurt them. Yes, because of their disobedience, but even more so, because the people were a thorn in their side. The people, who were supposed to be driven out, influenced God’s people to do bad things.
The Israelites were always fighting with them, or even worse, adopting their pagan ways and rejecting God’s commands. God sent them prophets to guide them. But they wouldn’t listen to them. God sent them kings to rule over them, but the kings made things even worse.
- Kings: A King like the Promised King
As the Israelites dwelt with the people of the land and failed to drive them out, their hearts began to desire the very things God hated. One such desire was for a king. God told them how bad it would be if they had a king, but they didn’t care. They wanted a king like all the other nations had. So God gave them a king.
Their first King was Saul. If we were to list his good traits, well, let’s just say there isn’t much to say. Well, he was tall, but that was about it. God decided to remove Saul and choose a man after his own heart. He did. His name is David. He was what you might have expected to fulfill the promise of God. As a matter of fact, other than that King – the Promised One – there isn’t any other King in all of Israel’s history who was better. That really isn’t saying a whole lot!
But, when David was good, man, was he good. Israel was blessed under David’s leadership. But here is where something interesting happens. When David was in his later years, he wanted to build a house for God. God told him no, but God did make him a promise: a promise that was built on the promises already given. He was told that he would always have a son who would sit on the throne. Remember the promise to Judah – a scepter would never depart from Judah; well, this promise was built upon that one. Now, the people would know that the Promised One would be a son of David.
To be sure, David’s son would not be that promised one. Solomon started off well. But, then, he didn’t finish strong. His son did an even poorer job, creating a split in the kingdom: 10 tribes to the north and 2 tribes to the south. The Northern 10 tribes were called Israel and the southern 2 tribes was called Judah. Israel never had a good king. Never! Nary a one! Every single King in the North – and there were 19 of them over the next couple of hundred years – every one of them led the people astray. The Southern Kings didn’t do much better. Many of them were wicked and evil, as well, leading the People of Judah astray. Every few kings, one would come along and try to make things right, but it never took. After 400 years of rebellion, idolatry, and wickedness, God vomited them out of his land, just as he said he would if they rejected him. They responded like Adam and Eve, like the people after Noah… and the list goes on.
The people were in darkness. Lost and without a land, without a Temple, and without a King. It all appeared that the promises of God were now null and void. It was a very dark time indeed.
- Prophets: The Nation will not listen
But God’s promises were never snuffed out! God had promised the Snack crusher, Abraham’s son, Judah’s lion, David’s descendant would come. Prophets were sent to assure the people of those very great and precious promises of God. They were told that he would be born in Bethlehem of Judea; that he’d be born of a virgin; that there would be a messenger to prepare the way. He gave these numerous promises through the prophets.
Israel’s problem was that they were so into themselves that they just disregarded much of what God had to say. The WEBS is in Isaiah. In Isaiah we’re reminded that the people of God would pay God lip service or they would do what they were supposed to do in sacrifices and rituals, but their hearts just weren’t in it.
So God sent them prophets; prophets to rebuke them; prophets to guide them; prophets to weep and mourn for them; prophets who would tell them God’s Word. These prophets came in all shapes and sizes and demeanors. God used these men over and over again. But the people of Israel rejected these prophets. They beat them and shamefully mistreated them. Some, they even killed. So God sent them a prophet to tell them that no more prophets would be coming. God told them through Amos that there would only be silence. 400 years of silence.
After all that God had done for them and their constant refusal to listen and follow – there was nothing from God for 400 years. Adam had failed; Noah had failed; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had failed. The nation of Israel had failed. Kings had failed. Priests had failed. None could image God like God had designed.
- The Messiah: The Promised King – but not like they thought…
And after 4 centuries of silence, God began to speak again. We find him at work in a tiny baby lying in a manger. In this tiny baby, God was giving his people a new prophet, priest and king. He was giving them a new law, a new hope, a new sacrifice. He was making all things new. In giving them this baby, he was keeping his promise.
But it wasn’t the way the people thought it should be. This baby grew into a boy and then into a man. His miracles were legendary. He fed the 5,000 and walked on water. He healed the sick, the lame, the blind and the diseased. He taught with such authority, like none they had ever seen or even heard of. He picked 12 men who didn’t seem to fit together. He rode the foal of a donkey and not a white stallion. He came bearing a cross and not a sword. Instead of riding into Jerusalem and taking his royal, rightful throne, he came to die on a cross between two thieves. This one who was supposed to crush the serpent’s head was crushed himself – by his own father!
And yet, this was the plan of God all along. He was keeping his promises all along. For when the savior died and was buried, that wasn’t the end of the story, but rather, a new beginning.
- The Resurrection: It is Finished
A new beginning because this one who died on the cross, didn’t stay that way – dead. No, he rose from the dead by coming back to life! His disciples saw him – not just the twelve, but all of his disciples, men and women, both. He appeared to them in the upper room where they were hiding. Paul records that some 500 people saw him at one time. They ate fish with him by the Sea of Galilee. They told their friends that he is raised from the dead! Many couldn’t believe it. Jesus was to be seen with them at various times over the next 40 days. But after 40 days, Jesus ascended to be with the Father – where he sits at his Father’s right hand. And you know what he did then? He sat down next to his Father. There, he rules and reigns in glory.
- The Holy Spirit: A gift for the followers
But Jesus didn’t leave his followers alone! No, he has sent us his precious Holy Spirit to guard and to guide – to protect and provide. He has given us the Holy Spirit to bring us peace. Not the kind of peace that world knows, but a peace that surpasses all human understanding. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit takes up an abode in our spirits and lives within us. In his coming, he convicts the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Jesus; 10 concerning righteousness, because Jesus has gone to the Father, and; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
- The Return: He’s Coming Again!
But there is even more to the promises of God – Jesus is coming again. The Snake Crusher, Abraham’s son, Judah’s Lion, David’s Descendant, Jesus, the Christ will come again just as he promised. He will come again to restore us to the Garden. One day, according to his promise, we will have a restored relationship where we will walk and talk with God. We will know what Adam and Eve had known as they walked and talked with God in the cool of the Day. And there we will be with him forever and ever. There we will know what it means to be perfectly happy. Oh, glorious day!
Conclusion: There you have His Story; 10 stops along a beautiful journey over the next 10 weeks. We’ll look at the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly.
Before we leave this morning, let me offer you an opportunity to respond to this incredible story.