The first half of Genesis 3 gives us a picture of where it all went bad after creation. God created the Garden of Eden, the most beautiful place on earth, and gave it to His new human creations – Adam and Eve. There was one instruction He gave them – not to eat of the one tree. Now the serpent (enemy/Satan) shows up and begins his dastardly mission to destroy them. He has the same mission for you and me – scripture tells us it is to kill, steal and destroy – and he goes after the woman first. Does that mean that women have more likelihood of disobedience or failing to walk with God? I don’t think so – this story could have gone either way – the serpent just went after the first person he found and began his work of deception. The serpent starts out asking a question: “do I understand that God told you….”. All about setting the stage to create doubt in what the woman had been told and why she had been told what she was. The enemy we have is very deceptive and the whole battle is really about choice. Satan must convince us to choose to do wrong – to disobey God’s direction for our life. The enemy doesn’t sin for us – we make that choice just like Eve did when she took a bite. The enemy did use a pretty good carrot to get to her – “you’ll be just like God”. That was what caused Satan to be cast from heaven in the first place – he wanted to be God. That just isn’t the way it works.
We can debate Adam’s response when Eve came to him and offered him the fruit. Did she deceive him and he was some innocent victim? I have often teased that the woman really is the culprit here. But c’mon guys, we never do what our wives tell us any other time so that doesn’t pass muster here either. Sin is a personal choice. We may be led to the edge of the cliff, but we have to make the decision to jump. Eve didn’t force it down Adam’s throat. She “gave some to her husband, and he ate”. Did you catch the “and he ate” part? It was his decision, just a different tempter at most. Sin is a personal decision – we all make it if we sin. So the root of the sin problem is me, or you, not the serpent or our spouse or anyone else. Sin has “I” right in the middle of it. Interestingly, what the serpent told them would happen was true. They “did see what’s really going on” just like Satan said they would. So the serpent didn’t tempt them with something that was not true, that fruit did make them sort of like God. But that is not the point – the temptation was to violate what God said not to do. It isn’t to test whether the temptation was true or not, it is about obedience. Satan often tempts us with things that are true – they are just violations of God’s truth and standards. Sin means we miss the mark of what God intends for us to do – we don’t live the way He instructs. We are not obedient to His mission and instruction for life. Sin is a choice – we make it alone and on our own. No one to blame but you and me when it happens. We may get some help making that very poor choice from Satan or others, but at the end of the day, we make the choice and have to take responsibility for that sin.
The second half of Genesis 2 talks about man in the Garden of Eden. This is where it all went bad. You remember that God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of God and Evil. One tree that they were prohibited from eating from. Oh what a temptation when we are told not to do something. The enemy continually tells us it is ok. The enemy works us, but more on that in the future chapters. The key was that this is where God says “don’t eat from it…..you’re dead”. Sin always causes that result if it is not dealt with. Sin is separation from God because of the choice we make. It causes us to lose our connection. Only when we deal with the consequence of sin through the blood of Jesus can we restore that relationship.
But the real big news in this chapter is that God continues to create here. Man has been naming the birds and animals…he was doing the work of being in the garden….but he was along. He “didn’t find a suitable companion” so God decided to fix it. That is when the dynamics of the world changed forever – woman entered. I find it interesting that God spoke most everything into exsistence except for man, where He breathed into the nostrils, and now, here comes woman. “As he slept He removed one of his ribs and replaced it with flesh”. Different tactic for this creation. That means one special outcome – here comes woman and the world has never been the same. J But the real key is what God says here. As He describes the way man and woman should be united and come together he says this: “Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh”. Leave, cleave and become one flesh. Pretty simple set of instruction for us that is now called marriage. But the real focus today is that we are to become one flesh. Sometimes that is interpreted that there should be sex. A normal result of being happily married and important as well. But the reality is that when we get married, we really should meld into one – we no longer are two separate people that just try and get along and live together. God calls us to really become one – to put aside our own individual rights and commit to being one for life. Not exactly how the world is doing the marriage thing today. Not even close. Yet God’s design is for man and woman to unite and become one – not two people tied together by some proverbial knot, but a complete meld of being just one together. Don’t fall prey to the enemy’s lies. Live your marriage God’s way.
Genesis 2 is one of those books we are going to take a little time with. The first part of the chapter takes us to day 7 in the creation story. God has just spoken the world into existence. He just created it all. I love how it says “heaven and earth were finished, down to the last detail”. I don’t know about you, but I am not really a detail person. That is really saying it mildly. I hate details because I usually don’t even see them. I fly at a pretty high level a bit in the future and far too often miss the current and the nitty gritty. God was sort of working on big stuff – speaking day and night, sun and moon, earth and oceans – into existence. But He still doesn’t miss the small stuff. In fact He gets it all down to the last detail. What an amazing fact. There is not one thing on this earth God didn’t plan and create down to the very detail.
Of course on day 7 He rests. We could talk about how long it took to get to this day, and whether God was plum tuckered out by then, but c’mon on, He didn’t rest because He was tired. He rested because He wanted to enjoy the work of His hand and to set the precedent for how we too should live. God knows we need to slow down and rest and take in His beauty. We need to stop and smell the flowers. We have to get away from the rat race and relax. But the world wasn’t complete quite yet. “God formed man out of the dirt”. I have been called older than dirt, dumber than dirt, a dirt bag and a dirt boy. But God basically says I am dirt. Have you ever really stopped to consider that? He took this handful of dirt and breathed life into it. I am lucky to get a flower to grow in it, but to just breathe life into it, now that is God. “Man came alive” when God breathed. He changed his style a bit here. All the rest of creation He spoke into existence, but when man comes along, He breathed life, He “blew into his nostrils”, and life began. What an illustration of how God not only created us but is part of us. He put us here so He would be able to inhabit us with His presence. We were created for that purpose, yet so often we spend our time trying to keep Him away and out of our life. That is a miss on our part. Have you considered the fact that God created you just the way He did for a specific purpose and plan. He did! He has a plan written just for your life. He wants to do specific things in and through you. It doesn’t get any more exciting than that! We need to get on His bus and get with His program and watch Him work through us!
Genesis 1 is the familiar story of God’s creation. It starts that way: “God created”. No big bang here. No other story – just plain old creation. And how did He do that – it says “God spoke”. This was not some long drawn out deal – God spoke the universe and all that is in it into existence. No more, no less. God said it and it happened. “God spoke” each day and something wonderful happened each time he did. Day and night, sky and waters, tress and plants, animals and reptiles, human beings….. “God spoke” it all into existence. The world seems to struggle with that truth. They want to explain it all somehow. They can’t take God’s Word at face value and believe it. But God did it. He created it all in six days. Now I don’t know what a day is to God. My guess is that his days are probably different than what man has determined a day to be, but when you are dealing with eternity it really doesn’t matter all that much I suppose. The truth is that God created it all by the words that flowed from his lips.
As I reviewed this chapter I also discovered that God did a lot more than speak here. Check out all these actions: “God looked, God blessed, God said, God saw, God made, God named, God brooded”…..and He did these things over and over in chapter one. God was involved. In fact there was nothing else but God for that matter. He is still involved and active. He is not a passive God. He is a God of action and is involved in His creation each and every moment. God is alive. He was then during the creation, and that very same God is alive and active today. Do you see Him? Have you felt Him? Do you notice what He is up to? God made you and me. He made it all. We need to seek Him and find Him. He is the great I AM.
Job 42 ends the saga. “Job answered God…..You can do anything and everything”. God has been giving Job a firsthand look at creation and His universe, and Job gets it. Job understands that he was the problem during all the trials and struggles. “I admit it. I was the one”. Job admits his mistake. That is called confession. Are you a confessor? Do you admit when you are wrong? Sometimes I struggle with that. OK – I always struggle with it. I don’t like to be wrong and even hate admitting it even more. But that is what God expects when we fall short – to admit our sin and shortcomings and let His grace and mercy come over us – that is what forgiveness is all about. God sets us free when we confess and repent.
But God isn’t just interested in restoring Job here. He confronts Eliphaz and his two buddies and says this:”You haven’t been honest either with me or about me”. God requires them to sacrifice some bulls and rams to get things right. He wants their obedience. And the good news for them, they “did what God commanded”. Obedience is the only answer when God speaks. We must never forget that. Part of the program was for Job to pray for his friends. These guys that had really not been friends but had tried to rub his face in his problems. Yet watch what God does here: “After Job had interceded for his friends, GOD restored his fortune”. Do you see this? God required Job to intercede for his friends, these guys who had really been less than friends lately, before he got back what he had lost. And when he did, God not only restored but “doubled it”. Wow – what a victory for overcoming. But it was dependent on Job’s willingness to intercede. What is intercession? It is when I am willing to stand between someone and God – to take on their problems and issues and go to the throne on their behalf. A tall order for Job who had been beat down by these three. But he does it. And God’s response: “God blessed Job’s later life even more than his earlier life”. Holy cow……God is good. He lives on another “hundred and forty years” so he had some time to enjoy the blessings God gave him. But the last verse sums it so well: “He died an old man, a full life”.
Job 41 is God’s final words to Job and He uses the discussion around the sea beast Leviathan to make His point. This is one hairy mean beast. It is obviously something to be feared and certainly untamable by man. What better way to illustrate to Job and us the reality of our life in this universe. God asks Job all kinds of questions about harpoons and arrows and lassos, they are merely a joke to the sea beast. Nothing man can do will ever capture or even slow down this creature. “Even angels run for cover when he surfaces” – now that is one mean creature. God asks this question: “If you can’t hold your own against him….how do you expect to stand up to me”? The reality is that even the biggest baddest meanest thing in the universe still holds no candle to the power of God. God created all, controls all, knows all, is all. He is the great I AM. God alone is in charge.
He makes that very clear this way: “I’m in charge of all this–I run this universe”! It doesn’t get much clearer than that does it. God is in charge. We sometimes wonder – at least I do. Where is God? If He is in charge why does this or that happen? But scripture is clear. He is in charge. He knows what is happening. He has a plan. We can’t see it from our little piece of the picture, but there is a Master plan that is clear and will happen. It reminds me of the Louie Giglio sermon on the vastness of the universe and God. We are but a spec, a small dot that is not even visible in the picture of our universe. We really don’t amount to a hill of beans when we compare our short and simple life to God’s creation and eternity. That can make us sort of insignificant can’t it? But the other side of the coin is that this same God who created the heavens and the earth also knows you and me individually and personally. He knows every hair on our head. He knows every part of our life, each second since we were conceived. He knows us intimately. And He loved us enough, you and me as individual people in His universe, to send His only Son to the cross for your sin and mine. Not some blanket get out of hell free card. A very individual sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross to cover your selfishness, your sin, so you could be given the opportunity through grace to spend eternity with the creator of the universe. God loved us that much. The ball is in our court now. Will you make your spec on God’s eternal plan one that lasts forever with Him? What will you do with Jesus?
Job 39 and 40 continue God’s discussion with Job. You may recall that God has been silent throughout the entire book until the last chapter. He then spoke to Job through a violent storm. In chapter 39 He continues His expose on creation, talking about the animals He created and how different they all are. Each unique and special, created by God for a very purpose He had. We can’t help but see God in nature. His handprints are all over it. His creation calls out His glory. So God reminds Job of the deer, donkey, ostrich, horse and eagle. He points out just how wonderfully they are made. He continues His creation story all over again, following on to what He started in chapter 38.
But now God “confronted Job directly”. Time for Job to reply and God says “Now what do you have to say for yourself”? Are you ready for that question? It will be coming our way someday too. What will you tell God when you stand before Him discussing eternity? Do you have your response ready? Have you considered it? He will want to know a couple things. What did you do in regard to Jesus? What did you do with all that He entrusted you? I am convinced we better be ready to answer both those questions. And we won’t get a pass….there is no next question. That is the one that matters. When God addressed Job, he wasn’t ready. “Job answered: “I’m speechless, in awe–words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! I’ve talked too much”. Job knows that he has missed the boat here with God. He took his eyes off the reality all around him that God is God and he is just a part of His story. Then God makes this statement: “I’ll gladly step aside and hand things over to you– you can surely save yourself with no help from me”. God makes the point very well that man is not able to handle anything on our own, certainly not our eternity. We can’t deal with the little issues in life most days, so how ludicrous to think we can prepare for and be ready to deal with eternity. Are you ready for that day? It will come. We are not going to live forever on this earth. Get ready. Know how you will answer God on that day. Prepare now because then it will be too late!
In Job 38 God finally confronts Job. He has Himself been quiet along the way, at least from the perspective of what was written. Now he meets Job and gives His response through a “violent storm”. And God begins a series of questions – a whole chapter full – to set the stage and get on the same playing field with Job. It starts like this: “Why do you talk without knowing what you’re talking about”? I love that question. I fall into that bucket far too often – thinking I actually know what I am talking about. But God makes it clear that Job, nor I, have any clue. “Where were you when I created the earth”? Great question….and the first of a few dozen like it asking for Job to explain the sun and lightning and oceans and every other part of His creation. If you want a chapter that speaks to the Creator of the universe, then Job 38 is a good place to look. God talks about many things He spoke into existence but even more importantly, makes it clear that today He still not only knows all the details but is in absolute control of His entire creation.
I particularly like his description of light and darkness: “As the sun brings everything to light, brings out all the colors and shapes, the cover of darkness is snatched from the wicked– they’re caught in the very act”! Light always wins out over darkness. Sometimes I forget that truth. Everytime you introduce light into an area of darkness, the light always shines. That is true in our lives as well. The way to drive out darkness and evil is to fill it with light. That means letting Jesus shine in us. That means putting the Light of this world into any area of darkness or sin in our lives. And it also explains why we are instructed to “let our light shine” in scripture. We are to be a beacon of light and hope that displaces the darkness around us. God asks Job this important question: “What do you have to say for yourself”? That question is coming your way soon. Do you have an answer? Are you ready to face God and explain what you have done with Jesus, the Light of life?
Job 37 continues Elihu’s discussion. Wave three is underway. As we ended the last chapter, Elihu was sharing the awesomeness of God. We serve an amazing God and that thought continues as we pick up this chapter. He says “my heart stops….I’m stunned, I can’t catch my breath”. He isn’t having a heart attack here, at least not a physical one. He is speaking of the overwhelming majesty of God and His creation. Do you stop to notice? Do you hear the “rolling, rumbling thunder”? Do you hear “His voice, powerful and majestic” as it comes through His creation. In case you folks up north wonder, Elihu reminds us that “He orders snow, blanket the earth”. Scripture tells us that creation and the nature around us should point us to God. But consider this reality: “No one can escape the weather – it’s there”. Thought about that? Have you tried to escape? Some of you may run from the weather in one spot, but it is there when you get to where you are running. Weather is like God. It is everywhere and Elihu reminds us of that when he says “no one can escape from God”. Yet we try. We want to run and hide and pretend God doesn’t know. But He does, and He will.
Elihu asks Job a couple questions we need to consider. “Are you listening? Have you noticed all this”? One of the most common things I hear from folks relates to hearing God. How do I know what God wants me to do? How do I know God’s will for my life? What is God telling me about this or that? We as humans often struggle to get connected with Him, particularly if we have been straying down the path of sin. Mostly because we don’t want to, but occasionally I find someone who just isn’t sure how to. A couple pointers I have learned from my own wayward times. First, God has already told me a very large percent of His plan for my life in the written Bible. It is up to me to get into that Book and read those Words and understand them. But it is pretty clear what His will is regarding my wife (love her unconditionally), my family (lead them), my employees (serve them), those who don’t know Him (disciple them). He wrote the operating manual for my life and yours. Problem is we are too stubborn to open it and use it, like men who are trying to put something together or get lost and won’t look at a map or ask directions. God has revealed much of His will for us – most of it in fact – if we will only look. He also intends for us to be part of an active body of believers – the church – that we can share life with and get counsel from. But as Elihu winds up his counsel for Job here, he points to one other thing we need to do – “if you’re wise, you’ll most certainly worship Him”. Do you take time to get with the God of the Universe and worship Him? To acknowledge His majesty and the power of His hands. God created us for fellowship with Him. We need to make that a priority in our schedule, not just on Sunday for an hour, but every day. God wants us to be in relationship with Him, and worshipping the King is a key part of that!
Elihu continues in Job 35 and 36 to speak truth to Job and us. He makes a very important observation that describes so many of us: “People are arrogantly indifferent to God– until, of course, they’re in trouble, and then God is indifferent to them”. We tend to put God on the shelf until we need Him, and then, in the course of “panic” we come running and screaming “waiting to be heard”. Why do we think it can work that way? Cmon, we all know that is not how relationships work. And it certainly is not how it works with God. We need to be in daily communication and relationship with Him. We need to be talking to Him and living life with Him moment by moment, not just when we need Him. God isn’t on the end of an SOS line waiting for us to call when we have exhausted our own efforts. It doesn’t work like that. Are you walking with Him daily? Do you have a relationship that doesn’t resemble this description? I sure hope so because this plan won’t work. We have to be in continual relationship to have a relationship.
Elihu goes on to explain the reality of why “things go badly” in our lives. There is some great information here we need to pay close attention to as he describes the steps that happen:
- God tells them where they’ve gone wrong
- shows them how their pride has caused their trouble
- forces them to heed his warning
- tells them they must repent of their bad life
Here it is – the steps to know when things go badly. Interesting that pride is called out as the root of it. Pride means we put ourself in a place we don’t belong – normally pushing God off the throne of our life. It is thinking more highly of ourself than we ought, and it causes us to sin and fall flat on our face. Elihu goes on to give us two scenarios:
- If they obey and serve him, they’ll have a good, long life on easy street
- But if they disobey, they’ll be cut down
The choice is ours. We can choose to walk God’s way and experience His goodness, or we can take the pride route and be cut down. Maybe not right away, but it will happen and we will look back and wonder why. The answer is clear – God demands to be on the throne – He is King and it will happen. His time, His way, but it will be!