Foundations - What's wrong with the world? (Part 2)

Series: Foundations

Genesis 3:8-19

We’re are continuing our discussion on what’s wrong with the world. People give various explanations about what’s wrong with our world. Some say that is economic restrictions. Some say that it is political, the lack of or too much freedom, or the inability of government in one way or the other. Some say it is philosophical, the concepts people believe are mistaken. Some say that it is our bodies, like Plato who said the body is the problem, but the spirit is good. The explanations vary all across the world, but the problem is that they do not adequately explain what’s wrong with the world. That’s why we need a book like Genesis that gives us the answers  we need to walk properly in a broken world like ours.

In our last lesson, the explanation we are given is sin and the power behind it - the serpent or the Satan. The serpent deceived the woman by manipulating God’s word and attacking his character through the lie. The lie was simple: Don’t trust God because he is holding out on you and doesn’t want your best interest. That was the seed of the problem, today we are going to see the fruit that comes from that decision and how our world is different as a result.

God in the Garden (Genesis 3:8-13)

The text starts with a beautiful picture of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. Now, the concept here isn’t trying to describe God’s anatomy, it is describing his proximity and  the relationship that God had with humanity. The picture seems to be of God coming in the evening and sharing time with Adam and Eve. It’s a beautiful picture of fellowship and relationship between God and man. He is complete fellowship with all creation.

Tragically though, the presence of the Lord changes from something to be desired and enjoyed, to something that is feared. Notice, that the man and his wife heard the God and they hid themselves from his presence. God then comes to look for them and Adam explains that they were afraid and naked, that’s why they were hiding.

This begs the question, how do you view God? If God has not caused you fear and you have not desired to hide from his presence, then your viewpoint of God is too small and you are serving a God you created. All the way through scripture when people encounter the presence of God they were terrified. Like when God came down on Sinai in fire, cloud, thunder, and lightning, and anyone or anything that touched the mountain was to be killed. Now, this is not because God is terrible, it is because God is pure goodness and holiness and we are not. That’s why man was hiding from his presence.

Further, when God came he asked a number of questions for Adam likely because he was the head of the family. These were leading questions that should have led to responses like confession: “Yes, Lord, I have eaten of the tree.” And repentance: “I’m so sorry, what can we do to make this right?”. However, that’s not the response at all when they were confronted with their sin. Instead, it quickly deteriorated into a blame game.

First, the man blames the woman who gave him the fruit, and he blames God by mentioning that he gave the woman to her. It’s about like this “That helper you made led me into sin!” Then, the when God asks the woman about what she had done, she turns and blames the serpent for deceiving her. No one steps forward and confesses their failures. No one has an attitude of repentance. The answer was to hide and blame others. Tragically, this is what we do over and over again when we sin and when we are confronted about our sin.

This text is absolutely critical for us to understand. What is wrong with the world? The answer is a broken fellowship with God. Notice the progression, when there is spiritual separation it leads to all other forms of separation. They are separated from God and the very next step is for them to hide and cover themselves. They are doing this because they have lost something critical to their identity as image bearers. Now they have psychological problems, their value and identity are distorted and they are ashamed and must cover themselves, compared to Genesis 2:25 where they were naked and not ashamed.

That’s not the end of it, this problem spread to the relationships between the man and woman. Now they are hiding themselves from each other and blaming each other as a result of sin. This explains all the nature of problems in our relationships. Remember, marriage is the foundation of all other the relationships. When this is happening in a marriage it destroys it. But it escalates to the family, to the church, to the community, to society in general, and even into the world. It is a fear of sharing our true identity and brokenness, and our desire to blame others for our failures. See, they are trying to justify themselves in their sin by putting the blame on others. That superiority mentality is the very root of all racism, tribalism, political strife, oppression, and war in the world. It all stems back from the loss of relationship with God.

This is the explanation that the world and we all need. We have lost something and because of that we have an enormous amount of relational problems that come as a result. See the explanations of the world have some truth in them. But, they are much like blindfolded men that are all holding onto a different part of the elephant. They may feel the trunk, the tail, or the foot of the problem and come away with false conclusions. We need to have our eyes opened to see the real source of the problem as sin and the loss of our relationship with God. Until that is fixed there is no hope for repair of any of the other damaged parts of our lives.

The curses (Genesis 3:14-19)

The next section discusses three curses that God places. This is part of the Bible explanation of “why is there suffering in the world?” These will exacerbate the consequences, but they also hopefully drive us back to God for healing.

The curse on the serpent

Now, the serpent that was wiser than all livestock is cursed above all livestock and beasts. The pride of the serpent has been thrown down in humiliation. There is some level of change to the serpent and what he eats will be dust all of his life.

Notice, God does not have the same level of mercy and hope for the serpent. There is only a curse and consequences put on him, and a promise of enmity created by God between the serpent and the woman, between their offspring. Then, while he will try to resist, he will ultimately be crushed and defeated for what he has done.

The curse on the woman

The woman now has a number of consequences that are related to her role. There will be difficulty in the birthing process now. This is an emotionally challenging and difficult process now for both birthing and raising. These challenges continues in Genesis - there is a struggle to have children in the first place, there is conflict between women, there are challenges in the raising process, the entire thing has become more difficult and challenging. But these are meant to drive the woman back to God - like the story of Sarai or Rachel.

Further, the relationship between the woman and man is different. Because she led her husband astray, now there will be even more focus on him as the leader. Her desire will want to be the ruler and director of the relationship but the husband will be the one to rule. This is a real impact we see in our world with the feminist movement in our society. This can be seen in the role in marriages and the breakdowns we see in the structure God wants in the home. There is a desire of the woman to take the lead and there is a desire of the man to give that to the woman. But there is also the tendency of the husband to rule in an oppressive way and be abusive to his wife. Both of these are distortions that come from sin and ruin marriage as God intended it. The gospel is the only answer to change the hearts of husbands and wives to imitate the relationship of Christ and the church in marriage (Ephesians 5:22-33)

The curse on the man and creation

Finally, we have the consequences on the man. These are specifically because he listened to his wife instead of listening to God. He idolized his wife and put her over obedience to God. As a result, the impact is specifically tied back to his role as an image bearer over creation.

First, the creation itself is going to be different. God says that the ground is cursed because of Him and in pain he would eat of it. See, man was made from the ground and made for the ground. His job as image bearer is to expand the beauty and fruitfulness of the creation. But that has been lost as a result of sin coming in the world. The innocent casualty then is the creation itself. The creation was subjected “unwillingly” (Romans 8:20). The creation will not yield like it did before, death is in the world and that will impact animals and himself.

That means our relationship to the world is fractured. Instead of the enjoyable and pleasant work of cultivating and keeping the garden, now it is laborious and difficult and we eventually end up dying and returning back to dust. We are trapped in a cycle of intense labor and difficulty that ends with death. See, this is not part of the original world God had in mind for man. Thorns and thistles are a result of the curse. Difficult labor and strain are from the curse. Death is a result of the curse. It is an intentionally difficultly meant to drive us back to God.

This explains our love/hate relationship with the world around us and with work specifically. We enjoy the creation and love the beauty that is contained in it. Yet, the creation is also intent on destroying and wearing us down. We have tornadoes, floods, tsunamis, famines, starvation, etc. We have animal attacks. It’s a beautiful and tragic world.

This continues as well with work. Work is an enjoyable and profitable thing. Yet work can become our ultimate objective in life and our idol. Further, we can pour ourselves into it for years and feel like we have achieved nothing. Being fruitful and multiplying for both the man and the woman look different now and there are both wrought with toil or difficulty as a result.

The blessing (Genesis 3:15)

Despite the terrible news and consequences here, we need to realize that all of these things are meant to be driving forces to lead us back to God. God did not leave man without hope in this section. Verse 15 is a critical text for us to remember. It explains that there is going to be an ongoing conflict. This is pictured in many areas, but it is something decided by God - there will be a battle between the offspring of the serpent and the woman.

Now, he’s not talking about women fearing snakes. He is talking about something much greater, it is a battle between those who listen to God and those who listen to the serpent. (John 8:44) is a sample picture of this conflict when Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for being of their father, Satan. How? It was by listening to and following the influence of Satan.

The way that he does this is through sending Jesus - notice how Genesis zeroes in “her offspring” and on one “he”. See, the seed for genealogies always went through the man. But here, strangely, it speaks about the seed of woman. This is pointing to the virgin birth and the victory of God coming through a woman that was deceived. Jesus would crush the serpent.

God is set on bringing judgment on Satan, and giving victory to the sons of God. In 1 John 3:4-10 we have a window into this conflict. God is set on confronting sin and setting us free from its controlling power. Jesus is destroying the works of the devil. This starts with Jesus  changing our hearts and setting us free from sin’s grip. This will culminate in the redemption of our bodies, and to set free the creation from its bondage to corruption (Romans 8:23, 21).

Here in Genesis 3:15 we have the entire story of the Bible in seed form. We see the vision of what God wants, the problem, how God will fix things, and what the restoration will look like in the end. God himself will intervene, he will come for humanity and rescue them. In the hands of the king there will be healing. Healing for our relationship with God. Healing for ourselves. Healing for our relationships. Healing for all the world.

That process starts right now. Jesus has appeared and through his death he is destroying the devil and delivering us from our fear of death and slavery (Hebrews 2:14-15). As redeemed people, we experience that healing in part now and work to bring about that healing with God, ourselves, others, and the world while we wait for Jesus to crush the serpent (Roman 16:20).