We are taking a look at the 7 Core values of The Christian and Missionary Alliance and specifically looking at passages of Scripture that talk about those core values. Last week we started with Core Value #1. “Lost People Matter to God, He wants them found.”
So today I thought it would be good to dig into this idea of lost and found, by going way back to the beginning and taking a look at God’s original plan and how that was broken and we became lost, and how that leads to God’s plan to reconcile us to himself so that we can be found.
Turn with me in your Bibles to the book of beginnings, the book of Genesis, chapter 2. Let’s start in Genesis 2 with the detailed description of God creating man, picking things up in verse 7.
“7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
Lets notice a few important parts of this passage. First Adam is formed from the dust. We actually see in Scripture the image of God as the potter and us as the clay as he molds us and makes us, and that image really begins here with the image of God making Adam out of the dust or clay of the ground
Second, man is different than the rest of God’s creation. Let me point out just two ways. First of all notice that God used his hands in forming man. Maybe not literally his hands, but he specifically formed man, compared to the rest of creation that he spoke into existence. Notice that he himself actually breathes into man the breath of life. Also in chapter 1 we find out that man was made in God’s image. We are definitely different than the rest of creation, but make no mistake about it; we are still part of God’s creation. Third in these verses we see the location of man. God specifically places man in the Garden of Eden. As we continue on I want us to think about God’s original plan for man as we see it unfold in these passages
Let’s move on Genesis 2:15-18: “15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Notice in verse 18 that God for the first time points out something that is not good. Everything else up until this point about creation has been good. Throughout chapter 1 we see it over and over again with creation that God saw that it was good. But in verse 18 God points out something that is not good. It is not good for man to be alone. We were created for community and relationship with one another and with God. Man and God have an intimate relationship going on in this picture. God has gathered man from the dust, breathed life into him, given him direction and dominion over the earth, as well as some boundaries, he has given him Eve so that they have a relationship with one another and God himself has some form of relationship with them. But there is something else in this passage that is not good, at least not for them. It is not good for them to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There are a few reasons that this tree is not good. Ultimately it is not good, because God said so. If they eat of it they will die. That’s not good. Remember they have the tree of life, so they were created with eternity in mind. But if they eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they will die. God knows what is best for them. Just like he knew it was not good for them to be alone, he also knows it is not good for them to eat from this tree. But they have to trust him that he knows what is good for them and what is not. So he commands them to not eat of that one tree. Now remember the specifics of that command, because that will come up again later.
Let’s skip ahead just a little bit to Genesis 3:1-5 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The way this is written it sure seems like it is literally talking about a serpent. A different kind of serpent than we are used to, because it talks, but still some kind of serpent, because it says it is a beast of the field that God had made. Now based on the conversation itself, we tend to think that Satan is involved, but he is never actually mentioned. The serpent has a plan. He got eve to question God and to question God’s word and his plan for their lives. First he twists God’s word and says did God really say you couldn’t eat of any of these trees? He is trying to make God look bad or like he does not have their best interests in mind. Remember God made all of this and said they could eat any of it, except for the fruit from this one tree. Eve was tricked by the serpent and even started misquoting God, in Genesis 3:3. The first difference is that she slightly minimizes how God has surely given them every tree to eat from. And then she takes away the significance of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, by not naming it and just speaking vaguely about it’s location. And then she added, “Neither shall you touch it.” Just a little skewed from what God actually said. It seems like the serpent’s scheme was working just a bit. Then the serpent even flat out lied and contradicted God when he says, you will not surely die. He is calling God a liar and making it seem like God is trying to keep something good from her. But God was not trying to rob Eve of something good. God knew what was best for her and had put up boundaries to keep her from what would wreck that.
Look at what Eve did in Genesis 3:6-7 “6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”
She thought the tree was good for food, it was a delight to the eyes, and desired to make her wise. The serpent had gotten her to distinguish what was good based on certain criteria, rather than trusting God when he said it was not good for them. Sometimes people blame women as if sin is all Eve’s fault, but Adam was right there with her. After they ate their eyes were opened and they realized they were naked. So they made clothes out of leaves. They were naked before but it didn’t bother them because they were still innocent like a child. After eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil all of a sudden their nakedness was not the same anymore and they were ashamed. Then God arrives in Genesis 3:8-11 “8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” These verses seem to indicate that God walking in the Garden was a normal thing. That there was a fellowship that Adam and Eve had with God in the garden before sin entered the picture. Before sin, life had been the way God intended. The garden was a great place with no sin, no death, no pain, no guilt, no shame, and where man and God walked together in fellowship it was paradise. But sin broke that perfect picture. After Adam and Eve sinned the hid when they heard God coming. God walked through the Garden calling for them and asking, “Where are you?” This question implies lostness. Adam and Eve were lost. Not lost as in God didn’t know where they were, but the intimate relationship that they had with him was broken. Their sin separated them from God. The communion they had enjoyed was no longer there. He doesn’t want to be separated from Adam and Eve. He doesn’t want them hiding from him. Adam answers in fear, explaining that he hid because he was ashamed of his nakedness. And notice the weird thing that God says next, “Who told you that you were naked? “Now I don’t know about you, but when I am naked I don’t need anybody to tell me that I am naked. I can figure that out for myself. God asked because before they ate of the tree they did not notice their nakedness. But, after eating the fruit their eyes were opened to their nakedness and there was guilt and shame. Notice how they then respond in Genesis 3:12-13. “12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” They are basically playing the blame game. We all do this. We rationalize our sin, we blame others, and we try to make it sound like it isn’t so bad. God wants us to be honest with him and with ourselves that we are sinners. As we read the next passage notice the different consequences of sin that we have for everyone in Genesis 3:14-19. “14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” 16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” 17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” 20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. 22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the Garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”
So Adam and Eve receive some tough news here about the consequences to their sin. Adam and Eve each get different consequences such as difficulty in childbearing for women and harder labor for man. There are also consequences that they both share. They would no longer live forever. Remember that God had told them that if they ate of the tree they would surely die. It wasn’t immediate, but before eating of that tree they had eternal life and after eating of that tree they didn’t. God had warned them and they didn’t listen. They were also Banned from Garden, and they no longer in paradise with God. The worst consequence is that the relationship they had with God is broken. They have been separated because of their sin. It’s ironic, they ate the fruit of the tree because they wanted to be more like God, but the end result was that it separated them from God. They became lost. There is still hope, and I want to point out three pieces of hope in these verses. The first glimmer of hope is found in Eve’s name, which means, “Mother of all living”. Life will go on. The story is not over. Second, notice in verse 21 that God does not leave them naked, he clothes them. He obviously still loves and cares for them. Thirdly, there is also something back in verses 14-15 with the curse on the serpent.
“So the Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
And all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
And you will eat dust
All the days of your life.
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.”
Some call this the protevangelium, which means the first good news. That it points ahead to Jesus and the cross. It is a glimpse ahead to the Gospel and that while Jesus would be crucified; he would rise again signaling the end of Satan, sin, and sin’s curse.
When sin entered the picture man’s relationship with God was broken. We became lost. But God was not satisfied with that, and he made a way for that relationship to be restored and for us to be with him forever in paradise, and that comes through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. If we believe in him we can move from being lost to being found. That happens simply by believing that God loves us and sent his son to restore this relationship and through faith receiving that which he has done for us. We move from being lost or separated from God, to being found, or restored to a right relationship with him. And amazingly that leads us back to paradise, with an eternity with him in Heaven, coming full circle to his original plan.