************ Sermon on Genesis 3:9 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 13, 2014
"A Seeking and Saving God"
Walt Visser Funeral
I The Fall into Sin
A Think about the perfection of the Garden. It was well-watered (Gen 2:10). It was well-provisioned with food (Gen 2:16). It was a place of beauty (Gen 2:9). It was a place where man enjoyed fellowship with God (Gen 3:8), with each other (Gen 2:22-24), and with creation (Gen 2:19). It was a place of peace and harmony and rest. It was a place where man knew no need.
Think about the perfection of the first man. He was made in God's image (Gen 1:26-27). He received God's breath (Gen 2:7). He received meaningful work (Gen 2:15). He was given authority over the fish, the birds, and every living creature that moves on the ground (Gen 1:28). Man knew His Creator. His heart and will were righteous. His emotions were pure. The whole man was holy.
B Everything was perfect. Yet, we all know what happened. In the original Hebrew it is only eight words: "She took and ate ... gave ... and he ate." So simple the act. "She took and ate ... gave ... and he ate."
This marked the start of mankind's misery and ruin. This marked the start of sadness and pain. This marked the start of everything that is wrong on this earth and with this life and in this body. The peace of the Garden was shattered. Adam's relationship with God was broken. Adam's relationship with Eve was fractured. Adam's relationship with Creation was damaged.
We feel the result today, don't we?! Sin and evil – like an invading army – floods into human life and destroys kindness, perverts justice, deceives children, kills babies, hurts the elderly, leads all sorts of people into drugs and alcohol, wrecks families, puts down the poor, gets girls pregnant, pulls down good rulers and props up bad ones, bribes policemen, and ruins all that is good and wholesome and beautiful.
It makes you want to shake your fist at heaven and shout out, "Why? Why God? Why did you permit Adam to fall?"
Those who know Walt and Barb and their history know they experienced many blessings; but they also experienced first-hand the brokenness, loss, sadness, and stress that became man's lot after the fall into sin. There were tears. There was illness. There were broken relationships. There was loss. There was anger. There was hurt. There was bitterness, even hatred. Words were said that should never have been said. It was all there.
This, too, makes you want to shake your fist at heaven and shout out, "Why? Why God? Why did you permit Adam – and us in Adam – to fall?"
C As a pastor, I see more than my share of grief and misery. So more than once I have tried to imagine what life would be like if the first man and woman had not fallen into sin. Man and woman would marry and multiply. Eventually, the Garden would be extended to cover the whole face of the earth; the order and dominion and beauty of the Garden would be universal. Husbands would love wives, wives would love husbands, children would love their parents. Though the number of humans would greatly increase, they would remain one big happy family. The creation would be ruled but not raped. Animals would be used but not abused. Holding everything together would be a love for the Almighty Creator. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would remain untouched. And, man would eat freely from the Tree of Life. What a peaceful, beautiful picture.
D But this was not to be – at least not on the first earth. Because, "She took and ate ... gave ... and he ate."
When this happened, did Adam and Eve run for help to God, their life, their light, their source of being? Did they run in shame to the God Who had made them and blessed them and fed them? Did they confess their sin and ask for mercy? Anything but! "They hid from the Lord God" (Gen 3:8). They tried to hide their sin and their shame. They tried to hide from His holy presence. They tried to hide from the punishment they deserved. Instead of eagerly going to God, they hid among the trees of the Garden. Throughout Scripture, this is the impulse of fallen humanity: to hide from the presence of God. Not realizing, of course, that none of us can ever hide from His presence.
Here is a lesson on how lost man really is. There are those who think fallen man can repent and believe on his own. That fallen man can make a decision for Christ. That fallen man is capable of coming to God. This passage reminds us that no sinner will in any way flee from sin, repent of evil, and turn to Jesus. Instead, we flee from God or hide from God or turn away from God. We do everything but go to the only source of comfort and strength and healing.
Walt knew the misery and pain of sin in his life. About a month ago he talked to me about this. I asked him to tell his family what he told me, but he refused. However, he gave me permission to share it with you. Like Adam and Eve, Walt had forbidden fruit in his life. He admitted to me his problem was with alcohol. He told me this led to all sorts of issues with family and business. "They kept telling me and I wouldn't listen," he said. Like Adam and Eve, he went into hiding. He was in denial.
II The Seeking Grace of God
A When Adam and Eve hid from God, when they ducked for cover, when they tried to make themselves invisible and escape from their deeds, did God leave them alone? Did God leave them in their shame and fear? Did God permit them to continue like everything is okay?
We notice in our Scripture reading that God responded immediately to the problem of human sin. Adam and Eve go into hiding and the Lord God chases them down. He doesn't permit them to remain in hiding. God pursues the first couple. He asks, "Where are you?"
B "Where are you?" Isn't this the picture of God that we find throughout Scripture? He is the shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine to find the one lost sheep. He is the father looking for the lost son. He is the widow searching desperately for the lost coin. He is a seeking and a saving God.
"Where are you?" This is a word from the all-knowing, all-seeing, everywhere-present God. So of course God knew the where of Adam and Eve. So of course He knew what they had done. So of course He knew their shame. "Where are you?" It is a question, not a command, not an accusation, not a rebuke. It has all the marks of grace. It is intended to draw man out rather than drive man away. The almighty and holy God was giving Adam an opportunity to confess his sin.
C "Where are you?" God pursues Adam and Eve with His questions. And just like that Adam and Eve, who had been in hiding, express their fear of the holy God. They confess their sin and their shame. They admit their brokenness. And God announces His plan of salvation through the Seed of the woman Who will crush the head of the serpent. God announces that because of Christ there is salvation and victory over sin.
But notice the order: it is God Who looks for man; it is not man who looks for God. "Where are you?" It has to be this way because fallen man, on his own, never looks for God. It has to be this way because fallen man, on his own, is incapable of looking for God. It has to be this way, otherwise fallen man cannot flee from sin, repent of evil, and turn to Jesus.
D "Where are you?" Walt and I were talking about his funeral. Walt mentioned these words of God to Adam and Eve. "Preach on this at my funeral," he said with tears in his eyes. "We are saved only because God searches for us." He believed this with all his heart and soul and wanted this to be the legacy he left behind for his family and friends. It was personal, you see, because God had searched him out.
Bev said something to Walt on one of her last visits: "See you later dad." "Maybe," he said, as he pointed upwards to heaven and to Jesus. Walt knew he was a sinner. But Walt also knew he was a forgiven sinner because, in Christ, ours is a seeking and a saving God.
We've been looking at Adam and Eve and Walt. But now it is time to look at you and me.
I want every person here to realize you are just as sinful and just as fallen as Adam, Eve, and Walt. I want you to realize that your natural inclination is to hide from the holy God. I want you to realize that you try to hide your sin and your shame. I want you to realize that you want to hide from the punishment you deserve.
But God searches you out just like He searched out Adam, Eve, and Walt. "Where are you?"
Today, God uses His Word and Spirit to do what He did directly with Adam and Eve. We can hide but He searches us out with the Gospel. He says "Come to me!" "Repent of your sins!" "Believe in Jesus!" With His Word and Spirit, God searches out sinners and brings them to repentance and faith.
"Where are you?" Do you hear Him calling? Do you hear Him calling you to repent and believe? Do you hear Him calling you to escape the punishment you so richly deserve?
"Where are you?" I want to tell you, the family and friends of Walt, that he heard the call. That God searched him out. And now, because of Jesus, Walt has been forgiven. Can the same be said of you?
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