Adam and Eve brought sin and death into the world. This is the basis of the Gospel. Another way to look at it is that we wouldn’t need the Gospel except for what happened with Adam and Eve.
So on one end we have the Problem in the Garden, and on the other end, we have the solution. Now, the truth is that the solution to the problem was entirely God’s plan, unfolding in God’s time.
What is wonderful for us is that we can describe this dilemma with the solution already provided.
The issue for many of us is that we often see many of the necessary steps as isolated, and disconnected from the Plan.
So this morning I thought I would spend a little time reviewing some of the necessary steps.
First, let’s quickly review what the problem is, we were created in God’s image in order to have a love relationship with Him. He did not create a race of robotic followers. For a time this worked, then the God given quality of free will created a crisis. Now this is a subject that has generated volumes of study. Important theologians have studied this, and looked at it from dozens of angles. “Free will” has been such a buzzword that it has been difficult to use without generating conflicting arguments.
For the purposes of this mornings message, I would like to summarize the Problem
In the Garden, as Adam & Eve deciding to “Go their own way”. We can agree that it was disobedience, that it might have been theft, that it was disrespectful, that it was choosing to listen to evil instead of good.
This is all true but perhaps all of this can be summarized as “going their own way”, which resulted in a broken relationship that was not the desire if God. God created us for that personal love relationship where our ability to “go our own way” was under control through love and understanding.
The very second that Adam & Eve broke the relationship God out in place a plan that would restore that relationship, and every word of scripture points to the necessary steps and individual actions that fulfills that Plan.
Think about it, it could have been God’s plan to inspire Cain to rectify his father’s sin and restore the the relationship with God. In fact, God has done this countless of times in scripture, empowering the son to rectify the wrongs of the father. It didn’t happen. Instead the sin of “going our own way” convinced Cain to slay his brother, causing generations to move further and further from the Lord.
This is not just a story, it is simply the first part of God’s marvelous plan of redemption and salvation. I know it seems dark and bleak, almost like a gothic mystery novel, but remember we know the end of the story, and it we apply the Spirit that lives within us, we can glimpse parts of His Plan.
There is part of us would like the solution quickly. We can grasp the awful consequences of losing the Garden, but certainly God could give us a solution within a generation or two. Okay, maybe Cain was bad news, but how about Seth? He wasn’t a bad guy, let him apologize and fix it. Well, it didn’t happen. The good thing about knowing that the solution is available, and that all the important parts were written about, is that we can look back and see the solution in perfect retrospect. God’s perfect retrospect.
The problem was that the issue was deeper than we could fathom. Imagine holding a plate. Imagine throwing the plate to the ground, shattering it into a thousand pieces. Imagine apologizing. It can be done, but the plate doesn’t come back together. Some actions have consequences that must be spiritually pieced back together in God’s time. The plate will always be broken, but the choice to break it can be controlled in time.
So fast forward to other “stories” in scripture. What does the culture of Noah tell us about solving the problem? Well, first of all, that we can’t do it ourselves. In fact people made very little effort, they made “going their own way” an artform so grievous that God was almost convinced to erase mankind from the Earth. Now He didn’t, because one man, one family, was found righteous and had made the right choices. So God selected him to play his part of the solution.
Does this mean that Noah’s righteous could have been enough for the solution? Sadly it was not so, the lesson is that the sin was so deep that after a while it creeps out and then multiplies. While Noah and his sons appear to get it, it wasn’t long before generationally there were bad choices appearing over and over. The lesson is that “the solution” may take years, and generations, of discipline.
Dealing with sin is a lot easier when it is repented of, and not repeated. But once we chose to follow our own way, God knew it was going to be a long trial and error period before we could control and subdue our actions. He wasn’t going to do it for us, but he would provide a way.
Looking back we can His plan was to create a people, a Chosen People, that would be called out, that would receive the Word, protect it, teach it through the generations, and eventually provide the lineage that would lead to the Savior. And the Savior would bring back individuals, families, and nations, into a relationship with the eternal God.
It took a longtime to get to Abraham, to find a leader who would guard God’s word and train the people up in the way they should go, out of their own free will, or maybe despite their free will. By the time Israel and his sons came along the stage was mostly set. A people had been identified and the basics of the truth, the one and only God, was established. But they were far from ‘trained up’ in controlling their free will.
It was very apparent that the tribe chosen to be the line of the Savior had huge problems. The most important appears to be the tendency to bring in Canaanite influence. The problem was that the very inheritance of the land was in danger, and the separation line between idol worshippers was blurred. How can God’s plan unfold if the people were lost?
God’s plan, made apparent through Joseph was a sort of quarantine. The Canaanites were thrilled to mix with the Hebrews. Many wives and a few husbands had come into the family of Hebrews with disastrous results. Why not remove the people to a region where there were not so attractive? Egypt was the perfect place, by-in-large the average Egyptian looked down upon the rough Hebrew shepherds. No intermarrying, no loss of culture and religion. The perfect place, but how to work it out to bring them there? Thus, the story of Joseph. It would have been disastrous to send the People down to Egypt without an inside man to protect them in the initial years. Later, they would be strong enough, strong enough to even survive slavery. But the first few years would be crucial years so God provided the perfect solution. He would have a favorite son of the leadership family to go to Egypt, and in a sense, grease the wheels for the transition to a new land, removing the entire people to the land of Egypt.
The family had already sojourned to Egypt during Abraham’s leadership, and they knew that in times of drought that Egypt may provide temporary respite. The idea of staying for an extended time was not thought about, for the had the ‘Promised Land’ in their cultural memory.
Going back to the mess that was eight sons, pitted against three sons. The actually tally was six sons of Leah, the unloved wife, combined with two sons of the unloved concubine on one side, then two sons of the concubine (who may have conspired with Rueben to become the head wife) partly aligned with Rachel, and finally the youngest son Joseph who born to Rachel, the loved wife, the wife of Jacob’s dreams, the reason he went to Haran in the first place.
Because of free will, Rueben choose to change the outcome of Jacob favoring. He did one of the most insulting things of the times. The son choosing one of the father’s wives and bedding her. Basically saying the father is no longer capable of being in charge of his family or virile enough to be head of the harem. It is also possible that Reuben was making an attempt to bring in Bilhah to join with the eight sons that made the Leah contingent, meaning that is was going to be ten sons on one side and lonely Joseph on the other.
In fact, that does appear to be what Joseph was already dreaming. His brothers or sheaves, all bowing to him. This was pretty cheeky.
The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’
Adonai will kneel before you presenting gifts and will guard you with a hedge of protection, Adoni will illuminate the wholeness of his being toward you, bringing order, and he will beautify you, Adoni will lift up his wholeness of being, and look upon you, and he will set in place all you need to be whole and complete!