Text: Genesis 3:8-15
Date: Pentecost II + 6/10/12
The Word before us today requires your acceptance, agreement and belief that there is a person-ality behind all evil, conflict, hatred, mayhem and murder in the world. That person is Beelzebul, Satan, the fallen angel called the devil. Many, including Jesus’ own family, tried to explain His growing popularity, His miracles and even His casting out of unclean spirits. His family said, “He is out of his mind.” But the officials from the head shed in Jerusalem charged Him, saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” The truth is that behind all evil is the spiritual warfare of which the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians, saying, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:11-12). The old evil foe continues his warring madness to this day trying to take down as many with him as he can before the final judgment. By faith in Christ our Lord Himself gives us the defensive armor to withstand the devil’s schemes and the one offensive weapon, namely, the Word of God. As you hear God’s Word today it is a most uncomfortable and troublesome moment for the prince of demons.
It was to defeat Satan that Christ endured temptation and finally disarmed and bound the devil by His holy life and innocent death on the cross. This great victory was promised already in the Garden of Eden when sin first entered the world in the words of the curse oracle against the serpent, “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.”
There were Adam and Eve. Eve was tempted by the devil to disobey God and eat from the one tree of which they were commanded not to eat. Instead of stopping her Adam just stood there, finally taking a bite himself. Suddenly they knew that it was they who had been bitten and they hid themselves. They hid from each other. They hid from the devil. They even tried to hide from God. And generations ever since have been trying to hide, too. People hide from God because deep down they know, they have calculated, as did our first parents, that not only is it not to our advantage to be around God but it is a downright threatening thing. I mean, why is it the normal tendency of people not to go to church, to stay away from that which claims to be God’s dwelling place? Why isn’t it, rather, the other way around, people crowding churches and earthly temples; a phenomenon that happens, it seems, only in times of national or natural disasters, and then only briefly until the threat passes?
It was as they were hiding that, we are told, “they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” Have you ever wondered what that “sound” was? What does God “sound like” when He moves about? Was it like a breeze of wind rustling the leaves on the trees? On the Day of Pentecost it was a “sound like a mighty, rushing wind.”
Then came the little game of hide and seek. It would be almost comical if it weren’t so tragic. Notice that the Lord God called not to the woman or even to both of them together but He called to the man. Oh, he would try to pawn off the blame on his wife (v. 12), but he, ultimately, was the responsible party. In God’s order of creation it is the man who bears the burden of authority. It is the man who leaves his father and his mother and holds fast to his wife with whom they become one flesh (Gen 2:24; Mt 19:5). It is no wonder that sin would turn things around, men abandoning their place and responsibility as head, including spiritual head of the family; and these days even the attempt to redefine marriage, which can only be between one man and one woman. Oh, you can “call” other arrangements “marriage” but that doesn’t hide what those other arrangements really are, namely, sin.
Notice also that God does not play the psychiatrist or counselor calling to Adam saying, “Who are you?” The question, “Where are you?” strikes at the most important issue of sin, namely, the disruption of a person’s relationship with God, with other people, with the world and even with yourself. Sin means separation, enmity, and loneliness. It means “nakedness,” that is, the ability to consider your self completely apart from God or others.
Thank God that He didn’t just give up, throw up His hands, so to speak, and say, “Well, isn’t it too bad that this happened.” No. Rather, He spoke a mighty Word, a Word that had the power both to judge, condemn and punish sin while at the same time saving and redeeming the sinner and His whole creation at the same time. “For,” as St. Paul said, “the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Rom 8:20-22).
It is called a “curse oracle.” With these words the coarse is set for the entire rest of the Bible. Jesus Christ is the promised offspring of Eve come not just to bruise but to completely crush the enemy, the adversary, the devil. On the cross—
It was a strange and dreadful strife
When life and death contended;
The victory remained with life,
The reign of death was ended.
Holy Scripture plainly saith
That death is swallowed up by death,
Its sting is lost forever. Alleluia! (LSB 458:4)
The great hope of salvation is not to return to Eden, only to the way God originally intended things to be, but to go forward through the cross, the death and resurrection of Christ who leads those who have followed Him through the waters of Holy Baptism, sustained by His mighty Word and sacrament, to join as pilgrims marching through the present darkness till the golden day dawns of the resurrection of all flesh. For,
At last the march shall end;
The wearied ones shall rest;
The pilgrims find their home at last,
Jerusalem the blest.
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing! (LSB 813:6)