Preaching through Genesis has had me spending more time thinking about the narrative structure of the Old Testament lately. Last week as I was studying to preach Genesis 20-21 it struck me again that one of the main points of the whole Old Testament is also one of the simplest:
There is no human saviour, only humans who need one.
One of the very first things God does when humans sin is announce that he has a plan to bring a saviour, who will be born of a woman, so that right from the beginning our hopes are raised. With each new covenant and each new child miraculously born in the line of promise we’re to ask in anticipation: Is this the saviour?
But the narrative structure of the Old Testament makes it clear again and again that no human can be a sufficient saviour. Every spiritual climax soon descends into disaster and the heroics of faithful men are quickly followed by failure.
Think about the pattern:
Satan doesn’t have new tactics. He doesn’t need them. The process of temptation and fall into sin and its consequences looks the same so much of the time.
Learning from Those Who’ve Failed
The first few chapters of the Bible give us good insight into the ways that sin & temptation work. Adam and Eve fail. Their children and their grandchildren after them fail. How was it that sin worked to bring them down and what can we learn?
Here are just a couple practical suggestions for fighting temptation as gleaned from Genesis 3-4.
1. Get Outside Perspective
The power of temptation is bound up in the moment. In the rush of debate, Eve didn’t pause to consider the ramifications of questioning God’s words. She didn’t ask Adam, ‘Hey what did God actually say anyway?’ Still less did she think to herself, ‘Maybe we should ask God for some clarity on why we can’t have the fruit from this tree.’ But part of the lure of the temptation to sin is the seductive voice that says, ‘You determine right & wrong for yourself. You make your own laws.’
This should go without saying, but we must not pastor like Adam. It should go without saying, but because we live in a fallen world, and our hearts are prone to forgetting what we know, I need to remind myself not to pastor like Adam.
Adam Had a Charge
In Genesis 2, when Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden he was given a specific command by God. As the ‘priest and protector’ of the Garden (the dwelling place of God with man), and the one who had received the commission directly, Adam was to ensure that as he ‘filled the earth and subdued it’, those who filled the earth knew of this command.
Studying and preaching the opening chapters of Genesis over the past little while has forced me to think about the relationship of science and biblical interpretation all over again. It was with great interest that I read Richard Belcher’s review of C. John Collins’ new book, Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? (HT: Challies)
I have not read Collins’ book, so I’m in no position to comment on it (spoiler alert: Collins affirms the historical existence of Adam & Eve). But something Belcher said stuck out to me.
In the beginning God created all things, but according to Genesis 1, the climax of God’s creation was humanity. God literally ‘saved the best for last.’ He made them alike, male and female, in his image, after his likeness. He created them with distinct beauty and inherent value and dignity. They were (and are) equal, but different.
Does the Bible Attribute Less Value to Women?
Sometimes skeptics try to make the case that the Bible runs women down of makes little of women. In my study last week, however, I was reminded of just the opposite. Here, in point form, are some of the evidences from the creation account of how highly Scripture views women.