*This article originally appeared in the Hillsdale Daily News
Death is not good. We all know this. When someone whom we love dies, we cry. We feel torn apart inside and there is a good reason for this. Death is not the way it was supposed to be. We read, in the opening chapters of the Bible, about how God brought life out of nothing. After every day of creation there was the pronouncement that it was good. Once everything had been created, God looked upon it all and saw that it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
In light of everything being “very good” we have to wonder what went wrong. Surely a world of death and decay is not very good. A world where storms destroy lives and homes is not very good. A world where it seems that the wicked prosper and the righteous often suffer is not very good.
What happened that turned the world upside down? Genesis gives us the answer. In a word it is sin. The entrance of sin into the world had a devastating impact. It affected not just Adam and Eve but all of creation. Relationships, like marriage, that were meant for love would now become a struggle. The ground that had given food to Adam and Eve would not yield thorns and thistles, making the process of bringing forth food more difficult.
Thankfully, the Bible does not stop there. If it did then there would be no hope and no reason to press on. But God’s word goes on to describe a promise of restoration. The promise was so fantastic that it was hard for people to believe. In fact, early on God found only a few who would believe. The promise was that God himself would send someone who would defeat Satan and beat even sin and death (Genesis 3:15).
The Bible is an account of God brought this about. First, in the Old Testament, we see him first working through individuals and families. He calls Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Then he calls Moses to serve him and to lead his new people out of slavery. Once they come out of Egypt, the nation of Israel is established at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19-20).
One thing keeps happening over and over in the story. Sin ruins everything. Noah trusts God but then gives himself to drunkenness once he gets off the boat. Abraham believes God but then fears man and so gives his wife away (Genesis 12 and 20). Moses argues with God (Exodus 3) and becomes so angry with the people that he is told that he will not enter the Promised Land.
When we come to the people of God in the land we find them almost rushing to give away the promises. They turn to other gods, bowing down to idols. They look at the nations around them and desire what they have and so they forsake the one true God. In fact, by the end of the Old Testament it’s all a question of how God could possibly fulfill his promises since the people are so sinful.
The New Testament opens with a single man, crying out in the wilderness. He announces the arrival of the Lord. But even as Jesus, God Incarnate, steps into history we see that sin is always threatening to undo God’s promise. His disciples misunderstand him, the religious leaders reject him, and the Roman authorities are worried he’s a threat to their way of life.
In the end he is arrested, beaten, mocked, spit on, and crucified. As the curtain closes on God’s story it seems that the sin is victorious. Not even God can overcome it. But then the resurrection happens and everything is made clear. Jesus did not come to make sinners better. He came to defeat Satan, sin, and death. He came to die.
I am beginning a new sermon series this week, on Sunday nights at 6 PM, called “Understanding God’s Story.” Each night we will begin in Garden of Eden, in Genesis 1-3, and consider a different topic. We will trace it throughout Scripture in order to see how God works to bring about his promised Savior, Jesus Christ. Ultimately, we’ll end in Revelation each night to consider how God’s word applies to our lives now and how it points us to the future when sin and death are no more. We meet in the Dow Leadership Center (22 E. Galloway Dr in Hillsdale). The service lasts 1 hour. For more information, call 517-437-4462.