Injustice

by Robin Brace

READING: ISAIAH 59.

“WHY is our society in such a mess?” the newspaper article which I was reading asked.

“We have all of this money which we can throw at social problems, our educational system has been described as one of the best – if not the best – in the world. We have been called ‘the seat of democracy’, and yet, crime stalks our city streets every evening after darkness falls. The police despair of our new ‘youth clubs culture’ which pours out hundreds of young people onto our city streets in the small hours of the morning – when these clubs close, especially at weekends. Frequently fights then break out among some of these immature youngsters – tieing up precious police resources. Many of these young people are often found to be too young even to have been in such places! Where are the parents of those kids??”

Of course, this newspaper report was telling the truth. Actually, these things are symptoms of a disease, but it is not a physical disease – it’s a disease of a moral and spiritual nature which is affecting our peoples.

In the last few years we have also increasingly been seeing attacks by young thugs on elderly people – we are also seeing ‘road rage’ attacks where some thug resents the fact that you overtook his car 2 miles back. You have forgotten about it, but he plans to attack you at the next traffic lights! We are seeing ‘hoodies’ (about 3-7 young people) attack unsuspecting passers-by and filming the vicious attack on their camcorders so they can watch the incident and enjoy a good laugh about it later! In several such cases lone young women have been attacked in this way. I could go on…. WHAT IS GOING ON IN OUR LAND??

Well the theme of Isaiah 59 is injustice!

But what is injustice?

Well, it might help to – first of all – define what justice is, because injustice will then be the opposite of that.

According to my dictionary,

“Justice is the quality of being just; propriety; impartiality; fairness – including some system of merited award or punishment.”

Ambrose said,

“The rule of justice is plain, namely, that a good man ought not to swerve from the truth, nor to inflict any unjust loss on anyone, nor to act in any way deceitfully or fraudulently.”

More recently (and more succinctly!), Benjamin Disraeli said,

“Justice is truth in action.”

I must admit that I like that definition: Justice is Truth in Action!

You know truth, equity and justice are important to God! Psalm 89:14 says that,

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne…” (Psalm 89:14, NKJV).

In the prophecy of Jeremiah 23:5, we are told that the Messiah is…

“…A king who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” (Jeremiah 23:5, NIV).

I am dividing this sermon into 3 sections:

THE CAUSES OF INJUSTICE.

THE EFFECTS OF INJUSTICE.

THE SOLUTION TO INJUSTICE.

1. THE CAUSES OF INJUSTICE.

Please read Isaiah 59:1-2. with me. Look, I know that that little word, ‘sin’ is no longer considered a very politically-correct word in our society, but sometimes we just have to call a spade a spade! We witness a society which is largely cut off from God because of its sins. It puts me in mind of Psalm 18:41 where it says, ‘THEY CRIED for help,………but there was no one to save them.’ Cut off because of our iniquities. A barrier, then, between our society and God. Of course, very few in our land even believe that they should cry out to God anymore – especially many of our liberally-influenced leaders. Generally speaking, they think that any concept of God or of sin is now pretty much irrelevant in our sophisticated and “advanced” 21st century! At best, some kind of ‘crutch’ which may help the more religious types cope with life’s stresses.

You see, our opinion-shapers and opinion-moulders now say, ‘Oh, its fine to have your ‘personal religion’, but it’s just that: your ‘personal religion’ – don’t try to evangelize it because that is confrontational!’ Don’t try to claim that your religion has any superior truth claims over any other religion or philosophy because that is aggressive! But, of course, as Bible-believing Christians we have a problem with that, don’t we?

Nothwithstanding certain merits in other religions (which we do not deny) we believe that the Christian Gospel and the name of Jesus Christ DOES have superior truth claims, and we can never deny that.

Verse 2 of Isaiah 59 (NKJ) says,

“Your iniquities have separated you from your God”-

There is a separation, an alienation, a gulf – but ONLY Christianity fully undersatands this separation and gulf and ONLY Christianity provides a solution – you find that in no other religion !

That separation was caused by the work of the ‘First Adam’, the solution and reconciliation comes through the work of the ‘Second Adam’: The Lord Jesus Christ! And as Paul wrote to Timothy,

“Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19, NKJV).

And, he might have added, that is only possible through Jesus Christ. Oh, I do not say that members of other religions are “doomed”, as a few have so unwisely said, God alone will be their judge and I happen to believe that He will be supremely merciful on that Day of Judgment – which is nearer today than it was yesterday, but I DO SAY (and this is not negotiable for Christians) that we can only be saved through Christ – He is the doorway into Eternal Life!! We believe that – which is a major reason why we are Christians!

Does that knowledge, acceptance and resultant grace make us perfect? No way! Not in this life! For the moment, we have to struggle on – warts and all!

So, the root causes of injustice? REJECTION OF GOD – AND WHERE GOD IS REJECTED TODAY, MORAL INFAMY AND TYRANNY WILL FOLLOW TOMORROW! That’s the lesson of the Bible and it’s the lesson of human history.

You know, it is sometimes forgotten that Adolf Hitler and his Nazi thugs plotted to replace the influence of the Lutheran Church over the German people. It was easy to discredit the other German politicians but in order to discredit the Church they knew they also had to give National Socialism a religious facade which they did in all manner of evil and conniving ways. The pastors who objected to this were simply thrown into prison. But when Hitler’s henchmen lyingly plotted to overthrow the Lutheran Church they did not realize that they was directly attacking Christ – Germany’s fate was sealed! They brought a terrible fate on the German people as a result.

‘Where there is no vision the people perish….’

2. THE EFFECTS OF INJUSTICE.

Well, look all around you. But lets read on: Please read Isaiah 59:3-4.

You see justice and injustice have many facets. When we think of that word ‘justice’ we may initially think of a court of law – perhaps we think of the sham of justice when murders and molestors can go free because they can afford the top lawyers and the top legal counsel teams – when the guilty go free but the rights of the oppressed are not upheld. Let me tell you here today that when such things happen that is a stench in God’s nostrils! But God is aware – and He is the supreme judge!! He is the final arbiter! – and there is no higher court than the court of Heaven!!

But the topic of injustice spreads to every area of life.

Verses 5-10.

‘AT MIDDAY THEY STUMBLE AS IF IT WERE TWILIGHT’ – thats spiritual blindness. Its not physical blindness. If a person is physically blind, they are aware of that, but the spiritually blind are unaware of their desperate situation. To believe – as this society does – that we are enlightened, sophisticated in knowledge and socially advancing, when the truth is that we are morally bankrupt, sincerely believing – because of our spiritual tunnel vision – that if a problem cannot be solved with money then there is no hope that it can be solved. That too is a form of injustice: when the simple and perhaps naïve look to a nation’s leaders for wisdom and guidance but are directed down a spiritual cul-de-sac of despair, hopelessness, materialism and desperation! That – I put it to you – is this land of ours in 2004.

The opinion-shapers in the media and elsewhere believe that, to quote Christian philosopher Peter Kreeft, ‘The only sin is to believe in sin, the only thing we should judge is judgmentalism and the only thing we should ever condemn is condemnation!.’ Smooth, pleasant, politically-correct niceties – but this Book disagrees with that! THERE IS such a thing as sin and it ruins lives and it leads to injustice. Its path is the path leading to all wretchedness! Why did Christ have to die on the cross? Because of sin!! We must beware of newer theologies which seem to say that maybe sin isn’t so bad after all. It is so serious that we could be restored to God in no other way but through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus! Liberal theology says that Christ was crucified and resurrected just as our fine and inspiring example, but that is not true, its a subtle deception because it sounds nice and cosy and we can get taken in by it. No! As evangelicals we are bound to uphold ‘sustituitionary atonement’ – its a difficult term but it just means that Christ HAD to die in order for us to be reconciled to God – there was no other way. He died in our place – Now thats the reality!

Verses 14-15. Please ensure that we are all reading these verses.

God does not change in character. He said this of Israel and He says this of us today. Where there is no God, there is no justice! And a lack of justice brings eventual judgment.

So we live in this society which believes that money and education (it means purely materialistic education) can solve all ills, and if a problem is stubborn what do they do? Throw more money at it! But if those problems are of a moral and spiritual sort (like most of modern society’s problems) then no amount of money thrown at them can ever solve them!! Why don’t our leaders recognise that? Because of spiritual blindness! To underline that, did you know that as prosperity increases so does the suicide rate? Oh, thats proven – no secret about that. Impoverished third world countries enjoy a tiny suicide rate! No, money can never be a solution, in fact it often makes things worse because it initially masks the tough moral decisions which need to be faced up to! One day very soon Almighty God will have our societies face up to the fact that the ‘Almighty Dollar and the ‘Almighty Pound’ are not the magic panacea for all our problems!

Now, in the case of Israel, they didn’t have so much money, but it’s the same story: a society which once knew God getting themselves into a mess by departing from Him and coming to see the solutions in all the wrong places!!

So we have looked at some of the effects of injustice and if time allowed I could mention more but we need to move on.

3. THE SOLUTION TO INJUSTICE.

Okay, here comes the solution. Please read verses 17-20 with me.

Jesus Christ is the solution. Let me repeat that: JESUS CHRIST IS THE SOLUTION! But these verses also speak of the judgment of those who reject Him. He is the Rock, but tragically for some He will be the Rock which they will stumble upon. It says, ‘The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who REPENT of their sins’ Repentance is vital! What is true repentance?
It is an about-turn from spiritual blindness to spiritual ilumination.
It is an about-turn from spiritual despair to spiritual hope,
And it is an about-turn from spiritual brokeness to spiritual joy.

This chaper concludes with a few words of encouragement to us! Some words intended for the Body of Christ:

‘”As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit , who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and for ever,” says the LORD.’ (NIV).

That is the New Covenant. It says, ‘My Spirit who is on you and My words that I have put in your mouth…’ Brothers and Sisters in Christ, thats the Holy Spirit of God – that’s why we are here – because the Holy Spirit has given us an understanding and comprehension of these matters of the Spirit – that is why we are here this fine Sunday morning – no other reason to be here! The Holy Spirit has led us to this point and we have to keep following His lead. The trouble is, humanly, we would prefer to hold back a little wouldn’t we? To keep something in reserve. To certainly commit ourselves to Christ, but perhaps only 60% of ourselves. There is somehow something so human in that. Yet the most urgent need of our day is for Christians to re-dedicate themselves to the Master! To DRINK IN CHRIST – STRAIGHT! Not mixed with these other things in our lives which we rely too much upon. But maybe our subconscious mind says, ‘Hey, that could be dangerous, you never know what He could do with you! After all, Aslan is not a tame Lion!!’ Thats right. And until we all commit ourselves 100% to Christ – yes, I include myself in this criticism we have no idea how powerfully God could use any one of us in His glorious service!

Lets read Romans 12:1 together.

So Isaiah 59 can be applied to our society of today just as much as to the Israel of around 750 BC – hopelessly cut off from God. But we are not entirely without hope and that hope and solution is in Jesus Christ.

How wonderful that God is a forgiving God,
how wonderful that God separated His people from their sins as far as the east is from the west and how wonderful that what God starts He promises to see through!

Lets finish by reading Romans 8:28-39. Please read these words with me.

Robin Brace. 2005.

(This is a Sermon Which Was Being Given by Mr Robin Brace BD, in Various South Wales, UK, Churches Around 2002-2004).

UK APOLOGETICS

What in the World is Happening – Part 4

Isaiah 46:3-11

 by Paul George

A spiritual war that began in the spiritual realm of God’s kingdom spreads to the physical realm. Defeated in the spiritual realm Satan sets his sight on the physical realm of God’s kingdom. Through the disobedience of Adam and Eve sin and death enters the perfect world created by God. The invasion of the physical kingdom of God did not result in total victory for Satan. God predicted the outcome of the spiritual war that began in the Garden of Eden.

In the Garden of Eden God told the serpent the seed of the woman would crush his head. From the Garden of Eden to the present Satan’s goal is to one day establish his kingdom upon earth and seat his king on the throne given to the promised seed of the woman. Who is this promised seed?

At the time of their first son’s birth, Adam and Eve must have had a special measure of joy. With Cain came the hope that this son might be the promised “seed” (Genesis 1:4:1). When Cain killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8) Cain was no longer qualified to be the promised “seed.” Abel could not be the promised seed he is dead. With the birth of Seth (Genesis 8:25), hopes once again were raised. If this son was not the promised seed, at least he could be the forefather of the promised seed. Satan is no fool. He knows he cannot prevent the birth of the promised seed. He has only one alternative, pervert the bloodline of the promise seed. In Genesis, chapter 6 Satan’s attempt to pervert the bloodline of the promised seed is revealed. God brings this attack upon the bloodline to an end with a flood (Genesis 6:1-8). Had it not been for the obedience of Noah the coming of the promised seed would not be fulfilled.

About three hundred years after the flood in the days of Noah under the leadership of Nimrod, a second revolt against God occurred (Genesis 11). What is known as the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 12:1-3) set the groundwork for the coming of the promised seed. The Abrahamic covenant promised blessings, not to just Abraham’s descendants but “all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3).

What in the World is Happening has its roots in the Garden of Eden, in a plain in the land of Shinar, in the life of Abraham.

The account of the call of Abram, whose name God will change to Abraham, is recorded in Genesis 12:1-20.

A famine in Canaan prompted Abram to leave Canaan and go to live in Egypt. Even at her age, Sarai was a beautiful woman. Abram feared some Egyptian might want her for his wife, and in order to have her, he might first make her a widow. To save his own life, Abram asked Sarai to lie about her identity. Thus, during their sojourn in Egypt, Abram and Sarai represented themselves as brother and sister.

It is crucial that we recognize how Abram’s deception threatened the promised “seed.” How could Abram and Sarai have a child when Sarai was about to become the wife of another man? Abram’s actions were completely inconsistent with the covenant God had just made with him. Rather than cooperating with the covenant, Abram actively undermined it. God intervened.

Abram began to be concerned as time passed and he still had no son of his own. He wrongly concluded that his heir would be a child born in his household, and not of him or Sarai (Genesis 15:1-2). God assured him he would have a son that would come from his own body (Genesis 15:4). Like the stars of the heavens (15:5), his descendants would be numberless. Abraham believed God’s promise, and due to his faith in the promise, he was reckoned as righteous (Genesis 15:6).

Time continued to pass with no son in sight. Sarai concluded the time for her to bear a child had passed. She realized that God had closed her womb. Perhaps, Sarai suggested to Abram, God meant for him to have a son through some other woman. Therefore, Hagar, Sari’s maid, was given to Abram as his concubine; through her, Abram could have a son. This presumptuous act brought painful consequences, both for Sarai and Abram. Hagar did bear a son, Ishmael. The Arab people, who came from Ishmael, have been a thorn in Israel’s side throughout their history.

Fifteen years after God’s covenant was first made with Abram, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham to signify that His promise was not forgotten. Abram means, “exalted father;” Abraham means “father of a multitude.” Sarai’s name was changed to Sarah, “Princess,” (Genesis 17:15). At this time, God introduced the rite of circumcision (Genesis 17:9-14).

Ten years passed from the time of Abraham’s circumcision until the time when the promised son was born. Nine years passed before God announced the time of the birth of the son. As the angels paused at Abram’s tent for a meal on their way to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, they informed him that Sarai would bear a son at that same time the following year. Shortly after, Lot and his daughters fled from Sodom, barely escaping God’s wrath on that wicked city. Because Lot’s wife died in this ordeal, his daughters arranged to become pregnant by their drunken father in order to “preserve their family” through their father (Genesis 19:30-38). What tragic irony. The offspring of these unions were also a source of suffering and sorrow to Abraham and Israel, to this day.

The greatest test of Abraham’s faith is described in Genesis 22. God instructed Abraham to take his son to Moriah and offer him up as a sacrifice. With great agony of soul, Abraham obeyed, trusting in God to raise his son from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19). In response to Abraham’s faith and obedience, God again reiterated his covenant with Abraham (Genesis 22:15-18).

Later God confirmed with Isaac the covenant He had made with Abraham (Genesis 26:3-5).

In the next verses, we find the account of Isaac going to live in Gerar with his wife Rebekah. There, not surprisingly, he represents her as his sister, just as his father Abraham had done before him (Genesis 26:6-11).

Rebekah, like Sarah, his wife was barren (Genesis 25:21). In answer to Isaac’s prayers, she became pregnant with twins. When Rebekah inquired of the Lord, He informed her, “Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples shall be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23).

In the light of God’s word to Rebekah, Jacob needlessly acquired his brother’s birthright. With Rebekah’s help, he also stole his brother’s blessing (Genesis 27). We cannot in any way justify the actions of Jacob or his mother. However, for now we must concentrate our attention on Isaac. He is eager to pronounce a blessing on his son Esau before his death. When he is wrongly convinced that Jacob is his son Esau, Isaac pronounces this blessing on him (Genesis 27:27b-29).

In his final days, Isaac sought to set aside God’s choice of Jacob as the one who would be heir of the Abrahamic covenant. If Jacob and his mother were wrong for their deception, Isaac was also wrong in trying to pass the blessings of the covenant on to Esau rather than to Jacob. In the end, Isaac surrendered to the will of God and pronounced on Jacob the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 28:4-5).  In a dramatic way, God affirmed His covenant with Jacob while he was on his way to Haran to seek a wife (Genesis 28:13-15).

In Haran, Jacob found a wife, but things did not turn out as he had planned. He wanted Rachel, the younger daughter of Laban; instead, he was given Leah. Laban made him work seven more years for Rachel. Jacob loved Rachel, but he did not love Leah. Yet Leah bore him the first of his sons. Eventually, Rachel bore Jacob two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. Joseph was loved more than any of the other sons. Clearly, Jacob wanted Joseph to rule over his family. In God’s sovereignty, it was not Ruben, the oldest son of Jacob (Genesis 35:22; 49:3-4) but Judah who was designated as the one through whom the blessings would be brought upon all humanity (Genesis 49:8-10).

While Judah was chosen to be the son through whom the promised seed would come, he certainly was not the kind of person we would have selected for this position. Unlike Joseph, who refused to enter into an illicit sexual relationship with his master’s wife (Genesis 39), Judah married a Canaanite woman (Genesis 38:2). He took what appears to be a Canaanite wife for his son (Genesis 38:6). When two of his sons died because of their wickedness, Judah would not give his last son to Tamar as her husband. Tamar outwitted Judah, by playing the part of a Canaanite cult prostitute, and became pregnant by her father-in-law (Genesis 38:12-19). From this union of Judah and Tamar, the messianic line was continued (Genesis 38:27-30).

While the Old Testament does narrow the field to a single person, it remains difficult to comprehend how one person could possibly fulfill all of the prophecies about him. The promises even seem to require more than one person. Even the godliest Israelite found it impossible to comprehend how God could possibly fulfill all of the promises pertaining to the promised seed in one person. As Peter writes:

As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow (1 Peter 1:10-11).

Errors pertaining to the promised seed  

The errors pertaining to the promised seed predisposed the Israelites of Jesus’ day to resist and reject Him, rather than submit to Him as the promised Messiah. The ungodly Israelites simply picked those promises that suited their sinful desires and ignored the rest. They embraced the promises of the Messiah as a blessing to Israel while ignoring the promises of His coming to judge sinners, whether Jew or Gentile.

We may thus summarize Israel’s error: they became proud of their privileged position and failed to see their privilege as a manifestation of God’s grace to those who were undeserving. Such pride was totally unfounded. God warned the Israelites against such pride, reminding them that they were slaves at the time God delivered them (Deuteronomy 5:15). They were not chosen because they were great in number or strength; they were chosen solely based on God’s sovereign grace (Deuteronomy 7:7-11). When they worshipped, they were to acknowledge their ignoble origins (Deuteronomy 26:5).

Ezekiel 16 offers the most humbling indictment of Israel’s pride: 

“Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem, “Your origin and your birth are from the land of the Canaanite, your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing; you were not rubbed with salt or even wrapped in cloths. No eye looked with pity on you to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you. Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born. “When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you numerous like plants of the field. Then you grew up, became tall, and reached the age for fine ornaments; your breasts were formed and your hair had grown. Yet you were naked and bare. Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,” declares the Lord God. “Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you, and anointed you with oil. I also clothed you with embroidered cloth, and put sandals of porpoise skin on your feet; and I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands, and a necklace around your neck. I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey, and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you,” declares the Lord God. “But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing” (Ezekiel 16:1-15).

Israel’s history consistently bears witness of Israel’s waywardness and God’s faithfulness (Psalm 78). If the coming of the promised seed were dependent upon sinful men, He would surely never have come at all. However, since the coming of the promised seed was dependent upon God Himself, He has come indeed!

The Abrahamic covenant, recorded in Genesis 12:1-3, spoke of Abraham’s “seed” as the recipients of God’s blessings, as well as the instrument through which the blessing would be accomplished. New Testament teaching on the “seed of Abraham” falls into two categories: (1) the seed which provides the blessing of God; and, (2) the seed who receive this blessing. Let us consider what the New Testament has to say on each of these subjects.

The nation Israel was chosen to display the glory of God. God’s glory has been displayed through Israel. Israel was chosen not only to demonstrate the glory of God, but also to be the instrument by which God’s grace was proclaimed to men of every nation. Israel was to be a blessing to the nations. They were to be a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6; 60:3). Israel took credit for God’s blessings, rather than receiving them humbly and with gratitude. Their pride produced prejudice, so that they felt superior to the Gentiles. They thought themselves to be worthy of God’s blessings and the Gentiles to be unworthy. Like Jonah, they refused to take the good news to the Gentiles. In response to Israel’s persistent rebellion God sent His Son to take Israel’s place, to do individually what Israelites could not do on their own or as a nation.

What Israel failed to do as God’s “servant,” Jesus did as Israel’s Messiah, the “suffering Servant.” Our Lord not only took the sinner’s place, but in a sense, He took Israel’s place, achieving for this people what they could not do. Paul points this out in his letter to the Galatians,  “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us– for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”– in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ (Galatians 3:13-16).

As a nation, Israel did not bless the nations by her obedience. Israel’s rejection of Messiah brought about the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles. The gospel went to the Jew first, but Jewish rejection led to Gentile evangelism, as the Book of Acts makes clear. As the apostle Paul said, we can be grateful for Israel’s failure, and we can look forward to her restoration,  “I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression be riches for the world and their failure be riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be” (Romans 11:11-12).

Since the “seed” is Jesus Christ, then our blessing or cursing is the result of our response to Him. Contrary to Israel’s belief, one is not saved by being one of the physical seed of Abraham or of Jacob, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be named” (Romans 9:6-8). That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.  “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

The good news for the Old Testament sinner was this, salvation is available to sinners who trust in the “seed” whom God will provide. The good news of the gospel is this: God has provided the promised “seed,” Jesus Christ. By faith in Him, sinners are saved and become the children of God.

Jesus Christ is the promised seed of the woman. Your response to Him is the most important decision you will ever make. To trust Him for salvation is to enter into God’s blessings. To reject Him is to bring upon yourself the curse of God. May you trust in Him for salvation and blessing.

The salvation of man and the destruction of Satan was promised in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15). The “seed of the woman” was later revealed to be the “seed” of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3), of Isaac (Genesis 21:12; 25:19-26), of Jacob (Genesis 25:23; 27:27-29), and of Judah (Genesis 49:8-10). He was still later indicated to be the “seed” of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16). Further revelation indicated that He would both suffer for the sins of His people (Isaiah 52:13–53:12) and reign triumphantly as Israel’s King (Psalm 2, 110). He was to be both human (Genesis 3:15) and divine (Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:2), born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) in the village of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Jesus of Nazareth was the promised “seed,” fulfilling all of the prophecies related to his birth, suffering, death and resurrection (Galatians 3:13-16). He was rejected by the leaders of Israel and proclaimed among the Gentiles. This same Jesus is coming again, to triumph over His enemies and to rule over all creation (Acts 2:22-36; 7:2-53).

What in the World is Happening – Part 3

Isaiah 46:3-11

by Paul George

Few could deny that something seems desperately wrong with the world in which we live. The desperate plight of our planet has convinced some that there is no God. Those who do believe in a God find God somehow responsible for all that is painful. They think God is either cruel or that He is not in control. However, God is in control. His perfect plan does include the suffering and agony we see all about us. In answering “What in the world is going on?” another question must be asked and then answered: “What in the world went wrong?” That question forms the basis for this article.

Genesis 1 describes the creation of our world as it relates to God’s purpose for man. Man was created by God to rule over His creation (Genesis 1:26-31).

Genesis 1 portrays the big picture, the role Adam and Eve were to play in relation to the entire creation. Genesis 2 narrows the focus to the Garden of Eden. Adam was placed in the garden to cultivate or keep it. This was no ordinary orchard; God had planted various trees in the garden to provide for man’s needs. All the trees shared the common characteristics of being pleasing to the eye and good for food. The fruit of two trees in the midst of the garden would provide either “life” or “the knowledge of good and evil. The fruit of all but one tree was provided for Adam and Eve to eat. The “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” though pleasing to look at and good for food, Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat the fruit from that tree. Eating its fruit would give them a knowledge of good and evil, but it would also produce his or her death.

When God caused every creature to pass before Adam to be named each had its own mate. These pairs of creatures were able to procreate and fulfill the mandate to multiply and fill the earth, not so with Adam. He too needed a mate, a wife. God created a mate for Adam. Rather than create the woman from the ground, God put Adam to sleep and fashioned her from a rib which He took from Adam’s side. Neither Adam nor Eve had parents. Eve was brought into being through Adam’s flesh. Eve had no tie to her parents, but only union with her husband. Because of the nature of this first relationship between Adam and Eve, Moses parenthetically interjects the principle that when a man and woman come together, the husband must subordinate the tie he once had with his parents to the tie he now has with his wife.

According to this account, all of creation came into existence in response to one thing: the spoken Word of God. The spoken Word of God is precisely what Satan first questioned, and then denied. In chapter 3, Satan convinced the woman that God was holding back something good from her by prohibiting her from eating of the forbidden tree. With Satan’s prompting, Eve becomes convinced of her need to “know good and evil,” feels compelled to eat of the fruit of that forbidden tree, she gave the forbidden fruit to Adam, and he ate the forbidden fruit.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” And the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said,” The serpent deceived me, and I ate.

And the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly shall you go, And dust shall you eat All the days of your life; And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”  To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you shall bring forth children; Yet your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you shall eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return. Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. And the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”–therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:1-24).

The disobedience of Adam reversed the “chain-of-command” God, Adam, Eve, serpent to serpent, Eve, Adam. When God confronts those responsible for the fall, the order is that of His chain-of-command: Adam (v. 9), Eve (v. 13), the serpent (v. 14). It is little wonder that the one who rebelled against God’s authority over him (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-15) would seek to overturn God’s order of authority. Eve did not know what she was doing as Adam did. Adam’s sin was the more culpable, both because he was the one who was to lead and because he sinned knowingly rather than ignorantly. Rather than assume responsibility for their own actions, Adam and Even passed the responsibility on. From their actions in Genesis 3:7-8 and Job’s statement in Job 31:33, we know Adam tried to conceal rather than confess his sin.

The God who generously provided all things for Adam and Eve to “richly enjoy” is quickly perceived as a tight-fisted tyrant because one fruit is forbidden. The forbidden fruit was now seen as desirable even though it was deadly. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil overshadowed the tree of life. Eve saw only this one forbidden tree as “good for food” and as a “delight to the eyes” when in reality every tree in the garden had these same qualities (Genesis 2:9).

Why was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil forbidden? The tree of the knowledge of good and evil enabled one to know good and evil  which Eve deceptively believed was both necessary and beneficial. It was neither. Eve only needed to know that God had forbidden the fruit of this tree. Had Eve trusted God, she would have found His Word sufficient. She needed only to know who had forbidden the fruit, not why the fruit was forbidden. Eve needed only to know what God had said–she did not need to understand why the fruit of that one tree was forbidden. Satan would have been defeated in the Garden of Eden if Eve would have trusted God and Adam obeyed God.

There is an important principle taught here. God desires from us the obedience of faith. Such obedience is not based upon our understanding of why we are to act as God requires, but simply because it is God who requires it. The obedience of faith is based on our faith in God, not on our understanding of why God calls one thing good and another evil. Parents teach their children to obey on the same basis. You cannot explain to a young child why an electrical outlet is dangerous. You can only forbid them to touch it, because you said so, and because they trust your word.

The fall of man occurred with unbelievable speed and ease. God’s response was prompt, pointed, and painful. In addition to the general curse of death, individual judgments were pronounced on the serpent, Eve, and Adam. Each judgment was particularly suited to the nature of the offense.

The judgments of Genesis 3:14-19 included not only Adam, Eve, and the serpent but also their offspring. It did not take long to see the consequences of the disobedience of this man and his wife, as well as in their offspring.

Adam and Eve gained knowledge of good and evil, one they would regret. Gone was the innocence they had once enjoyed. Their nakedness, which once caused them no shame (Genesis 2:25), now made them ashamed to stand before God. Hastily made loin coverings with fig leaves still made them feel naked and ashamed. The daily encounter with God to which they once looked forward they now sought to avoid. They were banned from the garden and from access to the tree of life (3:22-24). Their son Cain killed his brother Abel (4:1-11). Later, Lamech boasted to his wives about killing a young lad who had struck him (4:23-24). Genesis 5, a virtual graveyard, lists the life span and deaths of Adam and Eve’s offspring. When we reach the sixth chapter of Genesis, the whole earth has become corrupt, requiring the judgment of the flood.

When the world started afresh with Noah and the seven other members of his family, one might expect things to improve. They did not. Noah became drunk, resulting in the curse he pronounced on Canaan, his grandson (Genesis 9:25-27). By Genesis 11, men join together to disobey the divine command to Noah and his descendants to disperse and populate the earth (Genesis 9:1). When men banded together to build the city and the tower of Babel, God stopped them in their tracks by confusing their languages (Genesis 11:1-9). Things worsened. Clearly, the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was the fall of man. Paul speaks in Romans and in 1 Corinthians of the on-going effects of Adam’s sin. The history of man, and especially of God’s people, bears constant witness to the sinfulness of man. Their sins were the result of the sins of their ancestors and of their own waywardness as well ((Isaiah 43:27; Jeremiah 16:10-12).

The biblical account of the fall of man recorded in Genesis 3 explains the condition we see within us and in the world today. Adam’s sin explains the sin nature within each of us. We sin because we are like Adam, our father. The sufferings of man and all of creation are the consequences of the fall of man (Romans 8:18-25).

Are you perplexed by the evil, suffering, and injustice of our world?

The suffering, chaos, and tragedy of our world shouts for our attention, telling us something is desperately wrong. God is gracious to give us this indication of trouble. You need look no further for the explanation. Man and creation are suffering and groaning due to the consequences of sin.

Those most affected by the curse are, in Jesus’ words, the most blessed (Luke 6:20-26). James told the first century Christians, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4). The Apostle Peter in his first letter to the first century Christians, “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls (1 Peter 1:20-25).

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you (1 Peter 4:12-14).

Sin and condemnation is not the end of man’s hope, but the starting point. In His grace, God condemns men so that He might manifest His grace upon them: “For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all” (Romans 11:32). Sin does not close the door on God’s blessings; it opens the door of His grace. Jesus did not come to provide salvation for saints, but for sinners. He came to seek and to save those who are lost. Until sin and the fall, there was no occasion for God to deal with men graciously. After sin and the fall, He could only bless men by dealing graciously with them. “But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20b).

Job’s experiences serve as an illustration. As described in chapter 1 of the Book of Job, Job is an ideal servant of God (Job 1:8b). Job was an excellent example of a servant of God. In this state, Job was something like Adam and Eve before the fall. Then Satan was allowed to afflict Job. Eventually, Job’s suffering got to him. While Job did not curse God, he surely acted in an unseemly way. He sinned. By the end of the book, we see a new Job, humbled by his suffering and by God’s rebuke but with a much deeper love and devotion for His God. He is now a man who more fully understands the wisdom of God and who has experienced His grace. Job is not just more prosperous for the experience; He is nearer to God than he has ever been before. While Satan attempted to alienate Job from God, Job’s sin was the occasion for grace, bringing repentance, reconciliation, and a more intimate union with God. Job’s experience is the experience of all who receive God’s grace because of sin.

It is all too easy to think of God’s “cure” in Jesus Christ as a restoration, merely restoring everything to the condition in which it was found before the fall. This is simply not the case. The last state, as it were, is vastly better than the first, for all those who are the called according to His purpose. The Apostle John saw, “a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying,” ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’ And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true’” (Revelation 21:1-5).

In Revelation 22:1-5 John wrote, “And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. And there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever (Revelation 22:1-5).

As one compares the description of the new heavens and earth in the final chapters of the Book of Revelation with the paradise of Eden, a very clear message emerges. The tree of life, which was in paradise lost, is in the heavenly city. The paradise of Genesis had a sun, a sea, and a night. The paradise of Revelation has no sun, no sea, no night, and the curses of Genesis removed.

While there were painful consequences for sin, the curses were divinely purposed to serve as a part of the cure. In dealing with the sins of men, God’s glory is revealed. In forgiving the sins of men, the grace of God is manifested. And in the end, the last state of the believer is far better than the first.

God’s plan for humanity is one that turns ruin to redemption and a curse into a blessing. Adam and his wife failed to trust and obey God. They made a tragic mistake that brought sin and condemnation on themselves and their descendants. No one has ever made a more tragic mess of their lives. However, there is a solution to the suffering and pain experienced in this world. The solution will provide a better paradise than that which was lost due to sin. Adam and Eve’s life seemed to be ruined by their sin, but God promised a cure and a better paradise.

God knew man would disobey Him. He did not in any way encourage the fall, although Satan was permitted to tempt and to deceive Eve. A perfect world would not demonstrate all that God is and thus reveal all His glory. An imperfect world enables God to display His full splendor and glory (Exodus 33:17-23; 34:5-9; Psalm 78; Ezekiel 20).

Adam and Eve knew, as can be seen in Genesis 1, that all of creation came into being because God spoke the Word. They knew that the fruit of the one tree was prohibited because God spoke the Word, He told them not to eat of it. God’s Word has been proven reliable; Satan’s word has not been proven reliable. Adam and Eve did not understand what “good” and “evil” were, nor did they really grasp what life or death were. These were all beyond their experience. They would have to trust God, His definitions, His distinctions, and His prohibitions.

Because of the fall, humanity came under the curse of death. The fallen condition of humanity hinders humanity’s relationship with God and with each other. Creation was thrown into chaos. There was a new relationship between the man and animals.  Man’s relationship with nature took on a hostile quality. From the time of the fall, men inherit from Adam a hostility toward God. Genesis 1-3 records God’s commissioning of Adam and Eve. The way they were to rule creation is similar to, though not identical with the instructions God gave Noah in Genesis 9. Like Adam, Noah sinned, and this affected his offspring. As there was a curse pronounced on Adam and his offspring in Genesis 3, there was a curse pronounced on Canaan, Noah’s offspring. A pattern quickly develops. In the Genesis record, the sin and the curse only seem to grow as time passes.

Adam was charged with two responsibilities concerning authority. He was to rule over creation, and he was to obey God. He failed in both these areas of authority. First, Adam listened to his wife instead of God. Adam defaulted on his leadership responsibilities, allowing the serpent, a creature, and Eve to influence his decision to eat or refuse to eat the forbidden fruit. In addition to failing to exercise his God-given authority, Adam failed to submit to God’s authority. God had commanded Adam not to partake of the fruit of that one tree, and Adam disobeyed. Adam failed to lead, and he failed to follow. Adam’s two failures were in the area of authority. Eve failed to submit to God’s authority, choosing to obey the serpent instead. When our Lord came to suffer and die for our sins so that the curse of sin and death could be cured and sinners could be saved, He submitted to the authority of the Father rather than act independently. Our Lord’s submission to His Father is never more evident than when Satan sought to tempt Him (Matthew 4; Luke 4).

God revealed to Adam and Eve what was good and what was evil. All of God’s creation was, by God’s testimony, good. The only evil in that garden was the eating of the fruit of that one tree. If man is incapable of reasoning out what is good and evil then the only way he could know evil, apart from divine revelation, is to experience it, by sin, with the penalty of death.

God wanted men to demonstrate their faith in Him by obeying a command they did not understand. God wanted Adam and Eve to sacrifice, as it were, the benefit of this one tree; as good as it looked to them, simply because they trusted the One who forbade the eating of its fruit.

What do we learn about the nature of sin from Genesis 1-3?

First, sin is defined by God and not naturally discerned or rationally grasped by the mind of men. This is why man must trust in God’s definition of sin as found in His Word. God’s law defines sin that we would not have otherwise recognized. Our senses cannot be trusted to discern sin. Often, that which is evil is also desirable, as was the fruit of the forbidden tree. Sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4). Sin looks good; it is tempting, but it is deadly. A seemingly insignificant sin can have widespread repercussions. Sin resists God’s purposes but never succeeds in overcoming them. Sin, like Satan, seeks to oppose God. God’s commands define sin and provide the context for obedience. God’s commands are for our own good. God’s commands are to be obeyed, even when they do not make sense to us, simply because God gave them.

Since the curse resulted from man’s disobedience to God’s command, the cure must involve obedience. In sin, man rebelled against God’s authority; in the cure, man must submit to His authority. The fall was the fall of and by man. The cure must be a cure of and by the God-man, Jesus Christ. The fall resulted in death. The cure must result in life. The fall brought about chaos, confusion, and suffering. The cure must restore creation to peace, order, and blessing. The curse defaced man as a reflection of God’s image; the cure must restore man to the image of God.

There is a direct relationship between the curse and the cure. On the one hand, the cure reverses the curse. The cure promises rest. The curse is death the cure is life. However, the curse is a part of the cure. Death is a deliverer. How tragic for sinners to live eternally. Death is our escape from this life, this world, and this body. The death of our Lord bearing our curse on the cross frees us from the curse.

Christians and non-Christians when they encounter suffering and trials in their lives they tend to ask, “Why me?” There are times when one’s suffering is directly the result of sin in his own life, as when David and Bathsheba suffered the loss of their first child, who was conceived in adultery (Psalm 44).

Much of the suffering of this world is the result of sin’s entrance into the world (Romans 8:18-25).

God does not allow purposeless suffering. His plan incorporates suffering in a way that ultimately “Works together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Just because something looks good, is desirable, and is available, is no proof that God wants us to partake of it. The existence of a desire does not demand its fulfilling (1 Corinthians 6:12-13). When God gives us a command, we do not need to understand why God has given it to us, we need only to trust Him who gave the command, and obey it. Satan seeks to change our perspective first and then our behavior. Sin begins with a rebellious attitude toward God, which leads to a rebellious act. Sin is conceived as unbelief, and then grows into disobedience.

In our lives, as in the Bible, sin precedes redemption. We cannot and will not receive God’s grace until we recognize and repent of our sin. The problem with those who perish is that they reject God’s grace because they do not believe they need it. Only sinners need God’s grace and only God’s grace saves sinners. The self-righteous sinner denies his sin and despises God’s grace. The penitent sinner admits his sin, repents of it, and gratefully receives God’s saving grace.

“Why is the world so troubled, and why is there so much suffering and evil?” You tell me.

Let us pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.