We are now in December. We’ve got snow on the ground, people have their Christmas lights up, there’s eggnog in the grocery stores, so it must be time for some Christmas related sermons.

Quite often I shy away from a lot of seasonal messages – just because we hear the same things year after year after year. But this Christmas, I want to take the whole month of December to tell you the Christmas story – the whole Christmas story. I think sometimes we get gypped and we only hear part of the story. We hear about the angels, about the shepherds, about having no room at the inn, about the wisemen, but we miss out on all the stuff that happens before that.

So I want to start us off today, not with the wisemen, not with the shepherds, not with Mary & Joseph – not even with the prophets that foretold the birth of Jesus. Instead, I want us to start in the beginning. Literally. In the beginning – Genesis 1:1

That’s truly the beginning of the Christmas story. Because really, the entire Bible is the Christmas story. Everything that happens in the Old Testament is a lead up to the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everything that happens in the New Testament is the result of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So this December I want us to take a look at the big picture. I want us to try to see what God was doing right from day one. You see, Jesus’ birth didn’t just happen. In fact, all of history didn’t just happen. God wasn’t just making stuff up as He went along. Before He even created the world, God had a plan. And that plan involved all the stuff that we read about in the Bible – everything from Adam & Eve in Genesis all the way to the end of time in Revelation. God had and still has a plan.

You may have heard the saying that history is HIS STORY. That’s absolutely true – History is God’s story. And believe it or not, you and I are a part of that story.

So over the next few weeks as we try to look at the Bible as one big Christmas story, hopefully we’ll be able to see where we fit into the picture. Hopefully we’ll be able to see how the whole Bible – how all of history – is a History of Hope – a grand story that each one of us is very much a part of.

I don’t know if you’re as excited about this as I am, but I trust that by the end of December, you will be.

Our story begins as I said before, In the beginning. The first few chapters of Genesis really set the stage for the rest of human history. Everything that has happened over the last several thousand years is a direct result of what happens in the first few chapters of Genesis. So that’s where we’re going to start. If you have your Bibles, feel free to turn with me to the book of Genesis, chapter one, verse one.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Genesis 1:1

This may be the single most important verse in the whole Bible. It’s absolutely foundational because it tells us that this story is about God. This isn’t a story about Adam & Eve. It isn’t a story about the Israelites. It’s not a story about the human race. It’s a story about God. As we said earlier, history is God’s story. Its not about you. It’s not about me.  Everything that happens in this life is about God.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth – This is His story. And while I won’t read through all the creation verses, you know what happens. God sets the stage for His story. He gives shape to the earth and divides the land from the water. He puts the sun, moon, and stars in place – He fills the earth with plants and animals of every kind. And then He creates man. And while everything else seems to just be spoken into existence – it seems that God puts a little something extra into creating man. He doesn’t just speak man into existence – He forms him out of the dust of the earth. Look at Genesis 2:7.

“Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.” Genesis 2:7

That’s is an incredible statement. That God could just breath into this pile of dust and it would become a living person. Doesn’t that just blow your mind? You and I are just piles of dust that God has seen fit to breath His life into. Life is such an incredible gift. Despite what some evolutionists would tell you, we would have no life if it were’t given to us by God. God is the source of all life.

And that’s actually the first of three things that I want you to remember. That God is the source. He’s the one who created the earth. He’s the one who created us. He’s the one who gave us life. He’s the one who sustains our life every day. God is the source. There is nothing that we have that God hasn’t provided for us. There is nothing that we need that God won’t provide for us. He is the source. That’s important to remember.

So after God creates man, He continues setting the stage for His story. He puts the man in a beautiful garden called Eden and then He lays down a few ground rules. Well, actually there was one ground rule. We find that in verses 15 – 17 of chapter 2.

The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. 16But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

Genesis 2:15-17

Now some might think that God’s just being bossy – making up rules just for the sake making up rules. But that’s not the case at all. Actually, God gave Adam all kinds of freedom and authority. In Genesis 1:28, God gives Adam dominion over the whole earth. Man was to be the master over Creation. That’s a lot of freedom and authority! In fact, one of Adam’s first jobs was to give names to all the animals that God created. God put a lot of faith in Adam – He gave him great freedom, great responsibilities, and great authority. But God was still to be the authority over man.

And this gives us the second thing to remember: #2. God is the authority.

This was all part of God’s design. God was the source – He provided and man enjoyed. God was the authority – He set the rules and man obeyed. As long as those two things were in place, life for Adam was going to be awesome.

But there’s one more thing: jump down to verse 18 of chapter 2.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”

Genesis 2:18

Now isn’t that interesting? Here was God and Adam – sin hadn’t entered the scene yet, so they had a perfect, unbroken relationship. They were as close buddies as God and man could be – no problems there. And yet God says, “It’s not good that the man should be alone.” God designed us to have human relationships. They are key to life as God intended it. God never intended for us to go through life alone.

And so God makes a companion for Adam. He causes Adam to fall into a deep sleep, He takes one of Adam’s ribs and He creates Eve. And its the perfect setup. Not only does Adam enjoy a close relationship with God, but now He has another human to share his life with. And in fact, for a time, Adam & Eve enjoyed the closest relationship any humans have ever experienced. Look at verse 25.

“Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.”

Genesis 2:25

Now when we read this verse, we get a little awkward and feel a little embarrassed. We don’t want to read about naked people in church. But that’s what makes this verse so amazing. Adam and Eve had no awkwardness at all towards each other. They were perfectly comfortable being known for exactly who they were. They had nothing to hide. Nothing to be ashamed of. No insecurities. They knew they were loved and accepted for exactly who they were. They had the perfect relationship – no fears – only acceptance.

So that gives us the third thing I want you to remember: Life is about relationships. That’s the point of why we’re on this planet – to develop and enjoy deep, meaningful relationships with God and man. That’s what it’s all about. Not furthering your career. Not paying off your mortgage. Not achieving fame and fortune. Life is about relationships.

And those three things pretty much make up God’s formula for a perfect life.

#1. God is the source. #2. God is the authority. #3. Life is about relationships. 

That was God’s perfect design. It was all pretty straight forward. And it worked great.

With God as the source, Adam & Eve had everything they needed. God gave them life, God gave them a place to live, God gave them food to eat, a job to do – He gave them close relationships – both with Himself and with each other. It was really the perfect life.

As long as Adam & Eve looked to God as the source and submitted themselves to the authority of God, their relationships would be sweet and life would continue to be amazing. That was God’s design.

But as you know. Something happened. We read about that in Genesis 3.

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

 2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

 4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

 6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

 8 When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees.

Genesis 3:1-8

Now, before we go further, let’s back up and see if we can wrap our heads around what just happened here. This is very significant.

When Adam & Eve ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, three things happened.

They rejected God as the source.

Verse 6.

“The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.” Genesis 3:6

Adam & Eve believe that God was keeping something from them – that He wasn’t providing something that they needed. So they decided that they had to become the source. God couldn’t be trusted to provide for their needs – so it was up to them to look out for #1. They rejected God as the source of everything they needed and took that role for themselves. They would be their own source.

The second thing that happened was they rejected God as the authority.

When they took and ate that fruit, they were deciding that they were not going to live under God’s authority anymore. They wanted to be the judge of what was good and what was evil – what was right and what was wrong. They wanted to decide what they could or couldn’t do. And so they rejected God as the authority and took that role for themselves as well. So now in their minds – they are the source and they are the authority.

And as a result of them taking God’s role as the source and as the authority, a third thing happened. Verses 7&8.

“At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

 8 When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees.” Genesis 3:7-8

The moment they rejected God as the source and as the authority, their relationship with each other and with God was broken. What was once the sweetest, closest, most intimate relationships one could experience, was now replaced with shame and fear – with Adam & Eve hiding from each other and from God.

Everything that God had setup so beautifully – so perfectly, was turned on its head.

Instead of God being their source – they would depend on themselves.

Instead of God being their authority – they were going to live by their own rules.

And instead of enjoying a close relationship with God and each other, they would lose that relationship and be distant from God and from each other.

And you and I are still feeling the effects of that event even today.

Everyone of us are born with the natural inclinations to be our own source – to be our own authority. Nobody’s going to tell me what to do. I can do it myself. We reject God as our source and we reject God as our authority.

And as a result, our relationships are a mess. This is why we have divorce – this is why we have crime – this is why we have wars. Every relationship problem we experience in life can be traced back to our rejection of God as our source and as our authority.

Think about your own life. What sins do you struggle with? Don’t they come from a belief somewhere deep in your heart that God won’t really provide for your needs? That God can’t fully be trusted to take good care of you? And because of that belief, we reject God’s authority and we act outside of God boundaries for our life – thinking that our way of taking care of our needs is better than God’s way. And as a results our relationships with God and with each other suffer.

We’re living in a world where God’s design for a perfect life has been turned upside down.

But that’s not the end of the story – remember: We’ve only looked at the first three chapters. There’s a whole history of hope to come.

And while we’re going to get into that in more detail later, God gives Adam & Eve just a glimpse of that hope in verses 14 & 15

 Then the Lord God said to the serpent,

   “Because you have done this, you are cursed
more than all animals, domestic and wild.
You will crawl on your belly,
groveling in the dust as long as you live.
15 And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

Genesis 3:14-15

Now at first glance, that might not seem very significant. It just sounds like mankind and serpant-kind weren’t going to get along very well after this. But as you read through the rest of the Scriptures as we’re going to be doing over the course of this next month, you begin to realize that there was more to this statement than meets the eye. This was actually a fantastic promise of hope.

And while I don’t want to spoil the ending of my sermon series, since most of you know how it’s going to end anyway, I’ll give you a sneak peak today. I’m going to let you in on God’s plan to put things back the way they were.

In a few thousand years after Adam & Eve’s big blunder, God was going to send His Son, Jesus, to be born to the great great great….. granddaughter of Eve – to a virgin named Mary. And this baby Jesus would grow up and live a sinless life – and allow Himself to be put to death on a cross by evil men. The serpent striking the heel would be Jesus death on the cross. But the crushing of the serpents head – would be Jesus’ resurrection – His victory over sin and over death.

What God was telling them was that there was coming a day when He would undo the damage that was done. That He was going to turn things back to the way He had originally designed. Where we would look to God as our authority and as the source of everything we need. Where our relationship with God and our relationship with each other would be repaired. No more brokenness. No more more shame. No more fear. Just the shear joy of experiencing life together.

Seems too good to be true, doesn’t it?

We can hardly imagine the day when the backward, brokenness of this world is repaired – and life is again, as God intended it. But that’s the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.

 

 

Table of contents for A History of Hope

  1. The Beginning of Hope
  2. Old Testament Sacrifices – Symbols of Hope
  3. The Fulfillment of Hope
  4. A Future of Hope