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Author:Rev. Reuben Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Mt. Nasura
 Mt. Nasura, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/mountnasura/
 
Title:God graciously puts right His world gone wrong!
Text:LD 3 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God's Amazing Purpose
 
Preached:2021
Added:2021-08-08
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps 90:1,8                                                                                          

Ps 89:1,3  [after Nicene Creed]

Reading – Genesis 3; Revelation 21:1-8; Revelation 22:1-5

Ps 144:1,2,3

Sermon – Lord’s Day 3

Hy 70:1,2,3,4

Hy 73:1,2,3

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Brothers and sisters, the book of Genesis is about beginnings. That’s clear from its first words, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis tells about the origins of the universe: everything from stars, mountains, and oceans, down to cockroaches, babies, and mushrooms. It was all made by the LORD.

The beginning of Genesis is a beautiful beginning. For we learn too, about how He made mankind: “God created man good and in his image, that is, in true righteousness and holiness” (Q&A 6). If an artist is remembered for his greatest work, then the creation of man and woman was a stunning way for God to put the finishing touches on the universe. Here were two privileged people (and their descendants) who could “rightly know God [their] Creator, heartily love him, and live with him in eternal blessedness” (Q&A 6).

Genesis is a beautiful beginning, but it’s also about a bad beginning—the start of sin. After just two chapters, there’s an account of a great disaster, one that sends shockwaves throughout the universe. Sometimes we hear about a disaster, say a big forest fire, or a destructive tornado. It’s terrible, seeing the ruin and devastation. But the good news is that the disaster is contained. We know the fire won’t spread right across the country, and eventually the winds will weaken and stop.

But the disaster in Genesis 3 is different. Its shockwaves are still reverberating through all the world, and you can’t stop it. From the moment it happened, so much was ruined. The Catechism speaks of the very worst of the effects of the fall, from where our depraved nature came: It was “from the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise, for there our nature became so corrupt that we are all conceived and born in sin” (Q&A 7). Because of sin, there is moral corruption. There is guilt and death. And most tragically, there is separation from the God of our life.

Genesis is about the beginning of something else too, though. It’s about the beginning of hope, the beginning of redemption. Even as God lays a curse upon the serpent, and upon the earth—and even as God is telling man and woman about the severe difficulties they’ve brought upon themselves and their children—the LORD announces a disaster relief program. He says the devil won’t get the last word but there will be victory through the woman’s offspring. We don’t learn all the details, but the clear sense that God is going to put right his world gone wrong.   

That’s the beginning, unfolded in the first few chapters of the Bible. And for the real conclusion to this story, we turn all the way to the back of our Bibles, and to the book of Revelation. If Genesis is about beginnings, Revelation is a dramatic and powerful ending. It’s a revelation—an uncovering, the unveiling—of the endgame, the final strategic moves which lead up to God’s glorious victory. It’s not really an ending, as we’ll see, but about God’s final works of restoration and judgment.

God had been working on it all along, of course. He’d been working on his plan ever since Genesis 3 (and even before that!), through every following year and every subsequent book of the Bible—all 66 of them—right up to the book of Revelation. But Revelation is where God’s plan comes together through the Lamb who was slain.

In this sermon then, we want to lay Genesis and Revelation alongside each other. We’ll do some comparing of the beginning with the end, to trace how God’s great work of salvation progressed from those first chapters to the very last.

We’re in the section of the Catechism on our sin and misery, but even in these dark Lord’s Days all about disobedience and deserved punishment, there are rays of light. We don’t forget the gospel—we cannot forget it—even as we learn about how we rebelled in Genesis 3 and became so corrupt.

So what are some things happening in Genesis? In the first place, as mentioned, we see the creation of the heavens and the earth. Their origin is described in those first simple words, “God created the heavens and the earth.” The LORD made all things to be a tribute to his glory, established this world as a home for those created in his image. The world was meant to be a theatre of praise to God, a temple without dimensions where we could worship him forever.

But this was not to be, we said. The earth became filled with the pollution of human sin. Creation began to groan, as it longed to be set free from its bondage. That’s the ugly scene at the close of Genesis 3, and for every following century, until today.

And when we turn to Revelation, what do we see? In chapter 21:1, John reports, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” God is beginning again! The pollution is being cleansed away. The groaning is going to stop. In Revelation, God refines and recreates. By his power, heaven and earth will again be a suitable tribute to his glory, and a home for those who believe in him. At the end, God puts things right!

It’s true that Genesis doesn’t tell us the whole story about beginnings. We wish it told us more, particularly about where Satan came from. He seems to appear out of nowhere in Genesis 3:1, when he takes the form of a cunning serpent. Genesis doesn’t explain his origins, but it describes clearly Satan’s character and his purpose: he wants to deceive and destroy, and he’ll do that by driving a wedge between God and his creatures.

Other parts of Scripture give us a few hints about Satan’s background. For example, the letters of 2 Peter and Jude tell about his rebellion against God and how he was cast out of heaven. Or Job reveals the sort of nasty accusations that Satan brings against believers. But it’s not ‘til Revelation that we get a full picture of Satan and his rebellion, and also his final defeat.

We didn’t read it, but Revelation 12 gives a fascinating picture of a cruel and powerful red dragon, who is the devil. In a rage against God, the dragon knocks a third of the stars out of the heavens—meaning he takes a sizable number of God’s angels with him when he rebels. And then this dragon stands by the woman, ready to devour her child as soon as it’s born. You can’t read Revelation 12 without thinking of God’s first promise to destroy the serpent through the offspring of the woman.

But the dragon fails. For Revelation 12 says the child is caught up by God to safety, and He is seated on his heavenly throne. Satan will continue to go to war against the woman—against the church—and he’ll even attack the hosts of heaven, but he will not triumph.

So while Genesis tells us about Satan’s first and deadly assault, Revelation tells us how he comes to final ruin. In Revelation 20:10 we read, “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” The old serpent, the one who’s caused so much sin and misery, is going to be doomed for all time. Beloved, how wonderful to think that there will come a day when Satan is never again able to lead us into sin!

In Revelation, this heavens and earth pass away. The prince of darkness and all his armies meet their end. And even sin and the curse are finished! We said Genesis 3 is about the onset of sin. That single act of disobedience has brought so much grief. But then in Revelation 21, we see the end of sin! How do we know that sin is banished? Because it says that God makes ‘all things new.’ Because it says that every unrepentant sinner is cast out, and that his people—washed clean in Christ’s blood—are able to dwell with God forever.

A world without sin, and no more curse. Remember the curse pronounced in Genesis 3. Creation was now shattered, and mankind feels all the effects of this brokenness. Daily work is sweaty and difficult. Flowerbeds and fields are overtaken by weeds. Childbirth is agonizing, marriage can be tense, and there’s many tears and much sorrow. That is the nature of the world ever since the fall into sin.

But Revelation announces the gospel that God is putting right his world gone wrong! “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There shall be no more…sorrow, nor crying” (Rev 21:4). All the devastation and agony of sin are reversed. And in the next chapter, we hear what happens to those heavy words God once laid down in the Garden, “And there shall be no more curse” (22:3). The curse of sin has finally been lifted away through the one who bore our curse, Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

And there is more. In Genesis, after the fall into sin, death immediately arrives. It was the punishment God decreed, saying about the tree in the middle of the Garden, “On the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:17). It’s true, when Adam and Eve ate from tree, they didn’t immediately fall dead to the ground. This was a mercy of God.

Yet they knew that death was coming. God said to Adam that he would have to work hard for his entire life, and then at the end, tired and worn out, he’d “return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19).

That is what happened. Adam and Eve died, and their sons and daughters all died, and their grandchildren all died. When you read further in Genesis, you find a chapter of family history, in Genesis 5. And throughout the chapter there is a sad refrain, “So-and-so lived for x-number of years, and then he died.”

If you’ve ever looked at your family tree, done a bit of research into genealogy, then you’ll know that this refrain has not changed at all. Our grandparents and great-grandparents all lived for a time, and then they died. Unless Christ returns soon, the same thing will happen to each of us: we will live for a time, and then we’ll die. One day, someone will summarize our entire life with a small set of dates: Born on this day, died on this day.

Because of sin, we die. Now, if we are joined to Christ by faith, then our death is not a payment for sin, but it puts an end to sin and is an entrance into eternal life. But until Christ comes, death still haunts us. Until Christ comes again, there will be lots more cancer, and heart failure, and pandemics, and car crashes—more death.

That’s the story of humanity since Genesis 3. And it wasn’t meant to go this way. But then in Revelation, God puts things right. We already saw that when the end has come, there will be no more tears and sorrow. In Revelation 21 there’s the promise that “there shall be no more pain” (v 4): no more illness, no more broken bones, no more depression and anxiety, no more abuse. “No more pain” and finally, “there shall be no more death” (v 4).

Death is abolished because of the one who defeated death. There shall be no more death, no more funerals, no more grieving, because Christ is ‘the resurrection and the life’ (John 11:25). He paid the death penalty which we deserved. He restored the gift of living forever with God.  

For that was another terrible result of the bad beginning. When our first parents rebelled against God, they forfeited the right to live with him in Paradise. They had been created “to live with him in eternal blessedness” (Q&A 6), but sin ruined that amazing opportunity. Unholy people cannot live with holy God, and we dare not approach his perfect majesty.

In Genesis 3 we see the separation between holy God and unholy people. After God has pronounced curse and judgement, and after He’s announced that He’ll redeem mankind from Satan’s power, God must also remove the man and woman from his presence. Created to dwell with God forever, they are evicted from the Garden—and the way back into God’s presence is heavily guarded. In short, it’s impossible to draw near to God, unless God opens the way. 

That separation in the Garden is symbolic of what we experience for our entire lives. Sinners can’t approach God on our own. Even as believers in Christ, as those brought back into fellowship with the LORD, we face a constant effort to stay close to God. Every day we are pushed back by our sin. Every day we are hindered by our lack of prayer. We are weak and easily distracted—and sometimes we even prefer life away from God’s presence.

Once again, Revelation shows how God will put things right. For at the end of time, this will be the forever reality: “The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them and be their God” (21:3). The tabernacle was God’s earthly dwelling. And it was a miracle of his grace, that God would allow certain people to come close to himself, like Moses and the priests. Through the daily sacrifices of blood, sinners could pray and be forgiven and blessed.

God has opened the way for us too, to draw near through the sacrifice of Christ. It isn’t perfect, but through Christ and his Spirit we get a real experience of fellowship with God. It is real, and it is the deepest kind of life: to know God our Maker.

But Revelation says that it’s going to become so much better: God will dwell with us, reside among us, and we will be with him. In Revelation 22 there is even more, for it says that God and the Lamb shall be very near, and we “shall see his face” (22:4). From being sinners cast out of God’s presence, blocked and restricted, we are those welcomed into his very presence: that is how God in his grace puts things right through his Son!      

When our first parents were driven out, one of the results was that they could no longer access the tree of life. If they had eaten from the tree, it could’ve given them everlasting life instead of death—but what a horrific result that would’ve been! To live forever in captivity to sin, under the curse and away from God. The LORD guarded the tree of life as an act of grace. He would make new life possible for sinners in another way—through the tree of the cross, through the death of the promised Saviour.

That’s Genesis—so in Revelation, we’re not surprised to find the tree of life once more. There it is in chapter 22, planted in the New Jerusalem: “In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each…yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (v 2). Access to God’s life-giving blessing is now renewed and open. You may come and eat and live forever.

How many more links are there from Genesis to Revelation? More than we have time for today. Perhaps you can find some yourself. But let’s consider a handful more.

In Genesis, God creates the sun to govern the day. In Revelation, there is no longer any need for the sun, for the glory of God and the Lamb is our light.

In Genesis, there is a river which goes out from the Garden to water all the earth. In Revelation, there is in the middle of the city “a pure river of water of life” (22:1).

In Genesis, God clothes sinners with garments of skin. In Revelation 7, He clothes the multitude of believers with robes that have been made white in the blood of the Lamb.

In Genesis, God calls his people to have dominion as a way to glorify God. In Revelation, God restores this wondrous task to us, because for eternity, “his servants shall serve him” and we “shall reign forever and ever” (22:3,5)

Throughout Genesis, there is non-stop hostility from those who are allied with Satan. Evil men are always resisting the Lord and attacking his people—just think of the wickedness on the earth in the days of Noah, or the Tower of Babel, or the lawlessness of Sodom and Gomorrah.

In the book of Revelation, we see the same hostility, but on a global scale. Revelation tells this story of human history; it’s ongoing today, and will be, until the moment Christ returns. The wicked and godless will resist the Lord and attack his people.

But both Genesis and Revelation—and every book in between—also tell the story of God’s victory. The serpent will be crushed. The child born from the woman will somehow escape the devil’s grasp. And then the promised Saviour will give up his own life, and by his death break the power of the ancient serpent. Having defeated the kingdom of darkness, the Lamb will ascend to his throne and reign forever.

That brings me to another link from Genesis to Revelation, and it will be the last. In Genesis, we read about Adam’s marriage. God created a woman for him, and Adam rejoices in the union that he’s allowed to enjoy with Eve. It’s another beginning of something beautiful, and of course, marriage is another gift that Satan has tried very hard to ruin.

But while Genesis tells about the marriage of the first Adam, Revelation tells about the marriage of the last Adam, our Saviour Jesus Christ. We read of this in Revelation 19, as the great crowd of the redeemed cries out with praise to God, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready” (v 7). We are the bride of Christ, his dearly beloved.

That is a reality today—for Christ has loved us and given himself for us. But we also look forward to what is yet to come, the wedding feast of the Lamb. Then we will know Christ in a perfect union, an eternal bond, with joy everlasting.

In closing, when we look at this story of our salvation from beginning to end, from Genesis to Revelation, a few things should stand out for us.

First, we see God’s amazing wisdom. God put together a plan of salvation that is detailed, and comprehensive, and without flaw. At first glance, it’s all very simple: Christ dies for sinners. But when you look closely, you see just how much God is doing: He is defeating Satan, restoring his creation, vindicating his justice, saving his people, preparing for eternity.  

Second, when we look at the story of our salvation, we see God’s great faithfulness. He gave a powerful promise in Genesis 3, and He kept it. He kept his word, even at an immense cost to himself: his one and only Son.

Third, we see God’s steadfast love. He didn’t have to do any of this. Adam and Eve and all their children deserved everlasting condemnation. The story of the Bible could’ve ended with that first bite of the forbidden fruit—one bite, and death forever. But God is love, and He is willing to come near and forgive.

Fourth, when we survey Genesis to Revelation, we see how privileged we are to know this story. God has told us the glorious gospel, and He has regenerated us by his Spirit (Q&A 8). By his power we can believe this message with our whole heart.

Lastly, when we see how God graciously puts right his world, we should want to have a share in this great plan. Don’t you want to be a part of this amazing story? To know it and to see how it all ends? The way to take part is by faith. The promise is yours, so now embrace the promise. Put your trust in the Lamb of God. Do the Saviour’s will for as long as you live here on earth. And then make sure that you’re ready for the day of his return. For He is coming soon!  Amen.       

              




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Rev. Reuben Bredenhof

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