Read His Words Before Ours!
One small act changed everything. Once Adam and Eve tasted the fruit, there was no way back to the innocence they had previously known.
At first glance, it seems like such a small transgression – just a bite of fruit – but at its heart, it was a rejection of God. It was “no” to Him, and “yes” to self, and in one brief moment, God’s “very good” creation was broken.
Before that dreadful moment, Adam and Eve had enjoyed an open and trusting relationship with God and one another, the sweet fellowship of walking together in the garden unafraid and unashamed. But their act of rebellion opened the door to fear and shame. Trust and intimacy gave way to hiding and separation.
The consequences were severe: ejection from the garden, and a curse of sin left as the legacy for all generations to come, ultimately leading to both physical and spiritual death.
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
It is a tragic tale. How Adam and Eve must have wished they could turn back the clock and make a different choice, but there was nothing they could do!
But, even there in the garden, we see a faint glimmer of hope. Whereas God could have destroyed Adam and Eve, or abandoned them to the path they had chosen, instead He sought them out and gave them a tantalising glimpse of a day in the future when One would come, the offspring of a woman, who would crush the serpent’s head, defeating sin and evil forever.
Before they were banished from the garden for good, God also provided Adam and Eve with clothes made from skins. An innocent animal was sacrificed to cover their shame.
This was the first sacrifice, but it pointed ahead to God’s instructions given to Moses at Mount Sinai many years later. In the generations since Adam and Eve, the story of the Bible had been one of people’s sinfulness and God’s faithfulness. When we join Moses on Mount Sinai, God has led His people out of slavery in Egypt, and they are headed to the land He has promised them, but the issue of sin remains. Nonetheless, God still wants a relationship with His sinful people, and so a sacrificial system is instituted.
The book of Leviticus describes it in detail. There were burnt offerings, grain offerings, sin offerings, guilt offerings . . . all involved sacrifice, and most required spilled blood. A flawless animal had to be slaughtered to pay the price for the people. It was not a simple matter for a sinful people to approach a holy God.
“According to the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22)
Despite these regular offerings, there was still the need for the Day of Atonement once a year, when the High Priest would enter the Most Holy Place where God’s presence resided. First, the priest would slaughter a bull as an offering for his own sins and those of his family; then, he had to sacrifice a goat on behalf of the people.
A second goat was chosen to be a scapegoat. The High Priest would lay his hand on the goat’s head and confess the sins of the people, symbolically transferring their sins onto the goat. The goat would then be driven out into the wilderness as a sign of the people’s sins being carried away.
The sacrificial system provided a way to approach God, but it also presented a vivid illustration of the severity of sin and the separation it brought. Romans 6:23 states that “the wages of sin is death,” and the people were reminded of this devastating truth on a regular basis as they brought their sacrifices to God, again . . . and again . . . and again.
No matter how fervently they resolved to do better next time, they always sinned again, so the sacrifices reminded them not only of their sin and its consequences, but also of the inadequacy of the sacrifices to permanently cover their sin.
Sacrifices provided a temporary solution, but Hebrews 10:4 explains “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”
What then was the answer?
Where would this serpent-crusher come from, and Who would it be?
Creation groaned as it waited for God’s plan to be revealed and for His solution to come.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!