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Genesis 3_1-21 Peace trough enmity - Advent

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Peace through enmity

The Promise of the victory over sin and death

Lord’s Day 10th December 2006, 9.00am

Announcements

The word of God in our midst

Call to worship

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. (Luke 2:10, 14)

Blessing

Grace to you from God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, our God from everlasting to everlasting, the Head of the Church, creator of heaven of earth and Judge over all mankind.

Doxology Hymn No 197:        “Let all who bear the Name of Jesus”                                                                (Tune 484, only verses 1-3, 6-7)         

Prayer of Confession of sin

Forgiveness

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; (Isaiah 1:18-19)

Prayer of Adoration, Thanksgiving and the Lord’s Prayer

Hymn No 178:                            “O bless the Lord” (Tune 168 – 4 verses)

Tithes, offering and dedication

Sunday School Prize Giving

Hymn No 177:                            “Hark the glad sound” (Tune 176 – 4 verses)

Scripture Reading                     Genesis 3:1-19, Matthew 1:18-21

Sermon                                          Peace through enmity –

God’s promise of victory over sin and death

Introduction

On September 12 2001 we all woke up to the dreadful news of terrorists who flew into the World Trade Centre, into the Pentagon and of Flight 93.  2630 died in the World Trade Centre itself, 125 personnel of the Pentagon, plus the 64 in the plane itself which crashed into the building, died;  45 died on United Airlines Flight 93 which crashed in rural Pennsylvania; there were 56 people in the plane of United Airlines Flight 175 ploughing in the South Tower; 92 people died as Flight 11 of American Airlines struck the North Tower.  In total 3012 people died.

John Weaver, an emergency worker writes:

At the time, many of my colleagues reported feeling fear, helplessness, and anger at depths they’d never previously experienced. Returning the next workday was especially hard … as many worried “What if we are the next target?” Many usually peace-loving people found themselves with an urge to bomb someone in retaliation.

On that day, 12th September 2001, a new phrase coined:  “The word will never be the same.”  War against terror was declared, because war would eventually bring peace. 

There was another event in the history of the world.  Not only did a few thousand people die.  It was an event that brought death to billions of people.  The effects of it are known to all of us, because I know it in my heart, and you know its consequences. Look around you and you see the pain, pestilence, heartache, drought, war, disobedience, broken lives, mental illness, physical infirmity, hatred, broken relationships.

It was blackest of all days in history.  Not only was mankind plunged into misery and wretchedness; nature suffered badly with pestilence, thorns and thistles and distorted seasons.

On that day God declared war.  He did it so that the peace could be restored.  He did it for mankind, because man was too happy with his choice of rebellion against God.  Man’s nature became corrupted and the best he could do would never be good enough in the sight of God to restore him to eternal happiness.

That, my dear brother and sister, is absolutely astonishing about the days of man on the face of the earth.  Like dogs returning to its own vomit, and like the pig which just love to roll in the mud, so mankind, after that day of rebellion against God, lost his ability to please God, only seeking his own way, hating his neighbour and loving himself.

The very fact that God went looking for fallen man in paradise before he was thrown out into a hostile world, calling out to him “Where are you?” was an act of grace.  To declare was against Satan was an act of grace of God. Man could not see the problem, but God saw the solution. And it is the same today:  man cannot see his problem and in ignorance tries his hardest to fix the problems around him. But still we hear the voice of the Gospel calling men, women and children to repentance in Jesus Christ:  “Where are you?”

The grace of war against evil

It was not a terrorist attack, but it was rebellion for sure.  It was the day man declared war against God.  But the gracious God did not direct his destructive holiness upon man, instead He declared war against the devil and promised to crush the head of the serpent.  But He also promise the One, the Seed, who do it, because from that day on man was powerless to stand against the serpent.

What grace!  What an escape from eternal hell and destruction!  It is Gospel on the darkest day in the history of this world. It is that Gospel that we preach today.

Who was this serpent?  Revelation 12:3, 9 helps us:

Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (Revelation 12:3, 9)

It was the same creature John saw in his vision of Revelation.  The same Devil, Satan, Dragon, serpent who had only one purpose in life: to destroy God’s creation and bring misery upon mankind.  He is murderer from the beginning, he blasphemes against God, he rebels against God, and he is accuser of mankind. He is the fallen angel, hurled from the presence of God, and now focussing his rebellion against God upon what belongs to God to bring them pain, suffering, misery, unhappiness and sorrow.  He cares not what methods e can employ to enslave you into his death-resulting course, suck you out like an orange, toss you out on the ash heaps of the world and then laugh with his Dracula-like voice, through his blood-drenched teeth about your misery, dragging you into an eternity of punishment, destruction and devastation:  this the Bible calls hell.  If you ever doubted about  who the serpent was, look at the life of Job:  when visited by Satan, and then only in as far would allow him to go, Job was left with nothing; his flesh became rotten with the stench of death surrounding him, no child, no friend, no possession, sitting clothed in sack and ash.  Such is life under Satan; such is the one God declared war against on that day. O, what grace!

The fallen state of mankind

God created man in his image, with the power and will to do God’s bidding.  Man was called to rule over God’s creation because God him in charge of everything.  He was just a bit lower than the heavenly beings.  But man was not God.  In him he carried the possibility of rebellion and sin.  He was put before a choice, and he failed.  Eve failed, and as mother of all mankind, she became, with Adam, responsible for sin which would tear the world into pieces.

Nature was effected.  Now thorns and thistles sprang up.  Work now is a curse, not a sign of dominion.  What is overcome today becomes another battle tomorrow.  There is no end to the misery. Life became a battle as man became his own worst enemy.  Out of the first children born upon the face of the earth, one became a murderer of his own brother.  The rest is history – just read about it in your newspaper today. Even if man wants to improve himself, he finds himself entangled into the problem of his own inadequacy.  We want to make the world a better place, but terrorism remains a reality; people still cheat one another, marriages still break up, children still rebel, people are still addicted to drugs and alcohol.  It is like the plague of fleas we experience at the moment:  you kill a few now, but they say if you see one, be sure there are fifty others hiding, ready to attack; and while you to not look every adult female lay sixty more eggs every day. You just can’t get ahead.

You thought it was a gloomy picture?  You bet it is.  I tried everything with the fleas.  We now made an appointment with the professionals; perhaps they can help.  We need someone from somewhere else to come and help.

The Promise of victory

God talked to Adam and Eve.  There was no place for them in Paradise anymore.  The consequence of sin is sweat on the brow, pain and struggle away from the protected boundaries of God’s daily walk and communion with them.

But God did not give up with mankind.  He could if He wanted to.  Instead, He gave them a promise.  He, and He alone, would provide someone who would crush the head of the serpent. The One promised to do that would be born from the women in the fullness of time.  But the Promised Messiah who would be powerful enough to over Satan and death and sin, would not have his origin in the seed of Adam and Eve.  He would be the Son of God.

That’s what happened in the time leading up to the first Christmas when Mary was overcome by the Holy Spirit and she became pregnant with the Saviour of the world.  To Joseph came the word:

An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:20)

Because this Child was the Son of God, the fulfilled promise whose task it was to crush the head of the serpent, God, his Father selected a very special name for Him:  “You are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save the people from their sins.”

Jesus, the Greek for the Hebrew Jeshua or Joshua. He would destroy the enemy and lead his people into the Promised Land.  And as such He is Immanuel:  God with us. 

Conclusion

Five years after September 11, Lorraine S. Carroll, just another American citizen wrote:

It still hurts the same as it did 5 years ago when the Towers went down in New York, the Pentagon disaster, and Flight 93 that went down with all those heroes on it. God Bless all or you who lost your loved ones... God makes no mistakes....just keep praying...He is still in control of this world and victory is His.  You are not alone....be faithful....

 He is still in control of the world and victory is His.  You are not alone … be faithful.  Our message is the same, we just give it meaningful substance:  Jesus Christ is the Father’s promised victory over sin, death, Satan and hell.  If you know Him in a saving way, you will understand and you are looking forward to the day of his return. Then, on that glorious day, what He accomplished on the cross and the open grave will receive its reward as He will trample underfoot his enemies, and dash to pieces those who rejected Him as Lord and Saviour. Then He will chain and cast into the pit for eternal condemnation the Devil and his henchmen. 

This Christmas you will hear the message of the Saviour Jesus Christ again.  You will once again hear about Immanuel.  Question is: How do you respond to it?  Will you come to bow before the Child of Bethlehem and repent of your sin and become a child of God, or will you resist the Gospel call to eternal life?  The consequences of such a decision are too dreadful to mention.  Amen.

Prayer

Hymn No 242:            “Hallelujah, sing to Jesus” (Tune 522 – 4 verses)

Benediction

To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 20-21, 24-25)

Threefold “Amen

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