sermon: His Eye Is on the Sparrow (Part Two)
The Curse of Genesis 3:15
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 23-Apr-16; Sermon #1318B; 87 minutes
John Ritenbaugh reflecting on the curse imposed upon Satan and the enmity created between the serpent's seed and Eve, asserts that, paradoxically, this curse could be considered a blessing for those called of God, providing a practical means by which God creates character in those whom He called out before the foundation of the world. This understanding runs counter to the faulty dispensationalist theory which assumes that God, as a somewhat absent-minded tinker, must continually adjust His method of giving salvation (moving away from works to grace), making it easier and more inclusive. Dispensationalism assumes too much randomness or chance in God's plan, overlooking the intense purpose and planning of God's mind, having pre-planned or pre-destined all of us individually before the foundation of the world. Christ has full control of the church. Everything of consequence, including the development of our character, is engineered by Him; we did not find God by ourselves, but were chosen. The mystery of His plan, hidden from the world, has been revealed to the saints. The God who designed complex cells, molecules, and atoms certainly has the savvy to design a viable plan of salvation. God has had the same plan from the beginning of the world, having chosen us as the weak of the world so that no flesh could glory. The called-out church was not a passing fancy of God, but an entity which has been on His mind from the very beginning. Nothing happens randomly; God is in total control; the death of a sparrow (a rather insignificant and drab creature) does not occur without His full attention. We, like the sparrow, are undistinguished and drab by the world's standards, but given a glimpse of the mystery that God is reproducing Himself, bringing us altogether into one family in His Eternal Kingdom, at which time mother Eve's seed, from the line of Seth to the present, will be
Christianity supposedly as easy as falling of a log Colossians 1:13-27 Curse imposed upon Satan Ephesians 1:1-14 Fullness of time Genesis 3:14;4:16; 13:15 God as a tinkerer Dispensation-house rules Dispensational concept Dispensationalism Enmity between the seed of the woman and Satan Fearing Satan Hebrews 11:4 Jude 11 Just hear the Gospel and be saved Malachi 3:6 Matthew 10:31 Mystery hidden from the world Nobody tells God what to do Predestination not a cold-hearted fate Psalm 84: 1-4 102:5-7 Resisting Satan's temptations Satan very aware of us Spiritual gifts Weak of the world
My two Days of Unleavened Bread sermons are eventually going to cover in detail the curse that God, as sovereign ruler of the creation, imposed on Satan in the form of a enmity between Satan and mankind that would exist from that time forward to this very day, but in a very short period of time historically speaking, became a blessing for the called of God. It began as a curse but it ended up being a blessing, it became a blessing pretty quickly, after He pronounced it. I mean within a couple of hundred years, it began to take a turn and eventually became a very great force toward making it possible for us to be in God's Kingdom.
Understanding some aspects of that curse provides a great deal of important insight into one of the major operations that God is using to manage the operations of His purpose and plan of salvation. Understanding this operation is supremely important to our faith, our knowing God, and our grasp of what He is working out. God is working out a plan, He is the Creator, we are not creating character except a tiny bit of it, the rest of it is the work of God as He creates within us.
My emphasis in these sermons is going to be on what He is working out. What He is working out is a major key to grasping what is going on because even among those calling themselves Christians do not give Him anywhere near enough credit for what is being worked out.
In an overall sense man has given far too much credit for salvation in their teaching, and because what they believe regarding God's plan pays far too little attention to one particular vital doctrine. There is in their purpose far too much left to randomness in their teaching, they do not understand what the apostle Paul calls one of the mysteries of God.
About one hundred to one hundred fifty years ago some scholars came up with a salvation system that they called dispensational salvation. Basically it is that God took some people through various ways to save them. No, He did not. He has been using the same plan, the same system, from the beginning. God did take them through various ways but it was not done to save them. It was to provide a history that we could look at and see how man reacted to the situation and how God dealt with the situation that those people found themselves in.
Please turn to Colossians 1. I will read several verses here because it is an overview of one aspect of God's purpose.
Colossians 1:13-16 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love [What did the apostles say? He delivered us from the power of darkness. We did not just walk out, or volunteer to be part of what He is working out.], in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created. . . .
We are not creating character, God is creating it in us. We participate in the production of it but He is doing the work. How many of you think that Adam helped Christ develop Him? Not a one. How much more important is what God is creating in this spiritual creation than the creation of Adam out of dirt. It is exceedingly important and it is God who is doing the creating. He is the one bringing forces together in order to cleanse our minds of this junk that we have gotten in the world and replacing it with a kind of a mind and heart that is pleasing to Him.
Colossians 1:16-27. . . . that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. [There is a theme here, everything of any consequence is being done by the Father and the Son. We need to give them full credit for what they are doing] And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister. I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. [Not revealed to everyone only the sanctified ones.] To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
What we just read is worthy for an entire study just on it.
I am using this as an overview because I want us to see that the purpose and plan of God's creation has from the beginning had a great deal of time and billions in human populations built right into it. We are talking about the creation of Adam right on up to this time. Almost 6,000 years has been built into what God has already revealed to us, and how many billions of people have been born since then? How many of them have been in the church, compared to the number that were born? The number is so insignificant we can hardly notice it.
If God is simply just trying to save people, why did He wait so long to start preaching to the Gentiles? That ought to tell you something. He is working out a purpose that did not for thousands of years include the Gentiles. God opened the door to the Gentiles, after the preaching of Jesus Christ, only 2000 years ago. Why did He wait so long? Because that is the portion of the earth where the great populations lay. China alone has over a billion people, India even at this time has right around a billion people. How many people have lived in China and India since that period when God scattered the nations all over the world?
Is God cruel? Is He unthinking? Does He not like the Chinese? Does He not like the Indians? Of course He loves them! The Bible says that He is not willing to let any perish, but He waited thousands of years because He is the only one who can give salvation and He determined it in His mind. He wants those populations to build up and when He goes to save them, He will save them. Right now His concentration is on the church and the church did not begin until 2,000 years ago.
There were some people saved before Jesus Christ, which we will eventually go into. He was preparing, He was saving people beginning with Abel, who as far as we know is the first human being ever saved by God. Right from the beginning after Adam and Eve, after they had two children, He saved one of them. You begin to get a feeling for the kind of powerful God that we are subject to. It is His creation, it is His salvation, and it is being done on His terms.
Get that through your minds and begin to feel the rush of undeserved pleasure that is ours because we know what we know. He gave it to us as a free gift, we did not earn it, it was nothing that we did. He was the one who made it possible for us to understand. Do we appreciate that? Our focus can now be on Him.
I am going to continue with this theme. I think that God inspired it because that is what He wants us to focus on now because it is going to become exceedingly important as the moral condition of this earth gets worse and worse. Our faith better be in the God who can save us, and He will because He says He will just as sure as He saved Israelites out of Egypt.
There is in the world's concept very little indication that God Himself, personally and through Jesus Christ, is working out His purpose on an individual basis. Everybody is individually called by Him, He is not scattering things out like so much rice. God is a careful God, God is the Father of a family and He is having children at the rate that He and His son Jesus Christ want them to be added to what they are working to produce.
The entire operation as the world sees it is extremely general in operation. Basically all a person has to do is to hear the gospel, believe it, accept the blood of Jesus Christ, and they will be saved. That is not all there is to it, although that is certainly a portion of it. In their system it is as though God has been tinkering as He went along attempting to find a solution to a dilemma that He has not foreseen. What in the world kind of God is that? You know that is not true. We are going to see it written in the Bible. As time went on God progressed to making salvation easier and easier, as each dispensation went by.
My father-in-law that I loved dearly, was raised in the Covenanter religion that was a break off from the Presbyterian Church. They were the strictest of all the Presbyterians. When he was a boy back in the late 1890s, he went to church Sunday mornings and they stayed there the entire day listening to sermons, Bible studies, and fellowshipping with one another. The whole Sunday was taken up. When Evelyn and I met and I began to talk to him he would invariably bring up the dispensation concept. It was ground into his mind.
In an overall manner the world teaches that God first attempted to get mankind saved through works of each individual, then seeing that this was failing He switched, providing mankind with grace. That is a brief outline but it portrays God as being one very shortsighted God.
If you look at the earth and all it contains, the very fact that it even exists—the weather systems, all the things you know about molecules, cells, disease, all the atoms, electrons, neutrons, and everything that might be involved in a creation—does that sound to you like a God who would overlook things? Not in the least. He is the most careful, thoughtful, individual that exists, and as we are going to see, He had everything planned out from the beginning.
That kind of thinking is shortsighted and weak because Satan is clearly winning the battle for men's souls. I can remember first hearing the World Tomorrow program in late 1959. Garner Ted [Armstrong] was giving the broadcast most of the time then. On that program I remember hearing him say dozens of times—(I could get the World Tomorrow program in Pittsburgh three times. That is how often it was broadcast. During the day we could hear it five times. Evelyn and I would go to the Feast and come home at night on the highway and go from one World Tomorrow program at 8:00, 8:30, 9:00, you could hear the program all the way home)—that being a Christian is as easy as falling off a log. He was pulling peoples’ legs, but that is the way that an awful lot of people have felt that they have been saved, by that kind of a system.
Ephesians and Colossians were written in the same period of time of Paul's life, he was in prison. Much of what is written in Ephesians and Colossians were very similar.
Ephesians 1:1-14 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God [he was chosen by God and he accepted the responsibility], to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus; grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ [this is very meaningful to the history of the church], just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will [we did not volunteer, He opened up our minds], to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved [in expanded sense it is the church]. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself [it is awesome how involved God is in everybody's life], that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth-in Him—In Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of your inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession [the church], to the praise of His glory.
I want you to grasp this more confidently for your understanding. God has been working out the same purpose from the beginning, it has never varied. He has everything under control and it is being opened up to mankind at the speed that He wants it to be opened up, step-by-step it is going along. As we are going to see, God personally singled you out to hear and understand. This is nothing to be tossed away carelessly.
It is certain not because we are so intelligent and honest with the Scripture that we understand these things. Just as a reminder, you know very well what Colossians 1:26 says (this ought to be in our memory banks), there is nothing about us that is to be bragged about. In Colossians 1:26, says that God has chosen the weak of the world, so we know what it says of us and that we are faced with humbly submitting to what He says to do. You will find as your understanding broadens that is clearly not the way God teaches His purpose and salvation.
This section of Ephesians confirms that the church is not a passing fancy of His, in which He is looking for solutions to make His plan a success as He goes along. The church was in His mind from the foundation of the world. In a way these two sermons that I am going to give are built around this particular thought.
Malachi 3:6 “For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
God means exactly what He says. He began a plan when everything was in place just over 6,000 years ago. He has not changed that one iota. He is telling the people of Judah here that they are not wiped out because God is the way He is, and He will not abandon them. They may have deserved to be abandoned but He was not going abandon them.
There is a companion scripture to this in the New Testament. The verse Hebrews 13:8, where it says that Jesus Christ, who was actually our Creator, is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He never changes, the Father never changes. When they were ready to begin the creation and the salvation of mankind everything was in place and He had it already worked out in His mind what He was going to do.
Mankind is not more powerful than God. God planned from the beginning to give mankind a great deal of latitude, but God will not just simply drop His purpose of procedures because He grows bored or frustrated with things as we humans often do. That is what He said in Malachi to the people of Judah, “I am God, I change not. Therefore I am not going to wipe you out. I am going to just deal with you in the way that you need to be dealt with.”
Ephesians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.
What these two verses do is reinforce the thought that He has not gotten weary of His original purpose because here we are in the church almost 6,000 years after the creation and, He is giving us conformation through the apostle Paul that God is blessing us, the church, with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places.
Do you know what blessing in heavenly places means? Figuratively what that means is that we are in heaven with Him. It is a spiritual thing, an understanding, but this is why I said, this is particularly good to understand at this time, during which the church is scattered in smaller groups all over the place.
Regardless of where you are on earth, if God has called you and converted you, as far as God is concerned we are with Him. That is why it says, heavenly places. It is as though we are there, even though we are not literally there. That is a fantastically comforting thought.
Ephesians 1:5-6 Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
Verses 5 and 6, along with verses 3 and 4, add that we have been chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, thus again confirming that He has been on the same trajectory regarding His purpose since the world was created. His purpose is following a detailed plan.
We will give a carnal view. Let us say that you have an idea in your mind, you are going to produce a certain product. It is going to be an automobile and you are going to call the name of that automobile after yourself, but after you get started on what you intended to build in the first place you start building something entirely different. You start building refrigerators.
In a dumb way that is what it is saying here, God started out on a project, earth, salvation of mankind through Jesus Christ, and He has never deterred from pursuing that same goal from the very beginning. He does not change plans. He did not try it this way and then that way to get men saved. He knows how to save mankind. All along the way, what is He doing? He is preparing people for His Kingdom. He is creating people in His image.
Predestination is mentioned here. It does not mean a cold-hearted fate set from the time that we are born, but rather it is a loving choice on God's part, and within that purpose nothing happens randomly because God always exercises control. That is what manufacturers do. They are constantly moving to exercise the control of the product that they are producing. God can do those things, He is doing those things, He is not being deterred from the family that He is creating. He is creating human beings in His image and He will not be deterred away from that.It is after all His creation and nobody is going to tell Him what to do with it.
Also in verse 6, He made us accepted in the Beloved. The word agape appears in there, and it is a conformation that the predestination of which He spoke is not a sentimental feeling but a loving choice on His part.
We are His creation and He is watching over us with loving care. We may think that He is not paying any attention but He is.
Ephesians 1:7-8 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence.
These two verses add that He determined before He began that Jesus Christ, our Creator, would die for us. By doing so He redeems us from the penalties of our sins thus signaling that before He even created us He knew that we would sin, and that we would receive forgiveness by means of repentance and having those penalties covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. God thought of everything, every angle, every aspect.
Ephesians 1:9-10 Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.
God declares here through the apostle Paul that before He even began this entire process of His plan and purpose, that He would reveal the mystery of His will, and He would reveal the mystery of His will particularly to those He was drawing into His family, therefore the church. Mystery is used here not in the sense of a puzzle to be solved, but merely indicates something that was hidden or obscure, and God takes that which is hidden away.
So His will is His determination, His purpose, is to some measure hidden from the world. That is one reason why they are so confused. Satan adds to that confusion, but even by itself they would not understand unless God opened it up to them.
It is inferred in verse 10 that He would establish the church, gathered in one. It is a reference to the church, indicating one group, one family, one kingdom under Jesus Christ, and that through Him we would inherit all things with Christ.
Everything is moving toward a point at which the church will be resurrected, even now we are a part of it. He is gathering all of His children into one group, one family, one kingdom, until as we see in John 17, we all become one with the Father and the Son. I can understand why Mr. Armstrong said that Ephesians 1 was his favorite chapter in the whole Bible.
It is in verse 10 that the term dispensation appears. This is probably where it came from in that doctrinal program that I mentioned earlier. That term in modern English literally means house rules. A more common definition is, the administration of a system. A more clear definition is that the root of that word became the English word economy. What is economy? It is a system of the handling of money.
He ties it to another phrase, the dispensation of the fullness of the times. What is the fullness of time? It is the establishment of His Kingdom. This whole thing is not going to come together until His Kingdom is established on earth. That will not occur until Jesus Christ comes, the saints will all be resurrected, and they will all be in one family, in one body, literally, not spiritually. God is telling you where everything is headed. It is very likely that what He is pointing out is what it says there in Revelation 14, when there is a group that will be gathered together who always follow wherever Christ goes, they are with Him. It is His own group that carries out His commands.
This is part of understanding the mystery of His will. You people ought to understand that, because it has been given to you, it has been given to me. We may need a little bit more understanding to fit all of the pieces together but they are all there. God has made sure that we know where He is headed. We will be the product that He is producing, and we will all be character-wise, mind-wise, in His image. God is reproducing Himself.
Did you ever stop to think about that in reference to Genesis 1, where God says, “Let us make man in Our image,” four or five verses later He says, “Each animal, each bird, reproduces after its own kind.” What is God doing? He is reproducing children after His kind. You have to have the right kind of mind, the mind that God has tweaked a bit to believe it and to act on it.
Ephesians 1:13-14 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
He determined from the very beginning that we would trust Him by means of His truths, and that in addition to all of the other gifts He would gift to us His Holy Spirit as a down payment, a guarantee of our salvation. By these means He has in general covered every possibility, there is no reason that we should ever fail. Guarantee is listed last of these great gifts because it enables us to glorify Him by fulfilling His purposes in our calling. He has planned that we are involved for a long, long time to get things done.
The apostle is teaching us that God has not called us to failure but rather to His glorification by what is produced by His labors within us. Salvation has always been God's process of calling His selected ones, by grace through faith, and despite the fact that we can grasp clearly by means of the way Genesis begins, our Creator provides gifting for us with everything we need to meet the purposes He has created us for.
We went through this in great detail with Adam and Eve. What did God do so that they would succeed in life? First He created the earth, He created the animals, He created the birds, He created everything. He not only created but He gave them all of those things as gifts, to what end? So that they would be able to succeed in life. This is why I pointed out to you step by step the way you need to approach Genesis 1 is that everything He mentioned was a gift to Adam and Eve so that they would succeed in life.
And then He built a garden for them, everything was there. Now what we need to do is transfer that to you and the spiritual creation because even as He did for Adam and Eve in giving them all of these gifts, He has done the same thing with us only the gifts are spiritual. He gives us everything we need to be saved. He does not cheat, He does not cut us short, He gives us what we need to succeed spiritually in life, and not only that, we can go back to Him time and time again to get what it is that we feel we need at that time.
We will look at three verses here, I have put a title on this sermon, Please turn to Psalms 102.
Psalm 102:5-7 Because of the sound of my groaning my bones cling to my skin. I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert. I lie awake, and am like a sparrow alone on the housetop.
I have sparrow in the title of my sermon. Please turn to Matthew 10, Jesus mentions a sparrow.
Matthew 10:31 “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Psalm 84:1-4 How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young—even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will still be praising You.
I titled this sermon “His Eye is on the Sparrow” because Jesus says that Himself. God's eye is on the sparrow. Why a sparrow? I chose to use a sparrow imagery as the title because the sparrow is such a seemingly insignificant bird in God's creation, His great creation. Think about a sparrow—it is seen as timid and easily frightened, it has no apparent majesty like a fierce bald eagle, it has no brilliant colors to highlight its appearance. It is drab in appearance, yet despite all of these drawbacks that attract little or no attention, God is aware. It says no sparrow falls to the earth without Him being aware.
As insignificant as a sparrow, God is aware. How important are you compared to a sparrow? I chose this figurative title because to me the church is very much like a sparrow by comparison to other institutions and organizations that there are on earth. The church has produced no great leaders on earth, it is not large in terms of numbers. There is nothing about us because though we are part of the church, we are in God's eyes the weak of the earth. God calls those who are not failures, He just calls those who do not have a lot going for them because when things are over people are going to be amazed at who was in the church, and He provided.
To me the sparrow is almost a perfect type of the true church in many given situations because it has no place among the great organizations of this world, socially, politically, business, or educationally. It fronts no great social movement, in fact at this time nobody who is anybody pays any attention to it. All the attention is given to false Christianity.
Yet we are the group that gets God's attention, the one that seemingly means nothing in the world. It is not going to be long before the world is persecuting the sparrow, they will be easy pickings because they have no way to fight back, they are not part of what is going on, they have nobody to go to battle for them. There is no Senators, no representatives, no presidents, because God is telling us that the world hates us. Despite all of this we have Jesus' promise that once it has begun, the church full of sparrows will never pass from the history of this earth.
In these sermons I am going to expand on the intriguing spiritual relationship between God's cursing of the deceiver Satan following his participating in the sins of Adam and Eve that set off mankind's horrific experiences in life on earth these past 6,000 years, and our salvation.
Ephesians 1 and Colossians 1 are wonderful overviews of God's purpose but there is someone who is a major player in this overview who is not mentioned in either of those chapters. It is Satan. He is a major player of much of what has happened in the lives of the called these past 6,000 years. At least some of what he has done must be accounted for by reason of the means of an overview.
The conflict between God and Satan, though it happened long before man's creation, continues right on. It never abated except for a brief period of time. Satan challenged God so as to become the highest ranking of authority in all of creation. He lost that challenge, but God determined that in His new creation, mankind must face Satan and overcome his temptations to break our loyalty to God.
Here is the crux of this sermon. God determined in His wisdom that we must face the challenges that Satan puts on our path to the Kingdom of God. It does not mean we are going to overcome him, he is far more powerful than we are, but with the help of God we will resist the sins that Satan wants us to commit in order to have our loyalty to God broken. That is why he is still around, God saved him for us. If we are going to be saved it is because God is going to save us from Satan and his depredations.
Satan managed to persuade one-third of the angels to side with him in his attempt to not seek God. Resisting Him is a major part of our life once we are called. Satan is far more powerful than us, but we need the challenges and we also need God's help to be victorious. That need will be covered as we go through this, our salvation is by grace through faith. Living by faith is the major issue for us.
We are not receiving news bulletins every day telling us God did this, or God did that. In our calling we of all people on earth must be aware of God's constant oversight of the purpose and plan for which we were created. Our sovereign God is involved and understanding this curse’s effects helps keep us aware of our God. He never gets weary, He never sleeps, but He is constantly working out His purpose for this creation without removing the challenges that Satan presents to life.
Do not think that we are just going to escape unnoticed from Satan. He is very aware of us, above all people on earth, he knows that in God's mind we are going to totally and completely set aside, with God's help, both him and those with him.
Genesis 3:14-15 So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put [the curse on Satan] enmity between you and the woman [Eve] and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
When the curse’s effects are searched out in the Bible, it becomes obvious that it was a hindering curse against Satan that literally denied him the opportunity to destroy mankind right out of hand in the Garden of Eden. In other words, God kept him from wiping them out totally right there.
The curse also conversely turns out to be a tremendous blessing to Eve and to her descendants. We are going to see how that works out. What is important to this sermon is identifying this seed, or descendants, of both Satan and Eve following the death of Eve. There is no doubt that Jesus Christ is the most obvious singular Seed intended in that curse, but the carrying of the seed through, by God, involves far more than Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ did not just pop out of the earth. The seed of Eve was carried through multiple hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people until it finally reached the Messiah. Please turn to Genesis 13. The first thing we have to solve is the word seed.
Genesis 13:14-15 And the Lord said to Abram after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.”
If you happen to have a King James Version that word descendants is translated seed. What they have done is modernized it in the Revised Standard Version, and also in the New King James, either one is correct. Seed equals descendants. Seed, though given in the singular in the curse, is sometimes used in the Bible in three ways. The first and most important is the singular person, in this case that one person is Jesus Christ. It tells us what He is going to do, He is going to crush the serpent’s head. He is going to kill him.
The second way is to represent a large body of descendants as an entire nation, all being descendants of one person. We just read this in Genesis 13:15, all the descendants of Abram. So the nation of Israel is collectively the seed of Abram and Sarah. That seed was perhaps millions upon millions of people.
Third usage in the Bible is in the sense of a whole line of descendants, as in generation after generation. We have three ways that the word seed is used in the Bible.
Following all three of these leads you eventually to Jesus Christ. All three are used and all three are needed to understand this curse and how it applies. All three of these seeds will be used in this sermon and here is why: because specific seed is directly intended in the curse. The Messiah did not appear until many, many generations later, therefore the seed must be carried and be maintained until the specific Seed crushes the head of Satan. That has not yet been fulfilled. Thus who carries the seed also carries either the blessings or the cursing of the judgment that occurred by God in Genesis 3:15. In other words it is alive because God is alive and He is seeing that what He said there in Genesis 3:15 is carried out.
What God does then in order to remove the mystery is that He reveals who carries which seed, the seed of the curse, or the seed of the blessing. They both exist. I will remind you what Genesis 3:15 says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed.”
The first thing to understand is that the enmity is a fear, similar to what God put in animals following the Flood.
Genesis 9:1-2 So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them; “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air on all that moves on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand.”
This is where we begin and we will begin with Satan. Satan does not fear us at all, he may fear God but he does not fear us. The fear is not placed on Satan, it is placed on Eve. Just like the animals fear human beings, this fear was put into Eve at the very beginning. By wording the curse in this way, we can discern two clear parts of the operation of the judgment.
One begins immediately, as soon as God uttered it began, and is limited to circumstances between Eve and Satan until her death. As soon as she died that fear was gone from her. Remember her seed continues living on because the curse says, Eve and her descendants. Now we are beginning to see the beginning of how this was carried all through time right up to this present day.
If you are thinking, what this means is this: in order for this to occur God had to be on the ball making sure that this fear was in all of Eve's descendants. Just like it is in all the animals, when God did that after the Flood, from that point on that fear of mankind was in animals, this fear that He is talking about here in this curse, has been put on the descendants of Eve and to this day, since you are a descendant of Eve, you are carrying this fear of Satan in you.
It is right here that I will tell you how this curse becomes a blessing. If you are Eve's descendant and you fear Satan, what are you going to do about your relationship with Satan? You are going to stay as far away from him as you possibly can. That is our protection, we will not fool around with him, we fear him too much. God put that in His children, the descendants of Eve, so that we would not mess with Satan, we would flee from him. It is not that we need to be terrified of him because we do have God's protection but on the other hand we will not entertain him.
This is how this curse became a blessing to Eve's descendants, because they fear Satan they do not want to have anything do with him. If we had no fear of him we would invite him in. Unfortunately some people do that by playing around with sin, the temptation of Satan the Devil. As soon as Eve died what had to occur? It had to pass on to her descendants.
Even amongst the descendants of Eve, there are differences between her descendants. An example of this working right at the beginning, we will see why the difference occurs here. The curse does not hit everybody with the same devastating affect. There are reasons for that which I will explain, they are in the Book.
Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.
Look back into Genesis. It is very clear that the fruits of the lives of Cain and Abel were vastly different. Same family, same mother, same father, and yet one was a godly man and the other was a real rascal—right in the same family. One had the fear of Satan and the other had none it seems.
Abel was a humble man who followed God's instructions, the emphasis here is on God's instruction. The Bible makes clear he was a man of faith and he believed God, and thus Satan's impact upon him was minimal and though it does not say this, it appears the fear of Satan was already at work in Abel. In other words, Abel had the fear so he stayed clear of Satan.
Lamech, in the same family, did not fear Satan. Cain was far different and his son Lamech became a follower of his way to the extent that like his fathers, both spiritual and physical, Lamech's physical father was Cain, and Lamech's spiritual father was Satan. What did Lamech become? He became a murderer just like Cain, and a murderer just like Satan. He was a murderer from the beginning.
Are you beginning to see a separation here, even from the same family? One had the fear of Satan, the other did not. The one who had the fear of Satan became the Christian, the one who did not have the fear of Satan became like Satan.
Turn to Genesis 4. This is intriguing when you see it piece by piece all put together as to what happened as a result of that one judgment that God made and what it turned out to be for us.
Genesis 4:16 Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden.
I think it is very clear that it is noted that Cain went out from the Lord's presence. That is very telling. He walked away from God. That statement is almost announcing the direction of his life. I went through that one time, talking about directions. The Bible says somebody went east. That is bad. They left Eden and went east of Eden, he was walking away from God. Who was his friend? Satan, he did not fear Satan, he loved him. That verse there is almost announcing the direction of his life.
Cain's son Lamech then did something else, he married two women at the same time. That is not godly. He did not fear God, he did not fear Satan, thus signaling a further departure of Cain's family away from God's way, and continuing on to the next generation.
Genesis 4:23 Then Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; wives of Lamech, listen to my speech! For I have killed a man for wounding me, even a young man for hurting me.”
Even as Cain killed his brother Abel, Lamech also killed another son of Eve, just like Cain did. Who else would he kill? All the descendants on earth came from Cain and Abel. He was following the same anti God path as his father Cain.
Jude 11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
We see right from the beginning what was developing. There was developing a group of people descended from Cain, who was in turn a descendant from Adam and Eve. But Cain was far different from others who are part of that family. He was starting a way of life that cuddled up to Satan, they did not have the fear of Satan in them. There is a whole list of anchor points of all those who descended from the line of Cain. Lamech was following in the same anti-God path as his father Cain.
Genesis 4:25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.”
This is an announcement that is being made regarding the descendants of Eve. Seth was a blessing by God to replace Abel. Abel was the good son, the good son was killed, the good son who was afraid of Satan. So God replaced him and now a new line of descendants of Adam and Eve is arising through Seth. This becomes very significant, Jesus Christ is a descendant of Seth.
We are going to follow Seth's line. This is the line carrying the seed of those who are afraid of Satan. You will find that virtually every righteous person comes from this line that began with Seth. Why? They were blessed, because that is the line that God chose to work through.
As we study into this we are going to see that this is the way God controls His operations through humans. He follows the line that is going to be built from the descendants of Eve through Seth. Who is the next prominent person who comes from Seth? Enoch, and the next one is Noah.
Mark this in your mind because eventually we are going to get to the subject of sanctification. That is how God controls things. It is through sanctification that He individually places on human beings that He wants to be in His Family. He sanctifies them. He set apart Seth for that reason. He set apart Noah, He sanctified him.
Just in case you never thought about this before, how many people lived through the Flood? Eight people, every one of them was sanctified. Only the sanctified survived. Do you think God is going to change the way things are? The church is filled with sanctified people that He personally picked to be in His Family. They are the ones who are going to survive the mess that is building around this earth.