Through the Lens of the Cross (Genesis)
Sermon Summary
This message is the first in a series that looks at the Bible through the lens of the Cross. In other words, the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is a central theme of God’s Word from Genesis to Revelation. In Genesis we see how God created man in his own image by breathing into man the breath of life. Being in the image of God, people were given the free will to make choices. God knew if they made bad choices it would not only cost them, but it would cost Him. When Adam and Eve sinned they tried to cover themselves with Fig leaves, but God gave them the skins of animals to cover themselves. He wanted them to understand the sacrifice that would be required to cover their sin. This all pointed to the Cross of Christ!

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. What point, story or illustration from the message was most meaningful to you? Why?

2. Why do you think God created us in His own image and then gave us a free will?
Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV)
26Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

3. Pastor Larry mentioned that some fault God for creating people and giving them a free will if He knew the possibility existed for pain and sorrow. However, we as humans do this all the time when we bring children into the world. We know our children will face difficult times and will someday die, but giving them a chance to experience life is really important and most children are appreciative of a chance at life. God went a step further. Even though He knew we would all eventually face death, He also knew we could have hope of eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ. Your thoughts?
1 Peter 1:18-21 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,
19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
20He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.
21Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
(NIV)

4. Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves with fig leaves, but God gave them the skins of animals. What is the meaning of this and how does this point to the Cross?
Colossians 1:19-22

19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.
22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation —
(NIV)






 Genesis Through the Lens of the Cross

 We're going to start our message today with prayer! From the beginning to the ending of today's message, we need God's wisdom and understanding. We need the anointing of His Holy Spirit!
Let's Pray!!!

Genesis is a book of beginnings. The very name Genesis means beginning or origin.
Genesis is about the beginning of the universe, the earth, humanity, the Hebrew people. It is also about the beginning of the relationship between God and man and then it is about the beginning of the fall of humanity from God's original design and desire for us. But it is also about the beginning of God's mission to make a way for us to find our way back into a personal relationship with Him!
When we focus on this it will become clear how The Cross of the New Testament was a part of the story of Genesis.
I know there are many other religions with creation stories and accounts. I've read many of them.
From African tribes, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, American Indians like the Hopi and Cherokee, Egyptian, Babylonian, Norse. There are many. One of the unique ways the Biblical, or Hebrew creation story is different is that it doesn't try to explain how God created. It simply states that He did. When it talks about man being formed from the dust, it indicates some type of process, but does not try to explain that process in detail.

Many creation stories come up with elaborate mythical stories to try and explain everything in creation.

These stories defy any scientific explanation whatsoever. The Biblical account is content to show purpose and meaning in creation as apposed to full explanation of the act of creation.

In other words, the Bible says God did it, not how He did it!

Dr. Clyde Francisco put it this way in the Broadman Commentary, when speaking of science and Biblical theology...

“Their discoveries supplement rather than contradict one another. Where science leaves off, Biblical revelation takes up. Without science, religion may become superstition. Without faith, science becomes crass materialism."

You might say, but wait, I think there's a lot of science that contradicts the Bible.

Sure there are scientific theories that contradict, but where science has been proven,
it lines up with Scripture!
The other problem occurs when someone tries to take a literary statement like...
"the four corners of the earth," and make it a scientific statement. When the Bible speaks of the four corners of the earth, it was not making a scientific statement, but was using a well known figure of speech to speak of the whole earth, North, South, East and West.

The Hebrew creation story stands unique in so many ways, but primarily the very personal and loving way God created and then interacted with His creation. Also, in the fact that we were created in His image.
And that fact alone set's the stage for the epic story we find in Holy Scripture!

As we begin this series entitled, "Through the Lens of the Cross" we must ask God to lead us, teach us and empower us to live as people of the Cross. People who have embraced the Cross, people who are not ashamed to carry the Cross. You'll hear the following statements several times throughout this series. We don't worship the Cross, we cherish the Cross. We don't worship the Cross, we worship the One who bore the Cross!
We don't worship the Cross, we worship the One gave His life on the Cross.
We don't worship the Cross, but we will cling to the old rugged Cross because it is our symbol, our brand, our story!
I'm expanding our text for today to include some additional verses in Genesis.
There are actually two accounts of the creation in the book of Genesis. Each give important details.

Let's look first at Genesis 1:26-27.

26Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV)

By the way, you might wonder why it says, "Let us make man in our image"?

This is the first time we see evidence of the Blessed Trinity. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit! So many amazing things you discover when you begin digging into God's Word.

The decision to make humankind in the image of God was a decision made by The Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

And what a decision that was. To be made in the image of God meant that human beings would be given free will!

What a privilege! What a responsibility! What a gamble! What if humans make bad decisions?

What if they make wrong choices?

What if they turn their back on God and refuse to have anything to do with Him?

Did you know God took these things into consideration? He did!  

He knew there was the possibility of tragedy if mankind rebelled.

He also knew there was the possibility of great and amazing good if people would
covenant with Him in a personal relationship!

I had a guy tell me once that a loving God wouldn't create people if He knew they would have to suffer and die.

I asked him why he fathered his children knowing they would get sick, sometimes have their hearts broken and would someday grow old and die! He was like, I never thought of it that way.
I've been sick and I will someday die, but I'm sure glad my parents let me experience life! I'm also glad God was willing to let me live life here on this old earth even though it's not always easy! Thank You Lord!! I love life!

Does the Cross have anything to do with this discussion? Indeed it does and it shows just how loving our God is.
God knew if Adam and Eve decided not to trust Him, and made the wrong decision,

it would cost Him dearly to give humanity another chance to make the right choice. But we are that important to Him!

How do I know this? 1 Peter 1:18-21

18For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,

19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

20He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

21Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
1 Peter 1:18-21 (NIV)

 God knew what it would cost Him if we took our freedom and ran away from Him, but the possibility of a relationship, a friendship, a covenant partnership between God & you means so much to Him He was willing to take that chance!

You might ask me, "Are you so sure being made in the image of God is really talking about us having free will"?

After the first account of creation in Genesis, we come to a second account which gives some important details of the creation. Let's read it. Genesis 2:4-ff.
Listen...

4This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens—

5and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground,

6but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground—

7the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Genesis 2:4-7

Became a living being! The Hebrew word is neshamah, God's breath, the source of life. A living spirit!

This sets us apart from all the rest of creation. We do not merely live by instinct, but by choice. We make decisions.

In fact God designed choice into the equation of creation.
Let's read on...

8Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.

9And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good

for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters.

11The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold.

12(The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.)

13The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush.

14The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

16And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;

17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”


Genesis 2:4-17 (NIV)

Notice, God said you will die, not "I will get mad and kill you!"
It's kind of like warning your kids about the dangers of playing in the street, or your teens about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
You warn them because you love them. You know what can happen. God knew what would happen if Adam and Eve allowed sin into their lives.
He knew what it would cost Him as well.

 Dr. Clyde Francisco put it this way…

"The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was forbidden to man because it would destroy him. How can it be that knowledge could destroy a man? Often modern man is inclined to think that knowledge (education) will solve all his problems. Yet with all our newfound learning, we are not for the most part as fulfilled as our forefathers.
Genesis is saying that when the pursuit of knowledge replaces trust in God's word, shipwreck is inevitable.
Knowledge that is potentially good will destroy a man who does not have the faith to understand or direct it."

I had a friend some years ago who was an amazing guitar player. We were canoeing the Bogue Chitto River.
He asked me why God put the tree of Knowledge of good and evil in the garden. It seemed to him God was tempting Adam &
Eve to sin. I assured him God wasn't trying to tempt them but was in fact attempting to give them a choice.
I said, "Eddie, do you love your girlfriend?" He said "of course!" I asked him if she loved him? He said..."well I sure hope so!"

I asked him how he would feel if he found out she felt like she  had no choice but to date him. He said he would be sad!
It would brake his heart. I said "God's not weird. He doesn't want people to love Him because He makes them love Him. He wants them to love Him because they choose to love Him!"

I also asked him how he would feel if he found out the girl he loved was in fact not a real person, but a very expensive robot who was a part of an elaborate government experiment to see how people would interact with highly sophisticated artificial intelligence. Again he said, that would break his heart.
I again replied God's not weird. He wouldn't like that either. That's why we're made in His image. Real, free, spiritual beings!

We are not pre-programed computers. We are in fact individuals created by a loving God and given a choice to believe or not believe. Given a choice to receive His grace or not. Given a choice to live in a loving relationship with Him or not.
Oh, by the way, my friend Eddie accepted Christ and wrote and recorded a beautiful song about his faith.

 SONG

 Let's read on

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’? ”

2The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,

3but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”

4“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.

5“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

8Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

9But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

11And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? ”

12The man said, “The woman you put here with me —she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Genesis 3:1-12 (NIV)

Did you notice how they tried to cover their sin? Look at verse 7...

7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

There is something significant in this. Adam and Eve tried to cover their own sin. They could not. How many times do we think we can handle things on our own, when only God can really help us.

In fact God does something that points directly to Cross and the price He would have to pay in order to cover our sin.

Look with me at Genesis 3:21-25

21The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

Remember Adam and Eve had named all the animals. It had to be somewhat of a shock for them when they realized something had to die for their sin to be covered. This pointed to the Cross...

19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,

20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.

22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation —
Colossians 1:19-22 (NIV)

Have you ever wondered why God had to put Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden?

The answer to this is found in Genesis 3:22ff.

22And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

23So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.

24After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Genesis 3:21-24 (NIV)

God didn't want Adam and Eve to be preserved in their sinful state forever. He wanted there to be hope.

If they ate from the tree of eternal life in their sinful state, there would be no hope for them.

See, God had given Adam and Eve a way to trust Him. A way to chose Him. Every relationship is based on trust!

In Genesis, the way for humankind to put their trust in God was to stay away from the one tree. To trust God was telling them the truth about the tree. But Satan talked them into distrusting the motives of God!

Satan is still up to his old tricks. He's still telling people today that God cannot be trusted.

Now here's a most amazing thing. In order for God to give humanity another chance to make the right choice there would have to be another garden, another tree, another choice. In Genesis it was the garden of Eden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the choice to trust God by staying away from the tree.

The other garden was the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus went after the Last Supper to pray. The place where Judas betrayed Him, and He was arrested. The other tree was one that had been cut down and fashioned into a Cross! On this tree hung the perfect Lamb of God, The Good, and on His shoulders was the sin of the world, The Evil!

The way to trust God in Genesis was to stay away from the tree and not consume the fruit. The way to trust God

today is to run to the Tree, The Cross and to be covered in the precious blood that flows from the Savior on the Tree.

Here's the sad truth, many today do not understand the choice. Many don't even know there is a choice to be made.

Debbie and I met Hollywood movie producer Phil Cooke a few months ago.

He tells a story that grips my soul to the core.

"I went shopping in the jewelry district in downtown Los Angeles. As I was shopping, I began watching a young couple looking for a necklace. The dealer brought out a beautiful tray of cross necklaces ranging from simple contemporary designs to more traditional designs featuring Jesus hanging on the cross. The young couple was very
impressed, and as they looked down the row of crosses, the woman became interested in the Catholic-looking style design with the figure of Jesus on the Cross. She looked puzzled and said to the salesman. 'I don't understand who's that little guy hanging on that cross necklace?" She was at least 25 years old, but she had absolutely no idea who that "little guy" was or what He was doing on that necklace.

 I hope today everyone here understands who that "little guy" is on that Cross and I hope we'll do a better job of communicating why the Cross and the One who hung upon it are so precious to us!


Jesus took the Old Rugged Cross, the Roman tool of torture, the symbol of death, and turned it into the tree of of eternal life! We are no longer banished from eating from the tree of life!

 "For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son that whosoever would believe in Him would never perish, but have everlasting life!
John 3:16