Merciful Maker

(Genesis 3:1-24)



The Malfunctioning Human Being  


“The Maker of all human beings is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to the serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units’ code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been technically termed, “Subsequential Internal Nonmorality”—or more commonly known as SIN, as it is primarily expressed. Some other symptoms are the loss of direction, foul vocal emissions, amnesia of origin, lack of peace and joy, selfish or violent behavior, depression or confusion in the mental component, fearfulness, idolatry, and rebellion.


The Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is providing factory authorized repair and service free of charge to correct this SIN defect. The Repair Technician, Jesus, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. The number to call for repair in all areas is: P-R-A-Y-E-R.


Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure. Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component. No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.


Please see the operating manual, HOLY BIBLE, for further details on the use of these fixes. As an added upgrade, the Manufacturer has made available to all repaired units a facility enabling direct monitoring and assistance from a resident Maintenance Technician, the Holy Spirit. Repaired units need only make him welcome and he will take up permanent residence on the premises.”


[Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 39].



  • ME

    • Playing Mercy

        • I remember growing up with family and friends and learning about the game mercy

        • I would interlock my fingers with another person and try to bend their wrists backwards until they would say, “mercy!”

        • Of course there were times when I would be the one saying, “mercy!”

        • What I learned pretty quickly is to only challenge someone that I knew I could beat, because I didn’t want to have to say, “mercy!”

        • I wanted to be the one who was dominant and the winner!

    • Experiencing and extending mercy

        • Mercy is defined as “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” (not getting what we deserve)

        • Experiencing mercy

          • While in college, Judy and I were traveling back from spending the weekend at her parents’ home in Ohio

          • We were almost back to Huntington when I got pulled over by a police officer

          • He was concerned that I had crossed the centerline a couple of time, which I had, because I was tired

          • He could have written me ticket, but instead he gave me a warning

          • I deserved the ticket, but the police officer showed me mercy

        • Extending mercy

          • Raising children can be difficult

          • There have been times when our boys have disobeyed something we have asked them to do

          • They deserved to be punished, but Judy and I sat down with them and talked through the situation and explained that we were not going to punish them

          • Instead, we were going to extend mercy to them


  • WE

    • Every one of us can probably recall a time when we experienced mercy

    • We also have times when we have extended mercy to others


Genesis 3:1-24 is a very familiar passage of Scripture for most of us. ​​ The heading in most modern translations is, “The Fall of Man.” ​​ The first man and woman disobeyed God and deserved to be punished. ​​ There were consequences for their disobedience, but we also see the mercy of God extended to them. ​​ What we’ll learn from this passage today is that . . .


BIG IDEA – Even in our failures, God provides mercy.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 3:1-24)

    • The main point headings are from Warren Wiersbe’s commentary [The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 30-34]

    • The Strategy (vv. 1-5)

        • The serpent (v. 1a)

          • It was a real serpent, not some mythical creature

          • It was one of the undomesticated, wild animals created by God on the sixth day

          • Its natural tendency is to be shrewd, cunning, crafty (think about a snake lying in wait for its prey)

          • It obviously had the ability to speak

            • We’re not told how it had this ability

            • Some believe it was a tool of Satan, so Satan is speaking through the serpent

            • We know that God allowed Balaam’s donkey to speak to him (Numbers 22:28-30)

            • “An ancient Jewish interpretation explains the reference to the serpent in a literal manner, attributing the capacity to speak to all the animals in the orchard. This text (Jub. 3:28) states, ‘On that day [the day the man and woman were expelled from the orchard] the mouth of all the beasts and cattle and birds and whatever walked or moved was stopped from speaking because all of them used to speak to one another with one speech and one language [presumed to be Hebrew, see 12:26].’” ​​ [W. Hall Harris, eds. The NET Bible Notes. 1st, Accordance electronic ed. (Richardson: Biblical Studies Press, 2005), paragraph 385]

            • It’s certainly within God’s ability to allow all animals to speak, but we’ve never experienced anything like that

            • Dr. Doolittle has the ability to talk to the animals

          • With this ability to speak, the serpent asks the woman a question

        • Creating doubt (v. 1b)

          • “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

          • Focusing on the prohibition instead of the blessing

            • Notice that the serpent tries to get the woman to focus on the prohibition – the negative

              • The serpent wants the woman to question the character of God

              • ​​ “Satan smoothly maneuvers Eve into what may appear as a sincere theological discussion, but he subverts obedience and distorts perspective by emphasizing God’s prohibition, not his provision, reducing God’s command to a question, doubting his sincerity, defaming his motives, and denying the truthfulness of his threat.” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: ​​ A Commentary, 91]

              • The serpent wants the woman to believe that God is holding something back – that He is not being fair or equitable with her

              • That is so far from the truth

            • God’s blessing

              • And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Gen. 2:16-17)

              • God gave every tree in the garden to the man and woman for food

              • That was an incredible blessing

              • They were not lacking variety or quantity in their food source

              • It’s not like they needed to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil

              • “Rather than God’s putting the tree there simply to test Adam and Eve, it is more in keeping with his character to understand that the tree would have use in the future. ​​ When the time was right, the first couple would be able to eat from it.” [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 205]

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – A distorted view of the character of God can cause a person to sin against a holy God.

                • This is evident in our culture today

                • Live my life and enjoy life

                  • So often I hear young people say that they will follow the Lord and be a Christian when they get older, because they want to be able to “live” their lives

                  • They want to be able to “enjoy” life

                  • This is a distorted view of the character of God and the Christian life

                • There are others who champion the idea that God will allow everyone into heaven, because He is a loving God

                  • This is a distorted view of the character of God

                  • Love is definitely one of His many attributes, but that attribute doesn’t exist by itself – in a vacuum

                  • God is also holy and righteous and, therefore, He must punish sin

                  • He tells us that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23)

                  • Out of His attribute of love, He provided redemption for our sins through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ

                  • God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ​​ (2 Cor. 5:21)

                  • That’s how God’s attributes of holiness, righteousness, and love work together for our benefit

                • Application

                  • Do you have a distorted view of the character of God?

                  • Perhaps the best way to know if you do, is to determine whether or not you are questioning the validity of one of His many attributes

                  • His attributes are true and trustworthy – all the time!

                  • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Determine if I have a distorted view of God’s character and confess that to Him.

                  • We can know who God is and His character by studying His Word, the Bible

                  • We can ask the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom as we study, so that we can truly know God’s character

                  • That way we can ensure that we will not have a distorted view of His character

          • The serpent was trying to create reasonable doubt in the woman’s mind

        • Woman’s response (vv. 2-3)

          • Downplays the blessing

            • The woman omits two key words in God’s command – “free” and “any”

            • Through this, she downplays the blessing that God has provided for them in the garden

            • She falls into the same tendency as the serpent to focus on the prohibition instead of the provision

          • Adds to the restriction

            • The woman puts words in God’s mouth when she says that they are not even allowed to touch the fruit of the tree of knowledge

              • I’d have to say that not touching the fruit would definitely help them not to eat it, since it wouldn’t be in their hands

              • But, God did not say that they couldn’t touch it

              • As human beings we need boundaries – some need more boundaries than others

                • I’ve heard of new Christians attending a church that has more rules, because they feel like they need those rules in order to maintain their walk with the Lord

                • Those who struggle with substance abuse, many times, have to change their friend base and even where they live in order to avoid the temptation to return to their substance of choice

                • Others have to have safeguards loaded on their electronic devices in order to protect them from the temptation to look at images that they shouldn’t be looking at

                • These are just a couple of examples, but we all know where we are tempted

                • If we don’t struggle with a certain temptation, we have a hard time understanding why, those who do, have to have those strict boundaries set up

            • Notice that she doesn’t mention the name of the tree, but rather its location in the garden (this could simply be a way of downplaying the significance of the tree)

            • She not only adds to God’s command, but she underrated the punishment for disobeying

          • Underrated the punishment

            • Again, the woman omits a keyword, “surely”

            • “She failed to capture the urgency of certain death, ‘You shall [surely] die’ (v. 3).” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1A, Genesis 1-11:26, 237]

          • The serpent realizes that his strategy is working, so he goes from creating doubt to openly contradicting God

        • Contradicting God (vv. 4-5)

          • The serpent tells the woman that she will not surely die

            • While the woman underrated the punishment by omitting the word “surely,” the serpent doesn’t underrate his contradiction – it uses the word “surely”

            • When we think about the word “surely” it gives the idea that something will definitely happen or definitely not happen

            • We see that played out here

              • God says that if the man and woman disobey, they will definitely experience death

              • The serpent then says that the man and woman will definitely not experience death

              • Perhaps the serpent meant that they would not immediately die if they eat the fruit

              • God meant that if they eat the fruit, they will definitely experience death, even if it’s not instantaneous

          • We see the serpent attacking the character of God, once again

            • God isn’t being truthful with you

              • He is holding something back from you

              • He isn’t giving you something you deserve

              • He’s keeping you blinded to the knowledge of good and evil

              • He created you in His image, but you’re not really like Him

              • These were all lies

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – A distorted view of the character of God can cause a person to sin against a holy God.

          • Side note – the verbs in verse 5 are in the plural, so we should see the word “you” as being plural instead of singular (this is perhaps the case, because the serpent is speaking to both the man and the woman, although it has only addressed the woman directly) [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, 188]

          • “Whenever one makes his own will crucial and God’s revealed will irrelevant, whenever autonomy displaces submission and obedience in a person, that finite individual attempts to rise above the limitations imposed on him by his creator.” ​​ [Hamilton, 190]

        • The trap is set – doubt has been established in the heart of the man and woman

    • The Tragedy (vv. 6-7)

        • Justification

          • Woman

            • Good for food, pleasing to the eye, and desirable for gaining wisdom

            • “Here is the essence of covetousness. ​​ It is the attitude that says I need something I do not now have in order to be happy.” ​​ [Hamilton, 190]

            • None of us are exempt from the same attitude that the woman had

              • 1 John 2:15-17, Do not love the world or anything in the world. ​​ If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. ​​ For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. ​​ The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

              • Cravings of sinful man (good for food)

              • Lust of the eyes (pleasing to the eye)

              • Boasting of what we have and do (desirable for gaining wisdom)

              • “Doubt, unbelief, and pride were the roots of the sin of our first parents . . .” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 60]

              • Those roots haven’t changed – they are the same for us today

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – True wisdom only comes from the Lord.

              • So often we try to find wisdom and truth in all the wrong places

              • In fact, we’ll search until we find wisdom and truth that matches our preconceived ideas or desires

              • But, that’s not true wisdom

                • Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

                • This is not being afraid of the Lord, but rather reverencing Him – acknowledging who He is

              • Application

                • Where do we turn for wisdom and knowledge?

                  • Some people turn to the New York Times Bestseller list (they want to read the books that are trending, whether secular or religious)

                  • Others turn to the “popular/successful” preachers, evangelists, or speakers

                  • Still, others turn to government officials, celebrities, or professionals

                  • There are certain vitamins and supplements that boast a boosting of our brain power – perhaps we’ve turned to this for wisdom and knowledge

                  • “Ignorance, disregard, or deception about God’s word makes a person vulnerable to temptation.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, 42]

                • Where should we turn for true wisdom and knowledge?

                  • Psalm 119:9-11, How can a young man keep his way pure? ​​ By living according to your word. ​​ I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. ​​ I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

                  • This takes us back to the importance of studying God’s Word and seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance in understanding it

                  • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Seek true wisdom from the Lord by studying His Word and hiding it in my heart.

              • “Failure to appreciate God’s goodness leads to distrust of his goodness. ​​ Distrust leads to dissatisfaction and finally to disobedience.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, 42]

              • “One of the easiest paths from temptation to sin is the path of instant gratification.” ​​ [Atkinson, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of Genesis 1-11, 86]

            • She ate

              • The woman disobeyed God’s command by taking some of the fruit and eating it

              • Many times we’re more comfortable disobeying when there are others there to join us

              • Romans 1:32, Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

              • Paul has a list of things that those with a depraved mind do (Rom. 1:29-31)

            • Now the narrator tells us, directly, that the man was with her

          • Man

            • The woman offered the fruit to the man and he ate it too

            • He wasn’t deceived, but rather just followed the lead of the woman

            • 1 Timothy 2:14, And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

            • The man ate with full knowledge about what he was doing

            • He should have been the leader of his household and chosen not to eat, even though the woman had already eaten

          • Their eyes were definitely opened, but not in the way they thought

        • Realization

          • Obviously the man and woman thought that the benefits of eating were going to be incredible

          • They were going to have something that the Lord had not given them to this point – knowledge of good and evil

          • Unfortunately, the serpent oversold the benefits

          • What they actually experienced was not some sense of fulfillment and satisfaction that brought them incredible joy and happiness

          • They experienced guilt and shame

            • Up to this point they were naked and unashamed

              • They were fully confident in who they were

              • They did not have any body image issues or fears

              • They did not look at each other’s naked bodies with lustful thoughts and improper desires

            • “They had lost ‘that blessed blindness, the ignorance of innocence, which knows nothing of nakedness’ (Ziegler).” ​​ [Kiel & Delitzsch, 60]

          • They tried to deal with their sin on their own

            • They sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves

            • [Show picture of fig leaf]

            • The fig tree has the largest leaves of any of the trees that grow in Palestine

            • These fig leaves weren’t going to last very long – it was a short-term fix to a long-term problem

            • How many times have we tried to deal with our sin on our own?

        • We can’t hide our sin from God, because He is all-knowing

        • That’s what the man and the woman were about to find out

    • The Discovery (vv. 8-13)

        • Hiding from the Lord God

          • Most scholars believe that the Lord God came down every day and walked and talked with the man and the woman

          • They had an incredible relationship and friendship

          • But this particular day was different

          • The man and woman were afraid, so they hid themselves from the Lord God

        • Questions from the Lord God

          • “Where are you?”

            • Perhaps the man and woman eagerly greeted the Lord each evening, but they didn’t this evening

            • So, the Lord calls to the man and asks where he is?

            • The Lord didn’t ask him why he was hiding

              • “The question, Where are you? Was a rhetorical question asked for their benefit. ​​ God, in his mercy, was giving them a chance to acknowledge their wrong.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, 43]

              • The Lord was giving him an opportunity to come clean on his own

              • Even in our failures, God provides mercy.

            • The man’s response doesn’t answer the Lord’s, “where question,” but it does answer the unspoken, “why question,” that when he heard the Lord in the garden, he was afraid because he was naked, so he hid

          • “Who told you that you were naked? ​​ Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

            • Something has changed!

            • The man and woman were never concerned about being naked in His presence before

            • They must have gained some new knowledge – the knowledge of good and evil

          • The man’s response to the Lord’s two questions starts the blame game

        • Shifting blame

          • The man

            • First, he blames God – “The woman you put here with me . . .” (This is really Your fault, God!)

            • He blames the woman – “. . . she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” (I thought she was a godly woman, but I guess not!)

            • Notice that he doesn’t say he was innocent

          • The woman

            • The Lord then turns to the woman and asks her what she’s done?

            • The woman doesn’t blame God, but she does blame the serpent

            • She admits to the fact that she was deceived by the serpent

            • Again, she doesn’t say she is innocent

          • Application

            • The man and woman reacted in the same way that you and I react when confronted with our disobedience and sin

            • We become defensive and try to shift the blame

              • We try to blame other people (i.e. – God, friends, parents, siblings, etc.)

              • We try to blame our environment, culture, and how we were raised

              • We’ll blame everything and everyone else, but ourselves

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – We are responsible for our own choices.

              • Healing only begins when we are willing to admit that we have done something wrong and accept responsibility for it

              • This is a difficult step for us, as human beings, to take

              • We are ultimately concerned with our own self-preservation

              • Take a moment to reflect on your life right now

                • Is there something you’ve done wrong?

                • Have you taken responsibility for it, or are you still shifting blame?

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Take responsibility for the wrong things I’ve done and seek forgiveness from God and those I’ve wronged.

        • There are always consequences for our disobedience

    • The Penalty (vv. 14-19)

        • The serpent (vv. 14-15)

          • Cursed above all the livestock and wild animals

          • Humbled

            • I’ve heard it said before that snakes used to have legs and walk upright, but there is nothing in this passage that would confirm that

            • Also, we know that snakes don’t just eat dust as their only food source – they’re great at keeping the mouse and rat population under control

            • These two images are symbolic of humiliation and subjugation

          • Lifelong struggle

            • This lifelong struggle will not only be between the woman and the snake, but between their offspring for generations

            • It will end with the woman’s offspring gaining the upper hand

              • If you’ve ever heard Vinnie Spangler talk about his mother and wife as it concerns snakes, you’ll realize that the enmity between the woman’s offspring and the snakes offspring still exists in our day and age

              • Both his mother and wife were scared to death of snakes, but they would go and get a shovel and chase that snake down and cut its head off

            • The same Hebrew word is used for “crush” and “strike”

              • So, the second half of verse 15 should be translated, he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel

              • Some believe this is a foreshadowing of Christ, but others believe it’s not

              • Whether it was meant to be or not is not important to this passage

          • Next, the Lord God turns to the woman

        • The woman (v. 16)

          • Increased pain in childbearing

            • There are two different Hebrew words that are translated “pain”

              • The first one is only found two other places in the Old Testament (Gen. 3:17; 5:29) which talk about the pain associated with working the ground that God has cursed

              • “Nouns from the same root refer to pain, agony, hardship, worry, nuisance, and anxiety.” ​​ [Walton, 227]

              • The second one is used in other places to indicate strenuous or hard work

              • Childbearing will be both emotionally and physically demanding

            • Women who have gone through childbirth and childrearing, understand both kinds of pain

            • With the increase in pain of childbearing, it wouldn’t be inconceivable for most families to only have one child, but the Lord put an incredible desire within women

          • Desire for her husband

            • The woman’s maternal instinct will drive her to desire her husband

            • It’s all a part of God’s plan and blessing on the man and woman to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gen. 1:28)

            • “The basic idea here is that woman’s desire, which renders her dependent, is traceable to her need to fulfill her maternal instinct. . . . For now let us recall what sociologists have called the principle of lesser or least interest: ​​ In a relationship involving two partners, the one with the greater need of the other is the more vulnerable, while the one with the lesser interest in the relationship is in a position of dominance.” ​​ [Brichto cited by Walton, 228]

            • The man will have the position of dominance over the woman as it pertains to her maternal desires

            • We know from Paul’s writings “that husbands and wives who love each other and are filled with the Spirit will be mutually submissive (Eph. 5:18ff; 1 Cor. 7:1-6).” ​​ [Wiersbe, 33-34]

          • God’s mercy shown

            • We see God’s mercy shown here in the fact that the woman will live long enough to bear children

            • Also, we see God’s mercy in the fact that the woman will not be barren

            • Even in our failures, God provides mercy.

          • Finally, we see the penalty for the man

        • The man (vv. 17-19)

          • Because he listened to his wife and disobeyed the Lord we see the cursing of the ground

          • What once was considered enjoyable – tending the garden and guarding it – will now be painful toil

          • The man will have to work hard in order to provide food for his family

          • This will be an ongoing, life-long toil

          • God’s mercy shown

            • Notice that the man will be able to provide food for his family

            • The Lord was not going to allow them to starve to death

            • Even in our failures, God provides mercy.

        • Application

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – Sin is not an isolated action; it always has social consequences.

            • Satan wants us to believe that our sin, especially our secret sin, isn’t going to hurt anyone

            • That’s simply not true

            • Pornography does affect our spouse and how we view other men and women

            • Adultery and affairs affect our spouse and children

            • Substance abuse does affect our family and friends

            • Gossip, spiritual pride, unforgiveness, hatred, etc. affect all of our relationships

            • Our sin is not isolated

          • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess my sin to the Lord and to those who are affected by it.

        • Finally, we see how God recovers what was lost

    • The Recovery (vv. 20-24)

        • Naming of the woman

          • Adam names his wife Eve

          • He names her this because she was the mother of all the living

          • Although she had not had any children yet, Adam is trusting the Lord and believing that, even through her penalty of having increased pain in childbearing, the Lord was going to provide children for them

          • Adam believed the blessing of Genesis 1:28 and accepted the mercy of God, even in their failures

        • Making of garments

          • We see the mercy of God through the making of garments for them

          • God realized that the fig leaves were a short-term solution to a long-term problem

          • God knew that animal skins were going to be more durable over the long haul

          • Some believe this is a foreshadowing of the sacrificial system that God institutes for the Israelites later on

          • It certainly could be, but that’s not stated here

        • Protecting the man and woman

          • What seems like a punishment is also protection for Adam and Eve

          • While they won’t have the benefit of a beautiful garden with an unlimited variety of food, God is protecting them from eating from the tree of life and living forever in their sinful state – separated from Him

          • Even in our failures, God provides mercy.

          • Notice that God provided His mercy for them before He banished them from the garden

          • Safeguards in place

            • The Lord placed cherubim on the east side of the garden, which leads us to believe that Adam and Eve settled somewhere east of the garden

            • He also placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life


  • YOU

    • Do you have a distorted view of God’s character?

    • Where are you seeking wisdom and knowledge from?

    • Are you ready to take responsibility for the wrong things you’ve done?

    • Are you ready to confess your sin to the Lord and those affected by it?


  • WE




In evil long I took delight,

 Unawed by shame or fear,

Till a new object struck my sight,

 And stopped my wild career:

I saw One hanging on a Tree

 In agonies and blood,

Who fix’d His languid eyes on me,

 As near His Cross I stood.


Sure never till my latest breath

 Can I forget that look:

It seem’d to charge me with His death,

 Though not a word He spoke:

My conscience felt and owned the guilt,

 And plunged me in despair;

I saw my sins His Blood had spilt,

 And help’d to nail Him there.

Alas! ​​ I knew not what I did!

 But now my tears are vain:

Where shall my trembling soul be hid?

 For I the Lord have slain!

-- A second look He gave, which said,

 ‘I freely all forgive;

This Blood is for thy ransom paid;

 I die, that thou may’st live.’


Thus, while His death my sin displays

 In all its blackest hue,

Such is the mystery of grace,

 It seals my pardon too.

With pleasing grief, and mournful joy,

 My spirit now is fill’d,

That I should such a life destroy, --

 Yet live by Him I kill’d!


[John Newton (1725-1807)].





Match Maker

(Genesis 2:4-25)



“One day a group of scientists got together and decided that man had come a long way and no longer needed God. ​​ So they picked one scientist to go and tell God that they were finished with him. ​​ The scientist walked up and said, ‘God, we’ve decided that we no longer need you. ​​ We’re to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things, so why don’t you just get lost?’


God listened very patiently and kindly. ​​ Then he replied, ‘Very well, let’s have a man-making contest.’


The scientist replied, ‘Ok, great!’


But God added, ‘Now we’re going to do this just like I did with Adam.’


The scientist said, ‘Sure, no problem.’ ​​ Then he bent down and grabbed a handful of dirt.


God said, ‘No, no, no. ​​ Go get your own dirt!’


The creation of man was more than just the creation of a body. ​​ And the creation of humankind was more than just the creation of the man. ​​ It was the distinct creation of male and female who together would be God’s plan for humanity. ​​ In our unisex world today, it is important that we as believers understand God’s plan and purpose for humanity.”


[Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 25].


  • ME

    • How Judy and I met

        • Judy and I both attended Huntington College (it’s now Huntington University)

        • We were in the same History of Civilization class

        • I noticed her across the room one day

        • She was sitting beside another girl that I knew from quiz team competitions in PA

        • So, I approached this other girl to inquire about Judy

          • I wanted to know her name

          • I also wanted to know if she was dating anyone

          • Those are the only two questions I remember asking her, but I’m sure I asked more questions

          • This girl found out the answers to my questions and within a day or two I was asking Judy out on a date

          • That’s another story altogether, but you know the result

    • Match making

        • As a mother of three boys, Judy has had some ideas about some potential wives for our boys

        • I’ve had some ideas myself, but never really pushed those ideas on our boys

        • As parents, we saw some pretty incredible qualities in some young ladies that our boys knew and thought they would make good wives for them

        • We are blessed to have Peggy as Wade’s wife and Emily as Seth’s wife

        • We didn’t really have anything to do with our boys finding these incredible women, but we know that God had a hand in it

        • While we didn’t succeed as matchmakers for Wade and Seth, God succeeded as the perfect Match Maker for them

  • WE

    • How many of us have tried our hand at matchmaking for our children, friends, family members, etc.?

    • Were you successful?


God is the perfect Match Maker on multiple levels. ​​ We’ll see that through Genesis 2:4-25. ​​ He matched the first man with the perfect home, work, resources, and woman. ​​ What we can learn from this passage today is that . . .


BIG IDEA – God provides all we need.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 2:4-25)

    • The First Home (vv. 4-15)

        • The first toledot formula

          • As I mentioned in the very first message from Genesis, the Hebrew word toledot appears ten times throughout Genesis and can be translated “the history of/the generations of/the account of/the origins of . . .”

          • Today we’ll be learning about the origins of the heavens and the earth

        • Name of God

          • In chapter 1 we only saw Elohim (God) used

          • Later on we’ll see that only Yahweh (Lord) will be used

          • In the next couple of sections both, will be used – Lord God

          • “The term God (ᵉlōhîm) represents him as sovereign Creator, while Lord (yhwh) designates him as the one who initiates a unique covenant commitment with Abraham and his seed and who oversees its fulfillment in history (see also Ex. 3:14-15). ​​ The combination of names shows that the Creator of the cosmos rules history through chosen humanity.” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis A Commentary, 84]

          • Reversal of terms

            • In verse 4a we see the origins of the heavens and the earth

            • In verse 4b we see that when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens

            • This reversal in terms is probably not very significant

            • “In this creation story ‘we are dealing in some sense with a history of creation from inside,’ as is suggested by the reversing of the order of the words to ‘the earth and the heavens.’” ​​ [Barth cited by Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Pentateuch, Genesis, 55]

          • What we see next is the specifics of the creation of man

        • Specifics of the creation of man (vv. 4b-7)

          • Condition of the land when God created man

            • It sounds pretty barren at this point

            • No wild brush has appeared

            • No plants in the field have sprung up (this is the same Hebrew word used in Gen. 1:11-12, 30 for seed-bearing vegetation that was used for food by humans and animals)

            • How can the ground be barren if God created vegetation on day 3 and human beings on day 6? ​​ (that’s a great question)

              • Just because the wild brush and the plants of the field had not begun to grow, does not mean that God did not create them on the third day

              • Two things needed to take place for the shrubs and plants to grow

                • Rain

                • Human cultivation

                • The land was not necessarily dry, like a desert, because there was a mist that would rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground

                • The Lord God was about to create man and give him the responsibility of cultivating the land

              • When we talked about day three of creation, I mentioned that God created the plants and trees fully formed, already producing fruit, so that Adam and Eve wouldn’t have to wait months or years for a food source

                • It would seem that these verses contradict that idea

                • But, in verses 8-14, we will see how this does not contradict what I mentioned earlier

            • Now that we know the condition of the land, when God created man, we can turn to man’s actual creation

          • Creation of man

            • In Genesis 1:26-27 we are given a general creation narrative

              • We are informed that God created man and woman in His own image and likeness

              • We are not told how He did that

              • As inquisitive human beings we want to know how He did it

              • That’s what we see here

            • Formed

              • The Hebrew word used for “formed” is different than the Hebrew words used for “make” and “create”

              • It has the idea of a potter, lovingly, molding and shaping something

              • That’s how the Hebrew word is used in other passages in Scripture

                • Job 10:8-9, “Your hands shaped me and made me. ​​ Will you now turn and destroy me? ​​ Remember that you molded me like clay. ​​ Will you now turn me to dust again?”

                • Isaiah 29:16, You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! ​​ Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me”? ​​ Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing”?

                • Jeremiah 18:5-6, Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. ​​ “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.”

              • The Lord God took some dust from the ground and lovingly molded and shaped the first man

            • Play on words

              • In the Hebrew there is a play on words with “man” and “ground”

                • The Hebrew word for “man” is ʾāḏām

                • The Hebrew word for ground is ʾăḏāmâ

                • The play on words is hard for us to capture in English, but Hamilton attempts it with, “God formed earthling from the earth.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, 156]

                • It’s amazing that God created the first man from the ground, which would make him perfectly matched to cultivate the ground, so that it would produce seed-bearing plants for food

                  • How many of us enjoy gardening?

                  • Do you enjoy feeling the ground in your hands?

                  • Is there a feeling of satisfaction when the seeds you planted sprout and begin to grow and then produce vegetables?

                  • When I’m working in our garden, I call it garden therapy, because it’s calming and peaceful, to just spend time working the ground

                • It’s also amazing that when we die we return to the earth (Gen. 3:19) from which we came (we’ll see that next week)

              • God formed the first man from the dust of the ground, but there’s one more important thing He must do before this form becomes a living being

            • Breath of life

              • God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life

              • God provided the breath of life for man

              • God provides all we need.

              • We know that other living things have the breath of life in them, because they have lungs that inhale and exhale

              • What makes this different?

              • “Instead of using rûaḥ for ‘breath’ (a word appearing nearly 400 times in the OT), Gen. 2:7 uses nᵉšāmâ (25 times in the OT). ​​ Unlike rûaḥ, which is applied to God, man, animals, and even false gods, nᵉšāmâ is applied only to Yahweh and to man . . . Thus 2:7 may employ the less popular word for breath because it is man, and man alone, who is the recipient of the divine breath.” ​​ [Hamilton, 159]

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is the One who gives life.

              • In our sinfulness and arrogance, as human beings, we want to eliminate God from the equation

              • We want to be able to say that we can “create” life

              • If we can “create” life, then we can disprove the Bible and negate God

              • In our attempts to create life, God is still the One who gives life

                • Whether we combine sperm and an egg in a petri dish, God is still the One who gives life

                • If we are able to clone animals or human beings, God is the One who ultimately gives life

                • God is in control of all life

                • He cannot be negated or eliminated from the equation

                • If a pregnancy ends by natural means, God is in control of that

                • God is not only the One who gives life, but He is the One who determines the number of our days – He knows when our life will end

                • Humanity has tried to justify abortion, by saying that a baby, in the uterus, is just a clump of cells and therefore, not a human being yet

                • Life begins at conception and God is the One who gives life

                • We don’t have the authority or right to define or change God’s standard for life and death

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Worship the Lord for being the One who gives life, and thank Him for giving me life.

            • Now we know how the first man was created

          • God also created a perfect place for him to live

        • Perfect match for a home (vv. 8-14)

          • We learn from the narrator that God had planted a garden

            • Location

              • In Eden

                • Eden means “delight” or “a place of abundant waters” [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 22; Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1, Genesis 1-11:26, 201]

                • This second definition is significant when we see that the river running through Eden divides into four major headwaters

              • East

                • East of what? ​​ (where is the original reader located?)

                • “The account assumes that the Hebrew reader is situated in Canaan since the location of the garden is described directionally in the ‘east’ with respect to Canaan.” ​​ [Mathews, 201]

                • Show map with Canaan highlighted

              • Regions where the four rivers flow

                • In verses 10-14 we have four rivers identified with three regions mentioned

                  • Havilah (Pishon) – potentially in Arabia close to the Persian Gulf [show map with Arabia highlighted]

                  • Cush (Gihon) – potentially in western Iran [show map with modern nations]

                  • Asshur (Tigris) – probably part of the Assyrian Empire and maybe the capital city name [show map with ancient empires and Asshur]

                • The locations are tenuous at best

                • If the Lord wanted us to know exactly where Eden and the garden were, He would have preserved their locations for us

              • What was part of this garden

            • Items in the garden

              • “The word for ‘garden’ (gan) usually designates a parklike setting featuring trees and what we would call landscaping . . . We should rather think of what we would call a ‘country garden’ or of something like the Botanical Gardens or Busch Gardens.” ​​ [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 166]

                • What comes to my mind is Cypress Gardens in Florida, which is now part of LEGOLAND

                • [show two pictures of Cypress Gardens]

              • All kinds of trees

                • These trees were pleasing to the eye

                • They were also good for food

                • God provided the perfect match for food for the first man

                • God provides all we need.

                  • How has He provided for you recently, especially with the pandemic?

                  • Think back to when there were shortages in every store

                  • How did you see God provide just what you needed?

                  • Do you need to trust Him now to provide for you?

                  • Do you believe that He will provide all that you need?

                  • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust that God will provide just what I need, right when I need it.

              • Two special trees

                • Tree of life

                  • This tree should not be thought of as giving immortality immediately (eat the fruit and live forever)

                  • It’s more of the idea of sustaining youth or extending life

                  • Revelation 22:1-2, Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. ​​ And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

                • Tree of the knowledge of good and evil

                  • The knowledge that is being talked about is divine wisdom, discerning and discriminating wisdom [Mathews, 205; Walton, 171]

                  • “This knowledge creates ethical awareness, as Adam and Eve later experience when they discover their nakedness . . .” [Waltke, 86]

              • A river

                • There is also a great river that flowed through Eden

                • After it left Eden, it separated into four headwaters, which then provided water for the surrounding regions

                • The four rivers are named Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates

                • Three of them have region names attached with them

                • The Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers are still named today and are located in Iraq

                • The other two rivers are no longer around or identifiable

                • “It is not impossible that the Pishon and Gihon are major rivers that dried up in antiquity. ​​ Analysis of sand patterns in Saudi Arabia and satellite photography have helped to identify an old riverbed running northeast through Saudi Arabia from the Hijaz mountains near Medina to the Person Gulf in Kuwait near the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates. ​​ This would correlate with the information given for the Pishon River. The river is believed to have dried up between 3500-2000 B. C. ​​ The Hijaz Mountains area is also home to the famous ‘Cradle of Gold’ (Mahd edh-Dhahab), one of the richest gold mines in the region of Medina. ​​ This area along the Red Sea produces spices and precious stones as well.” ​​ [Walton, 169]

          • God provides the first man with a perfect home – the garden in Eden, but He also provides the perfect match for work

        • Perfect match for work (v. 15)

          • God put man in this perfect garden to do two things:

            • Work/Cultivate/Serve it

              • Man was placed in the garden as a servant and not to be served

              • His work would bring about fruitfulness through the rain that God would provide

            • Take care of/Watch/Preserve it

              • This word also has the idea of guarding the garden

              • “As priest and guardians of the garden, Adam and Eve should have driven out the serpent; instead it drives them out.” ​​ [Waltke, 87]

          • Important note

            • God established work prior to sin entering the world, so work is not a consequence of sin

            • Work is a blessing and a gift from God

            • How do you feel about your work right now?

              • Do you feel like you’re cursed?

              • Is it a struggle to get up in the morning and get around for work?

              • Are you excited about going to work and doing your best?

              • Perhaps a change in perspective is needed

              • Colossians 3:23-24, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. ​​ It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Confess that my attitude about work shows that I’m working for man, and ask the Lord to help me focus on serving Him, each day.

          • God provides all we need – He will answer that cry of your heart, to serve Him

        • God provided an incredible first home for man, but with it came the first covenant

    • The First Covenant (vv. 16-17)

        • Eat

          • God had provided the perfect match of food for man

          • There were probably multiple types of fruit trees available

          • After man cultivated the ground, there would also be grain for him to eat

          • With God’s perfect provision for them, they would never need to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil

          • God’s provision was more than enough

        • Don’t eat

          • “The prohibition against eating the fruit of the ‘tree of knowledge’ gave Adam opportunity to worship God through loyal devotion.” ​​ [Walton, 211]

            • There’s something inside every one of us that wants to do what we’re told not to do

            • Adam and Eve were tempted to do what they were commanded not to do, and they gave in to that temptation – that’s when sin entered the world

            • Romans 5:12, Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.

          • Death would be the punishment for breaking the first covenant with God

            • Physical death

              • We realize that Adam and Eve did not immediately die after eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge – it wasn’t poisonous!

              • There was a separation that took place after they disobeyed

              • They were removed from the garden and lost access to the tree of life and daily, face-to-face communion with God

              • “The resulting paraphrase of Genesis 2:17 then is: ‘When you eat of it, you will be sentenced to death and therefore doomed to die.’ ​​ Consequently, death will be a certainty.” ​​ [Walton, 174-75]

              • Greg Laurie has said, 100% of people are going to die

              • Death is a reality that none of us will escape

            • Spiritual death

              • The death spoken about here was not only physical, but also spiritual

              • Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

                • This isn’t a physical death that Paul is talking about, because we’re all still alive, physically

                • It’s talking about a spiritual death, a separation from God

                • If we die in a state of rebellion against God, we will be separated from Him for all eternity

                • None of us are exempt from sin as Paul tells us

              • Romans 3:23, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

                • Some people believe they’re a good person and have never sinned

                • But just looking at a few of the Ten Commandments disproves their claim (lying, stealing, blasphemer, adulterer & murderer at heart)

              • We can have eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord

                • He willingly came from heaven to earth, grew up to be a man, died on a cross to take our punishment for sin, so that we can have eternal life

                • We have to repent of our sins and turn to Him as our Savior

              • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Repent of my sins and accept God’s gift of eternal life.

        • God established His first covenant with man as soon as He created him and placed him in the garden

        • On this sixth day of creation, God realized that one thing needed to be addressed before He could say it was very good

    • The First Marriage (vv. 18-25)

        • The need for companionship/community through family

          • The Lord God said that it wasn’t good for the man to be alone

          • Certainly it’s talking about being lonely, but also it’s talking about needing help with the work he had been given

          • It would also be talking about having a partner that could help accomplish the blessing that God had given to them in Genesis 1:28 – be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it

          • So, God says He will make a helper for the first man

        • Naming the animals

          • The naming of the animals wasn’t just busy work for Adam

          • It was to help him recognize the need for a helper that was suitable for him

          • As God formed the animals out of the ground, He brought them to Adam to see what He would name them

            • Adam names the domesticated animals, the birds, and the wild animals

            • The process of naming them shows his authority over them, which matches God’s commandment for human beings in Genesis 1

          • Through the process of naming the animals, it is clear that no suitable helper was found for Adam

          • The word “suitable” means “equal and adequate” [Waltke, 88]

        • PRINCIPLE #2 – God’s design is that His people live in community and not isolation.

        • Supernatural surgery

          • God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep

          • While he was sleeping, God took a portion of bone and flesh from the man’s side

            • He closed up the incision with flesh

            • I don’t know the timing of when Adam woke up

            • Perhaps God created Eve while Adam slept and healed

          • God’s creative ability

            • God didn’t create the woman from the dust of the ground, but rather from bone and flesh from the man

            • This is important when God presents the woman to the man

          • Man’s response to seeing the helper God had created for him

            • He recognizes that she is part of him

            • “She was not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.” ​​ [Matthew Henry cited by Wiersbe, 23]

            • “The GNB (Good News Bible) explains the proper sense: ‘At last, here is one of my own kind.’” [Mathews, 218]

            • God had used part of his bone and flesh to create her

            • The man isn’t naming the woman at this point to show some kind of authority over her, but rather as a general category

            • There is a play on words again in the Hebrew

              • The Hebrew for woman is ʾiššâ (ish-shaw’)

              • The Hebrew for man is ʾîš (eesh)

              • “In naming her ‘woman’ (ʾiššâ) he also names himself ‘man’ (ʾîš). ​​ The narrator names him by his relation to the ground, but Adam names himself in relation to his wife.” ​​ [Waltke, 89]

        • The marriage ceremony

          • Obviously Adam didn’t have a father and mother to leave, but the principle is important for future generations

            • “A son is a son till he gets a wife, a daughter is a daughter all of her life.” ​​ [Hamilton, 180]

            • It’s not just about leaving, but it’s about cleaving (being united)

              • “By the leaving of father and mother, which applies to the woman as well as to the man, the conjugal union is shown to be a spiritual oneness, a vital communion of heart as well as of body, in which it finds its consummation.” ​​ [Kiel & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 56-57]

              • The sexual act is more than just physical, it’s spiritual as well – that’s why God reserves the sexual act within the marriage relationship

            • God’s design for marriage and the nuclear family is a monogamous, heterosexual relationship – He established that from the very beginning

          • No sin, no shame

            • “In this ideal state, man and woman view their person and sexuality with wholeness and thus feel no shame in their nakedness. ​​ Here their nakedness is an image of openness and trust.” ​​ [Waltke, 90]

            • As we’ll see with the next section of scripture, when sin entered the world, shame came with it

          • God provided Adam with the perfect match for a wife

        • God provides all we need.


  • YOU

    • When is the last time you’ve thanked the Lord for giving you life?

    • Are you trusting God to provide just what you need, right when you need it?

    • Are you serving the Lord instead of man as you work?

    • Have you repented of your sins and received God’s gift of eternal life?


  • WE

    • We model, for the world, what we believe about God as life-giver, provider, and redeemer

    • What does the world believe about God from our example?



“From a Web site named, I obtained some interesting information about the human body. When the monetary value of the elements in our bodies and the value of the average person’s skin are totaled, the net worth, as of 2002, is $4.50! We are reminded on the Web site that ‘this value is, however, subject to change, due to stock market fluctuations.’


The U.S. Bureau of Chemistry and Soils invested many tax dollars calculating that the chemical and mineral composition of the human body amounted to less than $1.00 at today’s prices!


Our most valuable asset, according to scientists, is our skin because of its possible use as a leather substitute. The Japanese invested their time and money in measuring this part of our bodies. Basing the skin’s value on the selling price of cowhide, the value of an average person’s skin is about $3.50. This amount, along with the approximately $1.00 value of the chemicals and minerals, makes your body worth about $4.50! Don’t you feel precious?


But really, you’re worth more than you can imagine! As Genesis teaches, mankind is more than minerals and chemicals. God breathed into man ‘the breath of life.’ This immaterial part of man is that part which will exist for all eternity. Ecclesiastes 3:11 declares, ‘He [God] has also set eternity in the hearts of men.’ It is that part that allows us to communicate with God.


In fact, you’re so valuable that God sent his own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come to earth and die on your behalf so you might spend eternity in relationship to your Creator. You really are priceless in the sight of God!”


[Gangel & Bramer, 32].




Modeling Maker

(Genesis 2:1-3)



“A few years ago, I received a phone call at my desk. A girl in the college department called to say that her car had broken down and she was stranded about two miles from the office. So, I drove over to the location and found her leaning against her car, looking flustered.


I leaned against the car next to her and asked what happened.


‘Well, I was just driving down the road and it quit running,’ she said. ‘So I pulled off to the shoulder.’


‘Could you be out of gas?’ I asked.


‘No, I just filled it up.’


Well, that one question pretty well exhausted my automotive diagnostic abilities, but I persisted. ‘What happened? Did it make any noises?’


‘Oh, yeah,’ she replied. ‘As I was driving down the hill, it went 'brump, brump, brump, POW!’’’


In an effort to be an active listener I reflected back to her, ‘You say the car went 'brump, brump, brump, POW!'?’



I was feeling a little more confident, so I asked, ‘When was the last time you changed the oil?’


She gave me this quizzical look and said, ‘Oil?’ As it turned out, she had owned the car for a year and a half and never changed the oil.


I get that same look when I ask frazzled friends, ‘When was the last time you took a Sabbath rest?’





  • ME

    • I know that many people think that Pastors have this Sabbath rest thing down to a science, since we only work one day a week

    • Day off

        • For many years, I struggled to even take a full day off from work

        • There were many Saturdays when I would get up early and go to the office until lunch, so that I could finish things up for Sunday morning

        • I wanted everything to be perfect for the worship service

        • That was taking a toll on my body and my family relationships

        • A couple of years ago, the Lord prompted me to change my weekly work schedule, so that I could be home every Saturday with my family

        • That has been such a blessing to me and to Judy and the boys

    • Sabbath rest

        • A day off is one thing, but a Sabbath rest is something else

        • We do take Sunday afternoon as a time to rest (naps are encouraged and practiced often)

        • When I take Saturday as my day off, I’m still busy doing projects around the house or going out to shop, etc.

        • This is something that I continue to seek the Lord’s wisdom about

        • How do I really practice a Sabbath rest?


  • WE

    • Perhaps every one of us is asking the same question

    • Maybe we’ve stopped asking the question, because we’re so busy that we can’t even think about stopping to rest at all


Last week we learned that God created the heavens and the earth and everything in it, over a six-day period of time. ​​ Today we’re going to learn that on the seventh day, he ceased creating. ​​ God wasn’t weary or worn out from creating everything, but He knew that human beings would be. ​​ So, He modeled for us a Sabbath rest. ​​ He blessed that day and made it holy. ​​ Through God’s example, we should understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – The pursuit of holiness requires a day of rest.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 2:1-3)

    • Celebrating Rest (Genesis 2:1-3)

        • God completed His creation (vv. 1-2a)

          • A couple of introductory thoughts

            • The chapter break is unfortunate here, because the first three verses of chapter 2 really are a concluding statement to the six days of creation

            • The seventh day is the final day of the week

          • The word “Thus/So/And” points back to the six days of creation

          • It includes all six days of creation and everything that God created

            • Heavens

            • Earth

            • Vast array

              • Other translations say “all their host/all the host of them”

              • It’s definitely talking about the sun, moon, and stars

              • Deuteronomy 4:19, And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon, and the stars – all the heavenly array – do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.

              • It also includes the animals and humans that were created on the fifth and sixth day

              • That’s the vast array or all the host of them

          • The narrator tells us that by the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing

            • “No further creation was needed other than that which God would bring into his created order through procreation or reproduction (Gen. 1:11, 22, 28).” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 15]

            • As we saw last week in Genesis 1:31, God saw all that he had made, and it was very good

            • There wasn’t anything else that He needed to form or make to complete His vision for creation

          • So, God modeled something important and significant for us as human beings

        • God stopped working (v. 2b)

          • Almost every English translation has the verb as “rested”

          • “Lexicographers and commentators have reached a consensus that the Qal of the verb šbt (shä-vath’) means ‘to cease’ rather than ‘to rest.’” ​​ [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 146]

          • God ceased from all his work

          • Perhaps we’re using a fine toothed comb at this point, because the opposite of ceasing/stopping work would be resting

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is infinite!

            • Because God is infinite and all-powerful, He did not cease working, and rest, because of exhaustion or being weary

            • Isaiah 40:28, Do you not now? ​​ Have you not heard? ​​ The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. ​​ He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

            • He also didn’t withdrawal from the world He created and take a hands-off approach, rather, He was taking His place as the head of His creation to oversee it and guide it operations [Walton, 153]

            • Colossians 1:17, He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God’s love for us is demonstrated through His modeling of rest.

            • God was modeling for us what we needed to do, as finite beings – stop working and rest one day a week

            • “Part of bearing the image of God involves resting as he did.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, 19]

            • We honor God and recognize His authority over us when we follow His example of rest

            • The pursuit of holiness requires a day of rest.

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Thank the Lord for demonstrating His love for me by modeling a day of rest, once a week.

          • God not only ceased from working on the seventh day, but He blessed that day and made it holy

        • God’s blessing (v. 3)

          • Blessed the seventh day

            • Wiersbe mentions that God didn’t bless any of the other six days [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 20]

            • He did bless the sea animals, birds, and human beings

            • He said that what He created on each day was good or very good

            • He blessed the entire seventh day, but He also sanctified it

          • Made it holy

            • “The sanctification of the Sabbath institutes an order for humankind according to which time is divided into time and holy time . . . By sanctifying the seventh day God instituted a polarity between the everyday and the solemn, between days of work and days of rest, which was to be determinative for human existence.” ​​ [Westermann cited by Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, 143]

            • God set the seventh day apart for His purposes [Wiersbe, 20]

        • The word Sabbath is not found in Genesis 2:1-3, but the Hebrew word for “rest/cease” is the root word for the Hebrew word used for Sabbath in Exodus 16:23; 20:8

    • Commanding Rest (Exodus 16:22-26; 20:8-11)

        • God modeled, at the very beginning of our time, the concept of taking one day to rest and not work

        • He did not command that His chosen people observe this Sabbath rest until the time of Moses

        • Exodus 16:22-26

          • The Israelites were grumbling about being hungry as they wandered through the wilderness

          • God promised them quail in the evening and manna in the morning

          • Read Exodus 16:22-26

          • Notice that the Lord commanded the Israelites not to gather manna on the seventh day, but to gather twice as much on the sixth day

          • God preserved the manna overnight from the sixth to the seventh day

          • If the Israelites tried to keep leftovers on any other day, they woke up with stinky, wormy manna – not fit to eat

          • That began the command to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy

          • Next we see the Sabbath rest command, as part of the Ten Commandments

        • Exodus 20:8-11

          • Read Exodus 20:8-11

          • “Observing the design of creation weekly sanctifies Israel in several ways:” [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 71-73]

            • “First, it reminds Israel again and again that God completes his work.”

            • “Second, by observing the Sabbath Israel confesses regularly that their God is Lord of all.”

            • “Third, God blesses the Sabbath and makes it holy in the best interest of all people and all animals (Ex. 20:8-11).”

            • “Fourth, the Sabbath is the sign that the Creator has set Israel apart for a special covenant relationship with him (Ex. 31:17).”

            • “Fifth, Sabbath observance reminds Israel that they were slaves in Egypt but that the mighty Lord has redeemed them from servitude into rest (Deut. 5:15).”

            • “Sixth, in the book of Hebrews the Sabbath rest gives concrete expression to the church’s realized eschatology (Heb. 4:1-11).”

            • “Seventh, it can be inferred from the creation narrative that the Sabbath is a day to recognize and celebrate the significance of time.”

          • The significance and importance of the command for Sabbath rest, that was given to the Israelites, is still important for us today, even though that command was under the covenant of the law

        • Christians today

          • Christ fulfilled the Jewish Sabbath Law

            • Colossians 2:16-17, Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. ​​ These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

            • Read Galatians 4:1-11

          • “The seventh day of the week, the Jewish Sabbath, symbolizes the old creation and the covenant of law: first you work, then you rest. ​​ The first day of the week, the Lord’s day, symbolizes the New Creation and the Covenant of Grace: first you believe in Christ and find rest, and then you work (Eph. 2:8-10).” ​​ [Wiersbe, 21]

            • Ephesians 2:8-10, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. ​​ For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

            • “The old signs of circumcision, dietary laws, and sabbath observance were set aside as ‘boundary markers for the people of the covenant’ (cf. Gal 4:10). ​​ Christians are circumcised in heart (Rom 2:29), undefiled by foods (John 15:3), and free to treat every day as sacred (Rom 14:5, 12; 1 Tim 4:3-5). ​​ Sabbath has given way to the realities of the ‘Lord’s day’ – the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:1; 1 Cor 16:1-2).” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1A, Genesis 1-11:26, 181]

            • As Christians, we celebrate the covenant of grace on the first day of the week instead of the covenant of law on the last day of the week

          • So what does this mean for us as Christians?

            • We should take one day each week to rest

              • Taking one day to stop working and rest is important for our well-being as human beings

              • Our finite physical bodies need some down time and God, as our Maker, modeled that for us

              • We should follow His example

              • ​​ “. . . if we have to be reminded, commanded, or coerced to observe it, it ceases to serve its function. ​​ The Sabbath is not the sort of thing that should have to be regulated by rules. ​​ It is the way we acknowledge that God is on the throne, that this world is his world, that our time is his gift to us.” ​​ [Walton, 158]

              • The pursuit of holiness requires a day of rest.

            • Principles for the day of rest

              • Choose a day

                • Most of us have Sundays off from work, so I would encourage you to choose Sunday as your day of rest

                  • Gather together with other believers for worship and studying God’s Word (in-person or online)

                  • Take time to rest and enjoy activities with family or friends

                • I know that others don’t have Sundays off, so I would encourage you to choose another day as your day of rest and make sure that it’s different than the other days of your week

              • Be creative

                • Scripture doesn’t give us a list of rules for the Sabbath

                • I know that’s frustrating for those of us who like to follow rules

                • “Do whatever will reflect your love, appreciation, respect, and awe of the God of all the cosmos.” ​​ [Walton, 159]

                • Isaiah 58:13-14, “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” ​​ The mouth of the Lord has spoken.

                • A Sabbath rest is going to look different for each person or family

                • Jesus had to address the Pharisees’ legalism when they confronted Him about His disciples picking heads of grain on the Sabbath

                • Mark 2:23-27, One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. ​​ The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” ​​ He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? ​​ In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. ​​ And he also gave some to his companions.” ​​ Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. ​​ So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

              • Make it a priority

                • Walton uses the example of Memorial Day

                  • It is a federal holiday that most people have as a day off

                  • The activities that you do on Memorial Day are based on how you honor those who have given their lives in war

                  • If we have a relative or friend who died in a war, we are more intentional about honoring their memory on Memorial Day

                • “The more the day means to a person, the more deliberate he or she will be about scheduling appropriate activities . . . The more gratitude we feel toward God and the more we desire to honor him, the more the ceremonies will mean and the more we will seek out ways to observe the Sabbath.” ​​ [Walton, 159]

                • It’s not about us as individuals, but about God

                • “. . . the perfect church service would be one that we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.” ​​ [C.S. Lewis cited by Walton, 161]

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Honor the Lord by intentionally setting aside one day a week to rest and worship Him.

        • As followers of Jesus Christ and children of God we have an eternal rest that’s coming

    • Coming Rest (Hebrews 4:1-13)

        • Preparing for this coming eternal rest

          • God planned from the very beginning to provide an eternal rest to those who are His children

          • Notice that just because people hear the Gospel message doesn’t mean they will enter God’s eternal rest

            • Verse 6 says that those who heard the Gospel, but continued to disobey will not enter in

            • Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

            • There has be a transformation that takes place

            • We have to repent and turn away from our disobedience and sin

            • We have to soften our hearts to the Gospel message and accept Jesus as our Savior from sin

            • Ephesians 2:8-9, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

          • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Accept God’s free gift of eternal life, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

        • Benefits of this eternal rest

          • We will be able to rest, for all of eternity, from our own work

          • This is the hope that we have as children of God and followers of Jesus Christ

          • We will experience the kind of rest that God did after He created the world

          • We will have a sense of completion – that everything has been accomplished


  • YOU

    • Are you grateful that God modeled a day of rest for you – then thank Him for demonstrating His love this way

    • Are you honoring the Lord by intentionally setting aside one day a week to rest and worship Him?

    • Have you prepared to enter your eternal rest?


  • WE

    • When we set aside one day a week to rest and worship the Lord, we are showing those in our community and circle of influence that we believe in the God of creation

    • We are telling the world that we believe that God is infinite and loving



“A photographer was snapping pictures of first graders at an elementary school, making small talk to put his subjects at ease.


‘What are you going to be when you grow up?’ he asked one little girl.


‘Tired,’ she said.”




Hopefully that’s not what our children want to be when they grow up. ​​ It’s our responsibility to model for them what the Lord modeled for us – the importance of rest and the Sabbath.




Sovereign Speaker

(Genesis 1:3-31)



“An atheist once complained to a friend because Christians and Jews had their special holidays. ​​ ‘But we atheists,’ he said, ‘have no special day, no recognized national holiday. ​​ It’s just not fair.’ ​​ His friend replied, ‘Why don’t you celebrate April first?’


No one wants to be known as a fool. ​​ But a person is a fool if he doesn’t acknowledge God. ​​ The Lord has not left us without evidence of his existence. ​​ Romans 1:20 explains that ‘since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.’ ​​ Creation gives evidence in its order, design, and harmony that there is some cause for all this. ​​ And mankind must recognize that all creation points to the Creator. ​​ All of creation shouts that God exists and that he is a God of power and glory – a being worthy of worship. ​​ The fool may talk of ‘Mother Nature,’ but nature itself is powerless to produce life of any kind without the processes put into place by God himself. ​​ To substitute ‘Mother Nature’ for “God’ is to confuse the creature or creation with the Creator.”


[Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 17].



  • ME

    • Things I don’t like

        • Because of sin entering the world, I don’t have the perfected body that God originally designed

        • I’ve worn glasses since the 2nd grade (because of my extreme nearsightedness, my glasses are really thick)

        • Mitral valve prolapse (heart issue)

        • High blood pressure

        • I’m overweight

    • Things I like

        • I look young for my age

        • I have hair (you’d be surprised how many people comment about that)

        • My personality

        • My smile

    • God’s creation of me was good


  • WE

    • Everyone probably has at least one physical attribute about themselves that they don’t like

    • The same is true for the physical attributes we do like about ourselves

    • The key is understanding that sin has caused the imperfections that we don’t like, but God’s creation of us is good


Last week we saw the general and broad description of creation, in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. ​​ Today we’ll see the specifics of God’s creative ability as He sovereignly speaks everything into being. ​​ He evaluates each part of His creation by saying that it is good. ​​ Through this we should understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – Everything God creates is good.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 1:3-31)

    • God’s sovereignty, power, and authority

        • Before we begin looking at the specifics of each day of creation, there are a few overarching principles that I want to highlight

        • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is sovereign!

          • The phrase, “And/Then God said . . .” is repeated nine times in the six days of creation (vv. 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 29)

          • “Genesis gives us the ‘what’ of creation. ​​ The ‘how’ is assumed by the concept of ‘God said . . . and it was so.’ ​​ This demonstrates the sovereignty of God and the fact that we as finite creatures will never know everything.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, 16]

          • God knew exactly what needed to be created and in what order (we’ll see this as we unpack the first two points)

          • God’s sovereignty means that He has the right to rule and He rules rightly in our lives

          • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Worship the Lord for His sovereign work in my life.

        • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is omnipotent!

          • The phrase, “And/Then God said . . .” also shows that He is all-powerful

          • He didn’t need to use any materials to create the things we’ll discuss today

          • He simply had to speak

          • That shows an incredible power that we cannot always comprehend

        • PRINCIPLE #3 – God has authority over all things!

          • There are two phrases that are used in the creation account that show God’s authority

            • “God called . . .” (vv. 5, 8, 10)

              • “Naming something, both today and in the ancient world, signifies an exercise of sovereign right. ​​ Only the parent of a child, or the inventor of an item, has the legal right and authority to name.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, 11]

              • God showed His superiority over all of creation when He named the various elements

              • I once heard a story about a mother who had given birth to a little girl. ​​ After the nurses had finished doing all of the newborn tests, washed her up, and put the hospital band around her ankle, they brought her back to the mother. ​​ The mother thought the hospital had named her daughter for her, because they had put her name on the band. ​​ She thought they had named her Female. ​​ She had read the gender of the baby and thought it was her name.

            • “God made/created . . .” (vv. 16 [2x], 21, 25, 27)

              • In making or creating something, the person who makes or creates is the one who has authority for it

              • God’s Word tells us that parents have authority over and responsibility for their children as they raise them

              • God has authority over us as His created beings

            • In our sinful, human state, we don’t want anyone to rule over us or have authority over us – we want to be our own boss

              • In order to spend eternity with God someday, we have to submit to His Lordship in our lives

              • We have to confess and repent of our sins

              • We have to acknowledge and accept God’s plan to redeem us through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Perfect Son, Jesus

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Acknowledge God’s authority over me, as His created being, by submitting every area of my life to Him.

          • God has created us and we are His

        • These three principles will be repeated throughout this passage today

    • Formed (vv. 3-13)

        • Day 1 (vv. 3-5)

          • God’s sovereignty and power shown in creating time

            • God spoke the words, “Let there be light,” and it happened!

            • The light was good, because it gave boundaries to the darkness

              • Everything God creates is good.

              • “Darkness is no longer boundless but is given its place in the rhythm of time.” ​​ [Noort cited by Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Pentateuch, Genesis, 29]

              • The darkness over the surface of the deep (Gen. 1:2) would be limited to a certain amount of time and it would not be complete darkness, without any light

            • God then separates the light from the darkness, which will be important for the rest of the days of creation, since the same phrase is repeated, “And there was evening, and there was morning . . .

            • Where did this light come from if the sun, moon, and stars weren’t created until the fourth day?

              • The simple answer – from God

              • Psalm 104:2, He wraps himself in light as with a garment . . .

              • Habakkuk 3:3b-4, His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. ​​ His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden.

              • Think about Moses face after he met with God in the Tent of Meeting (it glowed so brightly that the Israelites asked him to wear a veil)

              • Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

              • Revelation 21:23, The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.

            • “God’s presence was now manifested (creation of light) that would allow God’s creative works to be visible.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, 12]

          • God’s authority shown in naming light and darkness

            • God called the light, “day”

            • God called the darkness, “night”

            • God has authority over light and darkness, over day and night

          • Definite article

            • English translations of the Bible are split on the use of the definite article, “the”

            • “The” is a definite article, but the definite article is not in the original Hebrew

            • Eight of the fourteen English translations have, “the first day” (using the definite article)

            • Six of the fourteen English translations have either “day one,” or “one day” (without the definite article)

            • The only day that has the definite article in the Hebrew is the sixth day (we’ll talk about the significance of that when we get to the sixth day)

          • God created time on the first day by separating light from darkness

        • Day 2 (vv. 6-8)

          • God’s sovereignty and power shown in separating the waters

            • God spoke the words, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water,” and it happened!

              • I don’t know what it looked like before God separated the waters

              • Perhaps it was similar to one of those mornings here in Idaville when we have a heavy fog and visibility is limited

              • It’s like the sky is touching the earth

              • Adam and Eve were going to need to see the plant life and trees that they would be responsible to take care

            • The Hebrew word for expanse has the idea of something being spread out, stretched out, or beaten/hammered out (like a dome) – we should think of it like a tent or canopy that is spread out, not something solid

          • God’s authority shown in naming the expanse between the waters above and the waters below

            • We see that God names the expanse “sky”

            • He has authority over space

          • The author reminds us of God’s first creative act of making time when he repeats, “and there was evening, and there was morning . . .

          • Once again, the better translation would be “a second day”

          • God has formed time and space, and now He’s going to form dry ground and vegetation

        • Day 3 (vv. 9-13)

          • God does two creative acts on day 3 (he also does two creative acts on day 6)

          • God’s sovereignty and power shown in separating the waters under the sky from the dry ground and allowing vegetation to grow

            • God said the words, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear,” and it happened!

              • We’re not given the details about how this process actually happened

              • “It is probable, however, that the separation was caused both by depression and elevation.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 34]

              • The sea bed got deeper and hills and mountains were pushed up above the water level

            • God also said, “Let the land produce vegetation,” and it happened!

              • There is some more information about the vegetation that is important

              • The NIV translation makes it sound like there were two kinds of vegetation that were produced – seed-bearing plants and trees that bear fruit with seed in it

              • The NASB, which is a more literal translation of the original, defines three kinds of vegetation – grass, small plants that have seeds, and fruit trees with seed in it

              • Whether it’s two or three kinds of vegetation, doesn’t really matter at this point

              • The vegetation was formed and ready to be harvested – Adam and Eve were not going to have to wait months or years for the plants and trees to begin producing

            • God is a God of order

              • When He created the vegetation, He did it in such a way that when we plant a certain kind of seed, we can know with certainty that a particular kind of plant is going to grow

              • Aren’t you glad for that?

              • Imagine for a moment that every year when you go to plant your garden, that you plant all the seeds you bought at the store, but you have no idea what will come up

              • Perhaps every seed you planted, even though the seeds looked different and were different sizes, produce the same crop (what if you don’t like lima beans, peas, green beans, brussel sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.)

              • How frustrating would it be if the local orchard farmers had no idea what kind of fruit would be produced on their trees when they planted them

              • God created vegetation with a specific order in mind – each plant and tree that has a seed, will produce the exact same kind of vegetable or fruit

              • We can worship the Lord for being a God of order and not chaos

            • His order is evident in how He is forming the earth before filling it

          • God’s authority shown in naming the dry ground and waters below

            • God calls the dry ground, “land”

            • He calls the gathered waters, “seas”

          • It was good

            • The narrator does not use the phrase, “And God saw that it was good,” after day two of creation

            • Perhaps he waited to do this, because God continues to separate the waters under the sky and allows land to appear

            • Once the total separation of the waters under the sky is complete, God announces that all of the separation is good

            • Everything God creates is good.

          • A third day

        • God now moves from forming the creation to filling the creation

    • Filled (vv. 14-28)

        • What we see with days 4 through 6 is that they match with days 1 through 3 – there was a forming that took place in days 1 to 3, and now God will fill those same areas in days 4 to 6

        • Day 4 (vv. 14-19)

          • God’s sovereignty and power shown in creating lights in the sky to separate the day from the night

            • Purposes

              • To separate the day from the night (pretty simple)

              • To serve as signs

                • It was to mark seasons and days and years

                • This is a function of time, which goes back to day one of creation when God created time

                • The movement of the sun and moon would provide a solar and lunar calendar

                • The Israelites would know when to conduct the morning and evening sacrifices, and when to celebrate Sabbath and all the other festivals and feasts that God would outline for them [Goldingay, 32]

                • One commentator mentioned that when a POW is in an underground cell, without access to light, they have to use other ways of determining the number of days – such as when they are fed (they don’t have the luxury of seeing sunlight and moonlight

                • Individuals who are blind often have a hard time knowing when to sleep, because they don’t have the cues from light and darkness

                • “Mesopotamian and Egyptian religions speak of their great cosmic gods of Heaven, Air, and Earth. ​​ The Sumerians have their Anu, Enlil, and Enki; the Babylonians have their trinity of stars, Sin, Shamash, and Ishtar; and Egypt has Nut, Shu, and Geb with the preeminent astral deity, the sun god Re. ​​ Genesis declares otherwise: ​​ Israel’s God rules the heavens and the earth.” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1A, Genesis 1-11:26, 154]

                • God is sovereign!

              • To give light on the earth (pretty simple)

                • Vegetation needs light to grow

                • We need light to function properly – sunlight helps to give us vitamin D, which helps to boost our immune system

              • We see the purposes for creating lights, but what kind of lights did God create?

            • Kinds of light

              • The greater light to govern the day (sun)

              • The lesser light to govern the night (moon)

              • Stars

              • Why aren’t the sun and moon mentioned or named?

                • “Whereas in the ancient Near East myths, the sun and the moon are principal deities, here they are nameless objects designed by the one Creator God to serve humanity.” [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 62-63]

                • “. . . Genesis 1:14ff. is saying that these luminaries are not eternal; they are created, not to be served but to serve.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, 127]

                • PRINCIPLE #4 – God desires that His people worship Him.

                  • God is the Creator of everything, including the sun, moon, and stars

                  • Therefore, they cannot and are not deities that we should worship

                  • Now, I’m not talking about worshipping the “s.u.n.” through sun bathing (getting a tan)

                  • One area of astrological worship that some people label as harmless is the daily horoscopes

                  • They use the position of the stars, moon, etc. to predict what will happen to us today

                  • This is a form of idol worship that elevates God’s created things to deity status

                  • Pantheists and Druids worship trees and other created things as gods

                  • Most of us probably aren’t using the daily horoscope or worshiping trees or rocks as gods, but we may be worshiping money, our car, celebrities, or some other possession and placing them in a higher position that God in our lives

                  • As followers of Jesus Christ, we should not be involved in anything like this

                  • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Make sure that I am worshiping God alone and not His creation.

            • Repeated in reverse order

              • We see the three purposes, for the created lights, stated again in reverse order in verses 17-18

              • This highlights verse 16 as the center of a chiastic structure and the thing that we are supposed to remember

              • God created two great lights and the stars

          • Everything God creates is good.

          • A fourth day

        • Day 5 (vv. 20-23)

          • God’s sovereignty and power shown in filling the sky and the seas

            • Day 5 is a matched pair with Day 2, because God is now filling what He formed/separated, the waters above from the waters below

            • God’s statement begins with a general description and then moves to more specifics

              • The waters were to teem with living creatures

              • The sky was to be filled with birds

            • The narrator then gives more specifics about the living creatures and the birds

              • Great creatures of the sea

                • In the ancient Near East mythology there were great monsters that occupied the seas

                • The Hebrew word is translated as “serpent, dragon, monster”

                • Scripture speaks of the great dragon in reference to Satan

                • Scripture also mentions Leviathan, a multi-headed sea serpent (Ps. 74:14; Isa. 27:1)

                • Most scholars see these great creatures of the sea as whales, sharks, giant octopus, crocodiles, large snakes, etc.

                • “The primeval monsters, which symbolize rebellion in ancient Near Eastern myths, are here depicted as merely a few of God’s many creatures, depending upon and ultimately serving God.” ​​ [Waltke, 63]

              • Every living and moving thing in the sea

                • This would include small fish

                • Other aquatic animals that glide or walk across the bottom of the seas (eels, crabs, lobsters, seahorses, sea slugs, sea cucumbers, etc.)

              • Every winged bird

            • According to their kind

              • Each sea creature and animal will reproduce its own kind

              • Each different kind of bird will reproduce its own kind

              • We see again that God is a God of order, not chaos

              • “The great Architect of the universe does not permit the colors of his canvas to run together.” ​​ [Mathews, 157]

          • Everything God creates is good.

          • God’s blessing

            • God’s blessing on the sea creatures and the birds was for them to be fruitful and multiply

            • They were to fill the waters and the sky

          • God again marks time – a fifth day

        • Day 6 (vv. 24-28)

          • God’s sovereignty and power shown in filling the land

            • Day 6 and Day 3 are paired together and they both have two creative acts

            • God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds . . .,” and it happened

              • What animals were created?

                • Livestock – domesticated animals that would be used to help with farming and such (they dwell with man)

                • Creatures that move along the ground – animals that are smaller and perhaps move across the ground without feet or with feet that are very close to ground (reptiles, insects, worms, etc.) [Keil & Delitzsch, 38]

                • Wild animals – those animals that live apart from man

              • Reproductive boundaries

                • We see once again that God is a God of order

                • Just as He did with the vegetation and the sea and air animals, the land animals will reproduce their own kind

              • Everything God creates is good.

            • God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness . . .” (two weeks from now, we’ll see the specifics about how that took place)

              • Who is God talking to when He says “us” and “our”?

                • Some scholars believe He is talking to a court of angels and “Sons of God” in heaven

                • Others believe He is talking to Jesus and the Holy Spirit

                • Even though the original author and readers of Genesis, probably did not have a theology or understanding of the Trinity, since that is introduced and taught in the New Testament, I still believe that God is talking with the Jesus and the Holy Spirit

                  • We see in Genesis 1:2 that the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters

                  • John 1:1-3, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ​​ He was with God in the beginning. ​​ Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

                • ​​ Humans were created in God’s image and therefore they have dominion over the other created things on earth

              • Dominion over the earth

                • This control is not a domineering, harsh, overload, kind of rule

                • It has the idea of guiding and taking care of God’s creation

                • It’s with compassion and not with a desire to exploit

              • God’s image and likeness

                • Humans are the only created things that are made in the image and likeness of God

                • Likeness – “. . . probably involves the personality, aesthetic appreciation, authority, moral, and spiritual qualities that both God and humans share, unlike the animals.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, 14]

                • Image – Waltke cites D. J. A. Clines characteristics of being made in the image of God [Waltke, 65-66]

                  • “First, the term image refers to a statue in the round, suggesting that a human being is a psychosomatic unity.”

                  • “Second, an image functions to express, not to depict; thus, humanity is a faithful and adequate representation, though not a facsimile.”

                  • “Third, an image possesses the life of the one being represented.”

                  • “Fourth, an image represents the presence of the one represented.”

                  • “Fifth, inseparable from the notion of serving as a representative, the image functions as ruler in the place of the deity.”

              • God’s design for the family

                • PRINCIPLE #5 – God established the family from the beginning (male and female).

                • Notice here that God created man, both male and female

                • That’s important, especially when it comes to the blessing He makes in verse 28

                • If God’s design for the family wasn’t a man and a woman, then there wouldn’t have been a need to create both male and female

                • He created both male and female, because that is how they would be fruitful and increase in number

                • For procreation to take place, by God’s design, there has to be a male and female

                • If we set aside the Bible and God’s design for a family and procreation, we still have the anatomical hurdle to overcome

                  • A man and a man cannot be fruitful and increase in number

                  • A woman and a woman cannot be fruitful and increase in number

                  • I know what some will say, “But two women can have a baby together, through artificial insemination!”

                  • Did you notice the one key word there? – “artificial” – it’s not by God’s natural design

                  • What we do is justify in our minds what we want to do, even if it goes against God’s perfect design

                • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Embrace God’s design for the family as one man and one woman.

              • God’s blessing

                • God’s blessing for human beings included being fruitful and increasing in number

                • They were also to fill the earth and subdue it

                • God mentions again the responsibility to rule over the other created things

          • God created the land animals and the human beings on the sixth day

        • He has one more instructional item for His creation, both animals and humans

    • Fed (vv. 29-30)

        • Humans

          • God gives all the fruits and vegetables to humans as their food source

          • In the perfect created world, at the beginning, humans were probably vegans

        • Animals

          • God gives the seed-bearing plants to the animals for food

          • It appears at this point that there are no carnivores, or the animals who are carnivores today were herbivores at the beginning

          • The prophet Isaiah, in prophesying about the new heaven the new earth says this, The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. ​​ They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord. ​​ (Isaiah 65:25)

        • God said it and it happened!

    • Finished (v. 31)

        • God saw everything he made and it was very good (this includes all six days of creation)

        • Everything God creates is good.

        • God marks time for the sixth time

          • The definite article is used in the Hebrew with the sixth day

          • So, the NIV has it right here, the sixth day

          • The definite article used here brings everything to completion


  • YOU

    • Are you worshiping God for His sovereign work in your life?

    • Are you recognizing God’s authority over you by submitting every area of your life to Him?

    • Are you worshiping God alone and not His creation?

    • Have you embraced God’s design for the family as one man and one woman?


  • WE

    • As followers of Jesus Christ, we have to lead the way in modeling these principles and truths from His Word.



“Professor and journalist Terry Mattingly writes:


[In his talks, author Phillip Johnson quotes] the Gospel of John, which states: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.’


After reading this, Johnson asks: ‘Is that true or false?’


Then he turns this Scripture inside out and creates a credo for use in sanctuaries aligned with the National Center for Science Education. It sounds like this: ‘In the beginning were the particles and the particles somehow became complex, living stuff. And the stuff imagined God.’


After reading this, Johnson again asks: ‘Is that true or false?’


Johnson argues that today's debates over science, creation and morality are, literally, clashes between people who believe there is scientific evidence that God created man and those who believe there is scientific evidence that man created God.


‘If there is no Creator who has a purpose for your life, then there is no such thing as sin,’ he said. ‘Sin would mean that you are in a wrong relationship to your Creator. Well, you can't be in the wrong relationship with the particles. They don't care. So you don't need a Savior to save you from the consequences of your wrong relationship with the particles.’


‘When you give away creation, you have given away everything.’”


Terry Mattingly, senior fellow for journalism at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, from his column "Phillip E.






Continuous Creator

(Genesis 1:1-2)



“On Christmas Day 1968, the three astronauts of Apollo 8 circled the dark side of the moon and headed for home. Suddenly, over the horizon of the moon rose the blue and white Earth garlanded by the glistening light of the sun against the black void of space. Those sophisticated men, trained in science and technology, did not utter Einstein's name. They did not even go to the poets, the lyricists, or the dramatists. Only one thing could capture the awe-inspiring thrill of this magnificent observation. Billions heard the voice from outer space as the astronaut read it: ‘In the beginning God’ – the only concept worthy enough to describe that unspeakable awe, unutterable in any other way. ‘In the beginning God created’ – the invasive, the inescapable sense of the infinite and the eternal.


Ravi Zacharias, "If the Foundations Be Destroyed," Preaching Today, Tape No. 142.





  • ME

    • Year I was born

        • I was born in 1969

        • So, I tell people I’m a flower child, a 60’s kid

        • I obviously didn’t participate in any of the things that were taking place in 1969, because I was an infant

    • Fun Facts from 1969

        • President – Richard M. Nixon

        • Famous people born in 1969 (Jennifer Lopez, Matthew Perry, Matthew Mcconaughey, Mariah Carey, Jack Black, Jennifer Anniston, Jason Priestly, Gwen Stefani, Christian Slater, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Peter Dinklage, Sean Combs, Jay-Z, Anne Heche, Ice Cube, Renee Zellweger, Dave Grohl)

        • Average cost of living

          • Annual income - $8,550

          • Minimum wage - $1.30

          • New car costs - $2,822

          • Movie ticket - $1.40

          • Gallon of gas - $0.35

          • Gallon of milk - $1.10

          • Postage stamp - $0.06

          • Candy bar - $0.10

        • News headlines

          • Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are the first humans to set foot on the moon

          • Woodstock Music Festival takes place in upstate New York

          • Last Beatles public performance on roof of Apple Records in London

          • Laser printer invented at Xerox by Gary Starkweather

          • Sesame Street introduced by Children’s Television Workshop

          • Pontiac Firebird Trans Am is introduced

          • ARPA (precursor of Internet) goes online in December connects 4 major US universities

          • The $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 bills are officially removed from circulation

        • Sports highlights

          • MLB World Series – New York Mets

          • Super Bowl – New York Jets

          • NBA Champions – Boston Celtics

          • Stanley Cup Champs – Montreal Canadiens


  • WE

    • Identifying ourselves

        • Kenneth Mathews says, “We locate ourselves in time in terms of our beginnings and endings.” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Genesis 1-11:26, 126]

        • I would agree with him

    • Births and deaths

        • It’s fascinating to look back at the year we were born to see what was happening and what was popular

        • Many of us can remember what was happening in the world when our own children were born

        • It’s also true that we tend to remember significant events that happened during the year when a loved one passed away

        • Mathews goes on to say that, “Thus as we see and identify ourselves by our finitude, so the Infinite One condescends by announcing his presence in the same terms – time and space.” ​​ [Mathews, 126]


We’re beginning our study of the book of Genesis. ​​ It’s where it all begins for us as humanity, but it’s not the beginning of an Infinite God. ​​ We tend to talk about creation as a finished work in the past, but God wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – He continues to create today.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 1:1-2)

    • Background (theme, structure, and foundation)

        • As we begin Genesis there are some preliminary things we have to talk about to set the stage for the entire book

        • Theme

          • The first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) are called the Pentateuch

          • Originally, the names of the first five books of the Bible come from the first word or two in each book

          • This was also a common practice in the Ancient Near East for other books also

          • “For Genesis the first Hebrew word is beresit, translated ‘in the beginning.’ ​​ The English title Genesis is a transliteration of a Greek word (geneseos) used in the Septuagint translation for the key Hebrew term (toledot) which means ‘the generations of/the histories of/the account of.’” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 3]

          • The term toledot will be key as we look at the structure of the entire book of Genesis, but it’s also important to the theme of the entire book

          • The word toledot can also be translated, “origin,” which is why the theme, I’ve given for the entire book, is “Origins”

            • As we study the book of Genesis we’ll see the origins of several things as Victor Hamilton points out [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, 2]

              • Earth’s creation

              • Humankind

              • Institutions by which civilization is perpetuated

              • One special family chosen by God as his own and designated as the medium of world blessing

            • The Hebrew word toledot is repeated ten times throughout the entire book, but I’ll explain that in the section on structure

          • Each one of us has an origin

            • We come from generations of . . . (Religious – Christians, Catholics, Mennonites, Baptists, United Brethren In Christ, etc.; Work – carpenters, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, doctors, pastors, etc.)

            • We have a history of . . . (doing certain things, saying certain things, etc.)

            • We can give an account of . . . (who our ancestors were and where they came from)

          • The Bible explains the origins of God’s Story within humanity

          • Genesis outlines the “beginning of the Story of the Creator” [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 105]

          • So, let’s look at the structure from two angles

        • Structure

          • Two main parts of Genesis

            • The Primeval History (Chapters 1-11)

              • It focuses on four main events [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament: Genesis-Deuteronomy, 13]

                • Creation (1-2)

                • The Fall of humanity and the consequences associated with that (3-5)

                • The Flood (6-9)

                • The rebellion at Babel (10-11)

              • That leads us to the second half of the book

            • The Patriarchal History (Chapters 12-50)

              • Those chapters recount the lives of four men

                • Abraham (12:1-25:18)

                • Isaac (25:19-27:46)

                • Jacob (28-36)

                • Joseph (37-50)

              • These four men were the foundation of the Israelite nation

          • Repetition of toledot

            • As I mentioned earlier, the Hebrew word toledot appears ten times throughout Genesis and can be translated “the history of/the generations of/the account of/the origins of . . .”

            • Ten instances of this Hebrew term [Waltke, Genesis A Commentary, 18; Hamilton, 2]

              • The account of the line of the heavens and the earth (2:4-4:26) – transition (4:25-26)

              • The account of Adam’s line (5:1-6:8) – transition (6:1-8)

              • The account of Noah’s line (6:9-9:29) – transition (9:18-29)

              • The account of the line of Noah’s sons (10:1-11:9) – transition (11:1-9)

              • The account of Shem’s line (11:10-26) – transition (11:26)

              • The account of Terah’s line (11:27-25:11) – transition (23:1-25:11)

              • The account of Ishmael’s line (25:12-18) – transition (25:1-11)

              • The account of Isaac’s line (25:19-35:29) – transition (35:23-29)

              • The account of Esau’s line (36:1-37:1) – transition (37:1)

              • The account of Jacob’s line (37:2-50:26) – transition to the book of Exodus (46:2-50:26)

            • Through this structure we see the origins of each family unit

          • As we focus on smaller portions of Scripture, we will see additional structures (chiastic) that will make the passage come alive and help us understand the main point of what God is trying to communicate to us

        • Author – Moses

        • Foundation

          • Understanding Genesis is the foundation to understanding the rest of Scripture

          • This book is the beginning of God’s Story for humanity and we see God accomplishing and completing His story throughout the Old and New Testaments

          • “If we possessed a Bible without Genesis, we would have a ‘house of cards’ without foundation or mortar. ​​ We cannot insure the continuing fruit of our spiritual heritage if we do not give place to its roots.” ​​ [Mathews, 22]

          • This book has 50 chapters, so we will be studying it for quite some time

            • I’ve only mapped out the Sunday’s in 2021 where we will be jumping out of Genesis for special services

            • With that said, we will end this year with Genesis 22:20-24

            • Without mapping out the Sunday’s in 2022, we would end Genesis on January 29, 2023

          • While it will be long study, it promises to be a foundational study

          • I want to encourage you to prayerfully listen, learn, and perhaps challenge your own beliefs about what you were taught growing up

          • I know that as I’ve studied Scripture for myself, there have been times where I’ve realized that what I was taught as a child was not Biblically accurate

        • So, in the great words of Maria from the Sound of Music, “let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start”

    • General Statement (vv. 1-2)

        • In the beginning

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is infinite and eternal!

            • These are two of His many attributes

            • It means that He has always been and will always be

            • That’s why He can say, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 22:13)

            • Ephesians 1:4, For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

            • Colossians 1:15-17, He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. ​​ For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. ​​ He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

            • God exists outside of our time and space

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Rejoice in the fact that God is infinite and eternal.

          • So, the beginning that God is talking about here is not His beginning, but rather the beginning of our cosmos/universe as we know it

        • God created

          • Created

            • The Hebrew word for created, bara’, has some pretty amazing features associated with it

              • Its subject is always God

              • It’s used in the Old Testament consistently referring to a new activity [Mathews, 128]

              • It never occurs in a context where materials are mentioned [Walton, 71]

              • So, we realize that creation is a divine activity of God, and He is able to create something from nothing

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is omnipotent (all-powerful)!

                • This is a third attribute of God that is key for us to understand and embrace

                • In our finite minds we want to understand creation

                • We strive to use scientific methods to prove God’s creation, but that only leads to arguments and disunity, even within the Christian community

                • We are afraid to stand solely on the truth of creation as presented in the Bible

                • “We too easily accept the dictum that the only absolute is science. ​​ This presupposition causes us to think that the Bible’s authority would be jeopardized if its revelation fails to address origins in terms that reflect our worldview. ​​ This modern arrogance that insists that revelation must be packaged in our terms to be true betrays us, because even scientific thinking is in constant flux.” ​​ [Walton, 89]

                • “We should not be asking (1) how the text validates my scientific understanding or (2) how the text describes the scientific system we know to be true; rather, we must ask (3) on what level the text is communicating its message.” ​​ [Walton, 94]

                • We marginalize the supernatural, because it cannot be explained by the scientific/natural

                • This way of thinking is backwards

                • God is all-powerful and He able to do things that cannot be explained by science or nature

                • “It is absurd for the Evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into anything.”

                  G. K. Chesterton in The Quotable Chesterton. Christianity Today, Vol. 31, no. 13.


                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess that I have doubted the Biblical account of creation, because it doesn’t make scientific or natural sense.

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in the Biblical account of creation, even if I don’t understand it completely.

                • The original audience/readers did not have the scientific advancements that we have today, so we have to strive to understand what the original author was saying to the original hearers

            • “The New Testament makes clear that all things created came from God. ​​ This is a theological affirmation that all believers can agree on.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer]

              • John 1:3, Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

              • Romans 4:17, As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” ​​ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed – the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

              • Hebrews 11:3, By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

            • Continuous creation

              • We often refer to God’s creation of the world as a singular event in the past, yet God is continually creating all the time

              • Psalm 104:30, When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.

                • We’ve had some new babies born in 2020

                • There are animal breeders who are providing new animals all the time

              • “. . . Van Till presses the point that a biblical theology of God as Creator identifies him as Originator, Preserver, Governor, and Provider of the Creation.” ​​ [Walton, 103]

              • God didn’t just create the universe and then step away and take His hands off

              • He is continually involved in every aspect of our lives as preserver, governor, and provider

              • God continues to create today.

            • What did He create as we see in verse 1?

          • The heavens and the earth

            • The statement in verse 1 is a general statement encompassing all six days of creation

            • We’ll see the specifics of that creative work, outlined next week

            • “. . . the author declares that both space (the heavens) and matter (the earth) were created by him.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, 10]

            • The earth was formless and empty

              • This was part of God’s creation of the universe – it wasn’t something He did before creation, but when He created the earth [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 29]

              • In Hebrew, “formless and empty,” is a rhyming couplet – tōhû wābōhû [Mathews, 130]

              • It has the idea of being uninhabitable and inhospitable to humans [Mathews, 131]

              • “In the Academy in Florence stands Michelangelo’s sculpture of St. Matthew. ​​ It is unfinished. ​​ The inscription points out how the sculptor is about to cut away the stone from around the figure that he has perceived inside the marble block. ​​ So here creation, shapeless and formless, awaits the artistic creativity and ordering of the Creator’s hand.” ​​ [Atkinson, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of Genesis 1-11, 24]

            • Darkness was over the surface of the deep

              • This is just another way of expressing that the earth was formless and empty

              • Darkness, here, does not mean evil

              • The reference to the surface of the deep is probably referring to water

            • Spirit of God was hovering over the waters

              • The Hebrew word for “Spirit” can mean “spirit or wind”

              • Within the context, it’s best to translate it as spirit

              • So, the Spirit of God is poised, waiting for God to speak the universe into existence


  • YOU

    • Are you rejoicing today that God is infinite and eternal?

    • Do you need to confess your doubts about the Biblical account of creation?

    • Will you take the step of faith today to trust in God’s account of creation, even if you don’t completely understand it?


  • WE

    • As followers of Jesus Christ, the Bible is our handbook for life

    • If we discount or marginalize the creation story, we will not be able to share God’s story found in the rest of the Bible

    • We have to make sure that our foundation is sure



God is about to speak, and change the formless, empty space into something incredible


“God was sovereignly superintending the condition of the earth and preparing the way for his creative word.” ​​ [Mathews, 135-36]


Isaiah 45:18, For this is what the Lord says – he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited – he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.”


God continues to create new inhabitants for the earth. ​​ He is a continuous Creator!



Pursuit Of Holiness

Taught Not Caught

(Daniel 1:1-21)



Bryan Chapell begins his sermon, “The Undefiled,” with this story.


“When I was in seminary, the wife of one of my classmates worked as a quality control inspector at a pharmaceutical company downtown in order to support the family. One day, through mistaken procedures, a major order of syringes was contaminated and would not pass inspection. When the wife of my friend reported the contamination to her boss, he quickly computed the costs of reproducing the order and made a ‘cost-effective’ decision: ship the order. He ordered her to sign the inspection clearance despite the contamination. She refused.


Because of government regulations, my friend's wife was the only one who could sign the clearance. The syringes did not ship that day. So the next day, a Friday, the wife got a visit from the company president. He said he would give her the weekend to think it over, but if the forms were not signed on Monday, her job would be in jeopardy.


In fact, much more was in jeopardy. This inspection job was this couple's only means of support. The husband's education and ministry future was also in jeopardy. All their hopes, dreams, and family plans of many years could be shattered as a result of a choice to be made over the next two days. For this young couple, all the abstract doctrinal instruction they had been receiving about personal consecration, world transformation, and credible witness boiled down to this one very real decision: could they afford to remain undefiled from the contamination the world was urging them to approve? Was the witness of holiness worth what it would cost?


The couple's predicament, of course, was not unique to them. In all ages God's people are pressured to pollute the purity of their dedication to God. The pressures come from lots of potential sources: bosses, finances, competitors, friends, relatives, congregations, our own desires for success and significance. This couple faced such pressures, you have faced them, Daniel and his friends faced them. The pressures face anyone who will seek to live undefiled in a world of sin. That's why the Bible, in order to help us face these pressures, speaks so plainly about the risks, reasons, and rewards of holiness.”




This couple was going to have to decide whether or not to follow what they were taught by their parents, church, and seminary. ​​ When it comes to tough decisions we most often return to what we were taught – our character.



  • ME

    • Character traits developed in me by my parents

        • Hard work ethic

        • Honesty

        • Tithing

        • Trustworthiness

        • Loyalty

        • Faith in God

    • Hiring staff

        • I remember attending a workshop at one of the UB National Conferences where former Bishop Phil Whipple was sharing about hiring staff

        • He shared that he would rather hire someone with character instead of someone with a lot of skills

        • His reasoning behind this was that it was easier to teach them the various skills they would need, than to teach them character qualities that take time to develop

        • Character is something that is taught over a long period of time, while skills can be easily caught within a short period of time


  • WE

    • Skills caught

        • What skills have you learned?

    • Character taught

        • What character traits were you taught? (good and bad)


Daniel and his friends were taught some pretty incredible character traits that stuck with them even when they were separated from their families. ​​ One of the main character traits they had learned was a firm commitment to God. ​​ They also learned what holiness meant and how to maintain that. ​​ From Daniel’s example in the passage today, we will learn that . . .

BIG IDEA – Holiness begins with a firm commitment to God.


Let’s pray


Kenneth Gangel does an excellent job of providing the main point headings in the Holman Old Testament Commentary for Daniel. ​​ I’ve used those headings as the main points this morning.


  • GOD (Daniel 1:1-21)

    • Attack by Babylon (vv. 1-2)

        • Jehoiakim’s reign

          • Jehoiakim was the son of Josiah

            • Josiah was the king who returned the Israelites to the worship of God

            • He was one of just a few kings who were righteous and did what was right before God

            • Most of the other kings were wicked and turned away from God

            • After Josiah’s death, his younger son Johoahaz was actually made king, first, but his reign only lasted three months (he was a wicked king)

            • Pharaoh-neco appointed Eliakim, Josiah’s elder son, as king and renamed him Jehoiakim

          • Year of Jehoiakim’s reign

            • Daniel says it was in the third year of Jehoiakim’s reign

            • Jeremiah says it was in the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign (Jeremiah 25:1)

            • Which one is correct?

              • Both, because they are talking about the same time period

              • Two different calendars [Dwight J. Pentecost, Daniel (The Bible Knowledge Commentary; ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck; Accordance electronic ed. 2 vols.; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985), 1:1328]

                • Jewish calendar began in September-October

                • Babylonian calendar began in March-April

              • Two different ways of counting [Gangel, The Holman Old Testament Commentary, Daniel, 15]

                • Babylonian reckoning (Daniel) – they “considered the first year of a king’s reign the year of accession and the second year would be the official ‘first year.’” [Gangel, 15]

                • Egyptian reckoning (Jeremiah) – they considered the first year as the actual first year of their reign

          • So, Jehoiakim had been king for four years (Egyptian timing), three years (Babylonian timing)

        • Nebuchadnezzar’s reign

          • Jeremiah (25:1) tells us that it was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign that he besieged Jerusalem

          • It was 605 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar became king and he didn’t waste time establishing his dominance in the region

          • He immediately began his conquest of the surrounding nations

          • While Nebuchadnezzar thought he was ultimately in control, we see the almighty, sovereign God, who is actually in control

        • God’s sovereignty

          • In God’s sovereignty and under His control, He allowed Nebuchadnezzar to overtake Jerusalem and delivered king Jehoiakim into his hands

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is sovereign!

            • Nothing happens outside His divine control and purpose

            • This is the first time, in the passage we’re looking at today, that we see God’s sovereignty, but it’s not the last

            • God is still in control of world changing and nation changing events

              • Whatever our political views are, we can trust that God is in control!

              • Whatever our beliefs are about a world-wide pandemic, God is in control!

              • Whatever financial struggles we’re experiencing, either personally or as a church, God is in control!

              • How many of us would say that we feel like we are being taken captive (emotionally, spiritually, politically, relationally, financially)?

              • How many of us would say that we feel like some of our most prized possessions are being carried away?

              • Perhaps most of us can relate to what the Israelites were feeling at this point – we may not be going into captivity and being carried away to another land, physically, but perhaps that’s how we feel emotionally, mentally, or spiritually

              • We may be experiencing the feelings of hopelessness

              • God is with us and promises to never leave us or forsake us, but to be our helper (Hebrews 13:5-6)

              • We can trust Him!

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in God’s sovereign power and turn to Him with my feelings of hopelessness.

          • God also allowed some of the articles from His temple to be carried away to Babylonia

            • “Daniel tells us that twice in one verse, indicating its importance. ​​ He wants us to understand that this is not only a battle between nations but also a battle between deities – God against Marduk, great god of the Babylonians.” ​​ [Gangel, 17]

            • This spiritual battle wages to the very end of time as we see in Revelation

            • The temple in Babylonia would have been to Bel (Marduk)

            • The purpose in carrying away some of the articles from the temple was to prove that the deities of Babylonia had conquered the God of Judah

            • And yet, we know that’s not the case, as Daniel pointed out (God was in control)

            • Nebuchadnezzar left some of the articles in the temple, so the Israelites, who remained in Jerusalem, could continue to worship their God

            • They were a vassal state of Babylon

        • Nebuchadnezzar didn’t only take articles from the temple of the Lord, but he also took young men from Jerusalem to Babylon

    • Training in Babylon (vv. 3-7)

        • Who was to be trained?

          • Nebuchadnezzar puts the chief of his court officials, Ashpenaz, in charge of choosing those who will be taken into captivity and trained

          • This was common practice in the ancient world – taking the brightest and best of the royal family and nobility into captivity and training them, so they would eventually become advocates, for the conquering nation, with their own people

          • Attributes of those chosen

            • Physically – young, without defect, handsome (I may be biased, but I think my three boys would have qualified physically)

              • Young men/youths/children – Daniel and his friends would have been around 12-15 years’ old

              • Their age will be significant as the events of this passage unfold – so keep their age in mind

            • Intellectually – aptitude for every kind of learning, well-informed, quick to understand (again, I’m biased, but my three boys would qualify)

            • We would all feel the same way about our own children

          • Now that we know who was to be trained, we can focus on what they were to be taught

        • What were they to be taught?

          • Language and literature of the Babylonians

            • Language

              • “The traditional language of Babylon was Akkadian, a complex and ancient language written by means of a cuneiform script (using a stylus to make wedge-shaped characters), in which each symbol represented a syllable.” ​​ [John H. Walton, Victor H. Matthews, and Mark W. Chavalas, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, Accordance electronic ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 730]

              • [Show pictures of Akkadian cuneiform script]

              • While the Babylonians knew Akkadian, they primarily communicated using Aramaic, which was similar to Hebrew, in that it used an alphabetic script instead of a cuneiform script

              • Daniel and his friends may have already know Aramaic

            • Literature

              • There were certainly all kinds of general literature for these young men to learn (sciences, mathematics, etc.), but perhaps they were taught specific forms of literature based on how there were going to serve the Babylonian kingdom

              • We know that Daniel served as a diviner, because God had given him the ability to understand visions and dreams of all kinds (Daniel 1:17)

              • It’s probable that Daniel focused on the omen literature that would serve him well as a diviner

              • We’re not really told how the other three youths served the Babylonian kingdom, so it’s more difficult to determine their course of training

          • This wasn’t a 12-week course on how to serve the king, but rather a much lengthier training that would completely indoctrinate them to the customs, traditions, and ways of the Babylonian people

        • How long was their training?

          • Their training would take them three years

          • After their training was complete, they would serve the king

          • Every aspect of their lives was regimented and set by the king – what they were to learn and what they were to eat

        • What were they to eat?

          • The king assigned a daily portion of food and wine from his own table

            • This shouldn’t be seen as a way to defile the Hebrew captives

            • The king probably didn’t even know about their dietary restrictions

            • He was providing the best, he had to offer, for them

            • Remember, the purpose in their training was to transform those who were captive from their original origins to Babylonian citizens

            • We only learn later that Daniel and his three friends considered the food and wine something that would defile them

            • We’re not told the exact food items that were part of the daily portion, but perhaps it included bread and meat of some kind

          • Captives weren’t the only ones who received a daily portion from the king’s table [Walton, Matthews, and Chavalas, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, 731]

            • Ranking members of the administration

            • Craftsmen and artisans (native or foreign)

            • Diplomats, businessmen and entertainers

          • Of those who were taken captive, we see that some of them were from Judah

        • Line of Judah (line of the king)

          • Hebrew names

            • Daniel – “God is judge”

            • Hananiah – “Jehovah is gracious; whom Jehovah has favored”

            • Mishael – “Who is what God is?”

            • Azariah – “The Lord helps”

          • Babylonian names

            • “To change someone’s name is to exercise authority over them and their destiny.” ​​ [Walton, Matthews, and Chavalas, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament,]

            • Belteshazzar (Daniel) – “Bel’s (Marduk) prince; he whom Bel favors.” [Chief-god]

            • Shadrach (Hananiah) – “young friend of the king; command of Aku.” ​​ [Sun/Moon-god]

            • Meshach (Mishael) – “Who is what Aku is?” Could also be from Babylonian goddess Sheshach (Shak) [Earth-god]

            • Abednego (Azariah) – “servant of Nebo; servant of the shining fire” [Fire-god]

        • So, Daniel and his three friends, along with the other captives, were going through a lot of changes all at once

        • Daniel accepted all of the changes, but one

    • Commitment in Babylon (vv. 8-14)

        • Daniel’s resolution

          • Daniel made up his mind that he would not eat the royal food or drink the wine

          • Why did he make up his mind about the food and drink, but not the name change or curriculum?

            • Having his named changed and learning about the customs, traditions, and ways of the Babylonian people did not directly go against Jewish law

            • Eating food prepared by Gentiles would have made the food unclean – it was not Kosher

            • The food might have been sacrificed to idols and eating it would have meant approval of the worship of those gods

          • Firm commitment to God

            • Holiness begins with a firm commitment to God.

            • Where did Daniel learn this firm commitment to God?

              • He would have been alive during King Josiah’s reign

              • He would have seen and experienced the repentant heart of not only the King, but everyone else in Jerusalem

              • Perhaps he watched his father and mother recommit themselves to the Lord – he saw, first-hand, the transformation that God’s Word had in his own family

              • He was wholly committed to the Lord and would not sacrifice that commitment by eating food and drinking wine potentially sacrificed to idols

              • “The great lesson from the incident is that religion should regulate the smallest details of life, and that it is not narrow over-scrupulousness, but fidelity to the highest duty, when a man sets his foot down about any small matter, and says, ‘No, I dare not do it, little as it is, and pleasant as it might be to sense, because I should thereby be mixed up in a practical denial of my God.’ ‘So did not I, because of the fear of God’ (Neh. v. 15), is a motto which will require from many a young man abstinence from many things which it would be much easier to accept.” ​​ [Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2006), paragraph 10757]

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when we choose holiness over worldliness.

            • Application

              • Holiness

                • We are being bombarded every day with temptations for worldliness

                  • Perhaps our employer is asking us to do something that we know is not morally or ethically right (what will we choose?)

                  • Maybe a friend at school wants us to help them do something that we know isn’t right (what will we choose?)

                  • Some of us may have family members who are pressuring us to do something wrong (what will we choose?)

                  • A fellow college student or professor may be encouraging us to be more tolerant of a social or cultural shift that is in opposition to God’s Word (what will we choose?)

                  • Society wants us to be tolerant of other religions and “cultural norms” that go against the Bible (what will we choose?)

                  • Laws within our land (abortion, same-sex marriage, legalization of drugs, etc.) tempt us to accept what God says is unacceptable (what will we choose?)

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Resolve to stand firm on my commitment to God and choose holiness over worldliness.

              • Committed to God at a young age

                • As I mentioned earlier, Daniel and his three friends were probably in their early teens

                • They were pursuing holiness, because of a firm commitment to God

                • These four young men seem to be the exception among the captives, but they are an incredible example for our young people today

                • The norm

                  • Too often in our day and age, young men and women in their early teens are not pursuing holiness and a firm commitment to God

                  • We often hear them say that they will pursue God and holiness when they are older

                  • Many young people, who walked away from the church and the Lord in their mid to late teens and early twenties, return to the Lord and the church when they begin having children (they know the importance of training up their children in the Lord)

                  • This doesn’t have to be the norm

                • Young people can and should be pursuing holiness and a firm commitment to the Lord

                  • The primary teaching and modeling for pursuing holiness should come from Dad and Mom

                  • They learn both from our teaching and our example

                  • There are certainly young people who are living in a non-Christian homes, but are striving to live for Jesus

                  • That’s when the body of Christ steps in and provides the teaching and modeling for these young people to follow

                • #3 – (Young People) My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Not wait until I’m older to pursue holiness and a personal relationship with God.

                • #4 – (Adults) My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to teach and model a life of holiness for the next generation.

          • Daniel gives us a great example of how to handle potential conflict, especially when it pertains to defiling our moral and ethical beliefs – he appeals to those in charge

        • Daniel’s appeals

          • Chief official

            • He asks the chief official for permission not to defile himself

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is sovereign!

              • We see that God is sovereignly in control again as He causes the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel

              • The chief official understands Daniel’s concern about the food and wine, but he isn’t ready to choose holiness over worldliness

              • He prefers having his head attached to his shoulders (he’s afraid for his life)

              • The chief official wasn’t willing to question the king’s assignment of food

            • That didn’t stop Daniel from continuing to appeal

          • Guard

            • Next, he goes to the guard who has direct supervision over him, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah

            • His appeal is to have the guard give these four a test run for 10 days

              • Instead of eating the royal good and drinking the wine, they will only eat vegetables and drink water

              • After the 10 days are up, the guard can compare their appearance to the appearance of the other captives who have eaten the king’s food and wine

              • The guard can then treat these four young men based on what he sees

            • The guard agrees to the test

        • What will happen as a result of these four young men choosing holiness, because of their firm commitment to God?

    • Blessings in Babylon (vv. 15-21)

        • PRINCIPLE #3 – God honors the obedience of His people.

        • Physical blessing

          • These four young men looked healthier than the other young men

          • They also looked more nourished/fatter (we don’t associate fatter as healthy term, but think about malnourished children who are only skin and bones – for them to be fatter, means well nourished)

          • The guard saw the results and took away the choice food and wine from everyone and gave them all vegetables to eat and probably water to drink

        • Intellectual blessing

          • The intellectual blessings all came from God!

          • All four men received knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning

          • Daniel also received the ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams

          • It didn’t matter what the king questioned them about

          • As it pertained to wisdom and understanding, these four young men were ten times more capable of providing a balanced answer, than all of the other magicians and enchanters in the kingdoms

          • That’s a pretty incredible blessing from the Lord for pursuing holiness and a firm commitment to Him

        • Employment blessing

          • These four young men were given positions within the kingdom

          • They had completed their three years of training and were ready to serve the Lord by serving the king of Babylon

          • Daniel remained as an official in the Babylonian kingdom until the first year of King Cyrus

            • That was nearly the entire 70 years of the Babylonian captivity

            • Daniel served under four kings

              • Nebuchadnezzar (Babylonia Empire)

              • Belshazzar (Babylonia Empire)

              • Darius (Medo-Persia Empire)

              • Cyrus (Medo-Persia Empire)

        • What blessings have you received as a result of obeying God?


  • YOU

    • Are you feeling hopeless today? ​​ (trust God, because He is sovereign and in control)

    • Resolve to stand firm on your commitment to God choose holiness over worldliness

    • Young people – don’t wait to pursue holiness and a relationship with God (the blessing far outweigh the hardship)


  • WE

    • Parents and adults – we are called to teach and model a life of holiness and a firm commitment to God



For Daniel and his three friends, holiness and a firm commitment to God didn’t stop with this one difficult situation.


Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego chose holiness over worldliness and experienced a supernatural fire walk and a promotion (Daniel 3:1-30)

Daniel chose to maintain his firm commitment to God and pursuit of holiness even when there was a 30-day prayer ban decreed by King Darius and experienced a supernatural slumber party with a den of lions (Daniel 6:1-28)


Are you ready to experience the supernatural blessings of God as you pursue holiness through a firm commitment to Him?



Pursuit Of Holiness

Real Faith

(1 John 3:1-10)



“The United States Treasury Department has a special group of men whose job it is to track down counterfeiters. ​​ Naturally, these men need to know a counterfeit bill when they see it.


How do they learn to identify fake bills?


Oddly enough, they are not trained by spending hours examining counterfeit money. ​​ Rather, they study the real thing. ​​ They become so familiar with authentic bills that they can spot a counterfeit by looking at it or, often, simply feeling it.”


[Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament, Volume 2, 503].


“The United States Treasury uses a number of sophisticated techniques to keep counterfeiters from reproducing the look of paper currency. ​​ The exact makeup of paper bills is a secret, but it is widely known that the paper is made of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen, with red and blue flecks of silk. ​​ In addition to the high quality of the paper, United States currency also has magnetic ink, an almost invisible ink on the left side of larger bills, and an engraved ‘United State of America’ around the face of the larger bills. ​​ The final feature that is impossible for anyone to replicate is that the paper is run through machines with high-pressure rollers that create a uniform thickness. ​​ Without these machines, this feature cannot be duplicated.


These sophisticated measures do not keep counterfeiters from trying, nevertheless, because they can get so close that many people cannot tell the difference. ​​ Deceit of course, is the whole point of counterfeiting. ​​ Someone who does not have the real thing wants someone else to believe he has. ​​ We must be aware, alert, on guard against deceit, in regard to money as well as other things in life.”


[Walls & Anders, Holman New Testament Commentary, I & II Peter, I, II, & III John, Jude, 187].



  • ME

    • Bank training

        • Right out of college, I worked as a bank teller

        • After being hired, I had to go through several days of training, which included learning what real currency looked like

        • They trained us to identify the attributes and characteristics of real money before they ever tested us to see if we could identify counterfeit money

        • After working with money every day for months, I was able to tell when paper money didn’t feel right

    • Coins

        • One thing I also learned while working at the bank was that Canadian coins sounded different when dropped on the counter top or floor than American coins

        • I could tell when someone gave me a Canadian coin mixed in American coins without looking at it because of the sound that it made when dropped on the counter


  • WE

    • Counterfeit Detector Pens

        • How many of us have every used one of those counterfeit detector pens?

        • I did when I worked as a cashier at Walmart, many years ago

    • UV Counterfeit Detectors

        • Now they have UV counterfeit detectors

        • These detectors can be used for U.S. dollars and many other currencies

        • It can also be used to check credit cards, ID’s and passports

    • Carob instead of chocolate

        • How many of you know what carob is?

        • It’s basically a chocolate substitute made from a carob pod instead of cocoa pod

        • Carob is less bitter and has a roasted, naturally sweet flavor

        • Carob is caffeine-free and high in fiber

        • I remember the first time my Mom made carob brownies (I knew something was different, but I didn’t know what)

        • How many of us are able to tell when something has been substituted in our favorite foods? ​​ (we know what the original ingredient tastes like, so we know something’s different)


John was writing to reassure Christians, in several Gentile churches, to hold on to their faith and not be led astray by antichrists that had joined, not only the Ephesian church, but other churches as well. ​​ They were spiritual counterfeiters. ​​ In 1 John 3, “God reveals the characteristics of the bad currency and the good, so that his church can grasp the good” [Walls & Anders, 187]. ​​ John compares the characteristics of those who are children of God and those who are children of the devil. ​​ John wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – Our actions show whether our faith is real or counterfeit.


Let’s pray


A faith that’s real is characterized by the pursuit of holiness


Warren Wiersbe says that “John gives three reasons for a holy life” [Wiersbe, 504]. ​​ Those are going to be our three points this morning.


  • GOD (1 John 3:1-10)

    • God the Father loves us (vv. 1-3)

        • What we are (v. 1)

          • We are loved

            • The NIV doesn’t translate the first Greek word in chapter 3, which is ὁράω (horaō) and means “behold” or “see” (most other translations have one or the other)

            • The Greek for “how great” means, “what kind/sort of or quality”

              • Wiersbe translates it this way, “Behold, what peculiar, out-of-this-world kind of love the Father has bestowed on us.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 504]

              • It’s an unconditional, never ending kind of love

              • Jeremiah 31:3, The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

              • Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

                • That’s unconditional love at its best

                • While we don’t want anything to do with God, He still loves us – no matter what!

                • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is love!

                  • That is one of God’s many attributes

                  • His attributes are qualities about Him that we can hold on to and have confidence in

                  • No matter how bad you think your sins are, God still loves you – unconditionally

                  • His love is so great that He is willing to adopt you into His forever family

              • When is the last time you’ve experienced that kind of love?

                • I would venture to say, that most of us have never experienced that kind or quality of love

                • We’ve experienced conditional love a lot

            • Perhaps children who have been adopted understand God’s unconditional love better than children who grew up in a biological family

            • God’s love for us is of such incredible quality that He calls us His children

          • We are children of God

            • NOTE: ​​ most manuscripts do not have “and that is what we are!

            • John tells us in his Gospel how we become children of God

            • John 1:12-13, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

              • This isn’t a natural, biological birth that John is talking about

              • It’s a supernatural adoption that takes place by believing in Jesus name and receiving Him into our lives

              • We have to repent (turn from our sins) and begin to follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior

              • Repentance is more than saying a prayer, it’s a lifestyle change that affects every area of our life

              • Application

                • Have you received Jesus into your life and believed in His name?

                • Have you turned from your sins and pursued a relationship with Jesus?

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Receive Jesus and believe in His name, so I can become a child of God.

            • When this transformation truly takes place in our lives, the world will not understand it

          • We are unknown by the world

            • “[The world] Does not understand our principles; the reasons of our conduct; the sources of our comforts and joys.” [Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2006), paragraph 32512.]

              • The world has a hard time understanding how we can have a smile on our face and be optimistic when everything seems to be falling down around us

              • The hope that we have comes from the Lord

              • We understand that this world is not the end, that the difficulties we are currently experiencing are only temporary, and the glory we will experience will far exceed the hardships we are going through

              • We are in great company

              • John 15:18, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”

            • The world won’t understand our transformation, because they don’t know the Lord

              • John 1:10, He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.

              • The world doesn’t know Jesus, because they have rejected Him

          • Our actions show whether our faith is real or counterfeit.

          • We know from verse 1 what we are, but verse 2 tells us what we will be

        • What we will be (v. 2)

          • Now we are children of God

            • The moment that we receive Jesus into our lives and believe in Him, is when we become children of God

            • It’s not something that happens later on

            • “The present possession of believers requires constant reaffirmation because of what daily life present them with, as seen in Calvin’s (1988: 266) memorable words: ‘Physically, we are dust and a shadow, and death is always before our eyes. ​​ We are exposed to a thousand miseries and our souls to innumerable evils, so that we always find a hell within us. ​​ The more necessary is it that our sense should be withdrawn from the view of present things, lest the miseries . . . should shake our trust in that happiness which as yet is hidden.’” ​​ [Yarbrough, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 1-3 John, 177]

            • What John is addressing here is the tension between the already and not yet that we see throughout Scripture

              • Already Romans 8:15, For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship [adoption]. ​​ And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

              • Not yetRomans 8:23, Not only so, be we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

              • [show figure B] []

          • What we will be has not yet been made known

            • John tells us a little about what we will be when he says that when Jesus appears, we will be like Him

            • Scripture helps us understand what Jesus is like now, so we know what we will be like

              • Colossians 3:4, When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

              • 2 Corinthians 3:18, And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

              • 2 Corinthians 4:6, For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

              • Philippians 3:20-21, But our citizenship is in heaven. ​​ And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

          • We know what we are and what we will be, which should affect what we should be

        • What we should be (v. 3)

          • Because we know that Jesus is returning again, we should strive for holiness (to keep our lives clean)

            • Paul expresses it this way to the Corinthian believers, Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God (2 Corinthians 7:1)

            • James expresses it as standing firm (James 5:8)

            • Peter tells us to be self-controlled (1 Peter 1:13)

            • Our actions show whether our faith is real or counterfeit.

            • Application

              • Are you striving for holiness, purity, and self-control?

              • Are you struggling with habitual sin, right now?

              • Do you have someone to help hold you accountable?

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Strive for holiness as I wait, with hope, for Jesus to return.

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is pure (holy)!

            • John tells us that our model, our guide, our standard of holiness is Jesus

            • “In every case Painter’s observation (2002: 228) holds true: ‘The use of this word [καθώς] suggests that Jesus is the source and mode of the believer’s righteousness.’” ​​ [Yarbrough, 179]

          • “A group of teenagers were enjoying a party, and someone suggested that they go to a certain restaurant for a good time. ​​ ‘I’d rather you took me home,’ Jan said to her date. ​​ ‘My parents don’t approve of that place.’ ​​ ‘Afraid your father will hurt you?’ one of the girls asked sarcastically. ​​ ‘No,’ Jan replied, ‘I’m not afraid my father will hurt me, but I am afraid I might hurt him.’ ​​ She understood the principle that a true child of God, who has experienced the love of God, has no desire to sin against that love.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 504-5]

        • God’s love for us is a great reason to live a holy life!

        • John gives us a second reason in verse 4-8

    • God the Son died for us (vv. 4-8)

        • In these verses we see that there were two reasons why Jesus died for us

          • To take away our sins (vv. 4-6)

            • John 1:29, The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

            • Sin

              • I like the NASB 1995 translation of verse 4, Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness

              • The tense (present), voice (active), and mood (participle) of the Greek word for “practices” helps us understand that it is a habit of doing sin and not occasionally sinning [Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2001), paragraph 7795]

              • Definitions of sin in the Bible

                • Lawlessness – breaking God’s laws (1 John 3:4)

                • Anything not from faith (Romans 14:23b, everything that does not come from faith is sin)

                • Thought of foolishness (Proverbs 24:9a, the schemes of folly are sin . . .)

                • Knowing to do good, but not doing it (James 4:17, Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins)

                • All unrighteousness (1 John 5:17a, All wrongdoing is sin . . .)

                • “Sin is basically a matter of the will. ​​ For us to assert our will against God’s will is rebellion, and rebellion is the root of sin.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 505]

                • We can fake holiness and purity on the outside, so that other people think we’re a good person

                • We can’t fake holiness and purity on the inside, and God is able to see both the inside and the outside – He knows the attitude of our hearts

                • “Little Judy was riding in the care with her father. ​​ She decided to stand up in the front seat. ​​ Her father commanded her to sit down and put on the seat belt, but she declined. ​​ He told her a second time, and again she refused. ​​ ‘If you don’t sit down immediately, I’ll pull over to the side of the road and spank you!’ ​​ Dad finally said, and at this the little girl obeyed. ​​ But in a few minutes she said quietly, ‘Daddy, I’m still standing up inside.’” ​​ [Wiersbe, 505]

              • We’re all born with a rebellious attitude toward God

                • Isaiah 53:6a, We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; . . .

                • Romans 3:23, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

              • We know that all human beings are sinners, but God had a plan to deal with our sin

            • Jesus came to take away our sins

              • Isaiah 53:6b, . . . and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

              • 1 Peter 3:18, For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. ​​ He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.

              • 2 Corinthians 5:21, God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

            • He is the only One who can take away our sins, because He is perfect, without sin

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is pure (holy)!

              • He lived a sinless life while on earth

              • That’s why He was able to take away our sins when He died on the cross – He fulfilled God’s standard and required payment for sin

            • Real faith vs. counterfeit faith

              • John makes it clear that a genuine, real faith and relationship with Jesus Christ means that we will not keep on practicing habitual sin

                • To live in Jesus means to remain in Him, to abide in Him

                • John 15:5-6, “I am the vine; you are the branches. ​​ If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. ​​ If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

                • PRINCIPLE #3 – God completely transforms those who live/abide in Jesus Christ.

              • The opposite is also true, that if we continue to practice habitual sin we have a counterfeit faith and we have neither seen or known Jesus

            • Jesus not only died to take away our sins, but to destroy the works of the devil

          • To destroy the works of the devil (vv. 7-8)

            • John knew that there were antichrists in the various churches trying to deceive and lead followers of Jesus Christ astray

            • Actions speak louder than words

              • Doing what is right

                • The same Greek word is used here as in verse 4 and means practices

                • Again, it means a habit of doing what is right

                • 1 John 3:7, Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous (NASB 1995).

              • Doing what is sinful

                • 1 John 3:8a, the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning (NASB 1995).

                • Those who follow the devil are the ones who habitually practice sin

              • Our actions show whether our faith is real or counterfeit.

            • Destruction of the devil’s work

              • When we think of the word “destroy” we usually think of something being completely taken away (annihilated), but we know that the devil is still active in our world today

              • So, what is John saying here about the purpose or reason why Jesus appeared

              • The Greek word can mean, “to loosen, release; melt” or “to loosen, undo, dissolve, anything bound, tied, or compacted together.”

              • We are tied up and bound by sin

              • Destroy, here, means ‘to render inoperative, to rob of power.’” ​​ [Wiersbe, 506]

                • Hebrews 2:14-15, Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

                • 2 Timothy 1:10, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

                • Acts 10:38, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

              • Jesus won over sin and death when He died on the cross, was buried, and came alive again the third day

          • I don’t know about you, but I’m grateful for all that Jesus has done for me

        • Because Jesus died for us, we should pursue holiness as His followers

        • John gives us one more reason to live a holy life

    • God the Holy Spirit lives in us (vv. 9-10)

        • “A person who can enjoy deliberate sin and who does not feel convicted or experience God’s chastening had better examine himself to see whether or not he is really born of God.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 506]

        • God’s seed remains in us (v. 9)

          • Chiastic structure [Kruse, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Letters of John, 125]
            a  ​​​​ No one who is born of God
             ​​ ​​​​ b  ​​​​ will continue to sin,
             ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ c ​​ 
            because God’s seed remains in him;
             ​​ ​​​​ b’ ​​ he cannot sin,
            a’ ​​ because he has been born of God.

          • Born of God

            • We already talked about this in verse 1

            • We are children of God

            • Everyone who receives Jesus and believes in His name is given the right to become a child of God – born of God (John 1:12-13)

          • Will continue to sin and cannot sin

            • What the NIV translates as “continue to sin,” the NASB translates as “practices sin”

              • The same Greek word is used here as in verses 4, 7, & 8

              • This is not talking about sinless perfection

              • It is talking about willful, habitual sin – being characterized as a sinner

            • As children of God we will not continue to sin or cannot sin, because God disciplines His children

            • Hebrews 12:4-6, In your struggle against sin, you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood. ​​ And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punished everyone he accepts as a son.”

            • In addition, we will not continue to practice sin, because we have a new nature – God’s nature living in us

          • God’s seed

            • When we become a child of God several incredible transformations take place [Wiersbe, 506]

              • Justification – a new standing before God (He sees us a righteous, through the blood of Jesus Christ)

              • Sanctification – a new position before God (this is the ongoing, continual growth to become more like Jesus)

              • Regeneration – a new nature (we have the Holy Spirit that lives within us to help us say “no” to sin and “yes” to righteousness)

              • 2 Peter 1:3-4, His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. ​​ Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

            • “Based on his readers’ divine parentage, John is confident that God’s true children, like those of the devil, ultimately cannot conceal their identity. ​​ The nature of their inner identity will be ‘evident’ (φανερά, phanera) from their actions.” [Yarbrough, 196]

            • Our actions show whether our faith is real or counterfeit.

          • In this final verse, John addresses the two families that humanity can be a part of

        • Who’s your Father?

          • Children of the devil

            • John states it in the negative as it pertains to children of the devil

            • Two characteristics

              • Anyone who does not practice righteousness (make a habit of doing what is right)

              • Anyone who does not love his brother

          • Children of God

            • The positive is also true as it pertains to children of God

            • Two characteristics

              • Anyone who practices righteousness

              • Anyone who loves his brother

            • People will know that we are children of God when we love God and others

            • “Augustine summarizes John’s counsel this way: ‘Love, and sin is undone’ (Bray 2000: 200).” ​​ [Yarbrough, 197]


  • YOU

    • Questions to contemplate [Wiersbe, 509]

        • “Do I have the divine nature within me or am I merely pretending to be a Christian?”

        • “Do I cultivate this divine nature by daily Bible reading and prayer?”

        • “Has any unconfessed sin defiled my inner man? ​​ Am I willing to confess and forsake it?”

        • “Do I allow my old nature to control my thoughts and desires, or does the divine nature rule me?”

        • “When temptation comes, do I ‘play with it’ or do I flee from it? ​​ Do I immediately yield to the divine nature within me?”

    • Our actions show whether our faith is real or counterfeit.


  • WE

    • As a body of believers here at Idaville Church, we should be characterized as people who practice righteousness

    • Our community, neighbors, coworkers, and family members should be able to tell that we are children of God



“You sum up the whole of New Testament teaching in a single phrase, if you speak of it as a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator. In the same way, you sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one's holy Father.

If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God's child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.”


J. I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 182; submitted by Aaron Goerner, Utica, New York.






Don’t Be Afraid!

(Luke 1:5-38; Matthew 1:18-25)



What was your greatest fear about going to the doctor as a child? ​​ Most children are afraid of getting a shot. ​​ As a parent, we try to call them down and let them know they don’t need to be afraid. ​​ It only takes a couple of seconds and it will be over.


As adults, we can be fearful of the unknown. ​​ Anything new can cause us to be fearful. ​​ Starting a new job, moving to a new city or state, going to college for the first time and being out on your own, going to a new school. ​​ All of those can cause us to be fearful.


We’re going to talk about three Biblical characters today that had reasons to be fearful. ​​ They were confronted with things that were new for them that included a visit from an angel.


After 400 years of silence, I can only imagine that the angels were eager to share the good news that Jesus was coming into the world. ​​ They were very busy for a period of time, as we will see today.


The angels had a common theme – Do Not Be Afraid!


BIG IDEA – God is in control, so don’t be afraid!


Let’s pray



  • Zecharias’ Angel Encounter (Luke 1:5-25)

    • This was during the time of Herod’s reign

    • Their background

        • Zecharias (Jehovah has remembered) was from a priestly family – Abijah

        • Elizabeth (God is my oath) was also from a priestly family – descendant of Aaron

        • They were both upright in the sight of God – observing all the commandments and regulations blamelessly

        • In the midst of ungodly surroundings, they were in the world but not of the world

    • The priesthood at this time

        • There were nearly 20,000 young men that were eligible to serve in the temple at this time

        • They were broken up into 24 courses/divisions

        • That meant that each priest served two weeks each year

        • The rest of the year, they took care of their own farms

        • They used the lot system, “according to the custom of the priesthood,” to determine who would serve in what capacity

          • First Lot – cleanse the altar and prepare its fire

          • Second Lot – kill the morning sacrifice and sprinkle the altar, golden candlestick and the altar of incense

          • Third Lot – burning the incense (once in a lifetime opportunity)

        • Proverbs 16:33, The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord

          • This is a practical example of that verse

          • God needed Zecharias to be in the Holy Place on this particular day

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is sovereign! ​​ (God is in control)

            • Do you believe that today?

            • Are you struggling to believe that God is in control?

            • What situation are you going through that’s making you feel like God isn’t in control?

            • There is nothing too hard for Him

            • He can handle whatever fear and anxious thought you are experiencing

          • God is in control, so don’t be afraid!

        • Zecharias was going to need that reminder

    • The Angel of the Lord (Gabriel) appears

        • Zecharias had been chosen, by God, through the lot, to burn the incense

        • As he is standing in front of the altar of incense, Gabriel appears

        • Zecharias’ is startled and gripped with fear

          • startled/troubled – Greek word is tä-rä’s-sō which means “to strike one’s spirit with fear or dread

          • fear – Greek word is fo’-bos which means “fear, dread, terror

          • Can you imagine burning the incense, which was a once in a lifetime experience, and being confronted with an angel from the Lord? ​​ What was going through his mind

            • Was he thinking – “Does this happen to everyone?”

            • Was he thinking – “I’m a dead man. ​​ Did I do something wrong with the burning of the incense.” (it could have meant divine judgment)

        • The angel dispels his fears

          • “Do not be afraid”

          • Your prayer/petition has been heard – Greek word is
            de’-ā-sēs, which means contextually, of prayers imploring God’s aid in some particular matter

            • This matter could have been his prayer for a son

            • It could also have been the prayer of every priest that burned the incense, that God would send the Messiah

          • Because of the next statement, the angel is probably referring to his prayer for a son

            • God answers prayer three ways: ​​ Yes, No and Wait.

            • Zecharias and Elizabeth had been waiting a long time and perhaps had stopped praying for a child

          • They are to name him Johanam/John (The Lord is Gracious)

            • He will be a joy and delight

            • There would be great rejoicing

            • He will be great in the sight of the Lord

            • He is to be a Nazarite – no wine or fermented drink

            • He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth

            • He will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah

            • He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children

              • Malachi 4:5-6, “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. ​​ He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

              • “This quotation from Malachi 4:5-6 is meaningful for more than its reference to Elijah. ​​ These were essentially the last words in the Old Testament, and now God’s revelation is resuming where it had left off.” ​​ [Guzik]

    • Zacharias’ Doubt

        • He asked the angel a question

          • How can I be sure of this?/How will I know this (for certain?)

          • I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.

          • Zacharias is looking at the natural instead of the supernatural

          • He looked at the circumstances first, and what God can do last

          • “It is simply that he feels it must be too good to be true, and he has probably protected himself from disappointment by not setting his expectations too high. ​​ We rob ourselves of many a miracle by the same attitude.” ​​ [Guzik]

          • “This, of course, was unbelief, and unbelief is something God does not accept. ​​ Zacharias was really questioning God’s ability to fulfill His own Word! ​​ Had he forgotten what God did for Abraham and Sarah? ​​ Did he think that his physical limitations would hinder Almighty God?” ​​ [Wiersbe]

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is all-powerful! (omnipotent)

            • Jeremiah 32:17, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. ​​ Nothing is too hard for you.”

            • Are you questioning God’s ability to do the supernatural in your life?

            • Are you questioning God’s ability to handle the struggle that you’re currently experiencing?

              • Are the physical issues you’re having too hard for the Lord?

              • Is the rift in a relationship with someone in your family, at work, in your community, or at church too hard for the Lord?

              • Are the financial struggles you’re experiencing beyond God’s ability to deal with?

              • Is the emotional rollercoaster you’re on too difficult for God to help with?

              • Is the political divide and racial tensions we’re experiencing in our country, right now, out of God’s reach?

              • Are you experiencing fear about any of those situations?

              • Take heart!

              • God is in control, so don’t be afraid!

          • Zecharias was doubting God’s ability to fulfill His Word and we are guilty of the same thing

        • How is your faith in an all-powerful, sovereign God?

        • Zecharias’ faith was going to be strengthened, because the angel was going to give him a sign that would prove God’s power and sovereignty

    • The Angel’s sign

        • First the angel identifies himself as Gabriel

        • He explains that he stands in the presence of God

        • Zacharias will not be able to speak until John is born

        • The people are concerned about Zecharias

          • Zecharias had stayed in the temple longer than most priests who burned the incense

          • They realized that something supernatural had taken place while he was in there, because he couldn’t speak when he came out

          • He tried to communicate what had happened by making signs

            • He was using body language to communicate with them

            • Did you realize that 55% of our communication is nonverbal?

            • Tone is 38%

            • Content is 7%

            • Zecharias should have been able to communicate what had happened with just hand motions and facial expressions

        • When Zecharias had completed his temple service, he returned to his home

    • Zacharias returns home to the hill country

        • After his service was done, we went back to see Elizabeth

        • Elizabeth becomes pregnant

        • Zacharias’ unbelief did not stop the work of God.

        • “Your unbelief will not stop the work of God. ​​ It will not hinder the purposes of God.” ​​ [Chuck Smith]


  • Mary’s Message From God (Luke 1:26-38)

    • Gabriel is busy again

        • Six months after appearing to Zacharias, he is back to earth to speak with Mary

        • He greets her by saying that she is highly favored and that the Lord is with her.

    • Mary was troubled/perplexed by this greeting

        • Greek word is dē-ä-tä-rä’s-sō which means “to agitate greatly, trouble greatly.

        • Why would Mary have been troubled greatly?

          • She was from a poor family and not considered great in the eyes of society

          • She was a simple young girl (15-16 years)

          • Why would she be highly favored

          • This really expresses her humility as a young lady

    • Gabriel sets her mind at ease and then gives her the Good News

        • “Do not be afraid”

        • You have found favor with God

        • Gabriel tells her everything

          • You’re going to be pregnant and give birth to a son

          • Name Him Jesus (Greek) – Jehoshua/Joshua (Hebrew)

          • He will be great and called the Son of the Most High

          • The Lord will give Him the throne of David

          • He will reign over the house of Jacob forever

          • His kingdom will never end

    • Mary’s reaction

        • How would you react if you heard all of that in three quick sentences

        • When a woman is pregnant, they usually tell you that and then pause for your reaction

        • Gabriel didn’t pause

        • I wonder if Mary heard anything after, “You will be with child and give birth to a son . . .

        • Her response leads me to believe that she didn’t

          • How will this be, since I am a virgin?

          • This statement is different from Zacharias in the fact that Mary believed what Gabriel said, but needed some clarification of how it would come about

          • “Her question in Luke 1:34 was not an evidence of unbelief; rather, it was an expression of faith. ​​ She believed the promise, but she did not understand the performance. ​​ How could a virgin give birth to a child?” ​​ [Wiersbe]

    • Gabriel’s clarification

        • The Holy Spirit will come upon you

          • Greek word for “come” is ep-e’r-kho-mī which means “to come upon, overtake one, of the Holy Spirit, descending and operating in one

        • Power of the Most High will overshadow you

          • “The word overshadow means ‘to cover with a cloud,’ like the cloud of Shekinah glory.” [Guzik]

          • “It is the word applied to the presence of God in the holy of holies in the Jewish tabernacle and temple (Ex. 40:35). ​​ Mary’s womb became a holy of holies for the Son of God!” ​​ [Wiersbe]

        • He relays the news that Elizabeth is six months pregnant even though she had been barren

        • He declares the power of Almighty God – “nothing is impossible with God.”

    • Mary’s submission

        • The dream, the hope, the desire of every Jewish girl was coming true for Mary – to be the instrument through which God would send the Messiah.

        • “Many young Jewish girls, when they had a boy born to them, would call his name Joshua. ​​ Hoping that maybe God would use that child to be the instrument of His salvation. ​​ And that was a reason, one of the reasons why being barren was considered such a curse.” ​​ [Chuck Smith]

        • I am the Lord’s servant. ​​ May it be to me as you have said

          • What faith

          • What strength

          • She was willing to be scrutinized by her culture to fulfill the purposes of God

          • “All this took more trust in the Lord than we might think. ​​ Mary agrees to receive a pregnancy that will be seen as suspicious, and this in a culture that had a death penalty for adultery. ​​ Mary identified herself with sinners so that the purpose of God would be fulfilled.” ​​ [Guzik]

          • “A ‘handmaid’ was the lowest kind of female servant, which shows how much Mary trusted God. ​​ She belonged totally to the Lord, body (Luke 1:38), soul (Luke 1:46), and spirit (Luke 1:47).” ​​ [Wiersbe]

          • Mary didn’t need to be afraid of how this supernatural pregnancy was going to happen and how her family, friends, and neighbors would react, because God was in control

        • Application

          • God may call you to do something for Him that seems counter cultural

          • It may be supernatural

          • It will probably cause you to be scrutinized and criticized by your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors

          • But you don’t have to live in fear about following the Lord

          • God is in control, so don’t be afraid!

    • We’ve seen two supernatural appearances by Gabriel, but there was one more important visit that needed to take place


  • Joseph’s Dream (Matthew 1:18-25)

    • Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant

        • “Probably, it was after her return from her cousin Elizabeth, with whom she continued three months (Luke 1:56), that she was perceived by Joseph to be with child, and did not herself deny it.” ​​ [Matthew Henry]

        • Imagine for a moment how Joseph must have felt when he found out that Mary was pregnant

        • He knew what his cultural responsibility was, but he loved Mary

    • Joseph was a righteous man

        • He was very concerned about keeping the commands of God

        • He is also merciful

        • “He is a moral man who stands for rightness, but he is also merciful, which is a rare combination. ​​ Most people are either moral or merciful.” ​​ [Courson]

          • Would you agree with statement?

          • Are you more moral or merciful?

          • I would have to say that I fall more towards the moral side, but realize that I need to be more merciful

        • This rare combination would serve Joseph well

          • He was planning to divorce her quietly, so she wouldn’t be criticized and scrutinized by the community

          • Also, he was basically saving her life, since the punishment for adultery was death

        • While Joseph is trying to decide what to do, the Lord steps in

    • He is considering divorcing her when an angel appears to him in a dream

        • How many of us have experienced a dream that gives us insight into a problem we’re trying to solve?

          • Did you realize that your brain is a powerful tool?

          • It continues to work even while you sleep

        • Joseph son of David – this was serious, pay attention

          • The angel uses his full name

          • Most of us have probably experienced this with our mothers

          • When they use our full name, we know we have to listen and pay attention

        • Do not be afraid, take Mary as your wife

          • It would be very difficult for Mary to explain to Joseph the supernatural overshadowing of the Most High

          • It would not make sense in the natural world

          • Guys, we have to honest with ourselves. ​​ We strive to understand things on our own and work things out on our own before we consult God. ​​ Women are much more open to the things of God

          • We should work to be the spiritual head of our household, instead of letting our wives take the lead

        • Joseph was going to need some instruction about naming this baby

    • Naming the baby Jesus was to be a fulfillment of prophecy

        • God communicated that to Mary directly through Gabriel

        • Now he has also communicated it to Joseph in a dream

        • Naming your son after you was very important, culturally

        • They would be breaking tradition

        • Zecharias was going to be breaking tradition when he named his baby boy, John (no one in his family had that name)

    • Joseph obeys immediately

        • I’m just as impressed by Joseph’s obedience as I was with the shepherd’s obedience

        • Lord, help us to obey immediately!



When you are faced with supernatural situations or difficult cultural circumstances, you need to remember several things:


  • Do not be afraid, God is in control

    • He knows what is best for you and He has not been caught off guard by your situation or circumstances

    • Psalm 56:3-4, When I am afraid, I will trust in you. ​​ In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. ​​ What can mortal man do to me?

    • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Put my trust in God concerning the situation I am currently fearful about.

  • You may not understand God’s plan, but you can trust Him by faith, because He is sovereign and all-powerful

  • Just Obey

    • Zachariah’s obedience in naming his son, John, brought healing to him – he was able to talk again (Luke 1:62-64)

    • Mary and Joseph’s obedience brought about the Messiah, the Savior of the world (becoming pregnant by the Holy Spirit, taking Mary as his wife, fleeing Bethlehem at the prompting of the angel, returning to Nazareth)

    • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Obey what the Lord is telling me to do, because He knows best.


Mary and Joseph probably had a lot to be fearful about


“The Holmes Rahe scale assigns points to various life stressors. These points are called LCUs or a life change units. Dr. Holmes and Dr. Rahe concluded that an individual experiences a total of 300 LCUs is at high risk for illness. Among other things, the list includes such events as:


Marital separation 65

Marriage 50

Marital reconciliation 45

Pregnancy 40

Adding a new family member 39

Change in financial state 38

Trouble with in-laws 29

Change in living conditions 25

Change in working conditions 20

Change in residence 20

Change in church activities 19

Change in social activities 18

Change in sleep habits 16

Minor violation of the law 11


Joseph and Mary could conceivably have experienced all of the events listed above for a total LCU count of 435. This total excludes divorce (73 points), as it was threatened but not carried out. Neither jail terms (40 points) or minor violations of the law (11 points) are included in the previously mentioned total, but Mary's pregnancy out of wedlock was a violation of Jewish law which, some contend, could have resulted in stoning. Christmas (12) is also excluded.”


David Slagle, Atlanta, Georgia




Instead of being fearful, Mary and Joseph were hopeful, because they knew that God was in control.



Men Of Action

(Luke 2:8-21)



Do you remember the excitement of the birth of your first child? ​​ It was a joyful occasion and you wanted to tell the whole world. ​​ Instead, you made a few phone calls to family members and close friends and the grape vine took over from there.


After returning from the hospital you probably wrote out special announcements and sent them in the mail to a larger number of people, with all of the statistics about your new baby. ​​ Maybe you handed out pink or blue bubblegum cigars to everyone that you came in contact with.


Today it can be almost instantaneous if you have Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook on your cell phone or tablet. ​​ The minute the baby is born, you can broadcast it to the world within seconds.



  • ME

    • Social media

        • We didn’t have Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook for any of our boy’s births

        • We had to use a regular camera or digital camera

          • Do you remember the days when extended family, who lived far away, had to wait until you developed the film in your camera and then mailed a picture of your new baby?

          • Those days are long gone

          • How many of you still use a camera that takes film?

        • We did have a video camera for all three births

        • We had email capabilities for Seth and Levi’s births, but not Wade’s, if I remember correctly

    • Cell phone

        • We didn’t have a cell phone for Wade’s birth and if we had one for Seth’s birth, there was a cost per minute to use it

        • We may not have had a cell phone for Levi’s birth, but if we did, it wasn’t like cell phones today – it would have been a flip phone with calling and texting capabilities (no internet or camera capabilities)

    • Waiting by the phone

        • Our parents and siblings had to wait by the phone to hear about the birth of our children

        • I had to go home and use the land line phone in order to communicate with family and friends

        • Things have certainly changed

        • It wasn’t instantaneous


  • WE

    • How many of us remember those days gone by?

    • How many of us don’t have any idea what I’m talking about?


Well, God used an instantaneous delivery system when His Son was born. ​​ He didn’t Tweet, create a post on Facebook or Instagram, Snap Chat, or make a TikTok or YouTube video, since the electronic age had not yet arrived, instead He Angeled and used Shepherdbook.


The angels told the shepherds and the shepherds spread the news from there. ​​ They jumped into action to go see the baby and then tell everyone they saw about the news!


BIG IDEA – Jesus’ birth should cause us to be people of action.


Let’s Pray

  • GOD

    • The Birth Announcement

        • Mary has just delivered Jesus by herself and is wrapping Him in swaddling clothes and laying Him in a manger.

        • At the same time, there are shepherds living out in the fields around Bethlehem taking care of the flocks at night.

          • These were the third shift shepherds, who spent the night around a camp fire watching the sheep

          • It was probably a pretty uneventful job to have, although they would have seen things that others would not have

            • They probably saw shooting stars

            • They knew the various constellations

            • Perhaps they saw certain planets in the night sky

            • Maybe they saw the aurora borealis

          • These shepherds, by most commentators’ writings, were known to care for the temple flocks – these were the perfect sheep, without blemish used for sacrifices.

          • This would seem like an unlikely group of people to send your instantaneous message too, but God had a perfect plan.

            • These shepherds would have been ceremonially unclean, because of their work

            • They would have been away from the temple for weeks at a time so they couldn’t be made clean

            • The shepherds were hearing about Jesus, whom scripture identified two ways:

              • Lamb of God (John 1:29)

              • Good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14-15)

          • God revealed His grace to mankind when He sent the angels to visit the shepherd’s first

            • They were the unclean ones, the outcasts

            • Wiersbe states, “God does not call the rich and mighty; He calls the poor and the lowly.”

              • Luke 1:51-53, He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. ​​ He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. ​​ He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

              • 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, Brothers think about what you were when you were called. ​​ Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. ​​ But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. ​​ He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

          • While these lowly shepherds are hanging out in the field, checking out the night sky, they see something they’ve never seen before

        • An angel appears

          • In the middle of the night outside Bethlehem, a bright light pierces the darkness and an angel appears.

          • Shepherds were not usually fearful of much – think about David taking on the bear and the lion.

          • They were terrified/sore afraid – Greek is fo-be’-ō, meaning “to be struck with fear, to be seized with alarm, of those startled by strange sights or occurrences.”

          • The angel reassures them, “Do not be afraid.”

          • The angel’s announcement

            • I bring you good news – Greek for good news is
              yü-än-ge-lē’-zō, “in the NT used especially of the glad tidings of the coming kingdom of God, and of the salvation to be obtained in it through Christ, and of what relates to this salvation.”

            • It literally means that they preached the Gospel to the shepherds

            • Of great joy! – this was the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world, the Anointed One. ​​ This was definitely something to be excited about. ​​ Jesus was going to bring great joy, because He came into the world to provide a way to bridge the gap that sin had created between God and man

            • For all people – this meant everyone. ​​ No one will be excluded. ​​ It was for the Jews, Gentiles, rich, poor. ​​ It includes us today. ​​ This Good News is for you!

            • A Savior was born today in the town of David, Bethlehem

              • They identify Him as Christ the Lord

              • Messiah

              • the Anointed One

            • They gave the shepherds specific instructions, so they would know that they are in the right place.

              • A baby wrapped in cloths – this was not unusual and could have identified any newborn baby in Bethlehem

              • Interesting note – the strips of cloth used to swaddle a baby were very similar to those used in the embalming process. ​​ John Courson states, “This was fitting because Jesus came to die. ​​ Although death interrupted the ministry and teaching of Socrates, Plato, Buddha, and every other philosopher and thinker throughout history, it did not interrupt the ministry of Jesus Christ. ​​ Rather, death fulfilled Jesus’ ministry because Jesus alone came to die.”

              • Lying in a manger – this would have been very unusual, a baby lying in a feeding trough?

              • These two combined would identify the Christ Child for the shepherds.

              • They already knew that the baby was born that day (Today!)

          • The shepherds receive an amazing free concert from heaven

            • A great company of the heavenly hosts join the angel

            • They glorify God

            • They speak about peace on earth to men on whom His favor rests

              • This was a welcome message to the shepherds and to the Israelites.

              • This was the first time in centuries that the glory of God returned to earth.

              • The Roman world had been under much war, so peace sounded great!

              • They were currently living under the “Pax Romana” (Roman Peace), but they were not experiencing the peace that they had hoped and prayed for.

              • We see that the absence of war did not bring peace to the Jewish world. ​​ They were experiencing some of the same things we are experiencing today – high taxes, high unemployment rates, poverty, immorality, division, disorder, etc.

              • The Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “While the emperor may give peace from war on land and sea, he is unable to give peace from passion, grief, and envy. ​​ He cannot give peace of heart for which man yearns more than even for outward peace.”

              • Wiersbe shares, “The Jewish word shalom (peace) means much more than a truce in the battles of life. ​​ It means well-being, health, prosperity, security, soundness, and completeness. ​​ It has to do more with character than circumstances.”

    • The Shepherd’s Obedience

        • GO

          • We see from verse 12 that there is an expectation that the shepherds will go to see baby Jesus – “This will be a sign to you

            • The shepherds were expected to do something with what they just heard from the angels.

            • They were to be doers of the word and not hearers only

            • This is an example for us today – when God speaks to us through His Word, we need to be men and women of action.

          • The shepherds have a quick meeting

            • They decide to go to Bethlehem

            • They recognized who the message was from, the Lord

            • They left the flocks immediately and went to Bethlehem to find what was told to them

            • Jesus’ birth should cause us to be people of action.

            • We need to obey God immediately

              • Has God spoken to you?

              • What has He told you to do?

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Obediently do what God has told me to do.

          • The shepherds obediently left the fields outside of Bethlehem and went into the city to begin their search

        • SEARCH

          • They hurry off to Bethlehem and find Mary and Joseph and the baby

            • The verb found in the Greek is ä-nyü-rē’-skō, which means “to find out by search” or “found after a search

              • NASB renders it this way – “So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

              • They knew they had to look in a stable since the baby was in a manger

              • They probably started going from stable to stable looking for a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger

            • Luke reminds us again about the specific sign that would identify baby Jesus – “who was lying in a manger.”

            • That is exactly where the shepherds find Him

            • They followed the signs given to them