This message was presented as part of the 2013 Advent Series on Joy.
I want you to consider the moment the Lord said, “Let there be light.” While God was forming the world in which we live, angels were rejoicing. God spoke to Job,
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, 7 When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-7 NKJ)
The angels watched the Lord speak a word and the universe organized according to the Master Designer. They could see God take the earth and restore it to order and then fill it with the most beautiful creation you can imagine. You should have heard the angels say, “Ahhhhh, Ohhhh, Wowwwww.”
When God made Adam and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives (plural), Adam woke up and all he saw was perfect beauty, harmony, and order in creation. Adam had no idea of the corruption that would come. He only knew perfect environment. God already knew it wouldn’t last very long, because He had known the Lamb of God would be slain from the foundation of the world. And so the first thing God did when man failed was give him a promise, which we have the joy of the promise. How did the joy of the promise happen? We need to first understand:
1) God provides everything perfect 2:15-24
15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. (Gen. 2:15 NKJ)
There were no other work issues, no comparisons, and no 300 people applying for the same job. There was no back stabbing from co-workers. There were no slouchers. It was fantastic! Adam worked, he ate, he walked with the animals and everyone had a great time.
16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:16-17 NKJ)
God said, “Enjoy them all, but one tree.” Let me ask you a question. In Brown County, how many trees are in the woods? A rough count is: there are thousands! All they had to do was stay away from one tree! And the word “die”? Somehow Adam was created knowing what death was. It was separation from the good garden, but more important, it was separation from the presence of the Lord.
18 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Gen. 2:18 NKJ)
God made Adam a promise of a helper. I imagine Adam was thinking, “Hhhhmmmmm. What will the helper be like?”
19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. (Gen. 2:19-20 NKJ)
Adam had a long day naming all the animals, but no helper was found. There was no comparable creature. “Adam, fix it in your mind, you are not like the animals.” So God gave him a few hours off and prepared him for surgery.
21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. (Gen. 2:21 NKJ)
Down Adam lay and God removed a rib. Not from the head because she was not to control him, and not from the foot so he could trample on her. God did not take a leg that she would do all the work, but He took a rib that she would be protected by his arm and close to his heart.
22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
Adam responded, “Ahhhhh, Ohhhhh, Wowwwwwww!”
23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Gen. 2:22-24 NKJ)
It was just the two of them frolicking around; no one else to bother them. No shades to pull. There were no in-laws or out-laws. It was Great!
I looked into her beautiful blue eyes. They sparkled in the lights. Her blond hair flowed over the contours of her face and captivated me. There we sat next to the fire place warmed by the flames of dancing flags atop the oak logs inside from the two feet of packed snow outside. I was unaware of others at her house that night. It was just her…and me. I felt her toes through her socks as we sat cross-legged looking into each other’s eyes. There was a totally different picture from six months before.
We met that summer at San Bernardino, CA. We were both on summer volunteer ministry projects. She was up at the organization headquarters in the mountains cleaning bathrooms and making beds, I was down sun tanning and body surfing at Newport Beach (We did do some witnessing on the beach!). I met her for the first time while she was eating. After Barbara’s long morning of housekeeping chores, I arrived unannounced. She was not having a good day. It was one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. After our conversation, I knew I did not need to follow up on her again. Good thing I was down at the beach and she was up in the mountains. Well, I saw her again that fall on the West Bank Campus of the University of Minnesota (the Mississippi River runs through it) and found out she had gone apostate. She left the Christian organization! Said she was busy with school and church… Hhmmmph. But two months later and several meetings, I was over at her house Christmas caroling through two feet of snow and zero degree temperatures. There we were sitting by her fireplace in her parents living room and I didn’t care that there were twenty other college kids in the house and her parents. God sure has a way of bringing people together. I’d say I was in love with that girl. God provides everything perfect!
2) Man often chooses outside of God’s perfect will 3:1-6
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, `You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1 NKJ)
“Did God really say that?” He questioned His word and questioned His character of goodness. Satan couldn’t be the top dog, so he attacked God’s character by attacking man. He was the deceiver, the masquerader and Eve was a willing target.
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 “but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, `You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:2-5 NKJ)
Who was talking? The serpent and Eve. Who was there? The serpent and Eve. Anyone else? Where was Adam? Look at Genesis 3:6.
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. (Gen. 3:6 NKJ)
Adam was standing there the whole time. He was not protecting the woman. Neither was satisfied with God’s presence and His Word. They acted independent of God’s Word and His goodness and believed the lie. That is what sin is. Sin is opening your mind to something outside of Truth, doubting the Truth and believing the lie. It is seeking something outside of God’s perfect will. Satan is the father of lies. There were real consequences to man’s choice.
7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. 8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Gen. 3:7-8 NKJ)
Immediately, self-righteousness, guilt, fear were seen. Immediately, when Adam ate of the fruit, their eyes were opened. They tried to cover things up in self-righteousness. They felt the guilt of disobedience. They were immediately afraid.
There I was looking into her eyes. Those beautiful blue eyes seemed different. I couldn’t understand why she did not obey my barks and orders like the soldiers at Fort Benning obeyed me. Have I been deceived? Less than a year into this marriage and I don’t know this woman I married! I give on the spot corrections to soldiers and they shape up, but this woman, “Lord, the one You gave me, she has a mind of her own! I tell soldiers to jump and they at least give me a little hop, but this woman says she needs a cup of coffee and time to wake up! Did I make a choice outside of Your perfect will?”
What was Adam’s attitude toward the woman?
9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” 12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” (Gen. 3:9-12 NKJ)
God knew where Adam was. He is all-knowing – omniscient. God wanted Adam to confess he wasn’t where he was supposed to be – in Bible class. God also asked the question about the tree. God knew that answer also, but He wanted Adam to confess he had disobeyed Him. Adam basically said, “Lord, I wouldn’t have eaten the fruit, but that woman You gave me? She gave me the fruit from the tree and I ate. I couldn’t help myself.”
13 And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Gen. 3:13 NKJ)
God knows our need. Can you imagine? God knew the answers, but He wanted them to realize they had sinned. So instead of confessing, they revealed their self-righteousness and they blamed others for their own decisions. God could have just accused them of sin, but He instead wanted them to confess their sin, see their own depravity of blaming others and experience their helplessness of ability to please God.
How did God provide the joy of the promise? He provides everything perfect. Yet man often chooses outside of God’s perfect will. But in the chaos, God provides the joy of a promise.
3) In chaos, God provides the joy of the promise 3:15
First, God cursed the serpent,
14 So the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. (Gen. 3:14 NKJ)
Then God promised great joy,
15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Gen. 3:15 NKJ)
God put hostility between the woman and the serpent, between the human race and the demonic realm. It was between Satan’s seed and her Seed (the promised Christ!). We see the hostility between Cain, who was of the wicked one (1 John 3:12) and Abel who offered the righteous sacrifice. Satan would bruise His heel (which was Christ on the cross) and Satan would afflict God’s people, but He (Jesus) whom Satan wounded will crush Satan’s head. This is promised here and experienced in God’s timing in Revelation 20:10. There was a promise of joy that chaos would be removed and order restored.
God did not promise me a marriage of joy, but He did promise me joy in my marriage. I had misunderstood the order and the source of joy in the promise of marriage and joy. I thought marriage would bring me great joy. I’ve learned that joy brings me a great marriage. It took me a while to see the promise of joy that brings a great marriage. I now see that joy in Jesus is what makes a great marriage. The sparkle in my beloved’s eyes is the light of God’s love shining through me to love my bride. Joy is not dependent on my wife nor my circumstances, but on Jesus, who was willing to be wounded for me that He might live through me to bless whatever I might touch.
The night we were caroling, a dear mother asked Barbara and I into her home, while the rest went on caroling. We went inside to minister to a mother’s son who was bed-ridden all his life. He was 47. It was a sign, while we did not know it then, that we would minister together in life. YOU are a great pastor’s wife!
Do you have the promise of joy in life? When you look for joy in life and people, you’ll get disappointed too many times. When Jesus is your joy, you take joy to people and to life.
Men and Women:
In any situation, Jesus gives the joy of the promise in hope of deliverance.
This hope is confident expectation of how He will deliver. Rom. 15:13
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13 NKJ)
This joy is inexpressible. 1 Pet. 1:3-9
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen1 you love2. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith– the salvation of your souls. (1 Pet. 1:3-9 NKJ)
This promise is fixed, firm and from the Father of lights. Jam. 1:17
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (Jam. 1:17 NKJ)
Message Based Discussion Questions
1) What activities bring you the most joy in life?
2) When God creates, how does He describe it (Gen. 1:31)? ________________________ What are the things that can and cannot damage what God creates?
3) When man doubts God, what is that called (Rom. 14:23)? _____________ What leads up to doubting and what are some of the results of doubting based on the following passages? (Matt. 14:31; 21:21; 28:17; Luke 24:38; 1 Tim. 2:8; Jam. 1:6)
4) Was Jesus, in His humanity, always filled with the Holy Spirit (see Luke 4:1, 14, 18)? _________ Is the believer in Jesus always filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18)? Why or why not? Does it affect God’s promise of joy (Rom. 15:13)?
Making application to life:
5) Upon what do you have confident expectation for joy in life? Does your daily life affect that?
6) What kinds of things or circumstances cause people to doubt or question God’s joy of promise and then end up being discouraged? How would you disciple that person?
7) What areas of life would be affected if a disciple believed the joy of God’s promise? How would you share your journey up to that point and how would you describe what the disciple can/should do in order to seize it for himself?