The Grace of the Cross from the Valley of Vision
O My Savior,
I thank thee from the depths of my being for thy wondrous grace and love in bearing my sin in thine own body on the tree. May thy cross be to me as the tree that sweetens my bitter Marahs, as the rod that blossoms with life and beauty, as the brazen serpent that calls forth the look of faith.
As we approach thee, dearest Savior, help us to do so with eyes of faith and hearts warmed to the thought of thy precious blood poured out for us. Amen
Starting today, the devotional will be focusing on the sacrifice of Jesus. We’re going to begin in the beginning, Genesis 3 today. Then we’ll look briefly at each of Israel’s major sacrifices. The devotional schedule for our next week will be:
Today: God’s First Sacrifice, Gen. 3
Friday: The Perpetual Sacrifice, Lev. 1
Saturday: The Providential Sacrifice, Lev. 2
“Palm” Sunday: Video Sermon, “The Realities of God’s Kingdom vs. what the World Thinks a Kingdom Looks Like” Matthew 21:1-11
Monday: Eating with God, Lev. 3
Tuesday: Being Cleaned with Blood, Lev. 4
Wednesday: Repaying the Debt—Love Your Neighbor, Lev. 5:14-6:7
“Maundy” Thursday: Video, “The Reason for Sacrifice: God’s Love vs. the World’s Hate” Matthew 26:17-29
“Good” Friday: Video, “The Dereliction of Sacrifice: The Death of the Light and Life of Men” Matthew 27:1-51
“Holy” Saturday: The Grave of Jesus, Matthew 27:57-61; Isaiah 52:14-53
“Easter” Sunday: Video Sermon, “Resurrection Life vs. Eternal Death” Matthew 27:62-28:10
Genesis 3:6-7, God’s First Sacrifice
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
I imagine most of us know this story, Eve was tempted in the garden by Satan disguised as a talking serpent. Instead of listening to the voice of her Father—at this point God, is both heavenly and earthly father—she listens to the snake! We’re all guilty of it, so we can’t be too hard on Eve, but still we probably all routinely think about how much better life would be if Eve hadn’t succumbed that day.
God had told Adam, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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.” (2:16-17) So, at the point of sin, when Eve took that first bite and when Adam took his bite, justice demanded death. They would suffer death, but not physical death until later.
Immediately, though, they experienced spiritual death. No longer could they exist in each other’s presence without guilt and shame. They covered their nakedness (which wasn’t sinful) with fig leaves, because they were ashamed of God’s creation. They also likely knew their thoughts were no longer pure toward each other.
So, they also experienced relational death. Their relationship with each other would never be the same! Part of the curse would include Man’s proclivity to domineer his wife and Woman’s proclivity to usurp her husband’s authority (3:16).
Their minds were darkened with sin’s presence, they no longer thought or imagined things in the way God does. They had bought Satan’s lie, “He knows that in the day you eat of it, you will be like him.” God made Adam and Eve in his image: they already were like him! Believing Satan’s lie is part and parcel with forgetting God’s grace. Sinning is forgetting God and also not being content with God at the same time—they wanted God’s authority and ability, not just his image. In seeking to save or increase their lives, they lost them!
They died spiritually in losing the presence of God, for their own protection God evicted them from the Garden of Eden. “22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” (3:22-24) The rest of the Bible is devoted to God restoring that relationship—to God being with us in every sense of the word, Immanuel.
In Genesis 3 we see man’s answer to sin: the fig leaf loin cloth, shame, hiding from God, and blaming everyone else. But we also see God’s answer: better clothing, removal of shame, God’s presence, and sacrifice for guilt. “And the LORD God (Yahweh Elohim) made for Adam and his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”
This points forward to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus which covers us with His righteousness. It shows how God deals with the shame of sin in his sinners—not to grind us into the dirt, but to restore us and see us be fruitful. God is present with Adam and Eve even after the Garden incident, He speaks with Cain in chapter 4 and Seth’s descendants begin call on Him (4:26). God makes the sacrifice for the guilt of sin, not the sinners, He does it out of his mercy and forbearance to justify the ungodly (Rom. 3:25-26). The sacrifices of the Old Testament are memorials of God’s mercy in the garden, thanksgiving for God’s continued presence, and a prayer for the perfect sacrifice to come in Jesus!
He is our propitiation, our substitute, our Lord, and by His resurrection He is our Life. May the great shepherd of the sheep bless you today according to the great mercy He has shown us in life, death, resurrection, and ascension.