LENT 1, A – March 9, 2014

SCRIPTURES – Genesis 3:1-21; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

 

"It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.' "

 

When I was a kid, I loved to play with dominoes; not play dominoes, the actual game, but play with dominoes – you know, set them up in a long line, with curves and turns, and then push the first one and… Click! Click! Click! Click!... watch them all fall over. It was fun to watch them and hear them fall!

 

Satan is a master dominoes player. How he loves to set us up with temptations and then watch us fall as we give in to them! He did this with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the dominoes have been falling ever since.

 

Just look at how Satan tricks them. He doesn’t out and out call God a liar or untrustworthy. Instead, he subtly changes the meaning of what God had said to make Him appear so. He tempts Adam and Eve with progression, with improvement: “If you eat of the fruit of the tree, you won’t die. No, you’ll be changed; and for the better! You will be like God! (And I wonder: why doesn’t He want that?)” When they give in to the temptation and eat, they find that they are changed: but for the worse, not the better. See how the dominoes fall:

  1. The first to fall is truthful language. What God says cannot be trusted!

  2. And so, trust in God – faith – falls. They see Him as their enemy from whom they must hide.

  3. Unhappy with God, they are now unhappy with who they are. They are ashamed because they are naked, and so make coverings of leaves for themselves. Click! Click! Click! Inner peace and contentment are gone.

  4. Then, their marriage collapses. When confronted by God with his sin, Adam does not take responsibility and shield his wife but quickly blames her and turns her over to God to face death for her disobedience!

  5. What is left for them but death? “If you eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, you will surely die.”

    Click! Click! Click! Click! The twisting and denial of God’s Word… doubt and unbelief… shame… divorce and the collapse of the family… destruction and death; these are the works of the devil. Adam and Eve were in his kingdom, in hell because of their disobedience. And, sadly, the dominoes they set in motion are falling to this day. “Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” (Rom. 5:12)

     

    Thanks be to God, the mighty Son of God has come to us to halt this depressing Click! Click! Click! Click! of sin and death! He has come as the new Adam, the first of a new line of dominoes. In Him we do not fall, but are raised and made to stand.

     

    Imagine a line of dominoes lying down, one on top of another, after they have fallen… but each connected to the next. Stand the first one up and it pulls all the others up with it. This is what happens when God promises, and then sends, His Son as the new Adam. He’s promised to us in the words spoken to Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall crush your head, and you shall crush his heel." (Gen. 3:15) when He comes, He’s the new Adam who is again tempted by Satan. He obeys God’s Word, however, sending Satan away in defeat and blessing us, for “by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Rom. 5:19) On the cross He crushes Satan by bearing our sin and its punishment and removing their condemnation from us. Jesus is Satan’s destroyer! See how God makes the dominoes to stand when He promises Him to Adam and Eve:

  1. “I will put enmity” – a state of opposition and hatred – “between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring.” God removes them from the devil’s kingdom of hell and restores them to His own kingdom. It is by faith now, and not by sight, for we don’t see God as Adam and Eve did before they sinned. But, we have His promise to hang onto. It brings us life, Christ’s victorious life. It fills us with His Holy Spirit to help us fight against our sin and reveal His kingdom among us. It sets us in opposition to Satan and His kingdom!

  2. Next, God restores their marriage and secures future marriages. He speaks to Eve of “your husband” and to Adam of “your wife.” The union they had broken He restores. Of course, marriage is not easy now. “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you," God tells Eve, and we deal with both desires and power struggles in our marriages to this day. So, fill your marriage and family with God’s word of salvation in Christ, and your marriage and family will stand as a blessing to yourself and many others.

  3. God gives and renews purpose and value in life. Yes, there is now pain in childbearing, but there is still childbearing. There are now thorns and thistles, but still there is planting and harvesting. Work is not always easy or enjoyable, but it is still God’s gift and blessing by which He works through us to renew His earth.

  4. Then, God clothes Adam and Eve, showing that He still values and blesses their lives. Oh, we may fight over clothes and still be tempted to be very dissatisfied and feel badly about ourselves, but our God loves us and cares for us! He will assure you of this as His Word fill your mind and heart.

  5. Finally, God restores the right preaching of His Word by giving true faith to proclaim it. Satan’s twisting and corrupting of God’s Word will not be allowed to stand unopposed! We see this in the simple statement in Gen. 3, “The man called his wife's name Eve [which means, “life”], because she was the mother of all living.” Adam believes what God says and so proclaims that, even though he and his wife are sinful, God will still bring forth and continue life through them. With one word, Eve, he preaches God’s truth and God’s works and rejects Satan’s lie!

     

    For Adam and Eve, restoration to life with God and the victory in their now ongoing battle with Satan rested upon the word and promise of God, “I will put enmity between you, Satan, and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall crush your head, and you shall crush his heel." God has since given us many more words: His Holy Bible. Of it Jesus says: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

     

    Stand, then, the Words of God that He gives you in His Holy Scriptures! Listen to them; learn them; believe them; and follow them. You, your family, your life and your work will be joined to Christ and raised up in victory with Him, your new Adam. And, even though the devil may tempt you – and he most certainly will – what Martin Luther declared and teaches us to sing in his hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” (LSB #657, verse 3) will prove true:

     

    Though hordes of devils fill the land all threatening to devour us,

    We tremble not, unmoved we stand; they cannot overpower us.

    Let this world’s tyrant rage; in battle we’ll engage.

    His might is doomed to fail; God’s judgment must prevail!

    One little word subdues him.