Mar 5, 2017 – The Voice of God

Mar 5, 2017 – The Voice of God

Sitting in his living room one evening, a father was wondering what time it was. Knowing his small son was in the kitchen, where there was a large clock on the wall, he yelled out, “Bobby, what’s the little hand on?” After a brief pause, Bobby replied, with some remorse in his voice, “A chocolate chip cookie.” The boy thought he had been caught doing something he was not supposed to do. Bobby’s response was from guilt. Guilt saturates the human condition.

And why does guilt saturate the human condition? Because the human condition is one that has rejected God and what God has desired for us, His creation. My stars, in this day and age we feel just fine partitioning off our lives into the ‘religious’ and ‘non-religious’; that is, we’re just fine to leave God out of our daily living and only acknowledge His word for us when we need it, or it’s convenient for us or we want someone to blame when things are bad.

When the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan a few years back, that became one of those times when people who might not otherwise do so, turn to God. And yet even in the face of such an event as this we still think of ourselves as in control and able to leave God out. Here’s what I read in one news report:

Technologically–advanced Japan is well prepared for quakes and its buildings can withstand strong jolts, even a temblor like Friday’s, which was the strongest the country has experienced since official records started in the late 1800s. What was beyond human control was the killer tsunami that followed.

The assumption seems to be that humans are ‘in control’ just because we can build buildings that can tolerate an extremely strong earthquake. And yet is that assumption true? Are we ‘in control’? Heavens, we can’t even control our own tongues let alone the forces of nature as God has arranged them. And not only has God arranged the forces of nature in such a wondrous way, those same forces have been groaning under the weight of sin since we were ‘in control’ on the day we disobeyed God’s one command. The day we chose to sin.

In Romans 8:19-22 it speaks of creation being in bondage to decay and longing for liberation, it also says: We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

And what has put it under such pains and bondage? Why is creation under such a curse?  Well we read about that in the Old Testament lesson today. God says to Adam: “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you…” There it is, because of Adam’s sin, the earth bears the curse. Because of Adam’s sin, we are like Bobby in our opening story, we’ve been caught with our hand in the cookie jar and that stain of sin is what permeates all of life and creation.

And what was Adam’s sin? Again, God makes it plain in what He said: “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’”. The woman was deceived, but Adam wasn’t –he just chose to not listen to the voice of God. He chose to follow after the deception of Satan that had lured his wife into disobedience by not obeying what God had told Him. Adam’s sin is pure disobedience. He refused to listen to what God had told him to do.

In 1984 an Avianca Airline jet crashed in Spain. Investigators studying this tragic accident made a sad and an eerie discovery. The ‘black box’ cockpit voice recorder revealed that shortly before the fatal impact a shrill, computer-synthesized voice from the plane’s automatic warning system told the crew repeatedly, “Pull up! Pull up! Pull up!” The Spanish pilot thought the system was malfunctioning and snapped (to this American machine), “Shut up Gringo!” and he switched the warning system… off. Just moments later the plane crashed into the side of a mountain. Everyone on board was killed.

Because of his refusal to listen to the word of warning, everyone died. That is what has happened to us. We have the stain of Adam’s refusal to listen to God that saturates our human condition, and all of creation, with death. Yes, Eve was deceived by the voice of the serpent, but Adam disobeyed the voice of God. And that is why sin is passed on from father to child. Because of that, Jesus was born sinless.

His mother yes, was sinful as we all are. But Jesus didn’t inherit sinfulness because His Father was not Joseph, or any other human, but the Father in heaven working through the word of the Holy Spirit in Mary. The word of God to Mary brought about her pregnancy – that’s also why Jesus is known as the Word made flesh.

But getting back to today’s lessons. St Paul in the portion of Romans we read today said, “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. We have in these words the confirmation that it was Adam’s disobedience that made us sinners. But we also have in these words the hope of the gospel.

The ‘one man’ Paul refers to in the first case is Adam and the second ‘one man’ is the second Adam, Jesus Christ. That title, the second Adam, is applied to Jesus because He, like Adam, began His earthly life without sin. And like the first Adam, Jesus also faced the temptation of Satan to disobey the voice and the command of God. That’s what we read about in the gospel lesson today.

Jesus said to Satan with the first temptation that was put before Him. “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Every word from the mouth of God. That is what supplies us with all that we need, so Jesus says today.

But that is where the first Adam failed. He failed so badly that following his disobedience Adam tried to cover his new-found nakedness and shame using fig leaves. Again, listen to the Old Testament lesson: Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

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

Did you notice God’s question to Adam? Who ‘told you’ you were naked? Again, it has to do with the power of words. God knew that they’d violated His word to them and with His question drives home the point that it is His word alone that they were to have listened to and obeyed.

And what was their reaction to God’s question, where are you? Just like little boy Bobby, out came the very first embarrassing words ever spoken “I was afraid… so I hid”. We are still trying to hide from God. We are still like Adam, afraid of God, because of our disobedience.

And like Adam tried to cover himself with the work of his own hand sewing fig leaves, God knew that that wasn’t good enough or going to last.  So, God sacrificed the life of one of His creation in order to cover the sin and shame of man’s sin. To cover Adam’s shame properly God had to shed blood on that day. The last line of the lesson says, The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. The only way to make a garment of skin was to kill an animal. So, God sacrificed the life of one of His creation in order to cover the sin of man. The book of Hebrews reminds us that ‘without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness’.

And so, God shed the innocent blood of His creation to properly cover man’s sin. And He did so yet again, with the second Adam, sacrificing His holy precious blood on the cross of Calvary. In doing that all the guilt of our sin is forever wiped away, and covered for all time. In His obedience, Jesus saved us. Because of the second Adam, we need not fear or hide from God, do we?

Remember the words in the epistle: so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. And that we are. We’re made righteous through the One Man, Jesus Christ – who was obedient, in our place.

In the gospel lesson Jesus obeyed the command of God the Father and refused to be led astray by the voice of Satan’s temptations. As we go through Lent and ponder the suffering of Christ and cross of Christ and the cost of our righteousness that He paid in love, we do well to give thought to the voices we listen to in our lives.

Even in the midst of tragedy and great loss and suffering we are called to compassion by the voice of God. We are called to listen to the voice of God. We are not called to despair or disobedience.

Remember that though creation groans and suffers under the weight of sin, as we do, God in Christ has won the victory over sin, death and the devil through Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. There will be battles that we lose and there will be losses that we suffer in this war of our making under sin. But God has spoken His promise. His voice has assured us that the victory is won and we need not fear the battle. We remain hopeful and confident in God’s word; the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, our savior, and our redeemer. In His name, amen.

Sermon #873 Rev. Thomas A. Rhodes, Pastor – Zion Lutheran Church, Bolivar, MO

Old Testament Reading                                                                 Genesis 3:1-21 

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

2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

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

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

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

13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock     and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly     and you will eat dust     all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity     between you and the woman,     and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head,     and you will strike his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;     with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband,     and he will rule over you.”

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;     through painful toil you will eat food from it     all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,     and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow     you will eat your food until you return to the ground,     since from it you were taken; for dust you are     and to dust you will return.”

20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

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

Epistle Reading                                                                                 Romans 5:12-19

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law.14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Holy Gospel                                                                             Matthew 4:1-11

4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,     and they will lift you up in their hands,     so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.