“True North: The Snake Crusher”

At Gateway Church in Austin, we began our series called “True North.”

At times, it can be hard to keep believing that God truly has a plan, and if we could know what it is. The Scriptures reveal that God is at work to accomplish His purposes. In fact, the Scriptures share a unified story that points towards Jesus. He is God’s plan to rescue humanity. This was not an afterthought nor an accident. From the beginning pages of the Scriptures, we can see God at work to redeem His creation. This gives us hope that He is at work in our lives even now.

Next Steps:

Work through the following questions and Scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.

“True North: The Snake Crusher” Next Steps

Gateway South Austin Service Video:

Gateway South Austin Message Audio:

Message Notes:

Signs are put along the roads to help us find our way. 

Well, you can get lost really easy if you don’t look at the signs God has put all throughout history, from the very beginning. 

As we start this True North series, we’re going to be looking at the signs God has put throughout history to guide us to True North—so that we can see that God is really at work in the world, even when it seems like evil and chaos is winning. 

God has always had a plan to overcome the evils and injustices and corruption of the world—but let’s be honest—if God does have a plan, it gets confusing sometimes. I mean, why does God allow so much evil, injustice, corruption—and why not just do away with it—if that’s really the ultimate plan?

And we are going to be looking at that, so we gain confidence in God and will trust God even when it’s feeling like evil and injustice and chaos are winning.

God’s plan to rescue humanity was not an afterthought nor an accident. From the beginning pages of the Scriptures we can see God at work to redeem His creation, reminding us the Character of God is love—God wants to intervene, heal, and guide us in the midst of the human struggle.  And God cares so much, His plan to do that was personal—God Himself would unite with Humanity to take us through life’s valleys.

John 1 tells us “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.” John 1:1-3.

This is referring to Jesus, as is made clear later in the passage, and it says that Jesus is the Word of God—Jesus is the representation of God’s person, character, history. Here, John is saying The Word was God. Through this Word, Jesus, all things were made.  So Jesus is the uncreated creator, one with God, yet the unique representation of God in a form that humanity can relate to—the mystery of God revealed as trinity—Father, Son, Holy Spirit.  And we will see why, as we go along.

Even in the Old Testament also known as the Hebrew Scriptures, the same God Jesus revealed, was revealing His plan to give you confidence today. 

It’s not that the God of the Old Testament is this punishing Judge while the God of Jesus is this compassionate forgiving kind God—they are the same.

We see this in the opening pages of the book of Genesis—which we will focus on today. In the beginning Genesis 1 says, God created! Have you ever really pondered how ridiculously creative God is—billions of galaxies, stars, planets—millions of diverse plants, animals, and the uniqueness and diversity of his greatest creation—men and women. God created people different from animals, in God’s image Genesis 1 says.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female…. Genesis 1:27

Adam means humanity in Hebrew. Eve means Life. In his image means creative, with the ability to co-rule or be good stewards of the planet and animals and people—God gave us that responsibility.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free….” Genesis 2:15-16 

This is a critical framework for the whole story of humanity. God’s first command was “you are free” – you can choose from all the good gifts I’ve created. God’s not the one trying to limit us (when you hear God’s wanting to steal your freedom—it’s a lie) God wants to truly set us free. But there was one thing that was off limits:

You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 3:16-17.

The tree of the knowledge of good…and evil. You and I are free—God’s first command…you choose. But Why? That’s the key to why God does what God does.

God is love. But love is risky business even for God.  Love requires freedom to choose. So for God to create Creatures capable of truly loving God, they had to have freedom—you choose. But God IS Love, and God is Good. “Not God” is the knowledge of evil.  Enter Satan—who lies to the couple.  God had warned them, don’t eat from the knowledge of good and evil—why? You’ll die.

The Bible Project video “The Test” does a good job of showing this idea.

Interesting, we always picture an Apple—nowhere does it say anything about an Apple–it’s the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.

And the consequence is spiritual death, not physical death. Death just means separation—physical death is our soul separating from our physical body. Spiritual death is being separated from God.

When Adam and Eve went against God, they didn’t physically die. But they did spiritually die. They already had God and everything good—they walked in intimacy with God daily, He gave them everything good, there was perfect love, joy, peace–all that was missing was evil. God says trust me, but gives freedom.

But evil lies to them

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1

Notice this—this is how Evil tries to deceive and destroy you too. 

“God’s such a killjoy—look what He said “you can’t eat anything—can’t eat from any tree”—look at all the fun and life you could experience, but God just wants to ruin it all—you can’t eat anything.” 

But it’s a lie!

God said “you are free, eat from any of the many many trees I put here.” 

Evil lies—it has to—how could evil get you to choose what will destroy you, unless it deceives you into thinking you know better than God.

Evil lies to you saying that God’s ways are restrictive, boring, you’ll miss out on life—“besides, everybody’s doing it—look what you’re missing, it’s not hurting anyone” so we swallow the lie, distrust God, and go our own way (that’s what the Bible calls ‘sin’). It has real consequences.

But Evil also has to lie about the consequences.

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5

“You won’t die, you’ll be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Here’s the point: We chose, and keep on choosing, to play God and choose my will and ways over God’s will and ways, and we experience the knowledge of evil along with God’s good gifts. We replay what happened in the Garden of Eden every day – everyone of us participates in the fall.

As a result, God allowed all of creation, work, relationship–everything to be infected by this knowledge of evil. God is doing it for a reason—to teach us what separation from God is like, so we will eternally choose God.

Freedom is real, and to choose “my ways” over “God’s ways” is to choose separation from the Source—the Creator of love, of Order, of Peace–it has real consequences.

So we see hurricanes, entropy—everything rusts, wilts, breaks down, falls apart. Instead of co-ruling the creation with God, we see pillaging of the earth, abuse of animals and people, wars, fights, nasty divorces, rape, murder, corruption, lying, cheating, power abuse, hatred…

Why?—why would God make that possible?  That’s the story of earth’s Risky Business. Love requires freedom to choose. We choose daily.

But God did fix it immediately. 

He would not let us eat of the Tree of Life and live forever in a state of separation from God. Immediately, he prepared a way to restore us into spiritual relationship despite our rebellion, so that all who choose can be taken into eternity and will forever choose to love and follow God because we know the lie—that the knowledge of evil is only the absence of God’s goodness.

So from the Beginning, God gives signs pointing to Jesus, and His plan to restore humanity.  Eve and Adam both eat from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They run and hide from God. It’s what we all experience now—the knowledge of Good, love, kindness, beauty, creativity—yet all infected with the disease of separation from God. Intimacy with God is broken. 

God says to the serpent:

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crushyour head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15.

As far back as Genesis, God puts signs of what He will do. The serpent who deceives Eve and Adam clearly represents Evil

that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Revelation 12:9

Gen 3 Yahweh “the I am” is who speaks (the same I am that tells Moses his name is Yahweh—the self-existent one—the one who created all else), Yahweh says to the Serpent, “I will put enmity between your offspring and hers, but literally ‘her seed’ singular.  Yahweh is not talking about all Eve’s descendents, but only one.  The one that will Crush the head of evil, even though evil with strike his heel.

That’s why we called this message The Snake Crusher—Jesus came to Crush Evil. Sounds like something a WWE wrestler would say.

But the story of humanity is our deep longing for Something to Crush Evil—it’s the storyline underneath every story in all cultures for all times.]. Do you see this?  Yahweh, the self-existent Creator God, had a plan to overcome Evil from the beginning.  Jesus, the seed or offspring of humanity, would come. Evil would strike his heel.

If a snake bites you on the heel—it’s bad. That’s why people don’t like snakes—right?

Yahweh is saying, “Evil will bite the Seed of Eve (Jesus) on his heel”

Evil crucified Jesus on the cross, but he rose from death—he overcame that blow.

And Yahweh says, “He (singular) will crush Evil’s head—a fatal blow.” 

And on that very cross Jesus delivered the crushing blow to overcome Evil’s effects on humanity once for all. Jesus paid the price of justice—to forgive all humanity that sin against God—and that’s all of us…if we Choose. 

That’s key, we must choose God’s forgiveness and restored relationship that is offered through Christ.

Genesis 3 is called the Protoevangelion—from Greek means First Gospel—the first message about God’s work through Jesus to overcome evil is in the first book of the Hebrew bible, written down in about 3400 BC.  God is overcoming evil through all who turn back to God, and follow God’s will and ways in the world.

20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. Romans 16:20.

We share in Jesus’ victory over evil—if you are in Christ, you have authority to crush the works of Satan.  The lies, the addictions, the obsessive lusts, the hate-filled contempt he tries to inspire against your spouse, or co-worker, or other people—you can crush the efforts of evil—not in your power.  But when. The God of peace is working through you “The God of peace will crush satan…under your feet.”

You see God did do something about evil.
He didn’t come to oppress the oppressors or bring violence on the violent. He absorbed evil into Himself.
The evil was like a poison from a snake bite on the heel, and it was lethal BUT God’s power and love are greater than all of the evil of humanity.
He rose from the dead and offers new life to each one of us who chooses to follow Him.

And we spread His message of love in the same way, we die to self.

  • We take the high road.
  • We do not take revenge. Instead we forgive.
  • When temptation comes, we die to self.
  • We choose God’s way even as everyone else goes the other way.
  • We love the unlovable.
  • We lift up the oppressed, the hurting, those who are in need.
  • We bring that new life everywhere we go.
  • We are bringing a glimpse of heaven to earth in every relationship we have and every place we go.

Now, maybe some of you aren’t sure this is really referring to Jesus—so let’s trace it further. God’s plan to overcome evil always required a substitionary death.

A Nation for the Nations

So 4000 years ago, about the beginning of written history, God chose Abraham and Sarah, a couple full of faith, to create a Chosen nation—Jewish Nation.  Chosen is a very misunderstood term—it doesn’t mean better than, or more valued than, it means “set apart for a purpose.” 

God declared that purpose in Genesis 12: The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and…All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:1-3 

Notice the big Picture—God chooses Abraham and Sarah to create a nation.

Why? To bless all nations!

God says, I will lead you to a land, I will make you into a great nation, through your family line I will bless all peoples on earth. Close to 500 times in the Bible, God speaks of all nations—he doesn’t play favorites—when He chooses some, it’s always for the sake of all others.

Gateway, as His church, we can never forget that—God calls us to himself so that we might share His love and show His kindness to others. Are you actively doing that for those around you? (cause Israel’s downfall was forgetting that—thinking it was all about them—excluding others).

So the question is, how is God going to bless all nations? In Genesis 22, God gives an absolutely clear foreshadowing of Jesus which we will look closely at next week—he tests Abraham. Abraham passes the test, and Yahweh says, “through your offspring [“seed”]all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Genesis 22:18.

Through one seed, singular, not seeds (which would be the whole nation)—through One that comes through Abraham and Sarah—all nations will be blessed.

Next week we will talk more about the miraculous story of Abraham and Sarah, but for now just know that

Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” Galatians 3:8

God created a nation set apart with very distinct laws and protections to do two things: 

1). Record and preserve God’s Words through the prophets.  Which the Bible is a compilation of 66 books written over 1500 years—all pointing toward True North—toward Jesus. [Do you know it, do you read it and study it—it’s God putting signs along the way so you don’t get lost or off in a ditch].

And second, the Jewish people would 2). Foretell and prepare God’s self-revelation as Messiah (or Christ, greek word).  That’s why God chose to make a covenant with the Jewish People—to reveal the Scriptures and reveal the Messiah for the sake of restoring a love relationship with all willing people from all the nations.

The strict covenant law given to Israel was to do these two things—to preserve God’s Words and foretell God’s self-revelation.  How would the Seed have his heel bruised?  The prophet King David would write in 1000 BC all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me…you lay me in the dust of death.16 Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce[e] my hands and my feet.17 All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.18 They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. Psalm 22:14-18

The Jewish King David fortells how the snake would bite Jesus—perfectly describing crucifixion 700 years before it was invented by the Romans—yet exactly what happened to Jesus.  But Isaiah in 680 BC shows how after the crucifixion, Jesus will overcome evil in us. 

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all… After he has suffered, he will see the light of lifeand be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many….  Isaiah 53:5-11

Think about this—we ask God “Why”—why so much suffering, why the chaos, why so much evil in this world. 

He says “Love.” I love you. I have come for you. Now trust me. Follow me. Love me and love those around you. We are called to Love God first – whenever we don’t know what to do – just love. Choose the most loving thing you can do.

Let me give you three very practical takeaways:

1. Connect with God

What are some of the ways that you choose to draw near to God? How do you attempt to connect with God personally?

It’s hard right now. Most of us are at home watching this with many distractions. It’s harder to get some alone time to read the Scriptures and to pray. We get it!

We need to draw near to God now more than ever. To help you in that, set aside time this Friday night, November 20th as we come together online for a live streaming worship and communion night. [Graphic: Worship and Communion Night] It will be a powerful way to start the holiday season – turning our hearts towards God. God is speaking. Can you hear Him? God can speak to us in these corporate worship settings – even when we are watching from home. God can speak to you as you make time to personally connect with Him.

2. Live Set Apart with a Purpose

In what ways are people in our culture tempted by darkness to turn away from trusting God and his ways? In what ways do you sense darkness seeking to tempt you?

Today, choose God’s way. Get others to help you if you find yourself struggling to overcome any areas in your life.

God loves you and chose you. And just like His chosen people, you are “set apart for a purpose.” Much like the Jewish people pulled together God’s Word from the prophets, you and I are called to share God’s Word with those in our lives – our families, our children, our co-workers. We are called to invest in others.

To become who God created you to be requires community and serving others with others. Be intentional about living a life set apart for a purpose. The world needs us to become who God created us to be.

3. Tell Others About Jesus

Also, like God’s chosen people, we are to tell about the Messiah. They were foretelling about the Messiah to come. We are telling about the Messiah who has come and will come again

Who can you invite to join with us on a Sunday? Either online or in person?

You know people are starting to put up their Christmas decorations already! This has been such a hard year, people are wanting the hope that Christmas represents, and this is true even for those who don’t fully know the Christmas story or don’t fully believe in Jesus. Your co-workers, friends, family, and neighbors may be far more open to watching online in this season with us or even coming in person. Don’t say “no” for them. Pray and ask God to guide you.

Or maybe it could be more than an invitation to a Gateway inspire service, maybe God will lead you to connect over coffee or over zoom with someone to hear how they are doing – how they are really doing. And in that conversation you might be able to share your story of finding help and hope from the One who came to rescue us all.

Consider that God will make a way for you through these chaotic and difficult days, and He wants to make a way for those you care about. We can trust Him whatever His plan is.

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