Main Point: The story of Scripture causes us to appreciate what Jesus has done and anticipate what Jesus is going to do.
Merry Christmas! Why are we so tired? “According to a 2017 National Safety Council report, almost half of Americans do not get enough sleep to safely perform the duties assigned to them by their employer.” We are tired. But we’re not talking about work, we’re talking about Christmas. This is the most wonderful time of the year and it can be the most wearisome time of the year. Why is that? Why are we weary and troubled? Today we are going to start a new sermon series digging into our weariness and finding hope in God’s promises. We are weary, and we are hopeful. I want to give you some satisfying and strengthening why’s behind our weariness and hope.
The structure is fairly simple. We will look into the covenants God has made throughout history. These covenants will help us understand our weariness, because in various ways God’s promises address our struggles. And we will look into all the wonderful ways Jesus has fulfilled, is fulfilling, and will finally fulfill all of God’s promises. The story of Scripture causes us to appreciate what Jesus has done and anticipate what Jesus is going to do. We are weary, and we are hopeful. Let’s understand our weariness and grow in hope.
Read Revelation 20:7-21:5
Today we look back and we look ahead. Let’s start with this question
I. Why are we weary?
We are weary because things have gone wrong. Creation has gone off the rails. In a way, we should grieve like the elders after the exile, when the second temple foundation was laid. We should remember the glory of relationships in the garden of Eden and we should grieve. But, we do not grieve as those who have no hope. Why are we weary? We are weary because of the good that has been lost. So,
- Remember where you came from
Remember the good garden
The repeated theme of Genesis 1 is the goodness of creation (1:9, 12, 18, 21, 25). When God’s work of creation is complete, and Adam and Eve are given marriage, work, and rest, God pronounces that everything he has made is very good (1:31). Remember the good garden and remember
The goodness of work and rest
Adam and Eve were planted in the garden in order to work and rest. We are made in the image of the working and resting God. It is good to work hard, and it is a blessing to rest. God wired us and gave us instructions: work six days a week and rest for one. So, there they were, Adam and Eve were in a good garden enjoying good work, good rest, and good marriage. Remember
The goodness of marriage
Everything was right in the world except for the fact that Adam was alone. Everything was good except for Adam being solitary. He cannot do what God made him to do by myself. He needs a helper. God made him to work, have dominion, multiply, and fill the earth. God made us to be in relationship with one another. Man cannot do what God made him to do all by himself. Eve was given to Adam to bless him. And they were together in every sense and enjoying everything. Remember the good beginning and
- Remember the curse
Look with me at Genesis 3:14 and 15. Genesis 3 gives the historical account of Adam and Eve being tempted and rebelling from God. Here are the effects (Read 14-15)
It is significant for the snake that he is humbled to the dust. It is significant for us that God promises
God promises two lines of people. There will be the seed of the snake and the seed of the woman. These two groups will always be fighting. All of humanity is cursed with the promise of forever fighting and forever being hunted. Difficulty between people, once foreign to the garden, is now the norm for all people. So, why are we weary? We are a weary people because of perpetual enmity and we are weary because of
Pain in childbearing
We continue in Genesis 3:16a
A brief summary of women will reveal the weariness of womanhood. What was her greatest blessing, filling the earth with the image of God, now becomes a source of monthly misery which culminates in excruciating pain in child birth. There is pain in childbearing and we suffer from the
Distortion of marriage
Continue with me in Genesis 3:16
Just as there will be perpetual enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, so there will be division and conflict in marriage. Man and woman will no longer enjoy being together in work, marriage, and family. Instead of unity and help, there will be constant competition as husband and wife try to dominate or rule over each other. Before the fall, Adam experienced the weariness of loneliness. After the fall, Adam and Eve experienced the weariness of fulfilling God’s commands to multiply and fill the earth. We are weary because of a lack of relationships and we are weary because of relationships. The final curse falls on Adam
Frustration in work and rest
Look with me at Genesis 3:17-19
Producing enough food to eat will cause us to be weary. Work itself is not the problem. Fallen people working in a fallen world creates an unending train of problems. We experience the weariness of frustrating work.
Again, why are we weary? Why is your neighbor weary? We are locked in a perpetual battle between righteousness and unrighteousness. Living life as a woman is hard and wearisome. Living life as a man is hard and wearisome. Living life alone is wearisome and living together as a family is wearisome. Give us some good news! The good news is coming. Now we need to sober up. Like a parent groaning over the death of a child, we groan over what was lost in the garden. But again, we do not grieve as those who have no hope.
II. Why do we have hope?
Greg Nichols explains our hope, “Redemptive history has one chief character and hero, Christ the Redeemer: ‘and he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heal’ (Gen. 3:15). Yet God doesn’t send him immediately after the fall. He first sets up a framework for his appearance. Over some four thousand years he enhances this proclamation of emancipation. He builds anticipation and expectation. As God builds this framework of solemn promises, he progressively discloses the Redeemer’s person and work.” (Covenant Theology, 106).
- Remember the promises
God promises perpetual enmity
Now it’s crazy but true, we groan because of perpetual enmity and we hope because of perpetual enmity. We hope because God commits himself to doing battle with evil and rebellion. God hasn’t written off mankind. This creation is not a dumpster fire. We are not given over to evil. The battle between good and evil rages on. We see the fight first in Cain and Abel.
1 John 3:8 tells us that Cain was of the evil one and murdered his brother. Cain was the seed of the serpent and so he murdered just like his father. Cain murdered Abel because of enmity between the seed of the woman the seed of the serpent. Cain’s deeds were evil and Abel’s deeds were righteous. This battle must continue.
And it is good news that evil will not overcome good. The battle will rage so,
Remember the promise of preservation
Now we are looking ahead to God’s covenant with creation after the flood. The first explicit mention of a covenant comes in Genesis 6 in response to the increasing wickedness of mankind. God is going to punish the seed of the serpent because “every intention of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5). So, God gives grace to Noah, Noah is righteous, and then God makes a covenant with Noah. Genesis 6:17, “everything that is on earth will die. But I will establish my covenant with you” (6:18).
After the chaotic flood, God recreates, dividing the water with land. He recommissions man and woman with the creation mandate- be fruitful and multiply (8:1-5, 17; 9:1). God then makes a covenant with all of creation. Not just Noah, but Noah, his offspring, and every living creature are included in this covenant (9:9-11). Life will continue. Enmity will continue. Immediately, Noah and his son Ham are at odds and the curse continues, perpetual enmity and the promise of preservation. This ultimately gives way to
Now we are back in Genesis 3:15 and the curse on the serpent. There is singular enmity between the serpent and the woman. There is multiplied enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. Then there is another case of singular enmity. A seed, a he-seed, will bruise the serpent’s head and the serpent will bruise his heel. Fast forward to Revelation 20 and we see the serpent crushed forever at the return of Christ. Genesis 3:15 introduces the promise that evil will be finally crushed.
In your weariness remember the promises: evil will not win, the seed of the woman will continue, and victory is coming. Now, let’s get more specific. We have hope because of the work of Christ. Therefore,
- Appreciate the work of Christ
Some of us are weary because we have forgotten how to appreciate good things. We have forgotten how to rejoice. Let’s try and remember. Redemptive history has one chief character and hero: Christ the redeemer. I want to focus us on two passages that help us appreciate the work of Christ, Hebrews 2:14 and 1 John 3:8.
Hebrews 2:14, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.”
Here in Hebrews 2:14 we see the most explicit promise concerning the snake crusher of Genesis 3:15. The mortal wound delivered by the devious snake will not be the end of Jesus. The mortal wound delivered by the seed of the woman will be the destruction of the serpent. Christmas is the celebration of God becoming man. Christmas is the celebration of the Son of God becoming the seed of the woman so that he can destroy the devil.
Evil will not win. Evil cannot win. You will not be overcome by evil. Joined to Christ the victor you cannot be overcome by evil. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus has destroyed the devil. Think about it. We cannot be accused because we are forgiven. We cannot be condemned because we are justified. We cannot be destroyed because we have eternal life. We cannot be lost because we are united to Christ. Christ the victor, the seed of the woman, has conquered!
Look at Hebrews 2:14 and appreciate the work of Christ. He has destroyed our enemy. Now look at 1 John 3:8
1 John 3:8, “The reason the son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
Jesus came to overcome evil with good. Jesus came to push back the effects of that first temptation. Jesus came to frustrate and undermine and reverse the devil’s killing, stealing, and destroying. This work is happening in men and women like you. This work is advancing through teenagers like you.
We need to appreciate the work of Jesus to destroy the devil’s work and we need to understand that Jesus is doing that work through us. Remember Romans 16:20, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” God’s mission of redemption includes you and your work to overcome the evil inside of you and all around you. We are a redemptive people. Your work at home and in your neighborhood should be a redemptive work.
Think of Jesus commissioning and sending out the apostles in Luke 10. They preached the gospel and healed the sick. Jesus said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”
You were redeemed to be a snake crusher. Think of all the good you can do. You can encourage those who are suffering. You can be a friend to the lonely. You can feed the hungry and care for the poor. You can build up your brothers and sisters. You can love your wife. You can help your husband. You can share the good news of Jesus with your lost neighbors. You can serve and give and crush Satan under your feet.
Be sober-minded. There will be enmity. The seed of the serpent will oppose you and hate you and kill you. This mission is not a cake walk. You will need to rest. You will have to rest. You have been given the blessing of weekly rest. Be hopeful. The victory is sure. Satan has done his worst to Christ and Christ has overcome. Christian, you are joined to Christ and his life, his victory, and his power are yours.
Do you believe that? Do you believe this?
Romans 8:37, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Look away from yourself. You don’t have this power in yourself. Look away from yourself. You don’t merit this love in anyway. Look to Christ. He loves you. He strengthens you. He gives you his victory.
Do you know the essential element to living out this victory? Scripture calls it putting on the armor (Rom 13:12; Eph 6:11; 1 Thess 5:8). In the most simple of terms, putting on the armor is daily Bible reading and believing prayer. The more we understand of Christ, his work and his promises, the more we will appreciate and trust and follow and find victory in Christ. Read your Bible and respond with believing prayer every day because of the great work of Christ. We read our Bibles so we can have hope. So,
III. What are we waiting for?
Palmer Robertson gives us hope as we wait; “The hope of the future remains sealed in certainty. For we do now see Jesus crowned with glory and honor. Seated at God’s right hand, he had all things subjected to him (Heb 2:8, 9). From his exalted position of power, he ultimately shall bring all things into the service of men [and women] who have been redeemed by him to the glory of God” (Christ of the Prophets, 107).
- Anticipate Jesus’ return
Our hope because of what Jesus has done should only be matched by our anticipation of Jesus’ return. We live in days of thankful longing. We are thankful for our forgiveness and restoration to God. We are thankful for justification and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. But we have not yet attained perfection. This world is broken, and we are broken. This world rebels, and too often we find ourselves with a rebellious mind. Who will deliver us from these bodies of death and this world of death?
Thanks be to God, we have victory through Jesus Christ! That victory is sure, but that victory is not yet in its fullness. 2 Peter 3:10-14 tells us that in light of judgment and restoration we should wait for and hasten the coming day of the Lord. We are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Every aching joint and case of the flu, every argument, every hospital visit, every nursing home visit, every prayer of repentance, and every apology should be an anticipation of Jesus’ return. Come quickly Lord Jesus and set up a new world where righteousness rules the day and there is no room for selfish rebellion. Because of brokenness, because of pain, because of enmity and frustration, we pray, “Come quickly Lord Jesus. Fulfill your promises and finish your work. Cast Satan and death into the lake of fire. Restore your creation and perfect your people.”
- We yearn for the new earth
When the foundation was laid for the second temple the elders grieved because that temple lacked the glory of Solomon’s temple. They wanted to go back. Don’t be like them. We don’t want to go back to the Garden of Eden, we want better than Eden. We want God’s promise of a new earth with no temple. No temple will be needed because no sacrifices will be needed. No sacrifices will be needed because none of us will sin. We will enjoy the fullness of God’s presence unhindered by our weak appetites and sinful cravings. We will be restored to health and we will be restored to God. Listen, “God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from the eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there by mourning, nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:3-4).
Look back on creation, the Garden, and rebellion. Look back on the manger, the cross, and the resurrection. Stand firm in hope. Keep fighting. Put on the armor and wage war on your own sin and the evil that is striving to overcome you. Look back, stand firm, and yearn. Yearn for the return of Christ.
This means you must bend your anticipation upwards. Students, are you anticipating getting out for Christmas break? Are you anticipating giving that perfect gift or gathering with friends and family? Are you anticipating some time off from work and some rich feasting? All of those good things are just a glimpse, just a taste, of life in the fullness of the presence of God. Be thankful, give thanks, and yearn for better. Yearn for the return of Christ.
Church let’s practice. Let us adore the Christ who has come and let us learn to yearn for the Christ who is coming again.