Sin, Wrath, Grace (Genesis 4:25–6:9)

In this post: The story thus far; Introduction; The righteous long for the promised Seed; Adam’s lineage, and the hope of salvation; The consummation of man’s wickedness; Unexpected grace; Conclusion.

This is the audio and approximate transcript of a sermon preached on the evening of 11 December 2016. The prior sermons in this Genesis series are: He Gave Them New Clothes (Gen. 2:4–3:24), Two Religions (Gen. 4:1–16), and God and His Creation (Gen. 1:1–2:3).

(Note: I had to re-record the Bible reading after the service, so the audio quality of the reading differs from that of the live sermon.)

Genesis 4:25–6:9

25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” 26 And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the LORD.

5 This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created. 3 And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. 4 After he begot Seth, the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he had sons and daughters. 5 So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.

6 Seth lived one hundred and five years, and begot Enosh. 7 After he begot Enosh, Seth lived eight hundred and seven years, and had sons and daughters. 8 So all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years; and he died.

This same pattern of living, begetting children, and dying continues through the generations of Cainan, Mahalalel, and Jared, until we come to Enoch, verse 21:

21 Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah. 22 After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

Let’s jump ahead to Lamech, verse 28:

28 Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and had a son. 29 And he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD has cursed.” 30 After he begot Noah, Lamech lived five hundred and ninety-five years, and had sons and daughters. 31 So all the days of Lamech were seven hundred and seventy-seven years; and he died.

32 And Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

6 Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.

3 And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” 4 There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

9 This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.

May the Lord bless to us the reading of His holy word.

The story thus far (1:1–4:24)

We have come to the fourth instalment of our occasional series on the book of Genesis. Here’s a brief summary of the story thus far.

Genesis chapters 1 and 2 reveal the persons of the eternally self-existent, Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – working together with perfect harmony to create the heavens and the earth. ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’ (Gen. 1:26), They say. ‘So God created man in His own image; … male and female He created them’ (Gen. 1:27). And everything that God made was very good.

God places Adam, the first man, in the garden paradise of Eden. The Lord forbids him from eating of the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’, saying, ‘you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, dying you shall die.’ (Gen. 2:15–17)

Genesis chapter 3 recounts the deception of Eve by the serpent, and the rebellion of Adam against his Creator. Sin enters the world through Adam, and death through sin (Rom. 5:12).

In passing sentence, the righteous Judge manifests His boundless mercy and grace. To the serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan (Rev. 12:9), the LORD God says (Gen. 3:15):

‘I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.’

This is the first Gospel – the promise of a Seed, One who shall crush (cf. Rom. 16:20) the head of that serpent, and destroy all the works of the evil one.

Chapter 4 begins by showing the effect of Adam’s sin upon his first sons. Abel, being accounted righteous through faith in the coming Seed, is accepted by God. Cain, endeavouring to merit the favour of God by his own works, is rejected. In his anger, Cain murders his brother Abel. Sin and death claim the first, precious human life.

The voice of Abel’s blood cries out to the Lord from the ground (Gen. 4:10). Ungodly Cain is now cursed by God from the earth that Cain defiled with the blood of his brother. The Lord condemns Cain to wander as a vagabond and a fugitive.

Cain is terrified that anyone finding him will kill him. Thus, with underserved mercy, the Lord protects Cain by promising a sevenfold vengeance upon anyone who would kill him. The Lord also places upon Cain a mark of protection, ‘lest anyone finding him should kill him’ (Gen. 4:15).

The narrative follows Cain and his progeny for seven generations. Cain goes out from the presence of the Lord, and remains rebellious and defiant; his punishment was to be a vagabond and a fugitive, yet he builds a stronghold for his own protection. He names it after his son, Enoch, which means ‘dedicated’ or ‘initiated’.

The focus of chapter 4 moves to Cain’s descendant Lamech, the seventh generation from Adam. In violation of God’s intent for marriage, Lamech marries two wives. They are attractive. He has successful and renowned sons. One son, Tubal-Cain, has a sister named Naamah. Her name means ‘lovely’.

A young man wounds Lamech. In violent, disproportionate retribution, Lamech murders him. Whereas God protected Cain with the promise of sevenfold vengeance, Lamech protects himself with his own threat of seventy-sevenfold revenge.

Introduction

We saw last time that Jesus considers the Genesis narrative to be true history. Yet, we have before us not a dispassionate account, but exquisitely crafted literature, designed by the Holy Spirit to show us the perfection, goodness and holiness of the Triune God, to confront us with the horror of our own sin, and to placard before us the Lord Jesus Christ. For Jesus is the promised Seed – Immanuel, God with us (Matt. 1:23) – the One who saves His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).

As we journey through the four main sections of tonight’s passage, look for the continuation of these primary themes. Attend, then, to what we shall learn about the wickedness of man, and the grace of God. Mark how we are relentlessly ushered by the text towards the Lord Jesus Christ.

The righteous long for the promised Seed (4:25–26)

When we looked some time ago at the first half of Genesis chapter 4, we saw Eve bearing her firstborn son, Cain, and thinking that he is the promised Seed.

Our hopes were raised. Is Cain the Seed promised of God? Is he the one who ‘will save his people from their sins’ (Matt. 1:21)?

Moved by the Holy Spirit, Moses our narrator follows the line of Cain to its conclusion. And our hopes are utterly crushed. So far from Cain being the promised Seed, we saw instead that he is a murderer, in thrall to the evil one. Lamech, too, is consumed by the murderous violence of the devil. Cain and all his posterity are slaves of sin, captive to the barbarous lusts of their own hearts.

If the promised Seed cannot be found in Cain’s ungodly lineage, where is He?

Chapter 4, verse 25:

And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth

Pitiful Eve. What misery for her to have known – and then to have lost – a sinless, perfect communion with her Lord. She is desperate now to be freed from her sin, to be restored to new life through the coming of the promised Seed.

Faithful Eve. She clings in hope to the promise of God – ‘For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.’, she says. If Cain is not the Son of promise, if not Abel, then perhaps this Seth?

But no, Seth is not the Seed. ‘As for Seth’, our narrator says in v. 26 – dashing our hopes once more – ‘to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh.’

Is Enosh then the promised one?

Our narrator is about to take pity on us and make it clear that the coming of the promised Seed is still afar off. The fullness and depth of sin’s depravity must first be revealed, and much else must take place.

Faithful Eve, having lost both Cain and Abel, is joined in her longing for the deliverance of her Lord. Verse 26: ‘Then men began to call on the name of the LORD.’

Scripture never speaks negatively of calling upon the name of the LORD. ‘And it shall come to pass’, says the prophet Joel, ‘That whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’ (Joel 2:32)

Adam’s lineage, and the hope of salvation (5:1–32)

Chapter 5.

Having shown us the ungodly line of Cain, and having left us eager to discover the identity of the promised Seed, Moses – the master of suspense – now takes us back to the beginning of history. He constructs a purposeful genealogy of Adam’s line, descending through Seth, his son.

Lest we think that the sin and corruption evident in the line of Cain had somehow been authored by God, verse 1 begins with a reminder that ‘In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God’. Mankind was made in the image of God, without blemish, free from the stain of sin.

Verse 2 recalls the blessing that God pronounced upon mankind, male and female: ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it’ (Gen. 1:28). In the genealogy of Cain, and in this genealogy too, we see the fulfilment of this blessing as mankind multiplies upon the earth.

Verse 3 pointedly describes Seth as begotten, not in the likeness of God, but after the likeness of Adam. ‘And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.’

The import of this fact becomes abundantly clear throughout the rest of the genealogy: verse 5, ‘So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.’; verse 8, ‘So all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years; and he died.’; verse 11, ‘Enosh … and he died.’; verse 14, ‘Cainan … and he died.’; verse 17, ‘Mahalalel … and he died.’; verse 20, ‘Jared … and he died.’; verse 27, ‘Methuselah … and he died.’; verse 31, ‘Lamech … and he died.’

No other genealogy in all of Scripture has this pounding repetition of ‘and he died … and he died’. Moses will not allow us to miss the point. Long-lived these people may be, but to be born in Adam’s fallen likeness is to be born into death. ‘In the day that you eat thereof,’ the Lord had said to Adam, ‘dying you shall die’ (Gen. 2:17).

In Adam all die (1 Cor. 15:22).

Seth, the son of Adam, is the inheritor of Adam’s guilt and sin, as are all his children. None of them could be the promised Seed who would bruise the Serpent’s head, for every single one was born ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ (Eph. 2:1). All are subject to the curse of death; none is able to overcome it.

Yet, lest we abandon hope, the genealogy gives one relief to this pattern of inevitable death. Whereas Cain’s son Enoch was dedicated to the glory of Cain, here we have a very different Enoch, a man dedicated to the glory of God. Whereas Cain ‘went out from the presence of the Lord’, here we have an Enoch who ‘walks with God’. Verses 22–24:

After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

The writer to the Hebrews comments (Heb. 11:5):

By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, ‘and was not found, because God had taken him’; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

Enoch, the holy one who was rescued from sin and death, foreshadows the coming Christ, the one who conquers sin and death for all His holy ones (cf. Rom. 5:12–21; 8:2), and brings them to new life. Enoch, the man who walks with God, heralds the promised Seed, the God who walks with man.

Here are the words of Jude, speaking of the licentious who have crept into the New Testament church (Jude 14–15):

Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

Lamech, the seventh from Adam through Cain, revelled in his own glory and vengeance. Enoch, the seventh from Adam through Seth, declares the glory of the Lord who ‘comes … to execute judgment on all’.

There is coming yet a final day of judgment. Enoch the prophet preaches the same message as Paul the apostle. ‘Truly,’ Paul said to the philosophers at Athens, ‘these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.’ (Acts 17:30–31).

Having introduced a second Enoch, our genealogy brings us to his grandson, another Lamech – verse 28.

Lamech bears a son. He names him Noah, meaning ‘rest’. Lamech says, ‘This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD has cursed.’ Lamech, too, longs for redemption from the curse of sin. Having seen God deliver Enoch his grandfather, perhaps Lamech believes Noah to be the long-promised Seed who will bring deliverance.

Noah will indeed prove to be a deliverer – but he is not the promised Seed. Like Enoch, Noah walked with God (Gen. 6:9). Like Enoch, he was a preacher of the righteousness of God, as Peter writes in his second epistle (2 Pet. 2:5). Noah, the preacher of God’s righteousness, proclaims the coming Seed who is the ‘righteousness of God’ (cf. Rom. 3:21–26).

The consummation of man’s wickedness, and God’s response (6:1–7)

Chapter 6, verse 1. Having covered 10 generations from Adam through to Noah, our narrator now takes us back in time to when ‘men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them’, back to the time covered by the genealogy of Cain in chapter 4, and the earlier portion of the genealogy of Adam in chapter 5.

Men multiplied. Daughters were born. Verse 2: ‘the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.’

There has been much unprofitable speculation about the identity of the ‘sons of God’ and ‘the daughters of men’. We are wise not to seek complex explanations when the simple will suffice. The sons of God, then, are those who are sons ‘by adoption, whom [God] had set apart for Himself’[2] (cf. Gal. 4:4–5). They are those in the godly line of Seth, in the lineage of the men who ‘began to call upon the name of the LORD’, whom we saw at the end of chapter 4.

As for the beautiful ‘daughters of men’, do you remember Naamah, the sister of Tubal-Cain? Her name means ‘lovely’. Moses introduced her in chapter 4 to help us identify the beautiful ‘daughters of men’ that he now mentions. These, then, were the daughters of the ungodly line of Cain, daughters of faithless, fallen men who neither knew God nor trusted in His promised Seed.

Thus, it seems that the ‘sons of God’ were choosing unbelieving wives for themselves; they were not seeking spouses of a godly character, but foolishly judging solely on outward beauty (cf. 1 Pet. 3:3–4).

Whereas God seeks ‘godly offspring’ (Mal. 2:15), the eventual result of the intermarriages between the faithful and faithless is a proliferation of such gross wickedness that the Lord declares in verse 3:

My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years

Though the Lord is, as the Psalmist says, ‘slow to anger, and abounding in mercy’ (Ps. 103:8), He will not quarrel forever with obstinate, wicked men through his preachers and prophets. ‘The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him’, writes Paul (1 Cor. 2:14).

God, then, is not a passive observer of our world, but One who is actively striving within it against evil, to bring about His good purposes and His own glory. God has also given His moral Law, and civil government. These restrain our wickedness, to keep us from murdering each other, and from stealing each other’s goods and spouses. The same Law of God shows us our sin, and calls us to repentance. And God gives us the Gospel, the Good News that Christ Jesus lived, died and rose for sinners, that we may be reconciled with God and live holy, obedient lives, at peace with Him.

Through men such as Enoch and Noah, the Holy Spirit had been preaching this righteousness, warning of the coming judgment, and calling carnal men to repent and throw themselves upon His mercy.

Yet even with the kind forbearance of a gracious and merciful God, the corruption of men’s sin is so total and absolute that they will not yield, but instead multiply their depravity all the more.

Verse 3 records the initial pronouncement of God’s righteous judgment. Sin having run its course, the Lord declares that He is going to bring the wickedness of man to an end. Yet even here, God stays his hand for a further 120 years; in His mercy, God gives a ‘season of grace’[1] in which men may yet heed His prophets and repent.

Verse 4:

There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them.

The reference here to ‘giants’ may refer to physical stature (cf. Num. 13:33), though the Hebrew word could also be translated ‘fallen ones’, perhaps in view of their moral degeneracy.

The text explains who they were: ‘Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.’ Just as the reference to beautiful ‘daughters of men’ caused us to remember the lineage of Cain, and specifically Tubal-Cain’s sister Naamah, the mention here of mighty, famous men reminds us of violent Lamech and his remarkable sons.

After the creation, ‘God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good’ (Gen. 1:31). After the corruption, ‘the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually’, verse 5. We are specifically told that every intent of man’s thoughts was only evil continually.

God created man in His own image and likeness, pure and holy. And now, He looks upon the posterity of Adam and sees their filthy, vile depravity. The Lord looks upon men and sees the violence and misery and death that they inflict one upon another. And God’s heart is filled with sorrow and grief. Verse 6: ‘And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.’

These words of God’s sorrow and grief indicate, not a change within God Himself, not a change of mind, not a change in His eternal decree. No, God is not capricious, He ‘is not a son of man, that He should repent’ (Num. 23:19). Rather, these words reveal the response of an unchangingly good God to the unfolding wickedness of man’s heart. A change, not within God Himself, but in His actions towards wicked men. The merciful, holy God endures the wickedness of men for a season, but not forever.

Verse 7:

So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

God grieves over sin, and so He will bring it to an end. God’s sorrow leads to the outpouring of His wrath. He resolves to wash away the sin of the world with the baptismal waters of a global flood (cf. Acts 22:16; 1 Pe. 3:20–21).

In our conformity to the spirit of this age, we shy away from proclaiming the wrath of God. We avoid talking about it, because we find it embarrassing, and we do not understand it.

When we think of wrath, we think of the anger of sinful men and women, those who fly into fits of uncontrolled rage at the slightest provocation. But the wrath of a holy God is not like that at all. God’s wrath is holy, controlled, deliberate, a wrath that is released only to good purpose – to bring an end to evil, to punish the wicked, and to satisfy justice. Whereas the unjustified wrath of a sinful man heaps upon him shame, the justified wrath of a holy God crowns Him with glory and honour.

And if God was angry with the world of Noah, must He not also be angry with ours? Must not the wrath of a loving, holy and just God burn against a world that each year murders tens of millions of precious, unborn children, a world that celebrates every kind of sexual deviance and depravity, a world that profanes marriage and hates truth – a world which, in short, loathes its Creator, the One who is Truth, and rebels against His every command?

If the blood of Abel cried out to the Lord from the ground, if Cain was cursed from the earth for that (Gen. 4:10), how much more will the Lord avenge the blood of countless little ones?

We should fear the judgment of God. That he stays his hand from our nation is no sign of His pleasure, but only of His mercy. He withheld his hand from bringing destruction upon the world of old for 120 years. There will yet be a day of final judgment upon ours.

Yes, you may think, there is much evil in the world. Yes, there is evil even in our own land. ‘But surely’, you say, ‘God has no cause to be angry with me.’ You think, ‘I may not be perfect, but I am not really that bad. I do not deserve His wrath.’

Your heart deceives you, for you too are a child of Adam, born ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ (Eph. 2:21; Col. 2:13); outside of Christ, we are all ‘by nature children of wrath’ – Ephesians chapter 2, verse 3.

‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked’, says the Lord, ‘Who can know it?’ (Jer. 17:9).

‘For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies’, says the Lord Jesus (Matt. 15:19).

Paul writes, Romans 1:18–19:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

We sin because we are sinners, wicked rebels against the rule of our Creator. We are without excuse. We deserve the wrath of God.

We are to love the LORD our God with every fibre of our being, and our neighbour as ourself. These commands we fail to fulfil, every single moment of every day. We stumble in keeping God’s Law; we are guilty of all (James 2:10).

Psalm 14 (Ps. 14:2–3; cf. Rom. 3:12):

The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
They have all turned aside,
They have together become corrupt;
There is none who does good,
No, not one.

‘No, not one.’ No, not me. No, not even you.

And if we were to end there, crushed by the Law of God and his righteous judgment against us, we could have no hope.

But God is faithful to His promises, and what He promised was a Seed.

Unexpected grace (6:8–9)

Let us return to our text. After the horror of the wickedness of man, which threatens to extinguish the light of the knowledge of God, Moses the masterful storyteller inverts the progression of his narrative with an unexpected statement of the most profound sweetness.

Chapter 6, verse 8:

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

‘But’.

Yes, the wickedness of man is great in the earth, and his every intent only evil continually. Yes, God is is sorry that He has made man. Yes, the very heart of God is grieved by the sin that has utterly corrupted His perfect creation. Yes, God is going to destroy the wicked from the face of the earth.

‘But’.

‘But You, O Lord,’ says the Psalmist, ‘are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.’ (Ps. 86:15)

‘But’, in the midst of His sorrow, grief and wrath at the sin of the world, God chooses to bestow His underserved favour upon Noah.

And so, Noah is embraced by the grace of God; and this grace works abundant good fruit. Verse 9:

Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.

Noah finds grace. And the loving grace of a merciful God takes a son of Adam, born dead in his trespasses and sins, and raises him to new life. The kindness of God leads Noah to repentance (cf. Rom. 2:4), and grants him a saving faith in the coming, promised Seed. Hebrews 11:7:

By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

‘Noah was a just man’, for the Lord had declared Noah righteous on account of the faith that he had been given.

Noah was ‘perfect in his generations’, a man of integrity in the midst of a wicked world, because the sovereign spirit of God was at work in Noah, ‘both to will and to do for His good pleasure’ (Php. 2:13). Noah was God’s ‘workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that [he] should walk in them.’ (Eph. 2:10)

‘Noah walked with God’ because, having been justified by faith, Noah had peace with God through the promised Seed.

Noah, then, does not find grace in the eyes of the Lord because he is just and perfect. No. He is just and perfect because he first finds grace.

The reason Noah finds grace

Even as we see Noah finding grace and faith in the coming Seed, we realize that Noah finds grace that the Seed may come.

God is faithful to his promises, and He has promised a Seed. That Seed must therefore come. God will therefore spare a remnant from the coming destruction. We follow the genealogy of Adam through to Noah, then, because this is the lineage of the coming Seed, the Lord Jesus Christ, as indeed Luke records in the third chapter of his gospel.

Noah finds grace and is saved, that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ may come into the world to save His people from their sin (John 1:14–17; Matt. 1:21) – yes, He comes to save even sinners such as us.

Conclusion

As we have studied the early chapters of Genesis, we have traced the perfection of God’s creation, and the entry of sin and death into the world through the Fall of Adam. We have watched Adam’s children multiply their sin until ‘the wickedness of man is great in the earth’, and man’s every intent evil. And we have seen the holy, Creator God pronounce in sorrow and grief His just and terrible sentence of destruction upon a wicked world.

Our problem, then, is not that we have made mistakes and messed-up our lives. No, that’s not it at all. Our problem is that we are sinners who have offended an infinitely holy, perfectly just God, that we have defiled His spotless creation, and that – unless we are hidden within Christ – the full might of His just and vengeful wrath is directed toward us.

The Gospel is not that Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. No, the Gospel is that the Son of God became incarnate of the virgin Mary, lived a life of perfect obedience to God’s Law, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried, and on the third day rose from the dead. The Gospel is that the Lord Jesus Christ did this for all who would trust in Him, because nothing else but the sprinkling of His precious blood could wash away our sins and propitiate the wrath of an angry, holy God, and nothing short of His perfect righteousness put to our account could merit for us the favour of that God.

And tonight, if the wickedness of man’s sin – of our sin – has been magnified by our text, if the consuming, righteous wrath of God towards the ‘vessels of destruction’ has been revealed, this is only so that God ‘might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy‘, ‘even us whom He called’, through the salvation that is in the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 9:22-24). The Gospel of the life, death and resurrection of Christ for sinners only makes sense once you understand the terror of God’s holy, righteous wrath.

The heartbeat of the Genesis text, then – as indeed of all Scripture – is this: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

Jesus, ‘the image of the invisible God’, by whom and through whom and for whom all things were created; the One in whom all things consist, who in all things has the preeminence. (Col 1:15–18)

Jesus, the promised Seed who has come to bruise the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15), and destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) and conquer death (1 Cor. 15:54–57).

Jesus, the One conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:20), ‘born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons’ (Gal. 4:4–5).

Jesus, who ‘humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross’ (Php. 2:7–8), who ‘was delivered up because of our offenses’, and was raised because of our justification’ (Rom. 4:25).

Jesus, our great High Priest who can ‘sympathize with our weaknesses‘, and ‘was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin‘ (Heb. 4:15).

Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant, whose sprinkled blood ‘speaks better things than that of Abel’ (Heb. 12:24).

Jesus, whom ‘God also has highly exalted’ and given ‘the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ (Php. 2:9–11).

Jesus, who says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly’ (Rev. 22:20), and ‘who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing’ (2 Tim. 4:1).

Jesus, who now commands you to repent and believe the Good News of His life, death and resurrection for sinners.

Amen.

Close

Hebrews 12:1–2:

Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 13:20–21:

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

1. R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966), 312. [↩]

2. John Calvin and John King, Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 238. [↩]

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