Genesis 1:7–9 (NIV84)
7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day. 9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so.
Genesis 1:15–17 (NIV84)
15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth,
Genesis 2:1–7 (NIV84)
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. 4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens— 5 and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground— 7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
“Fake News”. How many of you have read or heard that expression within the last week or two? It is hitting the media quite frequently lately. It refers to news items brought out by certain news agencies that some feel is fake news, either totally false or altered to meet someone’s desires. Sometimes we can just cast it aside as another fiasco in our political society, but sometimes it casts doubt in our minds as to what news we can trust and what we cannot. When it comes to what news is given us in Holy Scripture, Satan loves nothing more than such doubt or blatant mistrust. And it all starts in the beginning with the news from a garden called Eden. How vital to our clear understanding of ourselves, of Satan, of our sinful world, hearts and lives and our gracious Savior God it is to know: GOD’S GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS IS NOT “FAKE NEWS”. I. The good news of the Lord God’s creation is real. II. The bad news of the fall into sin is real (read portions of text again)
Awesome news! “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God simply spoke and all things came into being. But as the news report in Genesis 2 tells us, the highlight was day six. God took some ground, and like a potter forms his vessel, God formed the body of a human being. He called the man Adam, which in Hebrew means ground. As those who had the ashes cross placed on their forehead or hand on Ash Wednesday, dust our bodies are. But then the Lord God did something very different from his creation of animals. (By the way, note well how the Creator is referred to again and again not just as Elohim, the almighty Creator God, but also “Lord”. The God of all grace and mercy. Already in the first days of Eden he was clearly the God of love and goodness toward his creation.) God breathed life from himself into the lump of clay and man became a living being. Unlike the animals, human beings have a body and soul. In Ecclesiastes 12:7 God spoke of that dichotomy when he said at a human’s death “the body returns to the ground, but the spirit returns to God who gave it.” At the time of his death on the cross the very human Jesus cried out, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” The soul is what gives life to human beings and it lives forever. Most of all, earlier in chapter one we are told that the Lord God created human beings “in his image”, holy and perfect. Of human beings beginnings the report is very real that all was perfect. That is good news.
But it didn’t stop there. God planted a garden called Eden, which means paradise. He sprouted forth all kinds of trees, the fruit of which gave humans food to eat and opportunity to do pleasure filled work. The work and care of that paradise was the Lord God’s gift to people as a way to serve the Lord God in thankfulness. Part of that service, the word has the root meaning of worship, was following God’s command not to eat of one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Luther called that tree man’s church, his altar on which he could show his love, trust and honor for God. Note how the Lord’s gift was to eat of all the other trees of the garden, including the tree of life and live forever. God looked at all he had made, and he saw it was very good, perfect. What awesome news. And it is not fake news.
However, much of the world sees it as fake news. Evolution, the big bang theory, myth, legend, some university classes, even churches say it should not be taken literally, but as figures of speech to call attention to God’s awesome power. Some say it is just good Sunday School stories or material for children’s messages in church. There were no eye witnesses such as Peter said in the reading last Sunday on the Transfiguration Mt. Or were there? Jesus, the Word was there and in Matthew 19 he said, “Have you not read in the beginning he made them male and female?” The Holy Spirit was there hovering above the waters and he inspired writers of the Scriptures to refer to Adam as very real and the bad news of the fall into sin as very real in the reading from Romans we heard a moment ago. Why is this so important? Total trust in all of God’s word hangs in the balance. Specifically, if God did not create everything including human beings good and perfect, there is no fall. And if there is no fall, why are we here today? Why will we come Wednesday to hear about a Savior from sin? No, the good news of the Lord God’s creation is not fake news. Unfortunately, neither is the bad news of the fall into sin.
Satan, a fallen angel, used a sneaky snake to speak to the woman God had created to be man’s companion and helper. His goal was to drag God’s good creation down into misery with him in life and for all eternity. He used fake news. He altered the command God had given to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil by planting a seed of doubt as to whether God really said it, “Did God really say?’ And he has not stopped planting that seed and never will. Watch out for it when others cast doubt on whether the Bible is totally or partially fake news. Sadly, Eve listened and even entered into a conversation with Satan instead of using her God given free will and running the other way. She knew what God had said. So now Satan attacked God’s reason for saying it. “Don’t trust him or his goodness. He is giving you fake news. He knows full well if you assert yourself and your will and disobey his command you will become your own god. You can do everything you want. You can have fun.” Obviously, the more things change the more they stay the same when it comes to Satan’s methods of temptation with us. The God who has a perfect right to command us to live for him and his ways. The God who wants us to have real fun in life by living in him. The God who is upright, honest, truthful and loving. All fake news, Satan whispers in our ears. No such God. No good creation. No fall into sin. No sin in you. No need for a Savior. No wonder Jesus called him a liar from the beginning and the father of lies in John 8.
Our children gave us a little white box for Christmas in which were two small tubes into which we had to spit saliva and send it off to tell us what our ancestry is according to our DNA. We have not heard yet, but we are assured that the news report will not be fake or wrong. We’ll see. Ancestry probing seems very popular right now. Well, we don’t have to check our spiritual DNA that takes us all the way back to our first parents, Adam and Eve to see how the fall was passed down to us and all humanity. You don’t have to listen to too many news broadcasts or even just observe our own families and ourselves each day to see that the fall in Eden is not fake news. It is all too real. And just as God lovingly warned it leads to death, physical (dust we shall return), spiritual, and eternal (the soul that sins shall die). What if this all too real bad news report from God would end with, “that’s all for today, folks”?
But the LORD God graciously came looking for Adam and Eve after the fall. He reached out to them in love, seeking their repentance according to the following verses in Genesis 3. Even though they played the blame game, even blaming him(sound familiar?), God gave them and all lost humanity the promise to send one who would crush Satan’s head and win victory over Satan, death and hell forever. Enter the message of the Lenten season once again. As we heard in the epistle reading, by one man sin came and death by sin, but by one man also came grace and life. God followed the good news, bad news with good news once again. Jesus Christ came to seek and save that which was lost. Christ died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. There is nothing fake about this news. His resurrection proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is the head crusher of Satan. He overcame his temptations for us. He shed his blood for us. He rose again to assure us it is finished. This is not fake news. He is the real thing. Believe it. Amen