We see in Genesis 1:26 that God made humanity in his own likeness, to reflect His goodness, creativity, and love out into the world. We call this the image of God.
But, through Adam and Eve, the human race wanted something more than just God, they wanted to play God. They didn’t want to be subject to God, but they wanted to rule.
So, they disobeyed God.
And I loved this one moment in the video. Where humanity creates all sorts of wonderful things that glorify God through expressions of creativity, goodness, and love, just as often—maybe more often—we create things that are expressions of hatred, suffering, and injustice.
Something happened when Adam and Eve rebelled against God. Something changed in the world. The world once was perfectly ordered with perfect peace with God and peace with man, but that peace was broken.
You know, when someone passes on from this life, there’s a saying. People often say, “She’s finally at peace.”
You see, from the moment you are born, life and peace are antithetical; they work against each other. Life may bring with it many joys and times of happiness, but life is wrought with anxieties. Life is wrought with the hatred, suffering, and injustice.
Our lives are characterized by busyness, stress, and anxiety. Life on this earth that God created can be great, but rarely is it said that life on this earth is peaceful.
News outlets—fake and real—remind us on a daily basis how not-peaceful the world around us is. The world is at unrest.
And not just the people of the world. The creation itself groans under duress, longing for peace. The ground, the earth itself is cursed and brings forth epic disasters. The whole creation is suffering for a lack of peace.
And, you know, I don’t even think most people even want peace. We revel in our busyness. We endlessly toil in vanity. We boast in our anxieties.
It’s as if the man with the greatest pressure in life might somehow be the most successful.
So, yeah, when life catches up with one of our loved ones and we watch them wrestle against life and they finally succumb to the brokenness of this life and pass on into the next, we intuitively believe, “She’s finally at peace.”
Because, we know this life and this world does not offer us peace.
I didn’t actually want to call this message killing peace. Peace means tranquil, calm, restful, quiet. That’s an understatement to what the Bible calls peace.
I wanted to call this message killing Shalom.
Have you heard that word before?
Shalom is the Hebrew word usually translated peace in your Old Testament. And it’s far more than peace.
…is the Hebrew word for peace.
It’s a loaded word.
To explain, I want to read you the story, the story about the fall of Shalom.
Genesis 2:5–25 ESV
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
I want you to notice a few things from this story. The man and the woman were together, they were unclothed, completely vulnerable, and yet they were unashamed. They had nothing to hide. Their relationship was safe.
Although two beings, they operated as one.
The woman was a helper fit to the man.
They came together like two pieces of a puzzle to accomplish God’s good purposes.
Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 ESV
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. When two come together they are far stronger, far more gifted, far more able, then they ever would be on their own.
That’s Shalom. Shalom is peace, cooperation, and unity with fellow man.
Let’s go back to the story, though. There’s a second part to Shalom that needs to be addressed.
Genesis 3:1–8 ESV
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
Here we see a second aspect of Shalom. You see, the LORD God was walking in the garden, the same garden that the man and his wife lived in.
Who here has walked with the LORD? Physically walked with the LORD?
This is spectacular! If you were here last weak, you know that the LORD was in the garden to rule as a just and wise King over the Kingdom that the man and woman were supposed to build.
Shalom is peace with fellow man. But, Shalom is peace with God. Shalom means being able to walk in the presence of God without shame.
The fullest picture of Shalom is this:
Shalom is peace with God and the people He created.
That’s why Jesus said the greatest commandment is…
Matthew 22:37–40 ESV
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus wasn’t just concerned with peace with God. Jesus wasn’t just concerned with peace with man. Jesus was concerned with peace with God AND man.
So, these two commands aren’t just LIKE each other, they are JUST-LIKE each other. They are the inextricably united as if they were one command, because there is no peace with God unless there is peace with humanity and there is no peace with humanity unless there is peace with God.
Because, without both there is no Shalom. There is no peace.
So, I want to continue the story. I want to continue the story of humankind, your story and my story.
We saw that people lost Shalom, which means they no longer had peace with God or peace with each other. The man and the woman were at unrest. They couldn’t even be naked in each other’s presence because of their shame.
They were in a state of what I’ll call, ‘not-Shalom.’
Let’s go back to Genesis 3 to see how God deals with…
It’s funny because the first thing the man and woman do when they realize they are naked, they try to deal with the problem themselves.
- They don’t go to God.
- They don’t go to each other.
- Shalom is obviously broken.
We already read it, but let’s read it again, because I want you to see what they did.
Genesis 3:7 ESV
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
They tried to sew leaves together, and you can guess how well that went, because after just a few minutes of talking with God, this happens.
Genesis 3:21 ESV
And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
The man and woman were naked and ashamed so they tried to cover their shame with fig leaves, and since they didn’t have sewing machines and fig leaves are hardly the proper material for clothing, that didn’t work out so well.
I mean we have all see an Adam and Eve Halloween costume, with the fig leaves. The costumes don’t do anything to cover shame. They actually flaunt shame. They flaunt nakedness.
So God steps in to show some mercy. He makes them some decent clothing from animal hides. I actually think what happened here is he taught them to make clothing. But…
God covered their shame.
And this is so fascinating to me.
What is your gut reaction when you do something you know is wrong? What is your initial response when you do something shameful?
You know, it’s the problem of technology. Technology makes it very easy for people to cover their own shame. Instead of coming clean, instead of running to God for forgiveness, instead of confessing our sins to each other and reconciling, our gut reaction is to cover our shame.
We act like everything is OK. If no one can see my shame, I’m OK. I’m good. Everything is fine.
And, you know, we always say things like, “But, God knows your heart,” and, “He knows what you did.”
And that’s all true. But, you can’t miss this.
- God wasn’t concerned here with whether or not their hearts were right.
- He wasn’t concerned with whether or not they were remorseful.
- God didn’t restore Adam and Eve.
God didn’t take away their guilt. God didn’t take away their shame. God didn’t restore Shalom.
God gave them a means to cover their shame.
I mean…does God want people hiding their sin?
Here’s the principle.
Romans 3:10–18 ESV
as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Romans 3:23 ESV
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
- Every person, by birth, is consumed with a lack of Shalom.
- Everyone sins.
- Everyone contributes to the brokenness and unfaithfulness of this world.
What God is concerned about when he covers the shame of man is this. He doesn’t want them to become comfortable in their shame and begin to revel in their shame.
So he covers their shame.
And that’s actually what happens anyway. I mean look at society around us. But let’s stick with the Bible here. In speaking of the immorality of the ancient people, the Apostle Paul writes this:
Romans 1:29–32 ESV
They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
You see, sin is a big enough problem on its own. But, when we ‘give approval to those who practice’ sin, we do immeasurably more damage to Shalom. When our sin is public, we revel in our sin. And when we revel in our sin, the rift between people grows wider and the rift between God and humankind grows wider.
So, God covered their shame that they might not revel in shamefulness. It’s not that God is fine with hidden sin and hidden shame, but that covering our shame rather than reveling in it keeps the progression of sin in the world at bay.
God drove them out of his presence.
Genesis 3:22–24 ESV
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
There’s two things going on in this passage. The first is that God sends them out of the garden. This is because, as the prophet Habakkuk tells us, God does not tolerate sin in His presence.
Since the man and woman betrayed God and destroyed the Shalom in the Garden of Eden, man and woman could no longer live in the presence of God.
God told Moses,
Exodus 33:20 ESV
But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”
Apart from Shalom, people cannot enter into the presence of God and survive.
So, because Shalom is gone, God gives people a means to cover their shame and then drives them out of his presence. They can’t live in the presence of God.
And then he gives a great grace to them.
God numbered their days
Genesis 3:22 ESV
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—”
God takes away the means of eternal life from the people. No longer can they eat from the tree of life, because they would live forever if they ate of it. God determined that mankind would die. Mankind must die.
But, wait…didn’t I say this was a grace?
This is a grace! Death, in this case is grace, because to live eternally without Shalom would be a greater curse.
And that might seem like a disconnect to you.
You might ask, but isn’t life after death eternal too? Isn’t that what Christians believe in, life after death?
And you would be right to ask that. Certainly, life is eternal, even after death. And God’s plan dealt with life after death as well.
That’s where Jesus comes into the story. So let’s explore…
What Jesus Does with Shalom
Humanities failure to image God destroyed Shalom in the world. But, when Jesus died, paying the penalty for our rebellion against God, he made it possible to image God again, and likewise to restore Shalom to the universe.
And it starts with Jesus’s death. When Jesus died on the cross he payed the penalty that was due you and I and every human being for our sins. He made it possible for us to be restored to God, to find peace with God, Shalom with God.
In Romans 5:1 the Apostle Paul says,
Romans 5:1 ESV
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The word ‘justified’ means, just-as-if-I-never-sinned. Sin put us at unrest, not-Shalom. But, if we have faith in Jesus then we have been made as though we had never sinned in the eyes of God.
When God looks to me, He sees only righteousness. And that’s true for all people who have faith in Jesus. If you have faith in Jesus, then God sees only the righteousness of Jesus upon you.
But, faith in Jesus is more than just believing that Jesus died for our sins. Believe it or not, most people in the US still—even today—believe that Jesus died for their sins.
That seems promising, but is believing that Jesus died enough?
Paul encouraged the Corinthian church. He said,
2 Corinthians 13:5a ESV
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.
What did Paul mean? How do you do that? How do you test yourself? How do you know if you are really one of Jesus’s followers?
Well, Jesus says if you want to know if someone is one of His followers,
Matthew 7:20 ESV
Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
You will recognize people of faith because of the fruit produced in their lives.
In other words, when someone really knows Jesus, they more and more produce fruit that looks like Jesus’s fruit.
Another way to say that would be this: When someone really knows Jesus, they image Jesus more and more.
That’s what followers of Jesus are destined for. They are destined to be remade in the image of Jesus. They are destined for Shalom.
That’s why the Apostle Paul wrote:
Romans 8:29 ESV
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
God determined before time even began that His people would look like Jesus, the Son.
God’s solution to the breaking of Shalom is to make every person image Jesus, look like Jesus.
And that’s what will happen in the end, when all of this broken world comes to it’s end. Prophesying about the end times, the Apostle John writes this:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
~Revelation 21:1–5a, ESV
Jesus is making all things new. Everything that is broken is being re-formed into the image of God to recreate the Shalom of the garden of Eden, in the beginning.
And that re-formation starts now. If you believe that Jesus died for your sins and you are following Jesus and your life is producing good fruit, then you are already being made new.
You already have peace with God and your good fruit is working towards peace with man. You are a part of the new Shalom that God is creating.
The first man destroyed peace, destroyed Shalom. But Jesus makes peace again. Jesus makes Shalom again.
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