Movement 2—The Kingdom Rebellion
Man as Rebellious Sinner
We’re now ready to consider the second movement, the next stage in our story of the Gospel. If we must insist on the kingdom being established at creation, then we must also insist on the very sad and grievous reality that this world is currently not the same, and this is because of the kingdom rebellion.
As I said in the previous post, the world I’ve just described seems like it’s out of a movie, a fantasy novel. We live in South Africa—I have no need to convince you about this world being fallen. Just 25 years ago the dignity of almost 80% of the population was suppressed. Disease and death consumes humanity without any obstacles. Corruption, abuse, and deception fuels those in power. The voiceless are trampled down. The hurting are left for nothing. Money, education and health is hard to come by. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Friends, is this the kingdom God established? Absolutely not. What happened, then?
What happened is the tragic event we commonly refer to as the fall—but a fall makes it sound like it was a mistake. A better way to look at it would be to call it a rebellion.
Let’s take a look at Genesis 3:1–21,
3:1 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’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 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.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 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.7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the coolof the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
There’s so much here to talk about. But for our purposes we want to highlight the significance of this event for the kingdom of God as it relates to the Gospel.
What we have here is the original divine design being corrupted with the arrival of another competing kingdom. As the stewards of God’s good creation, Adam and Eve were met with a rival kingdom, as it was whispered to them through the mouth of the Serpent.
Sadly, the offer appears too great to pass up. Instead of choosing to honor God and serve and worship him, Adam and Eve decided to choose to follow the Serpent. In so doing, they commit treason. They’ve sided with rebellion; they’ve sided against the good and holy Creator.
Missing the Mark
And what happens? Sin happens, to put it simply. Sin literally means ‘missing the mark’. Missing the mark of what, though?
Well, it’s connected to the initial purpose behind our creation: we were created to live in devotion with God and to reflect his goodness into the world– as a correlation to the internal fellowship of the trinity itself. But in turning aside to the offer of Satan, this role becomes inverted, warped and fractured. We’ve missed the mark of living for God’s glory—literally living so as to spread the glory of God.
And what is the result of all this? A torn and fractured creation. Do you see the effects of this rebellion? In every direction we look everything turns to chaos: between God and man; between man and woman; even between man and the earth. Instead of the ground yielding fruit as it ought to, God promises Adam that he himself will yield and give way to the ground, one day it will swallow him up. Ironically it’ll take dominion of you.
But, friends, I would hate for us to miss what lies behind this great act of treason. At the heart of all this is matter of worship. Sin and rebellion against God is not so much a matter of just breaking his rules and law—though it certainly is that. Paul will reflect on sin and the nature of people who rebel against God and he tells us that it is a matter of worship.
The plight of every person who has ever lived is that they have a worship problem. As Paul tells us:
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.(Rom. 1:21-23)
The result is that our efforts to rule the earth and subdue it become twisted. We’re still enjoying this privilege, but oh how this role of ours is abused! Now, since aligning our allegiance and trust to ourselves and Satan’s purposes, we rule and subdue the earth not for the worship of God and furtherance of his purposes, but for our own end and it tends toward destruction– it is only godly wisdom coming from above that is fruitful and altogether good.
And so, as Scripture tells us elsewhere, the wages, the result of human rebellion is death. ‘Death’ because we are no longer living for the one who is the author of life. Death, because God is just, and cannot clear the guilty (see Exod. 34:7).
Displaced Kings & Queens
And so God’s judgment on Adam and Eve is displacement from the garden. Those who have committed treason cannot remain in the place of mediating heaven on earth, extending and reflecting God’s reign and rule. For that to happen, for God to restore what was here lost, to once again bring about his kingdom, we must wait for the next movement, the next instalment in the “gospel of the kingdom”.
But as we close here, I wonder if you would just take time to consider your own status before the Creator. Maybe you’ve never considered your life as being one that’s lived in rebellion to God? Maybe you’ve played down your sin, maybe you’ve traded God’s purposes for your own, and actually you are god, you are master of your fate and the dictator of your existence? Just know that no one will escape God’s just and holy wrath and judgment against human rebellion. Adam and Eve’s exile from the Garden is just a small taste of the eternal exile sinners will experience in hell—cast away from God’s presence, with no hope, without God.
Don’t listen to the world and Satan which tells us that sin is good, that it is natural, that it is merely biological. God is righteous and holy and he will by no means clear the guilty.