A 40-Days Lenten Series
In the weeks approaching Resurrection Sunday, let’s walk through Scripture to hear how the story of salvation has been shared with God’s children throughout history using garden and vineyard narratives. The journey starts in the Garden of Eden and takes us to Easter morning when Jesus met Mary in the garden outside of the empty tomb.
Along the way, we’ll take notice of God’s great love for His creation, the damage that we have done to ourselves and the rest of creation, and His redemptive work in accordance with His character.
By the end of the series, we’ll see the bigger picture of how grace and mercy have been pouring from the heart of God (and eventually the side of Jesus) since the beginning of the human story.
If you're looking to get the most out of the series, use the tools below to dive deeper! There's something for every type of learner, including songs, further suggested reading, and of course, Sunday morning messages!
WEEK TWO - Daily Devotionals
Starts February 25th
Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” Genesis 22:13-14
God had carved a safe place out of the wilderness and rested His image in the garden of Eden. There was thriving and flourishing, as all things were as they should be. There was right relationship with God, and with self, and with others. There was even a right relationship with the land. But, instead of cultivating that rightness and expanding the garden for the benefit of others, the humans placed in the garden by God began to strive for more for themselves. No longer content to be in right relationship with God, they strove to be God for themselves and to define what was right and what was wrong on their own.
This is where we hear of their exile from the garden. We sense their dislocation as their relationships with God and with others and with themselves are each damaged severely. I think you might agree that as we are reading in Genesis 3, our own aches for a homecoming start to come into focus. It is worth recognizing that there is a kind of mercy in the fact that God didn’t allow them access to the tree of life at that point. Scholars talk about how God did not want the humans to be fixed firmly in place in their fallen state through access to the tree of life. So, God set in motion a plan to redeem humanity first, before that permanence would be reached. This redemption plan slowly comes into focus in the pages of Genesis, but our understanding of it accelerates upon the calling of Abraham.
On the heels of the story of the Tower of Babel we find the call of Abraham. Abraham and his family suffered all the same problems and pains as Adam and Eve. Joshua chapter 24 tells us that Abraham and his family were worshiping idols, out beyond the Euphrates. Their dislocation was real. They lived among those who had been striving to make a name for themselves and carve out a city in the wilderness where they might achieve their own immortality (Genesis 11:3-4). Abraham and his family suffered under the same universal need for a homecoming. And it is God that called them home and into right relationship with the land, with others, with self, and with God. In the three verses at the beginning of chapter 12 in Genesis, we peer into the redemptive work of God as He begins to break the chains that bind humanity. God calls Abraham to trust Him and leave behind all that which can only utter false promises. He asks Abraham to leave behind his country, his people, and his father’s household, and follow Him to a land that God will show him. In following God and trusting Him, Abraham will experience all that these false idols had failed to deliver to him. God will make a name for Abraham, redeeming his identity. God will put Abraham into right relationship with those around him and restore him to a flourishing life of relationship with God and usher humanity back in to Eden.
It is a bumpy ride to be sure. How could it not be? Abraham is not yet who he is meant to be. There is much to unlearn. But God will meet with Abraham again and again, each time reassuring him of the plans that He has for him. For his part, Abraham, though often faltering, would return to the source of his restoration, time and again. In the pages of this narrative, from Genesis 12 through 25, we hear of Abraham meeting with God at the tree of Moreh, under the great trees of Mamre (Genesis 13, 18 and 23), and on the mountain in the region of Moriah. It is in these places so reminiscent of Eden that Abraham is restored more and more fully to the human being that he was meant to be. It is in these places that Abraham learned to listen to God, and to speak with God, and to trust Him. It is in these places that Abraham learned that it is God who is able to do the redemptive work that is needed, and it is God who will do it. What was announced to Abraham is seen more fully by us. When redemption is seen in its fullness, God Himself will journey into the wilderness and offer a sacrifice that can bring us home once and for all.
Weekly Overview Reading: Genesis 11:1-9, 11:27-12:8
Click HERE for a video with further insight.
Highlighted songs: Beautiful Things by Gungor, New Wine by Hillsong, Same God by Elevation Worship
Click HERE to listen to a playlist for the series, including this week’s highlighted songs.
Click HERE to download a PDF of this week’s daily devotionals.
Read Psalm 42
Whatever substitutes we have settled for, there is only one thing that satisfies. It is to the living God that we must turn to find our wholeness and our salvation. The echo and memory of those moments in life when things were as they should be are only a call to worship and to return again to the house of the Lord. We leave aside whatever lies behind and strive on towards that which is ahead. We press on towards the goal of community with God.
Read Genesis 15
See the patience with which God interacts with Abraham. This man who has already abandoned the land that had been promised to him once, and made his wife vulnerable to pharaoh in order to protect himself while there, now has questions for God. Notice that God has answers. Answers that are patient and kind and that gently pull faith out of Abraham, and Abraham into a redeemed future. God loves you with an everlasting love, and will be patient with you as you come to see Him rightly and experience your relationship with Him more fully.
Read Psalm 145
The psalmist reflects on the trustworthy faithfulness of God. Going back to creation, and thinking through God’s compassion from one generation to another, the writer reflects on the fulfilled promises of God. How many more fulfilled promises have we seen than this psalmist? We have seen a gracious and compassionate God who is slow to anger and rich in love, chase after His children on down through the ages. There is not a corner He will leave unswept in His search for you. He is calling you by name just as He called Abraham before us.
Read Psalm 1:1-3
It ought not be lost on us that God is looking to plant us by streams of water. This imagery of a tree that is bearing fruit and does not whither is an echo of Eden. One who delights in the law of the Lord, not turning to their right or to their left, is one who has gladly accepted the wisdom of God, rather than define right and wrong for themselves. This person stays rooted through the seasons of life and is not so easily tossed about by the cultural winds that blow through our lives from year to year.
Read Genesis 18:16-33
Abraham will not be who he is meant to be until he is partnering with God in making the world right. Certainly there is much that is wrong with this world, as evidenced by the outcry going up from Sodom and Gomorrah (like the outcry of Abel’s blood from the ground and the outcry from the oppressed Israelites in Egypt). In this passage, Abraham’s relationship with God begins to spill over its own borders into a blessing for the rest of the world. Here, Abraham is fulfilling the original human vocation of reflecting the character of God into creation. What a privilege to think that God wants to do more than rescue from a world gone wrong, but more than that wants to redeem us fully by having us participate in the rescue of others.