In a general sense everything written in the Bible was written for our instruction (Rom.15:4). Yet as preachers we can fall into the trap of looking for a sermon in a text, rather than fully pursuing the process of allowing the text to be boss of the sermon.
Yesterday I was discussing Genesis 3 with a friend. I’ve heard sermons that essentially ignore everything after verse 7 in order to give a how-to guide to resisting temptation. Was that why the chapter was written? This was not merely an example of temptation, it was the Fall. While there may be a place for noting the steps Eve took that led to disaster, surely this cannot dominate the message to the extent that the passage becomes a mere instructional piece.
Why was it written? There is instruction about a one-off event with lasting implications that face us all everyday. There may be passing lessons to learn about the way the enemy works in our response to God’s instruction. There also is significant space given to explanation of the consequences of the Fall. There is also hope interwoven with judgment in the seed of the woman to come.
When we pause and ponder enough to recognize that the passage is not an instructional anecdote, but one of the most significant events of history, and that the reverberations of that event are wobbling our world moment by moment right until this moment, and that the solution is not in our ability to implement lessons from Eve’s conversation, but in the hope of the seed of the woman who would come and crush the serpent’s head. When we spend enough time in the text and see why it was written, then we are in a better place to preach the Word. After all, it was written for our instruction, so that through the encouragement of Scriptures we might have hope! (Rom.15:4)