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Life of Seth: An Expository Character Narrative Sermon

Life is not what it’s supposed to be or what it used to be, but God promises to restore life through his appointed One.

[Hoeing. Pulling weeds – Has a pain in hand]

Ow! These cursed thorns! Oh, I didn’t see you there. Welcome friend. The name’s Seth. Why don’t you have a seat? I could use some rest myself.

[Sits down]

Wow, farming this land is a real pain. Water around here is sparse and the sun in these parts is hot as fire. It’s a wonder this place isn’t a desert. Now, I’m not trying to complain. I mean farming puts food on the table. It’s just that I slave out here all day weeding, plowing, sowing, digging water trenches. You’d think after all of that work I’d have an abundant crop at harvest time. But these cursed thistles and thorn bushes! They grow up everywhere. It doesn’t take any work for them to grow. No matter what I do or how hard I work, I just can’t get rid of them. You’d think after all these years of farming I would have learned how to get rid of these thorns in my fields, but it seems like the more I work, the more these thorns grow. Don’t get me wrong, farming provides us with food; enough to satisfy my family, but some days it feels like I only deal with thorns.

I could deal with this labor if the rest of my life were going well, but that’s a mess too. I come out to the fields before dawn and slave away until dusk trying to feed my family. When I come home I just want to put my feet up and relax. But when I get home it seems like it’s always something. Enosh picked a fight with his sister, or one of the youngsters is throwing a temper tantrum. When I come home, my wife is at her wit’s end. On those rare nights when everything goes smoothly, my wife and I are too exhausted from the day to talk. Whenever we do talk, it seems like we have to figure out how to fix a misunderstanding or disagreement. I upset her because of my thoughtless comment, or she frustrates me because she won’t tell me what’s really on her mind. We love each other, but we are constantly working through some mix-up or resolving a misunderstanding.

My family background doesn’t help matters. See, I come from a broken family. I’m the third brother but I’ve never met the older two. One is estranged and the other one is dead. My oldest brother murdered the younger. In a fit of jealous rage he slaughtered him. Then God banished him. I’ve never met him. He lives out in the wilderness. He and his family are constantly moving from place to place. Frankly, they are so rowdy and rude that I really don’t care if I ever meet him. But all of that happened before I was born.

The ironic thing is that my parents named me “Seth.” They named me “replacement.” That’s right, I’m the appointed replacement for a brother I never met. I sometimes get the feeling that when my mom and dad look at me, they’re really thinking about my dead brother. My mom and dad have such high expectations for me. Those expectations are impossible for me to fulfill. Let me tell you, some days I’m surprised that we are still holding on.

To top it all off, it feels like God is so far away. Are you a religious person? I don’t mean to offend you if you’re not. I know that some people try to ignore God and do their own thing, but I have to tell you I am a religious man. I cry out to the Lord every day. I pray and ask him to help. I pray that God would send rain. I ask him to protect my kids from the evil one and that he would help guide them to what is right. I pray that God would give my wife and me patience as we raise our family. I regularly bring God an offering, the best animals in my flock and the first fruits of my harvest. I mean I’ve learned after all these years that God deserves my best. I especially cry out to the Lord when one of my family members is sick.

And every once and a while I sense God’s presence. Sometimes it feels like the Lord knows I’m here and that he genuinely cares about me. But most of the time, God just feels so far away. It seems that I just can’t connect with him, I can’t sense his presence, I feel … I feel alone. It seems like life is just not what it is supposed to be. Life is so hard. Things should be different. They should be better. It feels like life is just not what its supposed to be.


What’s that you say? You, feel that way too?

You want to know something? My dad tells me that things used to be different. I know it’s hard to believe, but really, life wasn’t always this hard. See, my dad has been around a long time. He told me that at first, everything was perfect. He lived in a lush garden. It was full of all kinds of plants: orchids, oak trees, long vines of ivy, and azalea bushes. It was nestled between four rivers. There was never any shortage of water in the garden. That’s for sure. Life itself flowed from everywhere. The garden was filled with the finest of gold and jewels, and had the most exquisite smell. My dad said the garden was a wonderful place, a holy place.

My dad’s first job was to tend the garden. He was kind of the minister of the garden. He cared for it, preserved it, and upheld it. That’s the job that the Lord gave him. It was fulfilling and it was productive. He told me that the trees and bushes grew up as easily as dandelions. There weren’t any thistles or thorn bushes to deal with. Can you imagine! And according to dad, the garden was the most beautiful thing he has ever seen.

Now, he never could tell me exactly what it looked like. One day I asked him to describe the garden, but he didn’t have the words. He just closed his eyes took a deep breath [breathe – pause] and sighed [exhale]. It was like he could see the garden in his mind, but it was too hard to talk about. It truly must have been a beautiful place.

He also told me that the plants and trees in this garden produced all kinds of wonderful and pleasant food. It was the kind of savory food that you long for. Kind of like how I long for my mother’s fresh baked bread. When he talks about that food his mouth still waters. And he could eat all of the fruit in the garden. Well almost all of the fruit. There was one tree in the middle of the garden that the Lord God told him not to eat from and that if he did, he would die. But the rest of the food was so delicious he barely even thought about that one tree.

My dad liked his second job even better. Even though he was living in such a marvelous garden, he wanted a companion. He needed someone to spend his life with someone who was his co-laborer, his fitting partner. So, God told him to get to know all of the creatures and give them names. Now that took some time. You see, where I live, the name we give kind of represents that person or thing. So, God brought each of the animals to my father. He spent time with each animal. He got to know them and then he named them. Trout, Robin, Giraffe, Goat, Crocodile, Spider, [pause] Snake. Each creature was wonderful, but there were some he liked more than others. He made best friends with one animal he called “dog.” But he found no fitting companion.

So, the Lord God made a companion for my dad. He made my dad fall into a deep sleep. Dad told me that he can’t remember much about that day but when my dad woke up … there … was … woman. When he saw her, he burst into song. He instantly knew that she was his companion. This lovely creature was the pinnacle of the Lord God’s creation! She was his perfect companion.

Now my mom and dad were quite a pair. Oh, they still are, but it was different back then. My dad said that they didn’t hide anything from each other, they didn’t have to. There was complete trust, complete care, and complete love. They tended the Lord’s garden together and talked together. They served each other. They weren’t afraid of anything. They were truthful, patient, and kind. They never had any misunderstandings or miscommunication. They were completely intimate and vulnerable with each other in every way. There was no anger, jealousy, pride, or rudeness. They were two people, but they were one.

But the best part is that they knew the Lord. I mean they really KNEW the Lord. He was with them everywhere. Now, I know God is everywhere. I mean he’s right here with you and me right now, but back then, they knew the Lord like they knew each other. They could see him and talk with him. They used to go walking with the Lord in the garden. My dad said that they never felt alone. They always knew that the Lord was with them. The Lord God was their companion, their friend. Just like my mom and dad had nothing to hide from each other, they had nothing to hide from the Lord.

Now that’s the way life is meant to be. My parents were in perfect fellowship with the world, with each other, and with the Lord God their Maker and Friend. Life used to be different. It was perfect in every way. I wish it were still that way.

Oh, you want to know what happened? Well, that is a sad story. You see, the Lord God he took care of my parents and they were supposed to listen to him. And my parents in turn took care of his garden and the garden was supposed to listened to them. Well, my parents they got things back words.

You remember me telling you that they could eat from every tree in the garden except one? Well one of the creatures, the snake, he put this idea in my mom’s head that God was keeping something from her. That God lied to them and that they if they ate from that tree they wouldn’t die, but that they would be like God. She listened to that snake instead of God. And instead of helping my mom, my dad listened to her and both of them ate from that tree in the middle of the garden.

As soon as they did, they knew! They knew they had sinned against the Lord. They listened to that snake instead of listening to the Lord, and they knew things would never be the same again. When they heard God thunder, they were afraid. They tried to hide from him, but God found them. They realized they were naked. They were so ashamed but as hard as they tried, they couldn’t cover up what they had done.

And then things fell apart. When the Lord asked my dad what he had done, he blamed my mother. And when the Lord asked her, she blamed the snake. Ever since that day we can’t seem to get along. Of course, I already told you what happened to my older brothers.

Now the Lord had every right to slay them that day. But he didn’t. Oh, there were some consequences for their actions. God drove them out of his garden, out of his sanctuary, out of his presence. They could not be with him like before. They have to live here in this hostile world, separated from God, and separated from each other.

But the Lord God was gracious to them on that day. He provided a way for my parents to be in his presence. He gave them animal skins so that they might cover themselves and not be ashamed in his presence, though it was not like before. That’s why you and I are stuck in this world. This broken and hurting world.

God did not abandon my parents. The Lord God made a promise to them on that day. He said that things won’t always be this way. He filled my parents with hope because God promised that one day his creation will be completely restored.

You see on the day my parents ate the forbidden fruit the Lord God declared war on the serpent. He said that one of my mother’s children, someone like me, someone like you, would crush the serpent’s head. The Lord God said that the serpent would bite back and wound the person, but that the serpent is doomed. You see, God promised to restore life through his appointed One.

I think my parents hoped that I’d be that child, that I was the “appointed one.” But it’s not me. Too many times I have also listened to the lies of that snake. We need someone who doesn’t listen to the lies of that serpent, who obeys the Lord God instead of that devilish asp.

So my family and I have been calling on the name of the Lord God. We are waiting and longing for the appointed one who will destroy the work of that wicked serpent. We are trusting in God’s promise to restore life through his appointed One. So we wait. We wait for the Lord God to send the appointed One and restore what was lost. We wait for God to make life the way it’s supposed to be once again. We trust his promise and we wait for God’s appointed One.

Well, that’s enough of a break for me. It’s time to get back to work. These thorns won’t pull themselves and my wife will be pretty upset with me if I come home late again. But I’m glad you stopped by. Hey, if you find the appointed One, you let me know all right? In fact, if you find him, tell everyone about him, O.K.? He’s the one that will bring life again. He’s the One all of creation is waiting for. So long now.

Todd H. Hilkemann is ordained in the Christian Reformed Church. He has pastored congregations in Minnesota and Colorado. He was also a missionary in Kenya.

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