A Remarkable Promise

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
Genesis 3:15 (NIV)

As we begin our journey through Scripture from Genesis toward Bethlehem, today’s text is where we start. After the “Fall” of Adam and Eve, when the first sin was committed, the Lord immediately began to make a series of promises concerning His plan to redeem a people for Himself.

The first indication by God for the cure for our sin is in the words spoken by the Lord to Satan, “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

These words suggest a battle between a man and Satan in which the man will be injured, and Satan will be defeated. We know that our Saviour was attacked by Satan very early in His life by mad king Herod. Joseph was told in a dream to flee to Egypt because Herod was after his stepson Jesus. The gifts the wisemen brought certainly came in handy for Joseph to finance the trip and sojourn in a foreign country.

It is comforting to witness the speed with which the Lord initiated these exceedingly great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4). No sooner than the sin was committed in the Garden of Eden but the Lord began to unveil the plan of salvation. From among humanity the solution to human sin would come. The Man would represent His people as He crushed Satan’s head by rising from the dead. The resurrection of our Lord proved He paid the sinner’s debt in full. As Toplady put it so well:

The terrors of law and of God
With me can have nothing to do;
My Savior’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.

Dear reader, do you know if this promised Man represents you before His Father in heaven? Have you enlisted Him to advocate for you? Read how Joseph Hart put it:

Come, you sinners, poor and needy,
weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
full of pity, love, and power.

Come, you thirsty, come and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
true belief and true repentance,
ev’ry grace that brings you nigh.

Let not conscience make you linger,
nor of fitness fondly dream;
all the fitness he requires
is to feel your need of him.

What Went Wrong?

“The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’”
Genesis 3:13 (NIV)

Perhaps the most pressing, the most vexing question people have asked through the ages has been the problem of evil and death that plagues every generation. How come the marvelous gift of life can be so swiftly concluded by the angel of death? Why can death suddenly end the hopes and aspirations of humanity? Why does death even exist? How can a loving God permit such suffering in His perfect world????

Genesis 3 informs us of how degeneration and death came into our world millennia ago. There we read how rebellion against our Creator brought sin and death upon all creation. Suffering and death came through our first parents, Adam and Eve. Romans 5:12 (NIV)

just as sin entered the world through one man,
and death through sin, and in this way,
death came to all people, because all sinned—”

Adam and Eve lived in perfect bliss and harmony with God and creation until the moment they committed the act of rebellion by eating the forbidden fruit. As soon as they did that their sin contaminated God’s perfect universe. Instead of creation operating in constant perfect harmony, degeneration set in and order started to become chaos.

Ever since that scene in Genesis 3 history is full of stories about people committing sins of every kind. All of us to some extent greater or less have this disease of sin to contend with. “Sin is any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God” says the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

If we are to be delivered from the contamination and condemnation of sin, we must first acknowledge our need of extraordinary help far, far beyond anything we can do for ourselves. Tomorrow we will begin looking at the trail of biblical promises through the Old Testament beginning in Genesis 3.

An Amazing Beginning

“In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made;
without him nothing was made that has been made.”
John 1:1-3 (NIV)

“For in him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things have been created through him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Colossians 1:16-17 (NIV)

The first book of the Christian Bible is the book of Genesis or the book of beginnings. In this book we read the answers to questions cosmologists ask such as, “How did the universe begin?” or “Why did the universe begin”. In the sacred pages of Holy Scripture we read the answers to these and other questions about the origin, the purpose, and the final destiny of the universe.

Arguably the most brilliant theoretical physicist of the twentieth century was Albert Einstein.

Though not believing in a personal God, The Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929, published George Sylvester Viereck’s interview with Albert Einstein. When asked “To what extent are you influenced by Christianity,” Einstein answered: “As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.” When asked “Have you read Emil Ludwig’s book on Jesus,” Einstein replied: “Emil Ludwig’s Jesus is shallow. Jesus is too colossal for the pen of phrasemongers, however artful. No man can dispose of Christianity with a bon mot! (witty remark) When asked “You accept the historical existence of Jesus,” Einstein answered: “Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.”

Jesus is the One Who created everything that exists and did so for His pleasure. As we begin this month of December that includes the joyful theme of Christmas, I wish to take you through the Bible from Genesis to the Gospels and consider with you various prophecies concerning the One Who was to come as the Saviour of sinners.

Yes, Jesus really did come into the world of space and time as promised by the prophets and His life here is recorded by the four Gospels for us to read and to be “enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.”

Join me on this literary adventure in the pages of holy writ this month and learn afresh to find yourself lost in wonder, love and praise.

Free in Christ

Therefore, there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus,
because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit
who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:1-2 (NIV)

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:3-4 (NIV)

I was encouraged recently to read an article in a Christian magazine about how churches in the USA are reaching out to inmates in penitentiaries. A church will be given access to a prisoner and will visit, send letters and cards, and help them celebrate birthdays and Christmas. They are committed to helping the person when they are paroled by finding housing, helping them find employment and continuing to witness in various acts of love and, of course, helping them find a church home.

Our verses today speak to the privilege of every child of God concerning their salvation. What we all owe to our Creator is perfect and perpetual obedience to all He commands. None of us can possibly offer to God a sinless life and so we come under the condemnation of the law when it says (Ezekiel 18:4),

“The soul that sins shall die”

When we become Christians the righteousness of Christ is given to us (1 Corinthians 1:30). We are considered as righteous as our Lord Himself. The reason Jesus came into history and lived a perfect sinless life was to provide for us the righteousness the law required but we could not attain. In dying for us He took all the punishment our sins deserved. A wonderful poem was written to develop this truth and is as follows. May it bless your heart as much as it blesses mine each time I read it.

A debtor to mercy alone, of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear, with Thy righteousness on,
my person and off’ring to bring.
The terrors of law and of God with me can have nothing to do;
My Savior’s obedience and blood
hide all my transgressions from view.
The work which His goodness began,
the arm of His strength will complete;
His promise is Yea and Amen, and never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now,
nor all things below or above,
Can make Him His purpose forgo, or sever my soul from His love.
My name from the palms of His hands eternity will not erase;
Impressed on His heart it remains, in marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure, as sure as the earnest is giv’n;
More happy, but not more secure, the glorified spirits in Heav’n.

-A. M. Toplady

She Did It First

“he humbled himself”
Philippians 2:8

It seems every child born into the world has programmed into their minds the idea that if someone does something mean or nasty to you, then you have the right, if not the responsibility, to do the same back to them. What parent has not learned that when Johnny hits his little sister and he is reprimanded for it, he will immediately say, “Well, she did it to me first.” That is, to Johnny’s mind, reason enough to hit his sister.

It is our duty as parents to teach our children that we are not always to imitate the behaviour of others in this life. The Bible does not say, “Do unto others what they have done unto you.” Rather it says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” So then, imitation is not necessarily the right or necessary thing to do to others.

In our text we have the remarkable statement of Paul to the effect that the Lord of glory humbled Himself and took onto Himself the form of humankind. He who was the Creator of everything (Colossians 1:16) entered His own creation and submitted Himself to the laws He put in place to govern His creation. Not only did He submit to the physical laws of our world, He who will some day judge all creation, allowed people to sit in judgment on Him. He allowed those to whom He gave life to become those who would take away His physical life.

Such humility is unequalled in all of recorded history. His good reputation was soiled by lies. His earthly goods consisted only of the clothes on His back. He was mocked, flogged, denied His rights before the law courts, and then crucified, the most painful form of dying then known. Finally He was laid to rest in a borrowed tomb. Could anyone be more humiliated than He was?

We know that Jesus did all of this out of love for sinners. He lived the perfect life we could not. He died the death we deserve. Then He rose the third day to prove the price for sin was fully paid. Now, for those who repent and trust in Him, there is everlasting life.

Paul, in our verse for today tells us to humble ourselves as Jesus did when He walked among us. Christians are people who do not demand what is rightfully theirs any more than Jesus demanded what was rightfully His. In our present society this is hard to swallow. We are taught by the world to “demand our rights”. If we do not get our rights, then sue for them.

So when Paul writes to the Philippian Christians he is telling them to look to Jesus who gave up His rights and do likewise. Do not insist on what is rightfully yours. A fortress mentality and looking after our own interests first is not the Christian way. Certainly we are to look after our own interests, but self-denial is a virtue, not an affliction. It is not always necessary to go after all that we could or should have in this life.

We can release our rights to many things as long as we are certain we still have our God.

We might lose our health in this life. If the medical community cannot assist us in recovering our good health then we should humble ourselves and accept the alternative of being chronically ill. If you are denied a partner in life while most or all of your friends have a spouse, humble yourself and accept it from God. If you cannot afford the finer things in life that your acquaintances have, humble yourself under God and accept your situation.

On it goes, you fill in the blank(s). God asks all of us to be like Jesus in humility. He calls on us to give up our “rights” in order to demonstrate our obedience to Him. We ought to always keep our eyes on Jesus as seen especially in the Gospels.

Have you “humbled” yourself? Is your life characterized by humility? It says in 1 Peter 5:5, (NIV).

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”