Worth the Wait: Advent Scriptures and Devotion for December 11

 

            As we arrive at day eleven, our studies turn to a review of God‚Äôs unfolding plan of salvation history. We will see how the main characters in this drama are a ‚Äúwoman,‚Äù a ‚Äúserpent,‚Äù and the ‚Äúseed (offspring) of the woman.‚Äù Keep watch for them as you study today‚Äôs passages.

Genesis 3:9-15

            But the Lord God called to the man, ‚ÄúWhere are you?‚Äù 10 He answered, ‚ÄúI heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.‚Äù 11 And he said, ‚ÄúWho told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?‚Äù 12 The man said, ‚ÄúThe woman you put here with me‚Äîshe gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.‚Äù 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‚ÄúWhat is this you have done?‚Äù The woman said, ‚ÄúThe serpent deceived me, and I ate.‚Äù 14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, ‚ÄúBecause you have done this, ‚ÄúCursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspringand hers; he will crushyour head, and you will strike his heel.‚Äù

            First, let‚Äôs unpack our Genesis reading. In the beginning, God created man and woman, in his own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). What does it mean to be created in the image and likeness of God? A few chapters later, Genesis 5:3 gives us a very strong indication. ‚ÄúWhen Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.‚Äù For Seth to be in the image and likeness of Adam meant simply that he was Adam‚Äôs son. If we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, it stands to reason that Adam, created in God‚Äôs image and likeness, was God‚Äôs son. This is confirmed in the final entry in the genealogy of Jesus found in Luke 3:38. It calls, ‚ÄúAdam, the son of God.‚Äù God created Adam and Eve to be His children. This relationship was perfect as God communed with His human family there in the Garden of Eden.

            Adam was given two tasks in the garden. He was to work it and guard it(Genesis 2:15). Also, he and Eve had only one prohibition to deal with. They could not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God warned them that they day they ate of it they would surely die (Genesis 2:17). But Satan, in the form of a serpent, challenged Adam and Eve at the point of their vulnerability. This was their only rule, and if the sneaky snake could cause them to break it, then he would force God‚Äôs hand concerning his warning to Adam and Eve, ruin perfection, and destroy God‚Äôs providential plans. So, the devil made God out to be a liar, arguing to Eve that by eating the fruit they would not surely die. He also enticed them with the thought that if they consumed the fruit, they would be like God! So, Eve, seeing that it was ‚Äúgood for food‚Äù, took the fruit and ate. Eve‚Äôs justification for this egregious sin is stunning! Her justification for throwing her relationship with God away was, ‚ÄúWell, that looks pretty tasty.‚Äù For the moment, the Serpent must have seemed credible. Physical death was not the immediate result.

            But, God does not lie. When they ate the fruit, the image and likeness of God in Adam and Eve did die. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and the death they experienced was spiritual and it was real. In the moments immediately following, when confronted with his sin, Adam blamed Eve. Then, he had the audacity to blame God. ‚ÄúThe WOMANYOU put here with me‚Äîshe gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.‚Äù I‚Äôm sure that sat well with Eve. Sin doesn‚Äôt only bring disunity with God, it also hurts our human relationships!

            Remember for a moment that Adam was supposed to be guarding the garden, and his wife! Instead, he allowed her to be seduced by a serpent. Then, he duplicates her sin by committing his own! Adam also took of the fruit and ate. And in that instant, something earth shattering and life altering happened! Their perception changed. Suddenly they were aware of their nakedness. Their innocence had been lost in their denial of God‚Äôs authority and their desire to claim it for themselves.

            Satan thought he had defeated God by thwarting God‚Äôs plan for perfect family communion. But God was prepared for this assault on His crowning creation. Genesis 3:15 gives us the first glimpse of the Gospel anywhere in the Scriptures. Here we find God speaking to the snake and the woman. In this one verse, see if you can find the Gospel. After cursing the serpent, God says, ‚ÄúI 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.‚Äù Do you see the Gospel? From that day forward, the woman and her ‚Äúseed‚Äù or offspring, will have a hostile and antagonistic relationship with the snake. Then God speaks prophetically. The offspring of the woman will ‚Äúcrush your head,‚Äù though you will ‚Äústrike his heal.‚Äù While the image is a bit vague, it will become crystal clear as we continue to examine the Scripture!

Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12

            Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love hepredestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will‚Äî to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we were also chosen,having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

            Our Ephesians 1 passage emphasizes what we have already noticed in Genesis 3. God had a plan in place from the beginning. He knew that man would choose to sin. God is omniscient, that is, He has all knowledge. He has foreknowledge, which is the ability to know in advance. So, nothing catches God off guard. According to Ephesians 1, God‚Äôs plan to redeem mankind was in place before the foundation of the world. And, the Apostle Paul writes, ‚ÄúIn love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ‚Ķ‚Äù(v. 5). Why would we need to be adopted? Because in the fall of man, the ‚Äúimage and likeness‚Äùof God, that is, our relationship to God as His sons and daughters, was severed. God‚Äôs plan, established before time, was to reestablish that relationship through adoption. This happens when we come into Christ. In effect, we become ‚Äúsons in the Son‚Äù. How does this happen? Paul writes in verse 13, ‚ÄúAnd you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.‚Äù God‚Äôs plan for reconciling us unto Himself was in place before creation. We saw it for the first time in Genesis 3. Where else does it appear? And what about those three characters?

Luke 1:26-38

                 In the sixth month of Elizabeth‚Äôs pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin‚Äôs name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, ‚ÄúGreetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.‚Äù 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, ‚ÄúDo not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob‚Äôs descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.‚Äù 34 ‚ÄúHow will this be,‚Äù Mary asked the angel, ‚Äúsince I am a virgin?‚Äù 35 The angel answered, ‚ÄúThe Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.‚Äù 38 ‚ÄúI am the Lord‚Äôs servant,‚Äù Mary answered. ‚ÄúMay your word to me be fulfilled.‚Äù Then the angel left her.

            In Luke 1:26-38 we are introduced to a young ‚Äúwoman‚Äù from Nazareth. She is a virgin, promised or betrothed to a man named Joseph who is in the line of David. The woman‚Äôs name was Mary. One day the angel Gabriel came to her and addresses her, ‚ÄúHail, highly favored one, the Lord is with you.‚Äù  God was with her and He had big plans in store for this little girl.

            Of course, she was troubled and had questions! The Angel comforted her, ‚ÄúDo not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob‚Äôs descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.‚Äù As we noted in previous days, the Messiah would fulfill the covenant with Abraham and Jacob and would sit on the throne of David! Mary would have heard very clearly that the baby she would bear was none other than the Messiah! Imagine how this young maiden must have felt to hear such amazing things, and then to realize that they were about to happen to her!

            Mary‚Äôs next question is an obvious one. ‚ÄúHow will this be,‚Äù Mary asked the angel, ‚Äúsince I am a virgin?‚Äù Gabriel explained that the Holy Spirit would come upon her, and the power of God would envelope her and that she would conceive and have a son ‚Äì the Son of God. How would this young woman respond? What would her answer be? ‚ÄúI am the Lord‚Äôs servant,‚Äù Mary answered. ‚ÄúMay your word to me be fulfilled.‚ÄùAnother step in Salvation History had been taken. And, what do you know, the characters start to reappear. Remember Genesis 3:15 ‚Äì the ‚Äúwoman‚Äù the ‚Äúserpent‚Äù and the ‚Äúseed‚Äù.  In Luke 1, we find the young ‚Äúwoman‚Äù, whose ‚Äúseed‚Äù will be the Son of God! Also notice the connections to Eve ‚Äì or perhaps I should say, reversals. Eve, the first woman, said no to obeying God. Mary, the second woman, as it were, says yes to obeying God. Eve is used by Satan to infect humanity with the curse of sin. Mary is utilized by God to be the mother of Jesus ‚Äì and it was Jesus whose death, burial and resurrection would reverse the curse of Adam and Eve.

            Do we find any other Scriptural evidence that the ‚Äúwoman‚Äù was Mary? John 2:1-5 states, On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus‚Äô mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus‚Äô mother said to him, ‚ÄúThey have no more wine.‚Äù ‚ÄúWoman, why do you involve me?‚Äù Jesus replied. ‚ÄúMy hour has not yet come.‚Äù His mother said to the servants, ‚ÄúDo whatever he tells you.‚Äù  What does Jesus call his mother in this passage? He calls her ‚Äúwoman.‚Äù Let‚Äôs look further. In John 19:26 we hear Jesus words from the cross. Verse 26 says, ‚ÄúWhen Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to her, ‚ÄúWoman, behold, your son!‚Äù Again, Jesus refers to his mother as ‚Äúwoman.‚Äù Only, this time, He recognizes her as ‚Äúwoman‚Äù at the most pivotal moment in the unfolding of the Gospel. At this very instant the prophecy of Genesis 3:15 is fulfilled, and we see the characters appear again. The woman, her seed and the serpent are all there. And the scenario is playing out exactly as predicted. Jesus identifies the ‚Äúwoman‚Äù as His mother, Mary.  Jesus, the seed of the woman, has His heal bruised or struck. And, though Satan the serpent thought he had won, we know that Jesus overcame sin, death and hell by His own death, and the serpent‚Äôs head was most certainly crushed! This is a perfect fulfillment ‚Äì as prophesied from the beginning ‚Äì way back in Genesis 3:15!

            Finally, remember that Adam stood at a tree where he failed to protect his bride. Jesus, the second Adam, went to a tree where He laid down His life to protect and save His bride, the Church. Adam allowed his bride to be seduced into sin by the serpent, and in so doing caused creation to fall under the curse of sin. Jesus stood up to and defeated the serpent and thereby reversed the curse of sin, death and hell! The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:22, ‚ÄúFor as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.‚Äù

            As we continue to prepare for Christmas and as we wait for His Second Coming, let there be no doubt that God‚Äôs plans will come to fruition! We have the testimony of history, and the promise of God to give us hope for tomorrow. With the psalmist we may sing a new song ‚Äì of the Lord‚Äôs wondrous deeds, of His great victory over Satan, and of His great salvation made known to all mankind. Thanks be to God!

Have a marvelous eleventh day of Advent.

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