Worth the Wait: Advent Scriptures and Devotion for December 24

            Today is the final day of Advent ‚Äì Christmas Eve. We have prepared our hearts for this day since the first day of December. Day by day we have studied the inspired Word of God so that we would be prepared to welcome the Incarnate Word of God. Like the shepherds and magi, we have followed the message of good news and now we arrive at the day for which we have been waiting and longing. I know it has been WORTH THE WAIT!
            Today‚Äôs study focuses on the Incarnation of Jesus ‚Äì and has everything to do with a progression of days. What we will find is a pattern that recurs across the pages of the Scriptures. It is a pattern of creation, fall and recreation. God creates, man falls, and God recreates. Look for this pattern as our Advent studies come to fruition in the Word becoming flesh ‚Äì the Incarnation of Christ.
Genesis 1:1-3        
            1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
 
John 1:1-5, 9-14, 29, 35, 43, 2:1
            1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life,and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
                The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own peopledid not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
            29The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‚ÄúBehold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
            35The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, ‚ÄúBehold, the Lamb of God!‚Äù
                        43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‚ÄúFollow me.‚Äù
            2:1On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.

            How should we read the Scriptures? As a purely human endeavor, the Scriptures are impossible to understand. Only the Holy Spirit can open our eyes to the depths of Truth found in the pages of the written Word. There are at least three levels of understanding that should be considered when reading Scripture.

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First, the Scriptures should be read ‚Äúliterally.‚ÄùWe should ask, ‚ÄúWhat is the clear meaning of the text as it was originally written?‚Äù

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Second, we should consider the “moral” teaching of the passage. “What am I to do based on the teaching of this passage?”

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Finally, the “typological, allegorical, or spiritual” meaning of the text should be prayerfully considered. How does a particular passage relate to the sweep of salvation history?

            A Scriptural ‚Äútype‚Äù has been described as, "...a real person, place, thing, or event in the Old Testament that foreshadows something greater in the New Testament."

            As we consider the John 1, realize that John often utilizes the ‚Äútypological‚Äù sense. Given the theme of ‚Äúcreation, fall and recreation‚Äù that we suggested in the introduction, today we will examine one of the more fascinating uses of typology to underscore this main theme. In order to ascertain this, we must be open to reading as Augustine proposed. ‚ÄúThe New Testament is in the Old concealed. The Old Testament is in the New revealed.‚Äù
 
A Quick Study in Typology
            Before we go any farther, let‚Äôs see how ‚Äútypologies‚Äù are used in the Scriptures. ‚ÄúIn Hebrews 8:5, the Old Testament tabernacle and its rituals are described as ‚Äútypes and shadows of heavenly realities.‚Äù Do you want a glimpse of heaven ‚Äì study the tabernacle.
            Hebrews 10:1 says that the law is a ‚Äúshadow of good things to come.‚Äù Do you want to understand the freedom Christ brings? Study the Law and man‚Äôs complete incompetence at keeping it.
            Peter, in 1 Peter 3:20-21, noted that Noah and his family came, ‚Äúthrough water,‚Äù and that ‚Äúthis prefigured baptism‚Ķ‚Äù The word Peter used for ‚Äúprefigured‚Äù is actually a Greek word for ‚Äútypify‚Äù or to ‚Äúmake a type.‚Äù Want to learn more about baptism ‚Äì study how God brought His people through water to safety on the other side ‚Äì for instance, Noah and the ark and Moses and the Red Sea.
            Let‚Äôs look at one more. The apostle Paul described Adam as a ‚Äútype‚Äù or foreshadowing of Jesus. Romans 5:14 says, ‚ÄúNevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.‚Äù Adam was born without sin ‚Äì as was Jesus. Both were confronted with a daunting choice ‚Äì Adam failed, blamed his wife and cursed all of humanity. Jesus succeeded ‚Äì died for his wife, the church, and reversed the curse purchasing redemption for all of humanity. Listen to 1 Corinthians 15:21, ‚ÄúFor since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.‚ÄùAdam ruined creation. Jesus restored creation.

Creation, Fall and Recreation in Genesis and John
 
            Which two books of the Bible begin with the words: ‚ÄúIn the beginning‚Ķ‚Äù? Genesis and John begin with the same words! This should cause us to scratch our heads and look for other connections. Which two books of the Bible begin with creation? ‚ÄúIn the beginning, God created‚Ķ‚Äù (Genesis 1:1) ‚Äì ‚ÄúAll things were made through him (Jesus), and without him was not anything made that was made‚Äù (John 1:3). In which two books of the Bible does light appear? ‚ÄúAnd God said, ‚ÄúLet there be light,‚Äù and there was light‚Äù (Genesis 1:3) ‚Äì ‚ÄúThe light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world‚Äù (John 1:5, 9). Could these similarities be happenstance? It‚Äôs hard to imagine that these obvious connections could be coincidence.
            In Genesis 1, we find the account of God‚Äôs creation. Each day‚Äôs creative activity is accounted for. On the first day, God creates time ‚Äì light and dark, day and night. On the second day, God creates the universe ‚Äì the space, skies and seas. On the third day, God creates dry land and all that grows on the land. On the fourth day, God placed the sun, moon and stars in their places to govern the day and night and the seasons. On the fifth day, God creates birds and fish. On the sixth day, God creates the animals and man. After each day, God says that His creation is good (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23). But after creating man on the sixth day, He says, ‚Äúit is very good‚Äù (Genesis 1:31).
            On the seventh day, the ‚ÄúSabbath‚Äù was established. Also, we see Adam and Eve coming together in the first marriage covenant ‚Äì ‚Äúthe two shall become one flesh‚Äù (Genesis 2:23-24). The work of creation was completed!
            In Genesis 3, the perfection of paradise is lost as Adam and Eve fail to follow God‚Äôs instructions for them. Because of their blatant disobedience, mankind is plunged into the curse of sin. Though God created perfectly, mankind fell away into sin. What was needed so desperately was RECREATION. Here we see the pattern ‚Äì creation, fall and recreation. Let‚Äôs look at John 1 and see if we can find any solutions.
            What does the Gospel of John have to do with recreation? We have already noticed that Genesis 1 and John 1 have some amazing similarities and parallels. The creation account in Genesis has a progression of days. Do we have a similar pattern of successive days recorded in John‚Äôs Gospel?      

            Actually, we do find the mention of days in John 1.  In John 1:29, it says, ‚Äúthe next day‚Ķ‚Äù And again in John 1:35 we find, ‚Äúthe next day‚Ķ‚Äù And yet again, we find the same phrase in John 1:43. It says, ‚Äúthe next day‚Ķ‚Äù Sadly, that ends the occurrences of successive days in John 1. If we have a first day and three ‚Äúnext days,‚Äù that only equals four days! We are three short of matching the seven days of creation in Genesis 1.

            But, wait a minute. In the first manuscripts of the Bible, there were no chapter breaks. So, chapter one would have flowed into chapter two. How does chapter two begin? ‚ÄúOn the third day‚Ķ‚Äù If we add the four previous days with three more days, it is the seventh day!

            In Genesis, the seventh day introduced the Sabbath and the marriage covenant of Adam and Eve. It marked the completion of creation. Soon thereafter came the fall. In John 2, on the seventh day, Jesus is also at a wedding. And what happens at this wedding? Jesus performs His first miracle ‚Äì that of turning water into wine! John 2:11 tells us, ‚ÄúThis, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.‚ÄùThis marked the beginning of Jesus‚Äô ministry. What was His ministry? Jesus came to RECREATE what was destroyed by sin. In this typological picture from Genesis and John we see the theme of creation, fall and recreation underscored beautifully.

            For centuries, many have pondered just why God became man and dwelt among us. Why did Jesus become a man? After the fall of man, God offered a restored relationship with Him through a series of covenants. Covenants create family ‚Äì which is precisely what was lost in the Garden of Eden. But each human mediator and those living within the covenant were unfaithful to God. From Adam, to Noah, to Moses, to Abraham, to David ‚Äì not one of these humans could mediate the covenant perfectly. Sin continued to recur ‚Äì and the sacrifices of lambs and other animals to atone for sins was imperfect, temporal and had to be repeated (Hebrews 10:11). What humanity needed was a perfect mediator and a sinless sacrifice. But, a quick survey of mankind reveals that none of us qualifies. Our only hope was for God to enter humanity as our representative head ‚Äì as our perfect mediator ‚Äì and as our sinless sacrifice. Through the Incarnation of Christ ‚Äì all of this, and more, was accomplished. God created. Man fell. Jesus, by His Incarnation and passion (death, burial, resurrection and ascension), RECREATED.

            As we celebrate the coming of Jesus, the Promised Messiah, the one to save us from our sins, all of us should marvel at the manifestation of His glory! I pray that our time studying and preparing has caused you to ponder afresh God‚Äôs gracious gift of salvation ‚Äì offered through an innocent little baby boy, born to a virgin girl in Bethlehem. And, I pray that you will believe in Him more deeply than ever before. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Now, let‚Äôs go and see this thing that has come to pass‚Ķ

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