Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
The Promises - Advent Midweek 1 - December 3, 2014 - Text: Gen. 3:15, 49:10; Is. 7:14; Mic. 5:2
Our texts for this evening are: Genesis 3:15 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 49:10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” And Micah 5:2 “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” These are our text.
This year our Advent through Christmas and New Year’s Eve theme will take us from the promise of a Messiah to its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus. We will begin by hearing the promise or prophecy and then we will hear how those promises and prophecies had their fulfillment according to God’s perfect timing. Along the way we will correct some of the errors of tradition as we go back to God’s Word and read what He tells us.
This evening we begin our Advent season, our season of preparation to celebrate the birth of our Messiah by going back and looking at the first promises, the first prophecies of God to send a Savior.
The very first promise of a Savior was given by God in the Garden of Eden. Immediately after Eve and Adam disobeyed God and ate of the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, that disobedience brought sin and a curse. God’s curse was that the serpent would crawl on his belly, the man would have to toil and sweat in his work. And as an aside I would remind you that work was not the punishment as Adam and Eve had already had the privilege of working the garden. It was the toil and sweat that were added to the work. And to the woman she would have pain in childbearing and would have a desire for her husband, especially a desire to usurp his role as the head of the family. But God stepped in with the promise: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).
God’s promise was a promise of restoration. He would restore the relationship that Adam and Eve had broken with Him through the birth of an offspring, in particular, a Son. This promise of a son is why Eve believed her first sons were perhaps the one promised by God, which was not the case, rather the birth of the first two sons recorded in Genesis were only a reminder that we are all conceived and born in sin.
God’s promise was that the Savior, which in Hebrew is Messiah and in Greek is Christ will have His heel bruised. In other words, He will die. Again another aside, the reason I remind you that the Greek word for Savior or Messiah is Christ is because this is indeed the birth of the Christian Church, that is all who believe in the promise of the coming Christ are Christians.
Continuing on, God’s promise was also that even though the Christ would die, in His death, Satan will have his head crushed, that is he will be completely defeated.
In our second reading we are told that the promise of the Savior is that He would be born from the line of Judah “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Gen. 49:10). At this point God is narrowing the family line through which the Christ would be born. This is not a new or second covenant, simply a narrowing of its fulfillment. The family of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob (Israel) would be the family through which the Christ would be born.
The fact that the Christ would be born from the line of Judah reminds us that His is a royal lineage, from the same line of King David and God’s promise is that His reign would be eternal in other words, not only would Jesus defeat Satan, He will rule eternally in heaven. This whole eternal reign is often misunderstood by some thinking that the Christ will have some kind of earthly rule, which was never the intention. God’s restoration of mankind is an eternal heavenly restoration.
In our third reading we have the promise that the Savior would be born of a virgin: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Is. 7:14). Why the importance of the Christ being born of a virgin, because the normal way of conception is that a sinful man and a sinful woman conceive a sinful child. The Christ would not be born in this normal way, of a human man and a human woman, rather He would be conceived of a woman by God so that He will be truly God and truly human without sin. He had to be truly human to be our substitute and He had to be without sin to redeem us.
The Christ would bear the name Immanuel, which means God with us. Here again, a reminder that the Christ is not simply an ordinary sinful human being, but is indeed God conceived in human flesh, yet perfect and holy as only God is.
In our last reading we are told that the Savor would be born in Bethlehem: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2). Why Bethlehem? The town of Bethlehem was the town from which ancient rulers had been born, ancient rulers such as King David. In other words, Bethlehem was a town of royalty, of royal blood. Jesus was born as King of the Jews, not an earthly king as we have said, but a heavenly, eternal king, thus Bethlehem was the fitting place for Him to be born.
The Christ would be born in the small town of Bethlehem. Because of the events of the world, because Bethlehem was a small town, kind of off the map, off the charts, it was the perfect place for God’s Christ to be born, unnoticed by the world, yet noticed by those to whom God had brought the attention, namely the shepherds and the Magi, whom we will hear about later.
So, what does this mean? God’s promise was to send a Savior, a Messiah, a Christ and the Savior would be identifiable because He would be the One who would fulfill all these criteria. He would be the one who would be conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in a virgin woman. He would be the one who would be from the line of Judah the son of Jacob or Israel, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham. He would be born of the line of King David even born in his home town, which was brought about by the census. He would be the One who would die and in dying He would completely defeat Satan.
The odds of any one person fulfilling all these criteria would be great, yet that is what Jesus did, so that we can know for certain that He is the Christ. Indeed the very reason we have the prophecies and promise and the very reason we have the fulfillment spelled out for us in Holy Scripture is so that we can know for certain that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God and that by faith in Him we have life and salvation.
Perhaps you have heard it said, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” I am hear to tell you, “God said it, that settles it.” Whether or not I believe it does not matter. The focus is not on me. God said He would send a Christ and He did. God’s promises throughout the Old Testament pointed to the Christ. God’s Word throughout the New Testament points to Jesus as the Christ. Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the Savior. God in flesh has done it all for us, for you and for me. He has lived perfectly for us in our place. He has taken our sins upon Himself. He has paid the price for our sins, restoring our relationship with Himself. He suffered, died and rose victorious over sin, death and the devil and now He is seated at the right hand of the Father watching over us, ruling over us and interceding for us. And He is waiting for the day He will gather us with Himself in heaven for eternity and our response is, thanks be to God and to Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.