Christmas is a day I have circled on my calendar ever since I can remember. I have always loved the Christmas season. As a kid I would count the days to Christmas for many reasons. One of them was so I could enjoy the extended vacation from school. Another is the receiving of gifts on Christmas morning. What kid doesn’t enjoy gifts? The Christmas church dramas and Christmas Eve services were memorable times of worship and fun. The homemade tamales were always delicious. As a child I looked forward to Christmas.
As I have moved into adulthood, my wife and I have always looked forward to Christmas because of the traditions we have developed with our kids. These traditions have become special times of worship for our family. We still participate in church dramas, for the past three years I have helped my wife with the children’s Christmas choir at church, which is always an adventure. We still love the Christmas services and Christmas Eve with the Reed family has been a heaven sent, as we are states away from our extended family. The tamales are still delicious, giving and receiving gifts is still a highlight of mine. What adult doesn’t enjoy gifts? Christmas is something I look forward to every year because it is the celebration of the promise fulfilled.
The Serpent and the Seed
Let’s take a journey back to the beginning to that fateful day when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The day that sin and bondage was introduced and became a part of human condition and the world we live in. The day the human race succumbed to the lies of Satan and rebelled against our Creator. The day when Adam and Eve ate from the tree and went from a mind with no thoughts of sin to a mind that became filled with sin. On that day when it seemed Satan had won and all was lost, until the Creator showed up with a question so full of grace “where are you?” (Gen. 3:9)
God comes down to the fallen world to seek the lost. Sound familiar? In the midst of God proclaiming the curses which resulted from man’s sin we get a nugget of God’s plan for Christmas in the Proto-Evangelion, the First Gospel declaration.
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.
After God curses the serpent, He turns His attention to Satan, who inhabited the serpent. We learn that there will be hostility, animosity and hatred between Satan, the woman and the Seed. We also learn Satan will bruise the heel of the Seed but the Seed will prevail and bruise Satan’s head. Here we have the first message of the hope of Christmas. The Seed of the woman will one day claim victory over Satan. This promise gave humanity something to look forward to, the hope of Christmas.
The Promise to Abraham
Turn the pages of your Bible 19 chapters and we discover God has chosen to work through Abraham and his descendants. God has been giving Abraham direction and he has faithfully obeyed. God blesses Abraham and Sarah with Isaac in their old age, a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. One day God shows up and asks Abraham to take Isaac up a mountain and offer up his son as a sacrifice. Sound familiar? Abraham faithfully obeys and as Isaac and Abraham journey up the mountain, Isaac begins to ask where the lamb for the sacrifice is. Abraham answers God will provide the lamb. When they arrived to the mountain Abraham builds an altar and lays Isaac on the altar and binds him to it. Abraham grabs his knife and raises it about to sacrifice Isaac, the child of promise, until God stops him.
God stops Abraham and gives a promise to Him that builds upon the First Gospel message given in the Garden of Eden,
“By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”
(Gen. 22: 16-18)
The offspring promised to Eve will come through the offspring of Abraham. Through this offspring, all the nations of the earth will be blessed. The promised Seed will claim victory over the serpent and bless all nations. Giving all of humanity something to look forward to, the hope of Christmas.
The Hope of Christmas
Throughout the pages of the Old Testament hope is promised, pointing to Christmas. Now in our era, we use hope to mean something we desire to happen that may or may not come to pass. We can all hear our children say, I hope I get this new game or that new toy for Christmas. Many times we can interchange our usage of hope with the word wish. When we look at the hope of Christmas, promise after promise of a hope to come written throughout the pages of the Old Testament. God revealing His plan one promise at a time. This hope wasn’t a mere wish to Adam, Eve, Abraham and the many other faithful Old Testament believers. The Biblical definition of hope these Old Testament believers had is what John Piper describes as, “a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future”.
Adam, Eve, Abraham and the many other Old Testament believers had a confident expectation in the promises of Christmas. The hope they had in the promises of God was not a wishful waiting but a confident certainty that one day the Seed of the woman whom would defeat Satan and bless the nations would fulfill His mission. They had this confident certainty because Yahweh, the Great Promise Giver was also the Great Promise Keeper. The Old Testament believers had something to look forward to, the Hope of Christmas.
Until next week,
Soli Deo Gloria