Summary: God’s promise interposes Christ between us and Satan, sin, and self.
Singer and songwriter Michael Card calls his Christmas album, “The Promise.” The words to the title song are:
The Lord God said when time was full
He would shine His light in the darkness
He said a virgin would conceive
And give birth to the Promise
For a thousand years the dreamers dreamt
And hoped to see His love
But the Promise showed their wildest dreams
Had simply not been wild enough.
The Promise was love
And the Promise was life
The Promise meant light to the world
Living proof that Yahweh saves
For the name of the Promise was Jesus.
Christmas is preeminently about God’s promise (first made in Genesis 3) – the promise of a Savior, born of a woman, who would, in the words of the beautiful advent hymn:
“O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.
To prepare for Christmas, let’s review the promise which remains our enduring hope, which first appeared in Genesis 3.
[Read Genesis 3.14-15. Pray.]
A 2001 newspaper article explained that President Bush celebrated many faiths during the holidays – not only Christmas, but also presiding over a Jewish Hanukkah celebration and commemorating the end of Ramadan in a Washington mosque. Ari Fleischer, presidential spokesman, said, “The purpose is not to preach a particular faith. The purpose is to celebrate faith itself.”
Christianity offers something different. Christmas preaches a very particular faith, because it is God’s specific fulfillment of a very precise promise.
In Mark’s account of the life of Jesus, his first sentence is: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” The word for “gospel” could also be translated, “good news.” Mark says, “I have good news for you! The promise has arrived.” So that we might again appreciate Mark’s announcement and Jesus’ birth, please notice from Genesis 3 how God shows us…
1. Our Need for the Promise
Three reasons are given. First…
1.1. mBecause of Satan (Genesis 3.1-5)
In C. S. Lewis’ book, The Silver Chair, the evil witch appears as a most beautiful lady. Her voice is of an angel; her charm disarms; her words soothe. She weaves an entrapment around her victims, and they are defeated – until Aslan’s name is given them. When the children finally break from the witch’s control, her rage reveals her true form as she seeks to crush them – a hideous serpent coiling around Prince Rilian.
Neither does Satan appear in his true form. His craftiness means that he “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2Corinthians 11.14), even using good things to tempt us to rebel against God and destroy ourselves. He lies and deceives, hating both God and God’s people. His power is far greater than I have hope of resisting. I need a Savior who stands between me and the evil one. I also need the promise…
1.2. Because of Sin (Genesis 3.9-19)
Our first parents rebel against God, and devastation immediately blasts out from the center of paradise. In verse 10, Adam and Eve are afraid and hide from God. In verses 12 and 13, they blame others. In verse 16, childbearing becomes terribly painful and a woman’s relationship with her husband will always be a struggle between loving leadership and demeaning dominion. In verses 17-19, the ground itself is cursed so that only with great toil and sweat do we pry from it the very food we must have to survive. And then our bodies rot and return to the mud from which we were made. Yuck!
As sad as are the physical consequences of sin, the spiritual reality frightens us far more. For God tells us that mankind is now a slave of sin. Many people suppose they are sinners because they sin. If that were true, then deliverance from being a sinner would be obtained by not sinning any more.
But God insists that we sin because we are sinners. The nature is prior to the effect. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they took sin into themselves, fusing its power with their very humanity. Even if they had never sinned again, they would still be sinners! Only the promise of God can free the enslaved heart – I cannot rescue my own soul from the dark grip of sin anymore than I can cause myself to be born. I need a Savior who frees the soul from sin. I also need the promise…
1.3. Because of Self (Genesis 3.6-8)
Though sin and Satan are mighty foes, this passage shines light on what I believe to be an even greater threat I face – my own heart. Notice the self-centered thoughts and actions of our representatives.