We are again entering into the Christmas Season. Advent, the celebration of expectation, is an important time in the Christian calendar. It reminds us that the expectation of God’s deliverance is the story of the human race.
Genesis 3:15 is often called the first mention of the gospel in the Bible. It promises that God will put enmity between the serpent and the woman, and between his seed and hers. And in the end of the day, the serpent would bruise the heel of the woman’s seed, but the woman’s seed would bruise the head of the serpent. This is the promise; that the serpent will be mortally wounded, but the one who triumphs over the serpent will suffer in the struggle.
Genesis 3:15 is the first promise of Christmas. Its placement in our Bible is significant. Since this is the promise that was given immediately after the fall into sin, we are led to believe that since the time of the birth of the human family, human beings have been reminded of the promise of deliverance. This world is not as it should be. Death is not to be welcomed and accepted, rather, death is the great enemy of the human race. We were created, not to die, but to live forever. Furthermore, sin is not essential to the human experience. It is not essentially human to lie, to steal and to kill. Also, the natural disasters that are always a part of living on this planet are not a part of the necessary existence of this planet. Rather, the creation itself is groaning, awaiting liberation from her distress.
And that leads us to the celebration of Advent. Advent reminds us that all human beings long for the darkness that makes up our existence to end. This is the reason that scientists and politicians are constantly promising us that they can lead us to the promised land, a land where suffering is brought to an end.
But people of faith have also been longing. We know that the fallen creation and the fallen nature of our humanity will not go on forever. God will come to our rescue. God will save us.
We who live on this side of history have come to see that this deliverance has come in a series of stages. And we also see that each of these stages are leading to the final consummation when the groans of our captivity are finally brought to an end. And it is for this reason that Isaiah the prophet wrote,
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Isaiah 9:2, ESV).
Jesus came into the world at a very important time. Paul speaks of this in Galatians 4:4,
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son…” (ESV).
That is to say, God sent His Son into the world at precisely the most advantageous time.
Jesus came when Rome ruled all the nations around the Mediterranean with brutal and raw power. Slavery was everywhere. The knowledge of God was obscured by the pagan religious system of the Greco-Roman gods and goddesses. Israel was one of those nations ruled by Rome. Israel was occupied by foreigners, who controlled even her high priestly office. The temple priesthood was corrupt. The most influential teachers in Israel were false teachers. The people of God groaned.
Christmas reminds us, that God has not forgotten us in our darkness, nor has He forgotten the promise to destroy Satan. Jesus entering into the world, bringing salvation from sin and the promise of eternal life, is the fulfilment of a great promise. But advent reminds us that our wait is not over. We are still waiting for the days when the sky will part, and our Messiah will return to us again.
Enjoy advent. And take hope.