Friday, December 02, 2011

Devotion 2. The First Promise of a Savior

The third chapter of Genesis is a bleak story. Humanity rebelled against God, choosing Satan’s lie over God’s truth. They (and we) became children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3), separated from God (Isaiah 59:2) and subject to death (Genesis 2:17).

As a result of sin, God proclaimed judgment on all the parties involved: man, woman and Satan. The first is the judgment on the snake, the figure of Satan. But the curse or judgment on Satan also contains God’s word about the future. It is a word of hope for the future of humanity. It is the promise of a redeemer.

God said:
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 3:15, ESV)

Most people either fear or loathe snakes. They are often used as symbols of evil in movies and books. That comes from this event. In my experience, women especially fear snakes. It is the first level of fulfillment of this word: there is enmity between women and snakes. Women fear them and want them killed or want to kill them. They hit them with hoes and shovels until they kill them, severely bruising their heads. Sometimes their husbands come to the rescue and kill the snake, as Adam should have done in the Garden.

But there is a greater picture of this enmity here, it is the enmity between Satan and his followers\offspring and God’s people. The Bible unfolds this story as the forces of Satan attack God’s people through Egyptians, Caananites, Assyians, Babylonians and Romans.

Then there is the greatest picture, the greatest fulfillment. In the fullness of time God revealed the ultimate offspring, the offspring that would finally crush the head of Satan, or defeat him. It is the offspring of woman but not of man, the virgin born offspring. That offspring or seed is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, the Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us this in several ways. Luke gives the genealogy of Jesus in Luke 3, showing him to be the offspring of Eve through Seth (Luke 3:38).

Jesus said he saw Satan fall from heaven like lightening (Luke 10:18). The 72 he sent out reported that demons were subject to them in Jesus’ name (Luke 10:17). Revelation tells us Satan was restricted so that he no longer could deceive the nations (Revelation 20:1-3). Jesus told a parable about binding the strongman to illustrate that he healed illness and drove out demons because he was God (Mark 3). He cast out demons repeatedly (Mark 5 for example). He demonstrated his power and dominion over Satan.

Once Christ was revealed, Satan and his forces went into a frenzy to try and kill him. Herod tried to find him and kill him because he feared he would grow up to be king, but God warned the Wise Men in a dream and they went home by another route to avoid Herod (Matthew 2:11-12). Then Herod killed all of the male babies in town he could find, but Joseph took Jesus to Egypt out of harm’s way (Matthew 2:13-16).

Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. He tried to deter Jesus from the Father’s purpose and his mission (Matthew 4). He later used Peter to try and deter him from the cross (Matthew 16:23).

Ultimately, and ironically, the Jews become the forces of Satan arrayed against Christ, Eve’s offspring, whom God purposed to crush Satan’s head. Jesus called them the children of the devil (John 8:44). They rejected him in favor of a criminal and had him crucified (Matthew 27:15 et seq). John referred to them as the synagogue of Satan (Revelation 2:9).

But none of these people or their actions stopped God’s purpose. The crucifixion was God’s plan all along. He even stated in the law way back in the wilderness that a man who hangs on a tree is under God’s curse (Deuteronomy 21:23). He punished sin in the suffering and death of the sinless Son. Referring to the verse in Deuteronomy, Paul said “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Galatians 3:13). In Romans 8:3, Paul said ‘…by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin he condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us…”

God then announced the satisfaction of sin and the triumph over Satan by raising him from the dead (Romans 4:25). Jesus rose from the dead and made a spectacle of his enemies. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them in him (Colossians 2:15) He is at the right hand of the Father, sitting on a throne, ruling his kingdom from heaven (Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33; 1 Peter 3:22). He will stay there until the time all his enemies, and ours, are put under his feet (Acts 2:34-35).

When Jesus returns in glory, he will complete his victory. He will take Satan and his minions and cast them into eternal punishment away from his people and their dwelling place (Revelation 20:7-10). Then he will live in the midst of his people on the earth he restores, the new Eden, the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-3, 22-27, 22:1-4). And we will live with him forever in that new Eden with no sorrow, no pain, no hunger, and no death, only worship, joy and fellowship forever.

Then the promise of Genesis 3:15 will be completely and finally fulfilled.
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