Midweek Advent Service — Wednesday December 4, 2019
Midweek Advent Service 2010 -- The Very First Christmas Promise
Joint Advent Service – Trinity and Zion
Wednesday December 1, 2010
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
(Revelation 22:16, 13)
Genesis 3:15 (NKJV)
15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”
In the Name of Jesus Christ,
The Sum and substance of the first Promise,
Dear Fellow Redeemed by His Precious Blood –
When we were children we turned most things into a competition…
“Last one inside is a rotten egg!” “Last one to touch the car is a monkey’s uncle!” “I was the first one to the car!”
If you rose early in the morning the Friday after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) then you saw that the need to be ‘first’ doesn’t end when people become adults.
We want to be ‘first’ and we celebrate those who are ‘first.’ Sports statisticians make a living from keeping track of who hit the first homerun, strikeout, touchdown and punt in every new ballpark and stadium.
We are infatuated with ‘firsts’ and it’s not just in sports. Have you ever wondered why some churches have chosen names like ‘First Lutheran’ or ‘First Baptist’? It’s usually because theirs was the first church of that denomination in town, and they kept the ‘first’ in their name.
While these ‘firsts’ really don’t matter, during our Midweek Advent Services this year we will consider three ‘firsts’ that do matter…the very first Christmas Promise, Advent Hymn and Christmas Decoration. These ‘firsts’ also correspond with our Christmas Eve Service this year which is entitled the Very First Christmas. This evening we begin with the very first Christmas Promise.
May God the Holy Spirit bless our meditation upon these words of God, and through them strengthen our faith in Christ and increase our hope and true Christmas joy. Amen.
What is the point of marking the First Christmas Promise? Is there such thing as the second and third promises of Christmas? Do we usually make promises at Christmas?
Well, I suppose that some promises are made every year at Christmas. I’m sure that some children will ‘promise’ their parents that they will be good so that they find gifts under the tree. The truth of the matter is that their making such foolish promises really have no bearing on what gifts they receive, do they? We give gifts out of love, not on the basis of another’s worthiness.
I would guess that some couples will ‘promise’ to get married during the Christmas season. Yet, I doubt that they will think of theirs as a Christmas Promise or Christmas Engagement.
I think that we associate promises – not with Christmas, but – with the beginning of the New Year. New Year’s resolutions are promises for the coming year...promises, I might add, that are rarely kept.
When was the First Christmas Promise given? The Very First Christmas Promise was given by God long before there ever was a Christmas. In fact the words we consider this evening aren’t just the first Christmas promise….they are the very first promise given by God to sinful humankind. This promise was given in the Garden of Eden.
While these words were originally addressed to Satan, God intended that we hear them and rejoice in them. These words do apply to us, and in them God promises hostility and combat and foretells the end of the contest and the Victor.
I will put enmity Between you and the woman…
How is this a Christmas Promise, you ask? These words don’t promise peace, but enmity, war. These words don’t seem to refer to things usually associated with Christmas…
They don’t seem to say anything about a Christmas Tree.
They don’t foretell any wrapped gifts with pretty paper and shiny bows.
They don’t foretell the coming of a fat guy in a red suit.
Yet this is a Promise of God. He is the one who is speaking and He is the active agent in this promise…not Satan, not Adam and not Eve.
They had been responsible for ruining everything. Satan rebelled against God and was tossed out of heaven. Satan tempted Adam and Eve to disbelieve God’s Word and Promise. In disobeying God’s plain directive, they brought sin and death upon themselves and their descendants. They ruined what had been a perfect world and a perfect relationship with God.
But the Almighty, like a father coming upon children who have shattered a priceless gift, promised to fix what they had done. He doesn’t ask them to do something about it. He doesn’t ask them to fix it. He takes the initiative and He promises that He will fix it.
It’s the same today. God doesn’t call upon us to play an active role in our Salvation. He doesn’t urge us to live good lives and earn his favor and a spot in heaven. He doesn’t ask us to save ourselves, in part or otherwise. He simply promises to save us by means of His Son…and what He has done.
How did God promise to fix the problem? He first promised to bring about division, hostility, enmity between two camps.
Now that doesn’t sound like a good thing, does it? Why would God promise to bring about hostility between two camps? Well, God never intended that Satan and humankind should be allies. God never intended that humankind should end up in Hell (which was created for the Devil and his angels – Matthew 25:41).
When these words were spoken, there was no hostility between Satan and mankind. In fact, because of their sins, Adam and Eve were on the same side as the Devil. But the Holy God sought in mercy to regain them for his own…to redeem them and purchase their release from captors, sin, death and Satan. God promised to upset that alliance, to undo what had been done.
Therefore, there would be hostility, enmity, war between Satan and the Woman. Think of Satan as the representative leader of the first camp. The evil angels are his troops. The woman is the representative leader of humankind.
So why didn’t God promise to put enmity between Satan and the Man? Usually when the word ‘seed’ is used, it’s used of the male who is said to provide the seed and offspring. In fact, throughout the Old Testament, it’s rare that the woman is even mentioned. It’s the man who is said to beget sons and daughters…even though they never ever give birth!
There must be a reason the Human Champion is called the Seed of the Woman. This is God’s inerrant Word, after all. Moreover, God underscores the point by restating the combatants of this war, and saying --
I will put enmity Between you and the woman…
And between your (Satan’s) seed and her (the woman’s) Seed;
The two antagonists are simply mentioned here: Satan’s seed, his cohorts and the woman’s Seed. The word used for the woman’s seed also indicates that the woman’s seed would be a single descendant, one man to go toe to toe with Satan.
But how could there be a ‘Seed of the Woman’? Didn’t a man have to be involved? How else could a child be born? Remember this is God’s Promise, and there could be no ‘Seed of a Woman’ unless God intervened.
This isn’t the only place that God spoke of this Champion. More than a thousand years later, God sent a prophet named Isaiah to a King, named Ahaz. God spoke again of His Promised Champion, the Seed of the Woman, saying through the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14):
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.
How could a virgin conceive and bear a Son…and still be called a Virgin? How…only if that child was also ‘God with us.’
The First Christmas Promise…also foretold the final battle and its outcome. God said to the rebellious angel, Satan:
He shall bruise your head…
The Seed of the Woman….He shall bruise/crush your head. He will take away your power; he will shut your mouth. Power…what power did Satan wield? The writer to the Hebrews tells us (Hebrews 2:14-15):
14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
In Eden, sin entered the world and death by sin. Death spread to all men, because all sinned.
How could God silence the Law’s condemnation and Satan’s accusations once and for all? God silenced the Law’s condemnation and shut Satan’s mouth forever by sending His own Son to make atonement for sins, by His own blood. This glorious victory came at a cost…
…you shall bruise His heel.”
The final cost of our Christmas gifts is truly minimal…a fraction of what we make in a year. The cost of God’s forgiveness was tremendous. Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, was nailed to the Tree bearing our sins.
This is indeed a Christmas Promise.
This promise does bring to mind a Tree…not a Christmas tree, but the Cross of Calvary. God promised to deliver us from our enemy and he did that Calvary’s Cross.
This promise is all about a gift, the gift of God’s Salvation. God promised to take it in hand and complete it, and He did that without our help or assent.
This promise does remind us why we celebrate at Christmas. Jesus was born of a virgin, true God and also true Man in order to defeat Satan and undo death. He was born to die…for us and for all humankind.
This is indeed a Christmas Promise…for in it Christ, the Seed of the Woman, is promised.
Now are the days fulfilled, God’s Son is manifested,
Now His great majesty In human flesh is vested.
Behold the mighty God, by whom all wrath is stilled,
The woman’s promised Seed – Now are the days fulfilled (TLH 99:1).