To Understand the Beginning of the End, You Must Understand the End of the Beginning

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. And it was perfect until temptation and sin crept in. In the last 24 hours, left-wing articles have attacked Christianity, accused God of raping Mary, and denied there is a deity at all. They have no understanding of either the theology or history of Christmas.

For sane people, to understand what this is all about, we need to go back to near the very beginning.

The God of all creation tells the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers.” (Gen. 3:15). This is a real and historic event. There was a real Adam and a real Eve — a real first man and first woman.

It is important to note that God tells the serpent that enmity will be between its offspring and the woman’s offspring, not the man’s offspring. In Genesis 5, we get a hint of why. “When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God.” (Gen 5:1) But when Adam had a son, “he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image.” (Gen 5:3) God’s creation was in his image. Man’s creation was in man’s own image. It is a hint of something to come.

In Genesis 9, God establishes his covenant with Noah and sets the sign as a rainbow. The bow, the weapon of that age, points up toward Heaven — God makes his covenant with Noah and the sign he places on it is one of beauty but also metaphorically a tool of destruction that he points away from man and toward himself.

And then we get to Abraham. God establishes his covenant with Abraham and God takes the oath to fulfill the covenant on himself. He tells Abraham

“a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.… Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.… So shall your offspring be.”

Abraham then took a cow, a goat, a ram, a dove, and a pigeon. He slaughtered them, cutting them in half. This was a traditional way of entering a covenant. The party agreeing to the covenant walked between the pieces to symbolically say if he violates the covenant, he will be slaughtered just like the carcasses surrounding him. But Abraham did not walk through the pieces.

As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.… When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.

God himself walked between the pieces taking upon himself the obligation to fulfill the covenant with Abraham. God himself would submit to be slaughtered in order to fulfill his covenant with Abraham.

In Exodus 2, God heard the groaning of his enslaved people and “remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” He set them free, led them through Moses to Sinai, and declared to them “if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” He then gave them the ten commandments. To confirm the covenant, instead of slaughtering animals and passing between the parts, Moses sacrificed oxen

And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

The blood upon the people placed them under the obligation to abide by the covenant with God or risk death.

In 2 Samuel 7, God tells the prophet Nathan to go to King David and tell David that God,

will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”

The dynasty of David descended into sin, division, and rebellion against God as the Israelites had done before the Kingdom. God told his prophets that a time of exile was at hand. But he had promised Abraham that his would be a great people forever. And God himself had taken the covenant obligations upon himself. He promised Moses and the Israelites a relationship and promised David his throne would be eternal.

After the Kingdom was divided into Israel and Judah, God through the prophet Isaiah in Judah declared, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Immanuel means “God with us.” Isaiah further prophesied:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Thus God came to the prophet Jeremiah over one hundred years later and declared

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

God told Isaiah that the Virgin would bear a son named Immanuel or “God with us.” Over a hundred years later, God tells Jeremiah that in this new covenant He is creating, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people,” or Immanuel.

More than six hundred years after God spoke through Jeremiah the Angel Gabriel appeared to the Priest Zechariah, declaring that his wife would give birth to John the Baptist. Zechariah, in disbelief, was struck silent. When at last he could speak, he was filled with the Holy Spirit and declared:

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Zechariah knew that God was fulfilling now the covenant that he not only made with Abraham, but took upon himself to fulfill.

In so doing, the Apostle Matthew focuses on the lineage of Christ via his earthly father Joseph back to David. But God told the devil, in the beginning, that the enmity would be between the devil and the offspring of the woman. Mary too was a descendant of David. And as the Holy Spirit caused Mary’s conception, unlike Adam bearing a child in his image, the child Jesus was born in the image of God — a second Adam, fully man, but also fully God.

And the boy rose taking on the role of priest, prophet, and king. He then stood in substitution for mankind who had accepted God’s covenant at Sinai with the blood on themselves. Christ shed his own blood fulfilling the prior covenants. And he rose from the dead now our eternal king on David’s throne.

We celebrate Christmas because it is the birth of our Lord in human form. He humbled himself to be born into the form of man, to suffer as all men suffer and to die as no man has died.

We can reason all day about the facts, but in the end it takes faith. I believe the testimony of those who came before me. I believe because they believe. I believe because Christ’s own brothers who rejected him in life were willing to die for him, at no advantage to themselves, after Christ’s resurrection.

God fulfills all his promises, so I know that with Christ’s birth we begin the end. To understand just how significant it is though, we should understand the beginning. God put enmity between the devil and the woman’s offspring who would crush Satan’s head. Then he obligated himself to fulfill his promise to Abraham and took on all mankind’s sins himself, suffering and dying, that we may live and worship him before David’s throne forever.

Through Christ all things are possible and God’s holy word is fulfilled. That is why Christians worldwide will celebrate his birth.

Merry Christmas.