I love Christmas, I really love it; always have, always will. I love Christmas movies and Christmas music. I love everything about Christmas. I have so many wonderful memories of Christmas as a child, of my first Christmas with my wife Barb, of Christmases with my children, and now, of Christmases with my grandchildren, all eleven of them. But one of my favorite memories of Christmas is reading Scripture during the season of Advent. I think we started that when my oldest son, Jacob, was a baby, maybe 35 or so years ago.
About 20 years ago, I built a really elaborate Advent calendar for my family. It's shaped like a house, with shingles on a gable roof. The sides are painted barn red with white trim. On the front it has 24 small drawers, each one containing a Scripture reference, an ornament and some candy. Up above the drawers is a small Christmas tree with some nails sticking out of it. The background and the roof trim also have some nails sticking out of them, to hang the ornaments on.
Like most kids, my kids didn't appreciate the daily Scripture readings, especially on Christmas morning. They were more eager for the candy that the drawers held and, on Christmas morning, for the presents under our tree. But Barb and I love it and our children have come to appreciate it now. Barb and I are going to start it this evening, December 1st.
I’ve written this because I wanted to share with all of you the real meaning of this season and the history and prophecies that preceded the birth of Christ. I don't claim to be an expert by any means. I know that I must have missed a lot of things. But this will give you a least a flavor of the story. Pastor Rod has often said that the Bible is one book, one story, a true story, from beginning to end. It’s God’s story, the story of Jesus our Savior, a story of redemption for all people everywhere.
December the 1st finds us in the book of Genesis chapter 2, verse 25 to chapter 3, verse 15:
Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
The man said, “The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
God knew what had happened, just like He knew where Adam and Eve were hiding. He was giving them a chance to admit to their sin. But, instead of admitting, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. They had a choice and they chose sin. Adam could have stopped Eve but, instead, he just went along with her.
Before God confronted Adam, he and Eve tried to cover themselves with leaves. But we see in Genesis chapter 3 verse 21:
The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.
This verse is a foreshadowing of Jesus’ death on the cross. Something had to die, blood had to be shed in order for them to be clothed, for their sin to be covered. This is the very reason that Jesus came to earth and was born as a baby; to die on the cross for my sins, and for yours. The ornament that goes on the tree today is a lamb. Genesis doesn’t specifically name the animal but, I'm representing it with a lamb.
In Revelation chapter 5, verses 1-6a we find:
Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.
Jesus is both the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and the Lamb of God. He is the only One who can break the seals and open the scroll. By the blood of the Lamb we are saved. We can have hope, hope of heaven because the blood of the Lamb covers all our sins.
Those of you reading this, thank you for sharing this Advent season with us.