As we think about the birth of our Lord I want to draw your attention to the book of Galatians and the fourth chapter. There is a key verse there that I want to dwell on for our time this morning as we look at the Word of God and consider the coming of the Lord, and also our time around His Table. The fourth chapter of Galatians. I’ll read just the opening seven verses.
“Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave though he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”
I want you to focus on verse 4, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.” That phrase “the fullness of time” marks out the reality that God had established a set time for the sending of His Son. So when we ask the question, “When did Christmas begin?” it did not begin with the virgin conception, it did not begin with the announcement of the angel to Mary, it did not even begin with the announcement to Zacharias of the coming of John the Baptist the forerunner of the Messiah, it didn’t even begin with the prophecies of Isaiah who spoke of the coming of this Child. Christmas really began where everything began, and that is all the way back in the book of Genesis.
Look with me to the opening chapters of Genesis, chapters 1, 2 and 3. We have to go all the way back to Genesis to see the promise that is fulfilled in the coming of the Son of God. Now we all know that in Genesis chapter 1 we have a record of God’s creation. God the eternal Father, Almighty, holy, the only God, the triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – creates the universe and everything in it, and He does it in six days, and the crown of that creation on the sixth day was the creation of man made in God’s image.
In chapter 2, we focus in on the creation of man and the addition of woman. God gives us details of His bringing man into existence and then bringing woman into existence, and then giving them dominion over the entire creation and all the resources found in it. We also see in chapter 2 that man and woman had a relationship with God. They were bearers of His image. They were really children of God, sons of God, if you will, and they communed with God as bearers of His image. They walked and talked with Him in the garden; they had a relationship with Him that was pure and unbroken.
And then you come to chapter 3. Chapter 3 is the most horrible chapter describing the most horrible thing with the most long-range impact of any event ever happened since the creation, and that is the fall of man. Satan who fell first along with some of the angels came down to the garden, seduced Eve; and Adam and Eve sinned and rebelled. As a result of that, the entire creation was cursed. The impact of sin in the world touched every molecule. Everything began to die. They were distrustful of God and trusted the words of Satan. They disobeyed God’s simple command and plunged the entire human race and all creation into a cursed and dying condition. Everything was corrupted, everything was doomed to destruction, and we see the whole process of human life in this world defined by death, the death of everything. And in the future, the entire universe will be destroyed and replaced with a new heaven and a new earth. The cataclysmic fall led to the curse of the culprits: a curse on the woman, a curse on the serpent, a curse on the man. I want to take you to that in chapter 3 and verse 14: 14, 15 and 16 give us God’s curse on His creation, identifying first the culprit, Satan the serpent, then the woman, and then the man.
“The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life; and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.’ To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’”
And then the curse on the man, verse 17: “Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’”
Embedded in that curse, yes, embedded in that curse is the promise that is fulfilled at Christmas. If you will look at verse 15, God says to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” In that curse is embedded the Christmas promise. In fact, this is so much the heart of God, God is so much love, so much mercy, and so much grace defined by lovingkindness, that He cannot even finish the curse without stating the promise, the promise in the midst of the curse of a child who will be the seed of the woman who will crush the serpent’s head. He will be the one to destroy the destroyer, and He will be of the seed of the woman. This speaks of paradise restored, paradise regained.
The Lord gives this promise before He even finishes the curse. The Lord gives this promise before He even clothes Adam and Eve. The Lord gives this promise before He even banishes them, at the end of the chapter, from the garden permanently; sets the cherubim and a flaming sword to make sure they never come back. They have entered into a condition of alienation from God. They were created in the image of God; they were bearers of His image; they communed with God in pure fellowship as a loving Father. That has all ended. They have gone from being sons of God to being sons of Satan, they have gone from being in paradise to being out of paradise, and the world around them is devastated with sin.
Now go back to the curse for a moment. The Lord is speaking to the serpent, and He says in verse 14, “Cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field.” How is that? Because, “On your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life.” The serpent came and tempted through a snake, which must have been upright initially. But when that snake was cursed, that serpent was cursed, the curse involved the serpent on its belly eating dust.
Snakes, all of them throughout all of human history all over the world, are symbols of and reminders of the curse. Every snake that ever wiggles along the ground is a testimony to the promise that God made to destroy Satan. Snakes depict the devil. “On your belly you shall go.” Leviticus 11:42 says, “Anything that crawls on its belly is detestable.”
And then it says, “Dust you shall eat.” In the Old Testament, licking the dust, eating the dust is used a number of times as an expression for total defeat. So you have both the degradation and the destruction of Satan bound up in that curse, and every snake that’s ever crawled or ever will crawl on the earth is a testimony to the degradation and the destruction of Satan. In a sense, it’s an opposite to a rainbow. Every rainbow you ever see is testimony to the fact that God made a promise never to destroy the world again by water. It’s a testimony to God’s promise. This also, defining the life of snakes, is a testimony to God’s promise, a promise to destroy Satan. He is destroyed in the plan of God. In fact, the apostle Paul says, “Even now he is under your feet.” Snakes are symbols of the degradation and the defeat of the devil.
In the midst of cursing the devil the Lord says this: “I will put enmity between you” – that is Satan – “and the woman,” – meaning Eve – “enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed.” What is the seed of Satan? The seed of Satan are all those who are part of his kingdom. Jesus said in John 8 to the Jewish leaders, “You are of your father the devil.”
Children of the devil or children of God, those are the only two options. Children of the devil are identified here as Satan’s seed, children of God are identified here as the seed of Eve, which also is evidence of Eve’s salvation. She is the mother, symbolically speaking and literally speaking, she’s the mother of all who would ever come into the world, because she’s the only woman; she started the human race with Adam. She is the mother of all, but particularly she is the mother of those who belong to God.
So the Lord speaks to Eve and says essentially, “You are going to have a righteous progeny. From you will come a righteous people, My children.” And the children of Satan and the children of Eve – you might say the children of Satan and the children of salvation – will be in conflict. The word “enmity” means hostility or conflict. So human history is marked by the righteous in conflict with the unrighteous, the kingdom of darkness with the kingdom of light, the children of the devil with the children of God – conflict.
But the conflict then focuses down to one individual – notice this. He refers to “your seed,” Satan’s seed collectively, those who belong to his kingdom; and “her seed” collectively, those who belong to the Lord; and then it narrows immediately, because the next word is “He shall bruise you on the head.” And now we know that not only will the woman have a seed that comes from her that will be a righteous seed, but there will be one of them, one particular, specific one who will bruise Satan’s head. Literally crush the head of Satan, like lifting a heel and stomping on the head of a snake, crushing out its life.
This is an incredible promise. And for many, many hundreds of years, this was the only gospel there was. The promise that there would come One who would crush Satan, who would end the seducer’s impact, who would bring back paradise and restore people to be sons of God. That was all the gospel there was for centuries, that hope, and it would come through one person, the seed of the woman. Now it would not be without suffering, because Satan, it says, would bruise him on the heel. So the One who crushes Satan would Himself be wounded by Satan. So there in that promise embedded in the curse is the greatest pledge ever given to the human race, hope and mercy and forgiveness and restoration all bound up in it.
And as I said, for centuries it was the only promise they had. And again, even before God finished the curse or banished them, He gave that promise because He is by nature a loving Father and a Savior. This is where the Christmas story began. It began with a promise embedded in a curse, that divine promise of a seed, a he who would crush the head of the serpent and end his kingdom.
We learn later in the book of Genesis in chapter 12 and then in chapter 22, verse 18, as God speaks to Abraham, that the seed who would crush the serpent’s head would come through Abraham, that he would be a member of Abraham’s family, he would be a descendant of Abraham. In Genesis chapter 22 and verse 18, God speaks to Abraham: “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.”
Now God had told him back in chapter 12 that He was going to make a great nation and He was going to bless that nation; God had told that to Abraham – Abram then. Then God ratified that in chapter 15 by telling Abram to cut some animals in half and put them apart so there was a path between them, put a dead bird on each side wide, because that’s symbolically in the ancient world how they cut a covenant. People would cut an animal in half, separate the pieces; the two covenantal people making promises to each other would walk through as a binding exercise, a ceremony that bound them to the covenant. Usually two people would pass through the pieces. But in the case of Genesis 15, God anesthetizes Abraham and he falls asleep, and God goes through alone as a shining, burning light, because God is not making a covenant that depends on Abraham, He’s making a promise with Himself; and that promise means He’s going to bless all nations through the line of Abraham, and there’s going to come a seed of Abraham who will bring that blessing and crush Satan. God ratified that Abrahamic covenant by Himself, passing through the pieces alone.
In the twenty-sixth chapter of Genesis we learn that the seed will not only come through Abraham but it’ll come through Abraham’s second son Isaac. “By your seed, Isaac, shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Then we learn in chapter 28, verse 14, that it would be through Isaac’s second son Jacob: “Through your seed the Messiah, the seed, would come.” And then we learn in the forty-ninth chapter of Genesis and the tenth verse that the seed would come through Jacob’s son Judah. So it would be a seed of the woman through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah.
We then learn later that the seed will come through the line of a king named David. Now we take you to 2 Samuel chapter 7 because this is a really monumental prophecy of the seed of the woman coming through the line of David. Second Samuel 7, verse 12, God says to David the king, “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your seed after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.” This is not Solomon because the second verse, verse 13, says, “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” He talks about Solomon in this prophecy, but specifically that refers to the greater son of David, seed who would be the Messiah. So the seed of the woman then comes through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and down through David.
In Deuteronomy chapter 18 we learn that the seed will be a preacher, a preacher like Moses. And then there are many other prophecies about the coming seed. Isaiah gives us two that are important. Isaiah says in 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel, which means God with us.” So now we know that the seed of the woman will come through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David, that He will be a preacher, that He will come into the world through a virgin. He will be a virgin-born son.
And then in the ninth chapter of Isaiah, another prophecy about this child, verse 6, “A child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government” – that is to say the supreme rule of everything – “will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.”
There will be a child born to a virgin. That child will come in the line of David. That child will be the Wonder of a Counselor, the Might God Himself, the Eternal Father Himself, the Prince of Peace; and He will establish a kingdom that will never end. That is a promise of deity becoming humanity and establishing an eternal kingdom. The seed then of the woman comes through the Abrahamic line, comes through the Davidic line, comes down through a virgin who must be in the line of David, who has a husband also in the line of David. He is born in the line of David, He’s one of David’s son, He is the greatest of David’s descendants: He is the Mighty God Himself. He is Immanuel: God with us.
Psalm 89, verse 3: “I have made a covenant with My chosen; I have sworn to David My servant, I will establish your seed forever, your seed forever.” Nobody is forever. But the son of David who is the King, the true King, the Son of God, is forever established on a throne that has no end. He is called again in verse 27, “My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. My lovingkindness I will keep for him forever, My covenant shall be confirmed to him. I will establish his descendants forever and his throne as the days of heaven.”
So there’s coming One through a virgin who is God and man, who is a King and will reign forever and ever; but He will not come without some harm being inflicted on Him. Let’s go back to Genesis and think about this. It says that Satan will bruise his heel, Satan will bruise his heel. Isaiah spoke of that: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities,” Isaiah 53.
So who is this seed? Who is this son? Who is this one who crushes the head of Satan, restores paradise, makes children of Satan into sons of God? Who is this one? Paul gives us the answer in Galatians 3 – and you can go back to it – and verse 16. Galatians 3:16, “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed,” meaning Isaac, Jacob. “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is Christ.”
There’s the answer. The seed is Christ. The seed is the Anointed One. This is the one who fulfilled all of God’s promise. This is the one who will crush the serpent’s head. This is the one who will be bruised by the serpent. This is the one who will crush the serpent’s head, establish an everlasting kingdom of righteousness. It is none other than the Messiah.
Go back to Matthew chapter 1 where the New Testament starts. The first thing you read in the New Testament is this: “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah,” – the Christ – “son of David, son of Abraham.” He is the seed of Eve; seed of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah; seed of David. His father was in the Davidic line, though he played no physical role in His birth, by being His earthly father; he passed on the right to rule. But Mary had David’s bloodline. Her genealogy shows that, given in Luke.
But notice verse 16: “Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.” That’s how the New Testament starts. And now we know who that seed was promised to Eve who would crush the serpent’s head. And so Matthew begins in verse 18 with the story: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ” – Jesus the Messiah – “was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’” That’s what Jesus means.
“All this took place to fulfill what was spoken of by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’ And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” So the New Testament begins with the announcement that the promised seed has arrived. It is none other than Jesus. This is the one who fulfills all God’s promise of paradise regained, restored, of the crushing of Satan and the rescue of men and women, and restoration to becoming sons of God.
And this, by the way, became the message the apostles preached. Look at the thirteenth chapter of Acts. This is the message they preached – in this case, the apostle Paul and those who were with him. Down in verse 30 he’s speaking of Jesus who was put on a cross and laid in a tomb. In verse 30, “God raised Him from the dead; and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His witnesses to the people.” And then verse 32, very important, “And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers,” – the good news from Genesis 3:15; the good news promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah; the good news promised to David; the good news promised to Isaiah and other prophets. “This is what we preach: we preach that this Jesus is the Anointed One promised in the very first promise embedded in the original curse.”
Verse 33, this is our message, “that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten You.’ As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ Therefore He says in another Psalm, ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.’” Another thing the Old Testament prophesied, that He would rise from the dead. “And this is what we preach.”
Look at verse 36: “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among the fathers and underwent decay.” In other words, the prophecies can’t be about David because he’s not everlasting, he did not rise from the dead. It has to be about this One, the greater son of David. Verse 38, “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to all, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.” The Law couldn’t free you from sin, from death, from hell. So the message of the apostles was that the promise that God made to the fathers way back in the book of Genesis was fulfilled in Jesus. This is the long unfolding history.
Now go back to Galatians 3 again. Here’s the good news. Since His name is Jesus because He came to save His people, we ask, “How is it that He does that? How does His salvation come to me as a sinner?” Galatians 3:26, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,” not by works which you’ve done, not because you are worthy, but by faith – putting your faith in Christ. “You are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ.”
And then verse 27: “All of you who were immersed into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. And there’s neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; you’re all one in Christ Jesus.” Listen to verse 29: “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.” This is the most amazing thing. Through Abraham’s seed, the Messiah, we become Abraham’s seed, as the Messiah passes His rights on to us, so that we are heirs of the promise.
All the blessing that God promised to the seed of the woman, promised to the seed of Abraham, promised in Christ, is passed through Christ to us. So Paul says, “We are blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.” This is God’s loving purpose. And so verse 4 of chapter 4 again: “When the fulness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
He didn’t create His Son, He sent Him; He preexisted eternally: born of a woman, full humanity; sent by God, full deity. And why does He come? To redeem us. How did He redeem us? Go back to chapter 3, verse 13: “He redeemed us from the curse of the Law,” – which was death and hell – “having become a curse for us – for it’s written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.’”
So He died on the cross, took the curse that we deserved, redeemed us from the curse, verse 14, “in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the nations, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith,” through faith. John 1:12, “As many as believed, He gave the right to become the sons of God.” “He came to redeem those” – chapter 4, verse 5 – “who were under the Law,” – and under the Law is condemnation – “that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
For us who have trusted Christ, put our faith in Him, paradise has been restored, paradise has been regained. We are citizens of heaven: our names are written there, our inheritance is there, our Father is there, our family is there. We are, again, bearers of God’s image. We are sons of God. We were the children of Satan, our home was the world system. We were children of wrath. We were sons of disobedience. We were under bondage to the Law and to sin, which led to hell. That is the universal human condition. “But we’re all sons of God” – verse 26 – “through faith.” By putting our trust in Him, we have become sons of God.
In the fulness of time He came as a Son to make many, many sons. A beautiful hymn of Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, music by Felix Mendelssohn, my favorite carol “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” verse 3 says this: “Hail the heaven-born Prince of peace! Hail the Son of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings risen with healing in His wings. Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die.” Then these two lines: “Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. Hark! the herald angels sing: ‘Glory to the newborn King!’”
A seed, a Son, to raise many sons, to restore us to God, to regain paradise, to bring us to glory. This required the cross. He had to go there. He had to suffer. He had to be bruised in order that He could be triumphant.
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