I hope you’re feeling like part of the family now 😉 If you’ve missed the first few days of our Advent Calendar, you can scroll down the home page or check out the “Celebrations” category under the “Fun” menu tab. Here is our Calendar today:
December 4th | The First Sacrifice
(This devotional is adapted from a child-oriented one I have written and intend to publish online. I’ve directed the content below more toward adults. If you want to read it to children, you may need to avoid reading certain sentences or paraphrase it yourself.)
Bible Background: We know that the serpent in the garden of Eden was controlled by Satan. But what did God promise Satan? He said that one of Eve’s Descendants would crush his head, even though he would strike HIS heel. From this we can learn four things: (1) Satan’s power would be completely destroyed by Eve’s Descendant; (2) Eve’s Descendant would be wounded by Satan; (3) Eve’s Descendant is a “Him”: God was talking about a Man; (4) Notice it was Eve’s descendant, not Adam’s…this Man would have a biological Mother but not a biological Father.
Bible Study Question: Read Romans 5:12-17 and compare with 1 Corinthians 15: 21-22, 45-49. How did Jesus “undo” what Adam did?
Today’s Devotional: Adam and Eve had to face up to the consequences of their choice to disobey God’s command to enjoy all of creation except for the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden. As a result of breaking off their covenant relationship with their Creator, Adam and Eve’s children would be born out of covenant or relationship with Him as well. It would now be each individual’s responsibility to put himself back in relationship with the Creator despite an innate unwillingness to trust and obey Him. The creation had become broken as a result of breaking away from the Creator.
Despite the bleakness of this situation, God gave Adam and Eve hope that one of their Descendants would come to undo the damage and bring humanity back to Him. This Descendant would punish Satan for the way he had tempted them. After making this promise, God replaced Adam and Eve’s sorry fig-leaf clothes with animal skins. Those skins came from an innocent animal: the first sacrifice. God showed Adam and Eve that Sin–independence from God’s rule and blessing–always brings death.
It is no coincidence that Jesus is our sacrifice to restore us to right relationship with our Creator; Just like the innocent animal in Genesis 3, Jesus died so we could be covered with His “skin”, His spiritual garments of righteousness and salvation. Jesus satisfies all four promises that God gave to Adam and Eve:
- He came to destroy all the works of the Devil and gave His disciples authority to cast out demons, heal, and undo the damage evil had done. He promised His disciples that He would come back to kick the Devil off our planet for good (the book of Revelation)! The only reason we are waiting is so that more and more people can hear about Jesus, believe in Him, and play a part in His present and future kingdom on earth.
- He was wounded for our sins on the cross. When Jesus died on the cross, it was as if Satan bit him on the heel through our sins. Jesus was in the process of trampling the Devil underfoot and that work is being continued through the Church as we speak the truth in love, help the hurting, and deliver the oppressed in the name and authority of Jesus.
- He came as a man to undo Adam’s curse on humanity. Adam and Eve were each given unique roles to compensate for their unique sins. Eve’s newly defined role would be to bring the Descendant into being through her progeny; there was a redemptive purpose of recovery in her bearing of children. (While I don’t believe all women are called to have children, there is certainly–even to this day–a redemptive aspect of having children that makes us all better people, which is why abortion is so sad: it is cutting off God’s intended route of blessing and treating His precious gifts to us like a curse. I don’t say that to condemn or judge anyone, but I think we need to trust God that if He allows a pregnancy to happen, having a baby will benefit us in the long run. It will change us for the better and will change our world for the better. We are certainly all the better for Mary’s pregnancy which was out of wedlock when she was a teenager in very perilous times). While men would obviously play a vital role in that purpose, they–as Adam’s descendants if you will–had to answer for an altogether different sin. Eve had been directly deceived by Satan (hence the phrase “the woman, being deceived” in the New Testament…it does not mean that women are more easily deceived than men, merely that Eve’s experience had differed to Adam’s and the resulting family structure was intended to compensate for that; women were to foster recovery through our unique ability to bring life into the world and men were to facilitate recovery by protecting that life. Personally, I think Eve got the better deal because she had gone through a worse ordeal than Adam had!); Adam went along with Eve’s sin out of sheer pride, not being as treacherously misled as Eve had been. As a result, God’s redemptive plan for Adam was for him to be in charge of meeting Eve’s needs and creating a safe environment for her to flourish and for Eve to be receptive of and conducive to those efforts; this has been the intended order ever since, despite men’s tendency historically to dominate and women’s tendency historically to manipulate. Jesus came in the perfect role of a Husband, with gentleness and directness, to secure provision for His “Bride”, the Redeemed Human Race (the Church), so we can be fruitful and flourish. Husband-wife relationships aren’t about authoritarian structure, but about provision, nurture, service, and mutual blessing. Jesus came to profess God’s love for humanity as a Groom would for a Bride and He sacrificed Himself and His own immediate interest to do so. He came to undo in selfless regard for duty what the first man, Adam, did out of selfish disregard for duty. Jesus’ sacrificial love ought to be the standard of all Christian authority.
- He was born of a virgin; the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary so that the incarnation would be perfect. As God, Jesus had the sinlessness to offer Himself as a perfect sacrifice. As Man, Jesus had the ability to share our weaknesses and die a physical death. He didn’t have to limit Himself to our form, but He chose to do it out of love because He is love! He is compelled by his love to stoop down to our level and draw us to Himself. God is a relational Being like no other!
Application: We need to recognize that the Devil is real and continues to deceive the world today. Even holidays like Christmas are not immune from his deception. The devil tempts us to do wrong and then heaps on guilt and shame through accusing thoughts…for the very wrong he tempted us to do in the first place! This Christmas it is going to be easy to take offense at what others say and do, but we mustn’t be tempted to lash out or act passive-aggressively. It is going to be tempting to over-spend, over-eat, over-party and violate those boundaries God has given us in our personal exercise of faith. All sin leads to death: death of opportunity, relationship, health, finances, etc. We need to resist temptation with Jesus’ strength and trust that when we stay determined to do God’s will as Jesus did, the Devil will flee from us; he will recognize Something in us that has already defeated him: Jesus! Jesus is like the First Sacrifice, given to clothe us with the rightness of God. Wear your rightness like armor to protect you from those accusing thoughts; if you make a mistake, quickly repent and get back on the right track. Jesus has already paved the way back to right relationship with the Creator through His sacrifice. Don’t linger in guilt or sin this Christmas: Move forward with Jesus. He’s got you covered!
Prayer: Father God, thank You for providing Jesus as my sacrifice: You love me so much that You sent Eve’s Descendant to set me free from Satan’s lies. I am so sorry that my sin brought death to Jesus. Forgive me for all my sins. Please protect me from temptation. In Jesus’ Name; Amen.”
Family Activity: Smash the Serpent! (Please don’t do this to a real snake!) Take two long, skinny strands of construction paper of different colors. Tape the strands together at right angles and then fold them back and forth over each other to make a snake body. When you are done, tape the loose ends together. Then draw a snake head and stick it to one end of your snake body. Write “SIN” on the snake’s head. Then, put the snake on the ground, and STOMP ON IT WITH YOUR HEEL. As you do so, shout, “Eve’s Descendant set me free from you!”
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