In the Beginning: An Advent Devotional – Day Two

In the beginning, the Word already existed.
The Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone.

These words from John 1 have always been among my favorite, and although many would quote the Bible as beginning with the well-known, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” I can’t help but think the real story starts here in John. Before the world was ever created, God was. The Three-in-One Deity’s existence preceded everything else, and in this presence was the Word. So powerful that the whole of creation came into being through Him. The Word gave life to everything,  bathing it in His light and declaring it good.

One would think such a miraculous birthing of goodness would last for a long time to come, but in less than three short chapters of Genesis, we see the light begin to fade as sin rears its gruesome head. As early as Genesis 3, we see our need for a Savior. When the door cracks open to sin’s darkness, it ushers in a battle between good and evil. No longer living at peace in Eden with all of creation, mankind is now set against the serpent Satan. For generations to come.

With one bite of forbidden fruit, the world fell under a curse and the first prophecy was set in motion:

And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. — Genesis 3:15

Thus begins the sad history of humanity’s disobedience and separation from our Creator.

Thus begins our need for a Savior.

Many view Genesis 3:15 as a veiled reference to Satan’s influence in Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection from the grave. Referred to as the protoevangelium or “the first gospel,” this verse introduces two factors previously unknown in the garden of Eden — the curse on mankind because of sin’s entrance, and God’s provision for a Savior who would take the curse upon Himself.

The hostility between good and evil begins at this junction. The war against God’s people ensues. The enmity between Satan and Jesus Christ commences, and the Cross and resurrection move into play. The first cry for a Messiah rings out as Adam and Eve are banished from Eden, and this cry continues from Genesis through Malachi. Of the 929 chapters in the Old Testament, the need for a Savior is present in 927 of them. Page after page is filled with the desperate plea for deliverance.

It’s amazing to realize that even before the first prayer for mercy was uttered, the plan of salvation was set in place. No sooner was the sickness of sin infecting Adam and Eve than the remedy was provided. Notice of Jesus’ coming was given, and Satan’s eviction became certain.

Because God’s children are human beings — made of flesh and blood — the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil who had the power of death. Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives enslaved to the fear of dying.
— Hebrews 2:14-15

The world required a Savior, but not just any Savior. It required a Savior who could become like us. One who would experience every sin and temptation and tug toward death in the natural realm in which we experience it, yet overcome it. And so He did.

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. –– Hebrews 4:15

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. — 1 John 3:8

Jesus was born to die so He could free us from the curse of death. All the consequences of sin were nailed to the Cross as surely as were the hands of the Savior who chose to grip them. The spiral of death set in motion with that first bite of forbidden fruit was abruptly interrupted and soundly defeated with His words, “It is finished.”

And once again, The Word breathed life into being, freeing us from the bonds of death forever.

So if Jesus died and rose again to overcome sin and death, why do we still feel the effects of the curse? Much like the disciple Peter experienced, Satan has demanded to sift us like wheat as he continues to shake the world with hatred and divisions and wars and suffering. But he is powerless to prevail against God’s people in the end. Yes, he still persists in lashing out against humanity, but for those who are in Christ Jesus, we are sealed with a great and precious promise. While Satan may strike at our heel, our Head is safely seated in heaven. The serpent has received a death blow, and as Romans 16:20 tells us: The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

It’s just one more reason for celebration this Advent season. Not only did Jesus create the world and all it contains, He then came to earth to save His children to the uttermost. And He is coming again to deliver it once and for all in a triumphant arrival that will be worth the wait.

In the meantime, may the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you and keep you firmly in His care . . . no matter how many strikes you may take to the heel.

FOR REFLECTION:
Take a few moments and ponder the wonder of a God who chose to breathe your life into being. You, as unique and quirky as you may be, were an intimate part of God’s plan for creation from before time began. He had you in mind when the world was created, and He had you in mind when Jesus came to earth to die for your sins. Are you ever tempted to believe you are anything other than incredibly loved by your Savior? Do you struggle to accept the forgiveness He freely extends toward you each day? Take some time today to receive anew the gift of your Savior as you recall specific ways you have experienced Jesus’ saving power in your life. Thank Him for the things from which He has freed you; praise Him for the things He has kept you from experiencing; and ask Him to help you continue to overcome sin so you may live a life that honors Him.

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