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Sunday, 14 December 2014

The real reason for the season.



Reading: Genesis chapter 3:1-24

This is not the usual text preached from at Christmas-time but it is I believe the text that reveals to us the real (original) reason for the season. I haven't as yet this Christmas seen the poster that many churches display declaring Jesus to be the reason for the season. Whilst I fully appreciate and understand what it is they are saying it is not quite accurate. It is not seriously wrong but there is a far more fundamental reason for the season which we shall discover from this most disturbing of bible passages.

The background as I am sure you will know is that God has finished His incredible work of creation in 6 days and has instituted the day of rest into the very heart of his creation and so we have a 7 day week set and ordered by God the Creator. He has looked over His creation and declared it to be very good. As the pinnacle of all creation He had created man; Adam being the first. Adam was given straight away a task of work to do and as such God's pattern for man was that he should be a worker just as God Himself is, therefore work is instituted by God as part of man's purpose. Adam had to name or categorise all of the animals as God caused them to pass him by displaying God and man working together. Adam was the solitary human whilst all of the animals had their mates. As Adam was about his work he found none from amongst the animals to be a suitable helper which reminds us that a dog might be a faithful friend but it cannot ever be our best friend. It was when Adam realised his loneliness that God created especially for him someone who was just right for him. God put Adam to sleep and took a rib from his side and out of that He made Eve. There is so much significance in this that we do not have time to explore it today other than it is right to say that God created man and woman to be together, Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve. Marriage is between man and woman and it is also meant to be one man for one woman but as we shall see things have gone so badly wrong that everything is now confused. In fact the bible tells us that after this event the whole of creation is now groaning under the effect of sin.

Adam is blessed with Eve and Eve is blessed with Adam, they are designed to be together in what we call marriage, that is still God's ideal for today and as Christians we would do well to celebrate marriage wherever it takes place. I hope you all pray for each others marriages and keep an eye out to protect each other from infiltrators!

But what has this got to do with Christmas?

Simply put the event that follows is the reason for Christmas! Sinful man is the real reason for the season! If it were not for Adam and Eve following Satan's beguiling words rather than the Word of God Almighty there would have been no reason for the Son of God to come in the way that He did. If you notice in the passage that we read that after Adam and Eve sinned the Lord was walking in the garden in the cool of the day. That is after Adam should have completed his daily task of caring for creation. The Lord was walking to meet with His people, the Lord that manifests Himself in human form is Jesus who was, and is and is forever-more the same; Immanuel. God is there and Adam and Eve have done a runner, they are scared and are hiding in fancy dress behind the bushes; how futile sin makes man's thinking. Fancy believing you can hide from the Creator God! I hope that there is nobody here that thinks that they can hide from the Creator even in the seats of the Mustard Seed, as we shall see God is never fooled by your thin disguise. You may have sowed together the leaves of respectability or even Christianity but if sin or self is your motivator then God sees right through it and so you the sinner are the real Reason for the Season.

God so loved His people that He sent His Son Jesus into the world to save them from their sins, remember the instruction to Joseph! He had the privilege to name the Lord of glory with the name Jesus which means saviour.






Therefore we have in this passage:

  • Adam on the run (followed by)
  • The call of God (and a declaration of)
  • The cost of salvation.

This passage records the enormity of sin and it's universal affect on both God and all of creation. It is man who was the pinnacle of all creation that is responsible for all of the wrongs in the world. Therefore he is most affected excepting Satan; by all that his sin has caused! From that day on the world was never the same, all of creation was affected by what we might term as a minor mis-demeanor. In reality it was far more than a minor slip, it was the greatest catastrophe the world has ever known. Every single particle of creation is affected! That is the enormity that sin is to God. It is a total abomination and the very fact that He has allowed it to continue speaks greatly of His grace despite man's total depravity.

Let us briefly consider:

Adam on the run:

Adam is what the theologians might call the federal head of sinful humanity; it may have been Eve that took the first bite of the fruit but it is Adam who is responsible as far as God is concerned because he is the head of the family. Consequently in Adam's case he was also the federal head of all humanity the result of which is that the very nature of all (bar One) who follow is marked by sin rather than Godliness. The New Testament refers to him as the first Adam because from this moment on a new Adam was needed in order that God might perform an act of Grace which far surpasses what we can ever imagine.

Immediately in his foolishness Adam thought that he could run away from God. He had not yet learned what the Psalmist knew; there is nowhere to run that is outside of God's presence be it in the depths of the sea or on the highest mountains and I suppose we can now add depths of space as many astronauts have testified to, God's glory and as such His presence is with all of His creation:

He is OMNIPRESENT!

Adam along with Eve also had their first craft session together, their nakedness had the result of their nakedness becoming dirty and so they were now ashamed to come naked into the presence of a Holy God. Therefore they put their creative skills to the test. Out of newly decaying fig leaves sewed together they tried to cover their nakedness. What a sham it is to try to hide from God what you really are. We have all inherited Adam's infectious disease and as such each one of us is guilty of falling short of God's standard of perfection. The due punishment for such sinfulness is eternal death, the result of which is that from birth to grave we are naturally dead to God and alive to sin. That is Adam's legacy to us which we dutifully pass on to our children. We are impotent in it, we cannot help but to sin but we are culpable for it! Therefore in the same way that Adam was on the run from God then so are we.

Do you recognize yourself in this, if so there is hope because this is the real reason for the season. God loves sinners and does not want any to perish.

The next thing that we observe is:

The call of God:
God is not only omnipresent He is also omniscient, which means that He is all knowing. He knows all about you, your every thought and motive. He knows what you need long before you do, He also knows your foolish wants and desires. He knows your wrong ambitions, your wrong dealings with others, your pride, your lust, your anger! In fact He knows you better than you know yourself. Therefore at the time when Adam was foolishly hiding God knew exactly where he was. The Psalmist tells us that God laughs at the foolish antics of man. God continues to laugh in the face of yours and mine foolishness but despite that He does the most amazing thing. He calls out to Adam “where are you?” It was a rhetorical question that resulted in Adam exposing his real shame none of which was hidden by his pathetic wilting leaf patterned skirt! Interestingly he was more afraid of his nakedness than of his sin, things never change. Mankind is more concerned about minor indiscretions than the fact that they have turned their back in pride on a Holy God.

God from this moment begins to reveal an amazing work of grace that He had put in place even from before He had created the world. Creation was a great miracle but now He is about to begin an even greater work. This one He will not rest from until He finally gathers his church into glory.

The work?

Re-creation: this is a massive job which brings absolute and perfect satisfaction to God, to heaven and also to those whom He re-creates. He calls sinners everywhere to repent.

God first of all pronounces judgement upon Adam and Eve and all sinners who follow after him after first convicting them of their sin. He also marks all of creation with the curse because man has negated his privileged position and as such cannot expect as a sinner to live in a perfect world whilst he is totally depraved. His influence would very soon ruin all of nature. Likewise Satan is cursed but he is also told that judgement will come upon him one day from a man born of a woman. This is the prototype gospel, it is the first announcement of God's intention to save and to rescue those whom He loves. The Old Testament will progressively fill it out over many years until eventually fulfilment is found in Jesus who came in this season, the reason for which is that He save His people from their sins.


Finally man barred from the tree of life, no longer can they find their own way into the presence of God. They are barred from His presence. There is nothing that man can do to gain favour from Him, therefore we are lost in our sins but our God by His grace calls out to us. But sinners cannot enter His presence and so there is an impasse!

There is a cost that is necessary to get over the impasse.

The cost of Salvation:

Remember that man made the best effort that he could think of in order to cover his shame and that had no affect at all! What God does next is a pointer to the way that the impasse would be overcome. From that moment on a sacrifice would be necessary for sin to be covered. God in the act of killing an animal showed that the death of an innocent victim was the only acceptable covering for the shame of sin. The animal was an innocent victim chosen by God to cover Adam's shame; many years down the line God's Chosen One would be born in this season to be the sacrifice that completely covers the sin of all who will believe. All of the sacrifices on Jewish altars never once saved anyone from sin but they spoke very loudly of the One Perfect Sacrifice who is the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world as declared by John the Baptist. God the Son who had walked at the beginning of time with Adam and Eve would be born one day in Bethlehem and at that time re-creation finally begins.

The real reason for the Season?

Sinners

The remedy is He who is revealed in the season? He is Immanuel which means God with us, He is the lamb of God who is called Jesus because He does more than cover our sins, He takes them as if they were His very own and He personally pays the price. He had to die, He was an innocent victim chosen by God to take our sin and in it's place to give us His righteousness.

The real reason for the season?
Us

We hang our heads in shame before a Holy God who by grace paid the ultimate cost for us. We love the season because with it comes our only hope.   

The reality of the season is that the Baby Jesus is fully God who is with His people and who knows His people.It is He who saves His people from their sins through His sacrificial death upon the cross. The reason for the season is us but the remedy to the cause is revealed in the season it is God becomes man and pays the full price for our sin!

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