Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Advent bloggin' Bible study

The good news is that Abigail has started a new bloggin' Bible study, hurray! The bad news is that I'm already behind on the first post, woops. For the first post, we read Genesis 3:8-19 and Genesis 22:15-18.

The first thing that struck me about the first passage is how hard and awesome it is to try to imagine "the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day." It blows my mind to think about living in communion and right-standing with God continually and being able to hear and see him walking around among us. Even as I type this, I am reminded that this is exactly what the world witnessed when Jesus came to live among His creation. As the passage goes on to tell about the curse that resulted from Adam and Eve's first act of sin and the fall of mankind, I am so glad that God has allowed us a glimpse of the end of the story and provided a plan to save us from ourselves. As wonderful as living in the Garden of Eden with God must have been, mankind could not then (nor could we now) handle living without sin and in perfect obedience to Him. This is where the Christmas story really begins because it points to our need for a Savior who could reconcile us to God by taking the punishment for our sins. God also foreshadowed this plan in verse 15, when He spoke these words to the serpent:
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.

My Nelson Study Bible says in the footnotes that "Seed" can be translated both as "offspring" as well as "descendents," meaning it could be referring to Jesus as an individual or to the group of people who were descended from Eve (not sure if this is specifically Jewish descendents, all of mankind, or all of those who are followers of Christ?). Thank God that from the very beginning, He had a plan to redeem us!

While the first passage tells about the curse on mankind, the second passage tells about the blessing we receive through God's blessing on Abraham. Abraham's obedience in not withholding "your son, your only son" (Gen. 22:16) from God calls to mind God's sacrifice in sending His only son to die for our sins. God promised to bless Abraham with numerous descendents and said that "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because you have obeyed My voice" (Gen. 22:18). Here again, He hinted at His plan to redeem us through Jesus Christ, a desendent of Abraham. My Nelson Study Bible says that because "seed" can refer both to an individual as well as to a group, God is using "a grand play on words: The seed was Isaac; and by extension the Jewish nation; and the Seed was also Jesus" (The Nelson Study Bible, copyright 1997 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.).

Every year at Christmas and again at Easter when I reflect on God becoming flesh and living among us before dying in order to satisfy the wrath of God that we might be saved, I am so aware of my inability to grasp completely the meaning of something so awesome. I pray for God to help me understand this more fully and thank God for the bit of understanding that He has granted. As I know I've said before, the older I get, I become more aware of my own need for a Savior. What a relief that God provided one for me and had this all beautifully and perfectly planned out long before I even existed! Though we focus mostly on Christ's birth at Christmas time and His resurrection at Easter time, I don't think you can talk about one without considering the other. As Christmas approaches, may we remember to reflect on the beauty of it all and to rejoice that God, in His great compassion and love for us, saw fit to send His only Son that we might spend eternity with Him!

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
--John 3:16

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