Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 5 January 2022:
Genesis 3:15 — I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Genesis 3 explains what happened, how mankind and creation became corrupted after God had made everything perfectly good as the product of His love. The whole of the Bible tells “God’s Big Story” of His grand plan which includes four major plot movements — Creation, the Fall, Redemption, and Restoration (when Christ returns to restore all things, described in the last two chapters of the Bible). Genesis 3 describes the Fall, but it also begins the story of God’s plan for redemption, which climaxes with the death and resurrection of Jesus. Many don’t realize that the Gospel is first proclaimed in Genesis 3, and the rest of the Old Testament (and New Testament) points to Jesus Christ.
Genesis 3 lays out the pattern of temptation and sin which destroys, kills, and ruins fellowship with God and with others:
1) God’s word is questioned. (Genesis 3:1)
2) God’s word is distorted by people adding or taking away from His word, which causes people to doubt the authenticity of God’s actual word. (Genesis 3:2-3 – Compare with what God actually said in Genesis 2:17)
3) God’s very character is questioned. (Genesis 3:4, 5)
4) Pridefulness takes over, and people seek to essentially be their own god, to serve self, to decide what is right and wrong or good and bad for themselves (in a self-centered way), and to justify their behavior. (Genesis 3:5)
5) Instant gratification, passions, and desires overcome loving obedience. (Genesis 3:6)
6) Sinners influence others to sin. (Genesis 3:6)
7) Sin exposes selfishness and weakness, creating a sense of vulnerability, fear, and doubt which causes division between God and others. People avoid God and put up barriers between each other. (Genesis 3:7-8)
8) People make excuses for their sin and blame others for their sin, even blaming God. (Genesis 3:11-13) 9) Sin ruins relationships and turns work into painful toil as people seek to build for themselves a ‘kingdom’ or life based on their own ambitions rather than on God’s will for His glory. (Genesis 3:15; Genesis 3:17-19)
We will see this pattern of sin repeated throughout the Bible, but you see it every day in the lives of others but also in your own behavior – “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:4-27)
While our focus on Genesis 3 might be what Adam and Eve did and how we can relate with them, what we really should notice is God’s mercy and grace through it all. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the garden, He could have destroyed them right on the spot, but instead, He went to them (in the same way God sent His Son to the world when the world had rejected Him), and He continued to care for them, covering over their nakedness. ( Genesis 3:21; see Galatians 3:27) However, the greatest verse in Genesis 3 is the 15th verse – “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” This is a prophecy of Jesus (the seed of Adam and Eve) who will come to earth, be crucified for our sins (bruised heel), resurrected for our justification, bruising (or crushing in some versions) the head of Satan. Listen as the late Dr. R.C. Sproul comments on this key Bible verse — https://www.ligonier.org/podcasts/ultimately-with-rc-sproul/the-serpent-crushing-savior
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can rejoice that you have been saved by grace through faith in Him, despite your flaws, and your eternal life is secure in Him and His righteousness which He has credited to you. You can also live a new life through Him, continually growing in righteousness until He returns. Through Christ, we have been freed from the penalty of sin; we are being saved from the power of sin in our lives; and we will one day be freed from the presence of sin when He returns.
Matthew 3:1, 2 – “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
As we read the account of John the Baptist, it can be very easy for us to miss the significance of his role in God’s redemptive history, the impact he had on his culture at the time, and the lessons his life leave for us today. The account of John the Baptist is mentioned in all four Gospels.
Understand that it had been over 400 years since Malachi (the last book of the Old Testament) proclaimed the coming of “the great and awesome day of the Lord.” Since then there had been no prophetic word from God, only silence. Think about that for a moment – 400 years! Look back 400 years in our nation’s history – the Mayflower arrived at Cape in November 1620! Now comes John the Baptist, living off the land, wearing a garment of camel’s hair, and proclaiming the imminent arrival of the Messiah and the Kingdom of God. How might you have responded to this?
John the Baptist had become a national figure — “Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him” to be baptized. (Matthew 3:5). John was doing something quite shocking from the religious leaders’ perspective – he was baptizing in the Jordan River. This was not the Believer’s Baptism which Christians do as an act of obedience and public profession of their faith, symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus; rather, this was what the Jews would recognize as a proselyte baptism, a ritual of ceremonial cleansing as would be required of a gentile who desired to become a Jew because gentiles were viewed as unholy and unclean. John was saying that even the Jews, including the Pharisees and Sadducees, were unclean, unprepared for the coming of the Messiah, and John the Baptist was calling for personal and corporate repentance, turning away from sin and back to God, in preparation for the imminent coming of the Lord.
– Romans 3:10-12, 23 — As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
– 2 Peter 3:9 — The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
– Romans 2:4 — Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
– Acts 17:30 — The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent….
– 2 Corinthians 7:10 — For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
– Acts 2:38 — And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
– Acts 3:19 — Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out….
– 1 John 1:9 –If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Pridefully, the Pharisees and Sadducees were furious over what they saw as a tremendously disrespectful and very public insult! However, when they confronted John the Baptist, he did not pull any punches — “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:7-10) His message – ‘The Messiah is coming, and you are not ready!’
The Pharisees had sent the priests and Levites to investigate the matter of John’s baptism; their main concern was, who John the Baptist was proclaiming to be and by what claimed authority did he baptize even religious leaders? Why did he think he was so special? (John 1:19-34) However, John the Baptist immediately directed all attention away from himself and on to Jesus – “Among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” (John 1:26, 27) John the Baptist understood his mission – to proclaim Christ and Christ alone. He was hindered and distracted neither by public opinion nor public attention. He was intent on glorifying Christ without regard for fame or infamy, regardless the personal cost. John the Baptist measured his success in fidelity to God.
The Book of John further records that when John the Baptist saw Jesus coming, he did not announce Jesus as the King or as the Lion of God, but rather “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” The ultimate Day of Atonement was at hand! This was the beginning of the end of the Old Mosaic Covenant, and the dawn of the New Covenant of reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. (See Hebrews) This was the proclamation of the Gift of God and salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and not by works, leaving no room for anyone to boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
John the Baptist was a faithful Herald of Immanuel (God with us), and of John, Jesus said, “among those born of women none is greater than John.” (Luke 7:28) But Jesus went on to say, “Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Grace is the great equalizer. Anyone who is in Christ has the full righteousness of Christ credited to them, rendering the righteousness of people meaningless for salvation – Christ is sufficient. Those in Christ are now free to pursue righteousness as an act of love for God and others, rather than hopelessly struggling to earn salvation through self-righteousness and obedience to the law which has no power to save. (Romans 9:30, 31; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22) This is Good News!
– Romans 3:23-24 — …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
– Romans 4:4-5 — Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…
– 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 22 — For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…. …in Christ shall all be made alive.
– Galatians 3:13-14 — Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
John was faithful with the message of reconciliation, which he boldly proclaimed to all, drawing no attention to Himself and fearing no consequences. Now God has entrusted you with the message of reconciliation. What are you going to do with it in 2022?
– 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 — Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 5 Jan 22: Today, rejoice in God’s grace through Christ, which has been revealed to you throughout the entire Bible; walk in God’s grace, exuding confidence, love, joy, peace, gratitude, and contentment, and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to everyone.