For Christmas, we looked at the magnitude of the statement, "God With Us." That's the meaning of Christmas. It's what we celebrate or should celebrate at Christmas and every other day of the year.
In the third chapter of Genesis, we read the great tragedy, the Fall. Adam turned his back on God, thinking he could be a god one day. That's the lie of Satan, a false gospel that introduced death from the pit of hell into God's creation. But in that same chapter, we see the protoevangelium, that is, the first statement of the Gospel. Before God punishes Adam and Eve for their sin, he curses the serpent. But in there, God offers the hope of Jesus Christ (part of the serpent's punishment). Genesis 3:15 reads, "I will put hostility between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He [referring to Jesus] will strike your head, and you will strike his heal."
But God's plan of salvation is even more amazing. Sure he could have tried to send an angel or another created being to be a hero as the perfect atonement, but that wouldn't cut it considering Genesis shows us that all of creation was cursed by the cancer of sin. Instead, God himself would enter humanity and be the substitute for our death. He sent his only son, Jesus Christ. In doing so, God was with us.
But God was with us before that, but far more limited and not as beautiful. God, in his grace, instituted a temple system. The temple became a place of death, animal substitutes in the position of humanity. This system made a band-aid way for humankind to temporarily approach God, but only one man, and only once per year and only after there was bloodshed. Also, God put his presence in the temple, except God was separated from humanity by a 60-foot tall vail. It sounds terrible, and if we know the rest of the story, we should see the temple as a symbol of great sadness.
Let us not forget that the offspring of the woman was coming, the who would crush the serpent's head. There's hope! His name is Jesus. And as we read in the New Testament of God's Word, Jesus put the necessity of the temple behind us. God no longer dwelled in temples made of man's hands! (See Acts 7:48-50 & Acts 17:24.) Jesus entered our reality to bring us salvation; and for those who trust and follow him, he lives within us!
Our four-part series, "God With Us: From the Temple to the Manger" explores God's journey from his temporary state in the presence of the Temple, to His humble birth, to how God is with us today in Jesus Christ. If you are interested in the topic or you were not able to join us for this series, we encourage you to check out the sermon series online and listen.
For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman