Christmas, Then and Now (Part 1)

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We’re going to take a break from our study in Jude until next month as we look at the origins of Christmas. Believe it or not, Christmas was not invented by Macy’s, Gimbals, Wal-Mart, Kmart, or Amazon.com. Why do we have Christmas? Is what we do and see today consistent with Scripture? What exactly does Christmas mean? If you talk to people on the streets and ask that question, you’ll get numerous responses. From family to good feelings. Parties to presents. Decorations to debt. Gluttony to gifts. Of course the spiritual side talks about the over commercialization of Christmas and that we must keep Christ in Christmas. We fight to keep nativity scenes displayed on public property. We talk about Jesus being the reason for the season. We boycott stores that wish us “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. Oddly enough, some of these are the same people that include Santa Claus and the Elf on the Shelf in their festivities. How far has our modern Christmas diverted from the original Christmas? We think the real meaning of Christmas is to have warm and fuzzy feelings surrounded by family and friends with the gentle sound of Christmas carols playing softly in the background with the home filled with the aroma of ginger and cinnamon. That’s not the picture the Bible paints for the reason we have Christmas. It’s not about family, friends, or food. We must evaluate why we have Christmas through God’s eyes. So what are the origins of Christmas? To understand the why behind Christmas, we don’t look to Luke or Matthew . . . we must go back to Genesis.

Gen 1:26-31 says, Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to everything that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

God’s design for humanity was to engage in intimate, personal, and daily fellowship with Him. The instructions seemed simple enough. Be fruitful and multiply – fill the earth. Take care of the earth and have dominion over it and the animals, and the fish, and the birds, and even all the creeping things. Everything that you see in the garden is food for you. Among all the plants and bushes and trees, two trees stood in the middle of the garden. The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We don’t know how much time had passed between the time God completed His miraculous creation and this point. The Bible does indicate that there was communication and fellowship between God and the man and woman He created. God gave Adam instructions on what he and his wife were to do.

Included in those instructions was just one thing God told Adam not to do. Often we focus on the don’ts of the Bible. Maybe you’ve even talked to people about Christ and they say they don’t want to get saved because they’re having too much fun. Maybe they say, Christians can’t dance or drink, or smoke or whatever else they may come up with because they think Christianity is all about what you can’t do. Sometimes we have that attitude as well. We’re like the kid who begs his parents for a cookie and then complains because he only got one. Or the ungrateful child that complains on Christmas morning while sitting among all the gifts he received that he didn’t get the gift that he really wanted.

Of all the trees in the garden, God’s simple instruction was don’t eat from this ONE tree. Choice is introduced. They each had the opportunity to choose obedience or disobedience. They could eat from any tree in the garden – there must have been hundreds and thousands of trees. Satan comes in the form of a serpent and is the craftiest being God created. The enemy of man focuses on the one thing God prohibited. The serpent introduces doubt into the minds of Adam and Eve. In Gen. 2:17 God told Adam, “From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat it.” Again, a seemingly simple instruction. God lovingly provides the reason too. He doesn’t say because I said so although He could have. He tells Adam, “In the day you eat from it, you will surely die.” What does this have to do with Christmas? Christmas began because of Adam. Gen 3:6 says, “She took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.”

The obvious question is why did Christmas begin with Adam? What’s the rest of the story? Gen. 3:8 says, “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” This as not a one-time occurrence. In Gen. 3:10 Adam said, “I heard the sound of You walking in the garden.” Adam must have known the sound of God; it must have been familiar enough for him to recognize the Creator. To find out the true origins of Christmas, we need to understand what just happened. God calls out to Adam, “Where are you?” Adam and Eve who were together and unashamed in the garden now find themselves trying to hide from the all knowing, all present, all powerful Creator. We don’t know the tone of voice or body language demonstrated by God or Adam, but I have to think that even though God knew this day would come, it still had to have grieved Him beyond measure. To answer God’s question, Adam called out, “I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” I picture Adam embarrassed, ashamed, and overwhelmed by what he had done, knowing that he had disobeyed. Immediate consequences resulted from Adam’s disobedience, but not just for him. Guaranteed death for Adam, his wife and for all humanity. Rom. 5:12 says, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

There are incredible word pictures presented here, but for the sake of time, we’ll focus only on the offspring mentioned. The pivotal statement comes from God when He tells the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Gen. 3:15) This allows us to see into the future through God’s eyes and what He had to do to reconcile humanity in light of Adam’s disobedience. Remember God’s design was to be in intimate, daily fellowship with His creation. God says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman.” Enmity is a word we don’t use often. It means intense hostility or animosity. It’s often used when describing the feelings between warring nations as described in Ez. 25 and 35 or of the feelings that drive one to murder as in Num. 35:21. The enmity occurs between the serpent and the woman first. Singular pronouns are used. The serpent and the woman would be at odds, and the affect of that enmity is transferred to the serpent’s offspring and to the woman’s as well. “Between your seed and her seed,” God tells the serpent. Generation after generation would endure this enmity, this animosity, this intense hostility to one another until Christmas comes.

What does this have to do with Christmas? Christmas is coming. Not December 25th, but what it represents. We’ve led up to this point to understand why Christmas had to come. Next week, we’ll see exactly how Christmas came and what that means for you and me, and for humanity.

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