As concerns the first two chapters of Genesis, one of the revealing things is that the ‘state of affairs’ is nice and dandy. It is the perfect Triune God speaking His creation into being, perfectly. Then the door opens on chapter three. The title its self is telling: ‘The Fall.’
Genesis 3 is the apex of the human problem. Man and his wife rebel against the one who made them and whom they owe not just their breath but also their being. On the surface, it’s just a simple act of disobedience. “God will understand”, some will say. But most times things are never what they look like. This is one of those times.
Eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil does not give you the ‘knowledge of good and evil’. Ask Adam and Eve. And it doesn’t make one a god either, maybe a little ‘unhappy god’ who lacks even the dimmest of powers such as to conjure a smile to light up his ever frowned face.
The Old Testament theologian and author Alec Motyer has remarked that the knowledge of good and evil is not just knowing what is good or bad, but is to the best part deciding what is good or bad. This is where our problems begin. We all want to be right, yet we cannot because we have all developed little mental pictures of what right is based on dwarf ideas of religion, class, caste, tribe, political affiliation, profession and many other of those man-made ideas.
We now have a man who, instead of depending on God, loves his independence as he loves himself. See how this came into play almost instantly:
And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, what is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat (Gen 3:12-13, KJV).
Adam is pushing the blame to his wife, and the wife does the same by also pushing the blame further towards the serpent. Doesn’t this describe all of us? We crave credit but at the same time dread blame. Rebellion has brought man this far from God and into himself. He is now the ‘center of it all’. What at first was ‘man in the image of God’ is now ‘god in the image of man.’ Man is now his own self-made god. According to one author, man is now ‘using God-created faculties in an anti-God mode.’
Paul, in Romans chapter three puts this problem into perspective:
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
Their feet are swift to shed blood:
Destruction and misery are in their ways:
And the way of peace have they not known:
There is no fear of God before their eyes (Romans 3:10-18)
A story is told of a drunk who was staggering home late on a rainy night. As he was passing through the cemetery, he fell into a freshly dug grave. He tried to climb out but to no avail as the walls were slippery. Then another drunk who was taking the same route fell into the same grave. Now there are two drunken guys in one grave.
This second guy tried to get himself out as the guy who fell in first gave him some attention. He quickly opened his mouth and said: “You can’t get out man!” How is that for motivation?
This is where all of us find ourselves—in the middle of a freshly dug grave called sin. Getting out is impossible until someone will come and pull us out from the outside. But the truth is some of us still enjoy the grave, while others don’t know how they got into the grave in the first place.
Amidst judgment, there comes good news. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head […] (Genesis 3:15).” God’s rescue of sinners comes amidst judgment. God is so overflowing with love and compassion. He loves rebels even in their rebellion. “[Love her] as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love sacred raisin cakes (Hosea 3:1b, NIV).”
The Good News of the gospel is that God saves sinners—real sinners—not nominal ones. For a sinner out there, this is not just music to the ears but good music to the ears that have neglected their responsibility of hearing.
Isaiah in chapter sixty-one foretells the day of the Lord’s favour, when the Messiah promised in Genesis 3:15 will come and what He will do. He is coming to; Isaiah writes in verse one, “bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”
The salvation of the Lord comes from outside, for you and me. It’s a gift to everyone. And He surely accomplishes what He comes to do. “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible (Matt 19:26).”
This is why Christmas is such good news. It is not just a fulfillment of the promise by God but also the ushering in of liberty and redemption. Christmas is the Father’s “I love you” to our “we don’t need You.” God comes, climbs down into the grave and gets the drunks out without them doing anything to merit the rescue, or tip the rescuer. Christmas is God getting us out and winning us to Himself.