2: God Sent a King

Or, Everything That Is Wrong with Domination

December 11, 2022 • Sean Higgins • Isaiah 9:6–7

# Introduction

A good story doesn't give everything away on the first page, not even in chapter 3. As Scripture records God's dealings with man, even as Scripture records God’s promise that He will send a Man, the revelation progresses. We're in a blessed position, and can work our way back (and forward) from many spots on the timeline. We know more about the Christ in Christmas than anyone in the Bible (mostly because we have our own complete copies unlike any of them), but that doesn't mean we long for His coming as we should.

This year as we head toward Christmas day in a advent season series of sermons, I am taking us back to the Old Testament. We're getting a prophetic start, a progressive anticipation.

Last Lord's Day we started at the beginning of mankind, and with what has been called the * protoevangelium*, the “first gospel,” in Genesis 3:15. Christmas is the celebration that the Dragon-Slayer Seed was born. It was going to be a man, which is important for sake of Him identifying with our sins, but it's also the promise to bruise the head of the serpent. We who believe in the Son of Man are also offspring of the woman. The devil is defeated in principle, but mad, and the ongoing spiritual battle between his offspring and the woman’s offspring is everything that is wrong with Christmas.

A lot has happened between Genesis 3 and our text for today, Isaiah 9. The flood, Babel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob/Israel, Joseph, Egypt, Exodus, and back into the Promised Land to Abraham. The Lord chose a family to become a nation which He would love and from which would come the Man. He lead them *personally*, He led them *successfully* (even miraculously), He led them *mercifully*, and they didn't think it was enough. They wanted to be like other nations (1 Samuel 8:6). They wanted an embodied ruler, one who could take them into battle and govern their land (1 Samuel 8:19-20). They rejected the Lord as king (1 Samuel 8:7).

The Lord gave them Saul, whose resume stood a head above the rest, for a while. Then the Lord gave them David, and to David the Lord promised a son who would sit on the throne and rule forever (2 Samuel 7:14-16).

But even though we know the petty and disobedient and divided and in some cases tyrannical history of Israel’s kings after Solomon, note that the original desire for a king was *right*. It was not right in terms of how the people went about it, says God Himself. But as He reveals His purpose for the offspring of the woman, the particulars include the Seed’s coming as a Man-King.

# Post Tenebras, Rex (After Darkness, a King)

Things were in a bad way near the end of Isaiah 8. Things were *dark*. The people of Israel were looking to spiritual mediums (Isaiah 8:19), they weren’t looking to God’s Word and so they had “no dawn” (8:20), the earth was “distress and darkness,” they were thrust into “thick darkness” (8:22). The people walk in darkness, “in a land of deep darkness” (9:2). Isaiah sees the Assyrian army under Tiglath-pileser taking over the northern part of Israel, “the land of Zebulun and…Naphtali” (9:1, see also 2 Kings 15:29), who are a burden of oppression (9:4). Ahaz was the king at the time, and his kingdom was full of distress and war. But the prophecy doesn't end with the blackness of night, it looks forward to a better king. After darkness, a King.

> For to us a child is born,

> to us a son is given;

> and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

> and his name shall be called

> Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

> Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

> Of the increase of his government and of peace

> there will be no end,

> on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

> to establish it and to uphold it

> with justice and with righteousness

> from this time forth and forevermore.

> The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

> (Isaiah 9:6–7 ESV)

The "child born" picks up a previous word from the Lord in Isaiah 7:14 about a son born of a virgin named Immanuel. It's a man, who is God, and who takes dominion.

**The government shall be upon his shoulder**, and **of the increase of his government...there will be no end**. The word "government" is good, but the Hebrew word (pronounced *miś·rā(h)*) means *domination* . The LXX translates as ἀρχὴ (*arche*), the meeting point/corner of authority and power. The VLG has *principatus*, the first or eminent one. But *domination* works, even as it is related to *Dominus*, the Lord. This is the Lord of lords, the King on the throne of David. He can shoulder the responsibility of rule.

There are four titles for Him.

1. **Wonderful Counselor**. There have been wise rulers, but the vast majority throughout history must certainly be considered policy half-wits and political jesters. They get promoted, they get to inherit what daddy built. This coming King will know what to do; think of Joseph’s solutions to African famine but applied to *every issue* for *every nation*. His decisions will inspire delight and admiration.

2. **Mighty God**. More than a Man, more than the divine right of rule, He will be the *Divine* Ruler, again related to Isaiah 7:14. He is strength incarnate, a Warrior King.

3. **Everlasting Father**. This is not a confusion of Trinitarian persons or relationships, it's a typical, figurative usage of “father” (see Job 29:16 and Isaiah 22:21). It is the King who cares for and protects His people, and this role will be His forever.

4. **Prince of Peace**. Prince here isn't second in line, but emphasizing his royalty. Peace is the thing men want. Peace is the thing nations fight about. Peace is the thing the serpent and his offspring hate and disrupt. Peace in safety and prosperity define this King’s kingdom.

Four more things describe the King's accomplishments in verse 7.

- **Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end**. His rule expands in space and time, dominion grows.

- **On the throne of David and over his kingdom**. His rule fulfills the longstanding promise.

- **To establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness.** No dishonesty or corruption, no delinquency or compromise.

- **From this time forth and forevermore**. See “Everlasting” and “no end” above.

This isn’t speculation of outcome based on exit polls, this is God’s commitment. **The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.**

*God sent a King.*

# Hostile to (Royal) Hierarchy

The wise men from the east came because they saw the sign of whom? “Where” is he who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:1-2). When Herod realized the wise men weren't coming back with a report of this baby's location, he ordered the murder of all the boys two and under because his throne, his dominion was being threatened.

Jesus was killed for His claim to be King (Matthew 27:11, 29). *God sent a King*, and “the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed” (Psalm 2:2).

This is the problem with domination, or attempts at it, among men. It's a constant fight to be top dawg. This is the way it was since the serpent, this is the way *of* the serpent himself (compare with Isaiah 14:12-14). This is the way among the "rulers and authorities, the principalities and powers." This is the way of all those who typify the Beast of the Apocalypse. This is what’s wrong with politics, with governors, with *men* in power.

The levels of incompetence among our rulers are higher than Snohomish County flood warnings. And I get that being anti-authority is cool. But that is mostly a show.

While there is a tendency of hostility toward hierarchy, something about a King *appeals* to men because of God’s regality.

Give me a good king to submit to. Deep in their hearts men *want* a King, at least one like Isaiah’s prophecy. God established this desire. We have a king-shaped whole in our hearts, not separate from the God-shaped hole, but the archetype of a magnanimous king is universal and eternal. It is divine. God set up and progressively revealed the glory of His kingship. The Christ as Messiah, the Anointed One, is Priest but also King.

If you are at the top of your hierarchy, you don't understand Christmas. Those hostile to King Jesus are just mini-Herods. Wise men bow down.

# Conclusion

This King has sons, not just servants. And He glorifies His court.

> What king surrounds himself with warped, dwarfish, worthless creatures? The most glorious king, the more glorious the titles and honors he bestows. … He is a very great king to have figures of such immense dignity in his train, or even better, to have raised them to such dignity. … All glory to him, and in him, glory and honor to these others. (Thomas Howard, _Evangelical is Not Enough_, 87)

His glory is never threatened, His glory is heightened by raising us up. Jesus said, that all authority in heaven and on earth was given to Him, and we represent Him.

> Born They people to deliver,

> Born a child and yet a King,

> Born to reign in us forever,

> Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

> By Thine own eternal Spirit

> Rule in all our hearts alone;

> By Thine all sufficient merit,

> Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

> —Charles Wesley, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”

Joy to the world! The Lord is come; let earth receive her **King**!


## Charge

Beloved, you must give as those who have received, you must forgive as those who have been justified by grace, and you must use your authority as those who are under the dominion of the Dominus, the Lord Jesus. God sent a King, and God has delivered you from the domain of darkness and transferred you into the Kingdom of His beloved Son. Adore the King, adorn His ways.

## Benediction:

> I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:13–16, ESV)

More from Advent 2022

4: God Sent a Savior

December 25, 2022 • Sean Higgins • Matthew 1:21–23

# Introduction This last week before Christmas has not gone according to plan. Since Wednesday I've been laying on my back in bed or on the floor for 22+ hours a day, unable to tie my own shoes. I hurt my back again somehow on Monday and it got worse and worse, and between pain meds and muscle relaxers I've made it this far. Last night's Christmas Eve service was the longest I've been on my feet, and thankfully it won’t be that much longer before I can lay down again today. Mo has had a puke-inducing level migraine for the last few days, and in the middle of that has taken Hallie to the doctor for another antibiotics-requiring-sickness and Cal to the walk-in for an infection near his eye, while trying to navigate the snow and ice and attempt some Christmas shopping we’d put off due to all the other December events. Our house still looks like an advent war zone, and we'll be doing Christmas into the week. It's not been according to our plan. How about you? Maybe one family out of fifty among us isn't sick, or recovering from recent surgery, or in the middle of chemotherapy. Or you've got family that doesn't understand your life, in-laws or parents or siblings that don't *want* to understand, who prefer to give you grief about it. Relationships are out of sorts; dinner later today will be awkward, agitated. It's not according to plan. Maybe you are trying to move, maybe you are sad someone else is moving/has moved. Maybe you are wishing to be married, maybe you are struggling in your marriage. Maybe you can't have kids, maybe you've lost a child, maybe a kid has rejected Jesus, maybe you can't figure out how to help your kid. Nothing seems like a good, certain plan. Our own government just voted yes on a 1.7 trillion dollar spending package for what seems like everything but our nation. If someone wanted to destroy our economy, would there be a better plan? Wars around the world continue, woke businesses continue to virtue signal, police in Britain arrested a lady outside an abortion clinic for praying silently in her head. Some are without power after the brutal storms and cold, some are without hope in their own brutal suffering and pain. Lord, what is Your plan? His plan, actually, was to have a virgin get pregnant, and to explain to her fiancé in a dream that he should marry her anyway even though it would be righteous to break up with her, then arrange a regional registration requiring a trip while she was nine months pregnant to a place where there were no rooms to stay, and have this teenage girl give birth to God in flesh and lay Him in a manger. Some plan! The plan was glory wrapped in inconvenience, majesty wrapped in difficulty, divinity wrapped in flesh, eternality wrapped in swaddling cloths. The plan for Christmas problems was Christmas. Over these last few Lord's Days we've considered everything that's wrong with Christmas, which is also everything that's wrong with the human race on earth: sin and the spiritual battle with the serpent and his offspring. We've considered everything that is wrong with men's domination over other men, which is everything that's wrong with and between nations. We've considered everything that's wrong with the flock, initially a problem for Israel but with application for the church. And now we come closest in these concentric circles: everything that's wrong with our hearts. God sent a Man. God sent a King. God sent a Shepherd. *God sent a Savior*. That was, and is, the plan. The most famous story of the Savior's birth is in Luke 2; we'll include part of it. The first story of Christ's birth is in Matthew 1. A couple years ago we considered the genealogy that opens the good news of the New Testament, "the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matthew 1:1). Then in verse 18, Matthew says "Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way." Mary was pregnant but there was no earthly father. She was betrothed, promised in marriage to Joseph, but they hadn't consummated their covenant yet. Joseph was a righteous, yet gentle, man, and this wasn't how he had planned it, so he prepared to divorce her without making a big public deal about it. What disappointment; as far as he knew, she had been unfaithful to him. In light of Deuteronomy 22:22-29, they could have brought Mary to trial to determine how she got pregnant and if she needed to be put to death. That would have been hard, but also a much more convenient route…for Joseph. As Joseph was sorting things out in his head, **behold**, an angel revealed that Mary's child was of supernatural origin, that the child would be a boy, and that that boy should have a given name related to the reason for His birth. > "She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21) The meaning of the name is given by the angel. **Jesus** is a form of "Joshua," a common name in Israel, referring to “salvation.” *God sent a Savior*. “God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised” (Paul, in Acts 13:23). This saving wasn’t just from political tyranny, it was **from their sins**. Saving is atonement, justification, *forgiveness*. “Comfort, comfort my people…cry to her…that her iniquity is pardoned” (Isaiah 40:2). This was the plan. **All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet** (Matthew 1:22), and though we didn't study this prophetic passage in context, we have mentioned it a few times. > "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel." (Matthew 1:23) The prophet is Isaiah, and this prophecy is found in Isaiah 7:14. It clarifies that Mary was the **virgin**, but the virgin birth is the lesser of two miracles. Matthew also explains what **Immanuel** means: "God with us." The name is only found in Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 8:8, and the quotation of Matthew 7:14 in Matthew 1:23. We don’t have record of anyone calling Jesus “Immanuel.” Yet He is the God-Man. This is the incarnation, the enfleshing of the Second Person of the Trinity. In Christ “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9, see also John 1:14). *That* is the greater miracle. Joseph obeyed the word of the angel, and "he called his name Jesus" (Matthew 1:25). On the night of Jesus' birth, a host of angels found the shepherds outside Bethlehem, and one angel said to them, > "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a **Savior** who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11). *God sent a Savior.* **God saves sinners.** # Conclusion The joy is not only that men could have a Shepherd who would give them physical security and prosperity, not only that men could have a King who would give them justice and peace, not only that men would have a dragon-slayer who would crush their great enemy, but with all that, and before all that, a Savior who would deal with everything that is wrong in their hearts. There are problems. The food being cold, your house being cold, yet worse is your *heart* being lukewarm. The budget being too small, the government having no budget, yet worse is your *heart* having no self-control. Lack of righteous works, a list of *heart* lusts that would shame the naughty. A *heart* that is dull to true excellence, a *heart* that knows its own guilt before God. A *heart* that suppresses God’s truth, the truth of God, the glory of His power and righteousness. For these sins *God sent a Savior*. Have *you* been saved? > From depths of hell thy people save > And give them victory o'er the grave > > Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel > shall come to you, O Israel. > —“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” ---------- ## Charge Joy to the world, the Savior reigns, let men get their resources in order. Your songs, lights, gifts, candy, turkey, egg nog, and wine have jobs to do; don't let them slack off. Do not bury your Christmas talents, employ them for praising the Savior. Christians, your charge is: have a merry Christmas! ## Benediction: > Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. > > The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24, 28 ESV)

3: God Sent a Shepherd

December 18, 2022 • Sean Higgins • Micah 5:2–5

# Introduction Peter wrote that the Old Testament prophets carefully searched what they had written in order to figure out what was in what they had written (1 Peter 1:10-11). There were clues about the Christ, who He would be, when He would come, what sufferings and glories would be His. God's Spirit moved them to write just as wind fills a sail (2 Peter 1:21), but they didn't have the entire map; they were making it. One of the tiny details the Spirit revealed was about a city which didn’t make more than a small dot on the map. Now it's a different story. You can't turn two pages in the Advent/Christmas section of the Cantus without singing a lyric about it, sometimes even reading the title. "O Little Town of Bethlehem." A king's birth put it on the map. It's actually *two* kings, one just more famous, though they are both related. King David was born in Bethlehem Ephrathah. For a while David was known as the son of Jesse who lived there (1 Samuel 16:1), but David's victories against a lion and a giant and nations, plus his forty years on the throne, turned his hometown into the what the angels dubbed the “city of David" (Luke 2:4, 11), even though the OT historical books refer to the city of David as Jerusalem. I'm sure the Bethlehemians posted a special sign in David’s honor at the city limits. The city wasn't big, yet a warrior-king came from there and led the nation toward its golden age. It was the stuff of legends, and became the stuff of prophecy. Around 300 years after David the prophet Micah saw the birth of a new ruler in David's line who would be born in Bethlehem, and we know that birth happened another 700 years later, with some of the results still to come. And as significant as the detail about Bethlehem bringing a king, the emphasis in Micah 5 is on the character of that king. *God sent a shepherd.* # Labor Pains Similar to Isaiah's light after darkness and peace after pain, so Micah shows security after a scattering, coming home after exile, glory after groaning. Like a woman in travail, a child would be born who would tend his sheep. God’s flock—Zion/Jerusalem/Israel—had been: - 4:6 - driven away and afflicted - 4:7 - cast off - 4:10 - writhing and groaning, taken out of the city (of Jerusalem) into captivity - 4:11 - attacked by many nations - 5:1 - siege against it The Lord continues to speak, but turns from Jerusalem as representing the nation to "you," Bethlehem Ephrathah, names that mean house of bread in a place of fruitfulness. >  But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, > who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, > from you shall come forth for me > one who is to be ruler in Israel, > whose coming forth is from of old, > from ancient days. > Therefore he shall give them up until the time > when she who is in labor has given birth; > then the rest of his brothers shall return > to the people of Israel. > And he shall stand and shepherd his flock > in the strength of the LORD, > in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. > And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great > to the ends of the earth. > And he shall be their peace. (Micah 5:2–5 ESV) Bethlehem was **too little to be among the clans of Judah**, with "clans" a word referring to 1,000, the typical number for a unit of soldiers; they weren't even big enough to muster a serious number of troops (compare to verse 1). Though small, big things would come from her (not entirely unrelated to what Queen Lucy says in _The Last Battle_, “Yes, in our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”). **From you will come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel.** The next phrase has to be the bigger surprise: **whose origin is from old, from ancient days**. The context argues that this means more than a long time ago, three centuries since David. Micah might not have grasped how ancient, though the word “old” (*qeḏem*) is sometimes translated “everlasting” and can describe God’s purposes (Isaiah 37:26) and God’s counsels (Isaiah 45:21), the time before Creation (Proverbs 8:22), and God Himself (Deuteronomy 33:27; Habakkuk 1:12)(see Thomas E. McComiskey). This ruler's origins are supernatural, eternal. Verse 3 has three parts: 1) an abandoning, 2) a birth, 3) a return. Who is the **he** that gives up the **them** and who is the **she** who births a **his**? He is the LORD, she is Israel from whom the Messiah would come, and the them/brothers are also Israel, considered individually. When the Lord “gives them up” it’s letting them have the judgement they deserved. Assyria conquered northern Israel, Babylon took Judah captive, the Romans eventually ruled over the land, and the nation persisted in her disobedience to the Mosaic Covenant. The key change is a birth. The **she** is *not* Mary. Isaiah's vision of a virgin birth is an individual woman (Isaiah 7:14), known to us as Mary, as Matthew leaves no doubt (Matthew 1:22-23). This "she" in labor in Micah 5:3 is more than Bethlehem, it is the covenant nation. In Micah 4:9-10 she is as a woman in labor pains, writhing and groaning. As Eve was promised a deliverer, so Israel is waiting for her rescue and redemption. When she's given birth—related to the coming forth of a **ruler**—then **his brothers shall return to the people of Israel**. Their “return” is because they had been a part. And we know now that this is still waiting for full fulfillment. John said Jesus “came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him” (John 1:11). A remnant believed, but the rest were hardened until “all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:25-26). It may not be surprising to us, less of a "wow," but it's still *good*, and part of our hope. **He shall stand and (feed) his flock.** He is not a hireling who runs; He “will assume His post” NET). And He “feeds,” He “pastures” in that He guides and manages for their food. The ESV translates the metaphor as "shepherds," the one who takes care of. “His flock" is assumed from the text, and the way an Eastern king would relate to his people; as David was called from being a shepherd to shepherd the people (Psalm 78:70-72). *God sent a Shepherd.* The shepherd tends **in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God**. This overlaps with Isaiah's view of the King as “Mighty God" (Isaiah 9:6). The majesty of the name is in the excellence of everything the name brings to mind, all the associations. "Democrats" = death, "Republicans" = spineless. Trump and spray tan. The name of the LORD = **majesty**, eminence. His name is *life and strength and truth.* **And they (his flock) shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.** We've only begun to see this, as the good news of Jesus Christ makes new men and families and peoples wherever God's Spirit gives faith. But there will still be a great, more visible coming of His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, and He will reign forever and ever. The earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as water covers the sea. > For the earth will be filled > with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD > as the waters cover the sea. > (Habakkuk 2:14 ESV, and 2:20 “let all the earth keep silence before Him”) This king-shepherd has been born. He is coming again. **And he shall be their peace.** He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He gives peace. He makes peace. # A Shepherd to Shepherds Caesar Augustus decreed it was time to find out how many taxpayers he could fleece, so around 6-4 BC he called for an enrollment, and citizens returned to their hometowns to be registered. “Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David” (Luke 2:1-4). Outside of Bethlehem, the *first group* to hear of the birth of the Shepherd were shepherds. “In the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night….” Of all those on earth, God sent His angelic host to fellow shepherds. > the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10–11 ESV) “Shepherds, why this jubilee? … Come to Bethlehem and see” (“Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”) Matthew quotes Micah 5:2 in Matthew 2:6 in the words of the chief priests and scribes who knew Micah. They knew Bethlehem was the center, even if they didn't believe it. “So it is written by the prophet.” So God fulfilled His Word. # Conclusion Israel, and we like her, are like a flock of sheep (Isaiah 53:6) that need a shepherd. - we have grief and sorrows (Isaiah 53:4), we need a Shepherd - we have transgressions and iniquities (Isaiah 53:5), we need a Shepherd - we have conflict (no peace) and wounds (Isaiah 53:5), we need a Shepherd - we walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4), we need a Shepherd - we live in the presence of enemies, we need a Shepherd (Psalm 23:5) - we have to watch for fierce wolves (Acts 20:28-30), we need a Shepherd - we have gone astray and gotten lost (Isaiah 53:6, see also 1 Peter 2:25), we need a Shepherd *God sent a Shepherd.* He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). The Lord is our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1). More than Santa knowing if you've been bad or good, more than Google tracking your keystrokes, the Shepherd knows His sheep and gave His blood for the sheep. He is the Lamb-Shepherd (Revelation 7:17), the Shepherd-King. The smallness of origin is no limitation, neither is the length of wait time, or how it matches the expectations of men. God’s promise was for Christmas and then for Consummation. The second advent of our Shepherd will be worth waiting for. ---------- ## Charge The incarnation is not an imperative, it is a true story, foretold and for us and forever. Believe in the baby born in Bethlehem. And also, listen to the voice of your Shepherd in the Word, and trust Him to put you into a condition to function well, to “equip” (καταρτίσαι) you with all the good you need. ## Benediction: > Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20–21, ESV)

1: God Sent a Man

December 4, 2022 • Sean Higgins • Genesis 3:15

# Introduction I can tell you everything that's wrong with Christmas. There is an explanation for tiny-terrorist present-demanding children, there is an explanation for holiday season loneliness, there is an explanation for passive aggressive, or even just directly critical extended family members, there is an explanation for why Scrooges exist as well as for the same sentimental seasonal stories on the Hallmark channel, there is an explanation for the over-decorators and the over-drinkers, there is an explanation for the abortions and the suicides and the divorces that will happen in December, there is an explanation for the hypocrisies in the mouths of so many politicians and parents (and even some preachers) who see the baby Jesus represented in the manger and yet who refuse to kneel before the risen Jesus in all His authority on the throne beside His Father. The December advent season and Christmas itself are front line battle spots in the spiritual war. This is at least a 6,000 year conflict, a clash *ordained by God*. Though it took a critical turn about two millennia ago, we are still right in fight. Our worship, our communion table, our dining tables, our wrapped presents under the tree, our Cantus and carols, the fatigue in our bones and the circles of baked sugar on our paper plates, are all a part of it. # What Went Wrong Christmas got off on the wrong foot from the start. Stated differently, the fact that we got off on the wrong foot is the reason why Christmas was *born*. No matter how much you feel like you enjoy the feeling of things on Christmas morning--the family gathering in cozy pajamas and the smell of cinnamon rolls baking and the colorful lights inside with maybe a new blanket of snow outside--the Garden of Eden was better. That said, even in paradise a liar showed up, the original Grendel, the unredeemable Grinch, the great dragon/ancient serpent (so called in Revelation 12:9). He came bearing gifts of doubt and discontent. He persuaded the woman that her Maker was threatening her to keep something from her, that the Lord hadn't given His best, that she could stand on her own two feet without God making the rules (Genesis 3:5). So Eve ate the fruit, she gave it to Adam and he ate, the first human *sin*, the original sin. That sin brought guilt and shame (verse 7) and fear, so they hid from God (verse 8). That sin brought defensiveness and blame-shifting, "it was the woman's fault" (verse 12) and really "it was the serpent's fault" (verse 13). That sin divided the one-couple back into two sinners. That sin separated the sinners from the Holy One. We learn all this in Genesis 3 as the LORD God asked questions (Genesis 3:8-13). Then the LORD God spoke to the serpent, the woman, and then the man (3:14-20). The LORD told the man, "cursed is the ground because of you, in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life" (verse 17). Among *many* other examples, you will not get your tree posted straight with ease and a third of the lights in the strand will be burnt out having just sat in a box for the last eleven months, and work will take more hours during the holidays. "By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread" (verse 19), or you will at least find it painful how much inflation hit the supermarket. Sure, Biden did that, because Adam did that. The LORD told the woman, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing" (verse 16). How broad is this? Just the contractions? Or how about the sleepless pregnancy nights, the hemorrhaging and mastitis, the diaper blow outs in their new advent jammies? And then the LORD said, "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you," and even though you can see how much he could help after dinner, he just sits there watching TV acting like the jerk patriarchy. # The Hope in the Story There's *no salvation* tying a bow on these judgments to the man or woman. The curse is inescapable to death, until "to dust you shall return" (verse 19). The hope comes in the LORD's judgment of the serpent, which actually comes first in the story, and shines light over the judgments on the woman and the man. The LORD God said to the serpent that he would be despised among the beasts and "eat dust," and then, > "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 3:15) The curse on creation (in which it groans awaiting redemption, Romans 8:20-21), is only the theater for the conflict between two sets of children. As we learn, the two "offsprings" or more directly, "seeds," are more than physical, they form different spiritual families. The woman may have pain in childbearing, but a child born will win the battle against the enemy. The serpent has offspring, and God establishes an "enmity,” an active and ongoing conflict between the offsprings, and then the serpent's head will be crushed. Genesis 3 is what is wrong with Christmas. Genesis 3:15 explains, at the highest level, everything that makes advent, the last 24 days or even the 51 6/7th weeks of preparation for Christmas, a battle. The problem is *sin*, yes, and the problem is a declared *war*. But in the midst of that is a promise. The promise was vague enough that Eve thought her firstborn, Cain, was the answer. "I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD" (Genesis 4:1). When Cain killed Abel and she bore Seth, she seems to have thought Seth was the answer, "God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him" (Genesis 4:25). Cain was ruled by the serpent's traits of selfishness and spite so much so that he killed his brother. The next chapter, Genesis 5, is a genealogy, and in the generations from Adam to Noah *there was no dragon fighter*. The offspring of the serpent were so evil that Genesis 6-9 is the record of God's global flood to wipe out all but Noah's eight. Chapter 10 is another genealogy, more generations into nations spread over earth after the flood, and still *no dragon defeater*. This isn't to say that there were no spiritual offspring of the woman who worshipped the LORD, it is to say that none of those men fulfilled Genesis 3:15. In addition to the anticipation for the coming—the *advent*—of the woman's offspring, and in addition to the length of time waiting for that coming, through generations of men who marked their lifespans in centuries, what has struck me in the Christmas meditation mindset this time around is *what they were waiting for*. Man had blown it. He had one job. He had been given only good and obviously good gifts. He had unmediated walks with God and heard the words of God and yet he failed. The serpent was too crafty, the man listened to the woman who listened to the lies. So what would God do? How would He accomplish redemption, and triumph over the serpent? At this point at the author's desk, what sort of creature could come and defeat and deliver? What mythical, even angelic expectation might God have provoked in their imaginative hope? If you have ears to hear, the good news is that **God sent a Man**. It's why Eve looked to Cain, then Seth; where is the man? It's why the genealogies of men. It's why the dragon chased Israel for centuries to devour a male child according to Revelation 12:4-6. Herod was doing the work of his father when he ordered all the baby boys killed. Adam—whose name is the Hebrew word for “man”—sinned and all died in him (Romans 5:12, 15), the last and better Adam-Man makes men alive (1 Corinthians 15:22). God sent a Man, to share in flesh and blood, to defeat the devil and make propitiation for our sins (Hebrews 2:14, 17). Yes, Jesus was and is Emmanuel, *God* with us. But Christmas is not the celebration that God exists, or even that there exists in the Godhead three Persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. Christmas celebrates that God was “born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7), the Logos made flesh and dwelling among us (John 1:14). Jesus, as the genealogies in both Matthew 1 and Luke 3 make clear, became a Man. God sent a man. The only reason we accept the fact that a Man came into the world as a baby and saved the world is because we’re Christians who’ve had a lot of Christmases. # Conclusion One implication of the story is that there is nothing wrong with being a man, nothing wrong with having flesh. There is nothing wrong with the calling of Christmas, *says* Christmas, says the Incarnation, says the eternal Logos born of a woman. The problem is sin and the serpent, not man on earth. “He comes to make His blessings flow / Far as the curse is found” through a Man (“Joy to the World,” Isaac Watts). “Adam's likeness, Lord, efface, / Stamp Thine image in its place: / Second Adam from above, / Reinstate us in Thy love” (“Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” Charles Wesley). Holidays are rough and lonely too because of sin and the serpent. Why would he like the faithful feasting? There is no neutrality, and God is glad to keep sending men, not who replace the Son of Man, but who represent Him. God sent a Man, Let *men* their songs employ. ---------- God sent a Man. Jesus is “truly God and truly man…in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary…according to the Manhood” (Chalcedon Creed, AD 451). This is not a man-made myth, it is too unfashionable for humanity. The charge for you is also simple: eat and drink and find joy in your December toil in the name of this dragon-defeater, *the Lord Jesus* (Colossians 2:17). ## Benediction: > The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (Romans 16:20, ESV)