Merry Christmas to all!
This article was written in the weeks leading up to Christmas but should, Lord willing, be published on Christmas Day. Christmas is a time of giving, selflessness, and remembrance of the greatest gift of all; the gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. I’d like to step back from the science and the social issues I regularly examine on these pages and simply contemplate how well Christmas and creation, two separate, miraculous events, tie together in the Scriptures.
The word Christmas is not found in the Bible, nor are we anywhere commanded to celebrate or remember the birth of Christ. However, the coming of our Saviour to this earth is certainly worthy of remembrance, by any standard. There are plenty of Christians who refuse to celebrate Christmas because of its supposedly pagan origins or because it is not when Christ was actually born. While I admire their dedication, I must disagree, respectfully on this point. Christ coming to earth is reason to celebrate, whether He came in December or June is immaterial to the point. He came. That aside, even in the Creation account there are hints that the Messiah would come. Consider Genesis 3:15. As part of God’s curse on the serpent He says ” And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” The reference to the seed of the woman is to the offspring of a woman without any genetic material from a man, thus having only the “seed of the woman”. Not the use of the word “the” seed, rather than “a” seed, seeming to imply that there is just one such person to exist in the history of the universe. Notice that the seed of man, or male genetic material, will not be used to defeat the serpent, or Satan. This means a child would have to be born without a man’s genetic input. The only possible way for there to be a child which was without question free from the genetic material,or seed, of a man, was for a virgin to conceive. This is scientifically impossible, since both male and female genetic material is required to form an embryo. Yet this is exactly what the prophet Isaiah predicted. King Ahaz of Judah would not ask for a sign from God to prove He meant what He said, so God told Isaiah to give Ahaz the following sign in Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” In making this prophecy, Isaiah was consistent with Genesis 3 and its promise of the seed of the woman crushing the head of Satan. Isaiah’s prophecy also names this seed of the woman as Immanuel, which translates to “God with us”.
Isaiah promised a seed of the woman, a child conceived by a woman who had never known a man, would come, and be Immanuel, God with us. This prophecy, part Genesis, part Isaiah, would be fulfilled in Matthew and Luke. An angel comes to a virgin named Mary and says “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:” In Luke 1:31-32. Clearly this is the God with us Immanuel referred to in Isaiah. Mary makes it clear she does not understand in verse 34 when she points out the physical impossibility of her having a child. “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” The angel’s response in verses 35 and 37 makes it clear that what is happening to her is indeed miraculous. “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. … For with God nothing shall be impossible.” The angel, despite not mentioning it directly, is clearly alluding to the impossibility of the seed of the woman, the virgin birth, occurring naturally. Clearly this was meant as a miraculous fulfillment of both Isaiah and Genesis. The seed of the woman, Immanuel, had indeed come, but the serpent’s head was not yet crushed.
Genesis does more than just promise that the seed of the woman would come. It graphically displays the consequences of man’s sin, and what was needed to pay for that sin. The sin of disobedience in the Garden resulted in man needing a covering. The one man made for himself was woefully insufficient, so God made new ones for him. In order to do so, God slaughtered innocent animals and used their skins to cover man. The blood of these animals was the first payment for sin. Their deaths were the first consequences of sin. Throughout the Old Testament countless millions of animals were sacrificed. Their blood temporarily covered the sin of the people, but could never wash it away. The price that was required was a perfect, sinless man. Since mankind inherited a sin nature from Adam, this was impossible so long as a man’s genetic material combined with a woman’s to make a new human. Immanuel broke that pattern. Conceived without male DNA, Immanuel had the ability to be a perfect man, because He did not inherit a sin nature, because Adam was not his forefather. Thus only Immanuel could be the sacrifice for sin. From reading the above paragraphs, we know who Immanuel is: Jesus Christ, the infant laid in a manager. Only He could pay sin’s price and crush the serpent’s head. But to do that, the serpent had to bruise His heel. The price for sin was death. The sacrifice always had to die. This was the price the seed of the woman paid. Immanuel hung on the cross, bled, suffered, and died to pay the price of man’s sin. His heel was bruised. But Immanuel could not be held by death. He rose from the grave, crushing the serpent’s head underfoot. No longer could Satan hold mankind in bondage to their sin. Freedom was available, brought by Immanuel.
Christmas and Creation: two events separated by about four thousand years, yet tied together by an unbroken cord throughout the ages. That cord was the promise of the seed of the woman, Immanuel. The corruption of God’s perfect creation led to the promise of Immanuel. Christmas was the fulfillment of that promise. When God sent Jesus to earth, it was with the knowledge that Immanuel had to die to pay for man’s sin. There are even hints of it sprinkled throughout the account of Christ’s birth. The man of God in the Temple, Simeon, spoke of a sword piercing Mary’s soul. We know from other Scripture that Mary was present when Christ died on the cross. One of the gifts of the wise men was myrrh, a spice generally used to bury the dead at the time, a strange gift to give a toddler, but an appropriate one considering Immanuel’s future. Immanuel came for one purpose: to die. In His death, sin’s price was paid. In His resurrection, man given the option to be free from sin’s penalty, by choosing to follow Christ.