Jesus, the Serpent-Crusher

CUPCAKE

Genesis 3:15

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.

Throughout the Old Testament God makes a lot of promises about the coming Saviour, the Messiah. This is the first of them.

The context:

God’s work: God created everything, and it was very good (Gen 1:31). He made everything that exists – the world, plants, animals, the ocean, land, sky. He even made the stars and other planets. He created Adam and Eve to rule the world under him, to have authority over the animals, to work the garden and to have children.

He gave them all they could ever need or want, and only gave them one command: Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Satan’s work: But as we know they disobeyed God. The serpent (Gen 3) tempted Eve to eat the fruit, to make the rules for herself and usurp God as ruler of the world, and she ate, and she gave some to Adam and he ate.

They both disobeyed God. They tried to rebel against God and set up their own rule, and in so doing they destroyed his perfect world. They tried to make clothes for themselves to cover their shame, and they tried to hide from God (much like we do when we disobey God), but all their attempts couldn’t save them or restore them.

The consequences: God had told them that to eat the fruit would mean death. In his mercy he didn’t send that punishment straight away. Instead he laid out for them the consequences of their sin: Hardship, Suffering, Pain, Death.

The Promise

But in the midst of these just and right judgements, God made a promise. He promised that one of Eve’s children would crush the serpent’s head and be “crushed” himself on the heel.

Obviously for Adam and Eve this was a vague promise. But it was hope: God wasn’t abandoning them like they deserved. He was promising to send someone to (at least in some way) fix the situation.

The Picture

God also showed his mercy to them in providing them clothes of animal skin. Their attempts to make clothes had failed. They couldn’t cover up their shame or nakedness. Just like us – they couldn’t do anything to make themselves right with God.

Although we’re not told directly, I think it’s safe to assume that for God to provide them with animal skins as clothes, some animals had to be killed. An animal had to die to cover up their shame.

The fulfilment

What does all this have to do with us, today, now?

God is the only God, and he is Faithful. He keeps his promises. He kept his promise to judge them for their sin, and he has kept his promise to send a Serpent Crusher.

Jesus came into the world around 2000 years ago. He lived a life without sin. He alone didn’t deserve the punishment for sin: Death. Yet he willingly died on the cross.

In his death he took my sin, and the sin of everyone who puts their trust in him. He took that sin, and he took the punishment for it on himself, so we can be forgiven.

Like the animals sacrificed to clothe Adam and Eve, Jesus was sacrificed to “clothe” us. To cover our sin and shame with his perfect sinless righteousness.

Jesus has crushed the serpent. Jesus destroyed the work of the devil.

Will you put your trust in Him?

1 John 3:8

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

 

Don’t believe everything they tell you.

John 7:52 – They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”

In this passage we see the Chief Priests and the Pharisees rebuking Nicodemus when he stands up for a fair treatment of Jesus. But in doing so they simply prove their ignorance and arrogance. These people were the religious leaders of their day. They were the best of the best, the teachers, the trusted elders. They were the ones you would turn to for your the answers to your questions. They were wrong.

These religious leaders claim that no prophet came from Galilee, yet we know that Jonah and Nahum both came from Galilee.

2 Kings 14:25 – He restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher.

 

Nahum 1:1 – An oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum of Elkosh.

Both Elkosh and Gath-hepher were located in Galilee.

So what?

I think that there’s an important point for us to learn here: We can’t just take it for granted that what we are told about the bible is the truth. We can’t just expect to be fed good spiritual food. Instead we need to do some research ourselves. We need to put effort into our walk with God if we want to grow – not because God can’t grow us by himself, but because he calls us to be faithful with what he’s given us.

There are so many false teachers out there that we know about. We know of Benny Hinn and Joel Osteen. We know about the Prosperity gospel. But when Jesus talks about false teachers he says they are like wolves in sheep’s clothing. They’re disguised. They aren’t easy to recognise. We need to test out what we are being taught with the only standard that we know is true: God’s word. We need to be like the Bereans who tested Paul’s words out by studying what God’s word said – they were commended for it.

God wants us to ask questions. He wants us to test out people’s words about him with the true standard: his own words. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that it’s wrong to ask questions. Don’t believe anyone who says things that don’t line up with scripture.

Start now: Is what I’ve written true? Were Jonah and Nahum really from Galilee? Is what I’ve said biblical and true?

Acts 17:11 – Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

 

I don’t understand – and it’s good!

11949856321026402567tasto_9_architetto_franc_01.svg.medI’m reading 1 Corinthians at the moment. And while I can understand the general gist and idea of each passage, there are so many smaller points that I just don’t understand.

But that got me thinking: I actually don’t know as much as I think i do about the bible. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know all the ins and outs. In fact, I probably don’t know much at all. And realising that was an extremely good wake up call.

I find it so easy to get complacent. To get lazy. To think I’m doing alright because I think I know a fair bit more than most others. And as a result to not try very hard because of it. The thoughts aren’t usually that blatant. They’re usually hidden under a guise of fake humility that can just slip past if I’m not careful to keep them in check.

Therefore, when I’m reminded that I actually don’t know a lot and that there are plenty of things I actually have no idea about, it’s a bit of a slap on the face. A much-needed wake up call that needs to be heeded.

God is infinitely more knowledgable, more powerful, more wise, more awesome, more holy, more just, more righteous, more loving and more perfect than me. I, like Job wasn’t there when he created the universe. I don’t know everything there is to know about the world. I don’t know much at all really. But I’m so inclined to be proud and to think that I actually know a lot. To be the first to spurt out answers when people ask questions. In reality I need to be humble, to realise that even if I can piece an answer together it doesn’t make me better than the other person – and it doesn’t automatically make me right either.

Aside from just humbling me a little, Not understanding is also good because it gives another opportunity to praise God. To realise that  he is far more glorious and knowledgable than I can fathom. It gives  a chance to prayerfully explore new areas (which takes time and effort and can be extremely frustrating – but also quite humbling, helpful and exciting).

I don’t know if you’ve ever had an experience like this – a moment of clarity where one of your obvious failings hits home. But they are good moments.

I don’t know everything. But God does. And that is good. I don’t understand. But God does. And he is good.

After writing this post I read this passage, and although the context is different, it does still ring true: 1 Corinthians 8:1b-3

 We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.