How many times have you had an Aha! moment? In that instant you realized there was a much bigger picture than the one you had been seeing. My goal in this Sounds of the Season post is to push back the narrow view we often hold of Christmas. Enjoy!
Sounds of the Season – Emmanuel
In so many songs we hear the name, Emmanuel. It means God With Us. That’s true, and we should celebrate that truth. But God With Us in the manger was just part of something much bigger! The first mention of it is way back in Genesis 3. So I’ll borrow from Dickens and begin with Christmas Past!
Sounds of the Season – The Garden
After Adam and Eve sinned, God righteously passed judgment on Adam, Eve, the serpent, and all creation. God said a very curious thing to the serpent in Genesis 3:14 –
And 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.
The term her seed is most unusual. In all the rest of Scripture seed is the man’s part of the procreative process. That’s not the case here. This tells us the One to come would not have a human father. This is the first inkling of what Isaiah would later write:
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
Contained within God’s righteous judgment is the hope of salvation. His judgment necessitated what we celebrate at Christmas: the coming of our Savior. From ancient times people looked forward to the coming of Emmanuel. And God With Us is what Christmas is all about. In that sense I can use the term Christmas Past even though Christmas as we know it wasn’t yet on anyone’s calender. But Eden holds another connection we need to see.
Emmanuel and Separation
Even a brief look at God’s perfection in Eden shows God intended a relationship and fellowship between Himself and Man. Sin and the Fall caused a separation. It was both physical and spiritual. Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden. God stationed two cherubim and a flaming sword to prevent:
- Adam and Eve from returning to the Garden
- Adam and Eve from eating from the Tree of Life
That sounds harsh, but it’s actually similar to the hope God provided in His judgment of their sin. If, in their fallen state, they ate of the Tree of Life they would be separated from God forever. That was not His desire. He wanted to restore what sin (the enemy) took from Man: realtionship and fellowship with Almighty God. Keeping them from another mess up was really an act of God’s grace!
Does it seem odd to you that two cherubim were necessary? These heavenly beings have great power as seen in other parts of Scripture. Seems one was more than enough. And what about that flaming sword? Are we to think God was just making extra sure Adam and Eve would behave or is it something more?
Find out tomorrow as we finish up Christmas Past and look at Christmas Future and Christmas Present!