You might think that God should’ve blasted Adam and Eve off this planet for their stupid mistake. Quite the contrary – He came to help them immediately!
Unfortunately that was not the way Adam and Eve perceived the situation. Instead of running to God, they ran away from Him because of guilt and shame (Gen 3:8-10). And after how many centuries people are still running away from God for exactly the same reason.
God came to help Adam and Eve? At first glance it doesn’t appear that way. He chased them out of Paradise (Gen 3:24). Why? God had to protect the Tree of Life!
If you look closely at the situation you’ll realise that God’s decision was an act of mercy, not of anger. He knew that if the people ate from the Tree of Life after their fall to chaos they would’ve lived on this planet with no hope of ever being delivered from the curse that came into this world through sin. If God allowed that to happen we would’ve stayed spiritually separated from Him and oppressed by the wicked rule of Satan for all eternity to come. That clearly paints a vivid picture of eternal hell on earth.
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”
(Gen 3:15 NKJV)
See, we became entangled in a spiritual war that we could not possibly win in our own strength. We needed a Saviour. And so God planned the most incredible rescue plan that this world has ever seen. He knew exactly what it was going to cost Him to save us from the kingdom of darkness. To give us back our freedom and life was going to cost Him nothing less than His death.
SLAVES IN EGYPT
As time went by God’s people eventually ended up as slaves in Egypt. Their spirits were crushed, they were hopeless, depressed, and hardly saw a way out (Ex 1:11). The image of God they had once had became a faded picture. His love, kindness and goodness became a dream. His words became a forgotten fable. And Paradise slowly became a figment of their imaginations.
Now take a good look around you. How many people today are in exactly the same situation?
How many people can relate to the depressing words of Solomon, “So now I hate life because everything done here under the sun is so irrational. Everything is meaningless, like chasing the wind” (Eccl 2:17 NLT). Solomon jotted down his thoughts from a backslidden heart. In the book of Ecclesiastes you’ll find the words of a king whose life ended up in a vain pursuit to fill the emptiness in his heart through the gaining of knowledge, wealth, pleasure, and great accomplishments. But, in the end, he simply remarked that everything is meaningless, utterly meaningless. How many people can relate to Job’s sad song when he questioned the reason why God allows people to be born if they’re only going to have a hopeless, frustrated life (Job 3:23)?
How many people are skipping through life without the slightest idea of how desperate their situation really is? Many have all the riches, wealth and fame this world can possibly offer, but they are never satisfied. So many lives are spinning out of control. There are those who think that they have it all figured out but, in the end, their own wisdom seems to frustrate them. To some people life is one purposeless party. Others wake up each morning with no hope for that day, apart from getting it over and done with. Many secretly long for death as a way of escape, or the promise of a better life to come in heaven, or in some other world. Many are travelling down the paths of various religions but it just doesn’t seem to get them to a specific destination. Their hearts are still empty, searching, and longing.
AN ANCIENT PROMISE
What a merciful God we have! Long before the children of God ended up as slaves in Egypt God promised Abraham that He would bring His people back to the Land of Promise that they had lost through sin (Gen 17:2, 7, 8). Through His covenant with Abraham God actually made a way for us to get back to life as it was meant to be!
To really understand God’s plan we have to see the New and Old Testaments in relation to each other. The Old Testament pointed towards God’s promise of freedom and life for us in Christ, and the New Testament is the fulfilment of God’s promise to us in Christ. Throughout the Old Testament God showed us exactly what He planned to do to rescue us. He spoke about that day in Genesis 3:14-15 and then patiently set the plan in motion.
A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE
“The cries of the people of Israel have reached me, and I have seen how the Egyptians have oppressed them with heavy tasks. Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You will lead my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
(Ex 3:9-10 NLT)
God called Moses from within a burning bush and sent him back to Egypt with this mission: Deliver My People!
Deliver them from what?
The cursed rule of a wicked oppressor!
God heard the cries of the people and He was not about to ignore them. He remembered His promise. And He sent a deliverer. Now this deliverance was not going to happen as most people probably thought it was going to happen. God was not going to pull them all up into the sky and transfer them supernaturally right across the desert back to Canaan, or the Promised Land. No, He gave them a simple instruction, and a choice.
On the night they were about to leave Egypt each household was instructed to offer up either a male lamb or a goat without any physical defects and use the blood to paint the doorposts of their houses. Of course this was a very strange request, and to many of them it probably didn’t make sense. But whether it made sense or not, they simply had to believe what God had told them: that if He sees the blood He will pass them by and they will escape the death that was about to strike Egypt that night (Ex 12:6, 13, 23). If they believed Him they would be free to return to the Land of Promise. If they still wondered and hesitated, the shocking truth would come too late.
Keeping this picture in mind we can clearly trace our story all through the Old Testament.
“I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt so you would no longer be slaves. I have lifted the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk free with your heads held high.”
(Lev 26:13 NLT)
To us the land of Egypt in the Old Testament merely represents the kingdom of darkness. It’s a system with no regard for God, bound and influenced by the lies of the devil. Whenever God speaks about His people in the Old Testament it points to us, His beloved children. Our Land of Promise is not a specific place on this planet, or only the promise of going to heaven when we leave this earth, it includes all the promises that God gave us in His Word, as a gift, to again experience life on earth as He meant it to be.
OUR FREEDOM FIGHTER SHOWS UP
“If you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am.”
(John 4:10 NLT)
“My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”
(John 10:10 NLT)
One fine day an angel appeared in the sky and announced to the whole world that the time of reckoning had come. The devil was about to meet his Destroyer and we would meet Jesus, our King and eternal Saviour (Luke 2:10, 11, 14)!
But why did Jesus have to be born? Why couldn’t God just show up with His angels to rescue us? Here is why:
“Because God’s children are human beings– made of flesh and blood– Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.”
(Heb 2:14 NLT)
“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.”
(2 Cor 5:19 NLT)
Our fall to chaos came through a man, so our redemption had to come through a man (1 Cor 15:21-22). The first Adam caused the fall of the entire human race but Jesus, also called the last Adam, came to make the way for the birth of a brand new race (2 Cor 5:17).
In order to legally redeem us God needed a legal place of entry into this world (John 10:1-2). He had no choice but to be born into this earth as a human being. Now Mary could assist Him, but unfortunately not Joseph, her fiancé. See, there’s a perfectly good reason why Jesus had to have a virgin birth. God already explained the importance of a pure sacrifice to us when He rescued His people out of Egypt (Lev 17:11). If Joseph had played a part in the conception of Jesus his seed would have polluted the precious blood of Jesus with a sinful nature (Matt 1:18-25).
“(F)or the life of any creature is in its blood. I have given you the blood so you can make atonement for your sins. It is the blood, representing life, that brings you atonement.”
(Lev 17:11 NLT)
In order to secure a pure sacrifice for the sins of the world the birth of Jesus had to happen in such a way that He couldn’t inherit the sinful nature that all of us inherited from Adam. The only seed left that was not corrupted by sin and death was the Word of God (1 Pet 1:23; John 1:1, 14).
And so Jesus was born, by the Word of God, as the pure, faultless Lamb of God that was going to be killed for the sins of the world (John 1:29).
“Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form.”
(Phil 2:6-7 NLT)
When Jesus stepped into this world He gave up all His heavenly rights and power, to live as a mortal human being. Yes, He was absolutely divine in His Spirit but He chose to put on mortal flesh to live on this earth, not as God, but as the Son of Man, as one of us. He grew up in an ordinary family, was known as the son of Joseph, worked as a carpenter and faced all the challenges and temptations we have to face (Heb 4:15). After more or less thirty years His time finally came and Jesus stepped up to the real reason for His birth: to destroy the works of the devil and to re-establish the Kingdom of God upon this earth (1 John 3:8; Matt 4:17).
Sadly, to some Jesus simply remained the carpenter’s son (Matt 13:53- 58). To others, He was just another prophet, or an upcoming political leader that could set them free from the rule of the Roman Empire. There was a time when even His close family didn’t believe in Him (John 7:5). Most of the religious leaders of that day thought that Jesus was nothing but a blasphemer, a deceiver, or a demon-possessed man. Many people never realized that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Many were deeply offended by Him, and some tried numerous times to kill Him.
Those, however, who saw Jesus for who He is, ran straight into their freedom. Jesus became the answer to all their needs. To the sick He became the Healer. To the poor He became the Provider. To the lost He became the Saviour. To prisoners He became the Deliverer.
The question is: what are we doing with Jesus, the Christ? Who do we say Jesus is?
“Then he asked them, ‘Who do you say I am?’”
(Matt 16:15 NLT)
“I had heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.”
(Job 42:5 NLT)
Jesus is not asking you what your beloved family, your friends, your culture, scientists, philosophers, some intellectuals, or your religious beliefs say about Him. He is looking you straight in the eyes and wants to know from you personally – who do you think He is?
The apostle Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, was one of the top religious leaders of that day; but on the road to Damascus he met the living Christ. After that experience Paul had one desperate prayer for all people – to understand who Christ is, and all that He has done for them (Eph 1:16-17).
FOR THIS PURPOSE
“As you know, we are going to Jerusalem. And when we get there, all the predictions of the ancient prophets concerning the Son of Man will come true.
He will be handed over to the Romans to be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit upon. They will whip him and kill him, but on the third day he will rise again.”
(Luke 18:31-33 NLT)
Jesus knew His purpose, and He counted the cost. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep … No one can take my life from me. I lay down my life voluntarily” (John 10:11, 18 NLT). He gave His life for us out of His own free will. Yes, He had a choice. He could’ve changed His mind. But, because of God’s great love for us there was no other way. Treason demanded the death penalty. Nothing less than death could set us free.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
(John 3:16-17 NKJV)
Listen, we went for a fall but God never gave up on us. In His eyes we are still His children. We may be lost and confused and in the dark about a few things but we are still His children. In His eyes we are still glorious and crowned with power, authority, majesty and splendour. In His eyes we are still precious. He loves every one of us with all of His heart, with all of His soul, and with all of His might.
God doesn’t hate us, and He never will. Love is the best way to describe His nature (1 John 4:8). He is Love, and Love will always love us. Love will always stand by us. Love will always believe the best about us. Love will always be loyal to us, no matter what the cost. Love will always lift us up when we are down. And Love will always save us. Never forget that (1 Cor 13:7).
God doesn’t love us because we go to church. He doesn’t love us because we try to live perfect lives. He doesn’t love us because of anything we do or try to be. He loves us without conditions. He loves those who love and obey Him just as much as He does those who deny His existence. We don’t ever have to fear God. When the Bible speaks about fearing God it means that we should honour and respect Him as our King, but we don’t ever have to be afraid of Him (Luke 1:74).
We all know that there’s a longing in our hearts that nothing in this world seems to satisfy. We can live it up in the world and pretend that we’re doing just fine but in rare moments of clarity we know that there is more to life than meets the eye. Somehow we know that we are much more than we think we are. Somehow we know that there is real hope. Somehow we know that there is a real Saviour. And somehow we know that there is real Love.