In the grand history of planet earth, the birth of Jesus Christ is the Dividing Line.
In the year 525 A.D., a monk named Dionysius Exiguus invented something that still impacts our lives today: the modern calendar. Aside from being a monk, Dionysius Exiguus was a theologian and a mathematician. He wanted to create a way to know the exact date Easter would fall, next year and the year after that. So, he developed a new calendar system where year 1 was the birth of Christ. He recognized that Jesus’ birth was the dividing line of history. Every year after Jesus’ birth would henceforth be recognized as A.D., or “Anno Domini” – Latin for “in the year of the Lord.”
It took a few hundred years for Exiguus’ calendar to catch on, and there have been some adjustments along the way. For instance, we now know that his dating system was off by about 4 years, so Jesus wasn’t born in 1 A.D. He was most likely born in 4 B.C. But that doesn’t change the fact that our calendar can date any event in history based on when it occurred in respect to the birth of Christ. Even our calendars proclaim Jesus’ birth as the dividing line of history.
This Christmas season, let’s look at Christmas from the B.C. side of the Dividing Line—and see how the Old Testament prophesies Jesus’ birth.
The first glimpse of the coming Savior of the world appears in the third chapter of the Bible: Genesis 3. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, their eyes were opened to the world of sin and death. In that moment their relationship with God was ripped in two. God confronted Adam and Eve with their sin, and he spelled out the consequences for them. But first, he laid out the consequences for the serpent, beginning in verse 14: “You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.” I think it’s clear this punishment was directed at the serpent as a species. And I think it’s equally clear that in verse 15, God was announcing a punishment on Satan, who was possessing the snake that tempted Eve: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
This is where we find the first glimpse of the coming Savior. Theologians call it the “protoevangelium”—Latin for the “first good news.” Minutes after Adam and Eve sinned for the very first time, God announced His plan to deliver fallen man and crush sin in one fell swoop. One of Eve’s descendants would save the day. Satan would bruise the Savior’s heel. And the Savior would crush Satan’s head. When Satan saw Jesus die on the cross, he thought he had won. But the cross of Jesus Christ, and his resurrection from the dead three days later, actually drove the final nail in Satan’s coffin.
No sooner was the wound given than the remedy was provided and revealed. Isn’t that just like God?
Here are three wonderful insights we can take from this first foretelling of the Savior:
Insight #1: God has a solution before you’ve even figured out you have a problem. Immediately after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they knew they had a problem. But they had no idea just how much devastation their sin would cause. Their sin would corrupt every living thing on earth. It broke their relationship with God, with each other and even with the animals. From that point forward, every one of their kids, grandkids and great-grandkids would be born with a sinful nature … every descendent except for one. But long before Adam and Eve could understand the consequences of their sin, God already had a solution in place. In fact, He had the incarnation of Jesus Christ in mind even before the foundations of the world were set in place.
Insight #2: As long as you are following Christ here on earth, Satan will continue to strike at your heels. Nowhere in the Bible are we promised that we will be shielded from all of Satan’s attacks. Persecution isn’t a possibility for followers of Christ. It’s guaranteed. And much of that persecution comes directly or indirectly from Satan. But never forget: A blow to your spiritual heel is never fatal. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, your soul and spirit are safe in God’s hands, and nothing Satan does—no matter how ruthless or vicious—can snatch you out of your Father’s hands.
Insight #3: Remember that Satan is a
dead man walking. He is a defeated foe. Satan’s fate was sealed by the birth, death and
resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Revelation 12, Satan is described as a great
dragon who is wreaking havoc here on earth. And in Revelation 12:11 we read
these marvelous words about the Christians who stand strong against Satan’s
attacks: “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their
testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
Satan might look like a big scary dragon at times, but from Jesus’ vantage
point he’s more like a pesky
God had a solution for Adam and Eve’s problem before they even understood the extent of their problem. And God has a solution for your problems before you’ve even figured out what your problems are. It’s been that way from the beginning. Before you and I even knew we needed saving, God sent Jesus to save us. And that’s good news indeed.
Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us for worship this Christmas season: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.