Daily Devotions 12-7 to 12-13

Daily devotions to encourage your faith.

December 7

Genesis 3:15 "And 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."

As we look to the celebration of the coming of our Savior (which, by the way, is an-every- Sunday thing – not just during Christmas time!), we are going to spend each day from now until the end of the year looking at major and minor verses related to the Incarnation. We begin today with Genesis 3:15.

Our text is the first gospel message. Here is the first time the good news of Jesus Christ is preached. (This first gospel message is known as the protevangelium, from Greek prefix proto meaning “first” and euangelion meaning “gospel” or “good news”.) Regarding this first gospel message, consider:

First, note that this was the first occasion in which there was a necessity for preaching the gospel. There had been no sinners in need of the gospel or good news of salvation prior to this occasion. But now, in the first man and woman, the necessity had arisen.

Second, note that the first preacher of the gospel was Jehovah Elohim (according to the Hebrew text) – not a man, for there was no mortal preacher at that time. We therefore know that the first gospel message was the true gospel message.

Third, note that the first gospel message was about Jesus 2 Christ – the woman’s Seed who would crush the serpent’s head. If God preaches Christ, surely His ministers will! He who preaches other things is not a gospel preacher nor a minister of God.

Fourth, note that the first gospel message was summary – presenting the substance in a condensed form. It did not give information or details regarding how the woman’s Seed would conquer the serpent. We here should learn that salvation is not found in how much you know about Jesus Christ, but rather in believing the revelation God has given to you regarding Him.

Jesus Christ has been progressively revealed in this manner. Here in Genesis 3:15 we have the revelation that Christ will be the Seed of woman and the bruiser of the serpent’s head. But we do not see how this will be. Now observe the progress of this revelation afterward:

• Christ will be the Seed of Abraham (Genesis 22:18), and of Abraham’s son Isaac (Genesis 26:4), and of Isaac’s son Jacob (Genesis 28:14), in order that through their Seed “all nations will be blessed” (cp. Galatians 3:16).

• Christ will be the Seed of Jacob’s son Judah – and also a king (Genesis 49:10).

• Christ will be the Seed of Judah’s descendant David – and also God’s Son (2 Samuel 7:12, 14). • Christ will be not only God’s Son, but also His Anointed who will rule over the earth (Psalm 2).

• Christ will be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).

• Christ will die in the place and stead of God’s people in order to save and justify them (Isaiah ch.53).

• Christ will be raised from the dead and enthroned in glory (Psalm 16:10f).

What’s this mean for us in the holiday season? Good Friday was Satan's worst Friday.

First, when believers consider Christ’s victory over Satan in His temptation, let them remember that “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15f).

Second, when believers consider Christ’s victory over Satan at Mount Calvary, let them remember that, when Satan wounded Christ, he shed the blood that delivered us from our bondage to him (Hebrews 2:14f).

Third, when believers consider Christ’s victory over Satan in His ascension into glory, let them remember that Satan can no longer accuse them before God. If we sin, Satan cannot accuse us before God, because “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:33f).

Finally, when believers consider Christ’s victory over Satan at the last day, let them know that they shall participate in that victory. For they are assured that “the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20). Child of God, think of it – your feet will soon do a victory dance on Satan’s head!

Praise God for the victory of his grace!

Father, we are in awe of the plan your foreordained to bring forth your glory. Heavenly Father, we are thankful you occupy your throne, with no consternation or need to "kick around" a Plan B. Jesus, in your divine providence and plan, was always what you had for us. Thank you is so small - but thank you, Lord! In Jesus' name. Amen.

December 8

Genesis 14:18 "Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High."

There are many unanswered questions that surround Melchizedek’s brief appearance here in Genesis 14. We don’t know where he came from, or why he’s in Canaan, or how he knows about the true God. We don’t know how he became king of Salem, or how he came to be a priest of God Most High. Moses, who wrote the book of Genesis, didn’t record any genealogy for this man. So we don’t know who his parents were, or when he was born, or when he died. In a book filled with genealogies, it is all the more peculiar that no details are given about this important individual.

What we do know is that he was called Melchizedek, which means “King of Righteousness.” Melek means King, and Zedek means righteousness. He is Melchizedek, King of righteousness. That’s the meaning of his name, and then the next words in verse 18 describe him as king of Salem. Salem was an ancient name for Jerusalem, and Salem means peace. So he is king of righteousness and king of peace. And in addition to being a king, he is also a priest, a priest of God Most High. All of these things about Melchizedek point us to Jesus Christ, who is king of righteousness and king of peace, and who combines the offices of prophet, priest and king. Melchizedek is a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ.

This is one of the amazing things about the Bible, that God ordains every individual and every event, and His inspired Word records those events and describes those individuals in a way that presents an entire Book that points to Jesus. It is all about Jesus. Some might say, “Well, the New Testament is about Jesus. But the Old Testament is just all the stuff that came before Jesus.” But that is such a shallow view of the Bible. Yes, the New Testament is about Jesus. And the Old Testament is about Jesus, too!

The Old Testament anticipates Jesus’ arrival. The Old Testament foreshadows Jesus Christ in different ways. It’s like a preview. Like watching the trailer of an upcoming movie. You see a few clips, and you’re intrigued by the basis for the plot, but you don’t know all the details yet. That’s kind of what it was like for the Old Testament saints. God gave them all these previews of coming attractions.

And the Old Testament saints recognized these things, and they looked forward to the day when the Messiah would come to fulfill all these promises. One very profound foreshadowing of Jesus Christ is found in this man Melchizedek. He was king of righteousness, king of peace, 4 also a priest, and had no recorded genealogy. All these things are used in God’s inspired Word to point to Jesus Christ.

This is an amazing promise. And this is the point I want you to take home about Melchizedek.

You may feel confused about who this guy is, and how he relates to Jesus Christ. I’m certainly still confused about many of the details here.

But here’s the take-home lesson. You need a priest. All of us do. We need Someone who is going to stand between us and God. Here’s why: God’s wrath burns against sin. And since we are sinners, God’s wrath is directed at us. We deserve His punishment. And our only hope is that Someone who is sinless would step in between us and God and plead on our behalf. The next verses say, “For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself” (vv. 26- 27).

Are you trusting in Jesus as your priest, as your only access to God the Father? He is our only hope. Trust in Him. Rest in Him. The One who is King of righteousness, King of peace, and a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.

Father, thank you that all of the Old Testament points to Jesus. It is one story of the one and only God through you the one and only God. Thank you, also, that Jesus is both our high priest and king. By taking our place, Lord, your Son accomplished what justice required for our sin. What's more, Father, thank you that Jesus can save anyone, anywhere. You save to the uttermost. Finally, Father, I thank you that you deserve our first and best. Help me to do that today in Jesus' name. Amen.

December 9

Genesis 22:8 Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together.

God told Abraham to go to Mount Moriah, the same location where the temple was later built in Jerusalem (2 Chr. 3:1). This whole event was a picture of Calvary:

--The costly sacrifice of the Father He was willing to sacrifice His one and only Son (John 3:16; Rom. 8:32).

-- The willing sacrifice of the Son. He was willing to lay down His life in obedience to the Father (John 10:15).

-- The substitute sacrifice for believers. God provided the perfect substitute for us. Jehovah-jireh means “the Lord will provide.” What God required, He also provided (22:8). This is the theme of the Old Testament: God will provide Himself a lamb (Isa. 53:6; 2 Cor. 5:21).

God used Abraham in order to provide this preview of the cross. Little did Abraham realize that God would use this experience in his life to portray the greatest event of all time, the death of Jesus on the cross. This was a place of testing (vs. 1-2). It was a place of trusting (vs. 3-8), and a place of total obedience (vs. 9-14). God had tested Abraham many times before, but this was the hardest test Abraham ever faced. Character is both developed and revealed by tests. You cannot avoid the tests of life, and you cannot cheat on these tests.

God tested Abraham all of his life. This test came when he was over 100 years old. We will be tested as long as we are in this world. God had tested Abraham many times before this. Abraham passed “the family test” when he had to leave his loved ones to follow God. But then he failed “the fear test” when he lied about his wife. He passed “the fellowship test” when He gave Lot first choice on grazing land. He passed “the fortune test” when He turned down an offer by the King of Sodom. But then he failed “the fatherhood test” when he listened to Sarah’s suggestion about having a son by Hagar. He failed “the fear test” again when he lied about his wife the second time.

Abraham was just like us. Some tests he passed, and some tests he failed. But all of those tests were part of God’s process in developing Abraham into a godly man.

So, how did God test Abraham?

--God tested his love. Did he love his son more than God?

--God tested his faith. Would he trust God even if he didn’t understand?

--God tested his obedience. Would he do what God told him to do?

Abraham passed all three tests. He passed the test of love. He proved that he loved God more than anyone or anything else. Genesis 22:2 is the first time “love” is found in the Bible. Abraham had a special love for his son Isaac. God did not want Isaac’s life. He wanted Abraham’s heart.

Abraham passed the test of faith. He trusted God even though he did not understand. He trusted God’s promise of many descendants through his son Isaac. Abraham knew that God would not lie, so he believed God’s word to him. “Never doubt in the dark what God has told you in the light.”

Abraham passed the test of obedience. We are saved by grace through faith alone, but real faith is never alone. Real faith in God is proven by obedience to God.

Abraham obeyed God promptly and completely. It has been said that “our faith is not really tested until God asks us to bear what seems unbearable, do what seems unreasonable, and expect what seems impossible.” We may be tested by major changes, delayed promises, impossible problems, unanswered prayers, undeserved criticism, and even senseless tragedies, but ultimately all of these will test our love, our faith, and our obedience.

This test was for God’s glory. Everything God does is for His glory. In times of testing it is easy to think about our needs, our burdens, and our pain, but we ought to focus on how we can glorify God in this trial.

This test was for Abraham’s good! In school we learned the lessons and then took the test, but God works just the opposite. He teaches us as we go through the test.

What did God teach Abraham? He taught him a lot about himself. But even more important, He taught him a lot about His plan of redemption. When Abraham went up into Mount Moriah, it was as if he went to Mount Calvary and saw the death of Jesus on the cross. Abraham understood the depth of the Father’s love for His Son. He understood the perfect obedience of the Son to die for our sins. He understood that God would provide a substitute sacrifice for all men.

Again, what a God of detail! Thank God for a picture of the Gospel so long before Christ!

By your Spirit, through the work of Jesus, Father, free us to be astonished, grateful and joy-filled to be your children. Help us, whether we are being tested or not, to trust in your name alone—just as Abraham did. What else could do or to whom would we plea? Father, help me believe there are no exceptions to the "all things" of Rom. 8:28. You are at work for good in "all things.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.

December 10

Exodus 12:5 "The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats."

Passover brought individual and corporate deliverance to approximately 3-5 million Israelites, men, women, boys and girls, all delivered as a nation, from bondage in Egypt. When the blood of the lambs was smeared on the lintels and the doorposts of their homes, God passed over each house in Israel until deliverance was not only individually registered, but it was national deliverance.

History records the obedience of every Israeli household. It’s true, people like Korah, Dathan and Abiram had seeds of doubt in their hearts, as did men who offered up strange–unauthorized fire before the Lord. Y=Yes, they were among those who put blood on the lintels and the doorposts of their houses in Goshen. The man stoned for picking up sticks on the Sabbath—his house, too, was passed over

In his coming, Jesus became our Passover lamb. “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7). The blood of Christ ratifies all the blessings of God. Grace is free, but not cheap, bought at the infinite cost of the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Charles Spurgeon said: “Morality may keep you out of jail, but it takes the blood of Jesus Christ to keep you out of hell.” My failures are many and manifold, but Christ does all things well. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.

"Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity?" (Micah 7:18). Other gods scream for our blood. The merciful Christ gave his own. Would you praise Him today for this and all the blessings you have?

Father, You are our God of Favor and Judgment. You are our LORD of mercy and justice. You are full of grace and wrath. You are all of these things all of the time. You alone are the LORD, the One and only “I AM”. This morning Father thank you for showing us your favor by gathering us.

December 11

Numbers 21:9 "So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived."

I agree with the person who said there are two kinds of snakes he didn’t like: live ones and dead ones. Somebody else said there are three kinds of snakes he didn’t like: big ones, little ones, and rubber ones.

Yet, this is one of God’s great object lessons in the Bible. An object lesson is a vivid way to learn and remember spiritual truth. It’s easier to understand something spiritual if you can relate it to something physical. This story is one of the most powerful pictures of Christ in the Old Testament.

What happened? The people complained about God and His prophet, about God’s promise, and about God’s provision. They were sick and tired of manna and, so, they murmured. This reminds me of the boy who went off to summer camp, and then wrote to his parents to come and get him. He said “I’m tired of this place. All they serve here is breakfast, lunch, and supper.” Paul reminds us of this event and the sinful murmuring of the people in his list of horrible sins in 1 Corinthians 10:5-11. In that passage, he says that the people tempted God or put God to the test.

The people had sinned against God and against each other. All sin has consequences. God sent deadly snakes that bit the people and they suffered and died. It was a fitting, fiery, and fatal punishment. The people not only suffered from the snake bites; they were dying. Sin brings death. All kinds of people were bitten, but they weren’t all bitten in the same way. Some may have been bitten once, while others were bitten many times. Some were badly bitten, while others were barely bitten. But the result was the same.

But notice the cure:

--It was a strange cure—God told Moses to make a brass serpent and set it on a pole. No one else would have thought of this remedy.

--It was a simple cure— God’s plan was simple: “Look and live.” The cure was not found in ignoring the problem, fighting the serpents, applying manmade medicine, or promising to do better in the future.

--It was a specific cure— This was not one of many options. It was not the best cure. It was the only cure.

-- It was a sufficient cure—God’s provision was as great as the problem. Whosoever will may be saved (vs. 8, every one). The brass serpent was not kept in a remote location for a few privileged people. It was lifted up in the middle of the camp so all could look on it and be saved.

--It was a sure cure— Every person who looked at the brazen serpent lived. Every person who looks to Jesus for salvation will be saved.

Healing was instantaneous and complete. How did the dying person know the cure would work? First, he had the assurance of God’s Word. Second, he could see what happened in the lives of others. Finally, when a person looked for himself, he knew he was healed. The Bible says in 1 John 5:10 “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.”

When weak, look to the sufficiency of Christ. When downcast, look to the promises of Christ. When spent, look to the worthiness of Christ.

Where else can we go?

Father, this strange but providential event reminds us that your ways are not our ways. We are entirely in your hands. Thank you for watching out for us. Thank you for so clearly, yet again, making the Gospel clear to us. Forgive us today of our sins. In Jesus' name. Amen.

December 12

Isaiah 11:1 "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit."

This prophecy of Isaiah is given over 700 years before Christ. Through Isaiah, God identified the particular family among the tribe of Judah through whom Christ would come.

What is a “shoot”? Well, it is an outgrowth that emerges from a stem. This shoot—metaphorically—that displays Jesse’s descendant that will be the Messiah. The shoot will grow strong and become a branch, and be much stronger than a mere shoot.

This speaks of Jesus’ birth and arrival to this world. He would be here long enough to be developed. And, as Luke 2:52 says, to increase or grow in “wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”

And this branch like no other branch. It is beautiful in his holiness and glorious in his deity. Not only does the Messiah emerge out of Jesse, but Jesse will emerge out of him! That is, his humanity is the shoot of Jesse and his deity, eternality, and preexistence is the root of Jesse.

Christian, what a picture this is for us! The uncreated God will come out of his mouth and create Jesse from his mother

Christ is the Sovereign Creator. It is his to give life—even physical life.

Then he will speak from Jesse and emerge from Jesse. In summary, this prophecy of Jesus speaks of his virgin birth, speaks of the and the incarnation.

Dr. Steven J. Lawson said, “The eternal God, who proceeded time, created time, transcends time, governs time, and endures beyond time, commands us to redeem time.”

This is so true! Verses such as Isaiah 11:1 remind us that life without worshiping the life-creating, life-giving and life-sustaining eternal God isn't life, it's living death. Praise God that Jesus is fully God and fully man—sufficiently able to handle all of our sin and everything that comes our way...all for his glory!

Father, if we might go forward in one area this year, may it be simply to esteem and praise you more. The Gospel you have given us shows your infinite and measureless esteem for all of us and for me. You are the miracle of miracles, the grace of grace, and the wonders of wonders, Lord. Intensify our love for you and what you have done for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

December 13

Micah 5:2 "But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,

who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,

from you shall come forth for me

one who is to be ruler in Israel,

whose coming forth is from of old,

from ancient days."

The prophecies regarding the Messiah had grown more and more specific as the Old Testament revelation unfolded. He was to be from humanity (Gen. 3:15), from Shem (Gen. 9:26-27), from Israel (through Abraham the father of Israel, Gen.12:1-3), from Judah (Gen. 49:8-12), from David (2 Sam. 7:12-16), from a virgin (Isa. 7:14), and now, from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).

Just as Bethlehem had previously given a great King to Israel (1 Sam. 17:12), so it would do so again. David’s decadent line would be cut down like a dead tree but, as Isaiah predicted, “a shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse” (Isa. 11:1). Great Jerusalem is finished but little Bethlehem gives hope.

“Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea” (Matt. 2:1). How perfect. Yet, how did this happen? Did Mary read Micah 5:2 and decide that she had to get to Bethlehem to give birth to the Messiah? No. Did God send an angel to command her to go to Bethlehem in order to fulfill the prophecy? No. We see a remarkable “coincidence” of people, places, and events in the providence of God so that Mary came to Bethlehem by a remarkable series of events over which she had no control.

Firstly, Israel was subjugated by the Romans. Secondly, the Roman governor decreed a tax. Thirdly, the method of taxation was to be through the citizens’ city of origin. Fourthly, the timing was such that it brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem at the time she was due to give birth.

This prophecy is a very good place to start when considering the whole subject of “promise-fulfillment,” or Christ as the “End-point” of Old Testament prophecy. In this case, the promise and the fulfillment fit together like hand and glove—like a key in a lock. The words of the prophecy are clear and unambiguous, and the historical fulfillment is an easily identified, single historical event. Furthermore, Matthew 2:4-6 demonstrates how even the Jews viewed Micah’s prophecy as a literal promise of the Messiah’s birth-place being Bethlehem.

Let's ponder what God has given us: "Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness & sanctification & redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30). Let us ponder the perfect prophecies and providences of God. Let us be confident that when “it is written,” it is done!

What a mighty God we serve!

Father, the fact that we can come to you with complete confidence of your fulfillment of all prophecy just amazes us. Father, we trust when it says it is done, it is done. Christ is the end of all things – but the beginning of eternal life. We celebrate all you have done for us, Lord. We thank you for sending Jesus. Magnify your name in our lives in all we say and do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.