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Promise of a Savior

God’s Promise of a Savior

Our 2019 Vacation Bible School begins this evening. I do not know how many children ages, but I do know that all who show up will have a wonderful time with skits and music and lessons and crafts and recreation and treats, all led by many adults and teens.

The first topic for Vacation Bible School is that God made the universe. The topic is based on the very first part of the Old Testament - chapter 1 of Genesis through the opening part of chapter 2.

Those verses describe creation. We have reviewed the various, day-by-day stages of creation before, but let’s spend just a few minutes this morning remembering all that was created. What a miraculous mission creation was.

Day 1. God said…  By the way, each part of creation came about by the word of God. That is how powerful God is. God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Day 2. God spoke the sky into existence.

Day 3. Dry land was created. On it, all sorts of vegetation was created. Plants and trees are mentioned specifically.

Day 4. God spoke the sun, moon, and stars into existence, and He separated day from night.

Day 5. Living creatures in the sea and birds of the air were created.

Day 6. Animals to roam the earth were spoken into existence, including cattle and other beasts.

Also on Day 6, man and woman - Adam and Eve - were created.

Each day of creation, including Day 6, God looked at what He had created and saw that each part was very good. With that, on the seventh day, God rested.

The wonder of creation is worthy of being celebrated. However, let’s continue further into Genesis 2, where we are reminded that a specific part of creation was God providing Adam and Eve a fantastic place to live. A place called the Garden of Eden. A place that had all the water they needed, all the food they needed, all the beauty they needed, all the companionship they needed with each other and with God. A place with almost complete freedom.

Almost complete because there was one rule God established. Just one, but it was a rule. In the Garden of Eden, there was one tree - out of all the vegetation in the Garden, there was only one tree - Adam and Eve were to avoid. It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve were told very clearly by God they could eat the fruit of every tree except that one. They were told that if they even touched that tree, they would die.

We know what happened. As it is recorded in Genesis 3, one day, while Eve was near the forbidden tree, a serpent - Satan, in the form of a serpent, which was apparently not considered a scary thing at that time - went to Eve and started a conversation with her. As the serpent talked, he asked about God. Specifically what God had said about what could be eaten in the Garden.

Eve answered that anything and everything could be eaten except for the fruit of one tree. That if she or Adam even touched the tree, they would die.

Whereupon the serpent told Eve, “You will not die. How will touching a tree or eating a piece of fruit kill you? No, God’s restriction is selfish. He wants to be in charge. He knows that if you eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will be just like Him. He does not want to share His power. That is all there is to it. Wouldn’t you like to be as powerful as God? Of course you would. Go ahead. Take a piece of fruit. Eat it.”

Despite what God had very clearly instructed and the fact His only rule was about that one tree, Eve followed the suggestion of the serpent. She touched the tree. She took a piece of fruit from it. She ate the fruit.

That was bad enough. What made it worse was that Adam came by. As he did so, Eve handed him a piece of fruit from the forbidden tree. Maybe without thinking, but disobedient nonetheless, Adam ate the forbidden fruit.

Did Eve and Adam fall over dead? No. Not physically. But spiritually they died. That happened because they had disobeyed, which means they had sinned.

When God asked them what had happened, Eve and Adam each tried to explain their actions. Eve blamed the serpent. Adam blamed Eve. Adam even blamed God, claiming it was the woman God had given him who had led him astray.

Adam and Eve tried to explain, but they had sinned, which caused some very horrible things to happen. Adam and Eve no longer enjoyed each other’s company as they had before. They no longer had the close relationship with God they had before. They no longer had the Garden of Eden as their home. They were kicked out of that wonderful, beautiful, happy, peaceful place. From that day on, Adam would have hard work to do. From that day on, Eve would suffer pain.

What horrible things happened because of Eve and then Adam disobeying God. Things that it seemed, very early in the Old Testament, would ruin things forever and ever.

However, God did not turn His back on people - at first Adam and Eve, after that many others, including those of us today. Instead of turning His back, which God had every right to do, He promised a Savior. A Savior who would die as the sacrifice for sins. A Savior who, when accepted, would re-establish a good, friendly relationship with God. A Savior who would make it possible for people to thrive, even in the midst of all sorts of problems this world has. A Savior who would make it possible for those who accept Him to one day be in a place even more fantastic than the Garden of Eden, that place being Heaven.

It would be a long time before the Savior was to come, but let’s consider just a little of what the Old Testament has to say about the Savior promised by God. The Old Testament has at least hundreds of predictions about the Savior. Let’s consider just a few.

Including one found right after Eve and Adam’s disobedience. It is found in verse 15 of Genesis 3. It is part of God’s response to what had just happened.

God told Eve and then Adam the penalties they would face because of their disobedience. The pain and the hard work, which we just discussed. Before that, He told the serpent what he would face. In verse 14 God said the serpent would from that time on be cursed. From that time on, the serpent and his seed - serpents that would come after him - would slither on his - on their - bellies. Verse 15. God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed [the serpent's future generations] and her seed [generations that would follow her].

Listen to this prediction. This foretelling of what would one day happen. He, the seed of Eve, shall bruise the head of the serpent.

As mentioned, the Garden of Eden was perfect in every way, but the wonder of life in the Garden was ruined because of sin - the sin of Eve and Adam. 

What horrible results of disobedience. Results that included separation from God. But even as God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden, He promised that the separation would not last forever. It would end when someone - a descendant of Eve - would come to bruise or defeat the serpent, which represents Satan. Someone who would therefore be a Savior. 

A Savior who would die, that foretold by something that happened right after God talked to the serpent, Eve, and Adam. Verse 21. God made for Adam and Eve garments of skins, which they used for clothing. That required the shedding of blood, which the Savior would eventually do to cover sins - not bodies, but sins - including the sins of people even now.

During VBS activities the birth of the seed of Eve will be highlighted. The birth of the one who would bruise the head of Satan. We know that one was Jesus.

Also highlighted will be what Jesus did to become the Savior, including the shedding of His blood before He died, but then, on the third day after that, Him rising from death, thereby proving victory over sin.

But for now, let’s consider two more passages that tell of the coming Savior. What God promised the Savior would be like.

First, Isaiah 9:6. 

“For to us a child is born.” That was the prediction the Savior would appear as a baby, which is strange because it had to have been thought the Savior would appear as a fully grown adult, ready to do battle against Satan. But that is not what was predicted. He was to come as a baby, which was the case with Jesus. How He came is one of many proofs He is the Savior.

“The government will be upon His shoulder.” Interestingly, that did not happen with Jesus in the way we might think. He never held any political office of any kind . But He does - and He did - rule. That includes when creation happened. The Bible makes it very clear Jesus was involved in that great miracle. The Bible also proclaims that Jesus is the one who holds all the universe together. That is certainly one part of His governance. Throughout His ministry, Jesus proved He has control over nature. One example was Him calming a dangerous storm. Jesus also displayed power over illnesses of all sorts. Examples are the many healings He performed from, among many others, blindness, being lame, having a fever. In those ways, Jesus did and still does govern. That is another of many proofs He is the Savior.

“And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Jesus was and is a counselor in many ways.

Thinking in terms of educational counseling, He makes sure we who are students of Him and His word have access to the proper textbook, which is the Bible. He, through the Holy Spirit, encourages us to keep up with our studies.

Thinking in terms of social counselors, He encourages us to talk with Him about whatever problems we have. He wants to take us from concentrating on our problems to figuring out how to use His help to overcome them.

The Savior, who we know is Jesus, cares about us educationally, socially, and every other way. And yes, He is wonderful, shown in His willingness to keep working with us, even when we are difficult to work with, His willingness to love us, no matter what, and His willingness to provide us the Bible so there should be no question about how He wants us to live - to live in ways that are best for us.

Mighty God. God as in ruler of all. Mighty as in powerful. That was mentioned with Jesus governing. Power seen, for instance, in His miracles over nature and His ability to heal.

Everlasting Father. 

What does a father - a good father - do? I know some fathers are not loving. If your father was not or is not loving, do not allow that to damage your view of Jesus. Instead, take the word “father” for what it is supposed to mean.

What does a good father do? For one thing, a father loves his children and cares for them.

I think of my dad, who worked at a job he did not like, for a boss who was not nice. My dad worked hard at the job he had so he could provide for my mother and my sister and me.

A good father protects his children, sometimes doing so tenderly, sometimes doing so with a bit of force if that is necessary to get his message across.

A good father disciplines when that is needed. He encourages when that is the best course of action.

Jesus did and still does all those things. He loves and cares for and protects and disciplines and encourages those of us who are His children. Those of us who have accepted Him as the Savior.

Everlasting, concerning Jesus, means He does all that a good father does, not just on the easy days or when He feels like it or when we, His people, are easy to get along with. Jesus is our father. Our good and father all the time, no matter what.

A quick example of that happened one day when Jesus and His disciples were on a road. They stopped for a bit to rest. When some parents nearby learned Jesus was in the area, they grabbed their children and raced to where Jesus was, their hope being that He would bless their children.

Before the parents, with their children, got to Jesus, they were met by the disciples, who told the parents to go away. The disciples did that to try to protect Jesus so He could rest, but Jesus did both discipline and encouragement. The discipline was Him rebuking His disciples. He scolded them before telling them to step aside and let the children come. The encouragement came when the children did get to Jesus. He did bless them.

Prince of Peace.

Peace. That word can seem like a joke in our day and age. It is a joke when thinking of troubled, sometimes violent relationships between nations and often between people.

However, here is what “peace” means in the context of Isaiah’s prophecy. To Isaiah, peace had nothing to do with worldly or political or even relationship peace. For Isaiah, the promise was not that Israel and her enemies - including her enemies even now -will ever have peace. In Isaiah’s prophecy, peace refers to a good relationship with God. That is what is possible because of the Savior Because of Jesus. A peace that will bring blessings now and Heaven later.

Prince means the Savior - that Jesus - as part of His governing, is in charge of peace with God, which Jesus fulfilled when He died on the cross. Remember that sins separate people from God. Separation would be permanent except for Jesus becoming the perfect sacrifice for sins. All who accept Jesus as that sacrifice can and do have a good relationship with God, thereby making Jesus the Prince of Peace. It was that sacrifice that paid the price for sins.

In Genesis 3, God first promised a Savior who would defeat Satan. In Isaiah, God predicted what the Savior would be like. Born a baby, which Jesus was. A governor, which Jesus displayed. The Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, which Jesus proved He was throughout His ministry and still fulfills now through the Holy Spirit.

For this message, a few more predictions of the Savior. Predictions Jesus fulfilled. Isaiah 53. Not all the predictions in the chapter will be covered, but here are some of the predictions.

Verse 2. The Savior would grow up like a young plant. Jesus did that. The Bible shares some of what Jesus’ childhood was like. We know He did grow up.

Still verse 2. There would be nothing about the Savior’s physical appearance that would make Him stand out. This is a difficult description for me because I certainly do not want to even imply Jesus was not spectacular in every way. But He was not a giant of a man. He is not described as the most handsome man who has ever lived. I think that is important because people were and are to follow Him because of His spirituality.

Verse 3. The Savior would be despised, rejected, experienced with sorrow and grief, someone who some would hide from. Each of those ideas describe Jesus during His ministry, again proof He is the Savior.

Verses 4 and 5. The Savior promised by God would bear the griefs and carry the sorrows of others, but be stricken, wounded, bruised, chastised, and whipped. All that happened before and when Jesus was crucified.

Verse 7. The Savior would be oppressed and afflicted, but He would not open His mouth. Over and over again as Jesus was on trial for His life, He refused to answer the charges brought against Him. At least part of Jesus’ silence was to make sure nothing stopped God’s plan for Jesus to be the Savior, but not opening His mouth was yet more proof Jesus is the Savior.

Verse 9. The Savior was to be buried in the grave of a rich man. Jesus also fulfilled that part of the prediction. He was buried in a tomb owned by Joseph, who was rich enough to pay for the spices needed to prepare Jesus’ body for burial.

*       *       *       *       *

God created the universe. What a miraculous mission that was. What a joy it will be for that to be highlighted in Vacation Bible School.

Part of creation was the Garden of Eden for Adam and Eve. What a wonderful place that was. But the joy of the Garden was taken away because of sin. What a tragic thing that was.

But God, in His miraculous love, chose to not leave people separated from Him. He chose to promise a Savior who would once and for all bruise Satan and at the same time be the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. A Savior who would suffer, often silently, just so all who accept Him could and would once again have a good relationship with God.

Today’s closing song is a happy hymn. God Is Love, verses 1, 2, and 4.

Hark! my soul, angelic music

From the Heavenly choirs above

Breaks to earth the joyful tidings

That the Lord our God is love.

God is love, God is love;

Song of angel choirs above;

Hallelujah! God is love.

Paradise now helps to swell it,

Saints on earth, afar go tell it;

Satan’s host can never quell it, 

For the Lord our God is love.

See the depths of His compassion,

Giving Heaven’s best to prove,

By a life of pain and sorrow,

That the Lord our God is love.

God is love, God is love;

Song of angel choirs above;

Hallelujah! God is love.

Paradise now helps to swell it,

Saints on earth, afar go tell it;

Satan’s host can never quell it, 

For the Lord our God is love.

Sing, my soul, and all within me,

Sing till all the clouds remove;

Sing and praise and shout forever,

For the Lord our God is love.

God is love, God is love;

Song of angel choirs above;

Hallelujah! God is love.

Paradise now helps to swell it,

Saints on earth, afar go tell it;

Satan’s host can never quell it, 

For the Lord our God is love.

God, thank You for Your creation of the universe. Thank You that when sin ruined our part of Your creation, You promised a Savior. Jesus, thank You for being that Savior. Help us to sing joyfully about the fulfillment of the promise. Help us to sing forever. Amen.

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