The greatest love story lies at the heart of Advent. The first whispers of Advent come in the first days that man walked with God. Days filled with: beauty, youth, freshness, unspoiled terrain, courage, strength, perfection, fearless adventures, experiencing pure enjoyment with no regrets. The first couple had no context for comprehending pain and death.
The earth was full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
The first woman walked with God in unhindered intimacy and He personally took her on her inaugural walk, as He introduced her to His world. The garden held treasures and mysteries, but most importantly, the garden was God’s training ground for understanding the concept of love.
[box]Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:15–17)[/box]
Why did God say “No” to something as insignificant (seemingly) as eating from that certain tree?
Why did God place a “forbidden” in the garden of perfection?
Do you notice anything about God here?
What was He doing placing a restriction in the garden of love?
God was giving the man and woman OPPORTUNITY.
God gave a love boundary. God was training His first couple and giving them the opportunity to display love. This commandment wasn’t restrictive in a negative sense; it was restrictive in the best sense. The tree was a love boundary.
When God puts a boundary in place, it allows us to visibly demonstrate love for God through obedience.
By withholding one small item, God placed Adam and Eve in the position to trust Him with knowing what was best for their lives, trusting His character, trusting that He is good, and trusting that what He does is best. He was teaching them about loving Him and loving others.
This limitation was their first opportunity to trust God and visibly demonstrate their love for God.
Everything was perfect in their world (literally) until one act of disobedience threw all of creation into a state of corruption and groaning:
[box]When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. (Gen. 3:6)[/box]
Eve decided she could find happiness another way, that maybe God’s plan wasn’t the best. Does that sound a bit familiar?
When she turned inward, Eve’s love for God transferred to love for self. Self-focus is a hunger that is never satisfied . . . selfish “love” is a gnawing pain—the more you feed it, the more empty you grow. Eve’s choice led to bondage; she became a prisoner to sin.
Eve is a lot like me. And maybe a little like you?
My flesh longs for an easier way, looks to be pampered, and reaches for the comfort food far more often than the healthy. I can quickly grab the reigns to charge ahead with what I think is best. Like I’m prone to do, Eve jumped in full force to disobey.
Eve failed the love test and influenced her husband to follow her into corruption. But what do you notice about God?
What is God’s response?
God pursues . . . He goes after them . . . He is relentless in His love for His own.
[box]But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)[/box]
God wasn’t looking for information, but was going for the heart.
Aren’t you so glad He does that? Aren’t you thankful He doesn’t leave us in that place of isolation and bondage . . . but He comes after us?
What about Eve?
I can’t imagine the weight of guilt she had to be carrying around with her. Everywhere she looked death was happening, and it was all because she fell away from love’s commitment.
Maybe you’ve done that. I have.
I hate that bondage. I hate the condemning, suffocating weight of guilt. I hate seeing how I’ve hurt others because of my selfishness and sin.
But thankfully, the story doesn’t end there.
God pursued Eve. She would be the first in a line of broken and needy women who would find their deepest need met in this Promised One.
Advent commences with these words:
[box]Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
The LORD God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
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.” (Gen. 3:13–15)[/box]
“He shall bruise you on the head . . .” this is the promise of Advent. This is God’s declaration that Jesus Christ would crush the enemy’s power at the cross. The God who pursues opened the first chapter of His great love story with the promise of the Redeemer, who would come and rescue!
He comes after us to redeem us!
He pursues us with a steadfast love.
Genesis 3:21 gives us a glimpse into God’s redemptive plan:
[box]“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.”[/box]
It’s only a simple one-sentence statement, a short verse, but one packed with foreshadowing of the Great Redemptive story.
God clothed the first couple—but how? The details are hidden, but a blood sacrifice is clearly implied. I believe an animal was sacrificed to provide the clothing that would cover the first couple.
I believe that animal was a lamb.
The shadow of the cross falls across the guilty pair as the first blood is shed—a sacrificial animal, slain to provide garments to cover man’s nakedness. This redemptive act points to the Lamb “slain from the foundation of the world” whose holy blood would serve as man’s only atonement (2 Corinthians 5:21; Revelation 5:6–14).
In my mind, I picture Adam and Eve transfixed as they watch one of their precious lambs quietly obey the Creator’s call. What were they thinking as the Master laid His tender hand on the willing subject’s neck? Were they horrified at their first sight of death?
What was their reaction as blood flowed and the lamb’s life ebbed away?
I hope that one day we’ll know more of the details, but for now we understand that this sacrifice would be the first foreshadowing of the Lamb slain for the sin of the world.
This was the first hint of the ultimate sacrifice made at the Cross.
The pursuing God provided the way to redemption. Advent begins here with the first whispers of the One who would come as our Redeemer.
He is pursuing you today. Where does He find you?
Where is your heart?