One of my favorite aspects of Thanksgiving weekend is that it marks the beginning of advent season. Christmas decorations go up, stores begin to broadcast Christmas music, people start their Christmas shopping. But what did the Hebrew Bible say about the advent, or the coming of the Messiah? Did it begin by foretelling His birth?
You would think that the first messianic prediction of the Hebrew Bible would be about His birth. Not so! When we look at the first Scriptures and discern what the prophets foretold about the coming Messiah, we see that the very first prediction of Messiah’s coming is about His death, not His birth.
After Adam and Eve succumbed to the Serpent’s temptation, God gave the very first promise of the Messiah. In Genesis 3:15, speaking to the power behind the Serpent, God says, “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike His heel.” This verse predicts that one day, the seed, or descendant of the woman, would strike that Serpent on the head, delivering a death blow. At the same time, the Serpent would strike the descendant of the woman, the Messiah, on the heel. The kind of serpent described in this passage always strikes with a deadly blow. Therefore, this verse is saying that in defeating Satan, who is the power behind the Serpent, the Messiah would also die. And that’s exactly what happened.
When Jesus died for us, not only did He take the punishment we deserve, but in dying, He also defeated the enemy of our souls. Hebrews 2:14-15 says that Jesus became a man so that “through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death–that is, the Devil–and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.”
This Christmas let’s remember that Jesus was born to die. The good news is that in His death, He defeated death and in His resurrection, He gave us new life. For those of us who trust in Him, that is the best Christmas message ever.
Dr. Michael Rydelnik