Share This Episode
A New Beginning Greg Laurie Logo

Christmas, B.C. | A Closer Look at Genesis

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
December 20, 2023 3:00 am

Christmas, B.C. | A Closer Look at Genesis

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 2092 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.


December 20, 2023 3:00 am

Help us share the gospel in 2024!

Some may think that everyone celebrates Christmas just like we do here in the United States. Wintertime scenes of sleighs and snow-covered Christmas trees. But in many parts of the world, December 25th is the start of summertime. Our friends in Australia just said, “Amen.” In the Orthodox tradition, Christmas comes January 7th. But there’s even more to learn about this important holiday. And today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie takes to the book of Genesis for a thorough Bible study!

Listen on harvest.org

---

Learn more and subscribe to Harvest updates at harvest.org .

A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

Support the show: https://harvest.org/support

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Hey everybody, you're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners.

If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at gregg.harvest.org. Again, it's gregg.harvest.org.

You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org. Historians tell us we've been celebrating Christmas since the fourth century, but coming up today, Pastor Greg Laurie brings us a surprising fact about the holiday. The first mention of Christmas goes way, way back before Bethlehem, before Mary and Joseph, before shepherds and wise men, before Caesar Augustus and Herod the Great and the innkeeper. In fact, the first mention of Christmas was B.C.. Some may think everyone celebrates Christmas just like we do here in the United States, wintertime scenes of sleighs and snow-covered Christmas trees. But in many parts of the world, December 25th is the start of summertime. Our friends in Australia just said, Amen.

In the Orthodox tradition, Christmas comes January 7th, but there's even more to learn about this important holiday. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie takes us to the book of Genesis for a thorough Bible study. Now, I don't know if you read that news story that happened not too long ago about a scuba diver who was rescued by mermaids. Did any of you hear this story? Scuba diver rescued by mermaids.

I'm thinking, wait, what? So I read the article, and it says that there's a man named Pablo Avila who was scuba diving off of Catalina, and suddenly he blacked out and he cried out, Help. And it turns out there was a group of professional mermaids and a swim instructor nearby. Now, these are ladies that wear the tail like a mermaid, but they're very able swimmers.

You have to learn how to swim with that on, and they do performances and so forth. So they go, they grab the guy, and they rescue him, giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. What do you think he was thinking when he woke up? I've been rescued by a mermaid.

Wow. It could have been worse. It could have been a merman, or thankfully it was a mermaid. But, you know, it's laughable because we think of mermaids as not being real.

Of course, that's true. It's sort of like a fairy tale came true. That reminds me a little bit of the Christmas story. You know, we hear it so often it can almost sound a little bit like a fairy tale, but of course it's a true story. It's marked specifically in time in the way it's presented to us in the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew.

But really it has all the elements of fairy tale stories we've loved from our childhood. We have singing angels, a shining star, mysterious wise men, and the miraculous birth of the Savior. But the real story of Christmas goes way, way back before Bethlehem, before Mary and Joseph, before shepherds and wise men, before Caesar Augustus and Herod the Great and the innkeeper. In fact, the first mention of Christmas was BC. Now, as you know, BC stands for Before Christ.

You say, how's that possible that it's BC? Because the story of redemption goes way back to a garden. And it starts with a tree. You might say it's the first Christmas tree. It wasn't decorated with bright lights or ornaments like our Christmas trees today. It was a mysterious tree. And Adam and Eve were strictly forbidden to go even near it. It was called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So scene one God says, enjoy the garden.

Enjoy everything in the garden. But stay away from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Scene two.

Adam and Eve standing by the tree. Why? Why? Because we are always drawn to the thing that we are not supposed to go to. Our grandkids came over to our house the other day and they got there before we arrived. And Kathy said, don't go in my office. There are things in there we don't want you to see. It's a bunch of presents we wrapped.

I said, Kathy, now they're going to want to go to the office. See the point is is we're always drawn to that which God says to stay away from. Because we think in our mind maybe God is holding us back from something that's really good. But the fact is if God says you should stay away from something it's for your own good. The Bible says no good thing will he withhold from those that walk uprightly.

So if the Lord says don't go near that, don't do that, don't go there, that's for your good. So you might say the first Christmas tree was in the Garden of Eden. And they were living in a veritable paradise. Radiant beauty at every at every turn.

Exotic wildlife. The perfect temperature. And best of all no sin or guilt or the shame that accompanies it. All they had to do was stay away from that tree. But they didn't. And there at the tree they met Satan coming to them in the form of a serpent or a snake. And he says go ahead and eat of this fruit and the day you eat thereof you'll be like a God knowing good and evil.

They needed no further proof. Genesis 3 says the woman was convinced the fruit looked so good and delicious and it would make her white so she ate of the fruit and gave it to her husband. He ate it too.

Wow. As soon as they took that bite they regretted it. Have you ever bitten into something and the moment you did you thought I should never have done this.

Maybe it was something really gross. I don't know about you but I don't like fat on meat. There's something about fat that grosses me out. So if I think about oh there's fat.

You don't know you know. Or how about seized candies. You know they have those boxes. And I only like nuts and chews. So I go and pick those out. But then there's these mysterious ones and you bite into them and weird things. Creamy ickiness.

I don't know what it is. And some people like those even more. But I don't like those.

But you know. And what about a fruitcake. Have you ever tasted fruitcake. Why does fruitcake even exist. It is horrible. And you don't want to really eat it.

But anyway you bite of something you know you shouldn't have bitten of it or from it. And they did not become as gods as the devil promised because he's a liar. They became his fools. And worst of all they lost their fellowship with God.

I mean think about this. Every day in the Garden of Eden God showed up as the sun was setting. And he and Adam would take a little walk in the garden together. And Adam would tell the Lord all the beautiful things that he had discovered. But on this particular day after Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit the Lord came. But Adam wasn't waiting for him as usual. He was hiding. And the Lord calls out to Adam, Adam where are you? And Adam responds, we heard your voice and we were naked and ashamed so we hid ourselves. The Lord said, who told you that you had sinned?

So here is the point. Why did God ask that question? Did he ask him because he was oblivious to the whereabouts of Adam and Eve?

No. He asked him because he wanted them to confess their sin. It is like when I used to play hide and seek with my grandchildren when they were really little. They would hide behind the curtain. But I could see their feet. But I would act like I didn't see them. And then I would discover them and they would say, let's do it again Papa. And they would go back to the same place again. They hadn't learned the art of deception yet.

Right? That is us hiding from God. That is us running from God. Where are you Adam? The Lord wants Adam to come clean. But instead of coming clean Adam offers the first excuse in human history. And he says, it is the woman you gave me. She gave me of the fruit and I ate. Now I wonder how he said that. Did he say it is the woman putting the blame on Eve? In other words Lord I take a nap.

I wake up. A rib is missing and she is here. I didn't ask for this. Or did he say it is the woman you gave me putting the blame on God. Like hey Lord this was your idea. This is your fault. Whatever it is.

He is not taking responsibility. You know the other night I was watching television with my wife and she leaves the room and I hear this crunching sound. I said, what are you doing? She is like over there kind of hiding eating pretzels with peanut butter in them.

I happen to really love those. I said, what are you doing? I am eating a couple of those pretzels. And then she gave me one.

I said, you are just like Eve in the Garden of Eden. It is happening all over again because I go into a feeding frenzy. I don't know what it is with those pretzels with peanut butter in them. Have you ever tried those?

I think they are amazing. So then what happens? Now the woman shifts the blame as well. Well it is not my fault. The serpent tricked me.

No one is taking responsibility. That brings us to the first Christmas verse. The first Christmas verse. It is not Isaiah 9 6. It says unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given. You will call his name wonderful counselor the mighty God the everlasting father. Nor is it Micah 5 2 that says you Bethlehem though you be little among the thousands of Judah yet out of you shall come forth one whose origins have been from everlasting.

No. The first Christmas verse is Genesis 3 15 where God speaks directly to Satan. And he says to Satan there is coming one who will crush your head but you will bruise his heel. So Satan was not on alert. Game on.

The battle lines were drawn. The Lord is saying the Messiah is going to come and he is going to crush your head. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Hey everybody I want to encourage you to check out the new Harvest Plus app. It is on Roku, Apple TV, and Google Play among others. And you can stream incredible content on all major platforms for free. You're going to find live events our evangelistic films like A Rush of Hope, Johnny Cash The Redemption of an American Icon, Steve McQueen The Salvation of an American Icon, and our newest film Fame. You can also stream our feature film Jesus Revolution as well as the entire library of the Kingdom Story Company films. Plus our TV programs, our podcast Harvest at Home, and a lot more.

Stream it all on any device for free using the new Harvest Plus app. Well today Pastor Greg is offering important perspective on Christmas as seen from the pages of the Old Testament. Let's continue. The devil knew that Messiah was coming through the Jewish people and anti-Semitism was born. What is anti-Semitism?

It's the hatred of Jewish people. And this is something that comes from Satan himself when we see this going clear back to the Garden of Eden. He knew Messiah was coming. He knew Messiah would be a Jew.

So now he's going to do everything he can to stop him from coming. We all know the Dr. Seuss story, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. In fact some people know that story better than the real Christmas story in the Bible.

Well this is a story that is a story of the devil who tried to stop Christmas. The battle starts in Genesis and goes all the way through to the book of Revelation. In the book of Exodus we have the Pharaoh who gives the order that all the little Jewish baby boys are to be put to death.

But the Hebrew midwives refuse to do it. And Moses is spared. And of course he ends up leading the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt and the great Exodus. But there's the devil trying to stop the Jews already. We go over to the book of Esther. We have a wicked man named Haman who hatches a plot to have the Jewish people exterminated. His plot was thwarted by Queen Esther who was Jewish. And Haman ended up hanging on the gallows that he built for another. These were all attempts to stop Christmas and specifically stop Christ from coming. Then you go to King Herod in the New Testament.

The Gospel of Matthew. These mysterious men from the east that we call the wise men come looking for the one who is called the king of the Jews. They said we've seen his star. See the wise men that word comes from the root word magi. We get our English word magician from it. These guys look to the stars for direction.

They were into both astronomy and astrology. Rather than condemning them the Lord meets them where they are at and sends a star that brings them to the Messiah. But when they said we are looking for the king of the Jews that was the worst thing you could say to a paranoid tyrant like Herod.

Because that was his title. So what does he do? He gives a decree that all the Jewish baby boys there born in Bethlehem are to be put to death. Again another attempt to stop Christ from coming. But nothing would stop the Messiah from coming and nothing will stop Christ from coming back again.

He's coming. God will always have the last word. And right on time Jesus arrived on planet earth born in that manger in Bethlehem. As Galatians tells us he was born of a woman made under the law to redeem those that are under the law. But then it says when the time was just right this happened. So everything was right on schedule. Now did Jesus begin his existence in Bethlehem?

The answer is no. Let me say it this way. He entered our world as a member of the human race but he was fully God and yet fully human. So that is when he came to us with flesh. But Jesus has always been there. Jesus has always existed. He like the Father is eternal because he is God along with the Holy Spirit and the Father. Christ is co-eternal and co-equal. He has no beginning or end.

Jesus said I am the Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end. So the real Christmas story does not begin in Bethlehem or even on planet earth. It begins in heaven where it was determined that Jesus Christ would come to our planet. Because Jesus has always been there and he will always be there. As the Bible says he is the same yesterday today and forever. So was there a Christ before Christmas? Was there a Jesus or was Jesus there before Bethlehem?

The answer is yes. So the Christmas story is not just telling us about an arrival as in a birth. It is also the story of a departure. Back to Isaiah 9 6. Unto us a child is born. That is the arrival. But then it goes on to say unto us a son is given.

That is a departure from heaven. And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor. The Mighty God.

The Everlasting Father. That reminds us of his deity as he came to our planet. But there are pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus in the Old Testament. Theologians call these appearances a Christophany. And Jesus himself alluded to these Christophanies. In other words he reminded people I have been around a long time.

Example. He was talking with the Jewish leaders and they asked them are you greater than Abraham? And Jesus said in John 8 hey Abraham rejoiced to see my day and he saw it and was glad.

Wait what? What do you mean he saw your day? You are not even 50 years old and you have seen Abraham and Jesus says hey guys before Abraham was I am. Oh I was there. I knew Abraham.

We hung out together. Genesis 22 is the story of Abraham and Isaac. That is the son of Abraham. So Abraham and his wife Sarah were not able to have children and they got very old. The Lord had promised that they were going to have a son and through that son would come the Jewish race.

And it wasn't happening. And then suddenly Sarah gets pregnant. They are excited. Isaac is born. And the very name Isaac means laughter. He brought so much joy into their home.

That boy was the light of their life. But one day God asked the incomprehensible. He said to Abraham take your son and offer him as a sacrifice. Genesis 22 one. He tested Abraham's faith in obedience. Abraham God says.

Abraham says yes Lord here I am. God says take your son your only son yes Isaac whom you love so much and go to the land of Moriah and sacrifice him there is a burnt offering. Isaac asks his father hey dad where is the lamb for the sacrifice. Abraham prophetically says Genesis 22 eight my son God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering. So the two of them went together. Picture this scene.

Abraham and Isaac carrying the wood to put on the altar for the sacrifice. Now in sometimes in religious art you have Isaac portrayed as a very little boy. No he was a young man. A full-grown young man and he knew what was happening.

He wasn't stupid. He agreed to this. He could have said I see what's happening to your dad and I'm thinking you're kind of an old dude and I'm young.

Why don't we sacrifice you instead of me. What do you think about that huh dad. It's not like Abraham could overpower Isaac. Isaac was going along with this. Genesis 22 eight says the two of them went together. And is this not a picture of what happened at the cross. The father son and holy spirit working toward this goal of the redemption of mankind. The father making the ultimate sacrifice in giving his son. Back to Isaiah 9 6 unto us the son is given. The son making the ultimate sacrifice and laying his life down for us. Remember Jesus said no one takes my life.

I lay it down of my own accord. And what God said to Abraham is reminiscent of what Jesus did. He says in Genesis 22 take your son your only son whom you love so much. And what do we read Jesus saying in John 3 16 for God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son and whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

So back to our story. Here's Isaac laying down on that altar knowing what's about to happen. Here's the father taking the knife. Now we're told elsewhere in scripture Abraham believed if Isaac died God would raise him from the dead. Which was quite a lot of faith considering the fact no one had been raised from the dead in the Bible yet. But he was believing God and as a knife is ready to come down the angel of the Lord shouts to him. Genesis 22 11 Abraham Abraham he says yes I'm listening. The Lord says lay down the knife. Don't hurt the boy in any way for I know you truly fear God and you have not withheld your beloved son from me. Okay so here's the Christophany.

Ready. It was not just an angel of the Lord. This angel is identified as the angel of the Lord. The angel says you have not withheld your beloved son from me. But who gave Abraham the order to do this?

God. So I believe this was not an angel. I believe this was Christ himself.

A Christophany. An Old Testament appearance of Jesus right there in this amazing moment. And this reminds us that God is with us in our times of testing. Pastor Greg Laurie with such important insight on the coming birth of Christ as revealed in the Old Testament. And that's why Pastor Greg has titled today's message Christmas BC.

Glad you've joined us today here on A New Beginning. But you know the Christmas story is more than the babe in the manger. It's also about the Savior who died on the cross for our sins. Pastor Greg has an important thought for those who've never considered what the Lord came to do for us.

God loved you so much that 2,000 years ago he sent his son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for your sins and then to rise again from the dead. And now Jesus who died and rose is standing at the door of your life and he is knocking. And he says if you'll hear my voice and open the door I'll come in. Would you like Jesus Christ to come into your life? Would you like your sin forgiven?

Would you like to fill the hole in your soul? Would you like to go to heaven when you die? If so just stop what you're doing and pray this prayer with me. You can pray it out loud if you like. You can pray it in the quietness of your heart if you choose. But pray this prayer. This is a prayer of asking Jesus Christ to come into your life. Pray these words.

Lord Jesus I know that I'm a sinner but I know that you're the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. I turn from that sin now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer. In Jesus name I pray.

Amen. Hey did you just pray that prayer? If so I want to congratulate you and be the first to say welcome to the family of God. Yeah that's right and we want to help you get started in this new walk with the Lord. We want to send you Pastor Greg's New Believers Bible. It's an easy to understand translation and features hundreds of helps specifically for new believers. It'll answer many of your questions and help you build a strong foundation for your faith.

We'll send it free of charge so get in touch and ask for the New Believers Bible. You can call 1-800-821-3300, call anytime 1-800-821-3300, or write A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside, CA 92514, or go online to harvest.org and click Know God. You know Pastor Greg I don't know about you but I'm sort of a fan of behind the scenes programs.

You know behind the scenes on how they made a favorite movie or how they recorded a favorite music album. Can you give us a behind the scenes look at what's going on at Harvest here at this time of the year? Well we're busy because it's Christmas and like all of you we have our own personal responsibilities to get ready for Christmas but then at the church we have a lot going on as well as we do various service and such but you know the funny thing about Christmas is wow you know you can become so busy almost like you're spinning your wheels and missing the point all together. Remember the story in the New Testament where Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem with a 12 year old Jesus and when they got home he wasn't with them. Mary thought Jesus went with Joseph. Joseph thought Jesus went with Mary and they literally had lost Jesus. Wait how do you lose Jesus?

Doesn't he glow in the dark? No not really but they literally lost Jesus and they went back and found him and of course you know he's in the temple talking to the elders and he said to them did you not know that I must be about my father's business but here's my point in the busyness of Christmas we can lose Jesus lose sight of what it should be about that is celebrating his birth and so as we're in this month right now we're all running to and fro to all these events let's remember to honor the one that this season is all about and the best way we can do that is to worship him and it is also to give to him remember those wise men they brought gifts gold frankincense and myrrh would you prayerfully consider bringing a generous gift to us so we can continue to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ through a new beginning. It's such an important time for your investment here at the end of the year. Thanks so much for your generosity. You can take care of all the details easily when you call us at 1-800-821-3300. Call anytime 1-800-821-3300 or write A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside California 92514 or go online to harvest.org. Well next time more insight on what we can learn about Christmas from the pages of the Old Testament. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-20 04:56:10 / 2023-12-20 05:06:06 / 10

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime