Greetings in the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit.
And the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:5)
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”
And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.
Then God continued His creation for five days to fill the world. And God saw that it was good.
On the sixth day, God said, “Let us make human beings in our image to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”
So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God, he created Adam and Eve; male and female; He created them.
Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.
Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!
God let Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, live in the Garden of Eden, where God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit.
The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
It was a loaded question to trick Eve to sin – to make her not listen to God, but follow the desire in her. But she did not know this trick of the serpent at that time.
“Of course, we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
Although Eve answered factually about what God had told her, her heart was already tempted by the forbidden fruit that the serpent directly and tenaciously attacked.
What was the first answer of the serpent? It deposited doubt in her heart about God and God’s character.
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
The serpent directly opposed God and tempted Eve by saying, “You will be like God.” What else did Eve need to be convinced? The serpent’s voice touched the deep in the heart of Eve, which was a sinful nature.
Then the woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful, and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment, their eyes were opened as Satan, the serpent, told. Then they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.
When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard God walking about in the garden. So they hid from God among the trees. Then God called to the man, “Where are you?”
As sin came in, sin destroyed the most beautiful relationship with God. They used to talk to God as if they talked to their parents and friends because they enjoyed the special loving relationship with God. The sin made them fearful of God because it shattered their intimacy with God.
Then they pointed out to each other why they sinned. In other words, none wanted to take the blame. Both tried everything that they could do to justify their sin before God. There was no longer a loving relationship between Adam and Eve except for focusing on himself or herself. They did not hesitate to sacrifice the other side. The sin not only severed the intimacy with God, but also it threw away the loving relationship with each other.
As a result, they no longer fit in the Garden of Eden. God sent them to the world from the paradise of God, which was specially created for Adam and Eve. Their life in this world was no longer like living in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve suffered from their sin, and it was not all. Their children quickly inherited the sin. Cain killed Abel and became the first murderer. There was neither fight nor hatred, but Cain killed Abel because he felt God loved Abel more than himself.
The rest of human history is just a repetition of what Adam and Eve did to God and what Cain did to Abel. Humans were getting worse and worse from then on. God always provided opportunities to come back to Him. Few tried, but eventually, none came back to God. Why? We, human beings, are incapable of not sinning. We are born with sinful nature and live and die with sin. If not, the world would not be like where we live now. We had already restored the Garden of Eden by ourselves. However, the reality is the opposite. Our world is getting darker and darker. As Adam and Eve did after sinning, we humans hide and run away from God. When we are caught, we blame each other as Adam and Eve did. Where is our love, caring for each other? How about our intimacy with God?
God observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and He saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently evil. Most of all, the inability of human beings to come back to Him made His heart break. Even so, God loved His creation, especially human beings, whom He created in His image. To God, human beings are His beloved children whom God loves in all situations. God prepared His salvation plan and told His plan through prophets – the coming of the Savior.
Then God sent prophets to prophesize the coming of the Savior. Among them, Prophet Isaiah prophesized:
“Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). (Isaiah 7:13b–14)
God wanted to be with His special creation of human beings. God plans to replace the fear that fell on Adam and Eve after sinning with peace with God, which will last forever. The peace of God is not like what Adam and Eve had lost in the Garden of Eden due to the sinful nature of Adam and Eve, but it will last forever, guaranteed by God, Himself. For this time, God will be with His children, us, forever, and we will be in peace with God forever.
Seven hundred years after Isaiah prophesized the coming of the Savior, Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week.
While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. But the angel said,
“Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”
Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”
Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news”
Indeed, God sent John the Baptist six months ahead of the Savior, Jesus Christ. John the Baptist was the voice shouting in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Savior Jesus Christ.
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings,d favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.”
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
The God who was greatly feared by Adam and Eve sent Angel Gabriel to Zachariah, Elizabeth, and Mary, and initially, they were all in fear. But through Gabriel, God talked peace through Angle Gabriel. The peace was not for them only but for all, including us. The message was, “God comes downs to and is with us.” What’s a blessed and peaceful message from God, who Adam and Eve had feared after sinning! God brought down peace, which lasts forever, to those who believe in Him.
When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!”
“What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise, he wrote, “His name is John.” Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God.
Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.
Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:
“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has visited and redeemed his people.
He has sent us a mighty Savior
from the royal line of his servant David,
just as he promised
through his holy prophets long ago.
“And you, my little son,
will be called the prophet of the Most High,
because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
You will tell his people how to find salvation
through forgiveness of their sins.
Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.” (Luke 1:68-70, 76-79)
In Him, there will be no more fear because God brings down the peace of God to us.
His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen! (Isaiah 9:7)