I love Christmas! I love the sights and sounds; the special foods and celebrations. But this most blessed time of year, is too often obscured by the blur of too many things on our “to-do” list. I woke early this morning and in the stillness of the dawn I put away my list and focused on the One Whose birth we celebrate.
As I was reading in Hebrews, I reflected upon Christ as the fulfillment of all that the Old Testament depicted. Jesus, the One first promised by God in Genesis 3:15. Jesus, the Seed of woman, our Savior, Redeemer, Shepherd, the Great High Priest, the Chief Cornerstone.
The great preacher of Bellevue for over thirty years, Dr. R. G. Lee said:
“Interwoven in the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation is a scarlet thread–the story of redemption. Only as we consider that red road do we properly understand the story of man’s sin and the Cross of Christ. Overlook that scarlet thread in your reading of the Bible, ignore its fact in your religious life, remove it from your thought, and you have no Christianity. Without knowledge of that scarlet thread we have no knowledge of the supreme theme of the Bible–and we are ignorant of the full price He paid for human redemption.”
Christmas is about God becoming man through Christ—wrapping Himself in the flesh of a baby. But as my husband has said, “Jesus did not come for a photo op in a nativity set. He came to die on a rugged cross and rise again to save sinners.” Truly the shadow of the cross lay across that manger.
And the shadow of the cross lies across all of the Old Testament. As we move forward through scripture from Gen. 3:15, we trace this thread and see God killing the first animal to cover the sin of Adam and Eve. From that time forward, man would approach God with blood sacrifices.
Abel brought an offering from the firstborn of his flock (Gen. 4:4). Noah offered animal sacrifices when the water receded and he was back on dry ground (Gen. 8:20). God cut a covenant with Abram when He called him to go to a land that He would show him and promised this childless man that his descendants would outnumber the stars (Gen. 15:9-18). Later Abraham would be called upon to offer this son back to God as a living sacrifice. When God saw his willingness, he stopped him and provided in Isaac’s place a ram that had been caught in the thicket (Gen. 22).
As Sally Loyd Jones said in her Bible for children…
“God helped Abraham and Isaac understand something. God wanted his people to live, not die. God wanted to rescue his people, not punish them. But they must trust him…Many years later, another Son would climb another hill, carrying wood on his back. Like Isaac, he would trust his Father and do what his Father asked. He wouldn’t struggle or run away. Who was he? God’s Son, his only Son – the Son he loved. The Lamb of God.”
It is by the blood of the lamb that our sins are forgiven.
It was by the blood of the Passover Lamb that the firstborn of each family of the Israelites was spared in Egypt when the death angel passed over their homes. Then God spoke to Moses and gave His people laws to live and worship by. The sacrificial system was put in place. Now God could dwell among His people in the Tabernacle without His holiness consuming them.
We continue to trace this beautiful scarlet thread into the Promised Land. When Joshua and the Israelites conquered Jericho, the scarlet cord in the window of Rahab’s home spared her life and all who were inside the house.
Through kings and kingdoms this thread continued. Even in the midst of the unfaithfulness of His people, God was and always is faithful to His Word. According to the word of the prophet Jeremiah, God restored His people to their land after captivity. Once again the blood of the sacrifices covered the altar.
Then for four hundred long and silent years they waited and longed for the promised Messiah. Finally the silence was broken by the announcement of the angel Gabriel to Zacharias about John the Baptist and then to Mary about the Christ child. Could it be that the long awaited One was here? Oh yes, for we have the confirmation of the angels at His birth, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-12).
The joy of His birth would give way to the agony of the cross. Yet it was at Calvary, sin was defeated as His scarlet blood was shed. Three days later Christ rose from the grave as Victor, King and Lord!
I am so thankful for this scarlet thread and for all it means for me. For it is at the cross we kneel this Christmas; wrapped in scarlet like a gift under the tree. Thank you Jesus for the scarlet thread of Christmas!