When did people first start celebrating the birth of Christ? Did it begin as a pagan festival of the winter solstice? Did it begin with the shepherds and wise men, Anna and Simeon, who worshipped the child born to save us? Or did it begin with the promise to Eve that One of her posterity would crush the head of the serpent? (Genesis 3:15)
Too often, we think we have a privileged position on faith, since Christ has come and clarified the promises into which the prophets looked and that they sought to understand (1 Peter 1:10). But does knowledge really increase our faith. Jesus told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen yet believe” (John 20:29). Isn’t faith the evidence of things NOT seen (Hebrews 11:1)?
Adam and Eve were real people in a real garden of Eden who really ate of the forbidden fruit. Lucifer really temped Eve by speaking to her through the serpent. Death came upon all mankind and is real today. God promised a savior to Eve. He was really born in a stable to take our sins upon himself and offer us eternal life. But what about the people who lived during the forty centuries between Eve and Mary?
God spoke these words to Satan in the garden: “it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Was the promise significant enough to allow generations from Adam to Christ to believe? Don’t we live for Christ because of the promise of eternal life? We don’t know the details of the second coming of Christ. We just have the promise. They didn’t know the details of the first coming. They just had the promise. We all walk by the same faith in a coming Messiah.
Civilization Began in the Fertile Crescent, Downhill from Ararat
Archeological details of life from Adam to Noah, sixteen centuries of history, have been wiped out by the Flood. Civilization as we know it began with Noah in Mesopotamia, in the Fertile Crescent, downhill from the Mountains of Ararat. Somewhere in this hilly region, our forefathers celebrated the first Christmas in the New World.
Eight people, alone in the world, gathered around a campfire one night, looked up to the stars, and thanked God for salvation. They were united in righteousness; Ham had not yet sinned against his father. They shared a common hope in a coming savior. They offered animal sacrifices which looked forward to the Lamb of God, as the Lord’s Supper looks back on Christ’s death on the cross. Are we somehow better than them because faith is easier for us? Not at all!
As we celebrate the birth of Christ, let us remember that it doesn’t belong to us alone. We didn’t invent it. We weren’t the first to believe. Christ belongs to all nations and all generations. He is the Lord of ALL!