O Come O Come Emmanuel

Introduction

Introduction

Devotional

O Come O Come Emmanuel

Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands. (Genesis 5:29)
Finally, the son was born. Generation after generation had anticipated his birth, and the world desperately needed him.
 
Each day was a gloomy cloud of night.  The darkness of death's shadow filled the earth.  Strife and quarrels multiplied without hindrance.  The heart of every human only conceived evil.  In fact, "every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5).  It actually was so bad that the detoxification of wickedness meant the complete de-creation of the world. God would start all over, if not for this one son.
 
They called him Noah.
 
The First Remnant
 
Long before the sons of Adam knew there would be a captive Israel (or even an Israel at all), there was a lonely exile from Eden to mourn.  They knew they needed a Savior.  And the story in Genesis 5 makes it clear that the birth of Noah was full of this hope.
 
Beginning in Genesis 3:15, all eyes are on this coming offspring of a woman.  This is the one who will crush the serpent and reverse the curse.  Then Adam and Eve had two sons and the hope intensifies, until Cain murdered Abel and set off to build a metropolis of wicked progeny (Genesis 4:17-24).  But Adam had another son, Seth, which inspired Eve's significant commentary: "God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him" (Genesis 4:25).  "Seth then also had a son and at that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord" (Genesis 4:26).
 
This is a remnant, right here at the start.
 
There is a bloodline from Adam "created in the likeness of God and producing offspring in that likeness" all of which live within a wicked world (Genesis 5:1, 3).
 
This One Shall Bring Relief
 
If we pay careful attention to the details in Genesis, we see a pattern develop in Adam's ancestors.  Sons are born, live long lives, father more sons, and then die.  The rhythm is interrupted only once with the profile of Enoch, who didn't die because he "walked with God" (Genesis 5:24).
 
And then, ten generations from Adam, the focus is on a certain son named Noah.  His birth, like Seth's, inspires significant commentary.  Lamech said of him, "Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands" (Genesis 5:29).
 
Don't miss what's said here.  A son has come to heal the curse.  One scholar says it's striking, "particularly the link between the birth of a son and relief from the curse of the land" (Stephen Dempster, Dominion and Dynasty, page 71).  Make no mistake about it, Noah is the one first looked to as the Savior promised in Genesis 3:15.
 
Among all the wickedness, Noah grew to find favor with the Lord (Genesis 6:7-8).  He was a righteous man, blameless in his generation, and like Enoch, he "walked with God" (Genesis 6:9; 7:1).  Also like Enoch, he was spared from death when everything around him wasn't.  The flood destroyed the entire earth, except Noah and those in the ark (Genesis 7:23).
 
The future of all mankind rested on this one, this blameless son.  Finally, he had arrived.  Finally, the son had come...until he fell, eerily similar to the first Adam, in a garden vineyard (Genesis 9:20).  He was given the same commission as the first Adam, like the first creation:  "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" (Genesis 8:17; 9:1, 7).  But also similar to the first Adam, and to the chosen nation after him, Noah crumbled in the face of temptation.  Hopes were dashed, and the biblical storyline was just getting started.
 
The Truly Righteous
 
Years would pass, more sons would be born, and the anticipation would rise and fall from Abraham to his two sons, then one; from Isaac to his two sons, then one; from Jacob to his twelve sons, then one, who was called Judah (Genesis 49:10). And throughout the most unlikely circumstances, against the backdrop of slavery and rescue and idolatry and law and conquest and more idolatry and judgment and monarchy and more idolatry and judgment and exile, the smoldering wick of our hope was never quenched.
 
Another son like Noah appeared, a son of man in that same lineage, but more, he was also the Son of God.  His birth inspired significant commentary as well, not merely from his parents, but from a whole multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men!" (Luke 2:14).
 
They Called Him Jesus
 
But unlike Noah, and the first Adam, and everyone else, this son didn't fail. He looked the tempter himself in the face and prevailed in faithfulness.  He was the truly righteous, the wholly blameless.  Here, at last, was the promised offspring of Genesis 3:15, the Dayspring from on High, the Desire of the nations, who was sent by God to conquer the curse not by escaping death, but by defeating it, which he did not by fleeing the waters of judgment in an arc, but by becoming the arc himself and plunging into the darkness.
 
Jesus became the curse for us to disperse the clouds of night.  He died in our place to put to flight death's shadow.  And on the third day, he was raised from the dead to give us vict'ry o'er the grave.  Immanuel has come!  God-with-us has come!
 
And so we rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel has come!