Daily Prayer Guide – Sunday, Nov 29

Genesis 3:8-15
8 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  9 But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”  10 He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”  11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”  12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.”  13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”  14 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.  15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

It’s a tragic scene. Humans that we are, we receive the gifts of life, freedom, and relationship from God, but just can’t shake the tendency to throw it all away. The first human impulse after knowingly disobeying God’s wise instruction is to hide, in shame and fear. As the consequences of that infamous bad decision play out, God addresses all three parties in turn, first of all the serpent (Gen 3:14-15). We find exactly what we would expect: God speaks a message of justice. The serpent will suffer a fate of humiliation for what he has done (“eating dust” is a sign of subjugation and defeat, see Micah 7:17), but the last sentence of God’s message (Gen 3:15) contains a shocking surprise. He speaks of two lineages that will descend from this scene. The serpent’s destructive influence will continue to spread through his “offspring.” These are not baby snakes, but a way of speaking about those will act like the serpent, subverting and rebelling against God’s wise order and rule. On the other hand, the “offspring” of the woman will “strike the head” of the serpent: a fatal and crushing blow. At the same time, this descendant of the woman will himself suffer a blow to his heel at the very moment he destroys the serpent. Jewish and Christian readers alike have long seen in these words the promise of a coming deliverer, one who will reverse the work of the serpent, and ultimately destroy him. These are words of promise, of hope and deliverance, buried right here among words of judgment against the serpent. As we begin the advent season, let’s remember that it is this promise that found its fulfillment in Bethlehem some 2000 years ago.

This should tell us something about God. Even in the midst of tragic judgment, he cannot help but leave hope for a future blessing. Redemption out of ruin. Hope out of hopelessness. And so the Story begins…

Notice how the promise of salvation emerges out the darkest moments of the human story. Have you seen God work in this way in your own story? How has God used your own pain and hardship in redemptive ways?

– Maybe you are in the midst of hardship and confusion right now. Take that to God.

– Ask for help to embrace it. Ask for hope. Ask for eyes to see how he could use this hardship in ways you never expected.

– Speak out loud aspects of God’s character that can offer hope in the midst of your own hardship, or perhaps of someone you know.

Written by Tim Mackie

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