Birth announcements have come a long way.  In my day, you didn’t routinely know the gender of your baby.  Fathers weren’t allowed in the delivery room.  The doctor would come to the maternity waiting room, and announce, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!”

Now ultrasounds are routine, and the majority of couples opt to know their baby’s gender.

But you can’t simply tell people you’re having a boy or a girl.  O no; that wouldn’t be classy.  Not in today’s social media culture.

You need to come up with a creative way to reveal your baby’s gender, using something blue or pink.

There are balloons filled with either blue or pink confetti, that you pop at a gender-reveal party.
Sticking with balloons, you can hide a blue or pink helium balloon in a box, then open it to reveal your baby’s gender.
There are color-changing gender-reveal sugar cubes, that turn water blue or pink when dropped into a glass.
You can make a dessert with either blue or pink filling, and when your guests bite into it, they know what you’re having.
Gender-reveal PlayDough starts out white, but turns blue or pink as you play with it.
I saw one couple, on Pinterest, blow two different color bubbles, one blue, one pink; then the wife burst the husband’s bubble, revealing that they were having a pink.
Mistakes are easily made.  One couple had their doctor give them two sealed envelopes with the baby’s gender inside.  Even they did not yet know the gender.  The couple kept one for themselves and dropped the other off at a local bakery where they ordered a cake for the reveal party.  The bakery was supposed to fill the inside of the cake with blue icing if the card said “boy,” and pink icing if it said “girl.”

After hours of celebrating the cake-reveal, the couple opened their envelope.  The bakery had gotten it wrong.

When would you say the very first birth announcement was made?

Genesis 4:1 would be a good guess, where you read, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the LORD.”

Good guess, but not what I’m going for.

The very first birth announcement was a few verses earlier.  After Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, God came, seeking them, and He told them what He was going to do to resolve their sin, and the chaos it inspired.

In the middle of addressing Adam and Eve, He turned to the serpent who had tempted Eve, and said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15).

The promised Seed of Eve was the very first birth announcement.    It let her, and us, know that she was going to have a very special child.

It wasn’t Cain.  It wasn’t his brother, Abel.  In fact, it wasn’t anyone born from Eve’s womb, but a far-future descendant.

Good thing Pinterest wasn’t around at the time of this announcement.  Adam and Eve would have made a Board called God’s Crush on Satan.  The visual would have been disturbing, to say the least.  The picture of the future Seed crushing the serpent’s head, with His bare heel, and suffering a lethal injury as a result of it; well, it’s not rated PG.

It is, however, rated Good News, because it is the way God would resolve the sin of Adam and Eve, and of their descendants, once and for all.

BTW – Studies have been conducted that show, scientifically, that most human beings have an inexplicable innate aversion to snakes.  Most of us are wired to fear them.  The researchers chalk it up to evolution, but I say it’s hereditary.  We got it from our parents in Eden.

I want us to see three things in this birth announcement.  First, we see the reason for the birth of Jesus Christ.  Genesis 3:15 is Christmas in the Old Testament – or at the very least the promise of Christmas.

In Genesis 3, there is no explanation of the phrase “the Seed of the woman.”  It is singular, so the Seed is to be understood as an individual whose appearance would be some time in the future.
The identity of the serpent isn’t in question.  It’s Satan, who we read about later in the Bible as “that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan…” (Revelation 20:2).

With the benefit of history, and the Bible, we know Who crushed Satan in His coming to earth.  The Seed is a reference to Jesus Christ.  He is the Person being promised.

We like to say, Jesus is the reason for the season.  It would be less poetic, but more accurate, to say Sin is the reason for the season.

Long before the herald angels sang, and the shepherds heard of their Savior’s birth away in the manger in the little town of Bethlehem on that silent night bringing joy to the world, Jesus’ birth was dramatically announced.

The announcement that Jesus would be born was God’s response to Adam and Eve’s epic fail to obey Him.

Gen 2:15  Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.
Gen 2:16  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;
Gen 2:17  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

My take on this is that, in order to be made in the image of God and to express genuine love, Adam and Eve must have free will to choose.  Forced love is not love.

Adrian Rogers explained it this way:
Forced love is a contradiction in terms.  Forced love is not love at all.  In order to love, we must be free to love, to choose to love, and to choose to love, we have to be able to choose not to love. And so God gave us perfect choice.  Adam chose in the Garden of Eden, and the sons of Adam after him, to sin, and that’s where the heart-ache, and the groan and the moan come from.

Adam and Eve disobeyed God.  The immediate result was the first episode of Naked & Afraid.  They tried to cover their sin and shame with fig leaves, but it was to no avail.  God had to slay an animal, most likely a lamb, maybe two, in order to provide skins to cover them.

It was symbolic of their need to have their sin ‘covered’ by the death of an innocent substitute.  The future Seed, Jesus, would be that Substitute, dying on the Cross as God’s final sacrificial Lamb, to cover the sins of anyone and everyone who would believe in Him.

The consequences of their sin were severe.  Look at the world around you, with all its enmity and evil.  It is the result of the sin of our first parents, and their expulsion from Eden.

Their sin is passed on to us.  We are all born spiritually dead, separated from God, with a sin nature.

I’ve said before that God was the first, “first responder.”  He rushed in to the horrible situation Adam and Eve found themselves in, to save them.

Maybe you don’t think of yourself as a sinner.  Ask yourself, “Am I as good and as perfect as God?”  That is the impossible standard you must achieve if you have any hope of Heaven after death.
You’re not perfect; all of us fall short, and therefore all are sinners.  We need a sinless Person to ‘cover’ for us – to come and take our place, take our penalty.  That Person is Jesus.

Sin is the reason for the season, but what does the birth announcement reveal?

The Seed of a woman is an unusual way to describe a child. Normally we would think of the seed coming from the male.  This birth was going to be different.

As we read the Old Testament, we see that the Seed would be God come in human flesh, born of a virgin.  Here is the prophecy: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

Immanuel means God with us.  The Seed, Jesus, would be God in human flesh.

Fast forward from Isaiah to the first century.  The Gospel of Matthew explains, as best we can comprehend, how the Holy Spirit came upon Mary, and formed Jesus in her womb.

The fact that Jesus is both God and man is very important for us. As a human who shares in our human weaknesses, He knows what it is like to be human and tempted and is therefore able to represent us in the presence of the Father where he pleads to Him for us.  Because he is fully God, He is able to show us what God is like; but more important because Jesus is God, He is able to pay for our sins and reconcile our relationship with God.

First announced in Eden, the angels announced to the shepherds tending their flocks that the Savior was indeed born.

The entire Old Testament fills in the blanks between the birth announcement in Genesis and the birth in the first century.

We’ve come to our third point – the result of this birth.  After living in relative obscurity for thirty years, Jesus burst onto the scene and did battle with the Serpent.  He defeated the devil out in the wilderness, not succumbing to Satan’s temptations.

Satan countered with an absolute invasion of demons.  After not possessing anyone, at least anyone recorded, for some four thousand years of Old Testament history, it seems like demonic possession in Israel was epidemic.

Jesus cast them out – sometimes one at a time, sometimes seven at a time, one time an entire legion.  He healed all manner of sickness and disease, and He commanded the winds and the seas and they obeyed Him.

Listen to these words from the Book of Hebrews.  They put into perspective the Lord’s crushing of Satan.

Heb 2:14  Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
Heb 2:15  and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

And this, from First John 3:8:

1Jn 3:8  He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

As we painfully and sorrowfully learned just recently, first responders put themselves at great risk.  They risk, and sometimes give, their very lives.

As the first responder promised in Eden, Jesus would give His life, willingly, for the human race.  Satan would be crushed, but the Lord would die in the process.

His suffering and death upon the cross was the means by which the head of Satan was crushed and his works destroyed forever.

Death could not hold Jesus.  He rose from the dead; He is alive forevermore.  His life, death, and resurrection from the dead fulfill God’s promise at His birth announcement.  Jesus was our Substitute, the final sacrifice.  He took our sin upon Himself; He offers us His righteousness in exchange.  Believing on Him, we are saved.

I know what some of you are thinking.  If Satan is crushed, why is there so much enmity and evil in the world?  Where is the victory?

This question, about why God allows suffering, is the one that most people stumble over.  It gets asked, in different ways, on TV, in the movies, and in literature.  Mostly those asked to give an answer are stopped in their tracks and made to look foolish, as if faith in God was indefensible.

My first reaction is to counter with a question, and that is, “What is your explanation for suffering?”
Then a follow-up question: “If you eliminate the God of the Bible, are you going to be better off, or worse off, regarding the problem of pain?”

You’re going to be worse off – much, much worse – with no viable explanation, and therefore no hope.

God rushed in to save us.  He responded immediately.  It took some time to develop, due to the nature of the problem.  But He came, as promised.

First responders can’t always get to the victims as quickly as they’d like.  The collapse of the San José Mine on August 5, 2010, became international news, as 33 men were trapped underground for 69 days, battling starvation and hopelessness as the world waited anxiously for news of their rescue.  Geno related their story on Wednesday night, and it’s a story of real faith, as those men put their faith in God.

My point is this: Do we criticize the responders, who worked day and night to rescue them?  No; we recognize the extreme difficulty of the rescue, and we applaud them.

Rescuing the human race, buried by sin, and in total darkness, was no easy response.  For one thing, the people needing rescue don’t admit it, and won’t acknowledge it.  They want to remain in sin, and in darkness.

But God persisted through human history – even as Satan constantly tried to thwart the Seed by killing those through whom He was promised to be born.

Nevertheless, Jesus was born – right on time.  He defeated Satan once and for all on the Cross.

In His Second Coming, He will have the devil bound, and incarcerated in a pit called the Abyss.

Finally, Jesus will confine Satan and his demons to the Lake of Fire where they will experience eternal conscious torment.

What’s He waiting for?  Maybe… You.

If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, you need to understand that when the Lord acts to end human suffering, you will be lost forever, and will perish.

The only place for you will be that same Lake of Fire where you, too, will experience eternal conscious torment.

Yes, terrible, awful, evil things are happening every minute of every day Jesus delays.  We attribute His waiting to His longsuffering, which means He is not willing that you perish, but rather that you come to know Him as your Savior.

He’s coming.  He could come at any moment.  Nothing needs to happen before the Lord resurrects the dead in Christ, and raptures living believers, taking us home to Heaven.

We seem to be fascinated with a person who is the ‘last’ of his or her kind.  The Last of the Mohicans… The Last Samurai… The Last Airbender… The Last Emperor…

There is going to be The Last Christian – at least from the standpoint of Jesus coming for His church.
If you’re not saved, it could be you; it could be now.

If it’s someone else, and you’re left behind, there will still be opportunities to be saved.  But evangelists like to ask the question, “If you can’t live for Jesus now, how will you die for Him later?”

Let’s do a quick roll call.  I want you to raise your hand if you’re saved; if you’re born-again; if you know that you’ll be taken, not left behind, when Jesus comes.

If you couldn’t honestly raise your hand… God’s longsuffering waits for you, but why wait?

Come to the Lord.