Deuteronomy 31:16-18 And the LORD said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your fathers, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. On that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and difficulties will come upon them, and on that day they will ask, ‘Have not these disasters come upon us because our God is not with us?’ And I will certainly hide my face on that day because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods.”
These are sad and moving words the LORD gave to Moses as his Chosen Covenant People were preparing to enter the ‘Land flowing with milk and honey’ that he had promised them and their descendants. ‘Sad’, because the all-knowing, Sovereign Creator knew exactly what would happen when they settled there, and ‘moving’, because he loved them so much and longed for them to enjoy his abundant blessings that could be theirs if they would walk in his ways.
But ever since our rebellion in the Garden of Eden, it’s always been the same old story. In the time of Noah, “the LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5), so he sent the flood. Then in the time of Jeremiah, after they had occupied the Promised Land for less than a millennium, Jeremiah would write, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
It is not surprising, then, that the Sovereign LORD would have had a plan to rescue us from ourselves right from the very beginning – a plan that would be based on his mercy and grace alone, and not on anything that depended on us. So the promise he gave to our disobedient ancestors in the Garden of Eden was hinting at this very thing: that the ‘seed of the woman’ (Christ) would ‘crush the head of the serpent (Satan), and in the process would ‘strike his [own] heel’ (Genesis 3:15). The conquering of Satan would not be without suffering. Adam and Eve’s attempt to cover their sinful condition with fig-leaves was futile, so God shed the blood of an animal to make them clothes.
So right from the very beginning God was setting up the framework for his solution to our problem. From this 3rd chapter of Genesis, the remainder of the whole Old Testament is the ongoing story of our complete inability to meet God’s requirements for blessing because of our deaf ears, blind eyes and stubborn hearts, and therefore of our need of his grace and mercy to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. In the New Testament we find that he has exercised this grace and mercy that the OT so persistently anticipates, and that he has done this in the Life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our only hope of rescue, then, is to put all our faith and trust in him, and in nothing else. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand, all other ground is sinking sand” (Edward Mote).
– Bruce Christian