Several have expressed appreciation for the sequence of scriptures read on Christmas Eve. Below are the readings and references for your personal study and reflection.
Creation and Fall
(Genesis 1:1-4, 26-27, 31, 2:22-25, 16-17, 3:4-6, Romans 1:22-25, Genesis 3:7, Romans 8:20, Genesis 6:5, 3:5)
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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.” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope. Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Then the Lord God said to the serpent “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
History of Israel
(Genesis 12:1-3, 15:5-6, 1 Chronicles 1:34, Psalm 105:24-25, 27, 42-45, Micah 6:4, Psalm 78:10-11, 41, Jeremiah 3:6-7, 9, Hosea 4:12, 5:4, Romans 3:9-12, 23)
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
And Abraham became the father of Isaac. The sons of Isaac were Esau and Israel. Then Israel came to Egypt; Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham. And the LORD made his people very fruitful and made them stronger than their foes. He sent Moses, his servant, and Aaron, whom he had chosen. They performed his signs among them and miracles in the land of Ham. Then the Lord brought Israel from the land of Egypt and redeemed them from the house of slavery. For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham, his servant. So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing. And he gave them the lands of the nations, and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples' toil, that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws.
But they did not keep God’s covenant, and refused to walk according to his law. They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them. They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
Then the LORD said to Jeremiah in the days of Josiah the king, “Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there. “I thought, ‘After she has done all these things she will return to Me’; but she did not return. She polluted the land and committed adultery with stones and trees.” For a spirit of harlotry has led them astray, and they have played the harlot, departing from their God. Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, and they do not know the LORD.
What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
(Jeremiah 31:31-34, Exodus 34:6-7, Romans 5:20-21)
“Behold, the days are coming”, declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people; they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
For I am “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Isaiah 11:1-2, 9:2, 7:14, 9:6-7, Micah 5:2-5, Isaiah 52:13-15)
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, and he will save his people from their sins. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.
Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— so shall he sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.
(Luke 1:26-35, 37-38)
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.
Birth of Christ
(Matthew 1:18, Luke 2:1-14)
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
(John 1:1-5, 14, 16, Hebrews 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-17, 19, Philippians 2:6-7)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell
Though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
(1 Timothy 1:15, Philippians 2:8, Romans 5:8, 1 Peter 2:22-24, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Acts 2:24,3:19, 17:30-31, Romans 10:9-11, John 1:29, Acts 16:31)
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree. For our sake God the Father made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, he was buried, and he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. Now God commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.