Due to public health efforts to contain COVID-19, the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum are temporarily closed until April 20 or later.
Since the beginning of time, God has had a plan. He knew that we would fall into sin, defying Him as our Creator. But despite our rejection, He loved us and created a plan to bring us back into relationship with Him.
In fact, when Adam and Eve, the first people on earth, rebelled against God, He immediately provided a glimpse of hope when he told the serpent who had deceived Eve:
“And 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)
Theologians call this verse the “Protoevangelium” or “first gospel.” It is the first prophecy of Jesus who would, in a spiritual sense, crush the serpent (or more appropriately Satan who is influencing the serpent), which He did through the Cross. Whereas the serpent (or Satan behind him) would only bruise Christ’s heel, the one who is a seed of the woman will bruise the serpent’s head (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).
Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are the culmination of that promise and God’s awesome plan. He is the promised Seed (offspring) of Eve who would defeat Satan. Throughout history leading up to Jesus’ birth, God gradually revealed more and more details of the plan through His prophets. Indeed, He orchestrated many events in history in order to fulfill His promise. The Old Testament of the Bible is the record of these prophecies and events. Jesus is God’s ultimate answer to the sin that was brought into the world by Adam! Jesus is even called “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45). Whereas Adam brought death to all the world, in Jesus we can have eternal life in Heaven:
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)
But how could Jesus rescue humanity from the evil that is now in the world? Jesus Christ the Creator, though totally sinless (Hebrews 4:15), suffered—on behalf of mankind—the penalty of mankind’s sin, which is death and separation from God. He did this to satisfy the righteous demands of the holiness and justice of God, His Father, because of His love for us. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice; He died on a cross, but on the third day, He rose again, conquering death, so that all who truly believe in Him through repentance of sin and faith in Him (rather than their own merit) are able to come back to God and live for eternity with their Creator.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God (John 3:16–18).
What a wonderful Savior—and what a wonderful free gift of salvation in Christ our loving Creator who came to save us, even though we, as mankind, were the ones to mess it up in the first place!
If you want to know more of what the Bible says about how you can receive eternal life, please contact us or find a local Bible-believing church and ask their pastor for help.
If you haven’t been to the Creation Museum before, you may wonder what Christmas has to do with creation. Creation is described in Genesis; the birth of Jesus is in the Gospels. You may think the Creation Museum is about scientific evidences and Genesis, and Christmas is about the “warm and fuzzy” stuff of Christianity—specifically the birth of Christ. Actually, you might be surprised.
The New Testament makes it very clear that Jesus is the Creator (John 1:1–3; Colossians 1:16–17; Hebrews 1:2, 8–12; 1 Corinthians 8:6). The Gospel of John opens with:
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 nothing was made that was made.
Colossians 1:16 states:
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
The wonder of Christmas is that the Creator Himself became human and that He entered the world so humbly, as a little baby who would be laid in a feeding trough for animals. As John puts it, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
What is surprising for many first-time museum visitors is that the Creation Museum is really about Jesus. Sure, scientific explanations are presented throughout the museum, but the account of Jesus’s life and death is the culmination of the museum presentation. In the Last Adam theater, we meet Mary, who tells of the angel appearing to her with the news that she would give birth to the Son of God. Then the story dramatically unfolds as His purpose in coming, as the sacrificial Lamb of God, is revealed.
The entire story from creation through Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection must be told to share the true history—His Story—of God’s plan of salvation. This is what the museum is all about—we are not just on about creation, but we want to see people won to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
When we read the Word of God or any other account of events in another time and place, it is very difficult for us to picture a world so extremely different from our own. We tend to use the words to paint a mental picture with a familiar setting. This is only natural. So, when the Western world reads Luke 2:7:
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
We naturally picture a stable or barn—because of the manger. After all, mangers are found in stables in our world; so, this seems very reasonable. We might even picture a cave if we stretch our imaginations a bit.
However, when the Creation Museum team, began to dig a little deeper into the text, the culture, and the archaeological research related to Christ’s birth, we found that our preconceived notions may have gotten the better of us in this case.
First let’s look at the “inn.” The Greek word that is sometimes translated inn is kataluma. The word can also mean “guest room.” In fact, Luke uses the same word when referring to the guest room where Jesus and His disciples shared the Passover. Keep this alternate translation in mind as we talk about the culture and archaeology surrounding these events.
In first century Palestine (in fact, even today in the Middle East), family heritage and hospitality were very highly valued. Joseph probably had relatives living there who would be deeply offended if he did not seek shelter in their homes. Even if he did not have friends or family in Bethlehem, Joseph would be welcomed as family because of his ancestors—being a descendant of David, he would be at home in the town of David. The family ties are enough to ensure that Joseph and Mary would have been taken in, but we can be even more certain because of Mary’s condition. The idea of any woman who is ready to give birth being left out in the elements—with no assistance—would have been unthinkable to the residents of Bethlehem at that time.
Archaeology will also help us better understand what actually took place that first Christmas. First-century homes in the Judean hill country have been excavated and studied. They were often in caves or built on caves, and many homes had levels or terraces. They often had an upper room that served as a guest chamber and a raised area in the lower level where the family lived and ate their meals. The lowest level of the home is where the animals would be brought in at night, perhaps four feet lower than the family room.
The idea of having farm animals sleep in the house may seem strange to us, but for a peasant family in first-century Bethlehem, it was perfectly natural. They did not think about it or try to make sense of it; they just did it. The animals would be led out first thing in the morning, and then the lower level would be cleaned.
Even as recently as the 20th century, many Eastern homes had built-in mangers for the animals that were brought in at night. To a person of this culture, the statement “laid him in a manger” would immediately bring to mind an image of the family room and the manger that is found there, often along the edge of the lowest level where the animals slept. A built-in, stone manger would serve quite well as a temporary crib.
As we consider all of this information, we are compelled to paint a new picture in our minds’ eyes of the circumstances of Jesus’ birth. Joseph and Mary sought shelter, probably among relatives, but because the guest room was full because of the census, they may have slept in the family room, which was perfectly natural in that culture. In fact, many homes had only one room where everyone slept, and privacy was not valued like it is in our world.
Luke says, “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered” (Luke 2:6). So, at some time during their stay (not on the night of their arrival in Bethlehem), Jesus was born—probably in a humble peasant home—and laid in a manger in the home.
While not a stable, a peasant home is a far cry from Herod’s palace—visible from Bethlehem—which would be thought to be a more fitting place for the birth of a king. We may want to cling to long-held traditions like the stable scene, which is often depicted in nativities and Christmas plays, but if He actually was born in a peasant home, then that would mean that is how God Himself planned it. It shows His divine care for Mary and Joseph in how He provided adequate shelter and support from caring individuals during their time of need. It also shows the humility that Christ willingly took on, making it so that no one should feel beneath Him because of economic class or social status. His Story, or history, is beautiful just the way it was, and we should try to see it as accurately as possible so we can understand the full meaning of God’s Word.