The Greatest Promise Ever Kept
A Christmas Meditation
by Sarah Jinright
December 12, 2012
Scripture Reading: Matthew 1
“But Mom! You PROMISED!” Have your children ever said this to you? Much to our chagrin, our children often remind us of our own words. Then, we are inclined to act on promises made foolishly and casually—sometimes, so much so, that we say something like this: “I don't remember even talking to you about that!”
Do you ever get to a genealogy in Scripture and become bored? I've been guilty of this many times; however this year, when I read over Matthew 1, I was struck by the scope of time that these genealogies represented.
God promised Abraham that through his future generations, the redeemer would be born, and all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Abraham waited almost 20 years for the son of that promise. Then the wait for Christ the Redeemer began. Abraham lived long enough to see Isaac have twin sons. Isaac lived long enough to meet Jacob's 12 sons. Jacob lived long enough to bless Joseph's sons who had been born in Egypt.
The promise then passed through 400 years of slavery, through the years of wilderness wanderings, through the years of prophets and judges, and finally to King David. At that time, the promise was renewed, when God promised David that the throne would never pass from his blood line. That promise was kept in the person of Christ, but not for another 28 generations, during which time Israel passed through doubt, disobedience, and several captivities.
Often, I've wondered why Israel couldn't “just believe” God's Word and His promises, but recently I've realized that I should not be so quick to judge! Every year at Christmas time, we celebrate that “the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise . . .” Yet the saints of the Old Testament waited hundreds of years for the story that we take for granted. We never have had to a consider a winter season without remembering Mary and Joseph hovering in awe over the gift of their newborn son, or the shepherds left stunned on a hillside having just seen the sight of their dull lives, or the wise men dredging through desert sand to give gifts to a King that was prophesied by a star.
I'm reminded of a story I loved as a child—The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe—in which C.S. Lewis wrote that Narnia had become a land where it was “always winter but never Christmas.”The Israelites lived through life times of winters that had no Christmases, and they were fallible in their ability to believe through a long period of waiting. They're not so different from us, are they?
The good news is that God is God, and He never changes! Hebrew 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” We may forget God's promises, but He never does, no matter how much time passes.
Hebrews 11:13 gives this shining report of the Old Testament saints, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.”
As these men and women looked FORWARD with faith in God's promises, may we look BACK and take note of how God has faithfully kept his promise through the gift of His Son. Having received the “new promise,” may we move ahead, trusting that God will continue to keep His promises to us every single day!