The God Who Keeps His Promise

Journey to Jesus Advent cover

The God Who Keeps His Promise

“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?” Numbers 23:19

The Promise Keeper

For years, the priest Zechariah, carried the heavy burden of Israel’s longing for promised rescue with him as he performed his temple duties. Was freedom from the oppressive government of the day on the horizon? Zechariah had no way of knowing at the time the extent of the transformation that God would bring through His coming incarnation.

Zechariah also waited for another promise of God to be realized — one made to him and his wife, Elizabeth. They were promised a son who would make way for the coming of the promised Messiah. Zechariah struggled to believe this message to be true, so much so, he was rendered mute as a consequence and would be unable to speak until the birth of his son.

There was much rejoicing on the day of his birth, as the once barren couple received the boy with gladness — into their hearts and home. Eight days later, on the infant’s day of circumcision, the happy parents announced the child’s name. To the dismay of friends and neighbors, Elizabeth declared he would not be named after his father but would be called John — which means “God is gracious.” The child would give knowledge of salvation to God’s people. (Luke 1:77)

And Zechariah, in agreement, scrawled on his writing tablet, “His name is John.” Instantly, his speech returned and he blessed God. What began as a consequence of Zechariah’s lack of belief becomes a sign that God is coming with transforming grace. And Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied in song.

Scripture Reading: Luke 1:68-79 (ESV)

THE SONG OF ZECHARIAH


68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horne of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.


76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Reflection:

What exactly was the promise God was actively fulfilling through the birth of John and Jesus?

It was a promise as old as the original garden, made to Adam and Eve after the serpent deceived them and death entered the equation for all humankind. In Genesis 3:15, God promised to send an offspring that would crush the head of the serpent and restore life to those that now knew death because of sin.

We see this promise echoed throughout the Old Testament. To Abraham, God swore in a blood covenant that it would be so (Genesis 15). To King David came His assurance that through his offspring, God’s house would be built, and a savior and king would come to rule and reign (2 Samuel 7). And Isaiah prophesied of the promised seed too.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Through this promised seed, God’s people would have a place of rest, forever, under a good and loving King. He would be the one through whom all could enter Sabbath rest for eternity (Exodus 23:10-12). The promised seed would be the great and final High Priest offering His own body and blood for the atonement of sins (Exodus 28-29), initiate a new covenant made with His blood, written on the hearts of His people (Jeremiah 31).

His incarnation would usher in a salvation deeper than politics and reach far beyond the Jewish community. The end of the daily grind of the priests of Israel was near. The book of Hebrews says this work, required by the law, was only a shadow of good things to come (Hebrews 10). Jesus, the coming deliverer of salvation, would bring what all people needed – a once and for all blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. Through Jesus – alone – this work would be – forever finished.

Prayer of Hope:

Advent Prayer for Hope in Christ’s Coming

God our Father,
you loved the world so much
you gave your only Son to free us
from the ancient power of sin and death.
Help us who wait for his coming
and lead us to true liberty.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
your Son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Amen

Author Unknown

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