With Christmas upon us, naturally I have been thinking a lot about the Christ child, the promised Messiah and Savior of the world.
Contrary to popular belief, or American Commercialism, this is the entire reason for the season. As I have been meditating on how a tiny babe could change this world forever, I was struck with the fact that the Israelite nation had been waiting hundreds, if not thousands of years for their promised Savior to finally arrive on the scene.
The nation of Israel had waited four hundred years between the Old Testament prophets and when John the Baptist graced the world with his presence, right before Jesus made his debut! Not to mention the hundreds of years prior where there had been prophecy after prophecy that there would be a coming Messiah.
The very reality of Mary has always been dear to my heart. A young girl estimated to be about fourteen, finding favor with God and being chosen to carry the promise. Crazy to think about her faith and courage, her ability to trust God in the midst of such a calling! Knowing full well it would mean a lifetime of being rejected and misunderstood, that her child would forever be called a bastard and she a whore, she still accepted that call.
Even thinking about a natural pregnancy and how parents wait in hopeful expectation for their child- the fruit of their love for each other… Christ was the very embodiment of God’s love for us, divinity in flesh. This story is so much bigger than any of us could ever fully begin to comprehend!
I think the traditional carol, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” sums it up well, as it walks through various aspects of what the Bible speaks of from 40 years in the wilderness, revealing His glory on Mount Sinai. He spelled out the law for His people to point the way to the Savior to remind us of our need for the Christ. Then, again with David, the promise of his decedent that would never leave the throne. Prophecy after prophecy told of a man who would come to save us, a child born to die, as redeemer and recompense for our failings.
As the words ring out in their hauntingly beautiful melody:
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel
O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel
So what does this say about our God? It speaks volumes about his faithfulness and His perfect timing. This profound truth of advent reveals that God has had a plan all along, from the very beginning.
Mary didn’t just wait for her baby, Israel was awaiting their Messiah and the world awaited their Savior. God always fulfills His promises in His timing, in spite of the fact that we are constantly trying to make these promises happen in our own ways, how and when we think they should happen.
As I ponder the message of Christmas once again this year, I not only ponder what the birth of Christ meant then, but more importantly what does mean to us now? These promises that God set in motion from the foundations of the earth are still in effect today. Jesus is still the Savior and Lord over two thousand years after He walked the earth in human form.
This year as I reflect on the promises of God, I am deeply encouraged by the hope that the Advent of Christ brings. Not only that the promised salvation for the world came in the form of a humble and vulnerable baby, but that it meant salvation for me. I am continuing to believe that it will mean Salvation for my family and other loved ones as well.
Thinking of the hundreds of other promises God has given me, no matter how great or small, the fact that God showed up, and fulfilled every prophecy about the coming Messiah, gives me reason enough to trust in his faithfulness in my life as well.
Lately I have been reminded of these promises. I think I am realizing more than ever how scary it is to dream, it’s scary to place our futures in someone else’s hands. On top of all that–patience is hard! Waiting can hurt. But it is all part of a process. Growth takes time, and yes it can be painful. We learn so much during that time.
I think part of the reason Christ entered this world as an infant and allowed Mary to carry Him in her womb was to give us a picture of that waiting period, not to mention the painful birthing process, labor pains and all. The dream and promise of God given to the Holy Virgin must have been hard for her, and all of Israel, to trust that God meant what He said. How much more so, to patiently wait upon the Lord to see the fruit of that promise?
But as Mary soon learned through the process of carrying this child, God will move when He is ready, when He knows that moment is perfect! He arrived when the world was finally at peace, after hundreds of years of war and exile, although Israel was still under oppression, there was not a single war on the earth at that time! Often times what God is doing in the spirit, will be made manifest in the natural. So in the moment of the birth of Jesus, born as a helpless babe, everything that Christ was, and is, and would become in His ministry on the Earth was revealed.
God was faithful to fulfill his promise. Not only the promise made to Mary as individual, but the promises made to His people. And God will keep His promises to us, even if it takes four hundred years. I know the Lord will do what He said He will do.
As it says in 2 Peter 3:8-9
“Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow about His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
Yes waiting is hard, it is often times painful, but it is then we know that our dreams and the promise that God has given us matter. It wouldn’t hurt if we didn’t care, and often times the pain shows us that we are alive, that we are real and that we can feel. If a promise is important to us we will not give up that easily, we will cling to that hope until the end.
God has never once failed us, nor has He ever once given up on us, in spite of the thousands of times we might have deserved it. He is faithful. So even now, as we celebrate this birth of the Messiah, we continue to wait, in hopeful expectation, for the birth of each promise that has ever been conceived in our hearts. For we know in the right time, we will see the birth of these promises fulfilled.
“We eagerly await a Savior… the Lord Jesus Christ.”