The Book of Promises
The Bible is sometimes called the Book of Promises. And at Advent we look to a promise fulfilled: the promise of the Messiah, a Savior, whose birth we anticipate throughout Advent and celebrate on Christmas.
The Promise of Messiah
The Old Testament scriptures promised a Messiah. Some of the prophecies or promises included that the Messiah would be …
- heir to throne of David Isaiah 9.2-7 and so Matthew begins his Gospel, and the NT begins, with the geneology of Jesus, “the son of David, the son of Abraham …”
- offspring of a woman Genesis 3.15
- offspring of Abraham Genesis 18.18
- descend from the tribe of Judah Genesis 49.10
- born of a virgin, Isaiah 7.14, and so Matthew and Luke both tell of the virgin birth of Jesus
- born in Bethlehem Micah 5.2
- born at a particular time Daniel 9.25
- escape into Egypt Hosea 11.1
For 100s of years the people of Israel looked for a Messiah, they awaited a Savior, and prophecy after prophecy given throughout the Old Testament, promise after promise, was fulfilled in the birth, and even more in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Lee Strobel tells of one Jewish man’s (Lapides) discovery of the Old Testament prophecies. He was given a Bible by a Christian, so it contained both the Old and New Testaments. He responded that he would read the Old, but he had much mistrust for the New (he actually thought it contained anti-Semitic material.) He found scripture after scripture pointing to Jesus as Christ. When he read Isaiah 53, about the suffering of Christ, he was convinced that this was Jesus of Nazareth. But hew he went on to say that he believed the Gentiles had altered the scriptures, so he requested a Jewish Bible from his step-mom, and it said the same thing! (from "The Case for Christmas")
A promise is an important thing. The word promise is a weighty word. I don’t use that word much anymore, but when we were kids we used it. When a promise was made it was to assure that one would keep their word, or one would follow through on an action.
Have you ever had a promise broken? Have you ever had someone you thought you could rely on, someone you thought you could trust, let you down or maybe say something that hurt. A promise broken can pierce the heart.
In pre-marital counseling we talk about not saying things to one another in anger: not accusing, never saying, “I don’t love you” or “I hate you.” Those words sting, they penetrate to the core. And once they are said you can’t take them back. It takes a lot to heal and recover from those words.
Why? Because they were said by someone who promised their love to you. They promised to love you unconditionally, forever, no matter what. You opened your heart up to this person. This is the person you are the most vulnerable to. And they have broken their promise.
God’s Promises Can Be Trusted
Probably every human being will let you down sometime. But there is One who will never let you down … God.
1 Kings 8.56 … Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.
Luke 21.33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
See also Ezekiel 12.25; Matthew 5.18; Romans 4.16
God promised a Messiah. He gave a Messiah. He gave signs what to look for so that we would recognize the Messiah, so that there was no doubt, so that we couldn’t miss his arrival. He left enough signs that we couldn’t write him off as coincidence. Or so that someone else could claim to be him.
There are some 48 prophecies about the Messiah. I gave you just 8 about his birth. For just 8 to be fulfilled is one in one hundred million billion. That’s millions more than the total number people that have ever lived. If you covered Texas with that many silver dollars, marking just one, and blindfolded someone to wander the state, what do you think the chances are that she’d choose the one marked? “The same odds that anybody in history could have fulfilled just 8 of the prophecies.” And we have Jesus Christ fulfilling 48. (from "The Case for Christmas")
God made a promise and he made sure we didn’t miss the fulfillment of that promise.
Many are God’s Promises
God has given us many promises in his word.
Salvation: Romans 1.16
Answer to prayer: Psalm 91.15; John 15.7
Comfort of God’s presence: Isaiah 43.2
Care for sick: Psalm 41.3
Deliverance: Psalm 34.19
Protection: Psalm125.2; Luke 21.18
Temptation: 1 Corinthians 10.13
Strength: Isaiah 41.10
Wisdom: Luke 21.15; James 1.5
Power for service: John 14.12
Eternal life: 1 John 2.25
The Climactic Promise
These promises are all promises for this life, that God will be with us, that he will help us through this life. But there is a promise that is yet unfilled. A promise that goes beyond this life. This place is not our home, but we await a heavenly home.
We are promised an eternal home. John 14.1-4, 28
Advent is the season of celebrating the coming of Christ. Not only is a time to celebrate the promise fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ, God come in human flesh, but is a time to remember that Jesus will come again. And just as sure as the promise of his first coming was fulfilled, we can be assured that the promise of his second coming will be fulfilled.
Let us rejoice in the faithfulness of God’s word. Psalm 89.1-8