The thoughts behind this post started months ago when my pastor used the phrase “the promises of God” in a sermon. It was tangential to the point he was making, but I camped there, wondering which promises he meant. As I’ve thought about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is really only one promise contained in the Bible. Or maybe it’s more appropriate to say that the whole of the Bible is contained in this one promise. From the first pages to the last you will find it, voiced in different ways by a myriad of speakers, but it is always the same promise that has been whispered in our hearts since the dawn of time. It is the heart cry of God and the longing of our souls.
I will be their God and they will be my people.
The first verses of the Bible speak of when this was reality. Genesis tells us that God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before sin broke their relationship. And the rest of the Biblical narrative reveals the stubbornness of God – He refuses to let us go. God was always re-establishing His covenant with subsequent generations – Noah, Abraham, Jacob, – and every time He promised “I will be with you.” When Moses led the nation of Israel out of Egypt and into their homeland, He promised His presence in the tabernacle would go with them. When the Israelites settled the land and built a temple, God’s glory dwelt with His people. Every prophet from Moses down through the ages echoed this promise in their writings. The last words of the Old Testament reverberate with God’s persistence.
I will pardon my people’s crimes,
which I have not yet pardoned;
and I, the Lord, will make my home
in Jerusalem with my people.” Joel 3:24
Then 400 years of God’s silence are broken with an angel’s announcement.
She shall give birth to a son and you will call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21
“God with us.” God’s feet would walk on earth, in a way He hadn’t done since Eden. Here was the down payment on the promise. He became like His people and “made His home among us and we beheld His glory” (John 1:14). Christmas isn’t just a unique moment in time. It is the hinge that connects our past and our future. Everything rests on this moment when God became man and conquered sin. The closing passages of Scripture look forward to the day when God once again physically makes His home with us. But this next time, God won’t come in our image; we will be remade in His and the world will be restored and made whole from sin.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Rev 21:1-4
Wishing you a Christmas filled with joy and peace.
Blessings to you,