Unfailing Promises

We must hurry. Time is too short for all the necessary holiday preparations that must be made. But let’s take a moment out of our hurry and scurry to ask ourselves if Christmas has not become for as merely a night so dark and so long ago. If it has, something is lacking. Like Mary, we must catch a glimpse of the event’s greatness.

Before that night of Nativity, Mary was already overwhelmed by the event’s greatness as she stood at the threshold of Elizabeth’s home…so much so, that she uttered the first hymn of Christmas, “My son doth magnify the Lord…” Having plainly in her mind the covenant mercies of God, she concluded it saying, “He hath given help to Israel his servant, that he might remember mercy…toward Abraham and his seed for ever.” She remembered that God had made a promise with Abraham concerning His covenant people: “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee,…and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed (Gen. 12:2,3).”

“…In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Without this promise there would be no salvation today for God is a covenantal God. The whole world in the time of Abraham was in the midst of sin and death…under just condemnation and the curse. This death would continue, but God would lift up His people—those who were so fallen that they could not expect restoration. God would help by pure grace.

Mary knew, as well, that Israel’s long night of expectation for fulfillment was not smooth. There were years of captivity and oppression; there was spiritual degeneracy. Yet Jeremiah had reminded God’s chosen people: “Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will perform that good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and concerning the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause a Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David…Judah shall be saved… (33:14–16).” Malachi, also, reminded them, “But unto you that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise…(4:2).”

Now, at last the years of darkness were to be over. In the East were the streaks of dawn. The Sun of Righteousness was arising. Paul put it this way, “But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son…(Gal. 4:4).” God in His own time was about to bring fulfillment to His gracious promise of salvation. In grace the promise had been made, and now in grace the promise was about to be fulfilled. A Son was to be born, not in the normal course of nature, but of a Virgin.

Is it any wonder that Mary sang! She knew something of what God was to do. That which He had promised to Israel was now to come, and not for Israel after the flesh but for the children of the promise. “God hath given help to Israel”…“a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” How faithful is God to His promises.

We ought to sing, too: God has visited His people with salvation! He has fulfilled His promise! Yet how carelessly we have allowed this fact to be covered with countless decorations—even religious symbols—and in our hurry and scurry we have forgotten how God worked His will.

Indeed, the promise was fulfilled; but now Christ has given to us “precious and exceeding great promises.” This Advent season should remind us that even as God faithfully executed His promise of a Savior, so will He faithfully fulfill the present promises in His own time. Perhaps we can take a lesson from Mary. When God announced. to her the marvelous thing that was to happen, she praised His holy name. Her life was one of faith. Her faithfulness is seen again in the last Scriptural reference to her, as she was waiting in the upper room (Acts 1:14) With the disciples for the promised Comforter. As she trusted in the promises of God, so must we.

As sure as Christ came the first time He has said that He will come again to take us to Himself. Certainly there are times when we ask whether this promise and others such as we have in the Word will ever come to pass. Yet we must remember that Israel waited n long time before God sent a Redeemer—the darkness of night was heavy, but as God would have it, the dark sky was suddenly filled with the streaks of dawn and the Sun of Righteousness was come. God’s promises are unfailing. “…The vision is yet for the appointed time, and it hasteneth toward the end, and shall not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay (Hab. 2:3).”