God is with us. Emmanuel is his name. Christmas reminds us every single year that we are not alone. In this dark year, I needed Christmas tree lights and thoughts of wisemen and shepherds journeying from afar to welcome our Savior’s miraculous birth, and so, I put up our tree last month.
In the Garden, after Adam and Eve, tearing it all down right out of the gate, God made an extravagant promise that the eternal Son of God would come to dwell with us. He said to the serpent:
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he will bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15 ESV).
To fulfill this promise, God the Son became the offspring of a woman. He went all in. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, birthed into this messy world, because the world needed saving. Shepherds and wisemen were his first visitors. In his death, he was bruised to pay for our sins, and in his resurrection, he bruised the serpent’s head to offer salvation to all of humanity.
At the end of the Pentateuch, God made another extravagant promise to the descendants of Abraham as they trembled at the bottom of a quaking Mount Sinai. There the Lord God spoke the Ten Commandments to Moses, engraving them in stone.
“I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, BUT showing steadfast love to thousands [to the thousandth generation] of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:5b-6 ESV).God's great and precious promises that we have in Christ impact both us and our children for a thousand generations. #Faith Click To Tweet
As a man and wife make a promise to remain faithful, jealous of one another’s affections lest they pursue another, so God loves us with an even deeper love, jealous for our affection. He yearns for us to be faithful to him, and his love for us extends forever, reaching to thousands of generations.
The Lord Jesus secured that promise of steadfast love for us, perfectly fulfilling the law by keeping all of his Father’s commandments. In one of his earliest sermons on a mountainside, Jesus Messiah made this promise:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18 ESV).
By living a sinless life and sacrificing himself, Jesus fulfilled his mission to redeem us. He kept and satisfied every iota and dot required, every single imperative, every promise foretelling his first coming. He will fulfill the promises of his second coming when he returns.
When we receive Jesus as our Savior, the dearest love of our lives, we are forgiven. A perfect and holy God expunges our sins with the Savior’s blood, so that we may come into his loving presence to live eternally.When we receive Jesus as our Savior, the dearest love of our lives, we are forgiven. A perfect and holy God expunges our sins with the Savior's blood, so that we may come into his presence to live eternally. Click To Tweet
On the night before he died, Jesus prayed, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24 ESV).
And then, the following day, Lord Jesus promised the believing thief on the cross, “Today, you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43b).
The Lord longs for us to be with him. Emmanuel, God with us, is his name. Promise after promise was made foretelling our coming Redeemer, so that his people would recognize God the Son when he stepped into his physical role of Messiah, grabbing hold of his promises and entering into a deeper relationship with him.
And yet, when Jesus of Nazareth arrived on the scene, most of the Jewish people expected a conquering king, rather than a suffering Servant / Savior. They wanted freedom from Rome, rather than freedom from their sins. We, too, still have our priorities skewed.
Several hundred Jewish followers embraced Jesus as Savior and Redeemer. Through the work of the Spirit, Messiah Jesus laid the foundation of the Christian church. These proclaimed the Good News of Christ with us, relationship with him available to all. Today, faith in Christ is held by 2.3 billion believers. The church, now including Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews), grew and increased in size, as was God’s plan.
In Galatians 3:27-29 (ESV), Paul writes:
“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.“
As believers, we are members of God’s family, offspring of Abraham, heirs of these incredible promises. Faith in Christ and the passing down of our faith to our children and our grandchildren are the earnest goals and desires of devout believers.As believers, we are members of God's family, offspring of Abraham. #Faith in Christ and the passing down of our faith to our children and grandchildren are the earnest goals and desires of devout believers. Click To Tweet
When I studied the book of Isaiah, I found the prophet returning over and over to this topic of parental concern that our children and grandchildren believe in God and entrust themselves to him, just as we have.
Flipping to Isaiah, my Bible fell open to chapter 44 where, during the years I spent in Isaiah, I claimed one of God’s promises. Across the entire page, I had traced my handprint in red ink.
This promise, I claim.
I remember my time in God’s Word then. I wept and prayed and thanked God for his promises to the thousandth generation of those who love him and keep his commands, as I did again when I revisited this passage. These promises were fulfilled in Christ.
Because we are in Christ, we are recipients of his great and precious promises, for we are Abraham’s offspring, and these promises are to God’s Own.Because we are in Christ, we are recipients of his great and precious promises, for we are Abraham's offspring, and these promises are to God's Own. #Faith #Jesus Click To Tweet
Isaiah 44:1-5 ESV
“But now hear, O Jacob my servant,
Israel whom I have chosen!
Thus says the Lord who made you,
who formed you from the womb and will help you:
Fear not, O Jacob my servant,
Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
They shall spring up among the grass
like willows by flowing streams.
This one will say, ‘I am the Lord’s,’
another will call on the name of Jacob,
and another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’
and name himself by the name of Israel.”
I placed my hand upon that page and met with God, for O! how intensely all parents who love Christ long for their descendants to love him, too. We want one after another of our descendants to say, “I am the LORD’s,” and for yet another to call on the name of God’s Messiah, and for the rest to even write the Lord on their hands for all to see, proclaiming aloud and publicly that they belong to the Lord.
If we are in Christ, if we love him and have entrusted ourselves to him by faith, then the promise highlighted in red above from Isaiah 44 belongs to us and to our children after us. Claim it. God’s plan is always blessing.
What does it say about you? What does it say about your children?
How we long for yet another child or grandchild to publicly name himself by the name of Jacob’s own son, Jesus Christ, and thus “another will call on the name of Jacob.”
As believers, we are of the family lineage of these promises, “O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen” (Isaiah 44:1), through and in Christ according to the promises Paul writes in Galatians. We, like the lineage of Hebrews who have loved the Lord, are descendants of Abraham.
Yes, Jesus, we are yours. May this promise you have made to a thousand generations of those who love you and who keep your commandments in Christ Jesus, bring our children, one after another, one generation following another, to come to you, belong to you, love you, and serve you.Jesus, we are yours. May this promise you made to a thousand generations bring our children, one after another, one generation following another, to come to you, belong to you, love you, and serve you. Click To Tweet
The Promises were Fulfilled in Christ
2 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV)
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
Mark 1:4, 7-8 (ESV)
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins…And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Ephesians 1:11-14 ESV
“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.“
This is what the promise of Christmas brings. This is how the Old Testament prophets prepared all who are Abraham’s children for the coming Messiah.
Isaiah 44:6-8 ESV
Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
“I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god.
Who is like me? Let him proclaim it.
Let him declare and set it before me,
since I appointed an ancient people.
Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.
Fear not, nor be afraid;
have I not told you from of old and declared it?
And you are my witnesses!
Is there a God besides me?
There is no Rock; I know not any.”
1 Peter 2:4-6 ESV
“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
We thank you, Lord Jesus, Messiah and King of all creation, our Rock, the precious cornerstone, for these great and precious promises to those who believe in you, to us and to our children and our children’s children, to all who believe and who call upon your name to the thousandth generation. Amen.