It had been 400 years since God had talked to His people.
He had spoken through Malachi, and then nothing but silence. God’s people kept their ears open, hoping to hear His voice, but God had zipped His lips and no more words came. Maybe He got tired of us breaking His rules, they thought. Maybe He doesn’t want to rescue us anymore. Doubts crept in, but the people would fight these thoughts by telling each other, “God made us big, tough, unbreakable promises! He won’t forget them!” During all God’s silence, the people clung to those promises from long ago because without them, what hope did they have? God couldn’t break His promises, could He? Does that sound like something God would do?
While God wasn’t speaking any words to His people, He hadn’t forgotten them or His promises. God always remembers. In the quiet, God was actually preparing for the first Christmas. Remember, God had picked Abraham a long, long time ago and told him, “Abraham, many years from now, I’m going to use your special family to bring My Rescuer into the world.” The chosen family continued through Abraham’s son, Isaac, and Isaac’s son, Jacob. The family tree grew to include names like David, Solomon, and Josiah. So during these years when God’s mouth was silent, His hands were at work carving this family tree. No prophets received messages from God, but mommies and daddies still had babies, and those babies grew up and got married and became mommies and daddies to more babies, and each branch of the family tree was getting closer to a man named Joseph and a woman named Mary. Each time a person in this special family tree was born, it was like God was shouting from the rooftops, “I haven’t forgotten My promises! I love you! Get ready! The Rescuer is coming!” The first Christmas was almost here.
Even now, we have some promises from God that He made long ago. When Jesus went up into Heaven after He rose from the dead, God said that one day He would send His Son back a second time. We’ve been waiting so many years for this to happen! Our hearts may want to think, Hmmm, did God forget? He promised Jesus would come again, but I sure don’t see Him! When worries creep in, we can peek over our shoulder back into the garden of Eden and remember God promised He would send someone to crush the serpent’s head. We can point to Abraham and remind ourselves that God promised His Son would come through his family tree. Lastly, we can celebrate Christmas, remembering that Jesus came. With His birth, Jesus answered, “Yes!” to the promise that God made to Abraham. With Jesus’s death, God said, “Yes!” and smashed Satan’s skull. Jesus is God’s “Yes!” to all His promises. So get ready, look carefully with your eyes, and listen closely with your ears, because Jesus is coming back!
Sometimes we can get confused about what things God has actually promised us. How can we know exactly the things that God has said He will do?
During the years that God’s people had to wait for Jesus to be born, God was doing important work to get ready for Him. If we are waiting a long time for Jesus to come again, what can we trust God is doing?
This Advent devotional resource was produced by The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. The original resource can be found here.