The Promises

People lose hope.

Christmas is the season of joy, peace and celebration.  However, many do not feel joyful during this season.  The reasons for this lack of joy are as varied as the individuals we are talking about. 

This year there will be some going through Christmas without a loved one.  Having observed the holiday for years with the same person, this year the loved one is no longer there.

This year some will be exhausted by the busyness of the season.  Concerts, children’s plays, family gatherings, church gatherings, shopping, decorating and the endless expectations rob the season of its joy.

Some do not have fond memories of holidays past.  Family conflict, splitting holidays between homes and other difficulties mar the season of joy and peace on earth.

We live in a world damaged and torn by sin.  Sickness and disease attack our bodies.  Hackers and viruses attack our computers.  Thieves steal our identities.  Terrorists attack our cities.

Jeremiah prophesied in Israel during a very dark time.  In Jeremiah 33 verse 1, we find Jeremiah confined in the courtyard of the guard.  He was in prison in Jerusalem.  He was in prison because he said they should surrender to the Babylonians.  The Babylonians had surrounded the city, and were building siege works.  Inside the city, the Israelites were tearing down houses and even the king’s palace for materials to strengthen the walls and fight the Babylonians.  It was a dark time, and Jeremiah spoke for the Lord saying:
You expect to fight the Babylonians, but the men of this city are already as good as dead, for I have determined to destroy them in my terrible anger.  I have abandoned them because of all their wickedness.  (Jeremiah 33:5)[i]

The Lord is frank with us about dark days.  The Bible speaks of the wrath of God being revealed against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.  I will not try to look at all the verses that speak of darkness, but l will use Isaiah 8:20-22 as an example.  It says:
20Look to God’s instructions and teachings!  People who contradict his word are completely in the dark.  21They will go from one place to another, weary and hungry.  And because they are hungry, they will rage and curse their king and their God.  They will look up to heaven 22and down at the earth, but wherever they look, there will be trouble and anguish and dark despair.  They will be thrown out into the darkness.

Trouble, anguish and dark despair describe much of what happens in our world.  This darkness makes the message of Christmas that much brighter.  If we were not in darkness, we would not need light.  As it is, Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.  For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” 

With a backdrop of deep darkness, Jeremiah says, “The day will come, says the LORD, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them.” (Jeremiah 33:14) 

Our hope is in the promises of God.  Jesus died for our sins, but we still wait for the day when we will be sinless.  Jesus promised to prepare a place for us, but we still wait for the day when He comes back to take us home. 

God promised to bless all the nations on earth through Abraham’s seed.  We now know that the promise is true through Jesus Christ our Lord.  God promised to remove our sins from us as far as the east is from the west.  We now know that this is accomplished through the death of Christ on the cross.

The Lord reminds us of His promises and says, “The day will come when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised.”

Remembering the promises is the point of the season.  We need not lose hope.  God has triumphed over the darkness.

Jeremiah 33:15 points to the source of victory.  There is one central promise that is the key to all the other promises.  All the promises of God, hang on this one promise.  Jeremiah looks at the darkness surrounding his city.  He looks at the army getting ready to invade, and says, “We have reason to hope.”   Jeremiah 33:15 is talking about the great light those living in darkness will see.  It says:
In those days and at that time I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line.  He will do what is just and right throughout the land.

This descendant of David is the key to the promises of God in which we hope.  This descendant of David is the one on whom all our hopes rest.  From the time of creation, this was God’s plan, and He made it happen.

When God created man and woman, He placed them in the Garden of Eden.  God placed the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the middle of the garden, and forbade them to eat of it.  He did this to test them.  They chose to eat of the tree bringing down the curse about which God had warned them.  At that time, God made a promise.  He said, “And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring.  He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”  Genesis 3:15

This offspring of the woman is the One we are talking about.

Later, God chose a man named Abram, who lived in Mesopotamia.  He chose this man and gave him a promise saying:
“I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt.  All the families on earth will be blessed through you."  Genesis 12:3

These blessings would come through Abraham’s offspring.

Abraham had a son named Isaac.  Isaac had a son named Jacob.  The family was aware of the promises God had made to Abraham.  So, when Jacob was on his deathbed he prophesied about his son Judah saying:
The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor.  Genesis 49:10

This one to whom the scepter belongs is the One we are talking about.

When Israel was preparing to invade the Promised Land, Balak King of Moab, hired a seer named Balaam to curse Israel.  Looking out over the camp of Israel from a mountaintop, Balaam was inspired by God to say:
"I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near.  A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.”  Numbers 24:7

What he saw is the star of Jesse, a descendant of Judah.

Many years after Jacob and Judah had passed and gone to heaven, a descendant of Judah named David was anointed king over all Israel.  God spoke to David saying:
Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.  2 Samuel 7:16

The songs of Israel are full of references to this ruler who was to come from David.  Just one example of many is Psalm 89:3-4:
“The LORD said, ‘I have made a covenant with David, my chosen servant.  I have sworn this oath to him: I will establish your descendants as kings forever; they will sit on your throne from now until eternity.’” 

In the dark days Israel was facing, Jeremiah took them back to these promises.
In those days and at that time I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line.  He will do what is just and right throughout the land.  Jeremiah 33:15

The birth of Jesus, the shepherds, the wise men, the manger, the star and the angels are all about this One who was promised.

For the one who has lost a loved one, there is hope.  Because of Jesus, we will see our loved ones again.

For the one fighting sickness and disease, there is hope.  Jesus is our healer, and He promised He would never leave us.  He is with us in our suffering.

What about Peace on Earth?  We have peace in our hearts because of Jesus, but our world is not experiencing peace.  What about, “the government shall be on his shoulders?”  

Jesus is the descendant of David, promised so long ago, but His earthly kingdom will not be set up until He returns. 

Jeremiah 33:16 is about things yet to happen.  It says:
In that day Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will live in safety.  And this will be its name: ‘The LORD Is Our Righteousness.’ 

 Do not give up hope.  “That day” has not yet arrived.  Our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from there (Philippians 3:20).

Along with the promises of His birth and lineage, there are many promises still being fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled.  We will see Him coming on the clouds with glory.  He will set up His throne and rule with truth and justice.  Do not give up hope. 
The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think.  No, he is being patient for your sake.  He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.  2 Peter 3:9

Do not let television, movies, radio, music and the culture define for you what you should expect from Christmas.  There is no hope in that.  Please understand me.  I celebrate Christmas wholeheartedly: buying and giving gifts, decorating, baking, singing, lights, tinsel and candy canes.  And, the reason I celebrate is the hope that I have in Christ.  There is trouble in our world.  Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.”  And, in the same breath he said, “But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)

I want to leave you with two thoughts.

First, Jesus said:
1“Don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.  If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  3When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.  John 14:1-3

Second, Paul said:
18Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.  19For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.  20Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse.  But with eager hope, 21the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.  Romans 8:18-21

[i] Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation.  Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.  Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Steam, Illinois 60188.  All rights reserved.


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