Honestly, I can’t believe it’s already December. This year seems to have gone by so quickly. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m getting older or if time is actually speeding up, but regardless, this past year seems to have just flown by.
Despite my feeling of time warp, I’m super excited for Christmas. Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays. Honestly, who doesn’t have Christmas as their number one holiday? It’s just so fun!
I love the lights, the music, getting gifts for people, making special Christmas treats, and getting together with family. However, I’ve noticed that it’s really easy to get so caught up in all the Christmas cheer that I don’t really think much about why we’re actually celebrating: Jesus!
So, to help me keep my head in the right place (and hopefully to help you in the process), for the next couple of weeks I’m going to focus my blog posts on what Christmas is really about and how that applies to us in real life.
One thing I’ve really enjoyed as I’ve been working on this Christmas blog series is looking back at the Old Testament. It’s fun to see how God was always hinting to his people about what He was going to do in and through Jesus. He never gave them many details, just a few hints here and there. He had this incarnation (God becoming human) thing in mind from the very beginning.
Hint 1: Offspring
The very first hint that God gives humanity about his ultimate plan is right in the Garden of Eden. Eve has been tricked by the snake/Satan into believing that God was holding out on her. God’s perfect world is marred forever. God tells Adam, Eve, and the snake that there will be serious consequences for their actions. But he also gives the first hint about his plan to redeem humanity.
While God is giving his pronouncement of justice on the snake he says this to him, “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15). From this, God’s hints that his defeat of Satan will happen through the offspring of a woman, through a human being.
From that day on, with every baby that is born, there is a hope, a chance, that this child will be the one who will crush the head of Satan. That’s perhaps one reason why there is so much emphasis in the Old Testament on the bearing of children, and perhaps why God often reveals himself to those who are unable to have children. God brings hope to the hopeless.
Hints 2 & 3: Nation of Israel and from David’s Line
It’s to one of these hopeless families that God reveals the next hint: Abraham and Sarah. They’re unable to have a child, but God promises them that all nations will be blessed through the family that God will give them. God fulfills this promise (though not at all in the timing that they were expecting, more on that next week). God keeps his promise and Abraham’s family becomes the nation of Israel.
The Israelites become a great nation and eventually David becomes their king. We’re told that he is a man after God’s own heart. God then gives the next hint about this promised one who is to come: he is going to be from the line of David and he will rule forever.
Hints from the Prophets
After the time of David, the nation of Israel disobeys God. They follow after other gods and forsake the laws and commandments that God has given them. As a consequence of this, they are taken into exile to foreign lands. Even then, God has not forgotten them or the promises he’s made to them or his ultimate plan.
While Israel is in exile, God gives several more hints about this Messiah who is to come. Isaiah makes many prophecies about this promised one. He’s to be a light to all the nations (Isaiah 2:1-4). He’s to be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:10-14). Micah the prophet tells us that he’s to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2-5). All of these are just little hints, whispers of what is to come.
God Kept His Promises in the Past, He Keeps Them Still
God promised to save his people from the very beginning. From the moment sin entered the world, God told Adam and Eve that one day things would be made right again. He offered hope to humanity even in the darkest moment. When Christ was born, God showed that humanity’s hope had not been in vain. We have a God that keeps his promises.
The same is true today. God promises that one day all things will be made right. He promises that he loves us. He demonstrates this love by what He has already done for us through Christ and what He continues to do for us throughout the course of our lives.
That doesn’t mean that things are always cheery and bright. The history of the nation of Israel, God’s own people shows us there may be dark times in our lives. There may be times when we can’t see how God can possibly make things work out for good. Sometimes it may seem like God has just walked away and left us. But that’s not the case.
The Christmas story teaches us many things about God, but one of the most important things it should teach us is that God always keeps His promises. It may not be in the timing we would like. It may not look the way we think it should, but He is faithful.
What Hope Looks Like in Real Life
If you’re in a great place in your life right now, thank God for His faithfulness. This is pretty much where I’m at this year. Life is good. God has been so faithful in my life. I’m trying to be very intentional this year about acknowledging that and thanking God for his faithfulness this Christmas season.
However, things have not always been as rosy as they are now (and I’m fully aware that there will be times in the future when things will be less than ideal again). In past years, I’ve sung the song “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” from my very soul, longing for God to intervene in my life the same way he intervened in history with the birth of Jesus.
If you’re in a difficult season of life right now, just be encouraged that God was faithful to Israel through the good times and the bad and He will be faithful to you to. God is with us. God is working in your life even if you can’t feel or see it right now. Cry out to God in your distress, whatever it is, and ask for His intervention.
Whether you’re in the midst of good times or bad, pray that you would find the peace that only his presence brings. It’s available to you all because a child was born over 2,000 years ago, a child who was whispered and hinted about long before his arrival. He is the offspring of woman who forever crushes the head of Satan. He is the basis for our hope.