“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:45, NIV
God always keeps His promises. The Bible mentions the word “promise” over 200 times throughout the Old and New Testaments. We hear what was promised and then see how, years later, promise after promise was fulfilled.
God promised Mary a son. The angel said, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:32-33, NIV). This was quite a stretch for a regular girl, with no title and no connections.
Maybe God promised you a child, too? Was there an impossible hurdle between His promise to His provision? Mary had a few impossible hurdles: she wasn’t married; she was a virgin. She didn’t have a witness to corroborate her story, if she decided to share it. As for what to tell people, her only explanation would be: “Well, the angel told me: ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God’”(Luke 1:35, NIV)
What Mary did have was a promise from God’s messenger. She believed God and she was okay with turning over her future to His plan. Her faith and acceptance made her the vessel God used to send us Jesus, the Messiah, who the entire Jewish nation was expecting.
What God promised to Mary was not only for her, but for the whole nation, for us who were born generations later, and for the generations who came before her. Jesus’ coming to earth gives us hope for every promise yet to be fulfilled. He is exactly what we need. He is what God promises today.
God doesn’t promise that every wish we have will be fulfilled. He doesn’t promise to give us all the answers to our questions. He doesn’t promise we won’t have pain or death or suffering. He promises to send Jesus. He keeps that promise every day through the presence of the Holy Spirit. He kept that promise over 2,000 years ago by sending a Baby in a manger, born to a regular girl. God also doesn’t promise that this world will last forever. He does promise Jesus will return and redeem this world, so that we can be with Him forever.
God keeps His promises. When He promised a Messiah in the Old Testament, He delivered Jesus. We see the fulfillment of God’s promise in the New Testament with Jesus’ birth, but what we celebrate at Christmas is not the end of the story. The New Testament proclaims a promise that’s the same. Jesus will come again! Jesus will redeem.
What has God promised me? What has He promised you? What gives us assurance that He will keep His promise?
There are two big promises that affect my life daily. One was legal, official, and spoken in front of witnesses. Our wedding came after years of considering, months of planning, and many discussions.
The second was quiet, private, and spoken over each new baby’s head the day she/he joined our family. I didn’t know what kind of promise those babies would need. Seeing them—helpless, wriggling, and clinging—elicited a soul response.
Both promises I made are the same promise that God offers us. To my husband, I pledged myself, in every circumstance; I promised all I had to offer. To my children, I pledged myself: to be there for their best and worst moments, to protect them, and to raise them. In both cases, I prayed then and I pray now that I can fulfill my promises. Unlike God, I don’t always get it right. But I do keep at it and I pray I can live in a way that honors my commitments. When we promise ourselves because of love, we are making the same kind of promise God makes to us.
God promises us Himself, as a Father to children. He promises us Himself as a groom to a bride. Those are the images He uses in the Bible to explain His relationship to His people, individually and as the corporate body, the church.
One image God gives us of Himself is as an adoptive father. I can only imagine the process of adoption. What a promise: care and parenting, sacrifice, personal touch and time, choosing to become family. God does that for us. He adopts all of us. Jesus was born as His only begotten Son. The rest of us get to be part of the family because God said so, because He chose us. While we walk this earth, our living legacy and testimony of God’s faithfulness is our kept promises, as husbands, wives, parents, and children.
There is a difference between the promise and the answer, just as there is a difference in the timing of the calling and the sending out. It’s the same with knowing versus understanding, or pregnancy and the birth. Most things in life take time.
The buds that form in the last warm days of fall have a head start on the spring growth. Those buds are a promise of the leaves and blooms of next summer. In the past, I’ve looked at them and worried they had budded too soon on an unseasonably warm fall day and been tricked before the coming winter. I’ve wondered whether it’s the right time for them to open and grow and if they’ll be caught by frost. Sometimes, nature’s rhythm doesn’t make sense to me, especially when there is a late snow. God’s timing can make even less sense, especially during difficult seasons of our lives.
Remember that God is faithful. What He has said will come to pass. Walk in faith in the promises of God, not fear of failure. You are not alone and God is not asleep. Keep praying, but not asking and begging. If He has made you a promise, whether through His Word or told you in your spirit, pray in thanks and expectancy. Prepare as He directs, but mostly, just rest in the faithfulness of God to fulfill His promises to you.
By February of 2016, I had been praying for months and months about a broken relationship that I was desperate to reconcile. One morning, during my quiet time, I read the story of Joshua at the battle of Jericho. In Joshua 6:2, the Lord said through His messenger, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men” (NIV). Jericho would be delivered to Joshua. Joshua’s job was only to walk around the city and trust God. He knew that the Lord would be faithful to fulfill His promise to make the walls fall.
As I read the story, I felt overwhelmed by the conviction that I was trying too hard to earn God’s intervention in my broken relationship, and I began to weep. It wasn’t my responsibility to make the walls fall. God’s promise wasn’t just for Joshua, it was also for me: my job is to trust God and walk in His promises, and His job is to make the walls fall.
The Bible is full of stories of people waiting in faith for God to fulfill His promises…and most of them waited for years before they saw the promises bear any fruit. But in every one of those stories, we see that God was always working, even in the waiting.
We are, right now, in the middle of the Advent season. The beautiful, solemn, silent season of waiting, and the perfect time to remember that God is at work, even when our eyes can’t see it. Some two thousand years ago, creation quietly thrummed in anticipation of the coming birth of a baby King who would fulfill God’s promise to make a way for us. Israel didn’t know it, but God was working out His plan, even while His people were waiting.
O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appears. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
God promised us, in Isaiah 7:14, that Emmanuel, “God with us,” was coming. During Advent, we recall that promise by honoring this season of waiting. We wait for the adventus, the “coming” of the infant Savior–God’s promise fulfilled. And we wait for the adventus–the “coming” of Jesus for a second time–with that same “thrill of hope.”
During Advent, while we celebrate the joy of our salvation, we also long for Christ’s return. In this season of commemoration and anticipation, we remember that in God’s infinite love toward us, He has given us the gift of hope: Jesus. “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him...” 2 Corinthians 1:20a (ESV)
Everything God has promised finds its Yes in Jesus. Everything God has foretold finds its Yes in Jesus. Everything God has planned for us finds its Yes in Jesus. Everything God has predestined for our lives is fulfilled and finished through Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, we are not waiting for God to fulfill His promises. God’s promises are already fulfilled. In Jesus, His promises are Yes and Amen - not "Maybe" and "You'll have to wait and see." Yes and Amen.
It has been more than four years now, and I am still waiting to see the fruit of God’s promise to make the walls fall in my relationship, so I keep reminding myself, "Yes and Amen." Yes and Amen - God promised, God knows, God is faithful, and God is finished. My call is patience and trust. A resting place - a place of peace - is woven together by the threads of patience and trust. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:10, we can be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing,” because we know how faithful our God is.
If you are here with me this Advent season, trying to rest in the “Yes and Amen,” then I am rejoicing with you that, through Jesus, God has already fulfilled every promise He has ever made to you – even if you can’t see it yet.
It may seem strange to talk of death at Christmas time. But because Jesus died and rose again, there is no longer fear of death. That battle is won. The ultimate life struggle will have a glorious ending. There may be suffering and there may be pain. There definitely will be grief and loss. But God’s Word tells us that because of the Resurrection, believers do not “grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13b, ESV). This gift of eternal life is the promise of God.
If you have not lost a dear friend or family member, you will. If you don’t know someone struggling with a debilitating and possibly fatal illness, be thankful. But if Jesus doesn’t return very soon, you will experience the helplessness and grief of death. Praise God that this life is not the end! Thank God that it is possible to have total healing, restoration, and peace in His Presence forever.
On the day you experience the devastation of death and loss, you will not feel joy. But you can know joy and peace. You can remember and hold on to the promises: Jesus has conquered not only sin, but has vanquished death. Paul says the grave no longer has the sting or the victory…Jesus has won. On that day, draw close and remind yourself of the Eternal King, Who came to earth as the promise of God, and won our victory over the grave.