The Hope promised by God. Our Hope fulfilled by God.
As Christmas approaches, are you excited to unwrap the gift that holds your deepest desire? Do you anticipate unwrapping that one gift you secretly long for?
I remember the Christmas morning I received my favorite gift growing up. As a teenager I longed for my own telephone extension in my own room. Yes, I said telephone extension, not cell phone…LOL! As a teenager, that telephone seemed so important. My siblings and I had finished unwrapping all the gifts and I had a treasure, but no phone. As I tried to hide my disappointment, my big brother spied one last gift. It was hidden far on the backside of the Christmas tree, nestled among tossed wrapping paper and tissue, partially covered by a fold of the tree skirt. As he leaned in and reached to pull the gift out, I silently wished for my name to appear on the tag. My brother peaked: M-o-n-i-c-a! With that, my mom and dad gleefully watched in anticipation as I unwrapped a yellow slimline telephone that perfectly matched by bedroom décor. I grinned from ear to ear!
That feeling of exhilaration and fulfilled anticipation on that Christmas morning long ago? That’s how I felt as I unwrapped the gift of God’s word. I’d put off reading the Bible for years. I attended church regularly, but never made time to actually read God’s word. When I finally stopped procrastinating several years ago, I couldn’t believe all I had been missing!
As I began one book at a time, one day at a time, I was awestruck and amazed by God’s word. Each chapter revealed truths that provided long-sought answers. My love for God grew deeper with each book, chapter, and verse. And as my relationship with God grew, I found Hope again.
My most heart-piercing revelation as I unwrapped scripture? The connection between the Old Testament and New Testament.
Like connecting the dots, understanding the connections between God’s promises in the Old Testament and the fulfillment of those promises in the New Testament connected my mind and heart in a way that revealed God’s faithful character and His steadfast love. His Word reveals a vision and understanding of God’s majestic plan of redemption for all.
Friends, Christmas season is in full swing. We’re surrounded by the hustle and bustle of secular Christmas traditions, but in the midst of that busy-ness, Christians celebrate Advent. A time we remember and recall the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior–the long awaited Messiah. The Hope promised by God. Our Hope fulfilled by God. A time we look to our Hope’s second coming, just as the Israelites awaited our Savior so long ago. That, my friends, is the true meaning of Christmas.
But I’m guilty of losing sight of Christ in the midst of Christmas obligations. I get overwhelmed with tasks—decorating the Christmas tree, gift shopping, wrapping, a calendar full of Christmas parties, baking, and cooking. All those things Pinterest claims will make the perfect Christmas.
But isn’t the perfect Christmas, Christ?
I long to focus on Him this Christmas. Jesus. Our Hope. Our Savior. The tiny baby born in a manger. God taking on human form, coming to earth to redeem His children.
My friends, that is the crux of Advent—intentional focus on Jesus Christ. The main character in God’s story of redemption, from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Yes, Jesus is in the Old Testament. That’s what I’d missed all those years I delayed reading God’s word!
So let’s start unwrapping and make a connection.
Have you traced your genealogy? Have you completed one of those DNA kits that disclose your ancestry? I haven’t, but as I study scripture I find this interesting: the first chapter of the first book of the New Testament recounts the genealogy of Jesus Christ. It’s like God is saying through Matthew, “Let’s get this straight from the start. You need to know where Jesus comes from!”
“An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
And that is the perfect starting point to connect Jesus in the New Testament with a promise proclaimed in the Psalms. In Psalm 89 the psalmist worships God, singing of His steadfast love and God’s faithfulness to all generations, declaring God’s firm promise:
“I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to my servant David:
‘I will establish your descendants forever, and build your throne for all generations.’”
In this connection, we unwrap two major promises of the Old Testament:
- God promises David that his throne shall be established forever in 2 Samuel 7:4-17. Psalm 89 praises God for His faithfulness in keeping this covenant to anoint David as king and establish his line forever. The psalmist worships and celebrates: I have found my servant David; with my holy oil I have anointed him; my hand shall always remain with him; my arm also shall strengthen him….Forever I will keep my steadfast love for him, and my covenant with him will stand firm. I will establish his line forever, and his throne as long as the heavens endure.
- The prophesy that the Messiah will come from the house of Jesse. Isaiah 11:1 foretells: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.”
So how do we connect these promises to their fulfillment in the New Testament? We go first to that genealogy of Jesus found in the book of Matthew.
Stick with me here! If you’re like me, you may glance over these long lists of names in the Bible. It’s easy to skip over these sections. After all, they’re filled with names that are less familiar, maybe even unfamiliar. They were to me. While I haven’t traced my own genealogy, as my heart craved to know more about Jesus, I painstakingly traced the genealogies found in the book of Genesis and Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew. I was amazed.
My conclusion? Only God, our Master Creator, could design such an overarching plan of redemption of His beloved throughout all those generations.
I don’t want to discount any person in this beautiful genealogy, but I want you to get it. Friends, there are fourteen generations just from Abraham to David. From David to the time of the deportation to Babylon, there are another fourteen generations. And from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, yet another fourteen generations. Matthew 1:17
Each generation is important, but I want you to see the connection so here’s my shorthand version of Jesus’ genealogy:
Abraham-Isaac-Jacob-Judah-Perez-Hezron-Aram-Aminadab-Nahshon-Salmon-Boaz-Obed-Jesse. And Jesse is the father of King David!
Whew, we made it this far, but let’s keep going down this family tree!
And yes, after all those generations, Joseph is the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. Matthew 1:16
Our Hope becomes flesh.
Fulfillment of God’s covenant with David. Fulfillment of the promised Messiah from the stump of Jesse prophesied in Isaiah. Wrapped in a beautiful bow, God ties Old Testament promises with fulfillment in the New Testament.
Our God is generous in His gifts, so here’s another connection. In this gospel, Luke further proclaims the birth of Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise:
“The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Matthew’s genealogy and Luke’s account of Gabriel’s visit to Mary provide our first evidence of God’s steadfast faithfulness. Jesus is a descendant of David, a branch from the stump of Jesse, and there will be no end to his kingdom.
Yes, God keeps His promises. Jesus is our promised Hope!
This Advent season I choose to focus on Jesus. As we await Christmas day, I plan to unwrap Jesus in the Psalms. I want to discover more connections as I explore psalms that point to Jesus. Psalms that connect Old Testament promises to New Testament fulfillment.
I want to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Our one true Hope. Our Hope that becomes flesh. Won’t you join me?