The promise of the birth of the Messiah came at a time when the people of God were under the threat of annihilation. The kings of Syria and Israel had conspired and joined forces to make the land of Judah desolate. In response to this threat, God declared that this aggression will not stand and promised the birth of Immanuel—God Himself pitching a tent among us to take care of business (Ref. Isaiah 7:1-17).
The fulfillment of this promise is what we celebrate at Christmas; a promise, by all human standards, seemed impossible—A virgin shall bear a son—and the fulfillment of which clearly shows that our God is a faithful and a promise-keeping God for whom nothing is impossible and who is able to fulfill every other promise He has made to us. The Israelites had reason to declare: “Blessed be the Lord…, for not a single word has gone unfulfilled of the entire generous promise he made through his servant Moses (1 Kings 8:56).
What we celebrate at Christmas, therefore, is God’s willingness and ability to fulfill His promises in our lives. God has made tremendous promises to us and, unlike human beings who for various reasons are not able to fulfill their commitments, there are no circumstances beyond His control. He never sleeps nor slumbers or does He get sick or surprised by bad weather. Financial and transportation problems are no issues and He is never perplexed or overcome by some unexpected exigency. He doesn’t forget nor does He have conflicts in His calendar. No wonder Scriptures says: “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season but stands in a lava waste” (Jeremiah 17:5-6). For God, His word is Amen. As He says: “I have promised it; and I will do it” (Ezek. 37:14).
Christmas, therefore, is an invitation for us to invest every ounce of our faith and hope in a promise-keeping God; an encouragement for us “to hold fast to the hope that lies before us” (Heb. 6:18). Hope is the key to life and promise is the engine that powers it. Christmas is the assurance of hope in God’s promises.
Our generation, with its high degree of commercialization, seems to be making every effort to push Christ out of Christmas; to take the reason for the season out of the season and to turn it into just a holiday of a shopping spree. Let us not be deceived! Christmas is not just a holiday and a time for gifts; it is a call to faith and hope in a God of promise. It is a time to search through Scriptures and find those promises God has made to us and faith them into reality. This is what Abraham did when he was faced with the promise of a son in his nineties and it was counted unto him as righteousness. To believe God, and to put our hope in His Word, with a firmness of faith in His promise, is to be righteous. This is what Christmas is all about. The Bible tells us: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the water that stretches out its roots to the stream: It fears not the heat when it comes; its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit” (Jer. 17: 7-8). To have God as Immanuel is to have unlimited possibilities.
Christmas, therefore, is the evidence of things hoped for and reminds us that no matter what we may be going through in life right now; no matter how bad things may look; no matter the amount of fear that may be ravaging our souls; no matter the intensity of anxiety that may be preoccupying our minds; no matter the height of prejudice or the depth of wickedness that we might be facing; no matter the level of pollution in our anointing, the stagnation in our growth, or the stultification in our ambitions; and no matter the level of disillusionment and disorganization that we might be experiencing; there is a promise-keeping God that we can turn to for help. Remember His words: “God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial, he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). “The God of all grace”, declares St. Peter, “who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).
Just as God fulfilled His promise of Immanuel so also will He fulfill His promises to us if only we can turn to Him in faith and hope. God never fails! “I am watching”, says the Lord, “to see that my word is fulfilled” (Jer. 1:12). We only need to do our part and that is to “Confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help” (Heb. 4:16). This is what Christmas invites us to. Scripture says: “If only my people, who are called by my name humble themselves and pray, and seek my presence and turn from their sins, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive them” (2 Chronicles 7:14). What a promise!
As we celebrate this Christmas, let its joy engender a deep desire for God’s Word in our hearts for if we do not know what promises God has made to us, how can we remind Him of them or seek for their release into our lives. The more familiar we are with God’s promises, the more we internalize them in faith, and the more we internalize them, the more they become part of our daily invocations, and the more we invoke them, the greater the chance that they will take flesh and dwell among us.
We also need to appreciate the fact that the faithfulness of a promise-keeping God is an invitation for us to be more committed and faithful to our own promises to God, self, and others. Nothing can do more damage to our honor and integrity than to be so full of promises and no fulfillment. The Bible urges us to be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect. While the joy of Christmas lies in the fact that I can hope for God to come through in my life because of His promises, its challenge is that I, on my own part, need to grow ever more deeply into a promise-keeping person. May this joy and challenge be our dearest gift to self and others during this Christmas Season! Merry Christmas!