Most people would agree that Christmas is a wonderful holiday. Even those who don’t celebrate marvel at the way that Christmas can bring families together, lead to generosity, foster kindness, and cause us to momentarily forget our troubles. Some celebrate Christmas with the understanding that it is about Christ and his birth, while others are simply in it for the festivities. However, it’s easy for both of these groups to miss the underlying message and significance of Christmas. It’s all about God’s faithfulness. I’d like to take the rest of this article to show you how the birth of Jesus teaches us about God’s faithfulness, and then at the end, I’ll leave you with some thoughts to reflect on.
Adam and Eve’s Unfaithfulness in the Garden
We all know the story of Adam and Eve, and how they disobeyed God and ate from the one tree he told them not to touch. God gave them so much by creating a beautiful home for them to inhabit. He showcased his faithfulness by providing everything they needed. They, in turn, demonstrated unfaithfulness by expressing distrust in God and listening to the lies of the serpent who whispered doubt in their ears.
God kicked them out of the garden and the fellowship they had with him was severed. But, the story didn’t end there.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”Genesis 3:15 ESV
These are the words the Lord spoke to the serpent after the whole ordeal. I know, it doesn’t seem to have much significance but it does. God promised that one day the seed of the woman would entirely crush the serpent. This means that his influence and authority over humanity would not last forever.
For more check out our brand new devotional: Faithful: Recalling the Goodness of the Lord
Israel: God’s Chosen People
After Adam and Eve left the garden, sin continued to grow worse. The promise in Genesis 3:15 didn’t seem to be coming to pass any time soon. It appeared that the serpent was gaining more and more power over humanity. However, God eventually chose a man named Abraham and made a promise to him.
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”Genesis 12:1-3 ESV
God promised to bless Abraham and make him a blessing to everyone on earth. Later, a nation came from Abraham. It became known as Israel. God chose Israel and promised to be faithful to them. They would be his people and he would be their God. Like Adam and Eve, Israel was unfaithful to God. They fell into idolatry and sought to be like the nations surrounding them, instead of being a light to them as God intended.
Clearly, the one who would bruise the head of the serpent would not be Abraham and it would not be Israel. They simply pointed to God’s future plan.
The Kings of Israel
After Israel entered the promised land, they inherited judges as their leaders. But the judges were just as wicked and corrupt as the people were. Then kings began to rule in Israel. King David was considered to be a “man after God’s heart.” God made a promise to David that his descendants would always be king in Israel and that his kingdom would last forever.
I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”2 Samuel 7:14-16 ESV
The Exile & The Promise Diverted
However, pretty soon, Israel went into spiritual and political turmoil. The nation was divided into two kingdoms. These kingdoms eventually went into exile and God’s people lost their land, and it seemed that they had lost the promise God gave to David.
There hasn’t been a Davidic king on Israel’s throne since the exile, and the Abrahamic covenant that God’s people would be a blessing to the nations hasn’t been fulfilled yet either.
God’s Faithfulness to Israel and the Whole World
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:18-21 ESV
Matthew’s Gospel is unique because it makes a direct connection between Israel’s promise and Jesus as the fulfillment of that promise. Before we get to the passage quoted here, Matthew goes into a long genealogy explaining Jesus’ origins. We tend to skip over this part but it’s important. Matthew is trying to show us that Jesus is a son of David. In fact, he is the Son of David.
So, although it seemed that God forgot about his promise to Israel, he didn’t. It took a while for it to come to pass but it did indeed come to pass.
Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli… the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.Luke 3:23, 38 ESV
But, let’s take a look at Luke’s Gospel as well. God did not only make a promise to Israel. He made one to the entire world. Remember Genesis 3:15? The seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent. All of humanity comes from Adam and Eve, and all of humanity has suffered because of their unfaithfulness to God. Christ is not only the son of David, he’s also the one spoken about in Genesis 3.
Why the World Rejoices at Christmastime
This is why the world rejoices at Christmastime. Our world was in chaos and things seemed hopeless. God made promises to his chosen people, Israel, but when they went into exile, it seemed like God abandoned those promises. But, God is faithful to his word. His promises may not come to pass the next day after he has spoken them but they will come to pass. He does what he says he’ll do.
The birth of Jesus reminds us that even when we are unfaithful, God is still faithful to us. He does not leave or forsake us. The world was in darkness for so many years but through the birth of Jesus, the world has seen a great light. He truly is Emmanuel, God with us.
Waiting for Christ’s Second Coming
Now, you may be asking, if God’s promise was truly fulfilled through Jesus’ birth, why is the world still in chaos? Why are there new Covid-19 variants each year? Why is there hate? Envy? Why can’t people get along?
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”Matthew 10:35-36 ESV
This passage does not literally mean that Jesus wants people to be against each other, and to make enemies out of their family members. It’s a hyperbolic statement meant to explain the difference between Christ’s kingdom and the kingdom of the world.
When Jesus was born into the world, he did not come to bring world peace. Instead, he came to preach the good news of his kingdom. Unfortunately, that good news is offensive to many who choose to reject it. It requires them to lay down their sin and pick up their cross. This is why Jesus’ message feels like a sword to so many.
Jesus’ first coming dealt with many of the issues that cause the chaos and pain we experience on earth. His second coming will put an end to all of it.
John, the Apostle, and writer of the book of Revelation said this,
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”Revelation 21:1-4 ESV
One day there truly will be peace and Christ will rule over his people. There will be no pain or sorrow or tears. There will only be rejoicing, laughter, worship, and fellowship with God and his people.
Reflect: So What?
When you celebrate the birth of Jesus in a few days, reflect on the truth that God is faithful. We don’t always understand how he works but we can be certain that his promises are true. Perhaps you are waiting on God to fulfill a promise to you or you’re going through hardship but struggling to believe in God’s goodness. On a day no one expected in a manger in Bethlehem, the Son of God came into the world and showed us God’s faithfulness. God will be faithful to you as well.
Before you go, I want to let you know that we have a thirty-day devotional called Faithful: Recalling the Goodness of the Lord. It contains personal testimonies from Christian women of how God has met them in hardship, loss, transition, waiting, and grief. I encourage you to grab a copy of this devotional. Reflecting on God’s faithfulness can help transform your perspective and give you greater confidence in God as you wait expectantly for what he will do.