In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
So begins the familiar words of the Word of God. In these first three verses of Scripture we have established the character of the world apart from God: chaos, emptiness, and darkness. Also in these three verses we have established for us the characteristics of our Creator, that He is light and the creator of light that brings order to the darkness and chaos. As Genesis continues we are told our origins as made in the image of this perfect Creator. We see the fall of our first parents, the introduction of sin which is the offense of going against the Will of our Creator who is perfect. Also in this historical account we have the first prophecy of Someone who will set things right, that from the descendants of Eve would come One who would bring Satan and sin to an end.
This is the Mashiach, the Messiah who is promised in this story recorded for all generations.
Last week Rabbi Loren shared some of his thoughts on the Incarnation, the sending of this promised Redeemer, who is also called Emmanuel, God With Us. He is named this way because He is fully God and also fully Man, making Him the perfect Redeemer to restore humanity from the darkness we currently inhabit. This morning I would like to share my own thoughts on the Incarnation, on the promises of God throughout Scripture and the promises available to believers right now.
When I was a very young kid in Reform Hebrew School I remember one day when we went around the room and shared what our favorite holidays were. Each of us answered and some said Passover, Channukah, or even Thanksgiving. When it came my turn to answer I told them my favorite holiday was Christmas. Christmas was my favorite holiday even though I never had a Christmas tree or many of the other traditions associated with the day. It was my favorite holiday because I was very blessed to know the truth behind Christmas, the coming of the promised Jewish Messiah, Messiah Yeshua. I still remember the weird shocked look the teacher gave me but as a young kid I did not really understand why. It wasn’t until years later that I would learn that it was considered unusual for a Jewish person to put their trust in Messiah Yeshua.
When I consider Christmas, and really the Incarnation, the first thing that comes to mind is the fact that Yeshua is the fulfillment of all of God’s Promises. Throughout the Tanakh, the Old Testament, we see the Lord making promises to His people. He promises that the descendants of Abraham would be numerous across the face of the Earth, as we are today. He also promised to Abraham that from His descendants the entire world would be blessed. Despite being a shining example of trusting in the Lord’s promises, of walking by faith, even Abraham and his wife had their doubts.
When the Lord told Abraham that he would have a son who would be the continuation of God’s promises, both Sarah and Abraham laughed. But even with their lack of faith the Lord fulfilled His promises to Abraham and he was given a son. Through Isaac the promises of God, including the promise of the Messiah were to continue.
As we continue reading we see the Lord again and again making and fulfilling His promises to us. In the story of humanity laid out in the Word of God we see numerous promises of God, promises He made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David and so many others. Every promise the Lord made to our people He completely fulfilled, but despite this absolute truth we also see numerous examples of doubt and a lack of faith even in God’s appointed prophets and leaders.
But the Lord is not like fallen human beings. He does not lie and will fulfill every promise He has made. As we read in His Word:
God is not human, that he should lie,
not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfill?
The Lord always acts on what He has said and from age to age does not change in His nature.
The Lord is completely faithful even when we are faithless and we read through the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31, of a new promise, a new Covenant that He will make with our people. Even though we have broken our promises to Adonai, He promises that He will make a new Covenant and will forgive us of our sins. After making numerous promises like this concerning the Incarnation, the appointed time came for Him to fulfill His Word.
Messiah Yeshua, the fulfillment of God’s promises, taught that the only way to experience the light of God, to be saved from the darkness, sin and death of this world was to put your trust in Him. We had to take hold of God’s promise of Salvation and to surrender from rebellion to His Will. Salvation cannot be found in anyone else and He is the only Way to be restored to how we were always meant to be before the Fall.
The Good News of Messiah Yeshua was simple enough for me as a child to understand. But as I grew older I encountered difficulties in truly believing and making the promises of God the foundation for my life. I began to truly see and understand the darkness of the world we live in. I learned how routine it was for people to break their promises, for leaders and politicians to lie, and how I also broke even the promises I made to myself. It became very easy to be filled with doubt because of my own profound weakness and then to begin to doubt the promises of God.
This cynicism and skepticism I found in myself, I also saw in many people around me, and maybe you have experienced it as well or still do now.
The source of it was not anything intellectual but was emotional; it came from my heart and not my head. Surrounded in a world of such deep darkness and seeing the sin even in my own life it became difficult to see the light of God.
It was from this place I seriously turned to the Bible for the answers I needed. As I read from Genesis forward, I saw time and time again the faithfulness of God in keeping His promises and the doubt found in human beings. I read how Moses was filled with doubt because of his inadequacy for the task the Lord had called him to do. But I also read how the Lord promised to be with him and saw the fulfillment of that promise throughout the Torah. I read how Elijah desired to die when our people still refused to follow the Lord after the powerful miracles the Lord performed. But then I read how the Lord comforted and encouraged Elijah and he was renewed by the promises of God, that the nation would turn back to Adonai and not everyone had become corrupted.
Most of all I read dozens of promises concerning the Messiah, and how they also had been fulfilled by the Lord. I came to the realization that despite the faithlessness found in the world, the faithfulness of God was the one truth I could rely on absolutely.
But I also realized if I really believed in the promises of God it had to go beyond an intellectual understanding. To obtain the promises of God I had to be willing to give my life over to His Will and not my own. Through the working of His Holy Spirit I have done so and I can honestly say that the throughout all the chaos of life in this world the Lord has been my Rock and deliverer through it all. I still have daily struggles but with the Lord’s help I have placed my trust in His Will and His Promises.
Because of the faithfulness of God in keeping His promises those who have joined themselves to Him through Messiah Yeshua can be assured that all the promises of God that apply to us are really available. I like how Charles Spurgeon puts it: “Faith without a promise would be a foot without ground to stand upon.”
So what are some of these promises that we can be confident in?
Our Messiah taught that we do not need to be anxious about the things of this life. Whether it is food or clothing the Lord will provide for us. If we first seek His kingdom and His Righteousness the essentials of life will be handled for us. We have the promise of being sustained by God and that the peace of knowing this should cause us to not be anxious like other people. When we have anxieties we are taught to give to the Lord who is the source of true Peace.
We also have the promise that we will be persecuted for believing in the Salvation found only in Messiah Yeshua. We have the promise that just as all God’s prophets were persecuted for their faith and just as our Messiah was persecuted we will be as well. When these times come the Lord will give us the proper words to speak to defend our faith. We also have the promise that we will endure until the end through the power of His Holy Spirit.
We are also promised that when temptation comes we will never be tempted beyond what we can resist. Every temptation in our life can be resisted through the help of God. We are promised that our faithful Creator will give us a way out of the temptations we find ourselves in.
We are promised when we pray good prayers to the Lord and seek His face He really hears each of us. Prayers in accordance with His Will are really answered. There is real power and comfort found in prayer to Adonai and He promises to be available to each and every one of us.
While I could go on listing all the different promises of God for His people I would like to end with perhaps the most important one. Joined to Messiah Yeshua we are promised a complete transformation of every part of us. Through His atonement we are given a new nature, a new body in the Resurrection, and the promise of Eternal Life forever with Him.
When we become loyal to the Lord and become real believers in Him this transformation immediately begins to take place and continues through the rest of our lives. Our old nature, our past sins and weaknesses are completely forgiven and the Lord begins to transform us from what we were into His perfect character. We are promised Eternal Life in the New Jerusalem forever with Him and though we have not experienced this yet, we can be assured that just like every single promise the Lord makes it will be fulfilled.
If you desire to see your relationship with our Creator restored He is calling to you today to do so. The Lord desires that each one of us give up our rebellion against Him and enter into His Rest. He promises that all those who do not come to Him will experience eternal punishment separated from Him. The writer of the letter to the Messianic Jews in Hebrews 3 powerfully speaks of this call to all people when he quotes the psalms and says, “Today if you hear His voice do not harden your heart”.
If you have felt the call of God in your life and desire to experience the promises that can only be found in Him then make it this day to turn to the Lord. We are told numerous promises in His Word but there is no promise that we will see a day beyond Today.
In the beginning of this message I spoke of Genesis 1 and the nature of God as light and the nature of the world as darkness apart from God. Messiah Yeshua promised, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” In a world of deep darkness Messiah Yeshua stands as a source of true light to us all. So as we conclude this holiday season may each one of us truly know the only light that be found in this world and experience the light of life in our lives. May each one of us truly believe in and hold fast to the promises of God and experience the complete Salvation that is only found in Him.