Advent Journal: He Is Faithful

“Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob” (Matt. 1:2a).

I have heard many people share their dislike for genealogies in the Bible. Why are they even in there? I mean, who cares who begot who and whatnot. I too have thought these very things until God revealed something to me while reading this genealogy that begins the book of Matthew.

The second verse in the entire book of Matthew is so important. It begins the genealogy, the family line, that would bring about the Savior of the world. Not only that, but it shows God’s fulfillment to the promise he gave Abraham so long ago in Genesis. “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” (Gen. 12:2). This is the very fulfillment of this promise given to Abraham. And the fulfillment of this promise came against all odds. Abraham was old and his wife, Sarah, was barren. They could not have children. Not only this but twice Abraham gave his wife into the possession of another man, when if God had not intervened, the father of Isaac could have very well been in question. God was faithful to Abraham.

Circumstances can very easily destroy a family line. We’ve seen it many times in history: war, famine, or plague sweeps through and kills off an entire family line. God was faithful through all of life’s circumstance, through the mistakes made in the family. He preserved the line for Christ to come. This genealogy screams of the goodness of God. He worked through a messed up family to keep them together to bring the Savior to the world.

Not only was he faithful to Abraham, but he was faithful to all mankind by fulfilling his promise in Genesis chapter three: “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” (Gen. 3:15). God is faithful to his word. Never once did he stray from his promise. The genealogy is a map of God’s faithfulness, showing how he preserved each person, each child, each family to create a scarlet thread woven through history to the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

The Christmas story starts here. It began with God’s promise the garden of Eden just after the entrance of sin. It began with his promise, and it was fulfilled through the family line of Abraham. The genealogy is so important to the Christmas story which is why it is the very beginning of the New Testament. It shows God’s goodness as he faithfully preserved the family of Abraham through forty-two generations to the coming of the Prince of Peace.

“So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations” (Matt. 1:17). 

Advent Journal: Immanuel

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” 

                                                                                                                                                         Isaiah 7:14

How do you view yourself? This is perhaps one of the more important questions you can ask yourself. Most of us, myself at the top of the list, think of ourselves much more than we think of anyone else. How do you think of yourself? Not just your appearance, your actions, your thoughts, but what do you think about your inner being, your heart? The truth is that no matter how hard we may try to be good, to do good, to think good, we are entirely evil creatures.

Mankind, all of it, is totally deprave. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). This is a vivid picture that Jeremiah paints for us. Even those that do good outside of Christ have a sick heart. Any deed done outside of Christ is black and empty. Void. If our physical features became a forecast for our inner motives and actions we’d all look like a horde of miserable wretches out to ruin and destroy anything and everything good. “The whole head is sick, and whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil” (Isa. 1:5b-6).

Reality is that we cover up our wicked deeds quite well. We hide the fact that our evil hearts motivate our actions. We hide our thoughts, we hide many of our actions, we tear others down to make much of ourselves. We are self-consumed beings; everything we think and say and do revolves around us. It is ingrained in us to be this way, passed down all the way from Adam.

While we might be able to hide some of our evil from fellow mankind, we cannot hide it from God. He sees our sin as “bruises and sores and raw wounds.” It is despicable to him, he hates the sight of our sin, so much so that he cannot even dwell in our presence while sin is ruling. This is why we have advent. We have no hope in ourselves; there is no possible way to purge ourselves of our sin. We cannot crawl out of the depthless pit we’ve created for ourselves. Our sin nature is rooted deep within our souls, and the damage has been done. God’s requirement is perfection which is so far beyond our reach. As soon as life is conceived, sin takes its reign and there is an impossible barrier between man and God. This is why we have advent, because we need help. We need hope.

The promise of Immanuel’s coming is mind-boggling. The word Immanuel means “God with us.” God came to dwell with sinful mankind. Don’t take this truth lightly. Those who sin constantly, consistently against Him are the very ones He came to dwell among. He left the glory of heaven, His Father’s side, to suffer on earth among mankind, coming to rid the world of its darkness, to crush the sin in our hearts once and for all.

He is our hope, our only hope. He is why we have advent; we need help and he is the only one that can bring change. Heaven met earth in one beautiful, strong, powerful word: Immanuel.

“Yes Lord, we greet Thee
Born this happy morning
Jesus to Thee be all
Glory giv’n
Word of the Father
Now in flesh appearing

O come let us adore Him” 

Advent Journal: The World He Entered

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, thought he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” – Philippians 2: 5-6

Fall is a beautiful reminder of the condition of the world we live in. The vivid green shade of the grass slowly fades into a muddled brown. The leaves of the tree turn brilliant oranges, reds, and yellows, then in a days time change to a lifeless brown. The air turns colder, the sky becomes cloudy. The delightful lively times of spring and summer pass into a melancholy monotony. It is a slow fade, a sad goodbye. Everything in fall points to the true condition of our world: everything is a slow fade to death.

You might have just gotten that new promotion, you may have just had your first child, you may have just won the lottery, but all of life’s circumstances are a slow fade to the end. The trees you see will die. The building you live in will crumble away. People that are born, will die. This is how life works, everything slowly fades into the sad goodbye.

This is why we wait. We wait with the hope that is set before us, that the Light might enter the darkness. It has been written on our hearts that we are in the darkness. We do not live oblivious to this, knowing only the darkness. The conscience that God gave us reveals slight hints of the Light. We know there is something more, but we do not know who it is. We cling to the promise. The promise that one would come to set things straight, to point us to the way, the way of Life. We fight against our self-absorbedness, looking up for the Light.

This is the world he entered into. A waiting world. A world longing for change, to be drastically called to new life in the glory of God. He also entered a dark world, where so many were not waiting, only blinded by the darkness, not trying to be changed from it. It was a world at war with itself, where injustice ruled and unrest is the only sure thing. The Light entered a world almost completely dominated by the darkness.

The Light entered this world.

He did not enter it haughtily or proudly. He did not enter it with dominion, condemnation, or conceit. He entered the darkness as pure light would with brilliant love, unspeakable joy, remarkable patience, beautiful faithfulness, eternal peace, selfless kindness, humble gentleness, powerful goodness, and grace upon grace.