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Christmas Reading 2: God keeps His promises even when they take a long, long time

This is the second in a set of six readings I prepared for a Christmas Eve service in 2013. I will be posting one each week until Christmas. Feel free to use them for family devotions, personal enjoyment, or for any future Christmas events of your own.

God keeps His promises even when they take a long, long time. The book of Matthew begins with a genealogy, the family tree of Jesus. It’s a long list of names tracing the family line from Abraham to David to the exile to Jesus. It reminds us right up front of how long we’ve been waiting for this. Sometimes we are tempted to complain about having to pronounce all those names before we start reading about Jesus. But if you are ever tempted to think that the genealogy is boring, then just imagine what that genealogy in your hands would have meant to Abraham.

Just imagine that you could take that genealogy out of the front of the book of Matthew and travel back in time to where Abraham is sitting outside his tent in the desert, an old man still waiting to have his first child, and you show it to him. Think how much it means to him to just read the first six words: “Abraham was the father of Isaac.” He starts to cry. He says, “God promised me descendants like the stars, and I believed him, but I’m still not the father of anyone. I’m going to have a son! His name is going to be Isaac. This is fantastic. This is the most wonderful thing I have ever read. Oh my, just look at this list! Look at all the names! God promised me descendants like the stars, and I believed Him, but here are their names! They have names! They’re real! It really happened! Oh, I’m so happy!”

Or imagine you bring it to him later in life, as he’s climbing up the mountain to sacrifice Isaac his son, and he just reads the next six words, “Isaac was the father of Jacob.” And he laughs and cries and claps his hands and says, “I knew it! I knew it! I knew that God had promised me children through Isaac and so Isaac couldn’t really die and stay dead. Isaac will live and have a son named Jacob! There it is, in black and white! His name is Jacob… that means ‘cheater.’ Why will my grandson be called ‘cheater’?” So you tell him the story of Jacob. And then he asks you about “Jacob’s sons” and you tell him how his great-grandsons will sell their brother into slavery, and he asks who “Tamar” is and you tell him how she had to commit prostitution with her father-in-law, and he asks who Rahab is and you tell him she was a prostitute from Canaan, and he’s staring at you now asking, “Why didn’t God give up on my family?”

Then he reads that there are fourteen generations from himself to David, and he asks, “Who is David?” You say, “Guess what? God really does give your children this land under your feet, this land of Canaan that you’re wandering around in right now, just like He promised you, and David becomes the king of it. He’s the first king in this list, and he was this amazing king who trusted God the way you do!” and you tell Abraham lots of stories about David, and he is so happy. He asks, “Then why does it say that the mother of David’s son had been Uriah’s wife? Who is that?” So you have to tell him about David and Bathsheba. And he sighs and he wonders, “How will God ever keep His promise to bless the whole world through me?”

Then he reads that there were fourteen more generations from David to the exile in Babylon. He asks you, “Exile? What does that mean? What happened? What happened to my children?” So you have to tell him that his children worshipped idols and broke their covenant with God and that they lost the land God gave them and were exiles in the land of their enemies. Abraham can’t believe it. He starts to weep. “They worshipped idols? God finally gives them this land and they will lose it?”

You say, “Keep reading. They come back.” So he shakes his head and he keeps reading and he wonders again, “Why doesn’t it stop there? Why doesn’t God give up on my family?” And he reads, “And there were fourteen generations from the exile to the Messiah.” He asks you, “And who was that?”

You say, “His name is Jesus. And He is the fulfillment of God’s promise to bless the whole world through you. Jesus is the reason God never gave up on your family. Jesus is the reason God never gives up at all.”


God keeps His promises even after we have failed.

God keeps His promises even when they take a long time.  

God keeps His promises even after our hearts shut down.

The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this.

Christmas comes because God wants it more than you do.



Published inChristmas readingsMeditations

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