This is the third 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 are attacked by Satan. Satan is the Grinch that has been trying to steal Christmas since the beginning of time, since the day God told him that a baby would be born who would crush his head. So whenever a clue emerged about which human family Jesus would come from, Satan moved in to attack that family. God revealed that Jesus would come from the family of Abraham, then from the line of Judah, then from the house of David. And so the Grinch kept trying. If David’s sons had only all killed each other fighting over his throne, no Jesus. No Christmas. If Haman had only killed all the Jews when they were ruled by Persia, and God hadn’t saved them through Esther, no Jesus. No Christmas. If Herod had only killed all the boys in Bethlehem and God hadn’t warned Joseph to run away in the night, no Jesus. No more Christmas.
There is one story in the history of David’s dynasty where the Grinch got really, really close to stopping Christmas in its tracks. He got David’s descendant, King Jehoram, to do two evil things. First, he married a woman named Athaliah, who was the daughter of the infamous evil queen Jezebel. Secondly, he murdered all of his own brothers. That got rid of a lot of extra sons of David, and it also got a really evil person into place in the royal family.
So Queen Athaliah’s son became the next king, and he was pretty evil too, but it was after he died that the Grinch made his move and almost stole Christmas. The Chronicler writes, “When Athaliah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy all the royal family of the house of Judah.” It looked like a good day for the Grinch. Grandma Athaliah murdered all her children and all her grandchildren in cold blood. God had promised David that his son would sit on the throne forever, and now look: all David’s sons are dead, and on his throne sits The Nightmare Grandmother, the murderous pagan daughter of Jezebel. For six years. For six years it looks to all of God’s people like God can’t keep His promises anymore.
And nobody except one brave princess and one brave priest know that there is still one tiny baby alive in hiding. They had grabbed Baby Prince Joash in time and hid him deep in the house of God, like an embryo hidden in a womb. For six years, the promise of God hangs on the thin thread of the life of one baby. If Joash doesn’t grow up to keep this line going, no more Jesus. No more Christmas.
Little Joash never gets to go play outside, not when he’s three, or four, or five. But God keeps him alive. When he’s six, they bring him out, crown him king, overthrow Athaliah, and kill her. He grows up to have sons, and the story goes on. Because even when it looks like Satan is winning, even when it looks like Satan has already won, God keeps His promises. Even though, again, everything God ever promised will hang on the thin thread of the life of one baby in hiding, the Grinch never got to steal Christmas (or Easter, either). No matter what the Grinch has stolen from you, no matter how badly you have been tempted, deceived, accused, tormented, or oppressed, the Grinch can never steal Christmas, no matter how hard he tries.
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 when they are attacked by Satan.
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.