Gifts and Promises
Read Genesis 12:1-7. If time permits, read Genesis 15:1-19 and 17:3-8.
One of the things that children look forward to the most during Christmas are the gifts that they will be receiving. It is the season whereby parents, family and friends give the implicit promise that they will be buying gifts for each other as a way to bless each other and celebrate the occasion. One of the reasons that we buy gifts for one another is also to acknowledge that God has given us the greatest gift in his Son and we should thus follow God’s example in blessing others.
Our passage today comes a few chapters after the one yesterday. Despite the fact that God “restarted” creation, it was not long before sin crept in again, threatening to undo everything. In Genesis 11:1-9, we have the incident of the Tower of Babel, whereby mankind plotted to make a name for ourselves (sound familiar?). Once again, God had to bring judgement upon them, confusing their language and scattering them over the face of the whole earth. What is God to do with this recurring issue of sin?
Once again, the answer came in the form of a promise. Long before the first Christmas, God made an explicit promise to Abram. God called him and made a three-fold promise to Abram in Genesis 12:1-7 – (1) descendants, (2) blessing and (3) land. This is a remarkable promise from God, given how often human beings fail in obeying and following God. God promises that Abram will be a great nation, assuring him that he will have a multitude of descendants who are blessed by God. This blessing from God will not only be limited to Abram’s own blood line, but “all peoples on earth will be blessed through [him]” (v3). Finally, God also promises that Abram’s offspring will have a land to live under God’s blessing and relate covenantally to him.
This was a long-term promise. The rest of the Bible is the outworking of this promise. It ultimately finds its fulfilment in the person and work of Christ. This is what we celebrate when we come to Christmas – that the long-awaited promise of God will finally be fulfilled and come to fruition. God’s great gift to the world and the fulfilment of what he has promised will finally come to pass in Jesus Christ. This Christmas, as we come to celebrate the birth of Christ, let us remember that we are celebrating the goodness and faithfulness of God in keeping his promise.
Amidst the busyness of getting decorations ready and buying gifts for others, let us rejoice in the ultimate promise and gift given to us in Christ. As mentioned in Romans 4:16-17, Abraham is the father of all of us who believe in Christ. The promise comes by faith, not by works. Those who trusted in Christ are the true offspring of Abraham, the recipients and heirs of the great promise in Genesis 12:1-7. (cf. Gal. 3:29) In this advent season, let us be amazed once again by God’s goodness and faithfulness.
- Pray and thank God for his amazing faithfulness and goodness in fulfilling his promises made long ago
- Pray and rejoice that we can be recipients and heirs of God’s promises because of Jesus Christ