We want to give you as much value and content as we can. In particular, we want to do what we can to help you grow in your walk as a Christian. However, as traveling illusionists, we sometimes need a little extra help. So, we asked our pastor, David Wahlstedt if he would let us share the following thoughts. He kindly obliged. 🙂
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).” – Matthew 1:22-23
Who is the prophet to whom Matthew is referring? It is Isaiah, who wrote about the coming of Immanuel – God with us – about seven hundred years before his birth. He writes, “Therefore, the Lord will give you a sign. The young woman is pregnant and is about to give birth to a son, and she will name him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). This was a promise pointing to the coming Messiah, the deliverer of God’s people. Both the Hebrew word Messiah and the Greek word Christ mean “Anointed One.”
Through Isaiah and his fellow prophets, God promised to send the Messiah to deliver his people from oppressors and to rule in righteousness forever. The people misunderstood those promises, however, and looked only for a political ruler to gather and army to route their enemies. But as Jesus revealed through his life and teaching, the Messiah came to save God’s people from the oppression of sin and death and to offer new life forever with God. The centuries between promise and fulfillment made for a long, hard wait for the people of Israel.
Advent – a time of waiting
Advent is a season to fine-tune our waiting. Often it seems as if God waits a long time to answer our prayers, and we might wonder if he even hears them. Christmas is an incredible reminder that we can depend on God to faithfully carry out every promise He’s made to us.
In just the final day of Jesus’ life, twenty-nine specific First Testament prophecies, written over the course of five centuries, were fulfilled. That’s remarkable, is it not? I’m no mathematician but those in the know have calculated that the odds of Jesus fulfilling only eight of the Messianic prophecies is one out of ten to the seventeenth power. That is a one followed by seventeen zeros! Let me put it another way. Imagine the state of Texas covered with silver dollars two feet deep. Now, mark one of them and mix it with the others. The odds of you stepping in and selecting the marked coin on the first try is equal to Jesus fulfilling just eight of the Messianic prophecies.
Perhaps you are thinking, “That’s useful information, David, if I’m ever with Alex Trebeck on the yet-to-be-created Bible Jeopardy program, but how do I know if God’s promises are reliable for me?” I’m glad you asked! If you want to ascertain whether or not someone is reliable, you must look at their track record. No one has a better track record than our Heavenly Father. The same God who fulfilled hundreds of promises through Jesus will be faithful to keep every promise of His Word for you. The Apostle Paul supports that claim when he writes, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him, the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Christmas is a season of hope. Matthew 1:22-23 gives us the reason why. God’s people prayed for a very long time. They kept their faith alive in the hope that God heard them and would answer. When he did answer, it was far greater than His people could ever have imagined.
Take a few moments to think about some prayers God has answered in your life. How has He been a promise-keeping God? Use a journal, write them down, and then take time to thank God for the answered prayer in your life. In that same journal entry, write this question: Where in your life do you need hope? Ask God for help with that, and ask Him to build your faith by rekindling your hope.
by David Wahlstedt, The Table Dallas