Jeremiah 33:14 “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promises I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.’”
To many people, the very idea of religion seems dry and unexciting. Since God isn’t someone we visibly encounter every day, he can seem distant. More and more people are turning to a do-it-yourself spirituality and avoiding the organized religions, denominations, and churches. That kind of spirituality focuses less on the person of God. It is more concerned with developing a sense of right and wrong and becoming a kinder, more loving person.
Perhaps you have found a similar reaction within yourself. Sometimes the Christian faith doesn’t seem inpiring or uplifting. It feels more like a set of theoretical propositions. The preaching, the teaching, even the music, all seem dry and unexciting.
Is it possible we have forgotten? Our God is the God who steps through the door between heaven and earth to become part of our world, part of our lives, part of our times. He does it time and time again. Our Christian faith is about more than detailed standards for human behavior. God is not a divine quality control inspector. He is the God who rolls up his sleeves and gets his hands dirty in the story of our lives.
“The days are coming when I will fulfill the gracious promises I made…” he says. Christmas, and just about every other Christian holiday, doesn’t celebrate an idea. It celebrates an event, a promise kept, a day when God came and did wonderful, gracious things for us. Maybe it happened a long time ago, but we can still live in the excitement that God was here. He was here for us, and he was here doing amazing things to give us his grace.
Nor is he finished keeping such promises to his people. He hasn’t left us, but he still steps through that door between heaven and earth. He comes to us. We know this if we tune our ears to hear his voice in his Word. We experience this when we grasp his promise to be with us in his supper. He promises the days are coming when he will step through that door between heaven and earth one last time, not in obscurity as he did at his birth; not under cover of word, water, or wine; but in glory to lead us through that same door from earth to heaven.
He can seem agonizingly slow in keeping these promises. Jeremiah lived about 600 B.C. At his time these promises “to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah” were already hundreds of years old. The house of Israel barely even existed. Most of its people were taken away to exile a century earlier and never returned. It would be 600 more years before the things Jeremiah promised came to fulfillment.
We don’t do so well when we have to wait long times for things, do we. When our parents told us we couldn’t have anything to eat until supper, when we had to wait our place in line for some event, even 10 or 15 minute delays seemed unbearable to us as children. When someone we love is in surgery and the surgery goes long, we worry and expect the worst. Waiting drains our hope and tests our faith. That isn’t because things tend to take a negative turn when they take a long time. Slow is often better, but we are short on patience.
Abraham and Sarah struggled to wait the decades God took to give them a child. King Saul couldn’t wait a few days for Samuel to come and offer a sacrifice. The children of Israel grumbled when the Lord made them wait for food or water in the wilderness. We get tired of waiting for God to answer our prayers. God’s people had been waiting for the promised Savior to appear since the beginning of time. By Jeremiah’s day many of them had lost interest or found some other religion to follow.
But God has kept this gracious promise. The Savior he promised has come. Christmas reassures us that God will keep every good promise he has made to us in his own good time.