Every day this month, join us as we read about the Arrival of Hope.
Day 24 - December 25th
God Has Come
Before God could die, before He would conquer our sin, He would come as a humble baby.
Read Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 2:1-12
The time had come. It came in a way no one expected. For hundreds of years, the people of Israel were eagerly awaiting their Messiah. For thousands of years, creation was eagerly awaiting a Redeemer. Then the time came, and to most of the world it was just another day.
Not to Mary. She was pregnant out of wedlock, and her groom-to-be could have turned her over to the authorities to be executed for adultery. She was also traveling a long way to partake in an Imperial census to count the people of her nation. The road was dirty and dangerous, but she traveled it, fulfilling prophecies from the beginning of the world.
It couldn’t have been easy for Joseph. His betrothed was carrying a child that wasn’t his, and no doubt the people around him knew it as well. He had struggled with what to do, deciding to divorce her in private rather than turn her in for adultery. Fortunately, God intervened, sending an angel to tell Joseph that Mary was carrying the Son of God, the Redeemer that Israel was waiting for. Being a stepfather to the Savior could not have been a small matter in Joseph’s mind.
So they traveled to Bethlehem: Joseph’s hometown, the city of David. A small but ancient town, insignificant in the eyes of the nation, yet packed full of people who had come for the census. No room for them anywhere, so they stayed in a stable. Dirty, smelly, but dry and warm.
It was there that Mary give birth to the Creator. The artist in the painting, the author in the words. He had arrived. The One who painted the night sky with stars was lying beneath them, calling for His mother’s comfort. The one the angels bow before was wrapped in swaddling clothes, sleeping in a feeding trough. All the glory of Heaven held in the body of a tiny infant.
The world didn’t notice. All but a few blessed by God hadn’t a clue that the most important event in the history of mankind had occurred. God picked a few shepherds, insignificant members of society, to see the glory of Heaven on display as the angels sang for joy. Their quiet night of tending sheep was interrupted by angels singing “Glory to God!” As soon as the silence returned to the fields, they ran to Bethlehem so they could bow to and worship the one who had come to save them.
Not everyone was caught unaware of what had occurred. Some wise men from the east, men who studied the heavens and the prophecies, saw the star that marked the coming Messiah. Men of wealth, they gathered gifts of gold and fine spices and brought them to the King of the world. They too went and worshipped Him.
He had come to save the world. Wealth and power didn’t matter. Ethnicity and race didn’t matter. Even past sins or former allegiances didn’t matter. He had come to bring the gift of eternal life to everyone who put their faith in Him. He had come to shed His blood and wash us clean from all sin.
Hail to the King! Hail to the Maker! He had arrived!
Day 23 - December 24th
God sent His messenger John to prepare the hearts and minds of Israel for the coming of Christ.
Read Luke 3:1-18; Matthew 3:13-17
The King was coming, and it was up to the forerunner to prepare the hearts and minds of the people to whom He was coming. He didn’t come with horns, horses, or heraldry. No banners were waved as the King’s forerunner came. Instead, he came out of the desert on foot.
A sight he must have been! Clothes old and torn, hair a tangled mess, his body lean and hard. His diet consisted of wild honey and bugs he could catch in the desert. Unlike the kings of their past, this King would not demand praises and banners waved in His name: He wanted simple repentance of sins, and the people would display their repentance through baptism.
So powerful was John and his message of repentance and baptism that people began to believe that he may have been the promised Messiah, but John promised the One who is greater was coming. John, who prophesied alongside the Messiah hundreds of years ago, was not worthy to even touch the shoes of the Savior!
But John would be given a special honor, above anything he could have imagined: he would be the one to baptize Jesus. John would protest. He was not worthy of such an honor; at best he hoped to be the one baptized.
Upon baptizing, Jesus he would see the Heavens open and the Holy Spirit Himself descending upon Jesus like a dove. The voice of the Father would ring out, blessing and honoring Jesus. The glory of God on display in the God-man Jesus Christ.
First, however, he would preach His coming. It was a coming that would shake the mountains and make the stars sing out. Heaven would fling open its gates and the angels would join in such a chorus as the world had never known. The whole of creation would rejoice at the coming.
Day 22 - December 23rd
God defeated death and conquered sin. Those who trust Him will be free forever.
Read Luke 24
It seemed that Jesus had failed. Perhaps, He wasn’t the one promised as the Messiah. He was supposed to liberate Israel and usher in a kingdom of peace. Now He was lying dead in the grave. The disciples were gone, and the Master was dead, and so ended another false messiah, another false hope.
Still, Jesus had friends and family, and they knew they had to go honor the body and mourn. Upon arrival, the grave was open and the body was gone. As surprised as they were, they were absolutely shocked to see two men shining brightly approach them. They had an important announcement: Jesus was alive!
Alive. This wasn’t a false king who had risen during their desperate time of oppression, He was the true King of Heaven, and He had conquered the grave on His own authority. Even so, His own disciples, His closest friends, did not recognize him. He appeared before them and they only saw Him as a stranger.
He explained how the whole of Scripture pointed to the coming Messiah. There was not one part of their religious teachings that did not point forward to Him, His death, and His resurrection. Then their eyes were open, and they saw Jesus for who He was.
The Good News of Jesus was almost too much for the disciples. Having witnessed the truth of their Master, they went out to tell everyone. They praised God, filled to the brim with joy. What joy we can have knowing that we serve the One who was able to conquer death itself!
Day 21 - December 22nd
Everything in God’s plan led to the death of Jesus. He had to die to save us.
Read Matthew 27:11-54
Looking back 2,000 years, we seem to believe that we understand the crucifixion, but how can we? Creator, killed by creation. Divine, killed by carnal. The pain of death upon the man, the pain of sin up the God, both fully present in Jesus Christ.
God had come to His chosen people, and they turned Him over to the pagans to be put to death. Betrayed again and again. Mocked and beaten, the Savior walked among his people as a stranger. Forsaken even by the ones who He had called disciples and friends. Utterly alone. Already broken and bleeding, He was laid naked across a wooden cross to have His hands and feet nailed to it, then agonizingly hoisted up for the world to see.
With dying breath, Jesus cried out to the Father. The perfect harmony of the Triune God, existing before time itself, was broken. Jesus cried out, and the Father was not there for strength. In His agony, the Spirit was not there for comfort. He was utterly alone in a way the human mind can never understand.
It was the plan thousands of years in the making. It was the fulfillment of dozens of prophecies. Knowing it had to happen didn’t make it easier. He had asked for any way to have it differently. Yet, He submitted to the will of the Father, and salvation could come to the world.
Israel knew that their Savior was coming. Israel had been told to watch and wait for Him. Innocent and sweet, He would come to earth as a baby. Creator in the form of His lowliest creation. And they missed Him.
Day 20 - December 21st
God gives us His Holy Spirit so that we can be bold in our proclamation of Him.
Read Mark 14:43-50; Luke 22:54-62; Acts 2:1-12, 37-47
The men of God were afraid. Despite learning from and living with the Savior for three years, they were afraid. When men came to arrest him, the disciples ran away. When asked if he knew Him, Peter denied having even met him. The redemption story rested on the backs of these eleven men who couldn’t stand with their King.
First they ran, then they hid. Hiding in a room together, the disciples didn’t know what to do next. They had gotten their commission, but how no idea how to implement it. On their own strength they couldn’t do it. On their own strength, they failed again and again.
But a plan was in place. God was going to send a Helper. Yes, they had failed on their own strength, but as they sat in the room together, unsure of what to do, something happened. There was a gust like wind. There was a loud sound. Something had come over them. That something was the Holy Spirit.
Suddenly, they were able to speak and preach boldly. Peter stood up and began to speak, and all language barriers melted away as the Spirit carried the words. As Peter preached to those who could very well try to stone him for blasphemy, he led over three thousand people to the saving knowledge of God after a single sermon. In an age before amplification, social media, and streaming services, God brought three thousand people into His kingdom.
No matter our circumstances or our fears, we can trust in our Helper to give us the words we need to say and the strength we need to say them. The Holy Spirit will never let us fail, we need to trust in the promise.
Day 19 - December 20th
No matter how far we fall in our sin, God pursues us to bring us home.
Read Hosea 2:5-15; 3
Again and again, Israel turned to other gods. The allure of the easy life serving the gods of the pagan nations proved to be too much for them, and they would fall into the same trap. You may believe it strange that a nation that saw the power of the one true God would stay firm and loyal, yet their sin, just as ours, blocks His glory from our eyes.
So God told His prophet, Hosea, to go redeem his cheating wife. Leaving to pursue a life of riches and excitement, her husband stayed behind, hoping for her return. Things may have seemed better for awhile.
Then she saw the reality of what happened. No longer were her lovers there to give wealth or comfort. All that she had sought chasing after other men was gone. Yet there was no going back: she was now the property of another man.
In the eyes of both God and the law, Hosea had every right to claim his wife, but he didn’t. Instead, he paid for her in silver and goods. He gave up a small fortune in treasure to be able to take his wife back to him. So she was redeemed.
God pursued Israel in the same way. He would pay any price to redeem His people from their sins and false gods. The payment was coming. A Messiah would pay the ransom with His very blood. The price was to be paid, not just for Israel, but for the world.
Day 18 - December 19th
Long before Christ was born, God promised to give a Savior; not just for Israel, but for the world.
Read Isaiah 9:2-7; Zachariah 9:9-17
The people of Israel were completely lost and broken. So mired in their sins they could never overcome on their own. Although some righteous would come and go, the nation as a whole simply refused to follow God and fell into the sins of the surrounding nations.
God had a plan in place. He was sending Someone who would conquer their sin and conquer death, setting them free. Hundreds of years before the birth of the Savior, God promised His coming. He was promised to throw off their burdens of slavery, and He would usher in peace as Israel had never known. He would take on the payment of their sins, He would fulfill the justice that was demanded by the holiness of God and wipe their slates clean.
The kingdom of David would be reestablished permanently. He would reign as King forever and ever without end. This was a promise Israel would hold on to for the rest of its existence, and they still hold on to this very day.
The Savior may not have been what they were expecting, but He was coming. He would fulfill every promise made all those hundreds of years ago. He would offer freedom from the slavery of sin. He would offer them peace from the worries of the world as they hoped in their Savior. He would establish David’s kingdom forever in the believers on Earth. He would turn their eyes from their flesh and point them towards heaven.
He was coming, and Israel began to realize they had to be ready.
Day 17 - December 18th
The nation of Israel had turned so far from God that He destroyed the Kingdom.
Read II Kings 17:1-23; 2 Kings 24:8-20
Over and over again, God promised the people of Israel the same thing: follow His ways, and He would bless them beyond imagining. They would be a nation of military might, vast riches, and good health. God promised to keep them, love them, and make them His own.
But the people did not listen. They continually chased after the pleasures of the flesh and after the pagan gods that the Canaanites worshipped. Solomon began to follow false gods in his life, and his children were worse. Their children even worse than those before. Occasionally, a Godly king would come, but after he died the nation would fall apart again.
Finally, it was time to keep the other side of God’s promise: if they turned from God, He would let them go. The surrounding nations saw the great wealth God had given Israel, and they came in like vultures.
Enemies of Israel came in and slaughtered and enslaved the people. God’s Word spares few details in describing the deaths of those who had turned so far. From a mighty and growing empire to a nation without a home, Israel had fallen as far as any nation ever could.
But God is good, and redemption was coming.
Day 16 - December 17th
After years of God visiting Israel in a tent, Solomon builds a permanent place: the temple.
Read II Samuel 7:4-17; I Kings 3:2, 8:1-11
Ever since the nation of Israel wandered in the desert after leaving Egypt, they would worship God through a tent specifically designed to glorify Him. They built the Ark of the Covenant as a throne for Him to sit on, and only a consecrated priest could go in. When Israel would stop they would take special care to erect it, and when they moved on they carefully packed it up to be moved by the priests.
God established a kingdom for Israel through Saul and David, and David felt that if he could live in a palace, then the time had come to build a more permanant house for God. Unfortunately, David’s past as a man of violence disqualified him from being the one to build the temple. However, God promised him that his son, Solomon, would be the one to build it.
And build it Solomon did. For chapters, the Bible describes the material he used. Copious amounts of gold. Fine linen. Rare and beautiful jewels. The finest wood. Everything measured to exact standards. Everything had to be perfect. As long as Israel stayed true to God, He would dwell in that temple.
With much pomp and circumstance, Solomon had the priests bring the Ark of the Covenant into the innermost room, the holiest of holy places. The priests left, and God’s glory filled the temple. God’s glory was so powerful the priests could no longer minister outside the temple because they were so overcome.
One day, God would tear the wall between man and the Divine. One day, man would be able to boldy approach the throne of God in the name of the Savior. Even as sinful men and women, we can come before God spotless. Our Mediator washing us clean.
Day 15 - December 16th
Solomon only asks God for wisdom, and God blesses him beyond imagination.
Read I Kings 3:3-14
Solomon was a Godly man. He followed God closely, he walked with Him, and made Him his priority every day. He went above and beyond in observing God’s laws and following His ways. He was, so far, a worthy successor of King David.
God loved Solomon, and He was pleased in the way Solomon strove to live a Godly life. So He came to Solomon in a dream, offering him anything he wanted. Solomon had the opportunity to ask for peace, for wealth, for a larger kingdom, anything. Solomon showed his heart by asking God to give just one, intangible thing: an understanding mind. Wisdom.
Solomon’s request led to rewards beyond what he could have ever imagined. So pleased was God that He not only granted Solomon’s request, but He gave him all the things he hadn’t asked for. He gave Solomon peace in his life. He gave Solomon riches beyond what even the wealthiest of pharaohs in Egypt had. People would come from far and wide to pay their respects to this great king.
Imagine what you would have asked for had God given you the same opportunity. It may not be wisdom, but ask yourself if what you would ask for is something that would be pleasing to God. Know that you can go to God in prayer, and ask Him.
Day 14 - December 15th
David ignored the way God established marriage, and sin destroys his family.
Read 2 Samuel 11:2-5,14-15; 12:9-15;13:7-14, 28-29.
David committed a sin that most people would shudder at: he slept with another man’s wife and had her husband killed. David tried many times to hide his sin, and finally he had to resort to murder. God wasn’t fooled, and God wasn’t pleased. Immediately, the consequences of David’s sin took hold.
God took the life of his child born from the adultery. As devastating as that was, worse was still to come. Having many wives with many children, he had a large but broken family. Lust for one sibling led to rape. Anger led to more murder. Absalom would eventually even take Jerusalem from David, take his wives, and attempt to usurp the kingdom.
David would lose much of his family, and almost his kingdom. Eventually his true successor, Solomon, would also kill one of his brothers in order to make his claim to the throne. All this because David didn’t follow God’s way. He took multiple wives, one of which was from adultery and murder. He didn’t raise his sons to follow God’s way, and they turned away.
David was called a man “after God’s own heart” and his life was destroyed by sin. How are we to expect that we can live a life pleasing to God? How can we expect our lives to be free from the consequences of sin? We cannot, so we must ask God for mercy and grace. He gave us a Savior, a mediator to plead to Him on our behalf. We may not be able to live sinless lives, but we can turn the One who will wash us white as snow.
Day 13 - December 14th
After Saul’s reign, God gave the people of Israel what they needed, a Godly king.
Read I Samuel 13:8-14, 16:6-13, Acts 13, 19-23
Saul had failed, just as God had warned the people that he would. Instead, God would raise up someone that was Godly, “after His own heart.” His prophet, Samuel, was eager to find someone so when God led him to the house of Jesse and introduced his sons, Samuel was pleased. Tall, strong, and handsome: these young men were of the calibre he knew Israel would follow. Saul had also been such a man. Tall and handsome, with all the charisma needed to get people to follow him.
It wasn’t what God was looking for. While man looks outward, God looks inward, directly at the heart. He had picked someone who would follow His ways, His laws. God’s chosen wouldn’t be perfect, but he would strive to be in close fellowship with God through his good and his bad. That man was David.
Though handsome, David was not the oldest, strongest, or tallest. He was not someone Samuel looked at and thought would be the greatest king Israel would ever know. “This one,” God said. So Samuel poured oil over his head, anointing him, sealing him as the future king of Israel before God.
He didn’t look for someone special, just someone who loved and followed Him. It was from this king that God would send the world a Messiah. The Savior would have a blood-right to be a king on earth just as He is the King of Heaven.
Day 12 - December 13th
God heard the cries of the people of Israel, and He gave them what they wanted, a powerful king.
Read Judges 21:25, I Samuel 8:4-22
The people demanded a king. The judges were often corrupt, and they did not follow God’s ways. They were often a reflection of the people they were to serve, and the people were often a reflection of them. The people of Israel looked at the godless surrounding nations, and wanted to be even more like them.
So God agreed to give them a king. Although they were directly rejecting the Kingship of God, He was not angry at them. He did not punish them in any way. He would simply give them what they demanded and allow the natural consequences of their demands to take place.
Samuel was much angrier. Although the judges were continually failing in their duties and the people would follow false gods, God had claimed the nation as his own, and would always provide them with redemption. So Samuel warned the people of what a king would bring.
God’s laws were often harsh, but always just. A king’s laws would simply reflect the wants of a king. God’s tithe was just. A king’s tax could bring them to poverty. God wanted the hearts of His people. A king would make them little more than slaves.
Yet the people demanded a king, so God gave them one. Their king would fail and bring down the nation. The people would curse the royal household. They would be scattered across the land, hiding in fear from the pagan kings.
One day God would come down to earth to be the true King again. This time He would not just be the king of a chosen nation, but of all nations.
Day 11 - December 12th
God gave Israel the opportunity to meet him directly.
Read Joshua 24:1-28
God had taken the people of Israel and brought them into their promised land. Through the desert, God had brought them. God had led them to conquer armies much bigger than theirs. God had lead them to tear down the walls of a pagan city. Step by slow step, Israel reclaimed the land of Canaan, and they would reap the benefits of the labor of those they conquered.
There were still places left to claim, enemies left to fight, but the land was theirs. It left an important question for them: will they serve God or turn away from Him and follow the gods of Egypt and Canaan? Joshua made it clear where he stood.
The leaders of Israel said over and over again that they would follow God. Again and again they would remain true to the God that had led them to the end of their ancestors. Yet Joshua knew the sin that lived in their hearts.
How often do we proclaim a renewed love of God on Sunday morning? How often do we enter the week intending to be strong in our righteousness? How often do we allow the false gods in our lives to usurp the place of the one true living God? We must ask God to change our hearts. We must live our lives with a focus on serving God. If we keep Him in the front of our hearts and minds, there will be no room for sin.
So ask yourself: who will you serve?
Day 10 - December 11th
God brought the Israelites to the Promised Land, and gave it to them.
Read Judges 2
It took no time at all for Israel to turn away from God. No sooner was the land given to them than they decided to follow the gods of the pagans in the land. They broke their covenant, their eternal promise, to God. So God kept the terms of their covenant: He gave them up.
God was angry at Israel. The people He had chosen to carry the lineage of the Savior of the world had betrayed Him. Enemies came and conquered. Slavers came and forced them into labor. Their newly established lands were reclaimed by their enemies. To the people of Israel, He seemed utterly silent.
Yet God loved Israel, and He provided a way for them. He raised up the Judges -- the men and women who would lead Israel the best they could back towards God. They were not perfect people. They were not always shining heroes standing against evil. They were simply the ones God chose to bring about His ways.
When we sin as God’s children, we can trust that He will continue to love us. We may have to live with the natural consequence of our sin, but His love will never fail. Are you mired in sin, seeming to be unable to break free? Look for the leaders in your life that God has placed there for this time, for this sin. He provides a way, we just need the courage to follow it.
Day 9 - December 10th
No matter what their needs were, God provided for Israel in the middle of the desert.
Read Exodus 15:22-25, 16:1-15
Stubborn man, no matter how much he sees God provide, still grumbles. He did not trust God would provide. Israel had seen the destruction of the Egyptian tyranny through the ten plagues. Israel had just seen God divide the Red Sea. They had just passed through the with walls of water surrounding them, and the ground was not even wet. They watched as those walls crashed down on the armies of Pharaoh, destroying the army of Egypt.
Yet they grumbled. When they lacked water, they grumbled. When they were hungry, they grumbled. Never did they ask God for His provision. Never did they trust the One who led them out of slavery to take care of their needs. They even began to believe that it would be better to have stayed in Egypt as slaves.
They may have believed that their words were directed at Moses. They may have even believed that they were trying to spur Moses into action. However, the One they grumbled against was God. They felt safe speaking out again the God that had created miracle after miracle. God in His righteous justice could have struck them dead.
Fortunately, for each of us, our God is a God of love and mercy. Rather than becoming angry and moving against those who did not trust Him, God provided for them in ways that they could not imagine. He brought birds out of the ground for meat, and He made it rain bread from Heaven. He provided enough for everyone to be taken care of.
We, God’s chosen people, can always trust Him with our needs. In the desert, when it seems like there is no hope, we can trust that the God who provided for a nation will provide for us. He would even provide a way for the whole to get a chance at freedom, a freedom from our sins.
Day 8 - December 9th
Though it seemed impossible, God made a way for the Israelites to escape slavery.
Read Exodus 14: 5-31
God set the people free from slavery in Egypt. God had broken the sinful pride of the Pharaoh, who refused again and again to let the Israelites leave, and Israel was free to leave for the first time in four hundred years.
No sooner did the people of Israel leave their city of Goshen than Pharaoh once again decided he could not let them leave their place as slaves. As the former slaves walked through the desert, Pharaoh gathered his army to crush them back into submission.
For the Israelites, things looked hopeless. God had led them against the Red Sea with no place to escape. The God they had begun to trust seemed to have failed them. They had begun to curse Moses, wishing that they could still be slaves in Egypt, when God began to act.
God told Moses to lift his staff over the sea, and He would make a way for Israel. Moses obeyed, and the sea began to part. Right in the direction Israel needed to go God pulled the waters up like walls. Israel had a clear, dry path to walk on. The sight of such a miracle -- it seemed to take very little faith to cross the sea.
Pharaoh reached the sea and saw it parted with Israel almost at the other side. In the sight of such a miracle, such an obvious display of favor from God towards Israel, you could easily think Pharaoh would have turned away.
He did not. He moved his army forward, prepared to crush Israel. Hate blinded him. Rage drove him. Even in the face of such awesome power, Pharaoh pursued. Then the walls of water came down. They crashed down on Pharaoh and his armies.
God so often leads us to an uncrossable sea, and our faith falters. How often do we simply trust that God will part the waters? One was coming who would forever part the waters of our sin, no matter how deep and how wide, all we must do is trust Him.
Day 7 - December 8th
Moses was one of the least qualified people to lead, yet God called him.
Read Exodus 2:11-17, 3:7-15, 4:1-17
After murdering an Egyptian guard, Moses had to flee the life of luxury he had grown up in. No longer was he a prince in the land of Egypt; rather, he was now a shepherd in a far off land. While tending sheep, God came to Moses in the form of a burning bush, and Moses would lose his life as a shepherd to be the one prophesied to Abraham over five hundred years earlier.
God was calling him to lead the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt into the land that he had promised Abraham and Jacob.There was no excuse Moses could come up with to change God’s mind about it.
“What if they don’t listen?” He asked. God responded by giving him two miraculous signs. These signs weren’t enough to Moses, he needed to find more excuses. How often does God lay a sign at our feet and we insist that we need something more, or something greater. We allow our fear to get in the way of destiny, but God’s will is always done.
Moses tried to say he was a poor speaker, and not someone that would inspire the people to follow him, and God reminded him that it is not man who determines the skill of the mouth, but God himself. Still Moses resisted, and our long-suffering God provided a speaker for him.
How often do we look for a way out of God’s calling for us? How often do we need more skills, more knowledge, or more time before we can feel confident in following God? God’s will shall be done, we simply need to have the courage to follow it.
Day 6 - December 7th
God promised Abraham more descendants than there are stars, one of them would be the Messiah.
Read Genesis 15
Abraham was old. He was over a hundred, and his wife was over ninety. There was no possible way that they would have children together, but God promised that they would. In fact, their children and children’s children would become so numerous they would outnumber the stars in the sky. Imagine looking up at a night of pure darkness and starlight, unadulterated by our modern city lights. Such a number of stars He must have seen!
Abraham had trusted God for a long time, and for a long way. God had led him out of a pagan land and to a place God would establish into a new nation. Yet Abraham wasn’t sure. He couldn’t quite believe that God would fulfill His promise like He said He would. So God made a covenant with him.
A covenant is a special kind of promise, sealed in a way that brings it to a spiritual level. First, Abraham fulfilled his end of the covenant, then he fell into a deep sleep. While he was sleeping, God Himself came down to Earth like He hadn’t since the days of Adam. God walked on earth to fulfill His promise.
When God makes a promise, He will keep it. We can count on that, even when He seems far away.
Day 5 - December 6th
After bringing down His justice, God was still merciful. He promised to never flood the earth again.
Read Genesis 8-9:17
God’s justice was complete. He had destroyed the wicked and spared the righteous. The flood waters first raged, then calmed. All there was left to do was to float among the waves, waiting for the waters to recede and land to reappear.
Noah sent out birds to see if land would be spotted. God, in his goodness, sent Noah hope in the form of an olive branch. God’s promises can take a long time, but He never fails to bring encouragement and hope along the way. Like Noah, we can turn to Him when things look hopeless.
When the water finally receded God gave Noah a bigger promise: He would never again flood the world with water. He sealed his covenant in the sky with a rainbow, which comes with the rainfall.
We can stand firm on the promise of God, even as we look towards a time when God’s justice will pour out on the earth again. He is a patient God, and He will save anyone who calls on him. He has established a new covenant with mankind, and anyone who turns to Him can enter His covenant and look forward to his Kingdom.
Day 4 - December 5th
God Is Just
Sin had conquered all of humanity, and God dealt justly.
Read Genesis 6:11-7:24
Humanity was entirely corrupt. They had abandoned God. Parents were no longer teaching their children God’s ways, and everyone acted as they pleased. Man had corrupted the earth with sin, and there was no aspect of creation that was unaffected.
One man on the whole earth maintained God’s law. Only one man taught his children well, and led his family in a Godly manner. That man was Noah. Imagine the ridicule he faced. Imagine how his family was mocked. Standing alone against a tidal wave of sin and pressure to stand firm with God. Every day the world tempts us, asks us to join and accept and embrace all manner of sin. Like Noah, we can stand firm on the Word of God, even when the sin around us seems overwhelming.
God told Noah what to do, and he gave no argument as he set about his task. Bringing his entire family on board, he worked to build the great ark that would save the last righteous people on earth. God was angry, and God is just, but He is also patient. Over one hundred years Noah labored, over one hundred years for people to repent, and man continued in his wickedness, unrepentant.
Finally, God sent the rain. Finally, God broke the fountains of the deep. Every living thing that wasn’t on the ark when God closed the door was destroyed. God loved his creation, but their sin demanded justice. Justice was granted.
One day God would send another ark, and anyone who clings to it will be saved. The ark was coming in the flesh, to be born in a stable among the dirt and stink of animals. God’s justice is coming again, but the door to the ark is still open.
Day 3 - December 4th
Once an action is taken it can never be undone, so we need to strive to follow God.
Read Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-24
God had but one rule for His creation, and it was the simplest rule imaginable. Do not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In the whole of creation, of all the trees in their paradise, there was just that. Yet man couldn’t stay away.
When temptation came, the people whose lungs were filled with the very breath of God fell short. When the tempter came, they did not fall back on the word of God. Satan asked what command God had given, and Eve tells him, then adds words to God’s command. God never said not to touch the tree, but like so many today who try to decide what God wants without turning to His word, she added rules she couldn’t begin to keep.
Eve picked the fruit, and she ate it. Like every sin we fight against today, the fruit looked beautiful and good. Like every sin, the truth of its nature wasn’t revealed until the sin was committed. All the while Adam watched, and partook in the sin himself.
For the first time, they had to hide from the presence of God. The God who would walk with them in the garden, the God who spoke to them in person, was now too Holy for them to stand in His presence. The perfection of creation was destroyed.
Man was punished. No more would the world provide for them; now man would have to cultivate the earth by the sweat of his brow. For the woman God would give pain in childbirth, weaving together the most beautiful and most painful feelings into one experience. Because of their sin man and wife would forever live in conflict if left to themselves.
Satan was promised the ultimate defeat. He would lead God’s people astray. He would harm God’s children any way he could. He would even strike a blow at God Himself. But God would crush him. The One was coming who would crush Satan under His heel. The fulfillment of the promise would take thousands of years, but He was coming. Creation groaned for the day of the Redeemer to come. Man looked toward the promise of the Messiah from the earliest days. He was coming.
Day 2 - December 3rd
God creates humans to live in relationship to Him and to each other.
Read Genesis 2:5-34
God took special care in the creation of man. Man is the only creature made out of the dust of the ground. When God made man out of dirt, He tied man to the earth. Nothing in all of creation bearing a lower status than the dust of the ground, yet it was God’s chosen means of creating the pinnacle of His work. Man would forever be an earthly creature, tasked with caring for the land and creatures that he is intimately a part of.
God gave man life by breathing His own breath in him. Man would forever be a creature of the spirit, having dominion over the rest of creation. Nothing else in the cosmos would ever share man’s place of having life from God’s very lungs. The honor is greater than that of the angels in heaven, seated at the throne of God.
God wasn’t done. He had made a male and female pair for every creature on earth, and He would do the same from man. Again God took special care in doing this. He knew that man would need a helper, one that would be tied to him in a way that no other creature could be tied to another. He took a rib from man’s chest and used it to craft a woman. She was made from the very essence of man, forever a part of him.
Still, God wasn’t done. He wanted to give man and woman a home, so he created a garden called Eden. The plants would grow all the food they would need. A mist would keep the ground moist and fresh. There was everything they would ever need, and it was perfect. God had gifted them with a heaven on Earth, and one day He will gift it to us again.
Day 1 - December 2nd
God created the entire universe, culminating with the creation of man.
Read Genesis 1
In the beginning there was only the one triune God. Three persons in perfect, harmonious one. They needed nothing. They were want for nothing. There was no pain, no sickness, no death. Everything was perfect.
Then God decided. Creating light and space, He stretched out the corridors of time and space, bringing forth the earth. The great trees and the mighty mountains. The brute beasts of the earth, the sleek creatures of the sea, the ethereal creatures of the sky. Stars upon stars, He created the cosmos in terrifying splendor, ever expanding into boundless forever. Beauty and perfection in every single thing He touched. And it was good.
In the midst of perfect creation God made man. A being beyond the rest of creation, made in the image of God, containing the very breath of God in his lungs. A creature with dominion over everything else God had placed in HIs creation. Capable of love and logic. Given the power to create and to destroy. In all of creation, it was man who would be able to live in relationship with God.
God also created man with the capacity for failure, a capacity that would be on display soon enough. But God’s plan for redemption was in place. It was going to be painful. It would cost God everything. The perfect harmony of the Trinity that had existed beyond the foundation would be shattered when the Father would turn His face from the Son.
Yet He made man, and it was very good.