Every day this month, join us as we read about the Arrival of Hope.
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.