The Unbroken Promise
A long time before this story ever took place, God revealed important pieces of it to some of His prophets. He told them a day would come when His own Son would be born on the earth. Three of the most important of these prophets were Isaiah, Micah, and Jeremiah.
If you were to compare each of God’s prophets to a musical instrument, Isaiah had a voice like a trumpet. It rose strong and clear across a wilderness of godlessness. It was a voice both cacophonous and melodic, depending on who was listening. It became God’s instrument, used to proclaim. To announce. To warn. And its sound wafted in the air long after the trumpeter had ceased to play.
“God’s displeasure with your evil, rebellious, corrupt, and idolatrous ways will bring His judgment upon you,” declared Isaiah in a voice of unwavering strength to the people of Judah.
“Be quiet, Isaiah,” said the people. “No one wants to hear this.” “You are an educated and prominent man,” said the king of Judah. “You are highly respected for your knowledge of history, economy, and theology. Why don’t you stick with what you know? You and I enjoy a close relationship, Isaiah. Why do you strain it with these depressing predictions?”
“It’s because I have a close relationship with God that I must tell you whatever I hear from Him,” Isaiah replied.
In the midst of Isaiah’s prophecy of gloom, however, came a message of hope.
“God will bring a way of redemption to those with a humble and repentant heart,” Isaiah said. “The Lord Himself will give you a sign. The virgin shall conceive and she will bear a Son, whose name shall be called Immanuel.”
Isaiah went on to explain that this Child, Immanuel, which means “God with us,” would be a righteous King who would rule the earth forever.
“His name will be Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” he proclaimed.
Everyone liked this part of the message, but they didn’t have hearts that
were humble or repentant enough to receive it.
Micah had a voice like a timpani. It pounded out the beat of God’s will. Percussive, penetrating, noisy, and irritating to those who did not want to march to it. Clear, precise, rich, and majestically compelling to those who had a heart to follow.
“God’s judgment is coming upon you!” Micah warned the people of Judah and Israel. “You people covet things and are rebellious. You have contempt for God’s Word and you worship false gods. You rich people are oppressing the poor. You rulers do not uphold justice.
You will surely fall to your enemies unless you repent!”
“You’re too extreme, Micah,” said the people. “You speak well, but you never say anything nice.”
“Calm down, Micah,” said the king. “Don’t you think you’re taking your job a little too seriously?”
In the midst of Micah’s prophecy of doom, however, came another message of hope.
“The Lord has spoken to me about you, Bethlehem,” declared
Micah to the people. “You are the least significant town in all of Judah, yet out of you shall come the most important Ruler in Israel.
He will feed His flock like a good shepherd, and all who follow Him will dwell securely. He will rule forever and bring peace to anyone who receives Him.”
Everyone liked this part of the message, but they didn’t want to obey God. They wanted to follow their own desires and dreams instead of doing what God was requiring them to do.
Jeremiah had a voice like a solo violin. It soared above the din of all concerted efforts against him. Its lyrical sound deeply penetrated the righteous souls who would listen, filling them with sorrow and mourning for the sins of their nation. To the godless, however, his voice was interminable shrieking that had to be silenced. So they isolated it by ridicule and rendered it solitary by persecution.
“You rulers are corrupt, but you religious leaders are even worse,” declared Jeremiah to the people of Judah and Israel. “You are the ones who are supposed to hear God’s voice, and yet you are sold out to your own selfish ambitions. I despise your idolatry. I am grieved that you disregard the laws of God. If you do not change your ways, you can be sure that God will deliver you to your enemies.”
“Quiet, Jeremiah!” said the people. “Stop talking about coming disaster. We want to hear something positive.”
“I don’t believe you really hear from God,” said the king to Jeremiah. “Therefore your predictions that we will be taken into exile by our enemies amount to treason. Your writings must be destroyed!”
The king’s fury prevailed. Jeremiah was unfairly convicted of treason and his writings were publicly burned. But nothing could destroy the anointing of God upon him, so he lived to write the same words again. This time with a message of hope.
“The days are coming when God will raise up a branch of righteousness from the house and line of King David,” declared Jeremiah. “This King will reign forever and save His people from all of their enemies.”
Everyone liked this part of the message, but they didn’t have enough faith to believe it.
The people did not listen to God’s prophets, and so exactly as Isaiah, Micah, and Jeremiah had warned, Israel and Judah were captured by their enemies and fell into the hands of cruel and oppressive rulers. Then the voice of all prophecy ceased.
It would be four hundred years before any prophetic voice was heard again.
For four centuries people remembered what the prophets had said. All their prophecies of doom had come to pass. Surely their prophecies of hope would, too. God had promised to send His Son to redeem them, so they watched for the Messiah to come. They looked for His light to penetrate the darkness of their existence. They thirsted for His living water in their dry and barren lives. They yearned for a Deliverer to set them free from their oppressors. They desperately needed His everlasting peace to invade their endless unrest. They cried out to God to send the Savior. He was their only hope.
Into the midst of this dark, hopeless, watching, yearning world, our story begins.
Lord, thank You for speaking to us through Your Word and Your prophets. It strengthens my faith to read of the many things that were prophesied in Your Word which have already come to pass. I know this means that every promise in Your Word will be fulfilled. Thank You for always keeping Your promises. I pray that I will not be like the people in Isaiah’s time who would not humble themselves before You and listen. And I don’t want to be like the people Micah spoke to who refused to obey You. Nor do I want to be like the people who heard Jeremiah’s prophecy but didn’t have faith enough to believe it. Instead, I humble myself before You this day and ask that You would help me to clearly hear and understand Your instructions to me. Enable me to fully know Your laws and obey them. Give me ever-increasing faith to believe that Your promises are true. Help me to see all the promises to me in Your Word so that I can claim them, stand strong in them, and rest in You as I wait for them to be fulfilled in my life.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Excerpted from The Power of Christmas Prayer By Stormie Omartian. Copyright © 2003 by Harvest House Publishers. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.