December 20 - Message Update

The Promise of Hope – Jeremiah 31:1-20 & Matthew 2:15-16 – Pastor Eric

Christmas is God’s promise of hope in a world filled with broken promises.

 

Mary and Joseph faced a perilous journey filled with loneliness, fear, and sorrow as they traveled to a foreign land to save the life of their son, Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ offers us some profound and deep truths especially as our lives are filled with loneliness, fear, and sorrow.

 

However, Mary and Joseph had found refuge in the promises of God that Christmas is God’s promise of HOPE in a world full of broken promises. Christmas offers to each of us hope beyond suffering, beyond loneliness, and beyond illness.  Christmas is God’s great promise of hope to a broken world that is found in God’s everlasting love and joy.

 

(1) Christmas is God’s promise of everlasting love. Christmas offers the hope of God’s steadfast love. His love can’t ever be stolen or taken away. God will continue to love you over and over and over again, no matter the sin or suffering in your life if you are willing to follow Him. (Jeremiah 3:1-6)

 

Jeremiah writes at a time when Israel is sandwiched between an exile to Assyria, and Judah will soon to be exiled to Babylon.  Thus, God’s people were experiencing isolation in exile and a loss of life and land. This prophecy fits well with Mary and Joseph’s situation and today’s situation.

 

In these verses, the prophet Jeremiah offers God’s people a picture of His love and redemption. God reminds His people of His unfolding love story by taking Israel back to another time of strife and struggle. It is the time when God lead His people out of captivity in Egypt and from another wicked leader, Pharaoh.

 

In verse 3, the Hebrew word hesed translated as faithfulness or lovingkindness, which is God’s covenantal and steadfast love. This word in Hebrew doesn’t really have an English equivalent. It’s really hard to translate, because it is even stronger than our own understanding of unconditional love. For God’s love is perpetual, ongoing, for His people from Egypt to Israel to Bethlehem to now.

 

Our God does not complain, tire, or grow weary even when His sons and daughters break His heart in sin and in disobedience. God continues to persist in love, so much so God offered up His one and only Son to die in our place.

 

This is the type of love that we need today in a broken world where we can’t hug and embrace each other. But God’s love is there to embrace us. At a time when we feel alone and isolated, God’s love is there to uplift us.  In a world filled with hurt and pain from divorce, separation, and civil injustice, God’s love is there to heal and mends our broken hearts.

 

(2) Christmas is God’s promise of endless joy. The world can rob you of happiness, but it can’t take away your joy in God. For God is the ultimate joy giver, and His supply of joy never ends. (Jeremiah 31:7-14)

 

Jeremiah reminds Israel that joy in the Lord is linked to salvation in the Lord. They are a scattered and exiled people from their homeland, but God will save them and restore them. God will transform their mourning into rejoicing. God says in verse 13, “I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them and give them gladness for sorrow.”

 

This story of Israel and the Christmas story of Mary and Joseph are God’s powerful reminders that God’s joy and delight is far greater than any power of sorrow.

 

For true joy can never be found in any earthly gift, but only found in God’s heavenly gift of His own Son. True joy then is not the absence of suffering or illness, but the reality of a greater happiness even in the midst of suffering and illness. True joy is centered around the promise that God has already done the miraculous so you can experience the joy to the World, Jesus, in the here and now.

 

(3) Christmas is God’s promise of eternal hope. There is an assurance that God will give us an eternal security both now and forever. Christmas offers to us hope beyond a world of brokenness, hurt, and loneliness. In return, God gives you an eternal security in Heaven free from the cares of this world. (Jeremiah 31:15-20)

 

God continues the theme of Israel’s return from captivity and exile. Jeremiah pictures Rachel as the mother of Israel, and ultimately, the mother of Joseph, who mourns for her children. This is a correction from yesterday’s sermon in Rachel was not unwanted, but Leah was.  But God offers hope in verse 17, “There is hope for your future, declares the Lord and your children shall come back to their own country.”

 

Fast forward to Matthew 2:17-18, where these verses are fulfilled, and they bring comfort to Mary and Joseph in Matthew 2:17-18. These words have wonderful significance, because Mary and Joseph would have been known the history and the stories of Rachel and Israel’s exile.

 

God promised from of old to save His people, and He fulfills that by saving Mary and Joseph from a hideous king.  For Herod was a ruthless king to murder his own sons and every toddler boy in Bethlehem. Thus, God’s story is a powerful reminder of God’s hope of salvation for nothing can defeat our God and nothing can stop His rescue plan of mankind, not even a vicious king.

 

And the irony of the Christmas story is that a humble and innocent baby, a baby King, would bring about the most definite hope for a hurting world by being the greatest cure mankind has ever seen, the cure for sin. Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, is our only hope to rid us of every virus, every broken promise, and every sinful act.

 

So, won’t you want to take hold of God’s promises for you today? It will mean everything for you this Christmas season!  Let Christ fill your Christmas will His promises of His everlasting love, His endless joy, and His eternal hope even in the midst of a world of broken promises.

 

Praise Songs:

O Come All Yee Faithful, Angels We have Heard on High, Joy to the World (Unspeakable Joy), Doxology