3 Old Testament Passages to Prepare Your Heart for Christmas
The whole Bible points us toward our hope in Jesus Christ
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is reading Luke 2:1-20 on Christmas morning.
Every year, my family gathers, sleepy-eyed and pajama-clad, and sits next to our tree to hear the story of Jesus’s birth. When I was younger, I remember wondering why what was supposed to be the greatest story of all time included so many seemingly random facts. Who was Emperor Augustus? Why did it matter that Jesus was born in Bethlehem? What was so important about Joseph’s family tree?
The Bible tells us that God is not only a promise-making God, but he is also a promise-keeping God: “God keeps every promise he makes” (Proverbs 30:5a GNT). Throughout his Word, he lays out the story of redemption that finds its completion on the person and work of Jesus Christ.
As you prepare your heart for Christmas, you can grow in your understanding of God’s promises to you in Jesus Christ by reflecting on these three Old Testament passages.
A Promise for Bethlehem
God’s plans are beyond our comprehension. In his Word, God tells us that he chooses to work in ways that the world will not expect or understand: “God purposely chose what the world considers nonsense in order to shame the wise, and he chose what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful” (1 Corinthians 1:27 GNT). In the same way, God chose the tiny town of Bethlehem as the birthplace of our Savior, who brings peace to the entire world:
The LORD says, “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are one of the smallest towns in Judah, but out of you I will bring a ruler for Israel, whose family line goes back to ancient times.”
So the LORD will abandon his people to their enemies until the woman who is to give birth has her son. Then those Israelites who are in exile will be reunited with their own people. When he comes, he will rule his people with the strength that comes from the LORD and with the majesty of the LORD God himself. His people will live in safety because people all over the earth will acknowledge his greatness, and he will bring peace.
Micah 5:2-5a GNT
A Child Is Born to Us!
The book of Isaiah is known for its prophecy of the coming Messiah. In this book, we find references to his heritage as a descendant of David and his sacrifice for us as “the Suffering Servant” in Isaiah 53. But perhaps the most famous passage is found in Isaiah 9, where God gives a glimpse of the coming Messiah:
A child is born to us!
A son is given to us!
And he will be our ruler.
He will be called, “Wonderful Counselor,”
“Mighty God,” “Eternal Father,”
“Prince of Peace.”
His royal power will continue to grow;
his kingdom will always be at peace.
He will rule as King David’s successor,
basing his power on right and justice,
from now until the end of time.
The LORD Almighty is determined to do all this.
Isaiah 9:6-7 GNT
Today, we can look back at how God’s purposes unfolded and see that this prophecy was fulfilled centuries after it was spoken with the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior.
A Psalm of Hope
Psalm 22 begins with words of loneliness and pain:
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
I have cried desperately for help,
but still it does not come.
Psalm 22:1 GNT
Centuries later, Jesus spoke these same words on the cross:
At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?”
Mark 15:34 GNT
Christmas is a time of great joy, but it can also be a time when the worries and suffering of our lives overtake us. That’s why it’s important to remember that, in the broad scope of God’s eternal story, we need to look beyond Christmas to find our ultimate hope. Jesus came, suffered, and died for our sins, but he rose again and offers us the gift of eternal life.
So, as you prepare your heart for Christmas, remember to look back at the promises of the Old Testament, and look forward to God’s promise for our future. Because, while Psalm 22 begins with an echo of Jesus’s words before his death on the cross for our sakes, it ends with a vision of hope for Christmas and all throughout the year:
The LORD is king,
and he rules the nations.
All proud people will bow down to him;
all mortals will bow down before him.
Future generations will serve him;
they will speak of the Lord to the coming generation.
People not yet born will be told:
“The Lord saved his people.”
Psalm 22:28-31 GNT
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