In December, 843 Acres will journey to the manger through advent readings that consider promises made and kept by the Lord . Yet, before we begin, let’s think about God’s promises as a general matter.
Need for Promises
In the beginning, God spoke into nothingness and created life. Creation was meant to live in perfect harmony with Him . Made “in His own image” , Adam and Eve enjoyed His ultimate good – an unbroken, personal relationship with Him .
Yet, they were unsatisfied. Rather than enjoying everything He had given them, they wanted the one thing He had not – the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden . Thus, they engaged in a foolish cost-benefit analysis , embracing sin and pushing God away.
As He looked upon them – hidden and ashamed, yet bearing His image – He loved them and longed for restoration. But how could His holiness coexist with their unholiness ?
Made and Kept
God planned the grace of our forgiveness before eternity . Century after century, although His people repeatedly rejected Him, He made promises of salvation, using many images to communicate with them .
In Jesus, God kept those promises. As Jesus told His disciples, the Scriptures were written about and fulfilled in Him: “[A]ll things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” .
Yet, why wait thousands of years to send Jesus? Why promise salvation rather than just provide it when it was needed?
Without His promises, we would not have understood Jesus as Messiah. By delaying, He taught us about Israel’s persistent rebellion and His long-suffering forgiveness through the sacrificial system. Without the Old Testament, we were tempted to see Jesus as a mere therapist, good example, or hero.
Yet, these are not His deepest attributes. The truest part of Jesus was that He solved the greatest mystery of all time – namely, how God could punish the guilty and forgive iniquity .
Lord, Over the course of thousands of years, you gave us an epic display of your love, grace, mercy and patience, as you made promises to your rebellious people and kept those promises in Jesus, who is the center of history. How we needed your promises! How we long to be restored to you. Keep our hearts tethered to you, as we continue to hope in your promises until the return of Jesus. Amen.
 For the regular reading plan, see here. |  Jonathan Edwards’ The End for Which God Created the World provides an excellent theological foundation concerning the reason for creation. Since Edwards’ essay was written to philosophers of his time, however, it is very difficult to read. John Piper has written an excellent work, God’s Passion for His Glory, that accompanies the full text of the essay and has hundreds of footnotes of explanation. I highly recommend it. |  Genesis 1:27 NASB |  When God looked upon His creation of Adam and Eve, He said it was “very good.” For an extended reflection on the concept of friendship with God, see Billy Graham’s The Journey, chapter 3 (“The Great Design”). |  Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-6 |  Genesis 3:1-7 | |  The frequent Biblical analogy to show that holiness cannot coexist with unholiness is that light cannot coexist with darkness. Once a light shines in the darkness, there is no more darkness; the light has overcome it. Similarly, once holiness shines in unholiness, the holiness overcomes the unholiness; the unholiness has been extinguished. See, e.g., Luke 11, John 1, John 12, 1 Corinthians 6. |  1 Timothy 1:9 |  As we will see in the advent readings, God used the covenant, the law, the temple, the sacrifices, etc., to communicate His promise of salvation in ways that we could understand. |  Luke 24:44 NASB |  Exodus 34:6-7 (announcing His character to Moses, the Lord said that He was, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished … NASB).