I recently created a 31-day Advent/Christmas devotional booklet for my church called “Glory to God in the Highest.” I will be posting a devotional from it each day between now and the end of the year. Enjoy!
Scripture: Matthew 1:1-17
Be honest: When you saw that the Matthew 1 passage above was a genealogy, you quickly skimmed the names. I don’t blame you. I’ve done the same thing many times. But if we take our time with this genealogy, we can learn a lot.
For example, one thing we learn is that it took centuries—millennia—for God’s promise to Abraham to be fulfilled. Recall that God called Abraham to leave his home in family and create a new people, Israel, so that through them—and Israel’s faithful representative, Jesus—all the world could be saved.
The lesson? God operates on his own calendar, not our own. As Tim Keller puts it:
This is one of the main themes of the nativity story, and indeed the Bible. Look at the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. For years it seemed like God was ignoring Joseph’s prayers, letting him experience one disaster after another. But in the ned it became clear that every one of those things had to happen in order for all to be saved. Joseph was even able to say to his brothers, who had sold him into slavery, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20). Look at Jesus, being called to heal a fatally ill girl but stopping to deal with someone else instead and allowing Jairus’s daughter to die. His timing seemed completely wrong—until it became clear it wasn’t (Mark 5:21-43).
God’s grace virtually never operates on our time frame, on a schedule we consider reasonable. He does not follow our agendas or schedules. When Jesus spoke to the despairing father Jairus, whose daughter had just died, he said, “Believe” (Mark 5:36). He was saying, “If you want to impose your time frame on me, you will never feel loved by me, and it will be your fault, because I do love you. I will fulfill my promises.”[†]
How good are you at waiting on God? When have you tried to “impose your time frame” on Jesus? Do you think Keller is exaggerating when he says that we’ll “never feel loved” by him when we do?
† Timothy Keller, Hidden Christmas (New York: Viking, 2016), 35-6.