by Seattle ALC
What do promises mean? They come in many forms. As a child, how often did we try to hold our parents to their promises? Was the phrase, “But you promised” something you said or heard when you were young? How great was it when those promises were fulfilled! Promises can be as simple as being based on the word of the one making the promise, or as complex as the business contracts prevalent today. Both are valid only if the giver is honest, and values the one the promise is given to. We can look at this time of Epiphany as a promise fulfilled.
On the front page of this website we have a portion of Scripture from Isaiah Ch. 52:7, which reads: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! “. This was a part of God’s promise to ancient Israel, and is extended to us also. It comes in the midst of the trials and the difficulties of our lives. Sickness and death are part of our lives today, as much as was experienced by ancient Israel. A century after the prophet wrote this, Israel was taken into captivity and the land was made desolate. I wonder how many times the phrase “But you promised” came from the lips of those taken into captivity in Babylon?
We pray that physical captivity would be removed from this earth, and that no one would ever experience it again. There is a captivity that is greater than physical captivity and it is the captivity that sin brings to the human race. It has broken the relationship that we were created for and no one has ever escaped this brokenness outside of the promises of God.
Isn’t it marvelous to know that God promised “peace” and “good tidings” before the foundation of this world was laid?! The land of Israel was restored in a physical way at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. But embedded in the core of restoration was the promise of a Savior. Jesus Christ was born 400 years later, true man born of the virgin Mary, and true God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. He alone is the source of the peace that Isaiah wrote about in Chapter 52. He fulfilled the righteous demands of the law of God as a spotless lamb. Hebrews 9: 25-28 explains this fulfillment for us: ” Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. “
God indeed promised and completed that promise, in His Son. He brings the message of God’s love and grace to us. The message of the forgiveness of our sin debt, is a message of restoration. Restoration in the complete work of Jesus the Christ for us. In the suffering , death and resurrection of His Son, our God tell us that He continues to Reign! The Hebrews writer points our eyes to this in Chapter 12 verse 2: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. ”
How beautiful are those feet that brought those “good tidings”! It has been expressed in the past, that we live in a “golden age” because we can share in the message of the peace of God. We can point to Jesus, who saves us and has great joy in our salvation. The Epiphany of Jesus Christ was not a one time event, but continues as a the gift of faith in every believing heart!