The black canvas of the night sky gave way to glittering lights in the heavens. David’s city slept nearby as shepherds watched their flocks in anticipation of the dawn. This same darkness that held the twinkling lights above them, held the sign of God’s promise to Abraham.
“Look up at the sky and count the stars — if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (Genesis 15:5)
God kept His promise to Abraham. These lowly shepherds themselves were a living testament to the faithfulness of God. As offspring of Abraham, they were proof that God cannot lie. God promises and acts according to His vow. Yet, there was one promise that flickered and grew dim among the darkness of the world.
The very first pledge of good news had yet to be fulfilled. The promised Seed had yet to be born. It had been four hundred years since a prophet was sent to Israel. Generations came and went without a prophet. Four hundred years of silence. Four hundred years without a prophet of their generation who would speak God’s Word to them.
The role of the prophet was to call sinners to repentance, to lament, to urge them to change their minds and turn to God. But, what if in all this dialog about repentance, God had repented? What if God began to lament of the promise He had made to Adam and Eve. What if God changed His mind and came to His senses? What righteous and holy God would dare come and befriend sinners, adulterous, godless people who discarded and trespassed against His holy will?
Our sinful nature is less like a sweet little Christmas angel and more like a grinch. The prophet Jeremiah affirms this when he writes about our condition, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” It wouldn’t be surprising if anyone, let alone God, would want to touch us with a “thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole.”
But, God kept His promise to Abraham, and He would keep His promise to send One to crush the head of the serpent and take away our sin.
The darkness fled as the night sky became flooded with heavenly messengers. Doubt departed as the Gospel was proclaimed.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)
The Lord’s promises were not just for Abraham—this promise was for the shepherds, this promise is for you. For unto you is born this day Christ your Lord, your Redeemer.
God will not repent. He will not repent of His promises. He will not change His mind regarding His selfless, self-sacrificing, inconceivable love for sinners. He will not lament of coming for you and for me. The Psalmist writes, “The Lord has sworn, and will not repent” (Psalm 110:4)
Messengers today still proclaim the Gospel of the angels. For you, the Christ has come. For you, the Christ was born in the city of David. But, He did not remain in Bethlehem, He does not reside in a manger.
Christ comes to us as He baptizes, absolves, and feeds us with His Supper. For unto you this day in the sacraments and the Word comes your Savior who is Christ the Lord. That, He promised.
“There is now nothing in all the world you can be more sure of than Jesus crucified for you, given for you.” — Norman Nagel
The Gospel which the heavenly messengers and prophets sing of is a God who not only repents you but who Himself will not repent. He will not repent of Baptizing you and making you His beloved child. He does not and will never regret the love He had for you when He took your sin and my sin to the cross. He does repent of His love for sinners as He bled, died, and rose for our sake. He will never stop acting on His promise to engulf you in His steadfast love and faithfulness.
“Not one He will or can forsake; His covenant he will never break. Let every scheme the tempter try, You may his utmost powers defy.” -Martin Luther