God Fulfills His Covenant Pledge
These are the readings for the Second Sunday after Christmas.
God’s Word for This Week
God’s actions at the first Christmas when Jesus was born began to uncover a grand covenant of worldwide blessings. God had made this covenant with Abraham and David centuries earlier. Now some 2,000 years after Jesus’ birth we continue to reap the benefits. Through Christ, we enjoy a “dear-Father-and-son” relationship with the almighty God.
Traditional First Lesson – Genesis 17:1-7
What was the covenant that God had made with Abraham?
He was going to make Abraham the “father of many nations” to be their God and provide them the land as their own. In Genesis 12:3, he clarifies that “all nations will be blessed” because of him. It is from his descendants that the Savior would be born for the benefit of the whole world. (Do you see this includes you?)
What did he command as the way to seal this covenant to make its reality constantly evident to the people? (See Genesis 9-14.)
All the male children were to be circumcised as a sign of the covenant. In the next generations, it was to be an automatic rite carried out on the boys when they were eight days old. It would connect them with the covenant God and his blessings to his people.
Supplemental First Lesson – 2 Samuel 7:8-16
David intended to improve God’s house from an elaborate tent to a bigger, more permanent house—a house of cedar. What did God say in response?
In response to David’s plans to build him a temple, God promised a) to make David’s name great; b) to establish a house (that is, a dynasty) for David that would last forever, and c) to have David’s son Solomon build God a temple in Jerusalem.
What does God call his future temple in Jerusalem? (See 2 Samuel 7:13.)
God called the temple which Solomon would build “a house for my Name.” Your name conveys many things about you. Likewise, the temple would show God’s grace and greatness in many ways. It would show what God is like.
Traditional Second Lesson – Galatians 4:4-7
What do you understand by “when the time had fully come”?
God’s plans for us have not only a specific purpose but also a specific time schedule. Jesus was born at a specific time because all the elements God was putting in place were ready. His countdown was over. What wisdom we see in the way he carried it out so that the world would know the Savior!
What is the result of Jesus coming?
God’s Son became fully human and lived under the law (including being circumcised on the eighth day). He did this so he could free us from the curse of law. Now we receive the full relationship and blessings of being free sons (inheriting children) of God. (Do you live in the security, peace, and love of that relationship?)
Supplemental Second Lesson – Colossians 1:13-20
From what dominion has the Father rescued us?
The Father has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. In Jesus, we have that redemption: the forgiveness of our sins.
How much of this world was made by Jesus? For Jesus?
All things were made by Jesus. All things were made for Jesus. This includes even the iron used to make the nails that crucified him.
How much of God’s fullness dwells in Jesus?
All of God’s fullness dwells in Jesus. How all of God can be in his Son, and how as true man the Son can have a body, when the Father does not have a body, none of us know. But we know what it means: Peace forever!
Gospel – Luke 1:68-75
What did Zechariah acknowledge when he broke into song at the birth of John the Baptist? (See 1:72.)
Zechariah saw John the Baptist’s birth (especially given his mother Elizabeth’s advanced age) as the fulfillment of God’s “holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham.”
What is the result of God accomplishing his promise? (See Luke 1:74-75.)
Since God has kept his ancient promises in Christ, we will not only be rescued from our enemies (the curse of sin, the fear of death, and the power of the devil), but we will also be able to serve him without fear. We will no longer be slaves but one. We will serve God in righteousness and holiness all our days.