Greeting: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Text: 8) Now then, tell my servant David: “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over My people Israel. 9) I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth. 10) And I will provide a place for My people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11) and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over My people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. “The Lord declares to you that the Lord Himself will establish a house for you . . . 16) Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before Me; your throne will be established forever.”
Introduction: “And it came to pass.” For a number of us, those are some of the most memorable words of our lives. “And it came to pass” are the opening words of the King James’ translation of St. Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus Christ. If you have ever had to memorize those words for recitation at Christmas services, they are unforgettable.
Late Advent – this year, we are very late in Advent – is the time to remember that things “come to pass” at Christmas. Good things come to pass -incredibly good things! They are things that God does and that He gives to us. Today we will consider some old and precious things that God spoke about centuries before Jesus birth. They are things that God actually caused to come to pass when the Savior was born. By taking time to consider them, we will see that in the birth of Jesus, God Keeps His Surprising Promise to us and that God Gives Us Eternal Peace.
1.That God Keeps His Surprising Promise
A most unusual thing happened about 1,000 B.C. David, the King of Israel at the time, made a grand request of God. He asked permission to build a house of worship, a temple, to honor God. This had long been the great desire of David’s heart. This was the wonderful way that David wanted to show His deep love and devotion for God. In His reply to David’s heartfelt request, the Lord gave David a surprising answer. God conveyed His answer through the prophet Nathan. God’s answer was “No.” God would not let David build a temple to honor Him. Instead, God would do something for David. He would do something grander than the grand things David had thought of doing for Him. Through His prophet, the Lord told David that it would be God who would build a house for David. God obligated Himself to establish for David an eternal kingdom. He would raise up a dynasty of descendants who would rule over Israel. Ultimately, one of those descendants would be the greatest King of all. The Lord promised that from David’s family line would come the Messiah or Christ, the Savior of all, who would also be God’s Son and who would rule eternally as King of kings and Lord of lords.
God kept that promise to David. God raised up successors in David’s family to rule as kings. He raised up David’s son, Solomon, the child he had with Bathsheba, whom He would allow to build the temple for His honor. In succeeding generations, God raised up more descendents of David to rule as Kings of Judah. God provided through David a line of 21 kings over the course of the next 400 years.
Then after a pause of 600 years, when there was no king from David’s family to rule over the kingdom of Judah, God sent the descendant of David’s family who would be the great, eternal King. Through David’s descendant, Mary, God sent Jesus. Jesus is the One of whom the angel Gabriel said: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever. His kingdom will never end.”
Christmas is the coming of the great King, promised to David, who rules eternally. Jesus is not the king of any earthly country, although He is the King of the whole world. Jesus did not come to rule a worldly empire. He came to establish a greater spiritual and eternal kingdom. Jesus is the descendant of David, who is also the Son of God. He rules with divine authority and power over all. He rules by His Word of grace in the hearts of all Christian believers. He rules will infinite glory and majesty in heaven. In His tender mercy, He grants pardon to sinners and His shows favor to the unworthy. He transforms spiritually disgraced outcasts and rebels into His cherished children and honored citizens in His kingdom.
The Father’s sending of Jesus as the Messiah gives us great comfort and confidence. Paul highlights the greatness of the gift of Jesus. He writes in Romans 8:31: “If God did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how shall He not with Jesus freely give us all things?” In 2 Corinthians 1:20, Paul says: “No matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.” By fulfilling the promise He made to David in 1000 B.C. God gives us great confidence. He gives us the confidence of knowing that Jesus is the delivering King who saves us at all times from all our sins and the doom they would bring on us. He also gives us the confidence of knowing that through our King’s rule, He will provide all we need, preserve our faith and life and protect us from all dangers, guide us through every difficulty and strengthen us so we may successfully prevail against all opposition and ultimately reach heaven’s glory.
2.That God Gives His Eternal Peace
“And it came to pass.” God’s original promise to King David included the assurance that there would be peace and security for God’s people. God’s prophet announced to David: “And I will provide a place for My people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and will no longer be disturbed.”
This was no small promise. A thousand years before David’s time, God had promised Abraham that He would raise up a nation through Abraham that would inherit the land of Canaan. It was a wonderful promise. However, in the years that followed, it seemed that Abraham’s descendents were trying their hardest disqualify themselves from receiving this land. When God set the people of Israel free from slavery in Egypt, they regularly rebelled against God and His servant, Moses, on the way to Canaan. As a penalty for their rebellion, God required them to march in circles in the desert wilderness for 38 years before would let them enter this Promised Land. Then, after the people of Israel gained entrance to Canaan under Joshua’s leadership, they became lazy and self-satisfied and failed to drive out the remaining enemies. After Joshua, the people of Israel went through the turbulent times of the Judges when God had to repeatedly correct their waywardness by having them be dominated by neighboring nations.
Later on, the tribes of Israel became divided under the poor leadership of King Saul. They were surrounded by harassing enemies on all their borders. Under David, God provided a secure home for His people. David’s conquests united the tribes into a solid nation. Through David’s leadership, God expanded the territory of Israel and secured the borders. David’s successor, Solomon, (whose name means “peace”) reaped the benefits of God’s blessing through David. There was peace for a time for the nation.
In His great, surprising promise to David through Nathan, God declared that David’s greatest descendent would bring a far greater peace than David had been able to achieve. Isaiah declared this coming King from David to be the “Prince of Peace.” St. Paul would later rejoice that in Jesus, the Christ, people would enjoy the most important of all possible forms of peace, peace with God, peace between sinners and the Lord their Creator and Judge.
Peace is often a costly thing to secure. During the Korean and Viet Nam wars that the United States was involved in the last half of the 20th century, 110,000 American lives were lost. The cost for fighting wars and achieving peace is tremendously high. The peace that Jesus, the great King from David, won for us was also costly. It cost the precious life of God’s holy Son. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a valiant spiritual warrior entered the world. He came as the Righteous One who came to fight our mighty enemies – sin, evil, Satan, death and hell. Through His perfect obedience to God’s laws and His thorough suffering of God’s wrath, Jesus won a complete victory for all people over these enemies. Now Jesus lives and rules to grant the benefits of His victory. He grants God’s peace, His health and wholeness for us with God. This peace God freely offers to us in the Gospel. By the Spirit’s persuasive work in our hearts, we receive it as our own.
The message of peace that Jesus brings is a message of joy. The Christmas angel heralded the truth of it: “I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be for all the people. Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” The mass choir of holy angels sang that night: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace toward people out of God’s good favor.” The peace Jesus won for us is to be enjoyed by us. The King is sent to us. He has saved us. Our souls have every reason to be thrilled to the depth of our being this holy season.
The peace that Jesus won is also to be proclaimed. David, the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles announced this peace so that we and our family members and friends and everyone may know that peace and pass it on. All this is possible and gloriously real because God made sure that “It came to pass.” Amen.