By James H. Snowden
his birth was a wonderful fulfillment of prophecy. The Jews had cherished the hope of the promised Messiah for thousands of years. Through all their national vicissitudes, enslavement in Egypt, wanderings in, the wilderness, establishment and growth in the promised land, internal division and external captivity in Babylon, restoration, and final subjection to the Romans, this hope burned on the horizon of their future as a fixed star. It was this that ever led them on and held them together and made it impossible to break or subdue their spirit. This was the dawn that filled all their dark and bitter days with the rosy glow of hope.
Yet the Messiah came not, and as the centuries slowly rolled along they must have grown weary and at times have doubted. Sceptics scoffed, “Where is the sign of his coming?” But the great heart of the nation remained true to its trust, while prophets caught glimpses of the coming glory and white-headed, trembling old saints prayed that they might live a little longer and not die before he came. Perhaps this hope was never at a lower ebb than when the Roman power was ruthlessly grinding the nation down into the dust. But suddenly at this darkest hour a blinding light burnt through the floor of heaven and shepherds ran about announcing that the Messiah was born! Who can imagine the surprise, the wonder, the overwhelming amazement this news created? How many were eager to go to Bethlehem and see this thing which had come to pass! And when it was found to be true, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy and old men blessed God and said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servants depart in peace.”
Yet why should they have wondered at God’s faithfulness in keeping his promise, as though he could ever have forgotten it or failed to bring it to pass? Why should we ever wonder at the faithfulness of God? Doubtless in some degree because of our human infirmity. Our sense of unity with God and trust in him have been weakened by sin until we are ready to doubt him as though he were one of ourselves. His promises also are so far-reaching and great, splendid and blessed, they so far surpass our thoughts of wisdom and mercy, that, even though they have been repeated to us until we are familiar with them, when they are fulfilled we wonder at the faithfulness that will bring so great things to pass.
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