The span between Malachi and Matthew lasted approximately four hundred years, often referred to by scholars as the “400 silent years” since there were no records of prophecies or angelic appearances.
Then, God spoke.
And when God broke the silence, he did so magnificently! It was time for Israel’s long-awaited Messiah to rise up for the salvation of his people.
The first messages from God during this history-making moment were angelic appearances to a handful of people, one of whom was a young lady named Mary.
Gabriel appeared to Mary and proclaimed, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28 NLT)
I love the two words the Bible uses to describe Mary’s initial reaction: confused and disturbed. She was frightened. By an angel.
We think of angels as cute little cherub figurine-worthy creatures with harps. Gabriel, however, is a battle-hardened heavenly messenger whose appearance would be quite intimidating to any feeble human being.
His message to her was one of comfort…
“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” (Luke 1:29-33 NLT)
Mary’s response is to be expected, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin,” to which Gabriel responded with an explanation…
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God…” (Luke 1:35 NLT)
And then he utters these powerful words – read them slowly…
“For the word of God will never fail.” (Luke 1:37 NLT)
Mary responded with faith. Jesus came. The world will never, ever be the same.
Zero in on that message for a moment – “the word of God will never fail.”
This isn’t true of anything else in our entire world. Systems fail. Our health fails. Governments fail. Technology fails. People fail. I fail. You fail. Failure is an absolute fact of life!
But the word of God? It’s the one thing on this earth you can completely trust.
The point is, when God has spoken a promise or inspired a prophecy, you can be guaranteed, with 100% consistency, that God will indeed do the very thing he has promised.
The Christmas season is certainly about the birth of Jesus as the Savior of the world. It’s about the first coming of Israel’s ultimate Messiah-King. But Christmas is also a celebration of the fact that God follows through.
The entire Old Testament is a build-up. It’s the story of humankind’s fall, God’s promise, and then the long, long wait. About two thirds of the Bible is dedicated to waiting for the fulfillment of one promise: Someday, the Messiah will come.
Through shadows, figures, and types… In prophecies, promises, and angelic revelations… Through symbols and signs… God took thousands of years to gently remind his people that he was, indeed, coming. And then finally, he came and kept his promise.
The word of God will never fail.
And now, in this modern era, this New Testament age in which we find ourselves, we are again waiting.
We wait for all injustices to be made right.
We wait for the suffering to be comforted.
We wait for the world’s hungry and starving to be fully fed.
We wait for all wrongs to be made right, all wars to be ended, all diseases to be eradicated, and every godless dictator to fall from power.
In our season of waiting, remember, the word of God will never fail.
We wait for healing from our diseases.
We wait for provision in our poverty.
We wait for reconciliation in all of our broken relationships.
We wait for King Jesus to come again and make everything right!
And while we wait, we should remember, the word of God will never fail.
That means his word of judgment toward sin, including ours, will be fulfilled. So repent.
That means the faith of all who trust him will be rewarded at last. So believe.
That means all who follow him will share the prize of his inheritance forever. So keep following.
And as you keep on repenting, and keep on believing, and keep on following, remember, the word of God will never fail.