Summary: Just what good is a promise? Why should we believe it? Why should we trust the promise-giver?
“When Heaven Comes Down: Our Trust Is Validated”
It’s the last day of swimming lessons, the day of the final testing. The tests determine which swimmers advance to the next level. The last test is to jump into the deep water. The instructor, of course, was already in the water, just a few feet away, to help the child get to the edge, if needed. One little gal is hanging back from the rest of the class. While she had done an excellent job on all the other tests, she was extremely hesitant about this one. She was standing at the edge of the pool but, even with a flotation device on her back, she was not about to jump into ten feet of water. Two instructors were speaking encouragement to her. Imagine the scene.
• “Mary, jump into water and you can graduate from tadpoles to minnows.” On the outside Mary had her arms over her head – but on the inside she was thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding!” So there she stands, hands over her head, immobile.
• “Jump in Mary. You have a flotation device; it will hold you.” On the outside she’s still poised to jump – but she’s thinking “I suppose you’ve never seen a flotation device break or a buckle slip. I could be the first, you know!” So there she still stands, hands over her head, immobile.
• “Jump in Mary. You’ll only be a few feet from the edge.” Still frozen with arms over her head she thinks, “You’ve got to be kidding. Two feet, six feet from the edge, it’s still 10 feet to the bottom! I once heard of a man who drowned in two feet of water!”
• “Mary, you know I’ll be here to catch you and help you. You have nothing to worry about. Jump to me.” Still poised to jump Mary reasons, “How do I know you’re a good catcher? And besides, if I jump now after standing here this long, you’d probably have a heart attack and then I’d be in big trouble! You can talk to me all day long but if you think I’m jumping into that pool just to become a minnow, you’ve got to be kidding. Make all the promises you want, but I’m the one who has to jump in and trust you. Why should I trust you anyway?”
Just what good is a promise? Why should we believe it? Why should we trust the promise-giver? Examining the angel’s encounter with Mary lays the groundwork for answering these common questions. Consider, first, that TRUST IS VALIDATED BY A PROMISE. For background we turn to 2 Samuel 7:11-12, where God speaks to King David. David has been successful as a leader and has led Israel to new heights. Since it was now a period of prolonged peace David felt led to build a house of worship for God. Nathan, the prophet, at first gave his approval. But after speaking with God, Nathan tells David he is not to build the sanctuary. Yet along with the reversal and denial comes a glorious prophecy that provides the CONTEXT FOR THE PROMISE. “‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” God promised that He would establish His permanent line of descendants through David. THROUGH DAVID GOD WILL ESTABLISH A KINGDOM, A PEOPLE, WHO WILL BLESS THE WORLD FOREVER.
This is the background to Mary’s encounter. The angel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 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.” Mary, a good Jewish girl, would recall the words to David which had been passed down through the generations. MARY, A VIRGIN, WOULD GIVE BIRTH TO A SON WHO WILL PROVE AND VALIDATE THE PROMISE TO DAVID. Talk about a wild, glorious, and hard to believe promise. God would come to earth in human flesh – born of a virgin! Talk about standing frozen at the edge of the pool! Why believe it? Why take the risk? Why trust?
Let’s go behind the context to consider the CLUES TO THE PROMISE. There are at least two clues. The first is that THE PROMISE IS DEPENDENT UPON GOD’S ACTION. The promise was not dependent upon what David or Mary would or would not do God said, to both David and Mary, that He would do the establishing, the making, and the building.