Lesson 12—The Lord Fulfills His Promises to Mankind
I have a song running through my head both day and night. Really. I’ll get up for a bathroom trip at 2 am and I’m still singing the song I had running through my brain during dinner. At 6 am, it’s still there. That’s OK as long as it’s something uplifting. But I sure hate it when the song is stupid or annoying!
Fortunately, as I’ve been writing this chapter, I’ve been singing a good old Christian hymn, “Standing on the Promises” by R. Kelso Carter. In fact, right this minute, I’ve got the hymn playing in the background, a great piano version where you feel like pumping the pedals along with the music.
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
I’m standing on the promises of God.
I like to imagine this is the same music that was running through Mary’s head when she shared what Scripture calls “Mary’s Song” with her cousin, Elizabeth. (Luke 1:46-55).
As a woman born into the priestly line, Elizabeth knew Scripture. She knew the promises God had fulfilled—that God would never again destroy the world by water, that Abraham’s descendants would receive the Promised Land. (Genesis 12:1-3) As Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah said, the God of Israel was blessed to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham (Luke 1:72-73).
Elizabeth also knew the Scriptures that recorded God’s future promises about the Messiah. She knew God had promised David that one of his descendants would reign over an eternal kingdom (2 Samuel 7:16). About that promise, and referring to Jesus, Elizabeth’s husband said:
[God] has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (Luke 1:69, explanation added).
Elizabeth also knew the Scriptures that recorded God’s promise of a new covenant. This new promise would replace the one given to Moses and would not just try to “cover” or whitewash our sins; but bring complete forgiveness of sins. (Jeremiah 31:31; Hebrews 8:6-13). Zechariah acknowledged that his newborn son, John would go before the Lord:
to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins (Luke 1:77).
When Mary—pregnant with Jesus—arrived at Elizabeth’s house, Elizabeth understood that Mary’s babe was the fulfilment of God’s promise of salvation. She said to Mary:
Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:45)
The “she” who Elizabeth called blessed included herself. Elizabeth lived in faith of God’s promises to herself and to mankind. God was fulfilling His promise to her personally of giving her a son. And she knew through her cousin Mary that God was also fulfilling His promise to mankind by giving humanity a savior.
Elizabeth was already old when she gave birth to John. Jesus, born six months later, lived another 33 years before his death on the cross and resurrection fulfilled God’s promise of salvation through a Messiah. It is doubtful that Elizabeth lived long enough to see that promise of salvation fulfilled. But she lived her life in faith that God would fulfill it. That faith was a blessing to her.
Picture Elizabeth. The angel of the Lord told her through Zechariah that her own son would be instrumental in carrying out God’s promise to His people. Through her, Elizabeth would be a personal part of God’s plan of salvation. Wow. What a sense of joy that must have given her. What a sense of duty she must have had, knowing that God was using her and her son in such a specific way for the benefit of all mankind. Even old and pregnant, I’ll bet Elizabeth did a “happy dance” that would have won her first place on Israel’s Got Talent!
We too receive God’s general promises to humanity. God promised all of mankind salvation. That’s a promise to humanity—completely and forever fulfilled through Jesus.
God keeps His promises.
We have a written record of God’s promises. They—like Elizabeth herself—are recorded in Scripture. Sometimes we can’t see God in action. But God rewards our faith—our belief that He is righteous and trustworthy; that He fulfills His promises. It strengthens us, encourages us, allows us to move forward, knowing that God is and was and ever shall be, fulfilling His promises to mankind.
If Elizabeth were here she would say this was her story. She knew that the Lord keeps His promises to His people.
Who are we to God? When we understand the truth and depth of how God has kept His promises to mankind, we know how God might see His women of faith. We can respond:
I am like Elizabeth.
For Thought and Discussion
*How many promises can you think of that God has made to humanity?
*Jesus has promised that He will return and take us with Him. How does knowing that promise make you feel?
*Put yourself in Elizabeth’s place. Describe how you would feel when Mary arrived, knowing that the promised Messiah was there, too.
PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being who you are. Thank you that we can count on what you say you will do, knowing that you keep your promises. Thank you for Scripture that records your promises and your fulfillment of them so that we have evidence of your character. Thank you for your promises to your children and for including us in them. Amen.