God Gave Us Promises, Devotional 2

God Gave Us Promises (Week 3, Devotional 2)
By Ben Davis

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. - Hebrews 2:14-15

Every one of us as humans walks through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps 23:4). Death is the dark and certain end that overshadows our lives. Fear of death holds humanity captive and fear of death compels us with a crack of the whip to strive in vain. Some strive in vain to preserve their health and prolong their lives. Some strive in vain to ignore death and embrace any and all distractions from it. And others still strive in vain to rewrite a better ending to their own story. Scripture teaches that the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23) and that all of mankind has sinned against God (Rom 3:23). Death is what we have earned for rejecting the rule of God in our lives. Our enemy, the devil, delights in our death. It is his expression of power to watch God's special image bearers die as rebels to God like himself.

But from the beginning of the biblical story God made a promise to put an end to the serpent's reign of death through an offspring of Eve. As the story of Scripture unfolds, we look intently for this promised Messiah from page to page. Is it Abraham? No. Is it Moses? No. Is it David? No. The tension builds. Is there truly any man that can fulfill God's promise? Here in Hebrews the glorious mystery of God's rescue plan is revealed. We read that the divine Son of God (Hebrews 1:1-13) took on flesh and blood to share in our humanity and mediate atonement between man and God through His death (Hebrews 2:14-18). Jesus, fully God and fully man, took the weapon of death right out of the devil's hand and through His own death conquered death that those who believe in Him might not perish but have everlasting life.

God's promise finds its fulfillment in His Son Jesus. That is why we rejoice to see His day, the coming of our Messiah at Advent. To borrow a summary from the apostle Paul,
 
Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned -- But the free gift is not like the trespass…For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ! As sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 5:12, 15-17, 21
He (God) will swallow up death forever; and the Lord will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from the earth, for the LORD has spoken (Is 25:8).

Questions for Application
  1. Do you sometimes avoid thinking about or considering death? Do you take time to reflect on the inevitability of death?
  2. How can thinking about the Christmas story and Jesus’ life as a human being help you deal with your current struggles or challenges?
  3. How should Christ’s defeat of death change the way you live today?
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