Promises, promises . . . oh how many times have we heard these words. Our human frailty to command even the next moment makes any promise questionable, regardless of the intent of our heart at that moment.
It’s not difficult to become discouraged because, by God’s Design, we’re to live in a secure place. Creation is destined for the fulness of God’s place of blessing and glory. While this Design was thwarted by deception and turning away from God, God hasn’t relented from his Design! Praised be the Lord!
There is a good lesson regarding promises in the life of Abram (later called Abraham). God made him a promise and he turned from everything he counted as a foundation (he lived in Ur of the Chaldees, a great metropolitan city). He followed God’s Word to him, living in a land filled with opposition and enemies.
God came to Abram in a vision (Gen 15.1ff) and confirmed to him that he need not fear for God would be his shield and reward. Abram had to be thinking “Promise” which was a “land,” a “seed” (i.e., descendants, a kingdom, and a king!), and a “blessing” which would be far greater than just for Abram! WoW!
And now the great theological term, “But”! God’s Promise hasn’t happened for some time. Legitimately so, Abram has some questions. Abram is childless! Sarai (later Sarah) is unable to bear children. It’s not looking good, at least from this place where Abram stands.
God affirms his Promise, even more detail than ever before. Abram will be a father of multitudes, and God says, “look at the stars and count them”!
Genesis now records one of the most important statements for Abram, for the Promise, and for us too. Genesis 15.6,
Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
Now comes even more surprises as God expands this Promise. In days to come, Abram’s dependents will strangers is a foreign land, enslaved! And, God promises Abram’s descendants will return to God’s Promised Land. We might consider this information overload!
While we’ve just skimmed this powerful account in Genesis 15, there are some observations we can make from what Abram learned and we need to also learn.
Observation #1 — God’s Promise is greater than my perspective. I.e., God is doing more than I can grasp, yet he never does less than I can grasp. His Promise is sure. His ways are majestic. The world is in his control.
The Apostle Peter knows this truth, 2Pet 3.4, 9,
. . . “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” . . . The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
Observation #2 — God’s Promise is met in faith. There is no other way to grasp it. We trust God to do what God Promises to do.
Faith is to agree, trust, rely with what God is doing. Now we can begin to see how “faith” is very close to “righteous” for it is in agreement with God. Abram believed in the Lord. “Faith” is the present assurance of things unseen, Heb 11.1. We live by faith because God “promised”!
Abram never came into all God promised. Was he disappointed? I don’t think so. He knew, as we’ve noted, God’s Promise is greater than our perspective and we grasp it in faith. Abram’s perspective is well stated by the writer of Hebrews in Heb 11.8-10,
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
We too presently live in a land that’s “alien” to God’s Design. God’s Promise is far greater than today’s perspective. And, like Abram, God’s Promise is greater than I’ve ever imagined.
We have an invitation to God’s Promise because God is gracious, “by grace you are saved” (Eph 2.8). We enter into God’s Promise by our faith (Eph 2.8). And, like Abram, we believe in the Lord!
God’s Promise brings a New Life, a life in agreement with God’s truth, i.e., “righteous.” Here, in our New Life, we trust God’s Promise and walk with him, and there is a coming Kingdom, more than our perspective has ever grasped!
Promises, promises! This is one you want to grasp in your faith in God’s Word declared to you.