DECEMBER 6, 2014
The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:39, NIV)
Like many others, I doubt Christ was actually born on December 25th, but the date is not the thing we celebrate. Our hosannas and “Hallelujah” choruses are for the long awaited incarnation of God’s promise to Abraham. It fills me with joy and hope that God appeared to Abram in UR of the Chaldees, a man whom the Lord filled with the faith to believe in God’s promise to him, that in his seed, would all nations be blessed
In a lengthy discussion by phone last Saturday, my dear friend Harry Fox, fine tuned the difference between covenant and promise. The confusion for most of us comes because the Bible speaks of covenants and promises. They are not the same. The Law, which Paul said was given through angels (agents or messengers), was a bilateral covenant, meaning two parties involved: God and Israel.
The Blood Covenant,
I myself was terrified of God, afraid I could not keep the rules, though I gave it a
That is precisely why God, who cannot fail, unilaterally gave His Promise to Abraham. Additionally, He also gifted him the faith to believe the promise, and because of that faith, God reckoned Abraham righteous. (Rom. 4:3)
Paul made it clear that if a man works, “his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” (Rom. 4:4-5, NIV) It seems to me that only a hypocrite would seek to be justified by his works. When we realize that our works are only a reflection of God’s works, which were finished before the foundation of the world (Heb. 4:3), we understand that God alone is worthy of glory. Like Christ, we can only say what the Father gives us to say and do what He does through us. (John 14:24; 5:19)
Because no one can keep the Law, God’s promise to Abraham, was a unilateral (ONE party) covenant, depending only upon Himself! Abraham had not known God back in UR of the Chaldees, so he had no credits to apply toward his inheritance, and neither do we, which is why we rejoice that our status in Christ depends only upon God’s promise to Abraham, not upon our works!
Twenty five years is a loooooooong time to wait for a Promise to be fulfilled, and soon enough, Abraham doubted God’s ability to revitalize his aging body and Sarah’s infertile womb. You know the story: he and Sarah cooked up a plan to help God out of this impossible bind He seemed to be in. Abraham impregnated Hagar, Sarah’s maid (with her blessing, by the way), with a seed, a son named Ishmael. This child was A seed of Abraham, but it was NOT THE SEED God had promised.
Abraham was exceedingly wealthy, with gold and silver, men servants and maid servants, sheep, goats, asses, and camels. He saw God’s hand in blessing him materially, but why did Isaac have to take so long?
The old saying is “Good things come to them who wait,” but that’s not very satisfactory to the heart aching and longing to have a child, or whatever else the heart desires. “When we wait upon the Lord, we will run and not be weary, we will walk and not faint. Help me Lord, oh help me Lord to wait” are the words of Isaiah and a chorus we sang at church.
Paul explained the difference between the Law and the Promise. The Law came through mediators; the Promise came through one: God Himself. The Promise came first; the Law, 430 Years later, but it did NOT make the Promise null and void (Gal. 3:17). “For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise, but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.” (Gal. 3:18)
“If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:29)
Some preachers have suggested that the Bible is a “legal contract” by which we can get God to do our bidding. What hubris, what folly is this? God is our Father. We are His children. He loves us and chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world! (Eph. 1:4). What use do we have for legally binding contracts to try to coerce God to do what He has already done for us in Christ?
Do your children have to remind you of your contractual obligation to feed them, clothe them, love them, and care for them? If they do, they are in big trouble. But we have a Father who said
Beloved children of the Most High, let us leave behind contracts and covenants and cling to the Promise given to Abraham, for we are heirs of that promise, which when in the fullness of time came to pass, was Christ
Father, how wondrous that we are your inheritance (Eph. 1:18), and heirs of Your Promise. We rest in the palm of Your hand, where no man can remove us. Only You are worthy of praise and honor, and glory, now and forever.