Between the Promise and the Fulfillment

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Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Genesis 12:1-3

Abram received an incredible promise from God, one that would affect not just his own family but families for generations to come. His offspring (as yet unseen) would become a people who would one day introduce the Savior to the world. Through Abram, all people would be blessed.

And Abram trusted God. “And he went out,” as the author of Hebrews writes, “not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). We remember Abram as a man of great faith, and rightly so. Abram’s faith becomes a key component of Paul’s argument in Romans, showing righteousness to be counted to people on the basis of God’s promise rather than on the basis of human accomplishment (Romans 4). Abram sets a positive example for us in many respects. But we would do well to remember that he remains a human like us.

Just a few verses later, we see him seemingly forget the promises of God. When he and his wife entered Egypt, he feared that the Egyptians would recognize his wife’s beauty and would kill him to have her, so he devised a lie. Though God promised to bless him, to make him a great nation, and to lead him, Abram seemed to forget such promises in the face of danger. Between the promise and the fulfillment stood a period of testing, a time when fear entered the picture and challenged the faith of the servant.

Abram’s story here isn’t unique. He’d be tested again, both in the waiting between the promise of Isaac and Isaac’s birth as well as in the call to sacrifice Isaac, the child of promise, on the mountain in Moriah. And Abram isn’t alone in his experiences. The people of Israel (descendants of Abram) react in terror at the approach of the Egyptian army after being saved by God from slavery through mighty deeds which show Egypt to be powerless before the Almighty. Elijah despairs at Jezebel’s threats almost immediately after watching God prove himself as sovereign over the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18-19). Throughout Scripture, God’s people see him move, hear his promises, and then tremble before temporary challenges.

We aren’t that different from them. We too have promises of God. He promises to provide for our needs as we seek first his kingdom and righteousness, leaving us no reason to worry (Matthew 6:25-34). “I am with you always,” says Jesus, “even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Paul writes, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Further, we know that nothing, “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). We can trust that “he who began a good work in you will bring it completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). We can count our trials as joy because God is using them for our growth, and we can ask God for wisdom in faith that he will give it (James 1:2-8). We know he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). We know he forgives us (1 John 1:9).

We have all these promises and more in the Bible, truths recorded for our faith. And though some promises are for the present moment, many pertain to the future, to the enduring hold of God upon his people. This means that we don’t always see how he’ll fulfill his promises to us, and we can be tempted to forget the unseen God before seen threats. We fear for our safety when we observe the dangers around us. We worry in the face of uncertainties. We fret when we feel our weaknesses. In short, we struggle to live in faith in spite of the ways we’ve seen God move.

I don’t do this well. I doubt far more often than I trust. Trials tend to show my weakness of faith rather than my strength. But I want to get better at this. God is trustworthy, and he deserves more credit than we often give him. So I pray that we would fear and love him more than we fear and love anything else. I pray our certainty of his goodness would remain in every circumstance. And I pray that as we walk between the promise and the fulfillment, we would walk by faith and not by sight. May he be pleased by our faith in him.


Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Thank to Richard for his suggestions for points in today’s post.

Submitted Heart and Calloused Knees: The Power of Reverent Posture in Prayer

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When I was little, I remember praying with my head bowed, my eyes closed, and my hands together. Prayer, at that point, seemed tied to posture, as if a change in posture might lessen the validity of the prayer. At least, that’s how my little mind viewed the situation. As I grew, I learned that one could pray without folded hands, without a bowed head, and even without closed eyes. Such discoveries brought a newfound freedom to my prayer life, yet they also became opportunities for the flesh as I began to self-righteously look down on others who still maintained the posture of the early days of prayer. I thought that I’d grown beyond the need for such posture, that I’d grown so mature in my relationship with the Lord that posture and setting became concerns of the past. I’m beginning to reconsider the importance of posture, however. Continue reading

Deception Overcome

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When I read that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9), I often focus on the “desperately sick” aspect, recognizing the darkness of the human heart. But I don’t always consider the rest of the verse. Jeremiah also writes that the heart is deceitful above all things, asking, “Who can understand it?” The heart defies understanding by men. We do not know ourselves like we think we do. Thankfully, as Jeremiah shows, God searches the hearts and tests the minds of men, knowing us better than we know ourselves (Jeremiah 17:10).

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The Word and The Heart

The Word and The Heart

Your word: my great undoing, my delight.
I fear to look within, yet fear to stray,
For fear of you (sweet wisdom) shines a light
Upon my path and forces me to say
That I know not my heart or mind so well
As I assumed. This flesh doth e’er deceive.
No strength of will nor want could ever quell
Its tenor regnant. I cannot relieve
My soul from waywardness, for I am bound.
In ev’ry song I sing, I hear its sound.
Discern, speak truth, correct! Let me be found!
You see more clearly than I ever could
And cut more deeply than I wish you would.
I know that all of this is for my good.


Photo by Cathy Mü on Unsplash