This is a week in which I feel I can start with excited expectation, – not because I have anything (except my birthday) planned – but because I walk with the Lord – that makes anything possible. As I remind myself to “be still and know the Lord”, He takes me back to Psalm 46 where that quote comes from. The whole theme of that Psalm is a picture of a turbulent world and a God acting in that world like a river of peace – a God not phased by the uproar of nations – a God not phased by corruption, plundering, Covid etc and in the midst of all these we can be still and know this God, who is our fortress, whose river makes glad the city of the Lord. In one way God has plucked us out (yes the Hebrew for salvation has this meaning) of this maelstrom of a world which is rushing along like a torrent, unchecked in a huge canyon – He has already plucked me out, He is plucking each one of His children out – but in another sense we need to remind ourselves that He is our fortress where we must constantly run for protection from the evil of this world – Praise you Lord you are my impenetrable fortress.
On reflecting on the words of Paul in our book Galatians, I am drawn again to the word “promise” which plays such an important part in his argument. He repeats it 9 times in ch 3 and 4. As fallible humans we may see this word perhaps slightly differently to what its biblical meaning is. When you and I may make a promise it would be like “I am coming past your place next week and I will pop in to see you”. Actually it may even be qualified with “I hope to pop in to see you”. The completion of the promise is dependent on many factors, not the least that one may change one’s mind. Because of this unpredictability of the outcome of our promises, we have taken ways of trying to ensure that an important promise will be fulfilled. Hence the practice of signing contracts so that the promise may be verified. In cases where the promises are reneged on there are courts of law which will adjudicate. All because the certainty and value of the promises are subject to so many variables in a world dominated by evil.
Now God made a singularly important promise to Abraham in Genesis 12;2-3, which makes up the central theme of the whole of God’s story, as told in the bible. This promise of bringing a blessing to the world, labouring under a universal curse, was based entirely on His character. Later to confirm it He made a contract with His people in the form of a covenant agreement which was instigated entirely from His side. All the people had to do was accept the conditions of the covenant and obey them to benefit from them. Something they proved unable to do in the years that followed, but this did not affect God’s promise at all.
On the contrary when God saw that the people could not obey, He put into action the ultimate fulfilment of the promise by sending His Son, Jesus, who through His death, put into effect that promise. In 1 Corinthians 1:20 Paul underlines this “for no matter how many promises God has made, they are yes in Christ”. Every promise that God has made is fulfilled in and through Jesus. That is how certain the outcome is. We simply need to stand back and look at the cross and its historic reality to know that whatever God has promised will be fulfilled.
Why am I making such a fuss about this? Because for us to benefit from this Promise we need to accept it by faith, before it becomes real to us cf Gal 3:14,24. And here is the crunch. Where does faith come from? Romans 10:17 faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ”. So as you read and ponder these things which are the message of God’s word, may this discussion strike virulence into your faith as you accept and believe the promises as laid out in that word. Because the opposite of faith is the often held misconception that you can somehow do something to facilitate your salvation, (obey the law) it is extremely important that we understand and apply this teaching to experience the freedom that we are going to talk about next time.
So when we say we have a hope it is based not on the vagaries of some human promise but THE promise and more from our God, based on His unchangeable nature and we can be absolutely sure that that hope which arises from it, will be fulfilled.
May you bathe in the certainty of His Promise based on His almighty power and love.