God Keeps His Promises
Today’s reading: Genesis 15-17; Matthew 5:27-48
God made Man to live in a perfect world without strife and hostility. After the fall, God begins to reveal His plan to crush the serpent and bless through His chosen servant, Abram, all the families of the earth.
Abram has begun to grow anxious about God’s timing in fulfilling His promises. Sarai remains childless. In today’s reading, God, in a vision, reassures Abram of His covenant and seals it with a solemn act involving the sacrifice of five animals. In spite of this dramatic event, Abram’s faith falters. Sarai suggests his taking a surrogate wife, her servant, Hagar. Although Hagar conceives Ishmael by Abram, the plan backfires and serious conflict arises between Sarai and Hagar resulting in a temporary departure of Hagar and Ishmael.
After thirteen years, God again appears to Abram. This time the Lord changes Abram’s name from “exalted father” to Abraham, “father of a multitude.” God gives Abraham a sign, circumcision, to which he is to submit personally and to require of all his male offspring and household members. God is serious about fulfilling His covenant promises to Abraham and He will do it in His way and in His time.
The blessing promised to all the families of the earth will come through Abraham’s descendent, not Ishmael, not even Jacob (aka Israel) but Jesus the Christ, born of a virgin, born to be a king of a spiritual, heavenly kingdom composed of people from every tribe and tongue.
That descendent whose life we follow in Matthew’s gospel today declared that in His kingdom the righteousness that would be practiced would not be merely outward but would be deeply inward: unfeigned love toward others, even enemies; purity of thought toward the opposite sex; utter fidelity in marriage; faithful keeping of commitments; ready forgiveness and service toward those in need.
In Abraham’s day, the coming of that promised, blessed One was still possibly 2000 years in the future. Now we stand in history about the same length of time since His coming. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been proclaimed throughout the world and has born untold fruit, but we still await His second coming, the final judgment and the new heavens and earth to come.
Let us be patient, learning from Abraham’s experience that God keeps His Word. He did it before; He will do it again.