The Promises of God
The Promises of God
Billy Bray, born in 1794, was a miner from Cornwall. He was an alcoholic. He was always getting involved with fights and arguments at home. At the age of twenty-nine he encountered Jesus. He went home and told his wife, ‘You will never see me drunk again, by the help of the Lord.’ She never did.
His words, his tone of voice and his looks all had magnetic power. It was as if he was charged with divine electricity. Crowds of miners would come and hear him preach. Many were converted and there were some remarkable healings. He loved the Bible and said, ‘The promises of God are just as good as ready money any day.’
God is the God of promise. Faith involves trusting the promises of God. God makes a promise; faith believes it, hope anticipates it, patience quietly waits for it.
Find joy, satisfaction and peace in God’s promisesPsalm 119:161-168
The psalmist says, ‘Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble’ (v.165). I remember one young atheist who came on Alpha speaking of the feeling of emptiness and a void in her life. What she noticed about Christians was that they had great peace. She recognised that this came from faith.
The last place many people would expect to find peace, satisfaction and joy is through the words of the Bible. Yet the psalmist says, ‘I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil’ (v.162).
The writer describes the words of God using many different expressions. He speaks of ‘your word’ (v.161), ‘your law’ (vv.163,165), ‘your commands’ (v.166), ‘your statutes’ (vv.167,168) and ‘your precepts’ (v.168). But here he describes the word of God as ‘your promise’ (v.162).
The words of God are his promises to you. Discovering them is like discovering a great treasure trove. As you keep digging into it you will find more and more amazing and beautiful treasures. This leads the psalmist on to say, ‘Seven times a day I praise you’ (v.164).
Lord, I praise you for the great treasures that are in your words. Please give me peace today as I trust in your promises.
Trust in God’s promises and wait patientlyHebrews 6:13-7:10
Abraham waited for 25 years. Joseph waited 13 years. Moses waited 25 years. Jesus waited 30 years. If God makes you wait you are in good company.
I have often found the gap between the promise of God and its fulfilment to be much longer than I had anticipated. I am learning to be more patient. God’s promises to us are the anchor of our souls (6:19). They are solid and secure. He keeps his word, even when it seems impossible, even when the circumstances seem to point to the opposite. Delay does not negate the promises of God.
Abraham is described as, ‘him who had the promises’ (7:6). When Abraham and Sarah were called by God, he promised that from them would come a great nation. He promised them children. But they had to wait many years before the promise was fulfilled. They waited and waited. They went down wrong paths to try to fulfil God’s promise through human means. However, eventually, ‘The Lord did for Sarah what he had promised’ (Genesis 21:1). Abraham was a hundred years old! Finally, God fulfilled his promise: ‘After waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised’ (Hebrews 6:15).
God’s promises are absolutely certain: ‘When people make promises, they guarantee them by appeal to some authority above them… When God wanted to guarantee his promises, he gave his word, a rock-solid guarantee’ (vv.16–17, MSG).
Your hope is not based on some vague optimism or wishful thinking. It is trust in the unbreakable promises of God. It centres on Jesus, who is ‘a high priest for ever, in the order of Melchizedek’ (v.20). Melchizedek appears from nowhere in Genesis and we know nothing about what happens to him afterwards. He foreshadowed Jesus: ‘Resembling the Son of God, he continues to be a priest without interruption and without successor’ (7:3, AMP).
The writer demonstrates the superiority of Jesus (Melchizedek’s priesthood) to that of any other priest (of Levi) (vv.1–10).
Jesus, a priest in the order of Melchizedek, is a righteous king of peace. Melchizedek’s name means ‘king of righteousness’ and he was also ‘king of Salem’, which means ‘king of peace’ (v.2).
Jesus’ priesthood is permanent. No ‘end of life’ is recorded for Melchizedek (vv.3,8). Likewise, Jesus is a living priest for ever. Psalm 110 also declares that the Lord is a ‘priest for ever in the order of Melchizedek’ (v.4).
Jesus (Melchizedek) received a tithe from Abraham (Hebrews 7:4). This spontaneous gift from Abraham showed that he realised his own inferiority to Melchizedek. Levi was Abraham’s great-grandson. An ancestor is regarded in biblical thought as containing within himself all his descendants (vv.9–10). Therefore, the priesthood of Jesus (Melchizedek) enjoys a higher status than that of the Levitical priesthood.
Melchizedek gave Abraham a blessing (vv.6–7). God had promised that in Abraham all the nations of the world would be blessed (Genesis 22:18). Therefore, if Melchizedek could bless Abraham, Melchizedek’s status must be superior to the Levitical order (Hebrews 7:7).
Jesus’ priesthood, ‘in the order of Melchizedek’, reminds us that we can trust that the promises of God are totally secure. Jesus guaranteed them for us by going where we could not, ‘on our behalf’. He is your ‘high priest for ever, in the order of Melchizedek’ (6:20).
Lord, thank you that even though I sometimes have to wait patiently, you always fulfil your promises – they are firm and secure – an anchor for my soul.
Listen to God’s promises and feed on themEzekiel 7:1-9:11
Those who feed on God’s promises will never spiritually starve. But many people put their trust in the wrong things. Some put their trust in money for security. However, God says that ‘their silver and gold will not be able to save them’ (7:19a). Their wealth ‘will not satisfy their hunger’ (v.19b).
Aristotle Onassis, one of the richest people in the world, said at the end of his life: ‘Millions do not always add up to what a man needs out of life.’ Many people try to fill the emptiness deep inside of them in ways that ultimately do not satisfy. They are looking for joy in the wrong places.
Wealth, far from bringing satisfaction and joy, can often lead us into pride, sin and idolatry (vv.1–11). Furthermore, wealth will never provide total security. A downturn in the market and rampant inflation can lead to even a whole country becoming bankrupt (vv.12–20).
On the other hand, the promises of God are rock solid. What God says, he promises. Ezekiel declared the promises of God saying: ‘The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says…”’ (vv.1–2). His message is ‘the end of business as usual’ (v.2, MSG).
Ezekiel promises God’s judgment. It will be absolutely just: ‘I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them’ (v.27; see also Romans 2:1). This will take place ‘on the day when God will judge everyone’s secrets through Jesus Christ’ (Romans 2:16).
Ezekiel caught a glimpse of the one who will judge the world: ‘I looked, and I saw a figure like that of a man. From what appeared to be his waist down he was like fire, and from there up his appearance was as bright as glowing metal’ (Ezekiel 8:2). This description is close to the description of Jesus in Revelation 1:10–16.
The only way to escape the judgment is to have a mark on the forehead (Ezekiel 9:4). The Lord said, ‘Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it… do not touch anyone who has the mark’ (vv.4,6).
The person with a mark on their forehead had a mark of protection as the impending judgment drew near. The word for ‘mark’ is the Hebrew letter tav. This is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. At the time, the letter would have been written X – a cross. Is this a coincidence? Or is there some significance in the fact that those who were protected were those who had the sign of the cross on their foreheads?
In Revelation, we read of the angel calling out, ‘Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God’ (Revelation 7:3; see also Revelation 9:4; 14:1).
Lord, thank you that you bore my sin and judgment on the cross. Thank you that you put a mark on my forehead. Thank you that I can trust in your promises for the future and have this hope as the anchor for my soul.
‘And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.’
Waiting for anything is hard. Abraham’s example is an encouragement to keep on praying even when it feels as though nothing is happening.
Verse of the Day
‘… after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised’ (Hebrews 6:15).
John Blanchard, Gathered Gold (Evangelical Press, 2000), p.251.
Peter Evans, Ari: Life and Times of Aristotle Socrates Onassis (Summit Books 1986), p.283.
Nicky Gumbel, Questions of Life (Alpha International, 2011), p.125.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)
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