One of the most popular hymns of all time is “Standing On The Promises Of God” and while this may be seen as a cliché as it’s used a lot, it’s not just a saying but a real concept for the Christian. That is, God gives us many promises and they are found in His word and He still talks to us today so we must be listening. More importantly, though, once we hear these promises, we must trust these promises.
Of course, the list is too many for me to list in just one article, or even an entire book, but I do not want to focus on every promise or a few promises but rather, illustrate to the reader that God is not only a promise maker but He’s a promise keeper. God is not a mortal man in that He changes His mind or that He allows His emotions to direct His actions so if God says He’s going to do something, you better believe that one way or the other, He’s going to do it.
Romans 8:28 reads “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” which tells us a bit more than God making promises. Here, we read that there is a perfect plan in place and it’s to demonstrate the glory of God but there is another purpose and that’s to bring forth and accomplish good for those that truly love God.
Our God is not a selfish God. Yes, He does want His children to follow in His footsteps and to glorify the God that created all things but He also allows for His children to shine and allows for the good to come together to His children. The perfect example of this and there are many is Abraham: “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abraham in a vision, saying Fear not, Abram: I am they shield and thy exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1). This verse is important for me because God was telling Abraham that He was going to protect him from all things and would be his shield against all things that may come against him.
A few chapters later, our God further reveals more to Abraham, this time changing His name and makes a promise: “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee” (Genesis 17:5). Abraham was promised a child before this promise was made and before God let Abraham know he would be protected: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:” (Genesis 12:2). What we see here is God making a promise to make a great nation of Abraham and He did this when Abraham was seventy-five (Genesis 12:4).
Ten years later, as scripture reveals, Abraham has yet to have this child that he was promised and he does let God know about it: “And Abram said, LORD God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir” Genesis 15:2-3). Go back to the vision given to Abraham about the protection God will provide but this was the response by Abraham to God. To me, this does not sound like much of faith although God does say that Abraham’s faith would be a great reward but after ten years, most of us would probably react in the same manner but while we may lose hope, God does not.
In fact, we read next about how God reassures Abraham of what is to come: “And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:4-6). As we continue to read about Abraham’s journey, we find that another ten years passes and he and Sarai are without child and we even see Abraham laughing at the idea of a man his age, now nearing one hundred, of fathering a child.
Genesis 17:15-17 reads “And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?”. This is a very important piece of scripture because it ties into what we read a chapter later about Sarah: “Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” (Genesis 18:12). We now see that both Abraham and Sarah have laughed at the idea of giving birth to a child at such old ages but God does know how to get people’s attention and He did get their attention.
We read prior to the last verse, in Genesis 17:18-21. God reminding the two that they will have a child and even explains when the child will be born: “And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.”
Yes, there is a lot to take in here as this lesson is loaded with different events, dates, facts, and other lessons that stem from the original promise of God but we cannot forget that God does all things in His timing, by His way, and He uses people’s situations and circumstances to fulfill all things. That is, he uses our faith to bring things to light and while Abraham and Sarah were both faithful, the did doubt God which may have prolonged their blessings as God needed them at a particular point in their lives before bringing to light the promise. We know this because that’s how God works but God instructed them to name the child Isaac (Genesis 17:19) and Isaac is Hebrew translated “He laughs/will laugh” and this was God’s way of reminding them that He does fulfil His promises regardless how long it takes and in this case, it took more than twenty five years for the promise to be filled.
There’s a bigger message for me behind this story and that is that God does use our faith to bring to light His promise(s)—as already mentioned—but with that said, God will use situations that seem impossible to let people know that nothing is impossible with God. We see here that God made a promise is an older, yet much younger, Abraham and Sarah but at the same time, upon first glance at the promise made by God, we see that Sarah has not yet been deemed the mother (Sarai) and this may have been a part of the original waiting period. Regardless of the reason(s) why Abraham and Sarah had to wait so long, the important lesson here is that God’s promises did come to light including Sarah bearing Isaac. We often times complain that God isn’t working fast enough but just because something doesn’t happen quickly doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen and Abraham revealed this so we must always continue to Stand On The Promises of God until the very end.