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Sermon No: 86389-Covenants - Part 9a - The Abrahamic Covenant



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SERMON TOPIC: Covenants - Part 9a - The Abrahamic Covenant

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 7 March 2021

Topic Groups: ABRAHAM, COVENANTS, GENESIS

Sermon synopsis: We soon see man’s failure in the dispensation of Human Government. The command to “fill the earth” was given to Noah’s descendants (Gen 9:1). In direct contravention to this instruction, the people decide to centralise government rule from a city in Babel. This act of disobedience resulted in a judgement whereby God rendered them incapable of communicating with one another – by confusing their languages. After this God makes a covenant with Abraham, ushering in the Dispensation of Promise.


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COVENANTS

PART 9A: THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT

After the Flood, God stepped back from directly judging the earth until the Second Coming; thus, a human agency known as civil government was divinely appointed to restrain evil and protect man from his own sinful nature. *

Just like personal conscience, human government remains today as a restraint on human evil. Even though some governments may be corrupt (just like people’s consciences) they are still a tool of God for limiting wickedness.

FAILURE

We soon see man’s failure in this dispensation. Mark Sweetnam writes:

“Too soon, we see the man into whose hands government had been committed lying naked in a drunken stupor in his tent.” How tragic! Noah, the great hero of faith who had obeyed God in a remarkable way, engaged self-indulgently in the fruit of his own vineyard and “became drunk!” As an aside, this is the first mention of alcohol in the Scriptures. Following the “law of first mention,” we would all be wise to recognize the loss of control, the shame and the tragic consequences associated with alcohol in this ancient narrative, and govern our own conduct accordingly. *

REBELLION AGAINST GOD

The command to “fill the earth” was given to Noah’s descendants (Gen 9:1). In direct contravention to this instruction, the people decide to centralise government rule from a city in Babel.

Gen 11:4Th (NIV) Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens … otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

THE JUDGEMENT AT BABEL

This act of disobedience resulted in a judgement whereby God rendered them incapable of communicating with one another – by confusing their languages.

In the heavenly realm, he assigns the nations to the members of the Divine Council to rule.

THE JUDGEMENT AT BABEL

This judgement caused the people to disperse and fill the earth as God had commanded them to do.

After this God makes a covenant with Abraham, ushering in the Dispensation of Promise.

THE CONTRACT TERMS

2 parties

God and Abraham’s descendants

Type

Royal Grant

Dispensation

Promise

Royal Grant (unconditional)

Descendants, land and a promise to bless all nations through him

Reason for grant

Abraham’s faith - he believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness

Reference to the “seed”

Lineage of the seed

Blood covenant

Sacrifice of heifer, a goat and a ram, along with a dove and a young pigeon.

Covenant sign

Circumcision

Dispensation - Terminating Judgement

Slavery / 10 plagues

3 STRANDS OF PROMISES

On two occasions God made a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15 & 17), but both are extensions of the initial promises made in Genesis 12 and reaffirmed in Genesis 22.

The promises have 3 distinct strands:

Blessing to the nations (12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14)

Descendants (12:2; 15:5; 17:4-5; 22:17)

Land (12:7; 13:15; 15:18; 17:18)

3 STRANDS OF PROMISES

ABRAHAM CALLED

God first appears to Abram while he is still in Ur.

Gen 12:1 (NIV) The LORD said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.”

A) BLESSING

Gen 12:2-3 (NIV) “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

A) BLESSING

Abram receives the following promises from God:

God would make him into a great nation - fulfilled by his descendants, the Israelites.

God would bless him - Abraham prospered both spiritually and materially as evidenced by the Genesis account.

God would make his name great - Abraham was not only revered by the Jews of Jesus day but is still known to us as a champion of faith.

God would make him a blessing - to his contemporaries and future generations.

A) BLESSING

God would bless those who blessed him, and curse those who cursed him - the witness of history shows that all world empires who persecuted the Jews have encountered God’s judgement.

All peoples on earth will be blessed through his seed.

Gen 22:18 (NASB) “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

This is a Messianic prophecy fulfilled by Jesus who was the seed of Abraham.

Gal 3:16 (NASB) Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.

B) MANY DESCENDANTS

God promises Abraham many descendants. We already find a few hundred years later:

Ex 1:6-7 (NIV) Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.

But the spiritual descendants of Abraham (through Christ) are even more numerous.

Gal 3:29 (NASB) And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.

B) MANY NATIONS

In Genesis 17 God promises to make Abram the father of many nations.

Gen 17:3-5 (ESV) … And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father [Heb: ab] of a multitude [hamon] of nations.

God changes his name to Abraham which was a statement of faith for a childless man. If his original name of Abram (exalted father) was a misnomer, imagine telling others that he was now Abraham (father of a multitude).

HIS LITERAL DESCENDANTS

The nations he fathered through his 8 sons include:

Through his wife Sarah and son Isaac

The Israelites - through his grandson Jacob

The Edomites (modern Jordanians) – through his grandson Esau

Through his concubine Hagar and son Ishmael

The Ishmaelites or Arab nations

Through his concubine Keturah and her 6 sons *

Other Arab nations e.g. the Midianites

HIS SPIRITUAL DESCENDANTS

Paul tells the Gentiles in Rome that Abraham is also their father and they too are heirs to the promise:

Rom 4:16-17 (NIV) Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring--not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed--the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

THE COVENANT REAFFIRMED

In Genesis 15 God re-affirms the original promises and adds guarantees of land.

Gen 15:1 (NIV) After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:” Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward”

Gen 15:2-3 (NIV) But Abram said; "0 Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will he my heir."

Gen 15:2-3 (NIV) But Abram said; "0 Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will he my heir."

Gen 15:4-6 (NIV) Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said; “Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Gen 15:4-6 (NIV) Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said; “Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

3) THE LAND

Gen 15:7-8 (NIV) He also said to Him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” But Abram said, “0 Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”

God’s response to Abraham’s question is to confirm his promises regarding the land with a blood covenant.

Gen 15:9 (NIV) So the LORD said to him, "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon."

Gen 15:9 (NIV) So the LORD said to him, "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon."

Gen 15:10-11 (NIV) Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

Gen 15:10-11 (NIV) Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

Gen 15:12,17 (NIV) As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him… When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.

Gen 15:12,17 (NIV) As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him… When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.

BLOOD COVENANT

The term “made a covenant” in Genesis 15:18 is literally, "cut a covenant," referring to the slaughtering of the animals. The same Hebrew verb is translated "made" and "cut" in Jeremiah 34:18.

Passing between the pieces of the slaughtered animals had the following significance. In ancient times the parties solemnised a covenant by walking down an aisle flanked by the pieces of slaughtered animals.

The practice signified a self-maledictory oath: “May it be so done to me if I do not keep my oath and pledge.”

A SELF-MALEDICTORY OATH

Note the following example of this in Jeremiah:

Jer 34:18-20 (NIV) The men who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces. The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests and all the people of' the land who walked between the pieces of the calf, I will hand over to their enemies who seek their lives. Their dead bodies will become food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.

3) LAND

Years later, God appears gain to Abraham and affirms that the land of Canaan has been given to his descendants as an everlasting possession.

Gen 17:7-8 (ESV) And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession …”

FROM THE NILE TO THE EUPHRATES

God promises “the whole land of Canaan” to Abraham’s descendants. [Gen 17:2–9] – and all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates.

(ESV) … “To your offspring I give this land, from the river [nahar] of Egypt to the great river [nahar], the river [nahar] Euphrates

Gen 15:18 (NIV) On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates

The NIV is using license here (Wadi) probably to allow an Amillennial view. The ESV, NKJV, KJV and NASB (an most English versions) provide a more literal translation (river), without applying any eschatological bias.

RIVER OR WADI?

The Hebrew word (nahar) translated “river” remains the same in both instances, giving no justification for substituting the word for ‘wadi’ in the same verse, unless perhaps an attempt is being made to move the border back to the opposite side of the Sinai Peninsula to imply an earlier fulfilment of the covenant. *

Some Amillennialists try claim this prophecy was fulfilled during the reign of Solomon. But Solomon’s kingdom did not include the Sinai Peninsula and the border was still far from reaching the eastern tributaries of the Nile. *

SOLOMON’S TERRITORY

2 Chronicles 9:26 indicated that Solomon’s territory only extended to the “border of Egypt,” not to the Nile. *

2 Chron 9:26 (ESV) And he ruled over all the kings from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt.

WADI AL ARISH OR NILE RIVER?

Hence to support their claim, Amillennialists argue that the term “river of Egypt” actually refers to the Wadi Al Arish on the Sinai Peninsula, and not to the Nile River. However one can hardly claim that to use the term “river of Egypt” without further qualification, could refer to anything but the Nile.

Whenever a wadi is meant, the Hebrew word is ‘nahal,’ a feminine noun meaning a stream bed that is sometimes dry and sometimes has water flowing through it. *

But the word used in Gen 15:18 is ‘nahar,’ a masculine noun meaning a large, flowing river. *

NAHAL MIZRAIM & NAHAR MIZRAIM ARE THE NILE

Even Nahal Mizraim which is a related phrase to Nahar Mizraim (Gen 15:18) is traditionally understood by Jews to be a reference to the Nile.

This view is made explicit in the Jerusalem Targum, the Targum Jonathan, the Targum Neofiti and the Fragment Targums (where in all cases the term is translated Nilus) as well as in the commentaries of Rashi and Rabbi Yehuda Halevi. * Rashi explicitly states in his commentary on Joshua 13:3:

"From the Shihor: that is the Nile the same as Naḥal Mizraim."

THE SINAI PENINSULA

Thus the promise to Abraham includes what is called the Sinai Peninsula, which historically has always belonged to Egypt.

… to assign the fulfilment of this remarkable prophecy to a period less than 40 years in duration is somewhat of an anticlimactic fulfilment. In the context of discussing Israel’s covenant, Paul speak of “God’s gifts” as being “irrevocable.” Thus in light of the promised restoration of Israel spoken of in Romans 11, it seems reasonable that this promise to Abraham points to a more complete Millennial fulfilment, coinciding with Israel’s spiritual restoration. *

IRENAEUS

Irenaeus was probably the first to argue that a future earthly Millennial kingdom is necessary because of the land promises to Abraham.

Now God made promise of the earth to Abraham and his seed; yet neither Abraham nor his seed… do now receive any inheritance in it; but they shall receive it at the resurrection of the just. *

In another place, he explains that the blessing to Jacob:

… belongs unquestionably to the times of the kingdom when the righteous will bear rule, after their rising from the dead. It is also the time when the creation will bear fruit with an abundance of all kinds of food, having been renovated and set free… *

THE CHURCH IS NOT ISRAEL

The OT promises to Israel have not been transferred to the Church. The promises which include land will be literally fulfilled in the Millennium.

While there is debate over the exact size of the area, depending on the interpretation of the shape of the area between the Euphrates and the Nile, there can be no question that it included the Sinai Peninsula and the part of Egypt east of the Nile river. Like Irenaeus, Premillennialists today assert that Israel has never held all this territory specified in Genesis 15:18; therefore in order for God to fulfil his promise to Abraham - this necessitates a complete fulfilment in the Millennium. *

C) LAND

In the Millennium the full territory promised by God to Abraham will belong to Israel i.e. between the Nile and the Euphrates rivers. This area comprises all of modern Israel, the Palestinian Territories, the Sinai Peninsula, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, part of Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

AMILLENNIALISM

Combined with their views on Replacement Theology, Amillennialists summarily dismiss the future fulfilment of this land claim as being a valid argument for an earthly Millennial kingdom. Hence Wayne Jackson (Church of Christ) writes:

There is no land promise awaiting the Jewish people in the future. The Hebrew people lost their deed to material territory as a result of their spiritual rebellion, which was consummated by their murder of the Messiah… The only hope now for those of Jewish background is in the gospel of Jesus Christ… *

UNCONDITIONAL

In Genesis 12 and 15 God grants Abraham land and a multitude of descendants but does not place any stipulations on Abraham for the covenant's fulfilment. As such, many see this as an unconditional Royal Grant.

The ceremony recorded in Genesis 15 indicates the unconditional nature of the covenant. When a covenant was dependent upon both parties keeping commitments, then both parties would pass between the pieces of animals. In Genesis 15, God alone moves between the halves of the animals. Abraham was in a deep sleep. God’s solitary action indicates that the covenant is principally His promise. He binds Himself to the covenant. *

ROYAL GRANT

Prof. Moshe Weinfeld was a professor of Bible at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1994, he won the Israel Prize for Bible. *

Weinfeld believed that similar terminology and wording can connect the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants with ancient Near Eastern grants, as opposed to being largely similar to the Mosaic covenant, which, according to Weinfeld, is an example of a suzerainty treaty. **

According to Weinfeld, the Abrahamic covenant represents a covenant of grant, which binds the suzerain. **

Prof. Moshe Weinfeld (1925-2009)

ROYAL GRANT

It is the obligation of the master to his servant and involves gifts given to individuals who were loyal serving their masters. In the covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15, it is God who is the suzerain who commits himself and swears to keep the promise. In the covenant there are procedures for taking the oath, which involve a smoking oven and a blazing torch. There are many similarities between Genesis 15 and the Abba-El deed. In Genesis 15 and similarly in the Abba-El deed, it is the superior party who places himself under oath. The oaths in both, moreover, involve a situation wherein the inferior party delivers the animals while the superior party swears the oath. *

CONDITIONS?

As only God - not Abraham - walks through the animal parts, this does seem to indicate that the obligations were on God alone.

Hence for Abraham it was unconditional – a grant based on past faithfulness.

But in Genesis 17 when God once again reiterates his promises - it seems that there is something required for Abraham to do – making others conclude that it is still a conditional covenant predicated on Abraham’s obedience.

Gen 17:1-16 (ESV) When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”

CIRCUMCISION

And doesn’t God make it clear that uncircumcised males are covenant breakers?

Gen 17:12-14 (ESV) He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

THE SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

Paul clears up the mystery. The sequence is the key. Abraham received the promises before circumcision was instituted. Hence the covenant was based on faith not works. Circumcision was the covenant sign – not the condition.

Rom 4:9-11 (NIV) Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.

ANALOGY WITH BAPTISM

This is much like the New Covenant where water baptism is the covenant sign. While it is commanded, it does not save us (Baptismal Regeneration).

Baptism is the outward sign of the covenant relationship we already have.

Likewise circumcision was the outward sign of the covenant already established years before with Abraham.

Rom 4:11-12 (NIV) So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

THE COVENANT SIGN

Circumcision becomes the covenant sign – the equivalent of baptism in the New Covenant.

Gen 17:9-11 (ESV) And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.”

DISPENSATIONALISM

The uniqueness of the Abrahamic covenant from a dispensational view:

While normally the newer covenant displaced the previous, Paul indicates in Galatians that this was not true of the Abrahamic covenant. The Abrahamic covenant did not cease with the Mosaic covenant and we remain recipients of the main promise of the covenant which is:

Gen 22:18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed

Paul makes it clear that Jesus is the seed referred to and all nations being blessed refers to the blessing of salvation we have received by virtue of Jesus who was Abraham’s seed.

NOT SET ASIDE

Paul explicitly says that the Mosaic covenant did not set aside the previous Abrahamic covenant, although it was more recent.

Gal 3:17 (NIV) What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.

Is the Abrahamic covenant no longer applicable to Israel but to the church? While the covenant is still intact and we are recipients of the blessing of the seed – some of the Abrahamic covenant does not apply to the church.

The covenant included very specific promises regarding land (i.e. the land of Israel) to Abraham’s physical descendants.

DIFFERENT SIGNS

Abraham’s covenant also included the sign of circumcision – which is not required by New Covenant believers.

Acts 7:8 (NIV) Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision.

Rather the sign of our new covenant is baptism:

Col 2:11-12 (NIV) In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL

Most Amillennialists take the view that all the promises made to Abraham have been passed on to the church and that God has finished with Israel.

However the Premillennial view is that God deals with man in dispensations and that while “Israel has experienced a hardening in part” (Romans 11:25) – Paul qualifies this statement by saying that this is only until “until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” He then adds “And so all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:26). So God will restore Israel as promised in Romans 11 and then they will receive all the other promises (of land) that were part of Abraham’s covenant.

THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM

FAITH

Abraham is commended for his faith in leaving his hometown to go to a place which would only be later designated by God.

Heb 11:8 (NIV) By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

GENTILE “CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM”

The Gentiles “who believe are children of Abraham” and “are blessed along with Abraham”.

Gal 3:6-9 (NIV) Consider Abraham:” He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham:” All nations will be blessed through you." So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Despite this, they have separate covenant relationships with God.

THINGS NOT SEEN

What is faith?

Heb 11:1 (NLT) Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Just as our physical eyesight gives us evidence of the visible, material world, faith gives us evidence of the invisible, spiritual world.

THINGS NOT SEEN

In our materialistic world we might be tempted to conclude that the only real things are those which we can experience with our five senses. Yet “there are things we cannot see: things behind our backs or far away and all things in the dark.” ~ C. S. Lewis:

“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” ~ Augustine

WHAT IS FAITH?

When missionary John Paton was translating the Scripture for the South Sea islanders, he was unable to find a word in their vocabulary for the concept of believing, trusting, or having faith. He had no idea how he would convey that to them. One day while he was in his hut translating, a native came running up the stairs into Paton’s study and flopped in a chair, exhausted. *

John Paton (1824-1907)

RESTING YOUR WHOLE WEIGHT ON GOD

He said to Paton, “It’s so good to rest my whole weight in this chair.” John Paton had his word: Faith is resting your whole weight on God. *

That word went into the translation of their New Testament and helped bring that civilization of natives to Christ. Believing is putting your whole weight on God. If God said it, then it’s true, and we’re to believe it. *

FAITH CREDITED AS RIGHTEOUSNESS

Gen 15:6 (NIV) Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

If we have faith, like Abraham the man of faith, God credits our faith as righteousness and we receive the blessing of those “whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” and “whose sin the Lord will never count against him."

Rom 4:4-8 (NIV) Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. 

THOSE WHOSE TRANSGRESSIONS ARE FORGIVEN

 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”

PERSEVERANCE

Abraham was given the promise that he would have an heir and be the father of many nations, yet he had to wait until he was 100 years old. Imagine waiting from your youth to old age for the promise. It would be easy to quit.

Perseverance is the Pathway to the Promise.

LONG WAIT

PERSEVERANCE

Sometimes the promise we receive from God are for a future generation. We read of the heroes of the faith:

Heb 11:13 (ESV) These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

Hab 2:3 (NLT) This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place…

SUFFERING

There will be suffering along the road to fulfilling God’s purpose in our life.

Adoniram Judson was a 19th-century American missionary. At age 37 he endured 17 months of imprisonment - his hands and feet bound to a bamboo pole. His wife Anne brought little bits of food to him, although at times she and the baby were near death themselves. She and the baby died while he was in prison. Yet he opened up Burma to the gospel and translated the Bible into the native language.

Adoniram (1788-1850) & Anne (1789-1826) Judson

SUFFERING AND SUCCESS

Speaking at the dedication of the Judson Memorial Church in New York City, his son, Edward, spoke referring to his father:

Suffering and success go together. If you are succeeding without suffering, it is because others before you have suffered; if you are suffering without succeeding, it is that others after you may succeed.

It takes perseverance to see the dream come to pass. When someone achieves something great, he or she is applauded and celebrated, but no-one sees the trials and tribulations, the setbacks and disappointments, the sweat and the tears, the impossibilities and the stretching.

BURDENED BEYOND OUR STRENGTH

We all go through periods when we want to quit, to run away when the pain is too much.

2 Cor 1:8 (ESV) For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.

It takes courage to persevere. There is no instant gratification. Sometimes we get instant answers to prayers, but mostly we must stand in faith. The dream is still in our hearts, we still have the promise, but we have become discouraged. Satan uses the part of us that believes the cost is greater than the reward and we start looking for reasons to quit.

DON’T SHRINK BACK

We need faithful endurance to complete our race. The author of Hebrews writes to those who were being persecuted for their faith.

Heb 10:36-39 (NIV) You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

PERSEVERANCE

Theodore Roosevelt * said: “It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or how the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming, but who actually strives to do the deeds. Who knows the great enthusiasm and the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly; so, his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

DON’T FAINT

No matter what comes against us we must persevere, never quit or surrender. We must have moral strength i.e. be people who do not give up when it would be easy to.

Gal 6:9 (KJV) And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

We renew our strength by waiting on God.

Isa 40:31 (NKJV) But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Other Scripture quotations taken from:

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

The New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.




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