Promises Pt. 9

“God spoke to Moses and said to him, ‘I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant” (Exodus 6:2-5 ESV).

God is about to send Moses to share His promise of deliverance but before He does, He lays out why He can be trusted. He makes sure they understand what He has done for them already before He tells them what He will do next.

“Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord” (Ex. 6:6-8 ESV).

After establishing His faithfulness, He makes 7 promises. I will bring you out. I will deliver. I will redeem. I will take you. I will be your God. I will bring you. I will give it to you.

And then we find Israel’s response.

“Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery” (Ex. 6:9 ESV).

The people saw their own condition and that colored their belief in God’s promises. They were overwhelmed by their difficulties and couldn’t hear God’s plan for redemption. God deserved their trusted and met them in their need, but they could not believe.

Today let’s pray that we could take our eyes off our own struggles and look at all He has done for us. Let’s ask that God would grow our faith so we can hear His promises and believe His goodness.

Your thoughts?


Promises Pt. 7

Do you ever stop to think about the ramifications of writing something and posting it on the internet? I haven’t, in the past. That’s what blogging is, right? Just spouting off whatever is on your mind. And then I wrote that blog about the argument between radio and record labels, and I realized people are reading this and it affects them. So I decided to stay away from controversial things unless I felt God had a specific purpose for it. I think He has a specific purpose for today’s promise. It may be difficult to wrestle with at first, but please stick with me and let’s walk through it together. Take a deep breath. Here we go.

If Israel and Palestine went to war, if the nations of Judaism and Islam fought, which side do you think would be the fulfillment of the promise of God? To bring it closer to home, if the United States is at war with Iraq or Afghanistan, the Christian nation versus the Muslim nation, which side is the fulfillment of God’s promise? We find an amazingly unique and overlooked promise of God in the 21st chapter of Genesis.

We have already looked at God’s promising to make a great nation from Abram’s offspring. But in Genesis 16, Sarai, his wife, has borne no children, so she offers her servant Hagar to Abram. Hagar becomes pregnant and bears a son, Ishmael. After his birth, God tells Abraham that his wife Sarah will still bear him a son, named Isaac. Hagar fears for the well-being of her son, and God speaks to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation” (Gen. 21:17b-18 ESV). God promises that Ishmael will be made into a great nation.

Guess who most experts say that nation is? Right, the nation of Islam, that heritage is from Ishmael. So, both sides are the fulfillment of the promise of God. Now, I am not trying to make any commentary on the war. I am not trying to say whose side God is on. I am merely noticing that sometimes even those we count as enemies are children of the promise, children of the Promiser, as well. And maybe that is why God not only says love your neighbor, but also love your enemy.

Your thoughts?


Promises Pt. 6

In Genesis 14, Abram rescues his kinsman Lot who has been captured by Chedorlaomer, king of Elam. Afterwards, Abram is blessed by Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God most high. Then in Genesis 15, God makes his covenant with Abram. He promises him a son and an abundance of offspring. But in the midst of it all, God says something very different.

“Then the Lord said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions,’” (Gen 15:13-14 ESV).

I grew up assuming bad things happen because I got out of God’s will. But here, the slavery of Egypt is mentioned in the original promise to Abram. This was part of His plan and for some reason, He wanted Abram to know about it from the beginning. God’s path was perfect but not easy. Israel spent multiple generations in Egypt, and yet here it is foretold as part of a plan. God doesn’t promise that our path will be easy, but it will be best. Our path is a small chapter in the grand story of His glory.

Your thoughts?


Promises Pt. 5

Abram was coming out of Egypt.  They had journeyed there during a time of famine.  As he came back into the land promised to him, he traveled with his kinsman Lot. After a time, the two owned too much to stay together and Abram allowed Lot to choose part of the land for himself and Abram would take the other part.  Lot chose the beautiful, well-watered Jordan Valley.  “Then the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.  I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted,’” (Gen 13:14-16 ESV).  I will give.  I will make. Future tense. These are the promises of God to Abram.

Did you ever notice that Abraham is never referred to as the king of Israel? He’s not the president or the prime minister of Israel.  He’s not the pastor or the priest of Israel.  He’s not the general or the commander of Israel. He is called the father of Israel.  That is his most important role, as a father.  And that is the promise God gives him. Yes God provides land for him, but He promises it to him and his offspring. God promises to grow his family like the dust of the earth.  Even after a moment when part of Abram’s family chose to take the better part of the land from him, God promises to give him all the land he could see and to bless and grow his family. Maybe we should take more seriously the roles we’ve been given as parents. That seems to be where God is focusing, maybe we should too.  What if God is not centered on our role at our job or at our job, but our role in our family? What if in His story, I am not known as a musician or a worship leader or as a teacher, but as the father of my kids?

Just a thought. Your thoughts?


Promises Pt. 3

By the sixth chapter of Genesis, mankind had reached such abominable depths of depravity that God decided to wipe them out. “And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth,’” (Gen 6:13 ESV). He says I will destroy them. Future tense. It’s a promise. Not quite as uplifting as others, but nonetheless, it’s a promise.

God takes our mistakes very seriously. We have learned so much about grace that sometimes we may overlook how God views our sin. And even though God promised He would never destroy the earth with a flood again, it doesn’t mean His feelings towards sin have changed. He ends verse 17 with “Everything that is on the earth shall die,” (Gen 6:17b ESV). And then you see that beautiful conjunction, BUT. Conjunction junction, what’s your function? The whole world turns on that word: but.

“But I will establish my covenant with you…” (Gen 6:18a ESV). In the midst of His response to sin, the destruction of life as we know it, God’s concern was relationship with us. He brought us back to a dependant way of life, walking in step with Him. And I think that is always his goal when He punishes, when He disciplines. He desires us to walk closely with Him. And He takes everything that detracts from that walk very seriously.

Your thoughts?


Promises, Pt. 2

Adam and Eve’s first son Cain murders their younger son Abel. God had given him the opportunity to change, but instead it just made him angry. And he responded with rage and violence. But afterwards, God casts him into exile and Cain fears that someone will kill him. “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him” (Gen. 4:15 ESV). God says vengeance shall be taken. It shall be. Future tense. It is a promise.

Unfortunately, I got most of my theology on the mark of Cain from scary movies. I thought it was a mark for a serial killer or some other scary guy. Or girl. I don’t want to be sexist. There’s plenty of scary girls out there. But back to the mark of Cain. I always thought it was something really bad. Pointing out the bad guy. Labeling him as evil. But it’s actually something completely different. It is God’s promise of protection for Cain. It’s not a branding of him as a sinner; it’s branding him still as a son, in spite of his sin. It’s a dad saying even though he has made mistakes, he is still mine, and if you mess with him, you mess with me.

Even in our time of discipline, God still has good planned for us. Even when He lets us experience the result of our sin, He desires our protection. God the judge is never separate from God the lover. He is always both. And I will take the mark of His protection any day.

Your thoughts?