Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Promises, Promises


The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

This is one of my favorite passages in Genesis. Two reasons:

First, I use it as a reminder that God’s priority for me as a husband and someday father is to teach my family righteousness and justice. This is similar to Ephesians 5 which exhorts husbands, “Love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her, that she might be holy…”

Second, this passage contains an important, and perhaps overlooked, truth concerning God’s promises. If you parse this passage carefully, you’ll notice that God plans to bring his promises to pass as a result of Abraham’s actions: “I have chosen him, that he may command his children…so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

While not all God’s promises result from our actions, some do. God not only works outside us to bring his promises to pass, he works inside us. Those whom he chooses, he changes. And he changes us in order that we might not only inherit his blessings, but enjoy them.

6 comments:

njcopperhead said...

Interesting insights. I had to look up the full passage to understand what God was not hiding from Abraham - his judging of Sodom. My reading is that God is specifically stating why he revealed his plans to Abraham - to teach him (and us) to keep the way of the Lord.

Joseph Adrian said...

Would it be correct if we stated it like this? Trust in the Lord and He will bring to pass what He has promised.

Ken Shomo said...

You might find it interesting that the phrase translated in v.19 as "I have chosen him" is literally "I have known him." An OT example of the doctrine of foreknowledge (Romans 8)?

For further examples of "conditional" promises fulfilled in Abraham, see also Genesis 17:1-2, 22:15-18, 26:2-5.

Ken

Ken Shomo said...

Joe,

In reference to your suggestion ("Trust in the Lord and he will fulfill what he has promised"). I think this is true, yet in this passage it seems something more is going on. God makes a conditional promise, yet it's clear that he will see to it that Abraham meets the conditions!

Perhaps part of this is that "trust" in the Bible is something weightier than the trust we normally speak about.

Ken

Joseph Adrian said...

Ken,I meant trust in the Biblical sense,not the way the world understands it(or the way broad evangelicals often use it),but trust in the sense of complete confidence and dependence upon the Lord(not just intellectual assent to the truth that God has revealed).

Ken Shomo said...

I agree. Trust is a lot more than some bargain for! But it's something better and deeper.

Ken