United Church of God

Letter From William Bradford - July 21, 2023

Letter From William Bradford

July 21, 2023

God's Promises - Consider them Already Done!

Over 4,000 years ago, God made a covenant with Abraham, then Abram, that has blessed us all. We can find the story in Genesis 12.

Now the Lord had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Gen 12:1-3, NKJV)

Have you observed that God made seven distinct provisions to Abraham?

(1) promise of a great nation through Abraham; (2) personal blessing (3) name of Abraham shall be great; (4) Abraham to be a blessing to others; (5) blessing on those blessing Abraham; (6) curse on those who curse Abraham; (7) all nations of the earth will be blessed through Abraham.

At the age of 75, Abram trusted in God and left his home to start a new life. Despite his advanced age, he had faith in God's words and followed His guidance. Moving ahead to chapter 15, the promise is reaffirmed.

This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir." Then He brought him outside and said, "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be." And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. (Gen 15:4a-6, NKJV)

Abram believed in God's promise about numerous descendants and this faith was attributed to him for righteousness. Later, when Abram was 99 years old, God reaffirmed his promise and changed his name to Abraham.

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly." Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."  (Gen 17:1-8, NKJV)

Of note in this passage is that God said, "I have made you a father of many nations". For God, it was already done in His mind.

In Hebrews we can see that when God makes a commitment, it is as good as done. This is because God does not change his promises once they are made. Hebrews emphasizes the importance of having faith in God's word.

For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you." And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable (unchangeable) things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. (Heb 6:13-18, NKJV)

Just like Abraham, we too have a steadfast hope rooted in the promises made to him. Abraham showed great patience and endurance, and as his spiritual descendants, we too can exhibit the same faith by persevering and placing our trust in God. The blessings that God bestowed upon Abraham and those who follow in his example of faith continue to this day.

Jesus, when questioned by the Sadducees about the resurrection, said -

But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'?  God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.  (Matt 22:31-33)

Upon contemplation, this statement is significant. From God's perspective, the resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a certainty, despite it not having occurred yet.

We can be thankful for the covenant God made with Abraham.  We are blessed as a nation due to God's promises and from his story we can have confidence in God to bring to pass what He promises.  We can follow Abraham's example of faith leading to righteousness.           

Have a restful and spiritually enriching Sabbath.


Bill Bradford - Beloit, Chicago, NWI