The Berean Expositor
Volume 11 - Page 56 of 161
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The nature of Promise.
One of Abraham's titles is, "he that had the promises" (Heb. 7: 6, 11: 17). The land
of Canaan in which Abraham sojourned is also called "the land of promise" (Heb. 11: 9).
Isaac and Jacob who dwelt with him there are said to be "heirs with him of the same
promise". Both the epistle to the Galatians and that to the Romans lay great emphasis
upon the nature of God's promise. Let us notice what is attached to the promise:--
"That we might receive the promise through.......FAITH" (Gal. 3: 14).
"The covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the LAW, which was four
hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none
effect, for if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise" (Gal. 3: 17, 18).
Here the nature of the promise is shewn by its relation to law and faith. Turning to
Rom. 4: we shall increase our understanding of the nature of the promise, and also learn
more fully the strength of Abraham's faith. The first reference echoes Gal. 3::--
"For the promise, that he should be heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his
seed, through the LAW, but through the righteousness of FAITH, for if they which are of
the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect.......therefore it
is of FAITH that it might be by GRACE, to the end the promise might be SURE to all the
seed" (Rom. 4: 13, 14).
Notice the teaching; it is by faith, by grace, that it might be SURE. Abraham and
Sarah believed the promise (faith), but they endeavoured to help God (flesh), and the
birth of Ishmael was the result. God will make the promise sure without the intrusion of
the flesh, for the very intrusion of the flesh robs the word promise of its meaning.
The factor of Time.
Attached to every promise of God is an appointed time either stated or implied. Not
only is this necessitated by the outworking of a plan, but it also is used to exercise and
encourage simple faith. Ecclesiastes has noted, "There is a time to every purpose under
heaven". The answer to the tried faith of Habakkuk was, "the vision is yet for an
appointed time.......though it tarry, wait for it". So the promise to Abraham was timed.
To the flesh the long years that passed after the normal age of parenthood had been
reached were a hard trial of faith. It was not until Abraham was "about an hundred years
old" that the promise was fulfilled; yet there was no tarrying on the part of God. "At the
time of life", "at the set time", "at the time appointed", Isaac is born, and Ishmael is
seen to be the symbol of law, bondage, and unbelief.
"It is written that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free
woman, but he that was born of the bondwoman was born after the flesh, but he of the
freewoman was by promise" (Gal. 4: 22-31).
"They are not all Israel, which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of
Abraham are they all children, but IN ISAAC shall thy seed be called, that is, They which
are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God, but the children of the
promise are counted for the seed" (Rom. 9: 6-8).