Can we trust God’s promises?

Why do we follow Jesus?  Jesus said, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ 1  It is a privilege to follow Jesus, pray, study the Word, et cetera, but it does cost.  As humans, we naturally ask, ‘What’s in it for me?’  (See ‘What’s in it for me?’)  Our generous, perfect Father God promised us eternal life as a reward.  Yet, what will convince us that the exciting glorious future will become true?  

#  What does Scripture guarantee us? 

‘No eye has seen, no ear had heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him….’ 2  The next verse tells us, ‘…but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.’ 3  

#  Did the Old Testament promises come true?   

  1. God promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their descendants will inherit the land of Canaan. 4  Abraham received the promise around 2,000 BC.  Today, 2018, many of Abraham’s descendants, the Jews, live in the land God promised them.  It is a unique event in history.  Never before has a nation suffered so much and yet come back to the land God promised to their ancestors thousands of years ago.  That unlikely promise of God to a man married to a barren woman became true. 
  2. God also promised Abraham, ‘I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.’ 5 He repeated it to Jacob, ‘Your descendants will be like the dust of he earth….’ 6  It sounds like fiction.  The number of Jews today in Israel and scattered over the world cannot be like the sand on the seashore.  Could this promise become a reality?

#  God’s answer in the New Testament 

  • ‘Understand then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.’ 7  That means all followers of Jesus are Abraham’s descendants, his children. 
  • Jesus explains it in the parable in Luke 16:19-23.  The beggar, Lazarus, who laid at the gate of the rich man’s house, died.  The rich man also died and was shocked by what he saw, ‘In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.’  
  • That means Abraham welcomes to his side (in his bosom, or in his arms) every believer who dies.  The rich man correctly addressed Abraham as ‘Father Abraham.’  

Please note: There must be billions of believers at Abraham’s side already.  The numbers grow daily as believers die and translate into Abraham’s presence.  That means God’s second improbable promise to Abraham became true. 

Conclusion

Four thousand years ago God promised to Abraham a country and numerous descendants.  Both became true.  It testifies to the truth of God’s Word.  Are there more examples of ‘strange’ promises of God that became true – fulfilled promises that boost our faith in our future destination?

References

  1. Mark 8:34  
  2. 1 Corinthians 2:9  
  3. 1 Corinthians 2:10  
  4. Genesis 15:18-21; 17:8; 26:4; 28:13  
  5. Genesis 22:17  
  6. Genesis 28:14a  
  7. Galatians 3:7

Who else wants to know that Israel is living proof of the living God?

People think the Bible is about religion, but we beg to differ.  It is about reality.  God is real, His Kingdom is real and what He does has to do with reality.  For example, Israel is living proof that the God of the Bible is alive and well and keeps His promises:

#  Abraham was the original ancestor of the nation of Israel.  

  • God called Abraham to move from Haran and go to Canaan, about 1921 BC  (nearly 2,000 years before Christ). 1
  • God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants.  ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’  2
  • The history of Abraham’s descendants had many ups and downs.  There were two exiles where they were removed from their promised land (first by the Babylonians from 605-586 BC and then by the Romans in 70-136 AD).  From then on they were banned from Jerusalem, except for the Passover Feast.
  • Then the miracle happened.  In 1948 on May 18, ‘for the first time since September 8, A.D. 70, the Holy Land by official Gentile action belonged to the Jews.’ 3  The Jewish state is living proof that God kept His promise to Abraham.

#  God would bless all people on earth through Abraham.

‘…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ The promise has to do with Jesus.  He was a descendant of Abraham and through Jesus all nations on earth have the potential to be blessed.  The followers of Jesus are part of the multitudes who have been blessed through Jesus.

#  God promised blessings to Israel’s friends and curses to its enemies.

  • God promised that those who curse Abraham’s descendants will be cursed and those who bless them will be blessed.  ‘…I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.’ 5
  • Abraham’s descendants, almost like Jesus, are hated without reason.  People invent  false reasons on which to base their hostility.  It all boils down to hatred of God. But God warned people that it is a dangerous exercise to curse Israel, as many do.

#  Are the Jews as numerous as the stars in the sky?

  • Did God’s promise to Abraham come true that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky? 6  It doesn’t seem so because Israel is a small nation.
  • Yet Galatians 3:7 says, ‘Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.’  So not only the Jews but also gentile children of God through Jesus, are Abraham’s descendants. 
  • Jesus told the parable of the rich man and Lazarus to illustrate this.  The rich man is in hell after his death (he probably did not prepare for eternity but concentrated only on material wealth).  The poor man is in heaven at Abraham’s side. 7
  • So Abraham welcomes every person who dies as a believer in Christ, in heaven, as another of his children.  There must be multitudes of Abraham’s ‘descendants’ already in heaven with him – as numerous as the stars in the sky.

# Remarkable hatred against God

  • The following scene describes the hostility against God, ‘When the thousand years are over [while Satan will be in the Abyss], Satan will be released and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth….  In number they are like the sand on the seashore.  They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city He loves.’ 8
  • Look at the remarkable fact.  For a thousand years the devil will be inactive.  The moment he is released, he begins to deceive people to prepare to attack God’s city, Jerusalem.  Isn’t it a remarkable proof that he is alive and hates God and His people?
  • Incidentally, that is also the devil’s last act of rebellion on this earth, ‘And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into to the lake of burning sulphur.’ 9  Then the devil will inherit his final destination where he will be tormented day and night for ever.

Conclusion

The hatred of the devil and those he influences against God’s people, is an outstanding evidence in real life that there is a God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He is alive and well.  Israel is living proof of the living God and we can trust Him to fulfil His promises.

References

  1. Genesis 12:1-3
  2. Genesis 15:18
  3. Willmington’s Guide to the Bible, Dr H L Willmington, Tyndale House Publishers, inc., 1981, p 977
  4. Genesis 12:3b  
  5. Genesis 12:3a  
  6. Genesis 15:5  
  7. Luke 16:22-23
  8. Revelation 20:7-9
  9. Revelation 20:10

How does Islam differ from Christianity?

Greetings our dear Reader,

I trust you are well.

We thought you might like to know a bit more about Islam.

After all, we read and hear a lot about them in the news media.  Whether Boko Haram in Africa, or Isis and others, they create havoc.  Often we hear that some of these ‘soldiers of Allah’ shout ‘allahu akbar!’ (god is great!) when they commit their atrocities.  Yet some people still regard the God of the Bible and Allah as the same monotheistic deity.  That is not true.  They are diametrically opposed in character, teaching and in their religious books for their followers.

The real issue of Islam has to do with the history of Isaac and Ishmael.

We read it in Genesis 16; 17:9-25; 21:8-21.  God promised Abraham a son, but he was married to a barren woman.  Sarai, Abraham’s wife, convinced him to ‘help God fulfill His promise’ and have a son by her Egyptian slave woman.  In those times it was customary that the father would then adopt the son of the servant woman as his own.  So Abraham accepted Ishmael as his son and also circumcised him as God commanded in Genesis 17:9-26.

Abraham’s promised son will come through Sarah.

Twelve years after the Ishmael episode, God reminded Abraham that the son He promised would come through his barren wife, Sarai.  God changed her name to Sarah and declared that she will be the mother of nations.  Kings of peoples will come from her, Genesis 17:15-18  Despite Sarah’s laughter at this ridiculous promise from God, she had her son, Isaac, within the next year.  When they had a feast day to celebrate the weaning of Isaac, Sarah saw Ishmael mocking her little boy.  She was livid.  One can imagine that Ishmael was jealous, since it was obvious that Isaac was the one promised and sent by God.  She told Abraham to get rid of Ishmael, because he would not inherit with her own son.

The Arab-Jew conflict

  • Abraham was distressed when Sarah ordered him to get rid of Hagar and Ishmael, but God told him to do as Sarah requested.  It was through Isaac that God’s promised Messiah would eventually be born.
  • God never rejected Ishmael, but promised to make him a great nation.  He was also the offspring of Abraham.  Hagar later got a wife for him from Egypt, spurning any young woman who had anything to do with Abraham.
  • Hagar was probably livid because of the treatment she got from Sarah.  One can imagine how she fostered the spirit of hatred in Ishmael.  The Arab (Ismael) – Jew (Isaac) conflict is what we still see today.  It does not matter what the Jews do, most  Arabs hate them and want them annihilated.

The conflict over the country Israel

There is another reason why the Arabs want to destroy the Jews completely.  God promised the country Israel to the descendants of Abraham, eternally (Genesis 17:8).  The Jews are the rightful descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob.  The followers of Allah (Ismael) think if they can destroy the Jews, it will prove that the Koran is the true version of God’s words and that Allah is the true ‘God.’

God’s promise to Abraham’s descendants is remarkable.

In 70 AD the Romans under Titus completely destroyed Jerusalem, killed thousands of Jews and sold the rest as slaves.  Nineteen hundred years later, in 1948, on May 14, the country promised to Abraham around 2,000 BC, was once more declared the independent State of Israel.  America very quickly recognized the Jewish State in Palestine.  Russia followed suit three days later.

  • Yet one day after independence, on May 15, five nations invaded Israel: Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.  What did the Jews do to incur this?  Nothing!  Regardless, the enemies of Israel lost the war.
  • The Sinai war was fought in 1956.  The enemies lost.
  • Then the Six Day War in 1967.  The enemies lost.
  • The Yom Kippur War was fought in 1973.  Again, the enemies lost.

We write to you about Islam because it explains the following:

  • Islam’s hatred against Israel has never abated.  It stands as a powerful evidence that the Biblical history of Abraham’s two sons is true.  However, this conflict of the Arabs against the Jews has an interesting result in the Western World.
  • As you probably know there is a war against the Bible, God and the Church in the Western world.  People like the Freedom From Religion Foundation and many, many atheist organizations attempt to ‘evict’ God from society with the law.  That leaves a spiritual gap or vacuum and guess who is ready to fill it?  Islam of course.
  • We see this process very well in Europe.  Many countries allow unlimited numbers of Muslims to immigrate.  The Muslims have an ulterior motive, namely to eventually dominate the countries and declare Shariah law.  The peaceful message of the Bible is stopped, and is automatically replaced by a violent one, one that will force people to accept Allah: convert or die.  No free will.
  • The Arab nations (that are mostly Islamic) are immensely rich and they can financially support the efforts of Muslims in the various countries.  England has quite an interesting growth in the number of mosques in the last years.

Conclusion

However, as we see from history, God’s promises always come true.  As His promise to Abraham became true, so will His promise in Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; Revelation 21:1 come true.  There will be an eternal new heaven and earth where God will live in love and harmony with all the people who made peace with Him through His Son, Jesus.  That is the Gospel in the Bible, the Word of God.  It is not from the Koran.