Did God promise Himself into a corner?

God called Abram and told him to settle in the land of Canaan.  God gave Abram specific promises: 

  • He will become a great nation.1
  • All peoples on earth will be blessed through him (that referred to the Messiah).2
  • The land Canaan (Israel) would be the property of his descendants. 3

#  God is very specific about who He is.  

He is not just any deity.  God’s promises are closely tied to who He is.  He is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob (the Jewish people who now live in Israel). 4  This specific God made the specific three above promises to the three descendants in that family.  

#  Did they receive it?  

No!  Hebrews 11:13 is clear, ‘All these people were still living by faith when they died.  They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.  And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.’ 

#  Does that verse mean that God failed?  

  • No.  It means that their faith was a ‘guarantee’ of things to come ( things that we can also hope in).  When the apostle Paul defended himself before king Agrippa, he said, ‘…it is because of my hope in what God promised our fathers that I am on trial today.’ 5
  • Paul understood that there will be a resurrection and that some of God’s promises will only be fulfilled then.  He said, ‘Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?’ 6

#  God did not promise Himself into a corner.

  • God could make those promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob because His whole plan was worked out before He began to create this present universe.  His magnificent goal and project is a New, Eternal Kingdom.  
  • As the all-powerful God He had the resurrection of Jesus in view from the beginning.  It would lead to the resurrection of all people.    
  • Through the resurrection, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will live in God’s new country and they will see their offspring through the Messiah – all the people who were saved and prepared for eternal life.

Conclusion

We can have full confidence that what God promised will happen.  ‘God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind.  Does He speak and then not act?  Does He promise and not fulfil? 7  O course not.  If it is in the Bible it will happen.   We can trust God and His promise of the future Kingdom and all its blessings

References

  1. Genesis 12:2; 22:15-18  
  2. Galatians 3:16  
  3. Exodus 3:15  
  4. Genesis 15:18
  5. Acts 26:6  
  6. Acts 26:8  
  7. Numbers 23:19