Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

The Promises of God (Romans 9:4-5)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises. To Them Belong the Patriarchs, and from their race, according to the Flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. A men and then also a Hebrews chapter eleven, Verse Eight, Hebrews Eleven, verse eight through Verse Sixteen. By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance, and he went out not knowing where he was going. By faith, he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living intense with Isaac and Jacob, airs with him of the same promise, for he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith, Sarah Herself received power to conceive even when she was past the age, since she was, since she considered him faithful, who had promised. Therefore, from one man and him as good as dead, were born descendants as as many as the stars of Heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith had not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the Earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return, but as it is, they desire...

...a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not a shame to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city you may be seated was. We continue our our tour through Romans Nine, verses four and five. We come today to this word promises. This is, of one of the other things that Paul lists in this list as distinctive marks of Israel, things that belong to them, particularly as a people, as a nation under God, and we can think of these promises as being connected with the covenants. Indeed, several of the things in this list are, and they're all interrelated in one way or another. The giving of the law, for example, is a particular marker, but it comes within the covenants that God made to them. He has in mind particularly the Coven of Moses, we could say the same thing about worship and the promises as well. There's a connection between these two things. I think, for example, of glacians three seventeen. Paul says, this is what I mean. The law which came four hundred and thirty years afterward does not annull a covenant previously ratified by God so as to make the promise void. You hear those words, covenant, law, promise, all being used somewhat interchangeably to refer to a similar the same event, the same relationship that God established. Listen to how these words relate in Efhesians to twelve. Remember that at that remember that you were, at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the Commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. You see what he's saying there. He says...

...to us as gentiles, to the Ephesians in particular, you were strangers to the covenants of promise. There's lots of ways you can think about the covenants that God makes, made with his people, but one of the ways that God wants us to pay attention to, one of the particular angles that were called to look at is the covenants of promise, or promise as as an angle on that. Perhaps you've been to a place where a view has been set up already, you know, you drive out and you get out of your car to look at a particular place and there's a there's some kind of monument perhaps, or a or even a view finder that has preset angles. Right, you look through this one and you see the thing or you look through this side and you see this thing. That's essentially what's going on here. By giving us this word promises, God is telling us to look at this particular angle of what he's doing with his people, to consider how they belong to him in particular in this special way by promise. So what are the promises? What does Paul have in mind when he says promises to Israel? Well, we have to go back again to the covenant that God made with them, beginning with Abraham. When we go to Abraham Cha, sorry, hit to Genesis, which is very much about Abraham. We go to Genesis, chapter twelve, verse one. Listen to the things, see if you can write them down or count them on your fingers, that God promises here to Abraham Them. Now the Lord said to Abram, go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you, and I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and he and him who dishonors...

...you I will curse, and in all the families of the earth you will be blessed. In this promise here that God makes him in this covenant, we see several things promised, don't we? We God promises him a land. He's going to show him a land, he's going to give it to him. I'm in Genesis, chapter thirteen, verse five. We have this separation of Abraham and lot, and God says to Abraham this land I will give to you. In Verse Fifteen, the Lord, or Verse Fourteen, the Lord says to Abraham, lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are northward and southward and eastward and westward, make a circle, turn around everything that you can see, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth. So that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring can also be counted. So God promises a land. God promises a great nation. God promises his blessing in promising to bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him. He promises a measure of justice. He promises him protection, and there's this kind of worldwide ripple effect that God also promises in you, all the families, all the nations on the earth will be blessed. God drops a big pile of promises on this one person, Abraham, and these ripples extend out even to us. These are the promises that God gave to Abraham and belong to Israel as his offspring. But these promises that Paul has in mind come in a particular context. They come in the context of a world that is sinful,...

...a world that includes murder and lying, trickery, idolatry, confusion. We're only in Genesis chapter twelve when God says this to Abraham. Do you remember what happens in Genesis One through eleven? They include these things that I mention. They include prideful people. The include the peoples of the earth seeking to show their will as stronger than God's erecting a tower even to the heavenly places. We see God confusing them there. We see God wiping them out, so sinful they were in the flood. We see his curse coming down upon Adam and eve and their children after the first sin. We see rape, we see idolatry, we see evils of all kinds, and it is the same soup of sin in which we also swim. The old world is not that much different from the modern world. We think about the particular people in the Old Testament facing very similar things that we do today, like Moses having to choose between a family and wealth and following God, people seeking healing from disease, or Hannah wanting, wanting a child being barren. We see people looking for work, we see people who are lost, we see people who are burdened, betrayed, trapped by sin, in gorged by wealth and power, and on and on and on and on. The story of the world that we have recorded in the very first pages of the Bible is there a story of the world that is all around us today. So when we sit...

...here this morning and try to imagine the context in which God drops these promises showers these promises onto Abraham. We don't have to imagine that hard what it was like. The content of God's promises come in the context of sin, and in that we come to see God's great love and his graciousness. He didn't have to do this for Abraham. God didn't owe anything to this one. When God says in Romans nine four that to them belong the promises of Israel, it's not by birthright. It's by adoption, with which the list first began. God called this people to himself and said you will be my son and I will be your father, not because they had any rights to these things, but because God loved them even while they did not love him. So this is what Paul has in mind when he says promises. We have to kind of get that out there and just have a sense of what's being said. But we also have to go a little bit deeper and understand something very particular about these promises. You have to understand that God gave these promises, everlasting and universal promises, in a very temporary and local form. Let me say that again. God gives these promises, everlasting and universal promises in a temporary and local form. So, for example, he promises to him the birth of offspring, even a particular offspring, Isaac. It even gets it so particular that when Abraham hat tries to have a child another way, God says no, not that one, this one he has in mind, a particular child with a particular name. But Isaac, as you may...

...know, died. This great child of promise, this great offspring that God promised to Abraham, eventually died. Indeed, many of Abraham's children have died. Indeed all of Abraham's children have died. And there's all. There's something that takes away from the everlasting nature of the promise in that. Or you can take the land. There is this land that God promised to Abraham. Even says, look at it. And when Abraham looked north and south and east and West, you know what he saw? saw trees and rocks, maybe animals here walking this earth, in this world, animals that he could have named, animals that he could have caught, trees that he could have walked by or chopped down. A very real world is he saw a very real land, a particular place with a particular geography. And yet that temporary local form pointed to something else. Do you remember that? From Hebrews Chapter Eleven, it says the Abraham saw this land, but he always knew himself as a stranger and an exile. How can that be? How can Abraham, who's been promised this land, the land of Canaan, enter into that land, and even the people of Israel enter into that land and yet be a stranger and an exile in it? Those things are put together by understanding that the temporary, local form of the land pointed to something better. It pointed to something eternal and universal. Do you remember what God says in Hebrews? He says they desired a better country. Better country, yes, a...

...heavenly one. Abraham lived in tense, but God was designing for him a city that had foundations, and not just rocks and mortar on the ground, but the foundation which would eventually be Jesus Christ himself, the cornerstone of an everlasting city of God. This offspring that was promised in Isaac was a temporary and local, or particular to that time and place, form of a promise that would be eternal. Would Abraham have everlasting offspring? Would Abraham give bull forth to the promised child who would save the world in an eternal way. Yes, he would, and Paul says that in Galatians he quotes the specific passages and he says, Hey, did you notice back when God promised offspring to Abraham, he used the singular, not the plural. That interesting. Paul Making exegetical arguments from particular grammatical points in the Old Testament text. As a side note, it says a lot about Paul's Paul's faith and certainty in the texts of the Bible. But Anyway, he confirms these things and he says here is Jesus, here is the offspring that was promised. Yes, it was Isaac, yes it was Jacob, yes, it was the children that were born after him, but they all leading to something greater. The land was leading to something greater. The child was leading to something greater. The nations on the Earth were blessed too, through this people, through these promises. You remember Rahab right being saved by God's people as they were coming into the land of Canaan. You Remember Ruth Standing Outside the Covenant. Promises...

Sang to Naomi, let me in, I want to belong to you. These gentiles like us, who had no right to belong to this people, no rights of the land, no right to belong to the family, no right to any of these things. And yet coming in, little by little, trickling trickling in. But this trickle turns into this flood. When Jesus comes, these heavenly promises, these eternal promises, become so great this people that were truly as innumerable as the sands of the sea when they came out of Egypt are even greater now. All found all over the world this morning, people worshiping from us, thousands of miles away, worshiping the true and Living God. If it were not for Jesus, if it were not for the promises to Abraham, you and I would be worshiping rocks and trees and thunder storms and mountains, just like our ancestors did. I don't know how far you have to go back to find hard core idolatry in your family. For some of us it's not very far. This is what we came from, this is what we've been saved to. We worship the God of Abraham, of Isaac and Jacob. We call ourselves children of the promise, no longer strangers. As I read earlier from Ephesians, to these convenants of promise, children of Abraham. Why? Because, these temporary, local forms of the promise, we're pointing to something greater, something that has come to us in Jesus, something to which we now belong. Why did God do this?...

Why did God give the promises in these way, in this way? He did it for lots of reasons, all name two. One reason, as he wanted the people of God and all those who are standing outside watching them, to understand how grand the promises were that he were giving them. He wanted the Canaanites to look at Israel established in the land and say, we're not gonna mess with the God of Israel. He wanted them to understand the greatness. He wanted Israel to understand how powerful he was, that when they marched around a city, it would come tumbling down because God is great. He wanted them to understand that he could save them by the word of his power. He could stop the Sun, he could change the days, he could ruin a city, he could bring a flood, he could cause people to fall down. He could save his people. He could provide for them vineyards and orchards, lands and Wells. In a moment. He could do these things and then, as Israel would get established in their land, not only with peace and blessing security, but then the economy would grow and under solemn and a temple would be built and people would look at this and say there's nothing like this in the world. He wanted people to see the greatness of his promises, the glory of God. But if all that is temporary and but a picture of things to come, we get to see the greatness not only there but in what they point to. As great as the land was, as great as the victories were that God's people won, where the God that God won for his people. They're just for tastes, like...

...appetizers. The greatness of the temple or these mighty victories that happen are like going to Costco and eating the samples. Kind of Nice, enjoyable, but not the real thing. It doesn't compare to sitting down and having a feast. Or imagine if you're going to move to another city and buy a home and you're looking at pictures on the Internet. Wow, that looks really nice. It doesn't even come close to being there. That's what it was. Where Abraham for Sarah, for Isaac for Jacob, for Moses, for Israel, even as they lived in the land and enjoyed these promised blessings, yet Hebrews says, they were still greeting them from afar. They were seeing the heavenly city to come, the eternal rest, the lasting protection of God and blessing and communion with him, as if they were looking through a better homes and gardens. This is really nice. Maybe someday we could renovate. They were promised something eternal. So these promises in this way taught them of the grandness, the greatness, the glory of the things God was giving to him. But they also taught to them the graciousness in which they would come, or by the grace in which they would come, because you know what would happen? These promises, in a temporary way, would be tied to their obedience, not eternally, but in this temporary form, in such a way that God said, you can enjoy living in this house, you can belong to me and enjoy this land, but only if you obey. And you know what? They didn't obey and they lost those blessings, they lost the...

...promises, everything fell out from underneath them because of their sin. God wanted that to happen. Not He wanted them to sin, but he wanted this, this event, to happen. He wanted all of this to fall out according to his plans, so that these people, both those in the mixed hat and it was with happening to them, and US gentile standing outside looking in, would see something. We would see something happening here and we would see that these promises cannot be earned, they cannot be purchased by our obedience. It's impossible. They didn't do it, they couldn't do it. God wanted us to see the holiness that was to be attached to the promises, but he wanted to see that his long as our hearts were sinful, we couldn't obtain them, that death and curse, we're always blocking the way, and that in order to obtain the eternal things promised, God would need to provide an eternal answer, a righteousness which is not like our own, but a righteousness which is everlasting and perfect and holy. And he does that in Christ. Knowing the grand and gracious nature of the promises helps us to understand how it is we belong to Israel. If we think of the promises, is being tied only to that time and place, then we make two errors. One is that we might despair as those standing outside and say, well, we don't belong, it's not ours. And even if they were, they've been lost. The people were exiled, kicked out, dispersed across the...

...world. Another error we might make and if we see them only in this temporary way, as we fail to see that how they are tied to the life after the promised blessings that come to us in Jesus. But the great benefit of seeing them and hearing the scripture as it speaks to us in this way, is what it's saying is this. Paul is saying that the promises belonged to Israel. Yes, they did, but they also belong to you, who believe and put your faith in the offspring of Abraham, Jesus Christ, who came and who established for us a heavenly city in which we dwell. Let me bring us to a conclusion by speaking about the nature of promises. We live our lives on the basis of promises. Every actioning we take, everything that we do, even if we're not thinking about it at the moment, is really and truly relying on certain promised things. You wake up in the morning, you throw your feet out of bed and they land on the floor and you don't think about it twice because you expect that your bedroom is not on top of a sinkhole. Right. you get out of bed and you stand up and you brush your teeth and you put your contacts in and you move about Your Day, knowing that the ground is going to be there. You Trust it, right, you trust it, and there's a thousand examples we can give. Maybe you go on a vacation. There's all kinds of things you're trusting on as you move away from your normal support system, that you're expecting are going to be there, friends and family if you get in trouble, that your map is correct, that the cell phone towers...

...are working, that the weather is going to work, that your car is going to be in working order. We have all of these things, thousands and thousands of things that we are constantly depending on, and yet we know that all of these things, these earthly temporal things, can fail, cell phone towers go down, friends and family can't be reached, the wealth that we thought we have disappears. Are Importance in that we thought we had at work or in our neighborhoods, all of a sudden is diminished, our value in our communities, the skills and abilities we have, all these things break fall away. But we don't need these things if we truly have God, if we truly have his promises of life. This is how Christians can go out into the world and say, friends and family may leave me, wealth may disappear, but I'll be okay because I have Jesus, and in Jesus I have all the promised blessings of Abraham. I have a place to live heaven itself. I have a God who loves me, Yahwe himself. I have a God who will protect me. I don't need to fear. Jesus has conquered death itself. The worst thing that could happen is I would die, and it would be the beginning of life everlasting. This is why Christians can be burned at the stake and thrown into lion's dends and beheaded and worse. That's how the Chapter I was reading in Hebrews Eleven concludes, with Christians who, by faith, sharing that same faith with Abraham, go out into...

...the world as strangers and exiles, saying it's going to be okay, because God has promised, and his promises never ever fail. God doesn't get it wrong, the mechanics of the system he builds don't fall apart, he doesn't change his mind or his will, doesn't lose strength. All these kinds of things happen with us. We experienced them over all the time, but not, but not with God. Things die, break down, fail to work, but Jesus rose from the dead. Jes Jesus rose from the dead. He did not die and stay dead, he awoke and rose to everlasting life and promises that we will rise with him. Indeed, we already have in belonging to him. One of the great shames of people that recognize the failures and brokenness and disintegration of all the things around them is that they go on these great quests to find and discover the things that God has already brought right to them. People Climb Mountain seeking gurus to tell them how they could have eternal peace, life, protection happiness, when meanwhile the son of God has come down to Earth, right where we are, to give us light and life and blessing and to fulfill all the promises. These promises began when God gave them to Israel, and this small portion of humanity began to experience in a temporary way, in a this earthly way, his blessing, his protection, his forgiveness. But they were brought to fulfillment when the blood of Christ...

...purchased these things eternally, and not just for a small portion of humanity but for the whole world, not just for one people but for all people's Jews and gentiles alike. Christ came through the Patriarchs to bless us all, and in this we have promises fulfilled and we look forward to the consummation of all of these things. You might think of the promises of God like a train, one promise netlext to another, next to another, next to another, linked together, moving through history, chuggle, Chug, chuggle, stopping at various points, in places for people to get on, for people to join. And that's what he has given to us. In Jesus Christ, he says, by faith, become children of Abraham. Get on the train. We're going to a heavenly city where all of these things will be lasting, unbreakable forever. This is the home to which we are called. We are strangers and exiles right now, but so is Abraham. He hoped in a heavenly city. Let us hope so as well. This is the promise of God. It is sure, we can trust it. Let us pray.

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