The Promises of God
2 Corinthians 1:20
2 Corinthians 7:1
2 Chronicles 7:14
Before you begin, read the first two scriptures, 2 Corinthians 1:20 and 2 Corinthians 7:1 which sets the basis for this reflection on the promises of God.
An internet search claims there are as many as 3573 promises in the Bible, with most promises being conditional. The fulfilment of God’s promises follow the positive response by those who receive the promise.
A good example would be the promise given by God to Solomon in a dream at the time of the dedication of the first temple in Jerusalem:
“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
This is primarily a promise to the Jewish people at the time of a new beginning. The temple building was amazing, but without a change of heart among the worshippers, little had been achieved. This promise is very popular among believers, myself included, who long to see worldwide revival today. We may feel that the conditions for revival outlined are relevant if God is to move in our world today and so we make this verse a pattern. However, context is important and we should consider it carefully before claiming that an Old Testament promise to Israel is ours.
Promises have become an important issue in the debate about replacement theology (the belief among many that the church has replaced the Jews). However, most of us haven’t heard the debate and have simply accepted that all God’s promises of blessing in the Old Testament have now become our promises because the church has become God’s chosen people. In his book, “Israel in the New Testament”, David Pawson made a perceptive observation:
“Christians take the predicted prophetic promises in the Old Testament metaphorically and apply the predicted blessings (though not the curses!) to the church.”
So, without realising it, many have assumed things God promised to Israel are no longer theirs but ours. I have a Preacher friend who often declares, “If you want to know what time it is on God’s clock, look at Israel.” Like my friend I believe the Jewish nation have never lost their place in the plans and purposes of God. (Read Romans 11)
When we look at the New Testament, we might expect the significance of Israel to have faded. However, Israel appears more than 70 times in the New Testament and it always means the Jewish people. There is as much written about Israel’s future destiny as its historic past. Scripturally Israel and the church have a parallel existence until they merge into one flock under one Shepherd, Jesus. (Ephesians 2:11-22)
In recent years growing numbers of Jewish believers are becoming Messianic Jews because they have found their promised Messiah.
Matthew 28:18-20 contains a commission and a promise:
‘Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The promise here is the presence of Jesus, a Jewish Rabbi speaking to His Jewish disciples and clarifying their mission to the Gentiles. I thank God that these men pursued their mission so that we too can accept the challenge and know His presence.
Prayer: Thank You Jesus for promising to return one day. Help us to live and witness every day with the same passion and power as the disciples on the day of Pentecost. Amen