One Giant Promise Kept
When I graduated from high school, someone slipped me a slim, purple book full of promises from God’s Word for the new graduate. What I didn’t understand when I placed that book in my college dorm room was that God’s Word isn’t just a big flip-and-locate-different-promises-to-claim-for-your-life sort of book. All of Scripture is one giant promise kept!
Here, let me show you what I mean.
Open your Bible to the first page, and it won’t take you long at all to find mankind’s rebellion against God. On the first and second pages, we see God creating all things. Mankind is the pinnacle of His creation, made in God’s image to reflect Him and reign over all He had made. But on only page three of my Bible, Adam and Eve rebel against God (Gen. 3:1–7), passing their sin nature on to all who would come after.
Catch That First, Cryptic Promise
The same day of their rebellion, God doles out their punishment, as He is holy and must judge all sin. But even as He hands out judgment, He also extends grace. We catch the first glimmer of God’s promise to send Jesus to undo the damage we’d done in Genesis 3:15. God says to the serpent:
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
It sounds rather cryptic to our ears, so let me call in fellow writer Starr Meade to help explain:
Genesis 3:15 gives us the first promise of Christ in the Bible. Jesus Christ is the one who would be born of a woman and who would undo what the Serpent had done. It would cost Christ a great deal. He would have to take the judgment God’s people deserved for their sin by dying in their place. In this way, Satan would “bruise” Jesus’ “heel,” but Jesus would bruise the Serpent’s head by restoring God’s relationship with his people.
Turn a few more pages, and you’ll see God reaffirming and expanding on this promise to a man named Abram.
Hear God Reaffirm His Promise to an Old, Childless Man
In Genesis 17, among other things, God promises to:
- Give Abram’s offspring land (think the Promised Land).
- Make of Abram a great nation (think the nation of Israel).
- Bless all the families of the earth through Abram (think through his descendant, Jesus).
All Scripture shows God keeping these promises in spite of great obstacles. Take the second promise, for example. God promised to make Abram and his old, childless wife Sarah a great nation. At the time it sounded laughable, but when Abram was 100 years old, God miraculously gave this couple a son, Isaac. Slowly we see this family grow. Isaac gives birth to Jacob. Jacob has twelve sons. One of these boys is Joseph.
If you’re like me, you tend to read Joseph’s story as if it’s all about . . . Joseph. But this story is not ultimately about Joseph. Watch how God uses Joseph to fulfill His promise to Abram to make him into a great nation.
Watch and See
You can read Joseph’s fascinating story in Genesis 37–50. To recap, as his father’s favorite son, he is hated and abused by his brothers. They sell him into slavery and then breathe a deep sigh of relief. They’ll never have to see Joseph again, or so they think.
But years later, due to a harsh famine, these brothers travel all the way to Egypt for food and find themselves bowing before . . . Joseph. They don’t know it’s him at first (he’s grown up, he speaks Egyptian, he dresses Egyptian, he walks like an Egyptian, and he’s the second most powerful man in all the land of Egypt).
But after a couple dramatic interactions, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers:
“I am Joseph! Is my father still alive? . . . Come near to me, please. . . . I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. . . . God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors (45:3–7, emphasis added).
Did you catch that? If God had not providentially allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery and then rise to power, this little, incubating family would have been wiped out. God’s promise to Abram would have failed. But instead they are saved, and they continue to grow.
Observe This Little Family Grow into a Great Nation
Joseph’s family (Abram’s descendants) move to Egypt, survive the famine, and at the end of the book—while they are not yet a great nation—they’ve grown to nearly 100 people.
Turn the page (Exodus is just a continuation of the first book of the Bible), and what do you see?
The people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them (1:7).
In fact, by the time we turn to Numbers 1:46, we’re told there were over half a million males at this point. God did it! In spite of obstacle after obstacle, He made a great nation from one, lone man—a nation through which the whole world would be blessed . . . through Jesus. The New Testament begins this way:
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham (Matt. 1:1, emphasis added).
God always keeps His promises. If you tracked with me this far, you saw how God was faithful to make of one man a little family, and then to make from this little family a great nation. He did this in spite of many obstacles, because nothing is too hard for God.
The next time you open your Bible, remember that the whole story is one giant promise kept. It was written so you might know and trust this God who makes promises and always keeps them.
By Paula Marsteller
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