The Promise Confirmed
Author: F. Duane Lindsey
Week of December 8, 2013
The Lord confirmed His promise to Abram first by word (“a son coming from your own body will be your heir,” Gen. 15:4) and then by a solemn covenant grant ceremony to assure Abram that his descendants would gain possession of “this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates” (v. 18).
Abram was still experiencing growth pains in the life of faith—“O Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” (v. 8) The Lord responded to his desire for evidence by ratifying a covenant to guarantee the fulfillment of the promise. He also warned Abram that the fulfillment would be preceded by a period of enslavement, a reference to the period when Israel was in Egypt.
The fact that Abram was in a deep sleep when the Lord ratified the covenant illustrates that its fulfillment rests on God, not on Abram’s or the nation’s obedience. And the specific boundaries of the Promised Land indicate that God has a future for His people Israel in the land of Israel since they have never yet in history possessed all the land ratified in the covenant.
Good news: we can have the same assurance that Abram had about God’s faithfulness to fulfill His promises. For example, we have the promise of a completed salvation—“Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15). Though the fulfillment may be preceded by apparent delays, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you” (2 Peter 3:9). Though suffering and even death may precede the ultimate fulfillment, the Lord will be faithful to keep His promises (Rom. 8:31-39).