Our thoughts are often consumed to the point of anxiety over that which God has promised but has yet to fulfill. As God would have it, He never shows up early, but rather precisely when He means to, which is precisely when we need Him.
Rather than trusting that God keeps His promises, we try to rush the process and fulfill His promises in our own efforts. However, the essence of Sabbath is coming to a place where our trust resides in God’s sovereignty and provision.
As we look at the life of Abraham, we see an example of God’s promise, man’s attempt to fulfill it apart from God’s will, and the promise fulfilled in God’s timing and in God’s way.
In Genesis 15 God promises a 90-year-old Abram that he and his 80-year-old wife, Sarai, will have a son.
“And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: ‘this man shall not be your heir; your very son shall be your heir.’ And he brought him outside and said, ‘look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ The he said to him, ‘so shall your offspring be.’” Genesis 15:4-5
Think back on some promises that God made to you a long time ago that you have since either forgotten about or begun to assume would never come to fruition.
What a promise this was! Yet Abram and Sarai found it hard to believe. When God didn’t deliver in the time they thought He should, the couple decided to take matters into their own hands:
“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had more him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, ‘Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from having children. God in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went into Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.” Genesis 16:1-4
Instead of waiting for God’s promise they decided to “help God out.” If that were not enough, Abram wanted God to bless what the fruit of his own efforts, rather than wait any longer for God’s original promise to be fulfilled.
“Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, ‘shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh that Ishmael might live before you!’” Genesis 17:17-18
Abram’s (now named Abraham) plan might have been to settle for what he could do on his own, but God was faithful to his promise.
When was a time that you tried to do something for yourself that God said He would do for you?
Fast forward 500 years. The Israelites had left Egypt. After years in the wilderness, they had no desire to move forward, yet the time of fulfillment had come. (Joshua 3:1-5)
God had chosen to fulfill his promise to Abraham 500 years after it was made, with people who knew very little about what was actually promised.
“And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39-40
Just as Joshua and those in the wilderness were the recipients of a promise made generations before, you and I are the fulfillment of promises made to those who came before us.
You are God’s promise to generations before, and will be the recipient of a promise to others decades later, if we only follow.
Can you think of promises that have been made to generations past that you might be seeing the fulfillment of today?