Our Promise Keeping God Pt. 1
Do you know someone who throws around the word “promise” for everything, and probably rarely keeps those “promises”? I promise I’ll wash those dishes before bed, then doesn’t. I promise I’ll send you a check, then doesn’t. I promise I’ll pay you back, then doesn’t. I promise I’m telling you the truth, and isn’t? In our language, the word “promise” ends up being a lot like the word “love”. Although love has even more potential definitions, in English, promise can be defined in 13 different ways, and I would say it’s used far too frequently. Especially when people really don’t mean what they say…
The Bible is full of promises. Victor Knowles of Pepperdine University found throughout the Old and New Testaments there are 8,810 promises recorded; 7,487 of those promises recorded are promises that God has made to humanity. In addition to promises made and kept, J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy lists 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament, for a total of 1,817. We can easily think of prophecies as promises God has made through his prophets predicting future events. Proof of an all-powerful Creator God and loving Father who will step into the natural world he created to do miraculous things that are scientifically impossible by human standards.
Over the last 200 years or so, liberal theologians have been trying to take the miraculous out of scripture. They deny that inspiration of the scripture as the very words that God wants his people to hear and read. They say modern enlightened humanity cannot accept the miraculous and it is all superstitious nonsense made up to convince the ignorant, uncultured, and uneducated to follow the precepts of the Bible. These are church leaders and scholars with Pastor, Reverend, and Doctor before their names. People whose opinions and false teaching bear a lot of weight with some denominations, within universities and seminaries, and develop belief systems. They deny when the biblical passages were written and what they meant, deny the deity of Christ, that Jesus was truly God in the flesh, they deny prophecies that predict his coming, deny that Jesus bodily rose from the grave, deny the very fundamentals of biblical Christianity while still claiming to be Christian.
Peter said in 2 Peter 1:20-21,
‘Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.’ 2 Peter 1:20-21
These people would deny this statement for the Holy Spirit could not carry along anyone. Scripture is not inspired and authoritative. Jesus was not born of a virgin overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, the blameless, righteous, sinless, spotless, Son of God who is the only acceptable atoning sacrifice on behalf of sinful man before a perfect God. Jesus was a great teacher and a fully God-conscious man, but he was not God in the flesh. Jesus may have been crucified and buried, but he did not physically rise from the grave. Only the spirit of Jesus still lives today, he did not bodily rise to heaven after appearing to and teaching his disciples for 40 days. Those are all just made-up stories, not miracles.
If we disregard the inspiration and authority of scripture, we might as well throw the Bible away completely. If we don’t believe that God has made 7,487 promises to humanity and hasn’t been keeping his promises, what is the point of faith? If we deny the miraculous and toss out the 1,817 predictive prophecies God has made, including over 300 having to do with the plan God had for the coming Messiah, how can we stand firm on the Solid Rock of our foundational belief in the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus, who is God’s anointed Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the one true and living God.
Jesus was not just a good man, a great teacher, a moral leader, or even a fully god-conscious man. Jesus is the Adonai, the LORD, the eternal Son who existed from before the beginning, was involved in creation, the living Word, the light of the world, the cornerstone and capstone of our faith, the Head of the Body of the Church, and the fulfillment of the predictions and prophecies of his coming are not only a part of the fingerprint that identifies who he truly is; they are also offer proof of who God is and what he has been doing for humanity from the beginning.
Over the coming weeks, we are going to be looking at some of the prophecies and passages foreshadowing the coming Messiah. The passages and prophecies that the Hebrews would have know and been expectantly looking for before the birth of Jesus. The passages and prophecies that are evidence that we have a promise keeping God, who has never broken a promise or failed to keep his covenant with his people.
God told his people through Moses in Deuteronomy 18:21-22,
‘Now if you say to yourselves, ‘How can we tell that a message is not from the Lord ?’ – whenever a prophet speaks in my name and the prediction is not fulfilled, then I have not spoken it; the prophet has presumed to speak it, so you need not fear him.”’
Unfulfilled predictions made in the name of God are a stamp that God did not speak. Unlike Nostradamus and any other oracle, unlike weatherman trying to forecast, every prophecy spoken by God and recorded in scripture has come true as predicted, except for those yet to happen. There are still prophecies from both the Old and New Testaments yet to be fulfilled. But for the coming weeks, starting with the writings of Moses beginning in Genesis, we are going to look at Messianic passages and prophecies and compare them to the life and ministry of Jesus. Why? Because we have a promise keeping God, and our mission is to develop disciples. With a world that denies the existence of God, with denominations that deny the inspiration and miraculous nature of scripture, with theologians and scholars who claim to be Christian trying to change the very nature of the faith we profess; we need to be ready to strengthen our own spirit against such attacks based on the truth and offer hope to those who have none or are looking for answers when even their own churches are feeding them lies.
We are going to start in the beginning, with the creation of mankind and the birth of sin in our world, all the way back to the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve. In Genesis chapter three, serpent starts his discourse to deceive Eve by asking, “Is it really true that God said…?” This same question is used as justification for nearly every willfully sinful act Christians make today, does the Bible really say? Or did God really mean that when it was written? Or the Bible says, BUT… The serpent asks, “Did God really say?” And as a result of following her own desires and lead by the lies of the enemy, Eve ate of the fruit and then gave some to her husband, her husband who should have stepped in and defended her, her husband who was not deceived as Eve was, but instead followed his wife’s lead rather than standing up for what God said, ate as well. And sin came into the world. Then we have the first foreshadowing of the coming Messiah the Redeemer who will defeat sin and death. Genesis 3:14-15 says,
‘The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the wild beasts and all the living creatures of the field! On your belly you will crawl and dust you will eat all the days of your life. And I will put hostility between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; her offspring will attack your head, and you will attack her offspring’s heel.”’
You may have heard it as, ‘And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”’
In Galatians 4:4-5, Paul explains that Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophecy. Paul said,
‘But when the appropriate time had come, God sent out his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we may be adopted as sons with full rights. ‘
Jesus is the promised offspring, the promised seed of the woman who came in response to sin to redeem humanity. From the very beginning of time, God has been planning to redeem his creation.
Starting in Genesis 9 and jumping into Genesis 12 we read,
‘He also said, “Worthy of praise is the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem! May God enlarge Japheth’s territory and numbers! May he live in the tents of Shem and may Canaan be his slave!”’
The Hebrews would have considered this passage a foreshadowing of the coming Messiah to abide with, or live in the tents of, his people through the line of Shem. From the line of Noah through Shem, one of Shem’s descendants is Abram, later know as Abraham. God made a covenant with Abram in Genesis 12, we read,
‘Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you. Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, so that you will exemplify divine blessing. I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name.”’
In Matthew 1:1 we read,
‘This is the record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.’
John 1:14 says,
‘Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory – the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. ‘
Jesus in John 14 and John in 1 John 2 both use the language of abiding and remaining, living with and in that we find of God living in the tents of or abiding with the family of Shem and from the line of Abraham. Jesus is the fulfillment of these prophesies and promises of God. The fulfillment of the First Covenant with Abraham.
Listen to these other passages of scripture foreshadowing our Messiah…
‘The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; the nations will obey him.’
‘Then he uttered this oracle: “The oracle of Balaam son of Beor; the oracle of the man whose eyes are open; the oracle of the one who hears the words of God, and who knows the knowledge of the Most High, who sees a vision from the Almighty, although falling flat on the ground with eyes open: ‘I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not close at hand. A star will march forth out of Jacob, and a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the skulls of Moab, and the heads of all the sons of Sheth. Edom will be a possession, Seir, his enemies, will also be a possession; but Israel will act valiantly. A ruler will be established from Jacob; he will destroy the remains of the city.’”’
Balaam wasn’t even a Hebrew prophet, but he prophesied the coming Messiah. In Luke 3:33-34 we can find the evidence of Jesus being from the line of Isaac and the tribe of Judah, Matthew 1:1-14 confirms Jesus lineage as well from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and down through Judah. All predicted 1,500 years in advance when Moses was writing recounting the history of the Hebrew people and foreshadowing the coming Messiah, then we find Moses making this prediction.
‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you – from your fellow Israelites; you must listen to him. The Lord then said to me, “What they have said is good. I will raise up a prophet like you for them from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth and he will speak to them whatever I command. I will personally hold responsible anyone who then pays no attention to the words that prophet speaks in my name.’
Peter addressed the crowds in Jerusalem saying in Acts 3:18-26,
‘But the things God foretold long ago through all the prophets – that his Christ would suffer – he has fulfilled in this way. Therefore repent and turn back so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and so that he may send the Messiah appointed for you – that is, Jesus. This one heaven must receive until the time all things are restored, which God declared from times long ago through his holy prophets. Moses said, ‘ The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You must obey him in everything he tells you . Every person who does not obey that prophet will be destroyed and thus removed from the people .’ And all the prophets, from Samuel and those who followed him, have spoken about and announced these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed.’ God raised up his servant and sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each one of you from your iniquities.”’
We have a promise keeping God! We have a God who has given us his word, written hundreds and hundreds of years in advance of the days of fulfillment. We have scrolls dating years before the birth of the Messiah telling of his arrival and historical records proving his life, death, and resurrection. No other religion or belief system on Earth has the evidence and providence that foundational, fundamental, biblical Christianity does. But we are fallen people, in a fallen world, who don’t want to have to live by the objective standards got has set. So we justify and deny them instead of conforming our lives into his image through the power of indwelling Holy Spirit.