Receiving the Promise
The New Testament, that is, the coming of Jesus Christ in the fullness of time to “take away the sin of the world” and restore all who believe unto sonship in God, is the fulfillment of the Lord God’s promise given at the very moment of our fall: that God would send the “Bruiser of the serpent,” and bring us again into Himself (Gen 3:15; Luke 15:11-24).
What does “promise” mean? Abraham is our example. When Abram was seventy-five years old, The Lord God appeared to him and told him that he would have a son from his own body as his heir, and that in his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed. But Sarai his wife was barren, only a few years younger than Abram and already long after the years of childbirth. How could a baby come from those circumstances? Yet Abram believes and it is accounted to him as righteousness.
At ninety-nine the Lord God appears again to Abram, announcing a second time His Promise that in his seed all nations of the earth would be blessed. To show this as a certainty, God changes his name from Abram to Abraham, saying, the year before the child of promise is actually born, “I have made thee a father of many nations.” (That is, before there is any visible evidence that such a thing could be, God declares that He already IS.)
Then Abraham is given the sign of circumcision, the cutting off the foreskin of his own penis, which to our reasoning minds makes no sense whatsoever. But God is proving something to Abraham by circumcision and by their long wait into old age to finally have the true heir. Why circumcision and why now, after the Promise has already been given and believed long before?
God is proving to Abraham that this is the son born of promise, a son not born by human means or ability, because now all human means is exhausted. And of course the even further truth, in that Abraham’s seed will bless all nations, is the completion pointed to in Isaac and circumcision, that Christ would be born of dead humanity, not according to the means of human birth, but of God. And then even further, that that same Jesus Christ who was born in Mary, is now born in us by promise as well, as the “seed” which blesses all nations, thus fulfilling God’s word to Abraham in every one of us who are his sons.
Abraham’s body is as good as dead, and Abraham’s obedience to circumcision is proof that Abraham believes that God will perform His promise outside the normal human means of reproduction. And in the same manner with the same meaning, Sarai is then called Sarah at the time of the greatest deadness of her womb, while Abraham, the one God has now called, “father of many nations,” has his “member” for reproduction figuratively “cut off.” Abraham is, by circumcision, figuratively sealing human inability with divine ability by faith (2 Cor 12:10).
As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations, before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb:
He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. (Rom 4:17-21)
This is the “faith of Abraham,” a committment that God performs His promises, in the middle of the impossibility of human ability. It is the same faith spoken of in Hebrews 11:6: For without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that HE IS, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
Abraham’s Isaac is born as the son of Promise, and not by the will or power of man. Even as we become children of God (Christ in us) by promise, i.e., by something GOD DOES, having nothing to do with man except that he enter into God’s promise by faith – testifying of God in his heart that God’s living word is certain, by freely receiving a freely given gift. (John 1:12,13).
And now it is the same with this “land of promise” we experience when we enter into the “rest for the people of God” (Heb 4:9-11). This is not something to be thought of as something that we can “work” or make happen, or learn to keep ourselves in once we have come to it. That is the final lesson of Romans seven, in that it is not by the hand of man, either to enter into the life of the Spirit nor to stay in it. Not ever!
It is God who brought us out of Egypt, sending the Lamb to become one with us and to allow us to kill him in order that the posts of our doors might be smeared with his blood to deliver us from death. He came as the Shepherd seeking his own, who has snatched us out by a strong hand and the sure crook of his staff. It is He who will let no beast harm us because He has found His flock and now takes us home intact to the Father.
And it is God who drove us through the sea into the howling wilderness, where there was no sustenance of any kind for man or beast. And even there it IS GOD, where there was no human bread and no human water, who is the true bread to eat every morning and the true water coming out of the rock every time we thirsted. It is God who brought us to the mountain of Holiness in the desert, where we exceedingly quaked and feared at the sight of ourselves in His eyes. Even while we were still only conscious of ourselves as flesh, it is God Who gave us the law and the ordinances by which we knew it was right to live, causing us to fear even more. It is God in that wilderness, in which we seem to ourselves almost as if we are lost and don’t know which way we are going, Who is the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, leading us each and every day even while we seem blind to ourselves.
And it is God who denies our entrance into the Land until every vestige of self-will and self-reliance, and indeed the whole of our falsely separate selfhood, we finally come to see in an inner consciousness of the Spirit, has perished in the wilderness. That very day we walk across the Jordan on dry land, having come fully to inwardly see that we are now and always have been dead since the Cross, not partly dead, not nearly dead, but dead dead, so that forever we see we can now be no other than, “no longer I, but Christ,” because it is impossible to put the true New Wine of Christ formed in us (Gal 4:19), into these old wineskins of the nothing of independent self-reliant human self. But He has done the impossible, exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think, and now we come to see it for ourselves, that as He is in the world, so are we (1 John 4:17).
That is our entrance into His rest, and ground zero out of which the works of God are manifest, for which we were created from the foundations of the earth (Eph 2:10). Faithful is He who has called us, WHO WILL ALSO DO IT! (1 Thes 5:24).
Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he. (Isa 41:4)