August 17, 2022 - Promises, Promises
"I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil." (Ps. 119:162 NIV)
When I graduated from Bible college a few hundred years ago, I received a small gift - a handbook of Bible promises. It still sits behind my chair in the bookshelf as it has for every church that I have served. It's a quick reference when I can't remember a verse or if I need to offer a word of encouragement to one of my church family members.
They are promises of God to his people. Anchors for a storm. Stable foundations when it quakes. Deeply rooted trees for hurricane winds. Certain. True. Trustworthy. Hope filled. Positive and negative. Blessings and curses. Seldom memorized. Seldom referred to. A great treasure that remains buried because very few are willing to work hard to uncover it and claim it for their own.
I have been struggling with a promise lately and hungering for another: The promise of Jesus' coming and the promise of a new heaven and earth. Peter wrote about both in 2 Peter 3:4 and 13.
The first is the struggle of waiting, of anticipation, of not falling prey to the scoffers who say, "Where is his coming? It's been two thousand years." It reminds me of the man with a demon possessed son who said to Jesus, "I believe; help my unbelief." My spirit of late. The second is the hope, the longing of what is to come. Escapism. Of course, and proud of it.
The first is a patient endurance as things become worse and worse. "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some are but is patient, not wanting anyone to perish but to come to repentance." The second is the motivation for hanging in there and staying at the work.
I often think of all the prior post-cross generations that longed for Jesus's coming. They longed for it but didn't see it. They died in anticipation - holding on to a promise.
And we, the generation that has seen the establishment of Israel, who are now seeing all the evil actors forming an alliance (Russia, Turkey, Iran) that will end up being the Ezekiel 38/39 war, Jerusalem being once again recognized as the capital of Israel, high inflation, government collapses, shortages of food, etc..., we, have more reason to believe in the fulfilled promise of Jesus' coming than any generation. And yet are still struggling with the fulfillment.
Perhaps it is just war weariness. I am reminded of Proverbs 13:12, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."
A present sickness with a certain cure.
The promises of God.