Living By Faith When Promises are not (Fully) Fulfilled, Pt. 1
April 3, 2022
I placed a book order last week. And a few minutes after I placed the order, I received an email telling me when I would receive the order, along with a tracking number from UPS so that I could follow it’s progress. I had placed the order no more than five minutes earlier. There was no way the order had been processed — the books were still on some shelf in some warehouse. But what’s the first thing I did when I saw the tracking number? Yup. I did what you do — I clicked it, wondering, “Where is it? Will it get here earlier than promised???” (It didn’t, though it did arrive exactly when promised; and that is one of the reasons my wife has noted that I am impatient…)
When someone makes a promise, we want to receive what is promised — now. And the longer we have to wait, the more we are tempted to question the legitimacy of the promise. That’s true of our relationships on earth, and that is (unfortunately) true of our relationship with God as well. When we have to wait, we unrighteously question whether God is still able or willing to do what He has promised.
That really was at the heart of the Hebrew problem: the readers of that letter were suffering for their faith in Christ and had erroneously supposed that because of their faith in Christ, they would not suffer. So in Hebrews 11 the author provides story after story of people (from the OT) who lived faithfully to God, despite living in difficult circumstances.
This morning, in Hebrews 11:8-12, we come to the story of Abraham; in these verses, we will find that —
Living by faith means acting on God’s promises when they aren’t yet received.
The faith of Abraham is of the same kind as those mentioned in this chapter already, but there is also a contrasting uniqueness between his and the others — Abel had little opposition before he was ushered into God’s presence, Enoch never experienced death, and Noah knew when and what the coming judgment was, and how to save himself and his family. Like Noah, Abraham also received promises, but unlike Noah, Abraham never saw the fulfillment of God’s promises on earth even though he lived to the age of 175. That reality sets the tone for how we understand the faith of Abraham — how does one live by faith when God’s promises are not fully fulfilled?
In these verses, the writer reveals four aspects of Abraham’s faith:
- By Faith, Abraham Left a Land of Comfort without Knowing the Future (v. 8)
- By Faith, Abraham Lived in the Land of Promise without Receiving the Promise (vv. 9-10)
- By Faith, Sarah Persisted in Believing When Tempted to Doubt (v. 11)
- By Faith, Abraham Left a Legacy Without Having that Ability (v. 12)
- What We Learn from Abraham’s Faith
Download the rest of this sermon on Hebrews 11:8-12.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.