God' promises all come together in Christ!
If you have ever climbed a mountain and have been glad to drop your haversack and rest for a while, spare a thought for the people who carried up the sand and cement necessary to construct the triangulation pillars, or trig points, that you sometimes find at the top.
These pillars are about 4 feet (1,23 metres) tall and were used for the placement of theodolites – instruments to accurately measure angles, which are used for map making. There are about 6,500 of these pillars across the mainland and islands of the UK which were constructed in the 1930s. They have now been superseded by aerial photography and laser measurements.
Land surveying using theodolites relied upon the accurate measurements of angles and distances and, providing there was a clear sight between three trig points, you could calculate different heights above sea level, as well as precise locations. This gave a geometrical basis from which the positions of roads and other features could be established. By cross-checking the details from each of the points, any inaccuracies could be identified and resolved.
The idea of cross-checking to identify inaccuracies is something that applies much more widely than just in geometry. In a court of law, for example, witnesses are cross-examined to check their statements and that is an ancient practice. For the law of God stated that:
"Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness" (Deuteronomy 17:6).
It is the way that things interrelate that gives us confidence in the reliability of something that has been stated, or which can cause us to doubt.
The things that God has promised are never stated just once. They are repeated and confirmed, to leave us in no doubt about what He intends. So when God promised Abraham that his descendants would bring a blessing to mankind, that promised blessing was confirmed in a most remarkable way. Here is the original promise:
"I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing ... and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:2–3).
That statement was made when Abraham was leaving the city where he had lived to set off with God into the unknown. It was the beginning of a spiritual adventure for him and his family during which God made promise after promise to this faithful man. When Abraham was over 100 years old, he was asked to climb Mount Moriah with his son Isaac, there to sacrifice his son. It was a huge challenge for this aged man, and for his younger son, because all the promises about his descendants depended upon Isaac having children, and thus continuing Abraham’s family line. But Abraham obeyed without question, confident that God would keep His word and, if necessary, that He would raise Isaac from the dead (see Genesis 22:5 and Hebrews 11:17-19).
Abraham’s faith was such that he did not need to be tested to the end, so the angel stayed the old man’s hand and spared the lad. Then the original promise was repeated and reaffirmed in a most remarkable way:
"The Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: 'By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son – blessing I will bless you ... and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice'" (Genesis 22:15–18).
Notice that the angel did not just confirm the promise. To make it infallible, God himself confirmed it with an oath – He swore by Himself that the blessing would indeed come through Abraham’s seed. The New Testament picks this confirmation up in two ways. First the writer to the Hebrews comments:
"When God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, 'Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.' And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise …Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us." (Hebrews 6:13–18).
Confirmed in Christ
By the promise itself and by the oath that He swore, God confirmed the certainty of the promise. The second explanation of this remarkable promise comes in the letter to the Galatians, where the apostle explains that the descendant of Abraham who was promised was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God:
"Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, 'and to seeds,' as of many, but as of one, 'and to your seed,' who is Christ." (Galatians 3:16).
Paul’s explanation is that Abraham was promised no less a descendant than the Lord Jesus Christ who, being born of Mary, was Abraham’s seed, as the New Testament confirms in its opening verse by telling us that it is "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham" (Matthew 1:1).
We can have total confidence in the promises of God, centred in His son. Read the Bible and you can check for yourself that all these things are accurate and wonderful. They offer a blessing unlike any other – the forgiveness of sin and the hope of a new life with the Lord Jesus Christ in his Father's Kingdom.