April 4, 2012

God’s Escalating Promises

As I read my old journals and reflect on the events in my life, I’ve wondered, even lamented, at how slow I have been to learn spiritual principles and even slower to apply them. I’ve said many times, “If only I had known then what I know now” and “Had I understood this about God back then, what a difference it would have made in my life.” Besides regretting my slowness, I’ve sometimes questioned or doubted the wisdom of God in His dealings with me.
This morning, God shows me that His promises are on an ascending scale. That is, He starts with a blessing that leads to a fuller blessing. This progressing is illustrated in His promise to Abraham about the land He would give him. These few verses illustrate that progression, going from the first promise, to showing him the land, to giving it to him, and then ahead to the possession of the land by Abraham’s offspring.
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)
Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. (Genesis 12:7)
The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.” (Genesis 13:14–15)
The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you (Jacob), and I will give the land to your offspring after you. (Genesis 35:12)
The fullness of this promise did not happen to Jacob’s generation. His son Joseph rescued them from famine by bringing them to Egypt, but after his death, the people became slaves. Then Moses led them out of Egypt, but they rebelled against God and wandered forty years in the wilderness before finally beginning to take possession of the promised land.
So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses. And Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war. (Joshua 11:23)
So it is with spiritual growth. We start with great and precious promises, and as we keep our eyes on them and obey God’s leading, we are tested and drawn along to the fulfillment of those promises. He does not give them all at once. That would be overwhelming. Had some of the events of my life happened earlier, before the testing and refining that made my faith stronger, I would have fallen. 

As He did for Israel concerning their land, God keeps in hand an infinite reserve of promised blessing for His children. The longer I walk with Him, the more I realize how much of His blessing is yet to be experienced. As the devotional writer for today says, who ever saw His last star?

Oh Lord, every day You show me another facet of Yourself, another glimpse of Your wisdom and Your ways. I regret that I’ve had to learn at times by repetition, yet from these years of slowness, I more fully realize the depth, extent and stubbornness of my sinful nature. Resisting You is not wise, yet You knew I would do it and arranged accordingly that I should grow by degrees. Like a sculptor creating a statue, You keep chipping away at all the parts that do not look like Jesus, the One who lives inside me. You promised to transform me into His image, using all things for that good result. You also take time to do it, and now I understand why — You intend that transformation to be deep, extensive and thorough, eternally permanent, just as You promised.

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