Tuesday, October 02, 2012
When promises seem to fade
My ears perk up when I hear the same thing taught twice in a short period of time. Like God's trying to get my attention, and I missed it the first time around.
Well that just happened. I was astonished, as I drove, listening to Alistair Begg on a Christian radio station. He's the pastor with a strong Scottish accent. Have you heard him before? He was mid-message when I tuned in; now that I think about it, I don't even know what the "point" of the message was. I only heard one part.
The part on Matthew 1:1. Because our whole entire service at church yesterday was on Matthew 1:1. Astonished. I sat in the car thinking, "What are the odds..." and "Wait, if God is trying to reteach me something that I missed yesterday, what on earth could it be?" Alistair reflected on a thought that seemed obvious to me, that the verse was a seemingly dry way to kick off the New Testament. Here's God, about to tell the greatest story ever told, and He starts with this:
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
I sort of agree, to be honest. Next, Matthew spends the next 17 versus listing all the key players in Jesus' family line. Matthew is not exactly trying to hook us into a compelling plot line. It's a portion of scripture most people probably skip. You know, to get to the good stuff. I've done it. We are accustomed to the convention of an "introduction" when we read, aren't we? If I'm honest, I've treated certain seemingly introductory portions of scripture as just that, introductions to skim over, to warm us up perhaps.
I guess I wanted to do that yesterday morning during church. Tune out because it seemed like we were dwelling on the warm up. I didn't quite get the message, why we had to spend all of service on Matthew 1:1.
God is saying OBVS right now, since He had to reteach it to me this morning through the radio.
(As I type, I'm reminded of this verse I memorized last year...)
All scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Tim 3: 16-17
Here's what God wanted to show me. Without going into all the detail on why that one verse is so important - all the prophecy it would have called to mind in the heart of the first century reader, all the implications the phrases "son of David" and "son of Abraham" have - just know this. Alistair Begg proved Matthew 1:1 is to tell us one thing:
God keeps His promises.
God made covenants (fancy word for promises) with Abraham and David, and Matthew is saying, "Watch this. 'Member those covenants? Let me show you how God keeps His promises. And then throughout the book, He demonstrates how those promises were fulfilled in Jesus.
I think I tuned out Sunday because in order to understand this verse, it meant absorbing very heady material, sort of like a history and theology class all at once. And so I missed the personal message in it.
But what you don't know is the reason God had to reteach me this morning. There's a reason when I heard Alistair Begg summarize Matthew 1:1 that I instantly teared up.
When he said Matthew 1:1 was all about promises and fulfillment, it sunk in. I can't give you many details. But I can say I've been temped lately to question whether I've heard right on certain things I feel God has promised me. I've been tempted to lose the vision He's given me for certain things very dear to my heart. I've questioned whether He actually did promise me anything, and if He did make me promises, how on earth He was going to keep them.
Over the several hundred years it took God to fulfill His promises in the person of Jesus, I have a feeling a few people felt the same doubt as I do. At times, I find it very hard to understand this verse:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Pet 3:9
I want to say, "Um, yes you are, Lord. You are kinda slow. Actually. 'Cause I don't have several hundred years to wait. In fact, I don't know if I can hold on to believing you for another week."
There are so many things involved here. Do I simply believe in God? Or do I BELIEVE God? And why does it feel like there is an expiration date on that belief in certain areas sometimes? (I mean, who does He think we are?!)
Well, He thinks I'm human. And forgetful. And distracted. So He patiently teaches me twice in a 24 hour period the same exact thing.
I am a promise-making, promise-keeping God.
Can a woman forget her nursing child?
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
His love makes my heart skip a beat.
Have a great week.