DECEMBER 2, 2018
Promise and Peril
“I will make you into a great nation…And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen 12:2a, 3b, NIV).
The Divine promise to Abraham was not simply to or about Abraham. It was a promise that one day the whole world would be blessed through his lineage with the coming of a Savior who would heal and redeem a broken world. At the same time, the promise was also fraught with peril from a human perspective. Both Abraham and Sarah were far too old to conceive children, yet the promise depended on an heir from whom would come a people, and eventually a Savior.
This Messianic promise faced perils in every epoch of Israel's history. Unfaithfulness, godless leaders, exiles and an extended period of waiting all seemed to conspire against the Divine promise. But God's promises then and now transcend human challenges and barriers, for this is ultimately God's work, not ours. The Divine promise was, of course, activated because Abraham "believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness" (Gen 15:6). But God is ultimately faithful to the promises he makes, for he is a God of truth and power.
Looking back, the promise of a Savior through Abraham's lineage seemed as perilous as the promise that one day Christ will return and make all things new. The prolonged wait for the Second Advent, combined with the weight of our broken world, sometimes causes us to despair. The disappointments and cares of daily life can take our eyes off the promise that one day, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Rev 21:4, NIV).
What comfort there is in the knowledge that God's promise through Abraham's seed became reality in the person of Christ! That same faithfulness extends to the Divine promises in our own lives today. Thus, we live as a people of great hope in this Advent season.
Dennis P. Hollinger, Ph.D.
President; Colman M. Mockler Professor of Christian Ethics