13 Abraham and his family received a promise. God promised that Abraham would receive the world. It would not come to him because he obeyed the law. It would come because of his faith, which made him right with God. 14 Do those who obey the law receive the promise? If they do, faith would have no value. God’s promise would be worthless. 15 The law brings God’s anger. Where there is no law, the law can’t be broken. 16 The promise is based on God’s grace. The promise comes by faith. All of Abraham’s children will certainly receive the promise. And it is not only for those who are ruled by the law. Those who have the same faith that Abraham had are also included. He is the father of us all. 17 It is written, “I have made you a father of many nations.” (Genesis 17:5) God considers Abraham to be our father. The God that Abraham believed in gives life to the dead. Abraham’s God also speaks of things that do not exist as if they do exist. 18 When there was no reason for hope, Abraham believed because he had hope. He became the father of many nations, exactly as God had promised. God said, “That is how many children you will have.” (Genesis 15:5) 19 Without becoming weak in his faith, Abraham accepted the fact that he was past the time when he could have children. At that time he was about 100 years old. He also realized that Sarah was too old to have children. 20 But he kept believing in God’s promise. He became strong in his faith. He gave glory to God. 21 He was absolutely sure that God had the power to do what he had promised. 22 That’s why “God accepted Abraham because he believed. So his faith made him right with God.” 23 The words “God accepted Abraham’s faith” were written not only for Abraham. 24 They were written also for us. We believe in the God who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. So God will accept our faith and make us right with himself. 25 Jesus was handed over to die for our sins. He was raised to life in order to make us right with God.
The circumstances around us can sometimes be a guide to what God’s plans are, but often not.
Based on what Abraham saw, God’s promises were clearly not going to happen. He was old and Sarah was well past the age for having children. How could he be the father of anyone, let alone many nations?
And yet, he believed God.
“Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.” God’s promises are not constrained by the world we are in. He made that world, and He can change it too. If God promised it, it will happen.
God describes his promise in the past tense: “I have made you the father of many nations.” If God promises it, it is already so … though, perhaps in a bit of time we haven’t come to yet.
It can be easy to embellish God’s promises with our expectations of how he will do it, as Abraham did when he slept with Hagar. Or to reshape God’s promises to be what we want them to be. It’s so important to go back to the promise, and to believe just what He said.
And God did fulfil his promise in a son, but even more importantly in the righteousness God credited to Abraham because of his faith.
The best bit of this is that it was not written down as interesting bits of history. It was recorded because that is for me too. If I believe God who raised Jesus from the dead, I am counted as righteous too. God gives me a right relationship with Him, even if the world around me tells me otherwise.
Written by David Cornell