In times past, during the times of the fathers and the Israelites, God made several promises to His people. The most famous of these would be to Abraham when He promised to make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars. Under the New Covenant, God has given us a different set of promises. Christans are not promised the types of blessings the Israelites had. Even though we worship God in righteousness, we see no promise from God that He will bless the fruit of the womb or of the ground or of the flocks; or remove our sicknesses; or give us success in war against our enemies.
Promises under the New Covenant: What is promised to us?
- The Holy Spirit promised to those who believe
- The promise of eternal life:
- That eternal life can be lost:
Compare now these new promises with those made to the fathers and to the Israelites. But what does the book of Hebrews say about these people who lived so long ago? Hebrews 11:4-16
By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. 8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. 13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth
It is interesting to note that v13 says “all” these – Abel, Enoch (!), Noah, Abraham and Sarah – died in faith, not having received the promises: what were the promises? They must have been aware of the coming spiritual promises that were to come through the Messiah, otherwise they would not have had any comprehension of being strangers and exiles on the earth
Do not forget that the promises we have are gifts. As we know, ‘grace’ is typically defined as unmerited favour. James 1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. Romans 11:18-21 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you