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Are All Promises for the Christian?
A recent speaker told us that the promises of God throughout the Bible were for us today — that we should accept them in Christ’s Name.
Another recent speaker said that if we rightly divide the Word of Truth, the Church would not be claiming what actually belonged to Israel.
Some of the young folk would like to have this contradiction explained.
Both statements will bear a little qualifying. The one is just a little too sweeping, while the other might be understood as too restrictive.
There are promises given to specific persons or to a specific nation, dealing with matters of immediate concern to them. For instance, Abraham was promised a posterity and a land (Gen. 12:2, 7), and David was given promises relating to the establishment of his throne (2 Sam. 7:12, 13, 28). It is evident that these promises, or others like them, have not the same meaning for us as they had for those to whom they were given. But, on the other hand, every promise relating to matters of interest to children of God as such may properly be claimed by any child of God today.
To treat the Old Testament, or any large part of it, as if it had no voice for us now is a serious mistake. In Hebrews 13:15 there is a promise quoted which had been given originally to Joshua (Josh. 1:5; Deut. 31:8). It is quoted without qualification as an encouragement to all God’s people. And do we not recognize similar words of comfort in many other Old Testament passages which may legitimately be treated in the same way? Who would willingly part with such passages (to name only a few) as Isaiah 40:31; 41:10, 13; 43:1, 2; Psalm 46:1, 2? These, though “Written aforetime,” have often brought “the comfort of the Scriptures” to us (Rom. 15:4). And that comfort was clearly intended to be derived from the Old Testament, for when the Apostle wrote of it there were no other Scriptures extant.
If certain passages, in their primary meaning, belong to Israel, let us not divorce them from their context. But neither let us hesitate to receive any encouragement or comfort from them. Someone has truthfully said that “We may suck all the honey out of Israel’s flower and leave the flower intact for Israel.”
—F. W. Schwartz.
Paul’s comments on this question are found in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “How many soever be the promises of God, in Him (Christ) is the yea: wherefore also through Him is the Amen, unto the glory of God through us” (R.V.). God Himself is the inexhaustible source, and Christ both the channel of supply and the medium through which our thanksgiving and praise return. Christ is worthy of the title, “The Amen, the faithful and true witness” (Rev. 3:14).