Wednesday, December 12, 2007

God’s Promises

In Christopher Wright’s “Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament”, he reminds us that God doesn’t give his people “flat predications” but promises which involves more of a personal and dynamic commitment. Wright states that because there is a relationship behind God’s promises “the material form in which it is fulfilled may be quite different from the literal form in which it was original made, and yet it is no less a valid fulfillment of the promise. (pg. 71)”

To help the reader understand this point, Wright gives a wonderful analogy of a father and a son. He writes:

“Imagine a father who, in the days before mechanized transport, promises his son, aged 5, that when he is 21 he will give him a horse for himself. Meanwhile the motor car is invented. So on his 21st birthday the son awakes to find a motor car outside, ‘with love from Dad’. It would be a strange son who would accuse his father of breaking his promise just because there was no horse. And even stranger if, in spite of having received the far superior motor car, the son insisted that the promised would only be fulfilled if a horse also materialized, since that was the literal promise. It is obvious that with the change in circumstances, unknown at the time the promise was made, the father has more than kept his promise. In fact he has done so in a way that surpasses the original words of the promise which were necessarily limited by the mode of transport available at that time. The promise was made in terms understood at the time. It was fulfilled in the light of new historical events. (pg 71)”

I think this idea is helpful in understanding things like God’s promising the land of Canaan in the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 17:8) to his people and Paul redrawing it to include the whole world (Romans 4 :13).

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