A Word for Today | Hebrews 11:11-12
God relates to His children in this world largely through promises. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were a people looking beyond the horizon for the promise yet to be fulfilled. That great coming arrived in the person in Jesus Christ, and yet Christians, too, are waiting for things that are yet to come. As 2 Peter 1:4 says, “He has granted to us his precious and very great promises.” We are waiting for the blessings God promised to those who believe, above all the glorious return of His Son.
Abram’s experience shows that God deals with us through promises to lift our eyes above our circumstances. We aspire for earthly success; God intends for us heavenly glory. We would settle for health and wealth; He has in store life everlasting. Likewise, Abram wanted a son, but God intended that he would become the father of all the redeemed (Gen. 12:3). Abram’s appetite was shaped, as ours generally is, by his experience – his felt needs, as they are called today. He just wanted the human joy of looking into the eyes of a son. He wanted respect; he wanted to fit in; he wanted to feel good. These are things we want, too. To keep us from filling ourselves on lesser things, God leaves us in circumstances of want and also gives us promises of great blessing, far beyond our imagining.
Abram received God’s promise with faith, yet the years to come proved hard. His wife Sarah particularly seems to have suffered from her inability to bear children. In Genesis 16 she resorted to the expedient of giving her slave girl, Hagar, to Abram so that she could bear him a son. But this was the opposite of faith: Sarah was using her own strategy (sinfully) to achieve what God had promised. The years passed, Sarah grew older, and their hope in God’s promise waned. But when Abram was 99 and Sarah was 90, God renewed the promise that they would bear a child, and they believed. Hebrews 11:12 tells us what can happen when faith waits upon God’s promise: “Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” Their example encourages us to trust God’s might and wait on Him for all the precious promises we receive in Scripture. Jeremiah Burroughs exhorts: “Every time a godly man reads the Scriptures… and there meets with a promise, he ought to lay his hand upon it and say, ‘This is part of my inheritance, it is mine, and I am to live upon it.’”
In Christ’s Love,
 Jeremiah Burroughs: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1964), 82-83.