Tuesday, August 19, 2008

“The Children of Promise”

S‑1067 08/03/2008 12SAP/3A Hymns: (O) #457; (S) #370; (C) #43 S.O.D.

Texts: Isaiah 55:1-5; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:13-21

Theme: “The Children of Promise” (Romans 9:4)


Question: “What do you think of promises?”

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the book of Romans. “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises” (Rom. 9:4).

INTRODUCTION: Saints in Christ, children are wonderful gifts from God. When they are born, their lives are filled with promise. As we stare down at the bundle of joy that is our child, we begin to see the promise of a star quarterback or the point guard in the NBA until they are 40 so that we can retire early. We look into the small yet bright eyes and we see the promise of a child that looks heavens for inspiration while remaining firmly on the ground. We grasp their tiny hands and we see the promise of a skilful piano player or jazz trumpeter, dancer or actress. We look into their eyes as they walk down the aisle to live happily ever after with their wife/husband. As we stand and gaze upon them, we see nothing but promise.

Abraham knew this. Imagine waiting those 99 years to look at the bright eyes and tiny fingers of Isaac. Sure there was Ishmael, but he just wasn’t the one. Isaac had all the promise. He was the child of God’s promise. He was the heir who would inherit the promise that Yahweh had spoken decades earlier. This one, this son, this Isaac, was the many nations! Now there is some promise!!!

Then there were the twins, Jacob and Esau. They too were full of promise. These were the sons of the miracle Isaac. Esau was first. Jacob was second. According to the laws of inheritance, Esau was entitled to the promise that Yahweh had spoken to Grandpa Abraham and Dad Isaac. All was right. The first born would inherit the best, the second the rest. St. Paul captures this in our text when he writes, “Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen”. (Romans 4-5).

But here is where Yahweh turns the tables. It is here that we are confronted by the reality that God will bless whom He will bless. And in the case of Rebecca’s wrestling twins, The older will serve the younger. Esau was entitled, but Jacob was blessed. Esau deserved it all, but Jacob was the one God’s chose.

When Jesus walked the face of the earth, He was the PROMISED Child who came down from heaven. He is the Word made flesh who made His dwelling among us. He was the One and only full of grace and truth. He was the One that the Heavenly Father promised to send into the world for the sake of every human soul. He was the Child of the promise who would crush the head of the ancient serpent that had beguiled our first parents and led them into sin. He was the Promise to which generations of a chosen nation would cling. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all their children were the children of this promise. They looked to that promise throughout the years. They were the heirs of that promise. They were entitled to every blessing that came with it.

But when Jesus came to His very own, these legal inheritors of the promise soon started to behave like Esau. They may have been entitled, but they would not be the heir. Again, God will bless whom God will bless. These legal heirs rejected the inheritance that would be Jesus. They fought Him at every turn. His miracles they mocked. His teaching they taunted. Even when they had nothing to say in the face of His actions they still would not believe. The very will and testament of God Himself stood before them in the flesh and they would not receive Him. Rather than receive Him, they plotted His murder. While Jesus was speaking Law and Gospel, the children of promise were speaking words of death and destruction. These words would lead to action. There was betrayal and arrest. There was beating and bludgeoning. There was a cross and there was death. The children of Abraham, the children of promise, seemed to have victoriously rejected the very promise to which they were called.

This could be a story that very well ends badly. And for some, it does. But we are not among them. For you see, where there is an inheritance there must be an heir. When the children of Jacob refused the promise, others will take their place. And just who are the others? YOU AND ME!! We are the heirs. God will bless whom God will bless. And that blessing has fallen to us. While we are not the full blood relatives of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, we are children of the promise. Everything that Yahweh promised to our first parents in the Garden after the fall has now been promised to us. WE, not children of birth, have become children of the promise!

This is great news for us! We have a promise! We don’t deserve it, but we have it! It is ours now, not by birth but by grace. Freely we have been given, freely we have received. This promise has us looking beyond the world in which we live and the places where we dwell to that final promised inheritance in eternity. This is ALL OURS by promise, God’s promise to us! We have nothing else to say but thanks be to God!

But there are times in our lives when that promise is hard to believe. We see the happenings in our world and we begin to wonder. Where is the promise when we can’t pay for our house? Where is the promise when there is a diagnosis of a dread disease? Where is the promise when death seems to get the upper hand over those we know and love? Where is the promise when we can’t ever seem to get beyond those sins, both big and little, the very sins that our God says is punishable by death?

St. Paul reminds us that our salvation is not a matter of who we are born to be or what we accomplish in our lives. It is all by promise. In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring. Our salvation is rooted in the death and resurrection of our adopted brother Jesus Christ. Everything He did, He did for God’s children. These children are not children by birthright but by adoption. That means you and me! We are Abraham’s offspring!

This is God’s gift to us by grace through faith. We who have become the children, dare not attempt to live as the children of the Law. Sometimes it is hard for us to believe even the Word of God and His promises to us. And when we think of promises, we always think of the positive. But the promises can also be in the negative. Such as, God promises that those who don’t believe in Him will go and spend an eternity apart from His presence. We love to hear as His beloved children the promise that our sins are forgiven. That God sent Him to die for us. But we are not willing to believe the promise that those who live in their own ways and ignore the Word of the Lord will find a day of judgment.

But we are not children of Law. We are children of the promise! Our promise is rooted in the certainty of our Lord and His Christ. In order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls, we have been made something that we once were not. We are children of the promise. Our promise is rooted in Christ and what He has done for us. This promise is all about our brother Jesus. His action gives us an inheritance that will neither spoil nor fade. The devil can’t take it from us. The world can’t snatch it from our hands. The only thing we can do is forget the promise by making it Law.

We are children of the promise. The promise was made to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. And from the moment of our baptism, the promise is ours. It is ours today as well. And when God looks at us infants brought to the fount He smiles and blesses us with the sure and certain promises that Christ has given us—forgiveness of sin, faith and life eternal.

And these promises are real. And this promise is always enough. Like the Gospel for today, there is more than enough to go around when you include the leftovers. That is how awesome our Lord’s promise is to us. And that promise is fulfilled, because we are the children of promise. We have Jesus to thank for that! AMEN.

Now the peace…

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