What do we know about Romans four so far?
That God called Abraham at a time when he was living in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the plains of Shinar, the empire of the Assyrians. You might say they were foreigners but WE ALL came from Noah and his descendants. Knowing how much of a destructive force the Assyrians were upon the earth, I cringe when I don’t see Abraham responding quickly to God when He tells Abram (his name at this point in the story,) to get out of here and go to the land that I will give you and your descendants. After a trip to Egypt, he finally arrives in the promised land.
Abraham does not seem that faithful.
What if God only concerns himself with the end result and not the junk in between?
As we read about the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, we see many who did not start well but ended well. At this location, God shows up in a very vivid dream; it is so vivid that most read about the encounter as though it happened in the physical realm. Because of this dream, Abraham demonstrated his allegiance to the oral contract that God has made with Abraham.
This contract includes promises to Abraham’s seed, which means that after many years of NO children with Sarah, the impossible is going to happen any day now. What makes this worse is that they are both getting to the point that making babies is not even on the menu anymore.
But Abraham was believing in God. Yes, there were “things” that happened between the promise and the fulfillment, but Abraham had faith; and yet, there is that tag line, but God.
We have made it through Romans 4:17 to this point, so let’s move on.
Romans 4:17-18 NASB (as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. (18) In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.“
Those words, “in hope against hope he believed,” were spoken about Abraham.
What is the writer talking about?
Abraham heard, and in the case of the dream, effectively lived out God’s promise to him. The promise from God is the reason for the hope. Looking at the circumstances would be the things that are against your hope, and I covered several of those things in the paragraphs above. One of those things was Sarah. Not knowing if the reason for NOT having children is her problem or Abraham’s, Sarah tells him to go test the water with her handmaid Hagar and because of Sarah’s pushing, Abraham takes Hagar as a wife – legitimizing Ishmael (Now it is really complicated.) Abraham shrugs his shoulders and says, why not, and Hagar gets pregnant. Considering that we were told that they both thought that their bodies,, in terms of making babies, were dead, demonstrates that Abraham now had faith. Well, now we know that the infertility problem has been with Sarah the entire time, but none of this makes believing in the promise any easier.
“ he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations.”
As far as we know, Abraham seems to be driven to fulfill this role; that’s an interesting thought. After all, you can’t have descendants without having a boy child.
Romans 4:19 NASB Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;
This next verse is what I have been talking about when I said, God is not as concerned about the events in between the promise and the fulfillment.
Romans 4:20 NASB yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,
“ with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith,”
Are you kidding me, I just talked about one of those moments of wavering. Consider that God made the promise to include Sarah, and no one else. So, Hagar could easily fall under a human propensity to lust. Yes, I get it and spoke of how sex, for Abraham, would require faith on his part anyway.
Does that make the act right?
No, but God can use everything if He needs to. I must tell you that signed up for a free course from Hillsdale college on the book of Genesis, and just yesterday 1/5/22, the discussion was about Abraham and Hagar. Dr. Jackson talked about the nuances of the wording and it is there before us (if we choose to look) that Abraham took Hagar as a wife, as well. How he could simply throw away a wife and a child I do not know. But even that is resolved in scripture, as Hagar returned to Sarah.
How is Ishmael a God thing?
Looking far into the future, there will be a people group known as the Assyrians. Ishmael and his descendants will play a role in the punishment of Israel at the hand of the Babylonians.
When Jonah was sent to the people of Nineveh, to deliver a message of God’s judgment if they do not change, Jonah seemed to know something of God’s character and knew that He would relent (for the moment,) and show them mercy. Who were these people? They were Assyrians – descendants of Ishmael.
Romans 4:21-22 NASB and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. (22) Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.
“and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.”
From the delivery of the message to Abraham, until the fulfillment with the birth of Isaac, was 25 years. We are told that Abraham was “fully assured.”
Have you ever given any thought to what it would be like to be fully assured?
We are told, in Hebrews 11:6, that without faith it is impossible to please God. I am sure that the writer of Hebrews meant a good-sized bucket full of faith. I strive to maintain my bucketful but I think this striving creates a problem as it tends to push me over into the idea of working to please God.
“Fully assured” is the Greek word plērophoreō said twice. The word means to carry out fully, to be completely assured or persuaded.
So Abraham, by some standard set by the writer of Hebrews, carried out fully what God asked of him, or, he was fully assured/persuaded. Get real, Abraham was a broken human, just as we are; and, as a broken human, subject to the same temptations that we all are. I can assure you, that just as the serpent did to Eve, Satan tried to move Abraham off course and quit. While we do see some of the failures, like Hagar and Ishmael, God does not focus on the failures but the end result; the things that demonstrate that you were fully persuaded and provable by the end result.
Perhaps one of the ways we become assured or persuaded is to understand that God never lies, He cannot, so what we have been told is true. Reading passages that speak of the nature of God in those terms and then mulling them over in your mind, until you believe it.
“… God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,” (Titus 1:2 NASB)
Since we never judge a thing based upon one witness, here is a second statement about God.
“God is not a man, that He should lie, …” (Numbers 23:19 NASB)
“ Now not for his sake only was it written”
Romans 4:23-25 NASB Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, (24) but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, (25) He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.
If you have been following the conversation, then you would know that the subject is Abraham. These promises were not written for Abraham only. The NLT translation puts it this way. “it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit.”
So, who else was intended when God spoke these promises to Abraham?
“but for our sake also,”
Again I lean on the NLT where it says “for our benefit, too.” Here the writer, who was clearly writing to the Jews, is also speaking to the reader, which is you. Ah, but although it seems that life in Christ is merely handed to you on a plate, you must pick up the fork to partake. The fork, in this case, faith.
Do you understand that there was a man named Jesus?
“God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.” NLT
Faith happens when you move over into an internalization of Jesus; that He is the Son of God; that He died for to redeem your life back from the enemy (this doesn’t happen individually, it happened once covering everyone but does everyone accept that Jesus lived and died for them, no, they don’t; this acceptance happens individually.), and that Jesus will bring you to the Father to live for all eternity.
The NLT points out that it was the Father who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
And finally, we have this.
“He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”
I despise how quickly we choose to send Judas to hell, especially since NO ONE has been sent to hell yet; that all happens at the great white throne. Yes, there are two exceptions and they are the antichrist and the false prophet, both of which are humans; this happens just before the millennial reign begins.
I mention Judas as we see him as the one who delivered Jesus over to his death. But who did Judas deliver Jesus to, and why? Some think he was trying to force Jesus into His role as Messiah of Israel.
The UCRT dictionary explains that Jesus was both actively handed over – having offered up Himself.
“… Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins.” (Hebrews 7:27 NLT)
And passively handed over.
“so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. …”(Hebrews 9:28 NLT)
Regardless, the question is, what will you do with Him?
It is the only thing you will be judged for.
Admit that you are a sinner. This boils down to the realization that you are broken, we all are, and that you cannot fix this on your own.
Believe on Jesus Christ. There is NO other answer. Oh sure, if you’re stupid, even during the time of wrath, you will find that there is NO other way to the Father. Heaven, peace, and life in the heavenly kingdom, can only happen if you give your life to Jesus.
And Confess – Jesus, I have come to realize that there is no hope without you. And you already paid, with your life, so that I could have this life and peace with the Father. I accept and receive your life in me.