Lesson 13 – Trust that God Keeps His Promises to Me
Remember that song from the last chapter, Standing on the Promises of God? I closed my eyes and imagined myself standing on a big rock in the middle of raging waters, high and dry and safe from evil and harm. That rock I’m standing on? It’s Jesus. Great—another hymn!
On Christ, the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
(by Edward Mote and William Bradbury)
The lives of Mary and Elizabeth were both divinely-orchestrated (keeping with the musical theme) with miraculous births and divinely anointed sons. They were given specific instructions by angels; even told what to name their babies. Last, we talked about how God’s promises to Elizabeth were part of the fulfillment of His promises to all of mankind. Today we look closer and see that God’s promises to Elizabeth were also personal.
God shared His personal promise to Elizabeth through the angel Gabriel who spoke to Zechariah:
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:13-17).
Yes, Zechariah was struck dumb, but believe me, he would have shared this news with Elizabeth even if it had taken him 40 days and 40 nights to write it out on rolls of parchment. Elizabeth would have been hovering over his shoulder as he wrote, bouncing from foot to foot! Because in that one passage, God promised Elizabeth:
- Elizabeth would bear a son
- Her son John would be a delight
- Her son John would be great in the sight of the Lord
- Her son John would be filled with the Holy Spirit
- Her son John would bring many people of Israel back to the Lord
- Her son John would make ready a people prepared for the Lord
In other words, God promised Elizabeth a son who would be used by God in a great way. Imagine the profound joy God promised Elizabeth through her son.
Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:39-45)
Elizabeth said the above to Mary. The lives of the two women were remarkably similar in the divinely-orchestrated circumstances. The angel came to both Elizabeth’s husband and also to Mary and her intended husband Joseph and told them that the women would have miraculous births and raise up divinely appointed sons. They were even already relatives and lived close enough to each other to visit. God’s promises to Mary and Elizabeth weren’t just something generic for humans everywhere. God’s promises to these two women were personal.
We can read general promises God has made to mankind in Scripture. We can also read about God’s specific promises to individuals in the Bible. Although we can’t always claim the specific promises God made to various biblical characters, we can infer what He desires for our lives through the promises He made to them.
Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron. Aaron was the first High Priest of the Jews when God set out all those rules and regulations back in Leviticus. Elizabeth was raised with the understanding of Scripture. She was married to a priest. She knew all about God’s promises. And she knew about all of the promises He had kept over the centuries. She knew—and because she knew—she trusted that God would keep His promise to her personally.
Scripture tells us that Elizabeth was very old when she became pregnant. She was past child bearing age. That meant her pregnancy was probably difficult and dangerous to her or the baby or both. But Elizabeth remembered that God had promised her a son, when the angel came to Zechariah. That was a personal promise from God to her. She knew therefore that she would give birth and that the son would be born, grow up and do something great for the Kingdom of God. She knew that because she knew that God keeps His promises.
We don’t know how old Elizabeth was. But “past child bearing age” meant she was old. Today, having a child past 40 often means a delicate pregnancy. Elizabeth probably knew young women who had died in childbirth. She knew the likelihood of dying in childbirth or of losing the baby increased with the age of the mother—especially in those days without an OB/Gyn or neonatal unit handy. How reassuring it must have been to Elizabeth to have God’s promise that she would bear a son and that he would live to participate in God’s plan of redemption.
God’s promise to us of salvation is also personal. Yes, it is a promise for humans everywhere. But it is also personal because God desires to have a relationship with us. He desires us to seek Him and know Him personally. If we but “come.”
The salvation God has promised, He has fulfilled. We know that God will fulfill His promise to us of eternal life, because He has already fulfilled it. He completed His part of the plan when Jesus said on the cross, “it is finished.”
Now, our part is to make it personal—to open our hearts to Jesus, to embrace His desire for communication with Him, to allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us, to take Jesus at His word when He said we are His friend (see John 15:13, John 15:14-17).
If Elizabeth were here she would say this was her story. God kept His promise to her even though what He told her didn’t seem possible.
Who are we to God? When we recognize that God fulfills His promises and that He wants us to make those promises personal through our relationship with Him, we understand how He might see His women of faith. We can respond:
I am like Elizabeth.
For Thought and Discussion
*What are some of God’s promises made to other Bible characters that we can claim personally?
*How can we work to make God’s promises more personal to us?
*List five promises the Bible shares with us that have personal significance to you. Describe the impact you feel when claiming those promises.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank you so much for calling us “friend.” We are so grateful that not only do you love humanity, you also love us personally. Please help us make our relationship with you more personal and to hold fast to your promises. Amen.