THE PROMISE BY FAITH
But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. [Galatians 3:22]
The nature of God’s promise is that without faith there is effectively no promise at all. Not only that, but God will often make it difficult for His promises to be fulfilled in order to build our faith. Without faith it is impossible to please Him. Why else does the Lord sometimes wait until the brink of disaster before answering our prayers?
The Exodus comes to mind. It is a story often cited in Scripture, and for good purpose. Everything was riding on that particular miracle taking place, and without it all was lost. You think you have problems? They were trying to kill the Lord long before He was ever born. Repeatedly, time after time, there arose continued instances wherein the Messianic generational line was attacked. In began in Genesis, pardon the almost pun.
Abel was taken out. And that was that. Without a replacement there would be no Messiah. The good news is that 130 years later there was an appointed replacement. In fact, the name Seth means “appointed one,” in that he was appointed by God to replace the dead line of Abel. Imagine that. For 130 years there was no hope of the Lord’s coming. Did it mean He would not come? For the people of that time, that was exactly what it meant. Where was the hope that Adam and Eve would ever have another righteous son? Did not this same thing happen after the Lord’s death on the cross? Though He told His men repeatedly He would die and rise again they never understood it, and were certainly not thinking that at the time. For them it was over. Their Master was dead. For three days there was no hope of His coming, and therefore no salvation for the world. The Lord would have to rise again for the promise to bear fruit. Otherwise, it would be as dead as the Lord’s body.
The righteous line of Seth was almost completely wiped out by the time of the flood. Only Noah and his family were left. But prior to the flood, did anyone other than Noah think everyone else would be wiped out instead? How great were the odds? All was progressing toward the eventual death of Noah and the end of Messianic hopes. But God stepped in at the perfect time and destroyed the great bulk of humanity instead, a humanity that had grown hopelessly vile and sinful.
Several generations later, the righteous line of Noah came down to a single man. The Lord essentially started all over again with Abraham. The generational line had almost died out. And then what? Sarah was barren. Great. Abraham’s wife could not have children. Wonderful. So that was that, right? Close up shop and go home, all is lost. Unless Abraham had a little faith. And he did. Then he didn’t. Then he did again. It was a battle royal trying to keep Abraham lined up with the plan and purposes of God, but the man stayed strong and eventually believed and served God to the point of fruitfulness. Sarah also eventually believed after a long life of little or no faith. As a result, life was snatched from the jaws of death and little Isaac showed up. He was yet another miracle child.
Was God doing all this by design, or did it happen because the Messianic line was constantly under attack? Real Christians can identify with all this, for they are also constantly under attack in one way or another. The reason is because they are committed to serving the Lord. The Lord can bring forth spiritual fruit through them, and the enemy must stop them in any way possible. If we trust the Lord, even while under attack, He will bring us through it. Without faith, however, there is no bulwark against the forces of evil. There are no city walls holding back the enemy. A loss or lack of trust in God allows the enemy to storm right in and destroy all in his path, or keep fruit from ever coming forth.
Seth restored the line. Noah, “perfect in his generations,” obeyed God and kept the fledgling line alive. Abraham did the same. Joseph did the same by allowing God to do the unthinkable to keep his family alive. Without the thirteen-year hardship of Joseph, Jacob and all his sons would have perished in the famine. We can go on. You get the point. These are only a few highlights.
Does any of this resonate with you?
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE.
All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. [Hebrews 11:1-13] 
© 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.