Receiving “the things promised” (Hebrews 11)

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“Most of us stand poised at the edge of brilliance, haunted by the knowledge of our proximity, yet still demonstrably on the wrong side of the line, our dealings with reality undermined by a range of minor yet critical psychological flaws (a little too much optimism, an unprocessed rebelliousness, a fatal impatience or sentimentality). We are like an exquisite high-speed aircraft which for lack of a tiny part is left stranded beside the runway, rendered slower than a tractor or a bicycle.” (Alain de Botton)

We’re almost…. but not quite.

Almost an exquisite high-speed aircraft, but lacking just one tiny thing and so rendered slower than a tractor or a bicycle.

I want to consider that “one tiny thing” and then think about what happens when it is installed in the aircraft of my faith-life. Hebrews 11 is explicit about what is lacking: it’s an unfulfilled promise….

The author draws up a grand list of wonderful people who sought God and lived by faith but then concludes:

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised ;they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.” (Hebrews 11:13)

They were still living by faith when they died
Everyone dies (apart from the odd Enoch) but some are “still living by faith when they died.” There’s something in them, (even if they’re moving as slow as a bicycle), that acknowledges that they are intended for supersonic flight.

They died believing. Believing what? Abraham died believing in the land promised, and Joshua saw what Abraham believed. Isaiah died believing in the one by whose stripes we would be healed, and we see what he believed! These people were the Lord’s own, living in the faith of the promised Messiah, and they died according to the life of faith they lived, and the doctrine of faith they professed. But they did not receive the things promised.

“They only saw them and welcomed them from a distance…”
What an amazing statement! And Jesus confirmed it in John 8:56: “Abraham rejoiced when he saw my day.”

And they lived and died in faith of that missing part that would turn their speed supersonic. What was it? Well, it was the day of Jesus that Abraham rejoiced to see. It was the  fulfiment of prophecy about the promised Messiah, the establishing of a”better covenant” in the blood of the lamb of God. It was the coming of the Spirit on the people of God. Paul spelt it out in Galatians 3:14: “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

So the big question is: what is the blessing given to Abraham which is now given to us?


In Genesis 12, God pronounced a seven-fold blessing over Abraham, and these seven things belong to you and me.

The first thing God said to Abraham was:

1. I will make you into a great nation.

God birthed the nation of Israel through Abraham:  “I will multiply you, increase you, and make you powerful!”

That’s what God wants to do in your life. This is your legacy and your inheritance. God wants to increase you in every area.

2. I will bless you.

The Amplified Bible says, “I will bless you with an abundant increase of favors.” Abraham was blessed with abundance. In fact, Genesis 24:1 says that Abraham was blessed in every way.

What were his blessings?

— Abraham was very wealthy in livestock, silver and gold. He wasn’t rich when God first called him, but he became rich because of the blessing of God upon his life. (Genesis 13:2, Deut. 8:18)

He also had great favor. The people said to him, “You are a mighty prince among us.” God can supernaturally elevate you to places of favor and influence. Psalm 75:6 says that promotion comes from God.


3. I will make your name great.

The Amplified Bible says in Genesis 12:2, “I will make your name famous and distinguished.”

Everywhere Abraham went, people knew him. His reputation preceded him and followed him. He was a mighty prince. He was highly favored of God!

God will enlarge you and make your name great just as he did for Abraham.

4. You will be a blessing.

This is where the phrase “we are blessed to be a blessing” comes from. One of the main reasons God wants us to have more than enough is so we can bless and help others. God wants us to be generous. He wants us to be so blessed that we can give to those in need. He wants us to share our blessings.

5. I will bless those who bless you.

When people bless and help you, God will bless them. Your favor will rub off on them. Every person who touches your life in a positive way will receive a touch from God. That’s how blessed we are.

6. I will curse those who curse you.

God is serious. He is not going to bless anyone who opposes you. He said, “I will be an enemy to your enemies and I will oppose those who oppose you.” Deuteronomy 28:7 says, “The enemy that rises up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.”

God is going to stand with you when people talk against you or mistreat you. He said to David, “Don’t touch my anointed. He belongs to Me!” Well, you belong to Him! (Exodus 23:22, 1 Chronicles 16:22)

7. All the people of the earth will be blessed through you.

Wherever you go, people will be blessed. When you show up, God shows up, blessings show up and favor shows up.

You might be thinking, “How can I bless people all over the world?” That’s the faith that you are living in: you are part of what God is doing in the world. And everything is connected and developing until “The kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of the Christ.”

When you “receive the the things promised” you’re coming into the jet stream of favor.

He promised.

And in Christ, the promises of God are “YES”. and “LET IT BE SO.”

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