I absolutely love how there are no accidents in the wording of Scripture. God has an amazing way of working through His people to write His Word.
This truth is so beautifully expressed in Acts 3:13. Peter and John were on their way into the temple to pray when they were stopped by a lame beggar. Instead of giving him the money he requested, they, through the power of Jesus, gave him the ability to walk and earn his own money. The crowds are incredibly amazed, and Peter and John jump on that amazement as a chance to share the gospel with the people in the temple.
And so we reach verse 13. And, I must confessed that when I was reading Acts 3 recently, I got stuck for quite some time on verse 13.
I first stalled on “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Peter is showing something absolutely beautiful here. He is showing the very long vision of our amazing God. He is showing that it’s not about one incident in a person’s life – it’s not even about that one person’s life. It’s about how everything works together in the accomplishment of His purposes.
You see, all three of these men had to wait for the fulfillment of something. And, even as they waited for their own fulfillment, they had no idea that the true fulfillment would actually come centuries after their deaths.
Abraham was promised a land and the heritage of a great people. But, he had to wait until he was 100 years old to even give birth to a single heir. He never saw the great people that came from this one son. He never met Jesus face to face on this earth. He saw the partial fulfillment of the promise in his son Isaac, but the true fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham is still being lived out every time someone new is brought into the kingdom of God!
Isaac was the only heir to God’s promise to Abraham. Yet, at 40 Isaac was still unmarried. When he finally married Rebekah, it was another 20 years before she became pregnant and gave birth to twin boys. They both had to wait and wonder, and the waiting nearly drove Rebekah crazy! It was obvious that the fulfillment of God’s promise had to come through Isaac and Rebekah, but I wonder how many times they thought for sure that they had been forgotten. Waiting. Much waiting.
Jacob definitely knew about waiting. He waited seven years for his beloved Rachel, only to be given her sister Leah instead. He then worked seven more years for the right to be Rachel’s husband. But, it’s a later period of waiting that really broke this man’s heart. I twas a waiting period in which he didn’t even realize what he was waiting for. He thought he was waiting for death so he could be reunited with his beloved Joseph, Rachel’s firstborn. In reality it was waiting to discover that Joseph was, in fact, alive and had been put in an amazing place of power to be the salvation of Jacob and the brothers who had betrayed him.
So, what do these stories have to do with the sermon Peter was preaching? They really have less to do with the waiting and more with the fulfillment. Peter’s audience knew that the true fulfillment of these men’s waiting – of the promise that had been made to them – was to be found in the Messiah. In seven words, using three names, Peter skillfully reminded his audience what they were waiting for. He reminded them that they were still hoping to see this promise fulfilled. And, he set them up to hear of the fulfillment – to hear that the Messiah had come, had been crucified, had risen again, and was now imparting His power to ordinary men like Peter and John.
Is that not absolutely beautiful? Is that not powerful? Is that not exciting?
And it gets even better. Just like these three patriarchs – and even like Peter and John – we are a part of God’s long vision. We are awaiting the fulfillment of Christ’s return, and in the meantime we are part of the grand plan to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth! What an exciting story we have!
Anytime we feel that our wait is interminable, may we be reminded of these seven words and have our faith restored. Our immediate fulfillment may seem delayed, but God has very long vision, and He is working on that vision even as we wait.