It’s erroneous to believe that all the promises of God are unconditional. He makes it very clear that ours must be a reciprocal relationship. We must live in surrender and obedience as servant-sons to inherit His promises. When we do, we will find that He watches over His Word to perform it. Each and every single promise is ours when we live in Christ.
but the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year. (Deuteronomy 11:11-12)
It’s a fact that the land of milk and honey also contained giants. Israel inherited lands with established cities and an existing infrastructure already producing what they needed. But they had to first take the cities and the land. While God presenced Himself with them and blessed them, they were required to live by His law. The same principles apply to believers entering the promises of God. It is not simply God giving and us receiving but is a reciprocal relationship. A covenant of any kind requires both commitment and participation from both parties. When we come to Christ, we must lay down our lives for Him as He laid down His for us. We must identify fully with Him on the cross to appropriate the perfect exchange He made through His death and resurrection. Towalk in the land of God’s promises means we accept all that it entails.
We cannot earn the promises of God.
Accepting God’s conditions doesn’t imply a doctrine of salvation by works. His grace is free and unconditional and we can do nothing to earn or deserve His lavish promises. At the same time, however, there are conditions attached to the new covenant in Christ. The first are to repent and believe. Without these, salvation is not possible, even though it remains available. We have to meet the conditions to receive it. It’s very tempting to disregard the Old Testament with all its hundreds of rules and regulations. Ours is a dispensation of grace, not law. But Jesus did not abolish the law, He fulfilled it. While the actual detailed laws no longer apply, the spiritual principles on which they are based do. All of the precepts expounded on in the New Testament are built on the spiritual foundation of Old Testament principles which remain in place eternally.
From the moment the Israelites left Egypt, God began to prepare them for the law which was the legal basis of their relationship with Him. He made it very clear that they had to choose between death and life. If they desired to live in the promises of God, they had to separate themselves and live as His people. This meant living righteously according to all the requirements of the law. Jesus touches on this when He says that if we love Him, we will obey Him. What He was saying, in effect, was that relationship with God is defined by obedience. Of course, this includes faith and worship, because obedience requires both to operate. The visible measure of real relationship with God is whether we obey Him or not. His promises are free but they are conditional. We receive according to the measure we give ourselves in obedience.
Inheriting the promises of God.
There is an erroneous assumption among some believers that we have a ‘right’ to live in the promises of God. This could not be further from the truth, and it makes for presumptuous demands to the God of grace. His promises a gift of grace lavishly given despite our weak and sinful natures. The fact that He has covenanted with us to inherit His promises does not make them our right. It simply means that He has chosen to give them and to enable us to receive them through His grace. They are part of His love and care for the people He has chosen to call His own. But once again, they are conditional. No one who is not truly committed can expect to receive. We must agree to live as His people, which requires us to set self aside and devote ourselves to Him.
The sons inherit, and He has graciously made a way for us to inherit in Christ. But it is only in Christ that this is possible, and in Christ means surrender to His lordship and authority. We cannot simply expect to inherit if we’ve repented and believed and gone no further. There will be a measure of blessing, but the promises will not manifest until we are living in the promised land – living in Christ in whom all the promises of God are yea and amen. We don’t particularly like to accept that His promises are conditional. It’s much nicer to believe in our ‘glorious inheritance’ as a freebie from God which requires no participation from our side. But God’s Son was also His servant, and this is how we are called to live. We cannot be sons outside of Christ, and only sons inherit the promises of God.
The full measure of the promises of God.
Today’s verse paints an eloquent picture of the land of promises which God has set aside for us. It is a land of hills and valleys, powerfully evocative of our walk with Him. But whether in the valley or on the hilltop, His presence is assured. This land drinks water from the rain of heaven. It is watered by the living water that flows from the very throne of God, and those who drink from it want not. The promises of God contain life, and life in abundance. They are no ordinary land but one sustained by the same resurrection life that raised Christ from the dead. This is the full measure of the promises of God. They provide for every need beyond our wildest imagining. His promises are for supernatural life which He Himself empowers. In Him is liberty, life, and abiding, eternal love.
Not only do we have access to all these promises of God, but we live in a land for which God cares. The God of the universe Himself takes care of every detail of our lives. He watches over His promises in order to perform them and searches out the opportunities to do so. To live in the care of God is a beautiful privilege. There is a security and safety here that can be found nowhere else because we know He is faithful. What He has said, He will do. He is a God who neither slumbers nor sleeps, and His care is the outworking of His Father-heart. What is even more remarkable is that He does this because He desires it, not because we deserve it. He literally gave His all, including His life, to bring us into the land He watches over and cares for.
The promises of God are always fulfilled.
God doesn’t simply give us His promises and let us get on with it. His eyes constantly watch over them, waiting to fulfil them. When we live in the land of the promises of God, we have the assurance that He is faithful to His Word and always brings it to pass. We don’t have to worry about the when and how of it. That’s His job. Ours is to live there – to abide in Christ in surrender and obedience. Yes, there are conditions which determine when, what, and how many of His promises we receive. But when we consider the immeasurable rewards of choosing Christ above self, the ‘price’ is negligible. Our God gave all so that we could have all. He waits to fulfil all His promises in our lives if we will only choose to live in the land, accepting our part in the covenant of grace.
Thank You, Lord, for Your immeasurable grace and for all of the abundant promises You give to Your people. Draw us close in intimacy and worship and teach us the way to live as Your people. Forgive us if we’ve taken things for granted and expected without being willing to live as we should. Help us to live in the land, not simply visit it when we have a need. Teach us, Lord, what it truly means to live in Your promises in joyful surrender to our God.