Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, And to offsprings, referring to many, but referring to one, And to your offspring, who is Christ. – Galatians 3:16
Abraham only received a part of his promise in his son Isaac. In other words, Isaac was the fulfillment of a promise of descendants, but Isaac was not the promised descendent. There was another descendant that would come from Abraham. Abraham is such a towering figure of faith because, even in receiving Isaac, he had to continue to look forward to promises that his eyes never saw before death.
We are caught in a similar predicament. We receive the Holy Spirit both as a fulfillment of the promise and as a downpayment of the promise to come. We are given the very real gift of the Holy Spirit and yet the Scripture is also very clear that there is a much greater fulfillment coming. This is what causes Paul to use words such as “down payment,” “earnest money,” and “deposit” to describe our present experience of the Holy Spirit.
Just as Abraham received Isaac as a testimony that the promised Son would come forth, we must also receive the Holy Spirit as a testimony that the promised Son will return. Just as Abraham was tested on the promise that a Son would come forth that would give him an inheritance in every nation (Gen 12), we are given the Holy Spirit as a testimony that God will fulfill His promise and resurrect our entire body. Abraham had to wander Canaan as a witness looking for the kingdom the Son would establish. In the same way, believers are spread into every part of the earth, as nomads of heart, waiting for the promised Son to fulfill that inheritance.
Given the low place eschatology, and a solid, real eschatological hope presently has among God’s people, can we honestly say we have the faith of Abraham? Abraham had to trust that God would raise up a Seed to bring blessing to the nations from a barren womb. We are being asked to watch, wait, deny ourselves, and live soberly in anticipation of that promised Seed returning, judging the earth, and bringing restoration to creation. The resurrection of creation is no less a miracle than what Abraham carried in his heart. If we are not living constantly in an eschatological perspective, making decisions with the literal day of the Lord in view, are we living as Abraham did?
Our faith is to be just as active, rugged, and absolute as Abraham’s was. Many of us may be “coasting” feeling like we are living in the fulfillment of what Abraham ached and longed for, but the reality is that living the Christian life as God intended it will require a faith as demanding as Abraham’s. If he could speak, Abraham would be urging us to live with a heart that is just as uncomfortable with the present as his own way. He would be pleading with us to live longing for the second appearance of Messiah as strongly as he longed for the first.
Abraham’s longing caused him to wander with no real home looking for a city that God built. In other words, his heart was so set on a future city that he refused to settled in any of the contemporary cities. He would rather wander uncomfortably to maintain a longing for a future city then to settled in a city and risk losing the ache and the longing. I wonder sometimes if we give credence to the coming city, but dull the ache in our heart by being too settled in the cities of our time.
Abraham received Isaac in joy, but even this child of promise caused his heart to long for the appearance of the ultimate seed that could fulfill all the promises. Do we receive the Holy Spirit with all the joy and eagerness that Abraham embraced Isaac with and then long from the depths of our heart to see the fulfillment of the promises with the Holy Spirit points us to or are we content with what we have now?
We must acknowledge that It is to our shame that we have so little interest in the Holy Spirit. It is as shameful for us as it would have been for Abraham to not embrace the baby Isaac. However, for those that eagerly receive from the Spirit, do we allow the Spirit to do His full work of causing us to long for the appearing of the promise? Abraham was called to sacrifice his son Isaac on a hill so that he would know the ultimate promise was not Isaac, but something greater.
So too, the Holy Spirit desires that we receive all that He will give us, but He longs to point us to something more than we have in this age. He wants to cause our hearts to ache that we might receive something greater in the physical return of Jesus to the planet and the resurrection of our entire being by the Holy Spirit. Abraham did receive Isaac back, but he also crossed over into a confidence that God would fulfill all His promises no matter what happened to Abraham. The willingness to sacrifice Isaac was not just an issue of Isaac, it actually changed Abraham’s heart and joined it to God’s promise in a new way. Like Abraham, we need to have our hearts bonded to God’s promises.
Again, do not make the mistake of despising what God has given now, but do not make the critical mistake of losing sight of the ultimate promise that is coming. What is given now is given unto inspiring faith to believe that God will do all that He has promised. In other words, the Holy Spirit and eschatology are inseparably linked.
The clear evidence of this is found in Acts 2. The Holy Spirit so filled Peter with faith, enabling him to believe that God would do all that He had promised, that Peter immediately connected the gift of the Holy Spirit with Joel 2. Since that time, whenever there is an unusual outpouring of the Holy Spirit one of the primary results is a sudden urgency with regard to the return of the Lord. Believers suddenly feel the nearness of His return and it becomes an integral part of their proclamation.
What this also means is that when believers give testimony to the Holy Spirit but have little or no real interest in the return of the Lord, in the sense that it alters the way that they live, that something is lacking in their experience of the Spirit. Perhaps God is asking many of us to sacrifice our present enjoyment of the Holy Spirit, as Abraham did Isaac, that we might no longer consider what we enjoy now to be the fulfillment but that, like Abraham, we might exercise faith in looking for a greater fulfillment. The heart transformation that would come from such a sacrifice is real and substantial.
The issue is not to lay aside our experience of the Holy Spirit. God forbid we should ever do that! The issue is that our present enjoyment of the Holy Spirit must not be an end in itself, but rather we must sacrifice our present satisfaction that we might allow the Holy Spirit to transform us into pilgrims like Abraham. If He is given full control, He will do this work. So long as we are content with just a little of the Holy Spirit now, we are like Abraham refusing to sacrifice Isaac. We are like little children so enamored with our present gift, that we have no faith for a future promise that God is calling us to.
God is looking forward, let us not look back. We must take all that has been given, not despising any of His present gifts, but we must also keep pressing forward looking for the “Day of the Lord” which will be the fulfillment of the promises regarding the Seed. God is looking to see if there are any men who consider His promise worthy actually rearranging their lives around it. He is looking for saints that believe His word, in spite of all opposition, and are looking forward to the complete fulfillment of the promise first given in the garden. Anything less is not following in our Father Abraham’s footsteps.