The Difference Between Promise and Fulfillment

Pentecost 25 Saturday

Exodus 3:15

“God also said to Moses: “This is what you are to tell the children Israel: ‘The Lord, your fathers’ God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, sent me to you. This is my name forever, by which I am to be remembered forever.'””

God also says to Moses: “I will give you an outward sign by which you reach me: I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob–think, speak, and preach about this.” How was he Abraham’s God? He gave him the sign, circumcision, and so Abraham believed in God. He gave him an outward instruction as to how to find him. And this external sign is given only to the Jews, not the Gentiles. Abraham, according to Scripture’s testimony, Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6, believed in God and was justified by faith. This is how God is Abraham’s God. Isaac followed Abraham in this faith and also bore in his body circumcision as a sign. Thus, Isaac had God as his God; and this is how God, by faith, became Abraham’s God. For he believed that all generations are to be blessed in his Seed, Genesis 22:18. This is why Abraham became God’s son by faith, John 1:12, and God became his Father. This is why he says here: “If you want to interpret me correctly and teach and preach rightly, do not propose any works; rather, just as I became Abraham’s God, this is still my name and also want to be your God. If you want to build another bridge to me, you will fail.” For if he is Abraham’s God, I should also have Abraham’s word, sermon, doctrine, religion, faith, and sign; otherwise, I will not come to God. The Jews say: “We believe in God who created heaven and earth, etc., and believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Yet they do this in name only and depict God for us with letters and deal with Moses’s laws and good works. Yet they miss the mark by far. “For this is my name,” God says here, “even before Moses was born; yet you want to cover yourselves by good works before me and earn heaven”…God’s Word and faith have remained, and by Word and faith alone we come to God– but how will this end? We today do not call God a God of Abraham; also, we are not circumcised; we also do not keep what Abraham kept, but come to Christ and cling to baptism–still, God says here: “This is to be my name forever?” Do we Gentiles have to become Jews, get circumcised, and let go of our baptism? The Jews know well that ‘forever’ here does not mean an unending time…There is a difference between the gospel that is preached in the world and the gospel that was promised beforehand, Romans 1:1-4. There is a difference between something that was promised and something that was put into reality. Faith and eternal life are also two different things. I have eternal life in the promise, not the thing itself; now I have it darkly and do not see it but believe it; later on, I will certainly experience it, 1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2. The gospel has now sounded forth in the world and has been preached everywhere–but in the word “In your Seed shall be blessed” it was only promised…This is why we now must not believe that the gospel and Christ are promised, but that it now has all taken place and is fulfilled and that God truly is Abraham’s God and that this promise, made to Abraham, has now been fulfilled.

St. Louis ed., 3:736-738.

This entry was posted in Daily Devotions From the Writings of Martin Luther. Bookmark the permalink.