What promises has God
not yet kept?

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QUESTION: In the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, the apostle Paul lists faithful men and women who all died before they received what God had promised them. What were the promises they did not receive?

ANSWER: Hebrews 11 is indeed an education into God's plan of salvation. Although this subject is vastly dealt with in many Scriptures, this chapter alone explains a lot. It is worth studying from verses 1 to 40.

In chapter 11 many ancient servants of God are being cited, and are called elders (verse 2). Beginning with Abel and ending with Samuel and adding God's prophets (verse 32) the Scripture lumps them all together, as far as the reward is concerned. A little clue comes from verses 8 and 9 where the patriarchs are promised land as an eternal inheritance.

The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all died without receiving God's promises in their lifetime. That promise has been made more specific in previous Old Testament Scriptures. Beginning in Genesis 17, in addressing Abraham, God makes a covenant of promises. He states that Abram descendants will be huge in number and that he and they will ultimately receive Canaan as an everlasting possession.

We find the promise repeated in Genesis 26:3-5 and Genesis 28:13-15. These promises regarded Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who died without receiving the possession of the land of Canaan in their lifetime. Yet Hebrews 11 lumps them together with all the remaining patriarchs, Abel, Enoch, etc., so that all of them were looking for a promise (reward) not obtained in their lifetime. They were not expecting it in their lifetime. Obviously they all knew of a common reward, but not the land of Canaan. A clue to this reward comes from the chapter of Hebrews you cited. Moses was not specifically mentioned in the covenant with Abraham, yet he was expecting a reward. Paul says Moses who willing to endure rejection and affliction because "he looked to the reward." (Hebrews 11:26).

What are the different Bible covenants?
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Lineage from Abraham to Jesus Christ
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Learn story flow of the Bible through life of Abraham!

The Apostle Paul was an exceptional servant of God. He endured hardship possibly more than all the other apostles. As the Scripture that follows indicate, he had faith and confidence that ultimately it was more than worthwhile:

"But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ . . ." (Philippians 3:7-8)

The following Scripture compliments the one above and is very encouraging and exhorting for all true believers.

8 And now there is waiting for me the victory prize . . . which the Lord . . . will give me on that Day - and not only to me, but to all those who wait with love for him to appear. (2Timothy 4:8)

The glorious salvation Paul was referring to was the promise stated in Hebrews 11:13. Jesus made a broad statement about this salvation, which is synonymous of entering into the kingdom of God, when he gave his parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-34).

Salvation, entering into the kingdom of God will be the promise or reward. That is what all the saints will have in common. All those mentioned in Hebrews 11 as well as all the saints will receive that reward. Not all will receive the same reward, as some have produced more fruits in their lives than others. Their reward will be commensurate to their works (Matthew 25:27-29). As the kingdom of God will be on this earth (See Revelation 5:10) Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will not only obtain salvation but also be given (as God promised) the land of Canaan to rule and govern.

Additional Study Materials
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How long was apostle Paul in prison?
Map of Abraham's Journey to the promised land
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