TD Jakes - Children of the Promise
God's promise is so strong that it doesn't matter how weak the circumstances are, that when God gets ready to make something happen, he can make that happen. Now, we brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise. You've got it because God's promise was greater than your weakness. In fact, he said, "My strength is made perfect in your weakness. I'm not gonna give it to you 'til you give up on yourself. I'm not gonna give it to you until you begin to understand that it is me that's doing it and it's not you. As long as you have strength, Abraham, you will lean to your strength. I'll wait 'til your body is dead. I'll wait 'til you are impotent. I'll wait 'til you can't produce a child. And then there'll be no doubt that if it had not been for the Lord, you would not be able to do what you're trying to do". There's somebody right now, in your own strength, you don't have the resources. You don't have the money. You don't have the relationships. You don't have the connections. You don't have the background. And yet God keeps talking to you about something he's going to do in your life. You're a child of the promise.
"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you". See, what births us is truth. What births us is understanding. What births us is our theology, our understanding of God. Not because we joined the church, not because we can sing, not because we think fondly about God, but what births us is truth. "I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice, for I stand in doubt of you. Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons". Abraham had two sons. "One by a bondwoman, and the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh, but he that is of the free woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory," All of this is an allegory, "for these are the two covenants". He says the two sons are the two covenants. "The one from Mount Sinai," that comes first, "which gendereth to bondage," that's legalism, that's law, "which is Agar. For this Agar is Mount Sinai," where the Ten Commandments came, "in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem, which now he is".
Now, Jerusalem, he's talkin' about, now he's tryin' to bring 'em into the newness. "And is in bondage with her children". In bondage. In bondage, legalism, laws, rituals, routines, ceremonies, rituals. "But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is mother of us all. For it is written, 'Rejoice, thou barren bearest not. Break forth and cry, thou that travail of not, for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath a husband.' Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise". We're not born under the legalism. We're not born under the bondwoman. We're not born up under Hagar. He said, "We, as Isaac was, now we are, as Isaac was, children of the promise". What does that mean?
The only reason that Sarah was able to have a child is because God said so. She had no physicality to bring forth a child. She was too old to have a child. It had ceased to be with her after the manner of women. She was past childbearing age. My grandmother would say she'd been through the change. It was unlikely for her to have a child. And then Abraham's body, according to the book of Romans, was as good as dead. He was too old to father a child. So Abraham's body is weak, Sarah's body is weak, but God's promise is strong. Oh, you didn't hear that. Abraham's body is weak, Sarah's body is weak, but God's promise is strong. God's promise is so strong that it doesn't matter how weak the circumstances are, that when God gets ready to make something happen, he can make that happen.
Now, that is shouting stuff. That is shouting stuff. I'm not gonna stop for it, but that is shouting stuff. Your conditions don't have to be right for God to bring the promise to pass in your life. Because Sarah's conditions were not right, that's why she got Hagar in the first place to be a surrogate mother. They didn't use that term at the time, but that's basically what it was, a surrogate mother for her to carry Abraham's child. But Hagar was a bondwoman. She was a servant. She was a slave. So Ishmael is born up under the bondage of what birthed him. And he's saying to them to bring the church up under the law is to take the children of the promise and make them the children of the bondwoman. He is comparing law to grace.
Now, if you understand the story between Abraham and his two relationships, one with Hagar and one with Sarah, and the Bible clearly says here these are the two covenants, old covenant, new covenant, then you also understand that Ishmael comes before Isaac. Okay, if you understand then that Ishmael comes before Isaac, let me stop there and just talk about that for a minute. Ishmael always comes before Isaac, and you have to realize that whenever the Ishmael promise comes in your life, whenever that comes first, whenever that which is of the flesh comes first, and that which you gendered in the flesh, and that which you did on your own comes first, it's only a sign that Isaac's coming. Don't be so frustrated with Ishmael in your life that you don't recognize that Isaac is coming.
I feel almost like I'm talking to somebody right there. You had an Ishmael relationship. You had an Ishmael job. You had an Ishmael position. You had an Ishmael. You thought that was it. You really thought that was it, and then it turned out it was not it and you ended up in a separation where you had to break away from it. But Ishmael is only a sign that Isaac is on the way. Ishmael comes first. Let's go back to the text. Ishmael comes first. Mount Sinai comes first before Mount Calvary. Two mountains, Mount Sinai, Mount Calvary. On Mount Sinai, we have the old covenant. On Mount Calvary, we have the new covenant.
Now, Mount Sinai comes before the new covenant. Now, you will remember Ishmael is born before Isaac. And I preached last Sunday about how Hagar ran away from Sarah and she went out into the wilderness, and God made her go back to Sarah and to submit herself to her mistress, and she had to go back and submit. She stayed there awhile. Eventually, Sarah decides, "Put out the bondwoman and her son". Now, Hagar has had a child, but she only decides to put out the bondwoman and her son because, the Bible said, that one day Sarah looked out and she saw Ishmael mocking Isaac. So now these two boys, the old covenant and the new covenant, cannot live together. Ishmael is mocking Isaac, and Sarah says, "Put out the bondwoman and her son". Abraham goes to God, because by now he is bonded to the bondwoman. He is bonded to Ishmael. Ishmael has been in his life for years. And God says to Abraham, "Harken to the voice of thy wife".
Why does God say to Abraham, "Hearken to the voice of thy wife"? Because you cannot have the children of the flesh and the children of the promise coexisting at the same time. One has got to go so that the other one can move freely, because one will mock the other. The reason Paul is using this story in the text is because that's exactly what we have going on in the Galatian church and the New Testament church. In the early days of the apostolic age of the church, we have this mocking going on between the Ishmael teaching and the Isaac teaching, and they're mocking and they're fighting. And I just got through showing you how they almost came to blows. Some say they did come to blows in Antioch. It was a war between the two.
So let's go back to the allegory now. So when God says to Abraham, "The woman is right," he is not just talking about Ishmael and Isaac. He is also setting a precedent for New Testament understanding that you can't have both things all mixed together and coagulated together at the same time. You have to put out Ishmael. Put Ishmael out and take the bondwoman and her son and send them away. And the Bible says that Abraham packs Hagar a lunch and sends her away. The symbolism behind sending her away is God moving into a new order, which is the New Testament church. Now, "Now we, brethren". I want to go back to this text because this is good. Are you with me? You still with me?
Verse 28, "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise". "Now we," talkin' about us, church, brethren, "as Isaac was, are the children of promise". "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise". I'm talkin' to you. We are the children of promise. Everything we got, we got it because God promised it to us. Everything we received, we received it because God promised to it. We didn't get it because the timing was right. We didn't get it because the conditions were right. We didn't get it because the economy was right. We didn't get it because the government was right. We didn't get it because we were right. We didn't get it because everything about us was right. We got it because we, "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise". You've got it because God's promise was greater than your weakness.
In fact, he said, "My strength is made perfect in your weakness. I'm not gonna give it to you 'til you give up on yourself. I'm not gonna give it to you until you begin to understand that it is me that's doing it and it's not you. As long as you have strength, Abraham, you will lean to your strength. I'll wait 'til your body is dead. I'll wait 'til you're impotent. I'll wait 'til you can't produce a child. And then there'll be no doubt that if it had not been for the Lord, you would not be able to do what you're tryin' to do".
There's somebody right now, in your own strength, you don't have the resources. You don't have the money. You don't have the relationships. You don't have the connections. You don't have the background. And yet God keeps talking to you about something he's going to do in your life. You're a child of the promise. You're a child of the promise. And God doesn't want it to come through your flesh, and your talents, and your abilities, and your connections. He waits 'til everything has been shut down and then he says, "Now you're going to have this child, and this child is a child of the promise". That is who we are. We are the children of the promise. That is who you are, children of the promise. So you're not looking to your womb to be strong enough. You're not looking to your groom to be strong enough. You're not looking to your resource to be strong enough. You're looking to God to be strong enough to birth this thing in your life.
Somebody right now that's watching me is grieving over what you lost, grieving over what you walked away from, but God is saying, "Put out the bondwoman and her son. Trust me, I am going to make you a child of the promise". As we come to the close of this Bible class, there's a few things I hope that you get out of this. One, I hope I was effective at helping you to understand the dilemma of the early church is not to allow their past understanding of God to contaminate this great move that happened on Calvary, that the blood of Jesus was enough. Mount Calvary is stronger than Mount Sinai. I hope you understand that, being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, that God no longer needed the shadows and types of the Old Testament which only came to teach us about New Testament truth.
The reason I hope you understand that is because our foundation as Christians is so weak that anybody can come and teach us anything and we say amen to everything because we don't rightly divide the Word of truth. So I hope you understand that. That's important. It's important for you to understand your faith to the degree that you understand that God's grace is enough; that Calvary is enough; that Jesus's perfect sacrifice is enough; that you don't have to pollute it or dilute it with Mount Sinai In order to understand that you are accepted in the beloved; that the Grace of God has been given to you freely. Does that mean for you to be irresponsible? Absolutely not. It just means that you're no longer bound to the bondwoman according to the flesh. "But we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of the promise". I hope you understand that.
The other thing I want you to understand is bringing it out of the early church struggle and the Antioch incident. And the struggle that they had... I want you to understand that struggles are part of the Christian walk so that you'll stop judging people and stop saying everything about everybody when they're in a struggle, when you know you have struggles too, that Paul, Paul who's writing about this in another text, said, "When I would do good, evil is present with me. That which I would not do, I do. That which I do not, I do. O wretched man that I am. Who shall deliver me from the body of this death"? He struggles. "I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do. Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching to those things which are before. I press, I press toward the mark, the pride of the high call".
He struggles. You struggle. I struggle. We struggle. That is a part of the Christian experience. And finally, like Jacob after wrestling with the angel, just before the breaking of day, finally, we come to a point that we surrender, and give up the struggle, and come to the place of peace. I want you to understand that, that there is a struggling stage, that there is a wrestling stage, that before there was a Calvary, there was a Garden of Gethsemane. There is a wrestling place. "Not my will, but thine be done. Pass this bitter cup from me".
There is a wrestling stage, that that's a part of your faith. And ultimately, we must put away the bondwoman and her son, for the children of the bondwoman shall not be heirs with the children of the promise. That God's grace is sufficient to birth everything you need even when you thought you were barren and you thought you had nothing else to give. That the Spirit will quicken you and bring back to life those things. I see God quickening ministries. I see God quickening preachers. I see God quickening businesses and leaders, and makin' you have to be creative again while your womb is barren. The way you thought it was gonna happen, it's not happening and God is shaking you back to life. Glory! In all kinds of ways, in your life, in your thinking, in your writing, in your praying, in your consecration, it is the barrenness that makes you reach out to God.
Sing, thou barren woman. Thou that didst not conceit, you old woman, you. You should have been further by now. You old man, you're lookin' at your calendars, looking at your birthday, and you're saying, "I'm 40 years old. I thought I'd be further than this. I'm 35, I thought I'd be further. I'm 50 and I thought I'd be further than this". God, I've been struggling and wasting time. The struggle is over. The struggle is over. Put out the bondwoman and her son because we are the children of the promise. And that's my subject for tonight and that's what I want to leave with you tonight. You're not children of the flesh. They might be in the house, one may be mocking the other, but that's a stage. It's not a state, it's a stage. Ultimately, we surrender to God, and we say yes to him, and he gets the victory in our lives. And that is what sets us free.
Maybe all of this barrenness that we see happening in the world, and all of these empty wombs, and empty churches, and empty pews, and empty choir stands, and empty date books, and empty calendars, and no engagements, and nobody's calling you, and nobody's using you, and maybe God has put you in a state of barrenness because he wants your attention. Surrender.
I thought, I spake, I understood as a child. But when I became a man, I put it all away. That's what causes Christ to be formed in you. Back to the beginning. "My little children, in whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you". May he be formed in you tonight, and in your life, and in your business, and in the way you think, and the way you speak, and the way you understand. May he be so formed in you that you get the strength to put away to what you used to cleave to and decide that what you have is better than what you had; that Mount Calvary is better than Mount Sinai; that Isaac is better than Ishmael; that the promise is better than the flesh. "Because we, as Isaac was... Now we brethren, as Isaac was, are children of the promise".
Can I pray with you tonight? I want to pray with you tonight for whatever that message meant to you. Whatever you got out of that message, whatever the Holy Spirit nailed into your heart about tonight, that God would get done what he's tryin' to get done in your life. Wherever you are, whether you're at the putting away stage, or you're still in the wrestling stage, or you've discovered your own barrenness stage, and you've been wailing in the barrenness of your inability to get out of a situation you can't get out of, and your womb is shut up, and you seem impotent to fix it. Every door is closing. You got no choice but to believe, to walk in faith, and change the way you think, and the way you speak, and you understand.
Can I pray for you tonight? Whatever state you're in, preacher, whatever state you're in, whatever happened, whatever you lost, whatever left, whatever walked away, whatever closed, can you get a peace in your spirit about it that what's in front of you is better than what's behind you? Can you believe God for Isaac or will you forever hold on to Ishmael?
Father, in Jesus's name tonight, we come boldly to the throne of grace. We lay ourselves prostrate in your presence. Oh God, at the Ishmaels in our lives and the legalistic way we think, and live, and move, and function. Oh God, we lay out before you because the Holy Spirit said something tonight that we needed to hear. And I thank you tonight because somebody's eyes popped open. Somebody got a revelation. Somebody's faith was quickened and stirred. Somebody's got some wrestling to do. Somebody's got some releasing to do. Somebody's got some revelation to receive. So whether they're wrestling or whether they're walking into revelation, whatever stage they're in tonight, Holy Spirit, have your way. In the name of Jesus, amen.
If this word blessed you tonight, if it spoke to you, I want to hear from you. Just a note, just a line. Facebook, Instagram, something. Say something. Reach out to me. Let me hear from you. I continue to pray with you, not because I'm any better or anything else. God knows I've had my wrestling moments. And we'll have them again at every change, at every turn, at every place of uncertainty. We go through it again, and again, and again of different levels, but we go through it. But because I go through it and I understand it, I can pray with you about it. I hope you were blessed by the Bible class. It's been a joy to sit in my house while you sit in yours and teach the Word of God with you. For faith Cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.