The Promise of Hope

In high school English classes, many students hated the assignment to annotate the books we were reading—underlining key passages, boxing our vocabulary words, making notes in the margins. I liked it — so much so that when I went to college, English was my second major. I just kept annotating books. 

I do the same in my Bible, which has extra wide margins just for this purpose. I take notes during sermons or during my own reading and sometimes illustrate or at least rewrite a key verse. 

Cross-referencing is another of my favorite Bible habits — in the margins of a N.T. passage, I’ll write the reference to an O.T. passage that foreshadows or relates. 

Flipping through these cross-references, you’ll notice a pattern beginning to emerge: God keeps His promises. 

Prophecies given in the Old Testament are fulfilled through Jesus in the Gospels. Prophecies made by Jesus are fulfilled by Him later in the same Gospel. 

Isaiah 43:2 reads: “I will be with you, when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.”

This is a promise from God to His people. Examples of how He fulfills that promise are spread throughout the entire Bible. One of those examples, Daniel 3, is written in the margin. 

In Daniel 3, three young Jewish men refuse to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue, which the king has mandated by law. The punishment for this “crime” is to be thrown into a fiery furnace.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego reply, “If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire” (Daniel 3:17) -- which is very close to what God promises in Isaiah 43:2. 

And God fulfills that promise: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are unscathed in the fiery furnace.

God also promises to deliver His people through the waters— sort of the opposite of a fiery furnace. While, of course, what God says to His people can be metaphorical, there is another literal example in the Bible of God’s promises fulfilled. 

In Matthew 14:22-32, Jesus’ disciples are on a boat on the Sea of Galilee, being battered by the wind. Then Jesus walks toward them— on the water -- through the wind. Peter joins Jesus on the water, and he walks like Jesus atop the water— until he again becomes afraid of the wind. His fear makes him sink, but Jesus reaches out and saves him— like God promised, the waters did not overwhelm Peter. 

God keeps His promises; these are just two of many examples. It’s important that we take note.  
By Bailey Vandiver

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