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‘Sleeping Partners’

The New Covenant made with Israel as recorded by Jeremiah Chapter 31:31 -34.
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new promise to Israel and Judah. It will not be like the conditional promise that I made to their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of Egypt. They failed to keep the conditions of the promise, although I was a husband to them, But this is the unconditional promise that I will make to Israel after those days,” declares the LORD: “I will put my teachings inside them, and I will write those teachings on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will each person teach his neighbours or his relatives by saying, ‘Know the LORD.’ All of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me, because I will forgive their immorality and I will no longer hold their sins against them.”

Last week I stressed the point of looking at pictures and patterns in scripture and then
the events in peoples lives that follow the patterns. I want to continue along that theme looking at the pattern that God speaks something into being, the Spirit nurtures, until the life of what is said comes into being.

The word God speaks is like an egg that contains life and the Holy Spirit is like a brooding hen, caring for the egg and waiting until the right time for the life to be seen and experienced. Over history God has spoken and the brooding nurturing Spirit has waited for the right time and place to give life to what has been said. For example God promised Moses that a prophet like Moses himself would be Israel’s eternal prophet. God was speaking about Jesus and so spoke to to Moses about the Messiah.

Another example: God promised Phinehas the zealous High Priest, that a priest like Phinehas himself would be Israel’s eternal priest. God was speaking about Jesus and so spoke to Phinehas about the Messiah. Another example: God promised David that a king like David himself would be Israel’s eternal King. God was speaking about Jesus and so spoke to to David about the Messiah.

In the beginning were the promises like eggs that the Spirit had to incubate and wait for the right time for life in the spoken promises to be seen and experienced. Over and over promises have been given to God’s people that the brooding Spirit has nurtured and cared for waiting for the right time for the life to come from those spoken promises and be seen and experienced.

Over and over God has spoken of a Saviour for His children in pictures and patterns even in signs, symbols and shadows; and also audibly through prophets, even through heavenly messengers. The prophet Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: A virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son. The brooding Spirit waited 900 years for the Son spoken of by Isaiah to be given life. God’s messenger Gabriel to the virgin Mary Lk 1:31 “You will be with child and will give birth to a son.
Verse 45 “Blessed is she who believed and trusted, for there will be a fulfilment of those things said to her by the Lord.” Mary waited 9 months for the promised son spoken of by the heavenly messenger Gabriel to be given life.

The preacher Judson Cornwall once said, ‘We can hear other people talk about what God has done in their lives and we can learn what God is like. It’s only when we then have our own personal experiences with God, that absolute trust in God really becomes part of us and an integral part of how we live.’

In the beginning is the word, fixed and established, but the Spirit has to give life to what is said for it to be known and experienced. The emphasis is on the Spirit giving life to whatever is said. Abraham is called our father in faith. In Abraham’s journey through life, many a picture was painted, patterns set in place, signs, symbols and shadows established.

A good example is demonstrated in a promise given to Abraham in the form of a covenant, a covenant is just a contract that two people sign up to and agree to follow. The covenant in this case was a promise God made to Abraham, legally binding according to the custom of his day. The promise was, that God would give the land from the Nile in Egypt to the river Euphrates in Syria to his offspring. Not his offspring’s plural, meaning many, but offspring singular, meaning one, the Messiah.

It was in a time before pen and paper, solicitors and lawyers, so something very visual had to be done to make the promise legally binding. This was ‘a biggy’. So according to custom, animals were killed and cut in half. The parts were laid out so as to make a pathway. The parties involved in making the promise had to walk through the path together, that meant they were legally obliged to keep the covenant, keep the promise. Failing to do so meant, the one in breach of the promise would be cut in half just like the animals. This was serious business. However, this promise was exceptional in that only God would go through the pieces. Because the promise was to be binding upon God alone. There was also another unusual element to this covenant promise, for as God spoke and went through the pathway of animal parts, Abraham was asleep. The fact that God spoke to Abraham in his sleep was a picture, not only was the promise made in his sleep, the promise was fulfilled in his sleep as we’ll learn in a minute.

Though Abraham was a partner in the promise, he was a sleeping partner. He wasn’t required to do anything and God had to do everything. A picture was painted, a pattern established. Our father of faith set an example of trusting God’s promises when it is God alone who then has to carry out the promises. His Holy Spirit brings the promises into being at the right time. God’s unconditional love, God’s unconditional grace, God’s unconditional promises, have this in common, we His children are sleeping partners.

If you are a sleeping partner in business, one partner does all the work while the sleeping partner does nothing yet gets a share of the profits and trusts the one who works. I’ve mentioned the promises of a Messiah given to Abraham, Moses, Phinehas and David, none of them were required to do anything to to fulfil the promises, it was all down to God. They did nothing to help fulfil the promises, God did it all in sending his son Jesus, the promised Messiah.

Sleeping partners both in business and in faith have this in common, they both trust that their partner will keep working while providing the benefits to the one who doesn’t work. Trust is the operative word; its the only thing the sleeping partner has to do. Trust in the partner who does the work.

Over the years I’ve asked lots and lots of people how they came to know Jesus, all said it was because they trusted. Scripture records a man asking Paul ‘What must I do to be saved’ Paul replies ‘Trust in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.’ Paul’s statement has a full stop at the end, it means nothing has to be added and nothing can be added. It is a complete statement. It is complete and without conditions.

Scripture tells us that it is by faith we are saved and faith comes in one way or another by hearing God’s voice. It is the brooding Spirit that brings life to what is said and brings to life that awareness of God and our connection to Him. That life the Holy Spirit brings is eternal life; Jesus experienced death so we don’t have to. Our body will die but our spirit will live on. So whether living or sleeping we do nothing to earn the benefits Jesus brings, knowing that He has done and is doing all the work needed to make us welcomed by God. In union with Jesus in whom we trust, from the beginning we remain sleeping partners.