By Pr Isaiah White
Hebrews 11:20-22 says: “By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
“By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning on the top of his staff.
“By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.”
The scripture mentions three expectant patriarchs who declared blessings upon their people for generations to come.
To these patriarchs, the future was a reality.
While their present suggested otherwise, their faith was not placed in the current circumstances.
They did not determine the future based on their present; their bitter present was minimised and despised by the better future they anticipated.
Expectations are not exclusive to only believers in God; pagans and other people from various belief systems have expectations, too.
We live in a world where optimism is the new popular doctrine, fronted by many motivational speakers.
Books have also been written about being optimistic in life.
In the conventional world, believing in better things is something counsellors advise those pessimistic about life and those in pain to carry on and not give up.
What we have in the biblical text, however, is not optimism being preached and taught.
Optimism as taught in today’s culture is positivity; we are all encouraged to always think and speak positively about life.
However, this is not faith as it is taught in the Word of God.
When we discuss faith as Christians, we are not talking about the modern-day ‘believe in yourself ‘or ‘positivism’ as it is taught.
Faith is a historical venture between man and his God. When the writer of Hebrews mentions the three Patriarchs in Hebrews 11:20-22 who exhibited expectant faith, he listed those who had relations to both blood and belief with Abraham.
The reason for this is to make sure that their expectations are not confused with mere optimism. We probably all know that God and Abraham were in a covenantal relationship.
In a covenant setting, the present and the future are fixed in the clauses.
So, faith in a covenant setting is not optimism for probable good to be, but an assurance of what will be and must become based on what the covenant states. This is what we mean by covenantal expectations.
Covenantal expectations is believing God within the constraints of who He is, what He said He would do, and what He has done in the past in contrast to what we are going through.
When Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau for the future, he was not being optimistic and neither was he merely well-wishing them.
He was situating his children within a future stipulated in the covenant relationship between Abraham, Isaac and God.
The true expectations of faith are not outside the Word and the Will of God.
Any expectations below or beyond the actual covenantal promises and pledges of God are mere wishes and secular.
Audacity of expectation
When Isaac expected better for his sons, such an audacious expectation for his children was about his history.
His birth was not until 100 years of waiting but because God had promised, it still happened (Genesis 21). He was begotten, lived by faith and wanted his children to live by the same.
He never suffered poverty because he was placed in the prosperity of his father Abraham (Genesis 22).
Looking at your life analytically will help you live and exercise an expectant faith throughout these trying times we live in.
What Isaac passed on to Jacob is what Jacob passed on to his twelve sons as well.
They all did not have expectations below or beyond God. The only way they knew about the future was through the God they knew.
Them knowing who holds the future and being sure of their relationship with Him was enough to have expectant faith.
Jacob knew God had been patient with his sinful ways since his birth, throughout his career and family as a parent and husband.
He knew he was not faithful but God was. He reminded his children and all of us today that sinners must go before God with expectant faith that He will surely forgive us.
From Jacob, let us learn that God often uses crooked sticks to hit straight shots. The life of faith aims for perfection, though failures will occur.
And when we fail, we should reflect upon the reality that God remains faithful. Now that is what we mean by faith in action.
The writer is a life coach and pastor.