Claiming God’s promises in the Bible

God's promisesIn Malachi 4 God promises to restore the hearts of children to their fathers. If I claim God’s promises for myself, may I believe that God will restore my relationship with my children?

It is never appropriate to assume that any particular Biblical promise is addressed to us individually. The vast majority of Biblical promises are made to a specific individual(s) or groups (usually Israel) and are not applicable to all believers. For example, the promise in Malachi 4 was not a promise delivered to a Christian today.  Malachi 4 is speaking concerning unbelieving Jewish people living in the time of Tribulation.

In Malachi 4, we find the following prophecy:

Malachi 4:5-6 (NKJV)

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”

The prophecy in Malachi (repeated in Luke 1:17) is a promise speaking to Israel concerning the days of Tribulation. The timing for this promise is said to be “before the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” This phrase is a reference to the time of Tribulation, a time of retribution and judgment promised for the Jewish people and for the world. Prior to Tribulation, Malachi says the prophet Elijah will return to preach to Israel, and that preaching will result in the hearts of children returning to the fathers and the fathers to the children.

In this context, the phrase “children” is a reference to the descendants of Israel and the phrase “fathers” is a reference to the Jewish patriarchs and prophets. Specifically, Malachi is promising that Elijah’s return will result in Israel returning to observing the Biblical traditions of Orthodox Judaism and to following the example of the “fathers of Israel” in their observance of Jewish Law. Elijah’s call to return to the Law will lead the nation of Israel to a revival during the first part of Tribulation.

God’s purpose in this revival will be to encourage many in Israel to join in worship at the newly reconstructed Jewish temple during Tribulation.  God’s promises

God delivers promises to specific people or groups, and so we cannot “claim” a promise in Scripture for ourselves. The Bible never instructs us to engage in such a practice, and there is no mechanism given in Scripture by which we can redirect God’s promises to ourselves and apart from His intentions. The concept of “claiming” promises that were originally given to other people is an invention of false teachers, and sadly it has become a part of modern Christian culture.

In reality, God’s promises cannot be appropriate for our own desires. Instead, the context of Scripture must guide our interpretation and application of any Scripture, including our application of the Father’s promises. His promises are only applicable to the audience(s) He intended by His word. Only when we find clear intent in Scripture that a promise was intended to apply to all believers universally (as when Christ promised that all believers will receive the Holy Spirit) can we then assume that the promise is ours as well. In the case of Malachi 4, however, the intended audience for God’s promise was Israel during Tribulation.

On the other hand, if you believe God has indicated to you personally in some manner that He intends to restore your family or heal a broken relationship, then you can trust in that assurance, for the Lord will do as He has said. If such a work of restoration does happen in your life, you should give God the glory but you should not claim that this work of God was a fulfillment of His promises in Malachi 4.




“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at”


How Do I Interpret The Bible Myself?

How Do I Interpret The BibleI love spending time studying the Bible. How do I know my understanding of Scripture comes from the Holy Spirit and not my own interpretation? How do I interpret the Bible?

Correctly understanding the truth of God’s word is never a matter of personal opinion or private interpretation, as Peter says:

2 Peter 1:19-21 (NKJV)

19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Peter reminds us that we have been given the word of God, which is a sure and reliable thing. God has the power not only to deliver His word to us but to also ensure we gain the proper understanding of it. In verse 20 Peter says that the correct interpretation of scripture is never found in one’s own opinion. In other words, we do not arrive at the truth of God’s word through assumptions, opinions or “feelings.” No different than the way one arrives at a proper understanding of mathematics or biology, we must study scripture with an expectation that the truth is objective and absolute. It does not bend to the will of men.  How Do I Interpret The Bible

On the other hand, scripture also teaches us that our ability to uncover the correct interpretation of scripture is a God-given ability. Notice in verse 21 Peter says that all scripture was authored as a result of the Holy Spirit moving a man to record the words of God. Therefore, since the word of God was authored by the Spirit, only the Spirit Himself can properly interpret its meaning. This is why Paul says:

1 Corinthians 2:12-14 (NKJV)

12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

All believers have been given the indwelling of the Holy Spirit so He can teach us the true meaning of scripture. In a sense, the Author of scripture explains its meaning to us as we endeavor to learn it. If men absent the Holy Spirit endeavor to learn its meaning, they will inevitably come away with a false, distorted view of scripture, since they lack the Spirit to guide them and reveal the truth.  How Do I Interpret The Bible

Moreover, believers will misinterpret scripture from time to time, but unlike unbelievers errors, these misunderstandings are merely the consequence of the normal process of moving from spiritual immaturity to the fullness of Christ: How Do I Interpret The Bible

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NKJV)

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

In other words, a healthy Christian committed to maturing in God’s word will steadily increase in the correct knowledge of God’s word. Whatever mistaken understanding we may acquire in the early years of our studies may eventually be corrected by the Spirit, so long as we persevere in our studies and maintain a teachable heart. People who become stubbornly unteachable will cease maturing and may be left with many false views of scripture since they have stopped listening to the Spirit.

The desire to have Jesus explain everything all at once is understandable and common, but it is also potentially harmful. The Lord expects us to devote ourselves to a lifelong study of His word, for this is the way we maintain a close, daily relationship with Him. Were He to explain everything in His word to us all at once (assuming we were even capable of absorbing it all), we would have no incentive to maintain a daily relationship through His word.  How Do I Interpret The Bible

Our spiritual goal isn’t to understand the Bible; our spiritual goal is to know the Lord and grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ through a study of His word.




“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at”


Can Christians Eat Pork?

Can Christians Eat Pork?In Isaiah 65:4, we’re told that those who eat the flesh of pigs will go to destruction. Doesn’t this apply to Christians? Can Christians eat pork?

In Isaiah 65:4 the Lord, speaking through Isaiah, is addressing the nation of Israel. He declares that Israel has a long history of disobeying His commandments. Let’s look at the passage in its proper context: Continue reading

How do You Worship God?

How do You Worship GodIs worship learned or is it something that you just do naturally? Does it require a certain feeling or emotional state? How do you worship God?

By worship, we assume you are referring to the practice of Christians singing praise music during a church service. Obviously, worship is a much broader concept than this narrow definition, but many Christians have come to see worship in this limited context.

Scripture, on the other hand, defines worship as obedience. For example, Paul defines worship this way: Continue reading