Promise Keeper

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
(2 Corinthians 1:20)

“I promise.”   Oh how many times have I not only spoken these words but heard them as well.  “I promise to do better next time.”  “I promise I won’t do that again.” “I promise I’ll get that done.” “I promise I’ll be there.” Those two words seem to flow easily from our lips with good intentions.  Yet countless times those two words spoken with earnestness are often soon followed by a just as earnest “I am sorry,” “Forgive me,” or “I meant well” as our good intentions collide with the reality of another broken promise.

But not God.  Remember this today.  But not God.  Why?

God is not man, that he should lie,
    or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
    Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? (Numbers 23:19)

God is not man.  I repeat: God is not man.   Man sins; God is holy.  Man falls; God stands firm.  Man fails; God never does.  Man lies; God never will. God cannot sin.  God cannot fall.  God cannot fail.  God cannot lie.  If God promises, it will come to pass.  It will.  Not one promise of God will ever be followed by an “I am sorry.” Not one.

Why? For all the promises of God find their Yes in him (2 Corinthians 1:20).   And He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23). Faithful. God will do what He says He will do. Knowing God’s faithfulness is what empowered Jacob, who was afraid of his brother Esau, to not only approach God to remind Him that He had promised good, but also to continue going forward (Genesis32:9, 12). Knowing God’s faithfulness led Joshua and Caleb, upon their return from spying the land of Canaan, to declare before the people “the Lord is with us; do not fear them” (Numbers 14:9).  Knowing God’s faithfulness enabled Joshua to confidently speak to the Israelites before he died, “not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed” (Joshua 23:14).  

All of them came to pass.  Not one of them failed.  Not one. Oh that each of us could fully grasp the awesome greatness within those words.  God–our Creator and Sustainer–is faithful. If He says He will do it, He will do it. Even if we never see a certain promise fulfilled with our physical eyes, we can rest in peace knowing our faith will be made sight in eternity. Hebrews 11 catalogues the men and women of faith who knew God would keep His promises, even the promises they knew they would never live to see.  All those prophets who foretold the coming Messiah?  They may not have ever seen Him in the flesh, but they saw Him through their faith.  They fully believed that what God says He will do, He will do, even if He does not answer in the time we expect.

This weekend we are celebrating Easter–celebrating the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Do you realize Jesus is the greatest example of God’s faithfulness in keeping His Word?  God wove His promise of a Savior throughout the Old Testament, from Genesis through Malachi.  In Genesis God spoke to the serpent, he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).  In Psalm 22, when David sang “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  he was singing the very words our Savior would cry out in agony from the cross (Mark 15:34).  In Isaiah we read the specific details and purpose of the crucifixion: “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). 

God’s promise to save us not only brought Jesus to the earth, it not only led Him to the cross, but it also kept Him there.  Jesus knew He was the One God foretold would take away the sins of the world. Jesus knew that anyone who believed in Him would not die but have eternal life. Jesus knew He was the Promised One.   Yet even knowing this, Jesus did have a choice, for even though He was fully God, He was also fully man.  While in the Garden of Gethsemane,  Jesus pleaded three times with His Father,My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me…” (Matthew 26:39a). When the men came to arrest Him, Jesus had legions of angels awaiting His command (Matthew 26:53) . When the high priest stood up and asked Jesus to defend Himself,  one word would have sent His accusers running.

The human side of Jesus may not have wanted to go through with it all, but the ultimate Promise Keeper did. In the Garden, each agonizing prayer ended with “not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39b).  At His arrest, Jesus told His disciples not to fight back so that the Scriptures could be fulfilled (Matthew 26:54).  With every accusation brought against Him, He “remained silent and made no answer” (Mark 14:60-61). When He was on the cross, struggling to breathe, enduring immense physical pain, He could have easily cried out to His Father and His Father would have rescued Him.  He could have said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t go through with this.  I know You promised to save Your children, but I just can’t go through with being the sacrificial lamb.”  But He didn’t. At any time Jesus could have used His voice and authority to save His life, but He used His silence and submission to save ours. The One whose voice created heaven and earth and all that is within it spoke not a word in His defense in order to redeem the very ones He spoke into existence. Our defender chose not to defend Himself in order to save us. When given the choice between life and death, Jesus chose His death for our life.  He chose to keep His Word.

Why?  Because He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).  Because “has he said, and will he not do it?” (Numbers 23:19). Because “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9-10).  Because “this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life” (1 Peter 2:25).

So as you head to church this weekend to celebrate our Savior–as you remember His death, His burial, and His resurrection–remember God always keeps His promises.  Always. When God promises, God delivers. And when God sent Jesus into the world, He not only delivered on His promise of a Savior but He delivered us through Him. Hallelujah!

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