Sunday, October 7, 2012

Keeping His Promise

If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules,
if they violate my statues and do not keep my commandments, 
then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes,
but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness.
I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
Psalm 89: 30-34

"Promises, promises, promises."  I think we all have either said this phrase or heard this phrase before.   It certainly isn't a positive one.  We say it when we don't believe that someone will keep their promise to do something.  It hurts when people don't keep their promises.  Keeping a promise can be really hard.  Sometimes we promise to do something without realizing the true cost of that promise.

In Scripture God's promises were often called covenants.  There are many covenants in Scripture, but  I do not intend this post to be an in-depth analysis of covenant theology.  Why? Because I'm not qualified to do so and because that's not the purpose of this post.  If you are interested I do encourage you to do your own Biblical study of God's covenants in Scripture. I know that I'm likely to leave out some important scriptures and not say enough about a particular covenant so please remember that this is a blog post and not a thesis or a book.  I plan to share what God wants me to share.  :)

Take a look again at the scripture at the beginning of this post.  Throughout the Old Testament, God created covenants with His people where He would provide for them if and when they fulfilled their part of the covenant.  When they didn't fulfill their end of the "bargain" God kept His promises by following through with punishment.  As you read through the Old Testament period after Solomon was king, you notice that punishment didn't always come through immediately.  God sent prophets to warn the people of their disobedience, to remind them to follow God's laws.  Sometimes the people repented.  "For great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do according to all that is written in this book." 2 Chronicles 34: 21

Unfortunately, most of the time the people didn't repent and God responded with the bad consequences as promised in His covenant.  "The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place.  But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy." 2 Chronicles 36:15-16.  At one point many people in Jerusalem were killed and those left alive were captured and taken to Babylon.  "[The king of the Chaldeans] took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servant to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths.  All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years." 2 Chronicles 36:20-21.

What I want to point out is that God kept His promises.  Good consequences were given when the people kept their part of the covenant.  When they didn't, then bad consequences were the result.  God never said "well, they didn't uphold their end of the bargain so I'm not going to uphold mine."  He kept His end of the "bargain" no matter what.

I find studying the Old Testament covenants to be an interesting thing.  Seeing God's hand at work through all of the promises made by both God and His people, promises kept by both God and His people, and promises not kept by His people is thought provoking.  Add to this a review of the New Covenant and you cannot but be amazed at how cool God is!

If you payed attention to the wording in the Old Testament covenants, you noticed that there are a lot of "if...then" statements.  "If my people will... then I will..."  While covenants were rooted in God, they were still conditional.  The people had a part to play, they had a responsibility to obey in order to receive the good consequences.  Switch over to the New Covenant and you find a change.  "...I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God and they shall be my people...For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." Hebrews 8:10,12.

Notice that there are no "if...then" statements in the New Covenant.  All of the statements are "I will"!  To quote my Scofield: "The New Covenant rests upon the sacrifice of Christ and secures the eternal blessedness of all who believe.  It is absolutely unconditional and, since no responsibility is by it committed to man, it is final and irreversible." 

To quote a friend "WOW!"  This is powerful stuff.  This covenant does not rest of me.  Good thing because I'm not perfect.  But Jesus is and this covenant rests in Him and on His sacrifice on the cross.

He will not violate His covenant, His promise.  This is powerful!  When God promises something, He keeps His promise.  He will not forget it either.   "He remembers His covenant forever..." Psalm 105:8

One's faith, hope, and trust should not be on each other because we cannot keep our promises.  We try to keep the promises we make.  God does not need to "try" to keep a promise.  He will always keep His promises.   "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

Where have you placed your faith?  I hope it is in the One who keeps His promises!

Sister Jane
Romans 14:8

Creature Update:
Frank has become very friendly but can you blame him.  I'm the nice person who feeds him almonds which are much tastier than other seeds or corn.  I had him almost eating out of my hand back in August, when the above picture was taken.  Yes, he still has the bad habit of climbing the screen.  I'm hoping that he gets that habit out of his system quickly.

 Isn't he just adorable?

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