January 1, 2012

God Keeps Even the Promises We Don’t Want Him to Keep

God keeps all His promises,

even the ones we don’t want Him to keep.

Joshua reminded the Israelites of God’s faithfulness. He said, “Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.” ~ Joshua 23:14

Promises uttered from the mouth of the One who cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18) is all the fuel I need to keep walking a life of faith. His words are more secure than a steering wheel gripped firmly in both hands. They are more personal than my given name, more apparent than the English language which I type. His promises are so concrete that they construct my reality.

So what if I cannot perceive the time and location where my senses will catch up with His promises. My sensory limitations only make His promises more real. Just because I cannot touch the moon does not mean it didn’t cast its glow on those who came before me. Just because I cannot weigh the ocean does not mean it isn’t heavy. Divine immensity by definition should exceed my miniscule existence.

God has spoken His commitments in His Holy Word, the Bible. He has programmed our three pound brains with the ability to listen and receive it. Although I love to simmer over His prosperous blessings toward me, there is a grave oversight easily committed when reveling in God’s promises.

Are we His people equally as diligent to observe the warnings laid forth in His Word? Since He is a God who cannot lie, then His warnings are just as enforceable as His promises. God keeps ALL His promises, both the lavish ones and the wrath-wielding ones.

Joshua continued his advice to the Israelites with this dangerous twist, “Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all the good things have come upon you which the Lord your God promised you, so the Lord will bring upon you all harmful things, until He has destroyed you from this good land which the Lord your God has given you. When you have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed down to them, then the anger of the Lord will burn against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land which He has given you.” ~ Joshua 23:15-16

God’s promises run both directions. Have you considered this? He keeps His sweet vows of undeserved favor as well as His hard, uncompromising threats of justice over to those who violate the sacred treaty He established between God and man.

The Joshua passage specifically states that God promises to destroy those who “transgress the covenant of the Lord”. As of the Old Testament text, the covenant of the Lord was the verbal law of God given to Moses which included the Ten Commandments written in stone. The original covenant has since passed away with the replacement of a new covenant, salvation through the blood of Jesus.

“In the same way, after the supper he [Jesus] took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” Luke 22:20

Transgressing the covenant of the Lord is described as three sins in the above passage; 1) fleeing from God’s presence, 2) selecting an alternative for worship other than Him, and 3) surrendering one’s loyalty to another authority. These transgressions violate our relationship and provoke God’s anger. The scripture says that God will not relent until the transgressor is utterly destroyed. A quick death is promised. This is a promise I would prefer God not keep, but that is not my decision to make.

We must acknowledge that God makes negative promises in addition to positive ones. However, none of His promises are without benefit to an attentive listener. He is gracious to outline boundaries that we all may avoid destruction.

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

“Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? Why should the living complain when punished for their sins? Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” Lamentations 3:38-40

Thank you Lord for your negative promises (forewarnings) in addition to your positive promises (blessings) as all of them are intended for our edification. Thank you for prolonging your wrath which is long overdue. As the deadline for repentance approaches, remind us of the destruction you promise should we continue violating the bond established through the blood sacrifice of Jesus. Thank you for extending the window of opportunity for salvation. May we all be wise enough to take advantage of it through genuine repentance.

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