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Hebrews 6: Trusting the Promise

Trust is difficult for so many people. They are so many instances of betrayal all around us. Look at the recent news about Ashley Madison. Clearly, this type of violation brings about a lack of trust in everyone and everything. There are very few oaths greater than the marriage vows, so when a man or woman violates that agreement, trust undoubtedly becomes more difficult.

Hebrews 6 talks about trust, but it talks about our trust in God, and it demonstrates how different that type of relationship is.

Heb 6:18  That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

Heb 6:19  Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

Heb 6:20  Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

God cannot lie, and because He is our hope, we can have unmeasured confidence. People very well might let us down from time to time. That is natural with imperfect people. However, when you think about God giving us this promise that He will not break, that is truly something amazing.

This promise is not insignificant either. It promises a hope of life after death. It promises an eternity in the presence of our perfect Lord and Savior. It promises eternal joy and peace. This is not something to disregard. It is much more important than any other promise that you or I could make here on earth.

Clearly, as Christians, we ought to follow through on our promises. It is wrong not to. However, even with the best of intentions, sometimes we are not able to do what we said, and there are plenty of times where our intentions are not perfect. However, think about God and His promises. They will not fail, and they sound pretty amazing.

Psalm 61: Praising an Unchanging God

Psalms 61 reminds us of many things that we have to be thankful for. After reading many Psalms written by David, it is fair to say that he had plenty of difficult times in his life, but when you read something he wrote like this, you realize that he also spent a good amount of time praising God too.

Psa 61:1  To the chief Musician upon Neginah, A Psalm of David. Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.

Psa 61:2  From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psa 61:3  For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.

Psa 61:4  I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.

Psa 61:5  For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.

Psa 61:6  Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: and his years as many generations.

Psa 61:7  He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him.

Psa 61:8  So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.

Look at everything that he attributes to God. He says that God is a shelter and strong tower. David is going to live with Him forever implying an eternal God. He is one that David is willing to trust in. He hears our vows which demonstrates that He is active and involved. He gives us the heritage of believers. We have a community of people who love God’s corporately.

As much as David could praise God for all of the things, we can do the same thing. All of these promises are relevant today. The Bible didn’t come with some kind of expiration date. In fact, we know that God doesn’t change.

Psa 102:26  They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:

Psa 102:27  But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.

If God doesn’t change, He is willing to do everything for us that He did for David. He is still in the business of being a shelter and strong tower. He is still eternal. All of these things about God have not changed, and I am personally very happy about that.

Psalms 27: My Light and My Salvation

Psalms 27 presents some pretty popular verses, and when we dive right into it, we find something very interesting.

Psa 27:1  Of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

I want you to take just the first sentence. God is light and salvation. Therefore, whom shall I fear? As a result of God being light and salvation, this rhetorical question is reconfirming that we have nothing to fear.

What does that mean though that God is our light and our salvation?

Light is a pretty common image in the Bible. For example, Jesus described Himself as the light of the world.

Joh 9:5  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Also, we hear about the Bible being compared to a lamp.

Psa 119:105  Nun. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

We hear about sin being darkness, and it is pretty obvious that God is the opposite of that which is light. God is perfection, and that is what the light symbolizes here. We do not need to fear because we have the perfect God on our side, and He is greater than anything we might face.

Now, why does salvation cause us not to fear?

One thing is for certain.

Mat 10:28  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

We don’t need to worry about anything that can happen to us here on earth. I don’t want to deny that terrible things can happen, and I know that there are a lot of bad things that happen. However, I do want to say that we need to remember that salvation is the ultimate gift. If we have that, then no matter what we face here on earth, living infinitely with God will be worth all of that.

So, why don’t we need to worry? We have the power of God behind us as symbolized by His perfect light. He cannot sin, and He is more powerful than all the darkness that might be around us. Beyond that, we have the gift of salvation. This gift basically goes beyond anything that we might have here on earth. These are two great promises that we can rely on every day.

Nehemiah 1: God Is Faithful

The book of Nehemiah begins in chapter 1 on a very emotional note. Nehemiah heard that the city of Jerusalem was in ruins, and it hit him very hard. However, he did what we all should do under such circumstances; he turned right to God.

He said a lot of things, but I want to focus on one particular area.

Neh 1:8  Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:

Neh 1:9  But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.

Neh 1:10  Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

I know that I’ve written in the past about being careful when we promise things to God. We need to make sure that we are willing to follow through. Similarly, God made promises to humanity. Obviously here is an example of what he told Moses. Also, you can think about the promise He made to Noah that He would never flood the entire earth again.

Promises are just as binding in one direction as they are in the other.

The main difference is that when God makes a promise, He always follows through on it. Humans should follow through, but there are times when we don’t, and that is why I have written about before. On the other hand, God is perfectly faithful, and we can be very glad about that. Why can we be glad about that? Here’s one pretty powerful reason.

1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

2 Kings 7: God Is a Creative Problem Solver

I love it when Biblical prophecies come true. In 2 Kings 7, we begin with a message delivered by Elisha.

2Ki 7:1  Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the LORD, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.

Of course, on the surface, this seemed like a pretty ridiculous statement. There was a famine going on, so prices of any food were naturally I assume pretty high given the nature of supply and demand. Elisha was basically saying that the famine was going to subside.

That is a pretty tall order, but one that apparently God was up to meeting. Is there ever a problem that God is not able to handle?

The way that He solved it was rather interesting though.

Four lepers, the outcasts of society, were wandering around outside the city. As you might remember, Israel was at war with Syria. Syria supposedly had a camp right outside the city, but when the four men arrived where the camp was supposed to be, it was empty. Everyone had left because of intervention by God.

2Ki 7:6  For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us.

2Ki 7:7  Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life.

Eventually, the leaders of Israel did go out for themselves, and when they found all of the provisions sitting right there, the city had food, the prices dropped off and the prophecy came through.

For me, it is one of those things. When you hear about stories like this, you have to think that God is some type of artist. He certainly could have provided the city with food like He did for the Israelites when they were wandering in the wilderness. However, I have to admit that this creativity in this situation is pretty remarkable. God certainly does follow through on His promises which is obviously the most important part, but I am personally amazed at how things fit together in a way that you might have never thought about before.

1 Kings 4: The Wisdom of God Is Good

God kept His promise to the children of Israel in 1 Kings 4. The promise that I’m referring to comes all the way back in Deuteronomy.

Deu 30:9  And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers:

Deu 30:10  If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.

I hope that you remember this. This is the section of Deuteronomy right before Moses died. He is outlining how people can either follow God and be blessed, or they can wander away from God and be cursed.

The reason I bring it back up here is because Solomon is having the people of Israel follow God.

1Ki 4:29  And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.

Because his wisdom came from God, it was pretty good stuff. Israel was blessed to an incredibly high level at this time in its history.

This is just another example of how God fulfills promises. I am not trying to outline some type of prosperity gospel, and God is certainly under no obligation to make us wealthy. However, I am saying that if you follow God and apply His wisdom, life in general is going to work out better for you.

The Bible can teach us a lot about how to relate to others, how to relate to God and how to conduct ourselves in all of our various walks of life. It can give us wisdom, and we can use that wisdom to make better decisions.

God blesses those who follow Him. It isn’t always financial like it apparently was for Solomon, but living for God does create a better quality of life. He is the only source of eternal joy, and having that attitude in relation to God will help us improve on those three areas that the Bible teaches us about.

2 Samuel 8: God Follows Through

At the beginning of 2 Samuel 8, we find Israel back at war again in two separate campaigns.

2Sa 8:1  And after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them: and David took Methegammah out of the hand of the Philistines.

2Sa 8:3  David smote also Hadadezer, the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates.

You have to wonder why Israel was fighting wars on two fronts. After all, isn’t one war enough?

In my mind, there are two separate reasons why Israel went to war here.

Gen 15:18  In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:

Gen 15:19  The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,

Gen 15:20  And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims,

Gen 15:21  And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

Way back in Genesis, the Israelites were supposed inherit the land of the Canaanites. According to everything I have seen, the Philistine civilization was in Canaan. This is all part of the land that God had promised to Abraham far before any of this had happened. As a result, by David finally driving out another group of Canaanites, we can see how the promise to Abraham was fulfilled.

The second one is quite obvious. The parallel between verse three and verse 18 is clear.

Here is my question for you then. Why do we even care about this?

I think that this says something about the character of God. Abraham and David were separated by hundreds of years. At the time, I wonder if Abraham ever wondered when God would follow through on that promise of land.

2Pe 3:8  But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

God exists outside of time. Although it is hard for any of us to conceptualize what this really means, I think that we can nevertheless conclude that it does not especially matter when God fulfills a promise with a few exceptions.

The reason I mention a few exceptions is because Jesus himself prophesied that He would rise in three days. Obviously, time was of the essence. However, if there is no time specified like there is in this example, then I believe that time does not matter.

The more significant part of any of the promises in the Bible is that they were fulfilled. Not only does it demonstrate the faithfulness of God, but it also adds additional proof that God is alive and real. He doesn’t just make up things that sound good at the time. He follows through.

1 Samuel 1: Completing a Promise

Well, it seems pretty natural that in the first chapter of first Samuel we see the birth of Samuel himself. His mother Hannah had not been able to have children, and she got very upset every time she went to the temple. One day, when she went to the temple, she made a promise to God concerning the son that she wanted.

1Sa 1:11  And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.

She offered her son to the full service of God. I know I have written several times before that when you make a promise to God, you’d better be willing to keep it. It is not that they are by nature bad, but they are serious obligations that should not be made flippantly.

Hannah did follow through with her promise.

1Sa 1:26  And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD.

1Sa 1:27  For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him:

1Sa 1:28  Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.

I have to imagine that this must have been painful. While I’m sure that she knew that her son would do great things for God, I’m sure she wanted to be with him as he was growing up. It would have been really easy for her to justify going back on her word. That would not have been a good idea, but in her earthly mind, I’m sure that she could have made it seem acceptable.

I admire her for her dedication to God. She made a promise knowing the full weight of what she was doing. Again, the Bible does not necessarily advocate making vows in any form, but I think that her dedication is something we can take away from this passage. We need to be willing to do whatever God calls on us to do.

Judges 11: A Tragic Promise

Judges chapter 11 brings me back to something I wrote a few months ago. I was writing it around New Year’s Day (okay, it was actually on January 14), and I was talking about making promises to God. You might remember that it was not a good idea to make a promise to God and not follow through.

Today, we can see someone live out a promise tragically.

Jephthah was going into battle against the Ammonites. Naturally, he wanted to win the battle, and he wanted to know that God was truly going to deliver the enemy into his hands.

Jdg 11:30  And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,

Jdg 11:31  Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.

Please know that all of this was unnecessary because God was going to be there with him anyway, but for our purposes, the important part is that he made a promise to God. God certainly did not demand this vow, but Jephthah made it nonetheless.

Naturally, the Israelites won the battle, and Jephthah came home to celebrate.

Jdg 11:34  And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.

Wow. Now comes the major decision. Does he follow through with this promise he made to God?

Understandably, he was incredibly upset. However, I was even more amazed by what his daughter said.

Jdg 11:36  And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.

It is worth pointing out something here though. Was there ever a literal death that took place? Many people on the Internet have taken this passage out of context to indicate that child sacrifice is somehow okay.

However, if we go back to Deuteronomy, it becomes obvious that child sacrifice is not okay with God.

Deu 12:31  Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.

Consequently, knowing that this was going to happen ahead of time, some contend God would not have allowed Israel to win the battle and ultimately sacrifice a child given that the vow had happened.

People who believe that she was not literally killed generally believe that since she was an only child, her “sacrifice” involved not being able to carry on the family line and essentially becoming a nun.

However, a more literal reading of the text really does not provide room for that interpretation.

Jdg 11:39  And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,

Some people argue that he did according to his vow, and his vow involved sacrificing the first thing that came out of his house when he came home. However, again going from a literal perspective, God never said that He approved of this sacrifice. Therefore, it is not inconsistent whatsoever with the passage in Deuteronomy. God told the people not to sacrifice children, but as demonstrated by all of human history, people still sin. As a result, this incident would clearly be a sin by Jephthah because of the law in Deuteronomy. People do have the freedom to sin, but that does not mean that God is okay with that. God hates sin.

Whichever view you happen to subscribe to, it is rather obvious that God does not condone child sacrifice.

If you are going to make a promise to God, you need to be willing to fulfill it like I wrote back in January. Jephthah did follow through on his promise, but it caused him a tremendous amount of stress and sorrow whichever one of two possible interpretations is true. Either his family line ended by not having any more generations, or he took the life of his own daughter. Either one is a tragedy.

This entire thing could have been avoided if he did not make that promise. James offers us similar advice in the New Testament.

Jas 5:12  But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

If you want more information about the various interpretations of this passage, here are a few that I found on the Internet as I was doing background research.

Joshua 21: God Never Fails

The end of Joshua chapter 21 is not surprising whatsoever, but I think it is worth talking about for a little while today.

Jos 21:43  And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein.

Jos 21:44  And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.

Jos 21:45  There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

It is amazing that God made everything happen just like He planned. Of course, it isn’t surprising given that we know that God is incapable of failing, but I was thinking about how all of us make a lot of plans, and I would be surprised if everything that you and I did turned out the way we wanted it.

God has the power over the universe that is required to orchestrate everything that happens on our planet. Not only that, but He is faithful to complete everything that He promises. For some proof of that, let’s look through a few other Bible verses.

Psa 119:65  TETH. Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word.

Psa 36:5  Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.

2Ti 2:13  If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

Whenever God has made any promise, He always has made it happen. In this particular instance, He gave Israel all of the lands that He had told them He would. When Jesus left our planet, He promised that we would receive a comforter, and the Holy Spirit was not far behind. The list could go on and on, but the point is that God’s promises are absolute, and He will never go back on His word.