Promises provide the landmarks and guideposts for our lives. There is a reason for that. We do not live our lives unconnected from others. We live in a complex set of relationships. And promises are the key pieces, sitting at the center of those relationships.
Promises to be back home. Promises to be faithful. Promises to provide for our family. Promises to set aside the little irritations and seek to see each other in the kindest way. We are able to have homes, families, marriages, and all our relationships because of promises.
God gives promises. He has given those promises from the beginning, starting with the blessing, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it ..." (Genesis 1:28) Adam and Eve were called into a relationship with God and there were promises. There was also a promise God asked for when He told them not to eat of that one tree. Promises are the key pieces, sitting at the center of our relationships.
Sometimes promises are broken; and then either there is forgiveness or our relationships and our lives are damaged. Jobs are lost and marriages can fall apart. Distrust comes in, and our relationships change from being a blessing to being a curse; and usually it is a curse to both of those in the relationship.
What then would happen when Adam & Eve broke the promise and turned away from God. There was a curse -- ashes to ashes, dust to dust -- and death entered.
But God brought a new promise. The Seed of the woman would come. He would take the curse, carry the "dust-to-dust" in His own flesh, and bring us back into the blessing. (Genesis 3:15) From that point Prophecies, Psalms & Hymns, Sacrifices in the Temple, and the drama of the history of God's people from Abraham on would all be about His coming. "The virgin will conceive ..." (Isaiah 7:14) "But you, Bethlehem, Ephratha ..." (Micah 5:2) "The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all ..." (Isaiah 53:6) "God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." (Genesis 22:8)
Again, God brought a new promise. The seed of the woman -- He Himself is the promise. He gathers in His existence, in his birth, life, cross and empty tomb, all the promises there could ever be. He restores, exalts, glorifies, forgives, purifies, and transforms all who are connected to Him. Paul said, "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)
Promises are the key pieces, sitting at the center of our relationships. Because the promises are collected in Jesus, that changes completely the whole character of Christianity. What we have is not a traditional religion. If we did it would all be about us approaching God -- with prayer, repentance, worship and seeking His favor.
What we have instead is a connection with God, built on the promises that God has made to us, brought to us, and "sealed" with the living, breathing Promise of God -- Jesus Himself. All the promises of the Bible are bound together in the living, risen-from-the-dead, Jesus. The promises are just as eternal as Jesus, and He is eternally living. He says to us, "Until heaven and earth pass away," (Matthew 5:18) and that's only the beginning. "The word of the Lord endures forever." (1 Peter 1:25) In fact we could add the word forever at the end of each of those promises. "I will never leave you nor forsake you forever!" (Hebrews 13:5) And behold I am with you to the end of the age, forever!" (Matthew 28:20) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, forever! (Psalm 46:1)
There are times in life when we have to hold on to promises. And some of those times it is a long time of holding on to promises. As the days drag on, remember that there is one person who gives promises, and then remembers them and keeps them. It is not only for a few days. He remembers for thousands of years, stands by them century after century, and will continue on keeping promises forever. He has called you His friend.
Lord Jesus, help me to hear Your promises. Help me to know that You remember. And help me to build my life around all the amazing promises I have in You. Amen.
Rev. Mark Willig
Pastor Willig is pastor emeritus of Friends in Christ Lutheran Church.