22 August 2022
The fact that our lives, individually and collectively, rest on promises means that our lives are spent waiting, hoping and believing. In between a promise and its fulfillment is a delay, and that delay requires us to live by faith. What makes this so difficult of course is that we know that promises are broken all too often. We see marriages falling apart, employment agreements broken, friendships undermined -but the very next day we get up and make promises again.
We live in a universe created by a God who makes promises; He always keeps His promises although the way and timing He does it may not be the way we expect it.
The story of the Bible is, in one sense, in nothing more than the story of a single promise, made by God Himself, and how He kept and will keep that promise. The story of God’s redemptive activity is structured by promises made and promises kept. There is also apparent delay in God’s promise-keeping, and it is this that brings tension and development to the story. God did not just fix matters right after the fall in the garden of Eden; He did not send Jesus before the flood. And God has not sent Jesus back today…not yet.
If we consider that God is a God of promises, it means that our lives are, by design, lives of waiting. Why the delay, we may ask? We must realise that the real big promises of God that give shape to the whole story are promises that not only commit Him to a future action but that bind Him in relationship to a particular people.
God is not just faithful, keeping His word; He is also personal, entering into relationships with others. The story of God’s actions in history ls a story of mercy and love, as He creates and redeems a people for Himself (seen in the keeping of the covenants God made with man and His people).
Redemptive history is structured by a promise/fulfillment dynamic because man is sinful. We need to be redeemed; there is a problem to be fixed. It reveals that God is a God of mercy as well as justice, a God of love as well as wrath. God’s apparent delay in keeping His promises displays His patience, as He desires for all to come to repentance.
We do not know when God’s patience will come to an end. Now is the time to urge people to repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ. God is not only patient; He is also gracious. He does not just leave us to figure it out – He initiates salvation. But take note that God does not owe us salvation. The promise God has made to save is a promise of pure grace. God is all-powerful, so His promises never fail (Jn. 10:27-30). Anyone who truly repents and trusts in Christ can be certain that God will preserve him until the end. But it does matter how we live. God uses suffering, and even chastisement, to purify His people. God intends the sufferings in our lives for good and He also intends for His people to persevere to the end.