Keeping covenants and promises with God
It is a new year! That means many of us make New Year’s resolutions. Typically these are for our benefit regarding our health, money choices, careers, family, and our future. But what about those promises or covenants you have made with God? Have you renewed those too? If so, perhaps this time write them down, and put them in a prominent place, so that they can be seen every day. If you haven’t made any promises to God, that is OK. This is a personal decision for your growth, for however deep you want to be in your faith walk with the Lord. Remember though, He has already made a covenant with you.
This word covenant means: “a solemn agreement between two or more people to do or not to do something specified, a conditional promise.”
There are two types of covenants: obligatory and promissory. God to man and man to God use the promissory type, and that is what we will be looking at today.
First, let’s review some of the most prominent promises of God from the Old Testament. Then we will visit what they mean for us, and how we can keep our promises to Him.
1,600 years after Adam was created, God made a covenant with Noah as well as with the animals, and He has not gone back on His word:
“Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This shall be a sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations; I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”
About 450 years later God made a covenant with Abraham regarding the future of his family line, via Isaac, and their land. He said,
“I am God Almighty, walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”
Then Abram fell on his face. And God said,
“Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations…I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”
And God said to Abraham,
“As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations…As for Sarah your wife, I will bless her and give you a son by her…you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.”
Genesis 17:1-4, 6-9, 15, 19.
Enter Moses. It was another approximately 450 years when God made a covenant with him and the Israelites. In this agreement, God promised to protect them and keep them if they kept His law, were circumcised, and were faithful to Him. It was accompanied by signs, sacrifices, and a solemn oath that sealed the relationship with promises of blessings for keeping it, and curses for breaking it.
Following this, Moses led the Israelites in the wilderness for about 40 years. During that time, the people roller-coastered in their faith. They had high moments with God, and they had extreme low moments. All this time, the Lord knew they would struggle with keeping their end of the deal. They had made pledges and promises, to remain faithful to Him, but then they made false god-like images and worshipped them. They doubted His involvement, they doubted His faithfulness to them, they complained about His provisions, and they wandered far from His face. But the whole time, God was with them, not letting their clothes wear out, or their sandals ruin, or their stomachs go hungry. He provided for their every need. He did this because He made a covenant with Moses.
As the first generation of the Hebrew people died off and their children were growing up, it was time to prepare them for the Promised Land. So next came a word from the Lord through Moses:
“The Lord God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you soul and that you may live.”
This process of male circumcision, although painful, especially for the older males, was also what set them apart from other nations. This was their mark, proof of who their God was. But they still had to love and serve I AM Himself, and no other gods.
Then the Lord made such a great promise to David when he was king of Israel, that even today we are blessed by it:
“…And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more…When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him…and your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.”
2 Samuel 7: 9b-10a, 12-15a, 16.
The beauty of these final words are 2-fold; they speak about King Solomon, as well as Jesus. This was prophetic for then and for Jesus’ time. It spoke of both Solomon and Jesus simultaneously. David’s kingdom did not endure very long due to the sins of his son and his grandsons, but this eternal kingdom is about so much more – the kingdom of God ruled by His son Jesus Christ, who is in reality a grandson (27 generations later) of David’s.
Here is where this is all headed: Our Heavenly Father has kept His promises to every man He ever made a promise to. These examples of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David, and the Israelite people prove He is faithful, as He is to us today, but He asks in return that we remain faithful to Him. This is our daily struggle. But this is our part of the greatest promise in our lifetime – far greater than even our marriage covenant with our spouse! The rewards of being God’s faithful servant, steward and child, is endless, timeless, and makes us completely spotless in His eyes!!
Our God knows that we are going to mess up, that we are going to go back on our word. It does not surprise Him. He already knows everything. But it should shock us, to recognize that we can be weak, overcome, and lazy, that we don’t maintain our word, our deal, our promise to God. Whatever that promise may be, we MUST do our part to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. He does that for us, and has since the beginning of time.
So if you haven’t renewed your commitment to love and serve the Lord this way, TODAY is the perfect time to reconnect with Him, to seek forgiveness, and step up to the plate of promise. Take a picture of your hand on His WORD, and make that solemn vow to God today. Or write it down and put it in a prominent place. This is such a powerful, personal, and promising way to start off 2019.
“If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”
“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and repays to their face those that hate him, by destroying them….You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statues the I command you today. And because you listen to these rules and keep and do them, the Lord your God will keep you with the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers. He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of the ground…”
Food for thought: When we don’t keep our word, that indicates we don’t value the other person as much as ourselves. It shows us to be of poor quality and our word to be unreliable.
Fun(?) facts: “All I did was pray to God, every day. In prison camp, the main prayer was, ‘Get me home alive, God, and I’ll seek you and serve you.’ I came home, got wrapped up in the celebration, and forgot about the hundreds of promises I’d made to God.”
Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Making a vow