A promise is only as strong as who it is that stands behind it. One’s faith in the promise giver is tested when there is zero evidence that it will ever be fulfilled. Claiming and holding onto promises from God are integral to the life of a believer, even when they appear to be outside of the range of possibility.
This week as we talk about The Covenant, we’ll focus our attention on what they are all based on – a promise from God. We love the promises from God. We derive much satisfaction and peace by claiming the promises that speak to our situations in life.
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:31-33
That one promise alone has soothed the heartache of countless souls. We trust that when we make God our priority, God will provide for the needs of our lives.
And probably one of the most quoted promises heard within church walls is found in the book of Malachi. We regulate our finances by the promise contained in this verse:
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” Malachi 3:10
These and scores of other promises found in the Bible give us strength, guidance and confidence to go through this life. Yet there are times when the fulfillment of a promise from God seems absolutely impossible. And the memory text this week, Jeremiah 31:31, in its historical setting, was outside of the realm of plausibility.
Judah would soon be taken captive and Jerusalem destroyed. So complete would be the overthrow of Jerusalem that it would be humanly improbable to have any hope that one day the city would be rebuilt and occupied. Yet God promised to do just that.
“Now therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, ‘It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence’: Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. They shall be My people, and I will be their God.” Jeremiah 32:36-38
Yes, even after being scattered abroad because of the sins of generations, their city destroyed and taken as captives to a foreign land, they received a promise that God would one day restore. During those dark days a promise would be all they would have to give them hope. They would need to have trust in the Promise Giver alone.
God still operates that way. He has given us promises that to all appearances seem undoable. As humans we can only see today, and we base our tomorrow on what today has brought. We often fear for the future because we see no evidence that God can do the impossible for us.
We ask ourselves, will God come through for me? Has God forsaken me, or have my sins disqualified me from His mercy? Our issues are pressing, and we begin to fear that God has passed us by. Doubt and despondency find a place deep within our hearts and a peace that passes all understanding is a distant dream.
The disciples, after the crucifixion of Christ, went through this kind of dark place in their experience. They had just lived through the murder of their leader. They had fully expected that Jesus would be king. They knew of His spotless life, his untiring service to others, and yet, He was put to death as a common thief. They were devastated. And they could not see how His promises to them could never be fulfilled.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3
It was not until after Our Lord’s ascension that the disciples understood the fulfillment of this and other promises He made to them. While they were in the midst of the storm of life, they could not see these rays of light from the Son.
So too we, often weighed down by the cares of this life, fail to see the rays of hope from the Son. His promises may seem out of reach for us. It may seem that we are all alone. It may seem that we are forgotten. But that is the farthest thing from the truth.
“For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:4-6
That’s a promise we can hold onto.
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does a promise mean to you?
- What does a covenant mean to you?
- Is it true that all of God’s promises to us are based on conditions? Explain your answer.
- Is it true that if a promise from God is not being fulfilled in your life, there must be something wrong/sinful in your life? Explain your answer.
- Is it true that being prosperous is a sure sign of God fulfilling promises to you? Why yes or no?
- What does it mean to live by faith?
- If I continue to pray about something after I already asked God previously, does that mean that I don’t have enough faith? Why yes or no?
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: Mature Christians never doubt God. Explain your answer.
We close this week’s lesson with a promise from Jesus. Especially in this dark period of earth’s history, we can find comfort in these words:
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18-20
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School.