Our world is woven together by thousands of promises. Every day men and women make promises to each other, to themselves and even to God. Every promise is like the delicate and invisible thread of a vast and complex web, meant to ensure stability in an unpredictable and uncertain world.
When a promise is kept, the thread spun in promise holds. When a promise is broken, the thread snaps and a relationship is wounded. At times, despite our best intentions, circumstances may render our promises impossible to keep; more often than not, we change our mind or find it simply too difficult to keep our commitment. Michelangelo, one of the finest Italian sculptors and architects of the 16th Century, appreciated the value and strength of immovable structures, yet recognised that “the promises of this world are, for the most part, vain phantoms.”
And while we may have lost confidence in man-made promises, the Bible tells us of the one true God, who in His perfection makes promises that are truthful, authoritative and certain. They are not mere words. They speak of a commitment that assures us that what has been promised will always come about. This has been evident from the early days of our history.
The very first promise was made at the gates of the Garden of Eden. God made man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:27) and blessed them (Genesis 1:28). This first blessing was a promise to Adam and Eve that He would provide, love and care for them. As He made this promise God also established a covenantal relationship with humanity and held man responsible for holding his side of the covenant by obeying a single command:
“You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
The covenant came with a warning that – if broken – would turn fellowship into separation, life into death.
It wasn't long before we failed to keep our part; the perfect relationship was fractured.
Yet, in His great love, God did not allow for Adam and Eve’s disobedience to mark the end of His covenant. He continued to remain in relationship with humanity, seeking the deceitful and unreliable people He created. He made promises through leaders like Abraham, Moses and Joshua to renew His covenantal love with Israel. He further promised that one day He would make all things right by sending a savior. The prophets announced the coming of the Messiah hundreds of years before His birth. Jesus was the promised Savior. It is through His death on the cross that the sins of humanity were paid for in full, and it is because of His resurrection that Paul claims emphatically that “all the promises of God find their yes in Him” (2 Corinthians 1:20). In other words, the promises of God for reconciliation with a sinful and broken humanity are fulfilled in His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the seal of our faith to this day.
Jesus, in turn, made promises to His people. He promised to provide for the needy, to fill the empty, to free the anxious, to uplift the weary, to comfort the discouraged, to inspire the faithful, and to be present with the lonely.
In the series Promises, we will explore eight promises of Christ.
Just like the people Jesus met in his day, our hearts can be burdened with uncertainty and despair. Jesus' promises are all at once the greatest source of solace, the strongest reason for trust and the most powerful weapon against unbelief. Because Jesus is the Son of God, we have full assurance that what He promised, He will fulfil. As we explore these promises, we will be challenged to believe them, heed our responsibility and walk by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.