“Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.”Joshua 23:14
These words were spoken by Joshua, Israel’s faithful leader. They were spoken in his old age, shortly before he died. He could speak them because he knew from experience what God had done for His people. He knew that God always did what He had promised and that one could count on the promises of God. The Word of God has thousands of promises, and we, His children, are the heirs of every one of these promises. Oh what a wonderful privilege is ours!
God is teaching His children patience when He lets them wait for the fulfillment of some of these promises. Abraham was already an old man when God promised him a son and even told him that all nations on earth would be blessed through his seed, and that his seed would become as numerous as the sand on the seashore. It may have seemed as if God wanted to undermine His promise when He asked Abraham to sacrifice his own son. The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that Abraham died without seeing the promise fulfilled. Yet he did not doubt that God would do what He said. And how wonderfully the promise has been fulfilled!
The Promise of a Savior
God put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and gave them a command that they did not obey. After they had sinned and God drove them from the garden, He promised them a Savior. They, however, did not see this promise fulfilled. Many generations came and went, and the Savior still had not come. They offered sacrifices for their sins, yet these could not save them from sin. Had God forgotten His promise?
No, “when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law” (Galatians 4:4-5). Doubtless, perhaps most of the people had forgotten about the promise, but not God. One night, heavenly messengers appeared to the shepherds in the fields and proclaimed: “there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). The shepherds came and saw the Messiah, the Savior promised long ago. He was the one that bruised the head of the serpent as God had promised Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15). At times, the promise seemed to be in jeopardy. Herod tried to kill the Christ child, but God kept Him safe. During His earthly ministry, Jesus was rejected and would repeatedly depart from a place where they sought to kill Him. Then came that horrible death on the cross, followed by the tomb. Yet, did the promise come to naught? No, praise God, Christ is our risen and exalted Savior, who still today is able to save from all sin!
The Promise of the Holy Spirit
“And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh” (Joel 2:28a). After this promise had been given, 800 years passed, and the Holy Spirit still had not come. Before His ascension, Jesus commanded His disciples to remain in Jerusalem until they had received the promise of the Father. In Acts 2:1, we read: “when the day of Pentecost had fully come,” not one day earlier and not a day later, the Holy Spirit came and filled the whole house. The Comforter had come! And what a tremendous change had come over the disciples! Peter, who had been so timid and previously denied his Lord before a servant girl, now stood and testified with fiery confidence. The promise of the Holy Spirit is still there for us today. Praise the Lord!
The Promise Concerning the Church
Jesus said: “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). His promise is true. Christ did build His Church, a light in this dark world. Its special characteristics included purity, unity, and power. Multitudes were saved from their sins, and great miracles were done. But this glory only lasted a short time. The light diminished, and darkness moved in. Instead of unity, there was strife, dissension, and disunity. The precious teachings of our Lord Jesus were no longer upheld. Traditions and doctrines of men came to be taught instead. Vanity and the love of the world crept in. Those who still worshiped God in Spirit and truth went underground because they feared for their lives. This condition lasted hundreds of years. What had happened to the promise? Did the Lord Himself not say that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church? Yes, praise God, the Church once again became visible and began to shine as a light in the world. The wonderful truth of salvation is openly and freely preached, and the redeemed of the Lord are returning to the spiritual unity of the Church.
The Promise of the Second Coming
Before His ascension, Jesus told His disciples that He would come again. Since this promise was given, about 2000 years have already passed, and He has not returned yet. But when the time was fulfilled, God sent His Son into the world at His first coming. When the day of Pentecost was fulfilled, the Holy Spirit came. In the same way, the Father has set the day when Jesus will come again. We do not know the hour, nor the day of His coming, but we know that He will return. The promises of God always come to pass because they are given by our unchanging God.
There are many scoffers in the world, as was the case when Peter lived “saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation’”(2 Peter 3:4). Let the unbelievers mock. God’s promises remain sure. When the Lord returns, “every eye will see him” (Revelation 1:7).