Even little children know the great and precious value of a promise. Dad and mom’s commitment to go to the park or the ice cream shop is a reason for hope. But a thunderstorm can rain out the picnic at the playground. Disappointment reigns when the shop closes early. Broken promises can bring tears. Even the best of parents sometimes break their promises due to circumstances beyond their control.
But God never does. The Bible tells us, “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Num. 23:19)” The implied answer is no. God never breaks his word. His commitments are kept. His promises always come true.
Inheritance According to the Promise
As if that truth isn’t amazing enough in itself, the Bible shows us something even more dazzling. You see, when God’s promises come true, the fulfillment is bigger and better and more surprising than you’d think. When I wrote the Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible, one of the most interesting and enjoyable stories to tell was the story of Jacob and Esau from Genesis 25:19–34. That story illustrates how God often keeps his promises is incredibly surprising ways. Here’s an excerpt from the Bible storybook:
God promised [to Isaac and Rebecca], “You will have two baby boys—twins. And here is another surprise—the BIG brother will serve the LITTLE brother.” Before the boys were born, God chose the little brother.
The dream came true. Isaac and Rebekah had two boys. Jacob was the little brother. He liked to stay inside to help his mother cook. Esau was bigger and stronger than Jacob. He liked to hunt for food outside with this father. But who did God choose? God’s didn’t choose the strongest.
God’s choice is a surprise. Before the boys were born, God chose Jacob.
One day, Jacob cooked some delicious red stew. Esau was tired and hungry. Esau said, “Jacob, give me some of that stew.” Jacob didn’t share right away. Jacob was jealous and tricky. Jacob said to Esau, “I will give it to you if you let me take your place and be the big brother.” That wasn’t a kind thing to say. But God didn’t choose the nicest brother. God chose Jacob.
Esau said, “I’m so hungry. You can be the big brother.” Esau sold Jacob his special place in the family for a bowl of stew. God’s promise came true. The big brother served the little brother.
Did you know? God doesn’t choose the strongest or the best. God chooses people who need him. He chooses weak and sinful people like Jacob, and you, and me. Thank you, God, for your surprising choice!
God’s surprising promises amaze us! You see, by standing on the promises, God’s people live out his purposes. By pointing to the promises given throughout the pages of the Bible, we can help our children to see how people like Noah and Esther bet their lives in hope that God would be true to his word.
He was, and he is. We can help the next generation to see how God’s promises gave Abraham the courage to leave his country, gave Moses the confidence to plead before God’s face, and gave Jonathan the resolve to lay down his kingdom for his friend. They’ll see that no amount of rebellion or stubbornness in Pharaoh, Balaam, or Nebuchadnezzar could keep the promise from advancing. And most importantly, they’ll see that because God made promises, we can be saved.
Peter tells us that we are made partakers of the divine nature through these very great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:3–4). It’s startling. Through God’s promises, we share in the life of God himself. Paul helps us see how this can be. When the fullness of time came, God gave us himself as the perfect fulfillment of all his commitments: “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ” (2 Cor. 1:20). In Jesus, God’s purposes for you never get rained out. Every man, woman, and child who trusts in Jesus, the Promised One, will find in him the new life, new family, and new home that God promised from the beginning.
My prayer is that our youngest children will come to know that God has spoken promises for them, that he keeps those promises, and that the way he keeps them is both surprising and life changing.
Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared at the blog for Credo Magazine and is used with permission.