“But dad, you promised!”
I hate breaking a promise to my kids. I do everything in my power not to promise them something that I cannot deliver. But, on occasion, something unforeseen will happen and I’ll have to eat crow and tell my kids that I cannot do what I said I was going to do. I hate those moments, and so do my kids.
However, my kids aren’t always disappointed when I break a promise. In fact, they are ecstatic when I don’t come through on my promise of discipline. As a side note, I try to make these times just as rare as breaking other promises.
Saying “Kids, we are going to the zoo on Saturday” is a promise. But so is, “Kids, if you do not clean your room, then you will not have internet privileges.” Likewise, the promises of God are not just promises to visit us with favor and blessings. There is another side to the promises of God.
I attempted to make this point the other day as I preached through Exodus. We see God’s faithfulness on full display in the story of the Exodus. We see that God is faithful to His promise to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. They would have been content, it seems, with half redemption. But God had promised full and complete redemption, and he would stop at nothing until it was achieved.
But there is another side to the promises of God that is also clearly evident in the Exodus. God had promised that He was going to display His power in the life of Pharaoh. God promised that if the king of Egypt did not let His firstborn go, then he was going to bring justice upon the firstborn of every family in Egypt. The faithfulness of God means that he keeps both promises.
What all of this means is God is faithful to His promise that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But he’s also faithful to His promise that “there is only one name under heaven by which men will be saved” and that “unless you too repent, you will likewise perish.”
Believing the promises of God propels us to worship and to express thankfulness for His faithfulness to restore, redeem, and rescue us from bondage. But it also propels us to mission, because we know the faithfulness of God means that if sinners do not hear the gospel and repent, they will perish. And that’s a promise.