“So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. The Lord gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass” (Joshua 21:43-45).
Have you ever been disappointed when someone made a promise to you and failed to keep it? I imagine we all have felt that. There is an old German proverb which says, “Nothing weighs lighter than a promise”. Because of the disappointment of unfulfilled promises made to them, many place little faith when a person makes a promise to them.
However, God’s promises are not like man’s promises. God keeps His Promises. As the opening verses above indicate, Joshua had just finished dividing up the conquered Promised Land among the tribes of Israel. Please notice what it says near the end of the above quoted passage: “Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass” (Joshua 21:45). God had kept the promises He had made to Israel!
God fulfilled His promises even in the midst of what would appear to be impossible circumstances. God had promised Abraham that His descendants would inherit the land of Canaan (Gen 12:7). However, at the time Abraham was a 75-year-old man with no children. Abraham might have thought, “How would God be able to keep this promise given to me a man as old as I am without any descendants?” Years later, before this land promise is fulfilled, Abraham’s descendants are slaves in Egypt. Again, an Israelite may have thought, “I guess God isn't going to keep the promises he made to our fathers?” But, as the opening verses indicates, God kept His promises. Not a word failed.
Furthermore, God kept His promise to give Israel the Promised Land even in the midst of multiple failures on Israel’s part. After leaving Egypt, Israel sins by worshipping the golden calf (Exodus 32). Throughout their journey towards the Promised Land, they are constantly complaining against God. Eventually, their unbelief causes them to reject the good report of Joshua and Caleb about the Promised Land and to follow the evil report of the other 12 spies (Numbers 13-14). As a result, their punishment is to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Again, many of God’s people might have wondered, “Because of our failures, I guess God will not keep His promises.” However, God fulfilled his promises even in the midst of multiple failures on His people’s part.
When I consider all of these things, it awesome how God keeps the promises He makes to us. No wonder Peter said that God has “…given to us exceedingly great and precious promises…” (2 Peter 1:4). The Hebrew writer tells us, “Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:17-18). We have a strong consolation in the promises God has made to us because we know He will keep the promises He makes to us.
David Nicholas said, “God’s promises are like the stars; the darker the night the brighter they shine”. Today, I will rejoice that God keeps the promises He makes to me!
“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:3-4).