Think about this question: How many times have I failed to keep a promise I have made? We are all human, and I’m sure that everyone has broken his or her word at least once. I have even broken many promises that I’ve made to myself. I bought a gym membership because I promised myself that I would go to the gym at least three times per week, but within three months I was having a good week if I even made it once. Sometimes a broken promise is out of our control. Parents often promise their kids that they will get good grades if they study hard and keep up with their homework, but sometimes their children just truly don’t understand the material.
The promises of God will mean more to us if we know Him personally.
God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself fully known to them.” – Exodus 6:2-3 (NIV)
What God is saying here is “I AM YAHWEH. Before now, you only know Me as God Almighty, but now I want you to know Me by My Name, Yahweh.” God wants the Israelites to know Him personally, not just as a God who made a promise to their ancestors.
If God Almighty was true to the covenant that He made with their ancestors, how much more can they rely on Him now that He has given them His personal name? Take this for example: I know that the fire department is there to protect me in case of a fire. I have seen them protecting the neighborhood when a building started collapsing on my street. How much more faith do I have in the fire department since I personally know the fire chief. His name is Jack Davin, and I was a friend of his daughter’s in high school. Since that time, we have grown to become friends. He has been a part of this church for as long as I can remember, and I he serves here on the safety team. I have a sense of security both here at church and at home because I know he is around, and he has promised me that he would be at my house in a moments notice if there should ever be a problem. A promise holds more weight when you know someone personally.
God will fulfill His promises even if we think He has forgotten us.
“I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.” – Exodus 6:4-5 (NIV)
Here you see that God is showing that He is God Almighty, the One who made the covenant with the patriarchs. He has heard the cries of His people. When someone doesn’t follow through on a promise they made, what is our natural reaction? We get mad at them or at least complain about it.
The Israelites were groaning. They were complaining that God Almighty had forgotten His promise. By saying that God has remembered His covenant, it is important to realize that He is not saying that He somehow forgot what He promised. He is saying that He is going to act on His promise. God’s love never fails. Psalm 136 proclaims that truth in every verse… twenty-six times: “His love endures forever.”
“For He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” – Hebrews 13:5b-6 (NIV)
Read to how Oswald Chambers responds to those verses (My Utmost For His Highest, June 4):
“I will never leave you . . .”— not for any reason; not my sin, selfishness, stubbornness, nor waywardness. Have I really let God say to me that He will never leave me? If I have not truly heard this assurance of God, then let me listen again.
“I will never . . . forsake you.” Sometimes it is not the difficulty of life but the drudgery of it that makes me think God will forsake me. When there is no major difficulty to overcome, no vision from God, nothing wonderful or beautiful— just the everyday activities of life— do I hear God’s assurance even in these?
The promise of God to redeem His people has been fulfilled in Jesus.
If you feel like God has forgotten you, remember what Jesus told Jarius when news arrived of his daughter’s death. “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” When you are struggling to believe the promises of God, repeat what the father of the demon possessed boy said in Mark 9:24, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Even the original disciples were called out by Jesus as having little faith.
“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.’” – Exodus 6:6-7
At first this just seems like a promise to finally free the Israelites from slavery, but there is much more to it than that. God just got done saying that He is Yahweh and He is going to take action regarding His covenant, and now He is declaring that He is the One True God with the power to free His people. God wanted the Israelites to know Him, but He also wanted everyone else to know who He is and who His people are.
Notice that He makes a point to say that He will redeem His people “with an outstretched arm”. This imagery can be traced to Egyptian art and literature whereas Pharaoh was often depicted with his arm stretched out to signify his power. Can you think of any other time when someone’s power is shown with outstretched arms?
You can see it in the WWE sometimes when a wrestler is taunting another. The imagery of an eagle with outstretched wings is often used to depict power. I think the most amazing display of power is when Jesus’ arms were stretched out on the cross as he took on the weight of all the sins of humanity.
With an outstretched arm and mighty acts of judgment, Yahweh would redeem the Israelites and take them as His own people. The arm of Pharaoh would no longer bring oppression on them. With outstretched arms on the cross, Jesus became the propitiation for our sins so that we might be redeemed to the Father. The bondage of sin has been broken and Satan has no power over us.
Every covenant that God ever made was about redeeming His people to Himself. He made a covenant with Abraham that he would father a nation. God renewed this covenant with the generations that followed, and acted on it when He redeemed His people from slavery in Egypt. The covenant made at Mount Sinai emphasized human responsibility, but still pointed towards God’s people being His treasured possession.
The problem with these covenants from the Old Testament is that humanity could not fully honor it. Hebrews 9:9-10 notes the deficiency of the Old Covenant because it is made of rules for humanity that cannot perfect the human heart. Jesus Christ came as the New Covenant and rendered the Old Covenant obsolete. Our relationship with God is now based on Jesus Christ, who died as a ransom to set us free from the bondage of sins that we committed under the Old Covenant.
Romans 3:23 says that everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. None of us can ever live up to the standards set in God’s original covenant with mankind. The encouraging thing about the Old Covenant is that God was willing to sacrifice His own life in order to fulfill His promise of redemption. And so we look to Jesus Christ as the New Covenant.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. – Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)