Promise – a declaration/assurance someone will do a specific thing or that something will happen.
From early childhood on we become acquainted with the word promise. Children offer promises to parents as well as peers and often do so without a true understanding of the word or the responsibility it carries with it to follow through. Too many times it is offered hastily in exchange for something we desire at the moment.
That view of a promise can go with us throughout early adulthood and beyond. We seem to have accepted an arbitrary view of our commitment, promise, or pledge that reflects behavior that says, “as long as it works for me.” That reveals how self-focused the offer of a promise has become. Are consequences so rare that we fail to see this?
There was a time when a man’s word was worth a great deal and major commitments or deals were closed face-to-face with a handshake. Later yet something might be offered as a pledge identifying the one who promised. There were no lengthy documents written in legalese and sealed by a notary.
It’s very sad that a man’s word is no longer his bond as once was common. Back when those words were routinely used it meant that when the word was offered the man would do it without questions and severe consequences were possible if the word was broken. In some cultures, it meant his soul was bound to that word.
Pie crust promises are more common today – promises easily made and easily broken. So, too, with pinky promises.
Is it any wonder that trust is hard to give in our modern-day world?
Promises spoken before a beautifully clothed group of friends and family on a wedding day are forgotten within a short period and our courts are littered with divorce and child custody cases among those who profess a religious faith as well as those who don’t. That happens with business deals, organizations of all kinds, politicians, and companies who loudly proclaim promises of what their products can do and more
I think it reflects societies that are absent of honor and respect that are lived out and offered to others out of a set of values and ethics accepted by all as the norm for how we treat one another
It’s little wonder that some have difficulty believing the promises offered by those of faith or those who state a belief in the words of the Bible and God. Lack of honor, respect, and pledges have been eroded to the point of unbelief.
One of the significant values of reading the Bible and knowing what it says from beginning to end is how you can trace the promises made and given in multiple places that are then lived out. It’s one of the benefits of studying history as well as studying it to learn from mistakes made in the past.
Some might wonder if we can really trust those old stories and old pledges made and kept, but the pattern of them in the Bible is clear with an abundance of examples.
Let’s consider just one example.
At the Seder Passover (Last Supper) Jesus speaks plainly to his closest friends and disciples about what is about to happen to Him, with them, and what He will do. They were consistent with many prophecies of the Old Testament, but still a big leap as the disciples listened to Him.
They had seen Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, heal many, walk on water, and demonstrate who He was miracle-after-miracle, but now He was telling them they would leave his side when push came to shove, He would be murdered through a brutal crucifixion, and then before He ascended into heaven would meet them on the other side of these events.
No one had seen or heard of anything like this before, but Jesus was telling them directly what they could expect and what was true. He in essence made a promise to them that He would see them again this side of heaven.
How could that be?
Jesus leaves them a demonstration of a powerful truth:
“My Covenant is greater than your commitment.”
He loved these men who had walked with Him during his three years of earthly ministry and He wanted to assure them his promises were sure. They could count on them being kept. And why was that so important?
Because it gave them hope to hold onto when He breathed his last breath and was closed up in a tomb.
God, Jesus, is not only a Covenant Maker, but a Covenant Keeper.
He loves those who are his now and his promise to come back for us is as sure as his promise to meet the disciples after his resurrection.
Promise made – promise kept = HOPE!