I think all of us make lot's of assumptions, not only about God, but about His promises too. According to biblegateway.com there are 5,467 of them. I've lived long enough to know that not everyone of them come true, mainly because we don't understand the mind of God. For example, God promised to deliver His people from slavery, but He took 400 years to do so. Allow me to share some of what I've learned about God's promises--six things we should know about them, and six things we should do about them. We should know that...
1) Some of His promises aren’t for everybody. In 1 Kings 9:5 God said to Solomon, "For I have made this promise to your father, David, ‘One of your descendants will always sit on the throne of Israel.” That’s a promise limited to David. Many promises in the Bible aren’t for everyone.
2) Secondly, many of God’s promises are conditional. In James 4:7 it says, “Humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.” He’s saying, “There’s victory over temptation, but there are a couple of conditions: 1) You must humble yourself, and 2) You must expend effort to resist the devil. Many of His promises are conditional.
3) Many of God’s promises are unconditional...like Genesis 9:11, “Never again will flood waters kill all living creatures; never again will a flood destroy the earth.” That applies to the whole world, without condition.
4) Promises are are not the same as principles. Pro. 22:6 says that if we train up our children in the ways of the Lord, they will not “depart” from them when they grow up. Many parents claim that as an absolute promise from God, but it really isn't a promise; it's a proverb, and proverbs are principles that are generally reliable. The more we point our children in the right direction, the greater their chances of physical, material, and most importantly, spiritual success...but...there are also exceptions, as we all know.
5) The promises OF God aren’t as wonderful as God Himself. In chapter three of Exodus, God told Moses to go and lead the Exodus. Moses repeatedly said, “No.” God replied over and over, “I am the Lord.” Moses didn’t need to know all the details about the Exodus, but he DID need to know God. One of the great blessings of dealing with difficulties in life is getting to know God intimately. In a sense, the greatest good often comes from the greatest grief. If Israel gets out of Egypt, but doesn’t know God, they’re still slaves; they just don’t have chains. The trials are part of the reward, and God is the prize. He wanted Moses to understand that.
6) Trusting His promises makes us grow deeper. We’ll never really believe in a miracle until we’ve experienced one. We’ll never really believe in deliverance until we’ve been delivered. We’ll never truly understand the power of faithfulness, until we’ve been faithful. Knowing God, and growing in God, are inextricably linked.
Now...what should we do when we don’t understand His promises? (Thanks for saying with me this long; I’ll be brief). There are six things we can do.
1) We should pray. That’s what Moses did. Despite his many worries, he always took them to God. He was pretty good at prayer!
2) Let’s be honest about our doubts. To his credit, Moses told God exactly how he felt; the good, the bad and the ugly. (Read about it in Exodus 3) When life presses in around us and we don’t understand God, we’ve got to be honest with Him. He can handle our honesty, I promise; just read the Psalms and see for yourself.
3) Be realistic. God never promises any of us a rosy life. Paul said, “All who desire to live a Godly life will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). Hebrews 11 is called the “Hall of Faith.” A careful reading of the names listed there will reveal that nearly all of them suffered greatly in one way or another, but they obeyed. Faith is just obedience that doesn’t totally understand.
4) We should press on. Moses felt like giving up, but he didn’t. Think of the things he would’ve missed if he had quit--the Passover, the crossing of the Red Sea, the manna in the wilderness, the water from the rock, and the privilege of receiving the 10 commandments from God Himself, among other things. I think of that verse in John 13:7, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but later, you will.” It’s important to remind ourselves of that sometimes.
5) We should remember the Cross. If we’re gonna survive the confusing times in life when it feels like God has written us off, we need to get really still and look at the Cross. There’s no greater objective evidence in the world that God is for us, not against us. Calvary proves His love.
6) Finally, we should always keep our ultimate destination in mind. Many of God’s promises will be fulfilled in the the next life, not this one. Some are for the here and now---salvation, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the forgiveness of sins. Others we have to wait for--no more pain, no more death, no more sorrow, or crying, or tears.
Every discussion about God keeping His promises needs to happen in the context of what is temporal vs. what’s eternal...one eye here...the other on Heaven. Paul said, “Our citizenship is there.” (Phil. 3:20) We don’t live “happily ever after” the day after we get married; we'll live “happily ever after” when Jesus returns for HIS Bride, the church. As a pastor, Jamin Roller says, “The beauty of the Christian life is not that the happy ending is immediate; it’s that the happy ending is guaranteed.”
Listen friends...we know the final chapter...and by anyone’s definition, it’s going to be a blockbuster ending!