God's faithfulness is proven through his promises. 


For the week of November 29, 2014 / 7 Kislev 5775
Torah: Bereshit/Genesis 28:10 - 32:3 (English 28:10 - 32:2)
Haftarah: Hosea 12:13 - 14:10 (English 12:12 - 14:9)

God Is Faithful

And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, "I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." (Bereshit/Genesis 28:13-15)

God is faithful to his promises

In order to understand the Bible, there is a key concept that we have to reckon with. It's the concept that allows us to apply what we learn about how God relates to people. It's the concept that tells us that God not only communicates to people, but makes promises to them, promises that he keeps. He may be unpredictable, but he is absolutely dependable.

One of the things that makes the story of Jacob so instructive is that he was the complete opposite. His approach to life was such that he couldn't be trusted. He manipulated people and circumstances to his advantage whenever it best suited him. While he was in line to receive the blessings of God as promised to his grandfather, Abraham, and his father, Isaac, he strove for his inheritance as if God was just like him.

While not everyone puts the kind of effort into life that Jacob did, we have a tendency to think of God in similar ways. Many don't believe in God at all, leaving them at the mercy of the forces of life. But of those who do believe in a Supreme Being, even a benevolent one, I wonder if we grasp how dependable he really is. This is where a story like this is so helpful.

God told Jacob that he would give the land, then called Canaan, to him and his offspring and that, not only would his descendants, the people of Israel (the name God would give him), be numerous, but that all the families of the earth would be blessed in them. God determined that he would accomplish his purposes in and through Jacob and his descendants no matter what. The outworking of this is the biblical theme upon which everything else depends.

Like Jacob, his descendants would tend to do their own thing in their own way. Even though they disregarded God's word over and over again, his faithfulness was never in question. While countless individuals failed (and still fail) to fully benefit from God's faithfulness, he remains faithful to his promises.

When the nation was in oppressive bondage in Egypt, God rescued them because of his prior promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see Shemot/Exodus 2:24). The subsequent national covenant made with them through Moses at Mt. Sinai anticipated their breaking it, but included the possibility of their restoration also because of these same promises (see Vayikra/Leviticus 26:40-42).

Tragically much of Christendom to this day disregards God's faithfulness to Israel. It's tragic because first, Christians claim to adhere to the whole Bible, including the Hebrew Scriptures. So by denying the ongoing relevance of these promises, or even worse, misappropriating them by seeking to establish the Church as the "true" or "new" Israel twists the Scriptures. As Gentile recipients of the blessings promised to the patriarchs, to then tell their natural descendants that their promises no longer belong to them is arrogant (see Romans 11:18).

It is also tragic because by denying the ongoing nature of these promises to natural Israel, there is no basis for God's ongoing faithfulness to anyone else. For if God can cancel or redirect his promises in one instance, what stops him from doing so again…and again?

Thankfully, this is not the case. God is faithful. He means what he says and will remain true to his promises. As in the case of Jacob, as it has been and will continue to be with the Jewish people, so it can also be with you, if you put your trust in the Messiah Yeshua.

Unless otherwise noted, scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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