The article comes from Amanda Bible Williams and Raechel Myers’ book She Reads Truth: Holding Tight to Permanent in a World That’s Passing Away (©2016, B&H Publishing Group). Amanda and Raechel lead She Reads Truth, a ministry that helps women reach for their Bibles every day. Learn about the new CSB She Reads Truth Bible.
We learned early into life with Baby No. 1 to be very careful when making promises to children. They can detect a shift in the wind faster than a reputable meteorologist, and they will not hesitate to call you on it.
Now, three kids in, we make only one promise to our children: “I love you always and forever, no matter what.” I know there will be days when even that promise will be tough to keep, but any lesser promise is out of the question. I will not promise to take you to a particular restaurant, because restaurants sometimes close. In fact, I may not promise to take you to a restaurant at all. I will not promise that you can sleep over at your friend’s house next weekend because her family’s plans might change and so may ours. And I will not promise to play that game with you after dinner because you may throw spaghetti at your sister during said dinner. But I will love you, all the time. Period. The end.
God’s promises to us, thankfully, are different than a parent’s promises to her children, not just in substance but in essence. Because God is who He is—good, holy, faithful, just—His promises are, by nature, unbreakable. His promises are part of a covenant, an everlasting, overarching capital-P Promise to His people. He promises are true because the Promise is true.
When I need proof of the Promise—which is every single day—I turn to Scripture. I read Truth.
I read about the God who created mankind from dust and in love, sealing that love with a promise, and not withdrawing when they rebel against Him:
“I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Gen. 3:15)
Spoken by God Himself to the lying serpent that tempted the man and woman to sin, this vow is our first glimpse of the covenant the Creator established with His creation: “I will not leave you to your sin. I will rescue you.”
I see the covenant continue with Noah as a holy God wiped the earth clean of rampant evil, but not before stretching out His hand to cover one imperfect, capable-of-evil family:
“Understand that I am bringing a flood— floodwaters on the earth to destroy every creature under heaven with the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will die. But I will establish My covenant with you, and you will enter the ark with your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives.” (Gen. 6:17–18)
I read, in awe, as God so poetically conveyed His covenant to Abraham, taking him outside to gaze at the stars and saying to him, “Your offspring will be that numerous” (Gen. 15:5).
And then to David, the shepherd boy God plucked from the pasture to rule over Israel, God confirmed His covenant once more:
“The Lord declares to you: Thee Lord Himself will make a house for you. When your time comes and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up after you your descendant, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (2 Sam. 7:11–13)
In the pages of Scripture, we see God’s covenant passed down from generation to generation, perfectly kept along the way and made new in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
At the Last Supper with His disciples, Jesus gave thanks and broke the bread, saying, “This is My body, which is given for you.” Then after supper He took the cup and held it up, saying, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood” (Luke 22:19–20).
The new covenant in Christ still holds, from that supper table in Jerusalem to us here today.
Being human through and through and nothing close to divine, my promises stand weak and wobbly next to the covenant of the almighty God. The closest thing I have to a covenant-caliber promise here on earth are my wedding vows, made on a breezy September afternoon on a hillside in Franklin, Tennessee.
The marriage covenant my husband and I made to each other is not guaranteed to hold, as much as we wish it were and truly believe it will. The glue currently keeping my daughter’s favorite toy together isn’t guaranteed to hold either. “There’s no such thing as a guarantee,” the world generally agrees, and we know from experience that it’s true. But that’s not the stuff wedding homilies are made of. That’s not what we want to believe.
We know promises are good. We know they are meant to be kept. But schedules shift and toys break. Contracts fall through and, heart-breakingly, marriages sometimes do too.
You and I were made for an unbreakable promise. We can have a guarantee. But we won’t find it in the promises we give and take here or earth, or even in a tuxedoed groom. The one true covenant comes from the one true God, and we’ll find it in His Word.