Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.
- Joshua 21:45
The Israelites had finally made it into the Promised Land. It took 40 years of wondering frustrated in the desert, over 400 years of oppression and slavery in Egypt, and three patriarchal generations to get here. What a journey it was! Now, the land had been conquered and allotted, and the people were settling in. As the Israelites looked back on their history as a people, they couldn’t do so without seeing the promises of God shining through it all like the sun that stood still in Gibeon. He had been faithful. He had brought them what he promised. He had been God.
I love this passage because of what is says about the promises of God. Not one word failed. Not one. The Lord isn’t just faithful over most of his promises, but all of them. Nothing the Lord says will ever fail. It cannot fail. If it were to fail it would un-God him. The Christian life is met with so many struggles that it leads many to doubt the promises of God but the Bible says we need not to. Our disbelief in God is unwarranted. He’s God and he’s proven it time and time again. If the Bible does one thing for us, it shows us the faithfulness of our God. He’s never failed, even when it looked like he would.
The prophets spoke words of doom to the people of God when life was chugging along like a Spring Break party on the beach. Nothing seemed that it could go wrong. Yet, God’s mouthpieces spoke impending doom to the people. And it happened. They also spoke words of restoration and hope to the people of God when life was at its most bitter end. When they could see nothing but darkness on the horizon, God said it wasn’t the end of the story. And it wasn’t. Restoration came.
As the disciples stood at the cross, or hid themselves in fear, or watched from afar, they thought it was all over. Perhaps Jesus wasn’t the Lord. After all, Lords don’t die, right? His death surely could not bring anything good. Just like the Israelites in the wilderness so long ago, they may have grumbled a bit, they may not have fully trusted, though they had seen his glory. They were confused. They were hurt. They were hungry and saw the bread of life losing his life on the tree. They were thirsty and saw the one who promised they’d never thirst again losing all liquid in his body as the blood poured out onto the ground below. The sun went away and the earth shook. Surely this could not be the apex for which Jesus lived. This had to be merely the end of a promising life. This was the end of all their hopes and dreams. No reigning king. No kingdom of heaven. No Promised Land.
But the way God works is not like man. As Jesus was hanging on the cross, losing his life, it was as if God was saying yet again, “I am doing a work in your time that you would not believe if told.” (Habakkuk 1:5) Yet this time, he was not sending an army of wicked Babylonians to justly destroy his people, but sending a perfect savior to unjustly die to save his people. He was the savior, it just didn’t look like they expected. He was much better. He was the once and for all sacrifice. He was the spotless lamb on the altar. This was the pinnacle of the most perfect life showing the most perfect love at the hand of the most perfect God. He shed light on all the promises before and when he rose from the grave three days later, he gave hope, nay surety, to all the promises of the future.
“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.” (2 Corinthians 1:20) Because of Christ, as we look back on our history, we can’t do so without seeing the promises of God shining through it all like the sun that stood still in Gibeon. He has been faithful. He has brought us what he promised. He has been God. And he will be for eternity. Oh, what a Savior!