Great is Thy faithfulness,
O God my Father.
There is no shadow
Of turning with Thee.
At the beginning of this year, some friends and I decided to read through the Bible together. We’re using a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan I found in the back of my Bible; nothing complicated, just straight through from Genesis to Revelation (although I’m going to start reading a Psalm every day too; since, you know, Leviticus is coming up).
So in recent weeks I’ve been in Genesis and Exodus. The stories are ones I’ve known since before I can even remember – Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses; heavenly ladders and burning bushes and descendants like stars. But somehow as I read through them in order, just trying to take it all in, I saw God in a new light. The history of Genesis and Exodus reveals God’s character more than I would have imagined.
More than anything else, I saw His faithfulness. See, Genesis 12 begins with a promise.
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
God promised Abraham a land, a nation, and a blessing. And all of Genesis – and the rest of the Bible – after those verses records the fulfillment of that promise. The keeping of a covenant which God swore, which would be fulfilled regardless of any human fear or failure.
The Men God Used
Abraham is remembered for his faith (James 2:23); but that faith didn’t always hold strong. When he went to Egypt, he lied to Pharaoh about his wife. When Sarah became tired of waiting for a son, he consented to her request and had a child by Hagar.
Jacob was a scoundrel and a thief. He stole his brother’s birthright and blessing, barely escaping Esau’s murderous vengeance.
Joseph was probably a bit of an arrogant, goody-two-shoes as a teenager. He, too, was almost killed by his brothers, sold as a slave, falsely accused and thrown into prison.
Moses was another who almost died. A child of a time when any Jewish male would be killed as soon as they were born, he was raised as an Egyptian; then he murdered one man in defense of another and fled to the wilderness, where he lived for forty years.
And yet, God kept His promise to every one of these men. Abraham was the father of a nation; Jacob bore twelve sons – the future tribes of Israel. Joseph’s trials became the salvation of many, including his own family; and Moses was the reluctant leader God chose to deliver His people.
A Wandering People
The children of Israel were (and are) God’s chosen people. They are the descendants promised to Abraham, the nation from whom the Deliverer was destined to come.
But they didn’t always follow God.
Time and time again, they turned away. They worried, they grumbled, they even threatened to stone the leaders who had led them out of slavery in Egypt. And as soon as Moses left, they started worshiping a golden calf. God became angry, He threatened to destroy them, in His justice He punished their disobedience; but He didn’t leave them, and He never went back on His promise.
Yet He Is Faithful
He is a God of faithfulness. He keeps His promises.
He promises that He is with us always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
So even when I feel far from Him, He is with me. And even when some of my best friends are halfway across the country, and I don’t know if I’ll see them again on this earth, He is with me.
He promises that we have eternal life, and no one can snatch us from His hand (John 10:28)
So when I’ve messed up – again – I know that still He will never let me go.
He promises that He will finish the good work which He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).
So when I’ve failed in the same way for the tenth time today, I know that He isn’t finished. When I can’t seem to break out of this bad habit, I know that He is still working, and He will keep working until I become like Him.
The God we serve is a God who is perfectly faithful. The promises He made will endure beyond such time as everything we’ve ever known upon this earth is changed or lost or made anew. Such a God it is who saved us; such a God we trust.
Have you ever read through the whole Bible? Which of God’s attributes awe, encourage, or convict you the most?