May 8, 2013
When I was a few months away from my 20th Birthday I made a very desperate and seemingly unwise move from my beloved family and home in Knoxville, TN to San Jose, CA. I only knew one person in the western 2/3rds of our nation, but I was very desperate, and needed an overhaul in the way I thought, operated, and looked at life (including the way I perceived God). Soon after I moved there, having my social networks all removed from me, I began to seriously read the Bible from cover to cover for the first time. Because of all of the failure I had experienced in most areas of life by that point, certain verses in the Bible became very precious to me. One of those in particular is Lamentations 3:22,23 wherein Jeremiah the prophet says of life and its God, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”
This verse or promise in and of itself is very encouraging. But when you are battling significant doubts, and hearing voices (not audibly) – telling you you have blown it one too many times in God’s eyes and He is done with you, you need some kind of demonstration that this is indeed the way God is and the way He operates.
During that first year in San Jose, I began to try to read through the whole Bible in one year. I’ve done that most every year since then. Over those years I found my much needed demonstration that I can truly bank on this promise in Lamentations. That demonstration was and is His relationship with the people of Israel.
Somehow in God’s sovereign wisdom and goodness, some 4,1000 years ago, He chose a man called Abraham, through whom He brought about a nation called Israel, upon whom He lavished love and affection and destiny – that had nothing to do with their merit, but everything to do with His long range plan for the nations – until the end of time. Many passages speak to this such as Gen. 12:1-3 & Exodus 19:4-6 & Deut. 7:6-8, which reads, “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which he swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery…”
Now if you have followed the story, you know Israel failed more than they succeeded in fulfilling their part of this covenant God made with them. Often they failed miserably. The million dollar question is – did God therefore break His covenant with them? And the answer to that, which has much bearing on our assurance that He will never break His covenant with us, is a resounding NO! Many passages speak to this, such as Isaiah 54:10, wherein God says to Israel, “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken, “Says the Lord who has compassion on you.” (see also Jeremiah 24:4-7 & Jer. 31:35-37 among many other such promises).
This is all fresh on my mind because Anne and I just returned from our first ever 2 week trip to Israel, wherein we saw many of the ancient ruins and sites, and interacted with many precious Jewish believers and non believers. An amazing 2 weeks that we will never forget, which perhaps I will talk more about later.
But for now, please know that our God is a covenant keeping God, and for people like me who have ebbed and flowed in my devotion to Him over the years, that is very very good news!