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He Will Fulfill His Oaths!

The Earth is so full of life that you can look virtually anywhere on the planet and find some. Travel to the far north and look beneath many feet of snow, look under the sand in the hottest desert, scrape rocks on the tallest mountains, send a probe into the depths of the ocean; everywhere you look, you will find life.

Similarly, the Word is so full of the good news of God that it can be found in even the strangest places. For instance, consider the following sad passage of scripture found in the Gospel of Mark. We know Herod executed John the Baptist because his wife hated John. She waited patiently for a chance to kill him...

21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask me for anything you want, and I'll give it to you." 23 And he promised her with an oath, "Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom."
24 She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" "The head of John the Baptist," she answered. 25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: "I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter."
26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother (Mk 6:21-28)

How can the good news of God be found here? Look again at verse 26 above. King Herod had made a public oath in front of "his high officials" and "the leading men of Galilee". He felt bound by his oath and compelled to keep it.

If Herod, being evil, fulfilled his word, how much more shall our Heavenly Father fulfill His oaths? If Herod felt the pressure of the presence of his guests - probably many of whom were scoundrels like him, how much more does God Almighty desire to make good His word before the holy angels and that great cloud of witnesses that shout His praises?

"Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands!" (De 7:9) Do you know this? Moses knew God was true to His word; he found Him so in his experience. So did Abraham and David and Elisha and Paul.

We need to humble ourselves and admit the truth: nothing has come upon us that isn't common to mankind. What makes us so special that God will let us down? What makes our situation so terrible that God will fail us?

This is why it is essential that we know the Word. More specifically, this is why we must know the promises of God, made to us by way of a solemn covenant sealed with His own Son's blood. Don't you remember that the Word states, "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ"? (2Cor 1:20a) Ah, but the verse doesn't end there; it goes on to declare our ministry before God: "And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God." (2Cor 1:20b)

What is Paul saying? God has made many great and precious promises, but it is only as they are fulfilled in our lives - as we lean on Christ in our daily experiences and as we call on Him - that we can cry "Amen! God's word is wonderful and He is even more wonderful than His word!" Perhaps this is why angels long to look into the unfolding of the Christian Age: they are watching the fulfillment of the oaths and boasts of God. As it is written, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory..." (Jn 1:9) First, it was in the flesh of the man Jesus; now it is in our flesh, for we are His body.

Many things sound good in theory - communism, for instance. If you asked the man on the street who was it that said "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need", he would be just as likely to answer Jesus or Paul as he would Karl Marx. Communism sounds good in theory but it is an abysmal failure in practice. We must be jealous for our Father in Heaven, that it be demonstrated for all to see that God's Word is powerful, effective and relevant. Don't tell me He is an ever-present help in time of need, show me. As it is written, "I will show you my faith by what I do." (Jam 2:18b) For "wisdom is proved right by her actions" (Mt 11:19)

"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." (Is 55:10-11) Yet, without a demonstration of the power of His word, this would just be an empty boast. Cassius Clay is not famous because he made great boasts before his fights; he is famous because, after making great boasts, he fulfilled them in the ring.

I know we have truthful accounts of the faithfulness of God in scripture. These are certainly inspiring and encouraging. But, what now, now that we are inspired? What shall we do with our newfound courage? Besides, the Word characterizes all the mighty acts of Jesus found in the Gospels as merely "all that Jesus began to do and to teach" (Acts 1:1). He remained active throughout the book of Acts. And, it is still true today what Jesus said two thousand years ago: "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working" (Jn 5:17)

Therefore, since "the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him" (2Chr 16:9), let us remain true and steadfast. Let us not only leave room for God, let us also make room for God. The young Israelite girl kidnapped by Naaman the Syrian general and his army did not merely witness the goodness and greatness of God when He had mercy on Naaman by healing him of leprosy; she instigated it! (2Kg 5)

Again, Jonathan and his armor bearer did not merely wait for God to move first - they took it in hand to advance against the enemy of God, though they were vastly outnumbered. The outcome? They precipitated a great victory. (1Sam 14:2)

To be godly means "to be like God"; I have good news for you - our God is not passive, nor is He tentative. Abram was an idol worshipper like all his neighbors when God invaded enemy territory to call him out. Jesus characterized His ministry as entering a strong man's home, binding him, and robbing him. Or, did you forget that we were all sold as slaves of sin and lay in the lap of the Evil One? How do you think you were rescued? Do you think God asked nicely? No, God rescued us like Abraham rescued Lot - by force of war.

Well, what about us? Jesus declared "the gates of Hell shall not prevail against" us (Mt 16:18). This shows us on the offensive. He is alluding to Joshua attacking Jericho, not Gideon hiding in a cave! While Joshua was promised all the land from the Sea to the River, yet, more precisely, he was promised the land that he actually walked upon. Likewise, we do not own the promises we have merely read; we own the promises we have tread!

We all know the Holy Spirit commanded the church in Antioch to "set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them" (Acts 13:2) Here we see men waiting on God and only moving when He speaks - a deeper life scene if ever there was one! Yet this was not the first time Barnabas and Saul had ministered together. Earlier, in chapter 11, it was "the church in Jerusalem" that sent Barnabas to Antioch to minister there. And, it was Barnabas who decided to look for Saul to ask for his help. Together, they taught the people of Antioch for a whole year, to the benefit of the people as well as the Kingdom of God.

While there, a prophet of God predicted a famine, so they gathered a large gift for the brothers in Judea. It was only upon their return from delivering that gift that God called Barnabas and Paul out for further work. In most professions, that would be considered a promotion following a demonstration of worthiness.

How about you? Can God consider you worthy of promotion? Have you been faithful with little that you might be entrusted with much? The need is great - not man's need to be helped, but God's need to be vindicated. As it is written, "So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge" (Rom 3:4, quoting Ps 51:4)

Don't you know that it is the children of the blessed man who contend with the enemy in the public arena? (Ps 127:5) Therefore, the Father sent His Son. We know how He prevailed in the face of great opposition from evil men. Yet, the Son Himself is called "Everlasting Father" and is most certainly blessed above all other men. He has declared, "Here am I and the children God has given me. We are for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts!" (Is 8:18) Further, it is written that we are "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (Eph 2:10)

You there, sitting in the bleachers! Come down into the arena. "The LORD is with you mighty warrior." (Judg 6:12) Therefore, "go in the strength you have and save" (Judg 6:14). And when you ask, like Gideon did, "How can I save when I am so weak?" remember God's answer: "I will be with you." (Judg 6:16, Mt 28:20)

"With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall... It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn. I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed." (Ps 18:29, 32-37)

(To read another article on the gospel truth of the faithfulness of God, click here)

© Matthew Schilling 2005

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