…the power of covenant.
I am leading our missional community through Micah’s prophecy. It is powerful and challenging. It calls the people of God to righteous action. Not some sort of “social just warrior” kind of action, but an action that is rooted in two things, God’s righteousness and his promises.
We live in an age where promises mean very little.
My country, the United States, is in a constant state of political campaign. Between local, state, and federal office holders politicians of some sort are always campaigning. They make promises, constantly. According to a Rasmussen report in 2014 only 4% of likely voters think that campaigning politicians will keep their promises. That means that an overwhelming majority of people will vote for someone who they don’t think will keep their word.
A bedrock promise that is made over and over in our society is the marital promise. People promise to be committed to one another “till death do us part.” The divorce in the United States is 42–45%. Nearly half of all married people do not keep their promise.
We are cynical people because we have seen promises broken on a regular basis. Promises and oaths do not mean much to people. We simply do not expect them to be kept. If we can’t expect people to keep promises in their most significant of relationships then why would expect any promises to be kept?
Yet, when we open the Scriptures and read the story of the people of God there is this overarching theme of covenant or promise. We can’t escape it.
The closing lines of Micah’s prophecy read,
“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.” Micah 7:18–20, NIV
Look at the very last phrase, “as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.”
I can’t get over it.
You can’t escape it.
God’s promise, his oath, his word, his covenant, it will stand and he will make good on it.
When you live in an age of skepticism one of the most remarkable things that anyone can do is keep their promise. It might be as simple as arriving on time some place or remembering that you promised to take a friend to the airport. Keeping promises is remarkable when nobody expects anyone to keep their promises.
Then there is this God of the Bible. This God keeps promises over a millennia. The prophets warn of discipline, they warn of exile, they warn of very real consequences to the people of God’s bad behavior. Yet, they also remind that God keeps promises and God will redeem, restore, and renew a remnant, always.
Because he promised.
The story of Jesus proves that God keeps his promises because death was not victorious over the cross. The resurrection is the culmination of the promise. There is no greater sign than that of God defeating death and raising Jesus from the dead.
The Bible is full of pain, brokenness, and hardship. There is story after story of woe and anguish. There is a sadness that pervades its pages.
There is also a hope. An enduring hope that says, “But God will keep promises.”
When we see this God act out of his righteousness and keep his promises we say like Micah, “Who is a God like you?”