Summary: In this sermon we talk about how the Lord fulfils his covenant, what it means to walk in God's promises and how we can apply it to our walk with Christ. an audio version of this talk can be found at www.stkweb.org.uk/media
A few years ago I was at a conference where we saw a young man who had been deaf from birth healed, he was brought all the way from the Netherlands by his parents to come to this conference expectant that the Lord would do something for them. He was being prayed for by a group of the prayer ministry team and suddenly his ears just opened. I have never seen a 17 year old guy go through so many emotions in a matter of seconds. The whole place was rocking with some awesome worship already as ministry was taking place down at the front, when suddenly this shriek of sheer joy went up from this crowd of people and you could see this young man in the middle go through some amazing emotions and then just break down crying. Moments later he was up on stage with his mum as she recounted their story to the now hushed congregation. As the story unfolded we heard how this woman had been prophesied over when her son was about 7 or 8 that God would open his ears. Over the years she had tried to keep this promise in her mind believing that God would do the impossible but found it difficult to cling on to as the years ticked by and nothing seemed to change. But now her son could completely hear, at this you can imagine that the place went wild, as people’s faith was expanded and hope was raised.
How do we feel when we have unfulfilled promises knocking around us. I know that I have a list as long as my arm of things to do around the house and for Annie, I am very careful about using the words that I promise to do something specific because when I promise to do something I take it very seriously and I hate not being able to fulfil those words.
As a society we have become a bit sceptical about what is promised to us. Often we are amazed when a product does what it says it will in an advert, we accept a fair bit of discrepancy. We certainly take a large pinch of salt when we hear our politicians promise that they will do something, not very honouring of those who rule over us but sadly it has become the norm that we are sceptical about what comes out a politician’s mouth.
The thing is that this scepticism rolls out into our faith, we read promises in scripture and we think ah but can we really trust them or we have words spoken over us and we have a predisposition to think that’ll be nice I’ll wait and see if that comes to pass and then I will embrace it, instead of accepting it as a gift from God and then watching it unfold in our lives.
But thankfully this is not the example that we find in today’s reading. What we actually find is another example of a God who always fulfils his promises, who is ever faithful and who holds true to his word. What we find today is the continued fulfilment of the covenant promise, not just with David, but also the earlier covenants with Moses, Jacob and Abraham. That Israel would have a specific land, that from that place they would be a people of promise, an example to the nations in order to shine light to the gentile nations around them, an example of what it means to follow and be in relationship with YHWH.
When Israel came into the land to take possession of it we read in Joshua and Judges that although they take possession of the land they don’t quite manage to empty it of all its inhabitants and secure all the strong holds. You see the scepticism and doubt that we suffer from in this generation is not a new thing, humans have always have had problems accepting the outlandish and scandalous goodness of the Father. So when we see obstacles in the way we stop believing God for the possible, despite all that He has done in the past to prove not only his power but also his faithfulness.
This is the situation that we find the nation of Israel in this reading. As a nation they have seen YHWH move mightily and powerfully. They’ve seen the walls of Jericho crumble, they’ve seen Gideon route a whole army with a mere 300 hundred men, they have a corporate memory of the exodus, the plagues on the Egyptians, the escape from Israel, the parting of the red sea, being guided through the wilderness and miraculous provision of water, manna and quails. But even so we find that there are significant moments of doubt in Israel’s journey and as we track the conquering of the land we notice the certain fortified places are left as enclaves in this new nation and the promised land.