January 26: As You Promised

January 26: As You Promised

Picture of Chris Rowekamp

Chris Rowekamp

“You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago.”
—Micah 7:20 ESV

It’s not uncommon to hear people say that the God of the Old Testament is angry and judgmental, while the God we see in the New Testament is loving and gracious. Almost as if they were two different beings.

The promise referenced in Micah 7:20 shows us a different story.

In Genesis 15, when God made his first covenant with Abraham, the “father” of our faith (see Romans 4:16), he promised him that his descendants would be a numerous nation that would bless the entire world. To confirm that promise, God told Abraham to take certain animals and cut them in half, and to form a path between the halves of the animals. Genesis 15:17 (NLT) tells us what followed: “After the sun went down and darkness fell, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses.”

That scene may seem very strange, but it was actually a way of making a contract or covenant in the ancient world. The different people who were “signing” a contract cut animals in half and walked between them as a way of saying, “If I don’t fulfill my part of this covenant, let it be with me as it was with the animals (you may kill me).”

In Genesis 15 something odd happened, however: only God (represented by smoke and fire) passed between the halves of the animals. In other words, God was saying, “If I don’t keep my promise, I will accept death as a punishment. And Abraham, if you don’t fulfill your part of the covenant, I will accept death in that case as well.”

Very early in the story of the Bible, deep in the Old Testament, we see God promise his unfailing, unearned, sacrificial love.

And of course, centuries later God was faithful to his promise to pay the price for the sins of his people. 1 Peter 2:24 (NLT) says that Jesus “carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.” 

When we say that God loves us with unfailing love, it’s not just a nice catchphrase or a “New Testament thing”. It is a truth found all throughout Scripture.

And like Micah, we can be confident in God’s promise to show us unfailing love.

Here is a short prayer to carry with you today:

Breathe in: God of unfailing love,
Breathe out: Free me from fear.

Quick disclaimer: I owe the central point of this thought to a sermon by Tim Keller called “Abraham and the Torch” that completely blew my mind. I highly recommend listening to it (you can find to it here).

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