Faithfulness is a concept that is embedded in most of our civil and sacred structures. In order for humans to function effectively in our relationships, our jobs, and our organizations we needs some level of assurance that people will actually do what they promise they will do. This gives life some level of predictability allowing us to “keep on keeping on” from day to day. Most often, we seal our promises with tokens or documents so we have “proof” these agreements were made. Grooms and brides give each other rings as a sign to each other and to the world that they will honor the terms of their marriage covenant. Schools give diplomas as permanent indicators that the graduates have met the terms of an awarded degree. When we purchase a home, we have a deed to prove it.
God was and is the original promise keeper. The promises/agreements He makes with humans are called covenants. Theologians have identified a number of covenants God has made at various times with His people, and each is sealed with some kind of sign or ceremony. After the flood, God made this promise to Noah (and to all humans as his descendents):
I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.
Genesis 8:21-22 (ESV)
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.”
(Genesis 9:12-15, ESV)
Other covenants, with corresponding signs, have been made by God with His people: the covenant God made with Abraham and his descendents (the Jews) was sealed with the rite of circumcision. God gave the sign of the Sabbath to seal the Mosaic covenant (the Law) with Moses and the Hebrew people. And the greatest covenant of them all, the New Covenant of salvation, was instituted by Jesus, and believers recall it regularly by celebrating the Lord’s Supper or Communion.
God is a promise making and promise keeping God. He is faithful to keep His word. The only time He annuls a covenant is when a newer, better covenant engulfs or expands upon the previous one. Christian believers can place all of their faith in the God who establishes and keeps His New Covenant promises with His people.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
(Jeremiah 31:33-34 (ESV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 (ESV)
How amazing that we can experience God’s faithfulness by confessing our sins! We can put our trust in our promise keeping, covenant remembering, iniquity forgiving, and sin forgetting Heavenly Father!