How many promises did God keep?

God made some big promises to Abraham (Genesis 12), they can helpfully be summed up as people, place, blessing. God promised that the old childless Abraham would become a father of many nations, that they would have a place to live and that they would live under God's blessing and be a blessing to the nations.

What happened? God gave Abraham a son in his old age, and eventually they became so numerous that when they were living in Egypt the Egyptians tried to thwart God's plan and oppress God's people, but the more they oppressed them the more they multiplied! (Exodus 1:12).  God rescued his people from their slavery and led them in the wilderness for 40 years until they were ready to enter the land that had been promised to them many years earlier.  But there was one slight problem - other people were living there! We enter the murky waters of the accusations of ethnic cleansing, and questioning how God could do such a thing.  Thankfully God told us a little earlier why he would do such a thing - it wasn't because his people were particularly good (they were described as stubborn!), but rather it was because of the wickedness of the people in the land (Deuteronomy 9:4-7).  God had been patient and merciful for a long time with the wicked nations, but as they did not turn from their wickedness they met God's justice.  If you're anything like me we sometimes struggle to understand this and think how can God act in such a way. I think that's probably because we forget about the perfect holiness of God.  He will not tolerate evil and must punish it. Deep down we know that's right, if there was a mass murder in Cavan and the judge simply said to the perpetrator of the crime - "oh we all make mistakes" - there would be an outcry, and rightly so! God is a good of justice, and that's why we (as those made in his image) should be outraged at injustice.

One day God will perfectly punish all evil, the driving out of the nations in Joshua is a foreshadowing of this.  God keeps all his promises, including his promise to punish evil.  Nothing can be hidden from him.  In Joshua 7 we read about a man called Achan who thought he could hide something from God, but he was found out, and the penalty was death. How can any of us escape from God's perfect justice? Our wrongdoing will be discovered, but Joshua's name gives us some hope - it means "The Lord saves" - the Hebrew version of Jesus.  In our reading from Luke 19 we saw the great news that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. People like Zacchaeus who had cheated and stolen, people like you and me who similarly face a God of justice aware of our own short fallings. His rescue is the one we remember at Easter - he died in our place and took the punishment we deserve and so God promises forgiveness and blessing to all who take refuge in him (as we'll see in Psalm 2 this Sunday). The more we see the holiness of God and his righteous judgment, the more grateful we'll be for the Lord Jesus.

By the end of Joshua (the book we're just finishing in the Bible Reading Plan) we hear these incredible words "Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass." (Joshua 21:45) God keeps all his promises, the question is will God's people chose to live under his blessing? As we begin the book of Judges we'll see...

For now, why not cling to our faithful God and chose to live his way (Joshua 23:8).