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December 19 Today’s Reading: Hebrews 13-James 2
“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
Here is a word of promise from our great God. ― “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Here is a word from God that is full of spiritual meaning and instruction. This is bread for the Father’s children. This is a staff upon which weary pilgrims may lean. It will give us strength for our journey, comfort for our souls, and vigor for our hearts. This sentence is a chest full of rich treasure. May God the Holy Spirit graciously open it and cause our souls to be enriched by it. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” The Lord our God promises his perpetual presence and care to every believer forever.
This is a quotation from the Old Testament Scriptures. How many times have you heard someone deny the application of a promise, a warning, or a doctrine by saying, “That is in the Old Bible,” or “That is in the Old Testament”? Many are of the opinion that only a very small portion of the Bible was really intended for us in this day. They say, “The Old Testament was for the Jews. The four Gospels are for the tribulation saints. The Book of Revelation is for the Millennial saints. The epistles of Peter, James, and John were for Jewish believers in the first century. And Paul’s epistles alone are really intended for the Gentile believers of this age.” Rubbish!
God the Holy Ghost caused the inspired writer here to quote a promise from the Old Testament. In doing so, he teaches us to honor the Old Testament Scriptures as the Word of God, just as we do the New Testament. And he tells us that the promises of God made to his ancient people are the promises of God made to his people today (2 Corinthians 1:20).
We find this promise given five times in the Old Testament. ― (1.) It was given to Jacob at Bethel when he was on his way to Laban’s house and fourteen years of great trial (Genesis 28:15). ― (2.) It was given to Moses just before the Lord took him up into the mountain to kill him, a promise by which God assured Moses that everything would be well with Israel after he was gone (Deuteronomy 31:6-8). ― (3.) It was given to Joshua when he was commissioned to lead the people of God in Moses’ place, and again just as he began the work to which God had called him (Deuteronomy 31:7-8; Joshua 1:5). ― (4.) It was given to Solomon when he was about to assume the throne of Israel, and was commissioned to build the house of the Lord (1 Chronicles 28:20). ― And (5.) it was given to God’s afflicted people when they had to face their mighty enemies (Isaiah 41:10-14; 43:1-5).
What are we to learn from the fact that the inspired writer here gives us the same promise that God gave to Moses, Jacob, Joshua, Solomon, and Israel? You will notice that he gives us the sense of the promise, not the very words of the promise, teaching us that the sense of Scripture, the spiritual message of Scripture, is the meaning of Scripture. Many know the Scriptures “by heart” who do not know the heart of the Scriptures!
I know there is a danger here. We believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of Holy Scripture. But we do not interpret the Scriptures in a strictly literal way. The Spirit of God gives us spiritual understanding to discern the message of Scripture. And the message is always a spiritual, Christ centered, Christ honoring message (Luke 24:27, 44-47).
It is also evident that every word from God to any believer is the Word of God to every believer. God who made the promise never changes (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). All the promises of God in Christ Jesus are yea and amen (2 Corinthians 1:20), ― conditioned on Christ alone! The promises made to one are made to all, for all believers in Christ are one body (Ephesians 4:4).
This makes the Bible a Book written for me. It is a word from the Lord directed to me. As Robert Murray M’Cheyne put it, “Every word of divine love and tenderness that he has written in this book belongs to me.” So this promise from the Lord is God’s promise to me particularly. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” And this, my brother, my sister, is the promise of God to you. — “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”