Can God contradict Himself?
Abiding in Jesus is a covenant, command, connection, communion, and choice. In our world, a covenant is a binding agreement, a mutual obligation deliberately contracted between two parties. In biblical context, however, the triune God is the covenant-Creator and the covenant-Keeper.
If we think about this in political terms, God would be the one who makes the oath and who keeps the oath. When the president of the United States is inaugurated into office, he makes this promise:
"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Any man who makes this promise, however, is flawed. He will not be able to keep the oath perfectly. At some point in his presidency, he will contradict his own platform and promises.
When God makes a promise, He does so based on the faithfulness of His own character. He is perfect, unchanging and completely dependable. God can never contradict Himself.
"For when God made a promise to Abraham, since He had no one greater by whom to swear, He swore by Himself" (Hebrews 6:13).
The Cross of Christ in the Covenant
God reaffirmed the covenant made to Abraham through his family line with Isaac and Jacob, from whom the 12 tribes of Israel come.
"Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out toward the west, the east, the north and the south. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go ... I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you" (Genesis 28:14-15).
Do you see the cross of Christ in this promise?
From the north to the south, from the east to the west, God promised to multiply Abraham's offspring and increase their territory. As Jesus hung on a cross that stretched from north to south, east to west, this promise was fulfilled to both the Jew and the Gentile, and not just on earth but for eternity. Jesus promises to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5).
All God's promises are "yes" in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Today, there are more than 2 billion Christians around the globe. Like sand on a seashore or the dust on the earth, Christianity is the largest religion in the world. From a promise made to Abraham more than 4,000 years ago, God continues to keep His promises to us despite our regularly being in breach of the covenant.
The assurance of the covenant is based on a faithful God and not fallible men.
God is bigger than our worst mistake, and His unconditional love covers and keeps us in relationship with Him once saved by grace through faith in Jesus. He longs to bring us into a spacious place, so that we can "spread out" spiritually, walk in the freedom that Christ died to give, and multiply the family of God by telling others about Jesus.
When the covenant seems contrary
Sometimes, though, God's covenant seems contrary. His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His timing is so often not our timing.
Through a tumultuous series of events, God sent Joseph, one of Jacob's sons ahead of his family by way of captivity. His brothers, jealous and tired of the favorite son, had sold Him into slavery. Yet God's favor was upon Joseph and he rose up in the ranks as second in command to the Egyptian Pharaoh.
Through a famine, God led His people from Canaan to Egypt, where Jacob and his twelve sons settled. As second in command, Joseph had the influence and impact to provide food for his family. Although his brothers intended evil against him, "God planned it for good to bring about the present result - the survival of many people" (Genesis 50:20).
Like Jesus, Joseph became the brother who forgave his family and saved them from death. God kept the covenant, even in turbulent times.
"Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation eventually died. But the Israelites were fruitful, increased rapidly, multiplied, and became extremely numerous so that the land was filled with them. A new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt" (Exodus 1:6-8) and was so threatened by the Israelite's presence he oppressed them with forced labor and instructed the Hebrew midwives to kill baby boys.
For 430 long years, the Israelite people were held in captivity with nary a word from God. Had God forgotten His promise to make them into a great nation? Certainly any covenant they had heard about seemed contrary now in light of their circumstances.
When we are waiting on something, especially if it is something good and godly, fair and just, it can be very difficult to trust God. We might feel punished or like a pawn in the scheme of the cosmos. We might feel forgotten.
In the long days of waiting, our hearts will inevitably lament, "How long, O God?"
But when we look to Scripture, we see that God never forgets but patiently and precisely delivers on His promises. The eternal God is not bound by time, which can frighten and frustrate our impatient hearts. How long will we have to wait for God to resolve our problem?
Or we can be encouraged, knowing that God is not limited by time. He can take as long as He needs to fulfill a promise, or He can do it in an instant.
When the covenant seems contrary, we must rest in the character and capacity of God.
"And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew” (Exodus 2:24-25).
God heard. God remembered. God saw. God knew.
God hadn't forgotten His promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the Israelite people. The God who never sleeps or slumbers was waiting until the exact moment in time to carry the covenant forward.
Our loving Father God is willing to wait until our hearts are desperate for Him before He fulfills a promise or answers a prayer. He hasn't forgotten us. In fact, in the waiting, God is keeping another promise - to complete the good work He began in us (Philippians 1:6). He is refining us and growing us to more purely reflect His image and take on the character and capacity of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our waiting is never wasted in God's timeline. His covenant is never contrary.
Abide in Jesus today and know that the covenant-Creator is also our covenant-Keeper.
"The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:24).