“Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. But just as all the good things the Lord your God has promised you have come to you, so he will bring on you all the evil things he has threatened, until the LORD your God has destroyed you from this good land he has given you” (Joshua 23:14-15 NIV).
Joshua was attesting to the fulfilled promises of God. However, in reality, God’s promises are as good as fulfilled. God’s word is as sure as the certainty of the rising sun tomorrow. The entire Old Testament, up to the time of Jesus, shows that God’s word does not miss. It is impossible for God to promise what He does not fulfil.
When God declared that He created man in His own image, there is no reason for humanity to doubt being in God’s image. The man created in God’s image is God. Caught up in the confusion of not knowing the origin of humanity, one needs to stand on God’s promises. God did not create inferior humanity, viewed as not resembling God’s image.
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24 NIV).
One of the greatest promises of God is not to give humanity what He did not promise. God gives according to His promises. Currently, humanity stands in between God’s promises and what God did not promise. God’s greatest gift is that of availing two options, life and death, from which humanity can choose.
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NIV).
It may surprise many that choosing between life and death constitutes God’s fantastic gift at one’s disposal. God empowers humanity to choose, rather than force him to choose against his will. Choosing life is freely offered by God, whose attribute is not that of a dictator. If dictated to, one would not be a product of God’s image, whose attribute is self-sustaining.
Humanity ought to be self-sustaining, just as God is self-sustaining. God anointed the Israelites to be God’s people. The Israelites were expected to demonstrate the effects of being associated with God. They were given the option of choosing between the two extremes—life and death.
The Israelites’ failure was not a hundred per cent rejection of God’s Laws. Neither was it one hundred per cent adoption of God’s Laws. The Israelites are captured with repenting when facing problems, after disobedience.
Their drifting away from God’s Laws invited problems. As long as they walked according to God’s Laws they lived comfortably. Trouble always came after their departure from God’s Laws. Enjoying God’s blessing is what invites laxity. Spiritually, a person is weakest, when enjoying physical blessings.
After the rebellion, the Israelites’ faith got diluted into other people’s cultures. The Jews maintained hope until they also got off track. God did not totally forget the Israelites, even at the point of their extreme degradation.
The first to fall from grace were the ten tribes of Israelites. Judah had maintained the semblance of God’s people in Jerusalem. But they later got overtaken by the sin of violating God’s Laws. They were, vanquished by King Nebuchadnezzar. Jerusalem was destroyed and left in an inhabitable state. This was a fulfilment of God’s promise (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).
“The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and spared neither young man nor young woman, old man or aged, God handed all of them over to Nebuchadnezzar” (2 Chronicles 36:15-17 NIV).
Out of His unfailing love, God still had mercy upon His people. To fulfil His promises, God used a pagan king to discipline His people. He later used Cyrus, another pagan king of Persia, for the remnant of the Israelites who had maintained the City, to return to Jerusalem.
The rebuilding of the City of Jerusalem did not bring it back to its former glory. But at least, there was some revival. Jesus would find Law-keepers, at His coming. The see-saw type of Israelites’ relationship with God was not acceptable. But through God’s mercy, enduring forever, God’s Law and the Prophets were preserved by Jewish remnants in Jerusalem.