God’s Promises Are Eternal
Yael Eckstein | June 22, 2022
If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, “The LORD was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.” — Numbers 14:15-16
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Shelach, which means “send,” from Numbers 13:1–15:41.
I had just finished a talk to a group of Christian visitors to the Holy Land about the miracle of modern Israel and the fulfilment of God’s promises that we see in our times. One of the participants, an elderly woman, approached me with a question that stopped me in my tracks. “Yael, I heard everything you said about God’s promises to the Jewish people. But are the Jewish people really worthy of these promises being fulfilled? Don’t you worry that if Israel isn’t obedient to God, that you won’t live up to God’s promises? What then?” I have to admit. I was not sure how to answer at first.
It’s true that the Jewish people aren’t perfect. There are certainly many among us who are not living in full obedience to the Torah. What if she was right? What if we aren’t worthy of God’s promises?
But then I remembered what God Himself told Abraham over and over — that His covenant is “an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come” (Genesis 17:7). God’s covenant with Israel is everlasting because it is not for our sake. It’s for God.
God’s Promises Are Eternal
In this week’s Torah portion, when God threatened to wipe out the children of Israel for their lack of faith after the sin of the spies, Moses prayed to God. Moses’ argument to God was the answer to that woman’s question to me.
Moses said to God, “If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, ‘The LORD was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’”
God’s response was to punish Israel, but not to destroy them. God would fulfill His promise to bring them to the Promised Land, but they would need to suffer for their lack of faith.
By fulfilling His promises to His chosen people, God shows the whole world that He is a faithful God who controls history. God uses Israel to reveal Himself to the world, not because we are worthy, but to show the world who He is. Our obedience to God makes the process easier on us and we are rewarded for serving Him faithfully. But His promises are eternal — no matter what!