Advent 2020


The solid promise

Psalm 119:49 says: ‘Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.’ The New Living Translation goes on to say in verse 50: ‘Your promise revives me, it comforts me in all my troubles.’ How powerful! The psalmist points out that it is God’s promises that have given him reason to be in confident expectation of change, and excited for great and better things to come.  

Promises are made for information, assent and pledge. A promise can be defined as:

1.   The declaration of some benefit to be conferred.

2.   One entity’s pledge to another to do, or not to do, something specified.

3.   Grounds for hope, expectation, or the assurance, often specified, of eventual success.

4.   A declaration which gives to the party to whom it is made a right to expect, or to claim, the performance or forbearance of a specified act. 

To depend on a promise, therefore, begs two critical questions. Firstly, is the promisor, who made the promise, trustworthy and credible? And secondly, do they have the authority or capability to deliver that which is promised? The answers are what ultimately feed and strengthen our faith. 

The God of the psalmist’s promise – our God – is tried by the querying jury of our perception of who He is, what He can do, and the testimony of His past activities. No wonder then that when we doubt Him, we are ultimately calling Him a liar and He is not pleased. 

The Bible chronicles countless stories of His credibility and trustworthiness. He is known as a covenant keeper. "Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses." (1 Kings 8:56). His name is the Faithful and True, the Amen. 

Testimonies of hope

In Numbers 23:19, we read: "God is not human that he should lie, not a human being that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil?"

Old Testament prophecies were made several centuries before Jesus’ birth and death, yet they all came to pass exactly as spoken. Christ’s birthplace is named specifically in the book of Micah, the psalms are very clear about how he dies and even about the details of many of the things that take place – things like his clothes being divided, his bones not being broken, vinegar and gall being given to him to drink. Against all the odds, all of these came to pass with precision.

In 2 Kings 7, God promises the healing of a nation’s economy within 24 hours. As unbelievable as that seems – considering the situation was so bad that people had resorted to eating their own children from hunger – it comes to pass, just as he has promised.

The angel assures a bewildered Mary that, with God, nothing shall be impossible. He parts seas and rivers, rocks obey his voice and provide water for his people, winds and storms are quieted in obedience to his presence and voice. Just one word or touch changes situations from death to life, from disease to wholeness. He first introduces himself to us in the Bible as one who is able to create order in the midst of chaos and bring beauty and fruitfulness out of dust. Surely, our God has the capability to deliver the things he has encouraged us to expect. If you look back on your life, you will be surprised how much the way-maker, miracle worker and promise keeper has accomplished for you – even when you thought it was all over for you.

By Rev Celia Apeagyei-Collins, founder of the Rehoboth Foundation and Tearfund ambassador.