"God is not a man, that He should lie,
nor a son of man, that He should repent;
has He said, and will He not do it?
or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
for a while it has been on my heart to blog on this verse. i may struggle to adequately put into words what is swirling around inside, so i welcome your feedback, thoughts and questions in the comment section below.
the back story
balak, the king of moab, hired balaam the diviner to curse the hebrews. when balaam went to curse them, he could not. all he could do was speak blessings over them because the Lord had spoken to him and commanded him to bless His people. so, in context, this verse is actually about God's faithfulness to His chosen people israel. this faithfulness to a people who have repeatedly been unfaithful to Him and eventually rejected God when He came in the frame of a man in the person of Jesus is a remarkable story. the sheer fact that we as gentile (just meaning non-jewish decent) believers get to be a part of the whole story of redemption of mankind is amazing, and yet does not change God's plan for israel. we as the church by no means replace them in the promises laid out for them in the Bible. God will do all He has promised to do and they will love Him and choose Him and accept His Son before all is said and done.
what does this have to do with me?
though the verse is directly talking about God's faithfulness to israel, this is not exactly what i want to focus on at the moment. i did need to put this verse in proper context lest we misunderstand why balaam said this amazing statement about God. if we lose sight of His faithfulness towards israel, even through their great unfaithfulness to Him, we cannot stand confident in His faithfulness towards us. if He cannot bring about His purposes and promises towards them, then how can we be confident that He will do the same in our lives?
if in any way God had to replace israel with the church, then we don't serve a God able to complete the good work that He has started in any of us.
all of that being said, i have been meditating on the implications of this verse and the great faithfulness of God.
a case of flakiness or lies?
we all have people in our lives that have backed out of their commitments to us, have forgotten and no-showed, or promise the moon and never deliver, that we don't really value their commitments very much at all. i am also sure we have all been that person in someone else's life. it is so common to our human condition to not follow through with our word that Jesus addressed it in the sermon on the mount to His disciples saying that they shouldn't swear by important things that they were going to follow through on something, but
simply let your 'yes' be 'yes,' and your 'no,' 'no'failing to follow through on our commitments is not the exception but rather the norm.
it only takes one or two times of being disappointed to start protecting our hearts by devaluing what is promised to us. in my own life i see it affect my kids the most. i have stopped telling my kids about something exciting that is going to happen until sometimes just moments before it is actually happening because i have tired of seeing their little hearts crushed when their expectation isn't fulfilled. since they haven't yet become cynical of people, i have tried to put a protection around them to keep their hearts innocent as long as possible. for me, i know there are certain people that i highly doubt the things they promise to do because of their track records. it could even be the repeated pattern of not showing up to an appointment on time (which i have been terribly guilty of myself since having kids - still not really a valid excuse). i begin to arrange my schedule according to when they will probably actually show up, so i am not sitting waiting for someone who is always late.
it isn't always a matter of the failure to follow through being a straight up lie about what we desire to do because i think most of us really want to follow through with our great ideas for life and what we tell others we will do for them. more often i think we are simply weak people, unable to do the grandiose things we would like to be able to do. for me, a grandiose plan may be showing up everywhere on time when i pack my schedule too full and fail to accommodate my children. it doesn't mean it is impossible for me to get somewhere on time, it just means if i am really going to do it i need to make provision for my weakness and not over-commit.
the result: a cold hard heart
the disappointment and gradual hardening of our hearts to cope with failed commitments affect our relationship with the only One who is completely faithful to everything He promises.
i have found myself wondering if He is even able to do the things He has promised. then other times, when my soul is doing better, i totally believe He is able, but struggle with the doubts of if He is willing to follow through. then at the end of the day, even if i believe He is both willing and able to do everything He has promised, i will lie in bed and the thought will come, but is He willing to do it for me?
so when i read this passage of God using balaam, a wicked man who was willing to pronounce curses on nations for the right price, to boast of His own faithfulness to His people i couldn't stop thinking about it.
who is He?
God is not a man. yes, Jesus cloaked Himself with humanity, but He was the same substance as the Father... our human frame being merely a shell that held the fullness of God.
God does not lie. He does not tell half truths. He doesn't just follow through when it is convenient or when the circumstances line up just so. He doesn't over-commit because He has no weakness He must account for.
if He says it, He will do it. His faithfulness to me is not anchored in whether i deserve it or not because i do not deserve anything. His faithfulness is anchored in who He is.
He is the faithful God. His unspeakable name, sometimes translated as Yahweh or Jehovah, i have heard could be rightly translated as ALWAYS. He is ALWAYS who He says He will be. He is ALWAYS faithful. He is ALWAYS good. He is ALWAYS our provider. He is ALWAYS our helper. He is ALWAYS our healer. and the list goes on and on and on.
and when i sit and ponder this unfathomable God whose name is ALWAYS, i struggle to reconcile His faithfulness with the unfaithfulness of everyone else, including myself. i have to come to the conclusion again and again that He is nothing like us.
He is nothing like me.
and this is why i can put my trust in Him and not be afraid of disappointment.