Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?” And those who stood by said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” Then Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’ ” But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!” And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection—and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both. Then there arose a loud outcry. And the scribes of the Pharisees’ party arose and protested, saying, “We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God.” Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks. But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.” And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy. They came to the chief priests and elders, and said, “We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul. Now you, therefore, together with the council, suggest to the commander that he be brought down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to make further inquiries concerning him; but we are ready to kill him before he comes near.” So when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. Then Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, “Take this young man to the commander, for he has something to tell him.” So he took him and brought him to the commander and said, “Paul the prisoner called me to him and asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to say to you.” Then the commander took him by the hand, went aside, and asked privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?” And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more fully about him. But do not yield to them, for more than forty of them lie in wait for him, men who have bound themselves by an oath that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him; and now they are ready, waiting for the promise from you.” So the commander let the young man depart, and commanded him, “Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me.” Acts 23:1-22 NKJV
The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face. Therefore you shall keep the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which I command you today, to observe them. “Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. Deuteronomy 7:7-13 NKJV
Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.” And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.” But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!” And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.” Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly. Matthew 26:69-75 NKJV
“And the Lord heard the sound of your words, and was angry, and took an oath, saying, ‘Surely not one of these men of this evil generation shall see that good land of which I swore to give to your fathers, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him and his children I am giving the land on which he walked, because he wholly followed the Lord .’ The Lord was also angry with me for your sakes, saying, ‘Even you shall not go in there. Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall go in there. Encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it. Deuteronomy 1:34-38 NKJV
“Then I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying: ‘O Lord God , You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds? I pray, let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains, and Lebanon.’ “But the Lord was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So the Lord said to me: ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter. Go up to the top of Pisgah, and lift your eyes toward the west, the north, the south, and the east; behold it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan. But command Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see.’ Deuteronomy 3:23-28 NKJV
Then Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel, saying, “This is the thing which the Lord has commanded: If a man makes a vow to the Lord , or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. Numbers 30:1-2 NKJV
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.” For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. Because John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.” And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:1-17, 19-21 NKJV
One of the most profound things I believe I have learned is that God’s promises are an anchor to our soul. In the past, I believed that hope was having faith in the “unknown.” In other words, we need to dive in to something believing that God will bless us no matter what – as long as we are doing what we “think” He wants us to do. If we are doing the “right” thing, why wouldn’t He bless our course of action and make it happen.
However, Hebrews chapter 6 speaks of God’s promises. God made a promise with Abraham, for example, that He would bless him and multiply him. The following passage reveals a lot about God and His promises.
For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:13-20 NKJV
First, I noticed that God can swear by no one greater than Himself. So, what does He do? When He made the promise with Abraham, He swore to Himself. Oaths are important. When we enter into an oath, we need to be careful who we are making that oath with and what promises we are making. Our words are a very powerful thing.
Second, it is impossible for God to lie. If that is the case, then we can have complete confidence in what He says. God does not lie to us. There is one who does speak lies. And, does he ever make his words sound like that of the Father God. It is important to know when God speak because His words are true.
So, we can conclude that when God speaks a promise, He cannot lie. Therefore, hope is created in us when we have heard His promise and have faith that God is who He says He is. God’s promises set hope before us and it is up to us to “lay hold of” it. Then, when adversity strikes (as it surely will), hope is an anchor to our soul in troubled times. Abraham had to “patiently endure” time before he obtained the promise of God.
The most obvious example of this in my life (where this lesson made such a profound impact on me), was when my wife and I lost our baby boy. We knew he had a major medical problem. We sought the best care we could at the time and we prayed for him. A friend and teacher of ours helped us find the words to express what we wanted to pray. However, I personally never received a promise from God that our son would survive. He only live about 34 days.
However, after my son had passed away, I did hear from the Lord that my wife and I would have another child. I specifically heard that we were young and that we would have another healthy child. Now, that was a promise from God! That was something that gave me hope in what was to come because of faith (because I believed God spoke to me and that He doesn’t lie).
That hope became an anchor to my soul as my wife and I were tested shortly after my daughter was born. Here she was, the promise of God delivered. However, we received a letter in the mail that she had a life threatening condition detected by her blood work. Confronted with this news, the fear and pain began to swell up again. The only thing that held those feelings at bay was God’s promise. The anchor was there and I stood on the promise He had given me for this little girl. I prayed God’s protection around my family and I was standing on the power of the promise He had given me. We would not accept this lie because God’s spoken word was true.
We took our daughter in to be tested, hoping and praying for a negative test result. Talk about patiently enduring on a promise. The pressure was on. But, I will never forget the peace I felt because of God giving me a promise this time around. Sure enough, the test results came back negative and our daughter is healthy. That is one of the closest encounters I have had with the Lord. I am so thankful that He spoke a promise to me and I will always treasure that.