There are some countries in the world where the electric supply is not at all reliable. In those situations, when you use it any electrical appliance you know that the power could be cut off at any time and you don’t count on it working all the time. Our electrical supply is very faithful, and if it ever goes out because of an electrical storm or a blizzard, we are surprised, annoyed and inconvenienced because our whole lives are lived in dependence on it, precisely because we can mostly count on it.
Even people are not nearly as reliable. I read a comment last week in which someone said, “never expect anything from anyone because they will only let you down." That is a really sad comment and it is probably true more often than we wish. What brings a person to say “never?” How have they been disappointed? Why have they met enough people who were unfaithful that they react with such cynicism?
Electricity isn’t 100% reliable, people aren’t, but what about God? Do we believe that He is faithful or have we been disappointed enough times that we would want to say, “Never expect anything from God…?”
The Bible tells us over and again that God is faithful. When God revealed himself to Moses in Exodus 34:6 we read, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…” Psalm 100:5 adds, “…his faithfulness continues through all generations.” and Psalm 117:2, "…the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever."
This morning I would like to think about the faithfulness of God and encourage us to rely on His faithfulness.
God does not decide to be faithful on a whim or because it seems like the right thing to do today. The first thing we need to understand in thinking about His faithfulness is that God is faithful to His name, His character and His Word. The faithfulness of God is deeply rooted and is an integral part of who He is.
God is very concerned for the reputation of His name. In Psalm 106:8 we read, "Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known." God’s very own reputation is at stake in all that He does. His name reveals who God is and He is consistent with His name as an expression of His reputation.
In Genesis 16:13, Hagar, who fled from Sarai because she treated her poorly, met with God and discovered the name of God as “the one who sees me.” God’s name is “the one who sees” and Hagar discovered that when she was an outcast both from her family and from the family where God was at work, God saw her. God is the one who sees and is faithful to this name in seeing all who are bowed down and oppressed.
When God introduced himself to Moses, Moses wanted to know His name so that he could give Israel a name they could rely on. God revealed Himself as “I Am.” Because God could be trusted as the one who is God over all, who is the highest ruler over all, Moses knew that he could go to the enemy camp of Pharaoh with a message from God because he knew that God would go with Him.
God is true to His name and because He is, we can know that He is faithful.
I generally like to be on time or a little bit early. I usually succeed at that and so one time when I was late for a meeting, the people teased me because it was out of character.
The faithfulness of God is also seen in the fact that God is true to His character. What is the character of God? One of the most powerful words to describe God’s character is the Hebrew word “hesed.” It is usually translated “steadfast love.” In Deuteronomy 7:9 we read, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” This is one of many verses which connect God’s faithfulness to His loving kindness. These verses reveal that God is filled with compassion. If God is true to His character, we can count on God’s faithfulness to His love.
What are some other aspects of God’s character? God is one who saves and if He is consistent with His character, we can count on Him to save. He is known as a God who is upright. Therefore, we can trust that He will always be consistent with what is right. Deuteronomy 32:4 comments on the faithfulness of God in His uprightness when it says, “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.”
There are many other aspects of His character and the faithfulness of God is seen in that He is consistent in all these different characteristics.
Another perspective from which we can look at God’s faithfulness is that He is true to His Word. That is, when God says something, He does what He says. The language which is most often used in this regard in the Bible is the language of covenant. God has established covenants with His people. The most significant covenant which God made in the Old Testament was the covenant He made with Moses and the people of Israel at Mount Sinai.
I just read Deuteronomy 7:9 and emphasized that God keeps his covenant of love. There we emphasized that we could count on God’s faithfulness because it was consistent with his character of love. But now I would like you to notice that it speaks of his mercy as a “covenant of love.” God had promised to bring His people out of Egypt, make them His people and bring them into the Promised Land. God fulfilled that promise as He always does.
Isaiah 25:1 encourages us, "O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago."
Thus we can know that whatever God has promised He will do. He is faithful to the covenants He has made.
Therefore we see that the faithfulness of God goes very deep. God is faithful because He seeks to maintain the reputation of His name. He is faithful because He is true to the character He has declared and demonstrated Himself to be. He is faithful because He keeps the promises He has made.
If God is thus true to Himself, we have every reason to rely on Him. What does it mean to rely on the faithfulness of God?
I once spoke with someone who was describing the plans they had for their life in great detail. I met them again a few months later and asked about how the plans were coming along. They quickly explained that they had changed their mind and were now involved in something completely different. When I met them a few months later, those plans had changed again and they were on a new course.
God is not like that. He does not act randomly according to His whims. God has a plan and we can know that He will be consistent with that plan. God’s plan is to create a people who will follow Him. Because sin has entered the world because of our unfaithfulness, God’s plan is to create a people for Himself by first of all forgiving sin and then drawing people to Himself and inviting them into relationship. This was God’s plan in the Old Testament when He chose Israel to be His nation. This is God’s plan which He enacted when He sent Jesus to give His life to redeem sinful people and to draw to Himself those who will follow Him and to make them His people.
God will always be faithful to those purposes and we can have confidence that He will always act consistently with those plans. Therefore, we can trust that He will always forgive those who repent. We can trust that He will always make those who come to Him into His children.
The faithfulness of God to His purposes and who we can rely on Him is beautifully expressed in Romans 8:32 which says, "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"
Since that is the nature of God, we can therefore also trust His promises. God has made many promises to us and we can see many times in the past when God has kept His promises.
When God promised Abraham an heir, it took a long time before that promise was fulfilled, but it was fulfilled even when it seemed humanly impossible.
God promised the children of Israel a land and after hundreds of years He fulfilled that promise as well.
What are the promises God has made to us? Because God is faithful, we can trust those promises. For example, we can trust the promise of I Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." We can share the hope of Philippians 1:6, "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
If God is thus faithful to His promises then we can be sure that He is faithful to us even when we need to go through difficult times. This is the message of Psalm 119:75, "I know, O Lord, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.”
When Abraham sent his servant to find a bride for his son Isaac, we see something of the care of God. After a long journey and some difficult negotiations, this servant returned to Isaac with Rebekah. He said in Genesis 24:27, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”
Jacob also experienced God’s faithfulness. After 20 years away from home, we read in Genesis 32:10, "I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. "
And so it has been for many people throughout Scripture and through the ages. We too can trust that God will care for us.
When the thought that God is true to His name, His character and His Word is applied, we find consistently that we can trust His purposes, His promises and His care. 1 Corinthians 1:9 affirms, “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”
God is faithful, but our ability to trust Him is not as faithful. There are so many ways in which we manifest lack of trust. My hope and goal for myself is to develop a deeper trust in God each day. When things don’t go my way, I want to learn to trust that God will lead me through the disappointment. When death seems to gain the upper hand, I want to trust that God will bring life. When people disappoint and fail me, I want to trust that God will never fail me. When I do not see God at work in a certain situation, I want to rest in the peace that He knows all about it. I pray that we will be able to learn to trust in this way so that we can join the Psalmist who in Psalm 71:22, declares, “I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel.”