Not One of God’s Promises Has Failed

By Pastor Teck Uy

There is this saying that “promises are meant to be broken.” While this might be true to most people, this is certainly not true with God. In fact, we are told in Scriptures that when Joshua, who led the Israelites to conquer the Promised Land, looked back and assessed what God had done on their journey, he could not help but utter, “Not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed” (Joshua 23:14). Indeed, God is faithful and deserves to be trusted at all times. Even Balaam, a sorcerer, recognized this truth and said, “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? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Num. 23:19)

In expressing his confidence in the promises of God, King David said, “Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them” (Ps. 119:140). We only need to test the promises of God for us to be convinced that they are true. However, the fulfilment of these promises depends on our response and God’s timing. Unless we cling on to God’s promises and wait expectantly, we might never see their fulfilment. And if ever we do not receive what was promised, we should not be quick to pass judgment saying that God failed in fulfilling his promises. Rather, we should check ourselves and see where we failed. We must understand that in every promise that God has given, he appended some conditions to encourage us to walk faithfully before him.

In the case of the Israelites, God promised to give them the good land, but warned them that if they ally themselves with nations around them, intermarrying and associating with them, then the Lord will no longer drive out the nations before them but they would become snares and thorns in their eyes. This was true then and it is still true today. We need to always walk in faithfulness or we will fall into this trap. To ensure God’s blessings, the Psalmist said, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2). 

The promise of God is enshrined in his covenant with Abraham. He said, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:2-3). When this promise was made, Abraham was but one man – with no child. Nevertheless, God said further, “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Gen. 22:18). Looking back, this promise was fully fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Seed that God was referring to. The apostle Paul made this clear when he said, “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ” (Gal. 3:16). As gentiles, we too are blessed by this promise. While we might appear to be strangers to God’s promises because these were given to Abraham and his descendants, we can actually appropriate these for ourselves because the apostle Paul said further, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29).

Some of the promises of the Lord pertain to the future. Many of us will not even be alive to see their fulfilment. The Bible mentions many of these that were fulfilled decades or even centuries later. When God made the covenant with Abraham, he said, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there.  But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions” (Gen. 15:13-14). This was fulfilled at the exact date God had said. God punished Egypt who enslaved the Israelites and, led by Moses, they came out with great possessions. While this took four centuries to be fulfilled, it should be noted that not all of God’s promises will take that long to come to pass. In the case of the promised Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about” (Acts 1:4). It only took ten days for the promise to be fulfilled. Therefore, as we wait for the Lord’s promises to come, we need to wait patiently. Yes, we only need to be still and know that God is faithful. Hallelujah!