“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 fulfill?” Numbers 23:19
Honest confession: I’ve broken promises before. Maybe you have, too. Even when I’ve desired to keep my word, for one reason or another, I didn’t or simply couldn’t!
Just two days ago, a friend invited me to have lunch with her. I told her that once I ran an errand I would text her to confirm — and completely forgot. Despite desiring to spend time with her, my own fallibility — my forgetfulness — was the barrier to me fulfilling my promise to my friend.
And not only have I dished out my share of broken promises, but I have been on the receiving end of them, too.
There have been times when I thought God was promising me something when He wasn’t. Sometimes friends with the best intentions can proclaim promises that God never did.
Like promising that, if you are faithful, you will be given a spouse.
Or if you are good with children, it must mean you will have a child biologically.
Or if you put God first, then you will have a fabulous marriage with no challenging times.
Sometimes we blame God for not fulfilling a promise He never said He would. Familiarizing ourselves with His Word helps us know what He intends to accomplish. The point of God’s promises is not to indulge our desire for all of our Christian wishes to come true, but it is to make us holy.
We can take comfort in the character of God. This is what we know to be true: Yahweh is holy. He is not like us: He never forgets a promise He made. He is changeless, and it is impossible for Him to lie. (Hebrews 6:18) When He makes a declaration or oath, He always completes it. He never says “oops!” and He never has to take back what He spoke because His “yes” is “yes,” and His “no” is “no.” As our key verse says, God is not a human being that He should change His mind:
“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 fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).
When we understand God’s conditional and unconditional declarations, we better understand the verses that may seem to suggest God has changed. God doesn’t change, but He does respond favorably to people who approach Him humbly.
If a person or people marked for judgment respond with repentance, God responds with mercy because that is who He is. Returning mercy in the sight of humility is what He does. (Micah 7:18)
Therefore, “Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19b-c). We know these are rhetorical questions because the answer is: Of course not! God will never make a promise and not fulfill it! He will accomplish everything He said. He cannot lie because He is the Truth.
And the best news of all, friend, is that all of God’s promises find their fulfillment in Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 1:20) He is the Promise who was literally broken for us, to show that God simply doesn’t break any of His promises.
Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Jesus, the Promise. Through faith in His crucifixion and resurrection, You have united me to You. Help me believe that everything You have spoken over me is for my good. Help me to know that You will fulfill everything You said in Your Scriptures. Please give me a heart to turn to You in repentance and to find encouragement in Christ. Deliver me from being swayed by any false promises. Instead, help me cling to Your Truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.