How do you know if someone can be trusted? Well, typically you would look at that person’s character and track record. If they are a person of high character (someone who consistently demonstrates noble behavior) and if they are a person who has regularly done what they have promised they will do … you trust them! If they are a person of low character (inconsistent in demonstrating noble behavior) and if they are a person who regularly does NOT do what they promise … you don’t trust them! Or, at least these two extremes create a “sliding scale of trust” inspiring you to lean into them more or discouraging you so that you count on them less.
I once heard Dave Ramsey’s daughter Rachel describe her growing up years. Her parents used a rope metaphor with each of their kids. As they aged and demonstrated good decision making they were “given more rope” (or freedom) from their parents. If they made bad decisions, their parents would give them less slack (less freedom). Rachel shared that when her older sister graduated from high school, the Ramseys presented her sister with a beautiful braided rope and told her that she now was being commissioned to go and make her own decisions, having demonstrated exemplary character over time.
Given this illustration, let me ask you … how much do you trust God? Are you leaning into Him or pulling away? Have you given Him your rope, or are you reeling it back in?
How you answer that question may have a lot to do with how well you know who God is. The character of God is absolutely impeccable … not just consistently good, but ALWAYS GOOD. And the track record of God is also exemplary. This is why God has shared with us so much divinely inspired history in the Old Testament … in part to allow us to see His faithfulness in the lives of His people so that we might trust Him more and more.
Having said this, some of you may want to raise a question. Was God TRULY faithful to Israel? God promised to save them spiritually and physically. He promised to give them forgiveness and a new heart AND protected borders and a globally influential Kingdom. Yet, today the nation of Israel has largely rejected Jesus as their Messiah and lives under the constant threat of military action. While the nation is significant and has a compelling story, the world does not come to Israel for their understanding of right and wrong (as Isaiah 2 and 11 indicate). So is God really faithful? Can He really be trusted?
Well, the New Testament really helps to fill in the gaps for us on these questions. Romans 9-11 is basically an apologetic on the faithfulness of God regarding the spiritual salvation of Israel. After arguing in Romans 1-8 that “nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” the Apostle Paul turns his attention to answering the question – “but what about Israel? Didn’t God separate from them? And if He did, might He separate from us?” The argument of Romans 9-11 tells us that God has always had a remnant inside Israel that was being saved, and in the end a generation of Israelites on the earth when Jesus comes back will embrace Him as Savior. He has not abandoned them! This same sentiment is also behind the large conversion of Jews forecast for the last days in Revelation 7.
So God will be proved faithful to His spiritual promises to Israel. But what about the physical promises? What about the expanded borders, world-wide influence, and restored physical land of Israel? What about the borders that extend up into Syria (as seen in Ezekiel 48), or the river of fresh water that will flow out of the Temple Mount area and east toward the Dead Sea making those salty waters fresh (Ezekiel 47)? What about military conquest ceasing and peace on the earth (Isaiah 2)? What about the Messianic Leader of Israel reigning over the entire world from Jerusalem (Isaiah 11)? Were those just empty promises from God to help an exiled Israel sleep better at night?
What the book of Revelation presented to us in Revelation 20:1-10 (which we looked at last Sunday at Wildwood) was a picture of all those promises coming true inside a 1,000 year Kingdom where Jesus reigns on earth at the time of His return. He will reestablish the tribes of Israel in their allotted lands and will give them provision and honor and blessing on the earth for 1,000 years. As members of the Church, we will be on earth to see this, and will be reigning with Christ (most likely) in other parts of the world under the leadership of Jesus, but the land of Israel will be finally and fully established JUST AS GOD PROMISED HIS PEOPLE.
And why does this matter? So that we would know that He is worthy to be trusted. Impeccable character. Flawless track record. So … give Him your rope. Trust Him with your life – both spiritual and physical. He is good for it.