The God Who Promises
WHO is the God who promises deliverance for mankind? Why should we believe in his promise, and how can we rely on it?
To be able to make such a promise with effect, he would have to be the Creator of all things, the Almighty God. The Bible identifies him as such. There should be no question of his willingness to deliver mankind into a righteous new order; this is evident in his promise to do so. But our own assurance that he will do so must come from an examination of his acts and dealings, his fulfillment of other promises he has made.
Aside from his promise of deliverance of mankind through his Messianic kingdom, the most important promise that he has made is that of the Messiah’s first coming. Did it actually take place as God promised?
RECORD OF MESSIAH’S FIRST APPEARANCE
That it did can be proved by the historical record. From very early times the Bible set out certain requirements for the Messiah so that he could be identified unmistakably. Some of these requirements are:
(1) He was to be from the tribe of Judah and the lineage of King David:
“The scepter [symbol of ruling authority] will not turn aside from Judah, neither the commander’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to him the obedience of the peoples will belong.” (Gen. 49:10) “Jehovah has sworn to David, truly he will not draw back from it: ‘Of the fruitage of your belly I shall set on your throne.”’—Ps. 132:11; Isa. 9:7.
Jesus was of this lineage, as his genealogy, taken from the public register by the historians Matthew and Luke, shows. (Matt. 1:3, 6, 16; Luke 3:23, 31, 33) This genealogy, being from the Jews’ own official archives, was not challenged by the Jewish leaders living in the first century C.E., though they attacked him on every point that they could think of.
(2) He was to be born in Bethlehem:
“And you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, the one too little to get to be among the thousands of Judah, from you there will come out to me the one who is to become ruler in Israel.”—Mic. 5:2.
(3) He was to appear at the end of sixty-nine “weeks of years” (483 years) from the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall (in 455 B.C.E.):
“And you should know and have the insight that from the going forth of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Leader, there will be seven weeks, also sixty-two weeks. . . . And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah will be cut off, with nothing for himself.”—Dan. 9:25, 26.
Jesus did present himself on time, in 29 C.E. (483 years after 455 B.C.E.), to be baptized by John. At that time he became the Messiah (Anointed One), anointed by God’s spirit. (Luke 3:21-23) The Jews were aware of this time prophecy and “were in expectation” at the time that John, Jesus’ forerunner, began preaching.—Luke 3:15.
Also fulfilling the prophetic promise, Jesus was “cut off” in death as a ransom sacrifice for mankind about three and a half years after his baptism. Isaiah likewise foretold Messiah’s sacrificial death.—Isa. 53:10-12.
Secular history acknowledges that Jesus Christ lived on earth and was a remarkable teacher. Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian of the first century who was not a Christian, wrote that Jesus was on the scene during the governorship of Pontius Pilate, that he was a teacher of great influence, and was the Christ; that Pilate condemned him to death and that he appeared alive again to his disciples on the third day.—Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII, Chap. III, Par. 3; John 19:15, 16; 20:1, 19; Matt. 27:63, 64; Acts 10:40.
Some may disbelieve the testimony of Christ’s own disciples as to his resurrection, but consider these facts: There were upward of five hundred witnesses. The disciples were not men of power or influence, to overcome or bribe the soldier guards stationed at Jesus’ tomb. There was little likelihood of collusion among so many, especially as to something that would be of no personal material gain to them. Their witnessing to the resurrection could have no selfish motive; it exposed them to suffering and death. They gave their testimony in the very place where the Messiah’s bitterest enemies were, where certainly a fraud could be uncovered. And they did not wait, but witnessed right then, while the rage of the Jewish leaders was at its height.—1 Cor. 15:3-8; Acts 2:32; 3:15; 4:10, 18-20; 7:55-58; 8:1.
That these witnesses, in testifying to Jesus’ resurrection, were not ‘making up’ a story can further be seen from the fact that the resurrection came as a surprise to them in their despair and downcast condition. They had looked for him to be a human king, and were tremendously shocked when he died. (Luke 24:13-43; John 20:24-29) Really, Jesus’ resurrection was the very thing that gave them the courage to bear testimony, courage that could not be broken down under the most violent persecution.
So outstandingly did God fulfill his promise of the Messiah in every detail of the aforementioned prophecies as well as many others, that any reasoning person who considers the evidence should say, ‘God is indeed a Fulfiller of his promises.’
TESTIMONY OF OTHER PROMINENT MEN
God’s fulfillment of his promise to send his Messiah is a major example of his reliability. But there are countless others. Many men who served God in the past saw and experienced God’s reliability in keeping his promises, not just once, but throughout their lives. Among these are Joshua, David and Solomon.
Joshua said, in his farewell speech to Israel:
“You well know with all your hearts and with all your souls that not one word out of all the good words that Jehovah your God has spoken to you has failed. They have all come true for you. Not one word of them has failed.”—Josh. 23:14.
King David testified: “The sayings of Jehovah are pure sayings.”—Ps. 12:6.
His son, King Solomon, said in prayer before all Israel:
“Blessed be Jehovah, who has given a resting-place to his people Israel according to all that he has promised. There has not failed one word of all his good promise that he has promised by means of Moses his servant.” “O Jehovah the God of Israel, there is no God like you in the heavens or on the earth, keeping the covenant and the loving-kindness . . . you who have kept toward your servant David my father what you promised him, so that you made the promise with your mouth, and with your own hand you have made fulfillment as at this day.”—1 Ki. 8:56; 2 Chron. 6:14, 15.
These men were no fools. They were wise men and leaders of a great nation, and they recognized that only through God’s oversight and loyalty to his promises could the fulfillments have come. And they were no deceivers. The candidness of the writers of the Scriptures, exposing their own errors as well as those of their rulers and their nation, testifies to their truthfulness.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GOD
If we are seriously concerned with deliverance from the corruption of this present system of things, we will give God’s promise the deepest consideration. There is no other source that promises a paradise earth, a restoration of our loved ones by a resurrection, and everlasting life. Man’s promises of a better world are shabby by comparison—and even these they cannot fulfill.
Moreover, God loves man, the creation of his hands. He promises deliverance, not because he is obligated to do so, but out of love. The sending of his Son to earth was an act of God’s own initiative that laid the foundation for the deliverance of mankind. The apostle Paul wrote: “God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”—Rom. 5:8.
Why, then, doubt or reject such a loving provision? Rather, get more knowledge of God and his promises. Jehovah’s witnesses will be happy to help you to follow the inspired counsel to “make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine.”—1 Thess. 5:21.