The Bible is full of promises, particularly the promises made by God. God promised the Israelites blessings that they would receive for their obedience, but also promised curses for their disobedience. God also promised the Israelites a Messiah for their once and future king. Later in the New Testament there are promises made by Jesus concerning His church and its age, and also promises made to the Gentiles.
What are some of the promises of God? Most of them are simple statements such as, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Heb 13:5) If we believe in a God who never lies (and we do) it is a promise to us that we can bank on. Another one of God’s promises is for children to obey their parents and honor them that it may be will with them (the children) (Eph 6:1-3) Like many of God’s promises, if we believe and follow them, the better off in the long run we’d be. Entire books have been written on the promises of God so these are just two examples taken from many.
But there is an aspect to Biblical promises that needs our discernment. God is not the only one who promises us things; the devil likes to make us promises, too. His temptation of Eve in the garden is a good example. He promised her that by eating the fruit she would become as God. Eve agreed and we all know the end result of both Satan’s promise and the future of mankind.
We can illustrate this difference between God’s and the devil’s promises in a simple way. If you have ever shopped in a bent’n’dent store you have probably seen cans of food which have lost their labels. We will let one of these unmarked cans represent the future; tomorrow, next week, or next month, or even next year. Both God and Satan say to us, “Follow me, and when the time is right I’ll open this can and give you the fruit salad that’s inside.” (As a side note, Satan will usually push for us to pursue our immediate gratification while God is much more patient with us and our desires). In due time God opens the can for us and, indeed, it really is fruit salad, possibly even the best we will ever taste. However when Satan lets us open his can, instead of fruit we are more likely to find Brussels sprouts, or artichoke hearts, possibly even mixed with some harmful bacteria and our own regret for listening to him in the first place.
Am I implying that God only promises us sunshine and roses in our lives? No, He has also promised us adversity for just identifying with Him. Here, in the natural world, we recognize that a loving parent should only make promises that they know they will keep. “Doth His promise fail?” (Psa 77:8) Having faith and trusting in God’s promises are so closely tied to each other that you cannot have one alone. The difference is that God keeps His promises. It’s up to us to keep our faith that He will.