(Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5)
When times become troubling and one is not sure what can be done, many people fall back on God’s promise never to leave or forsake them. God first promised this to the Israelites as they waited to cross the Jordan River and inherit the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 31:6). He restated this promise to Joshua two verses later when He told him he would lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. In both these instances, Moses was the spokesman for God. God spoke to Joshua Himself relaying this promise to him in Joshua 1:5. In Hebrews 13:5, the writer of the book reiterated to the Hebrew Christians God would not desert or forsake them.
The three Old Testament passages use the word “fail” but the Hebrews passage uses the word “desert.” The Old Testament word for “fail” is raphah and means to let go, drop, abandon, forsake, and neglect. The New Testament word for “desert” is aniemi and means to send back, relax, loosen, give up, leave, not uphold, allow to sink. Note that both the Old and New Testaments then say God will not let go His grasp on His children, will not give them up (which means fiercely to protect and fight for them), will not abandon them, and will not allow them to sink. God is the strong right hand that leads, preserves, and protects His children. He will not abandon them to the world and evil.
This promise gives hope for the immediate future and reminds God’s children of their eternal hope. This promise should remind His children, too, of God’s requirements of them. In the Old Testament passages, God called them to walk with Him in obedience and faith, and to cross the Jordan River and take possession of the Promised Land. As the smallest nation, the thought of routing a territory from an established people would have been intimidating and terrifying. Yet, with God going before them and routing their enemies as He did Sihon and Og, they could have strength and courage, not being afraid or dismayed. The Israelites remembered God went before them earlier and were reminded He would go before them now. He would not abandon them to a fate of death, but give them victory because He would go before them and cause the victory.
This is what the writer of Hebrews explained to the Christians of the New Testament. The people experienced severe persecution, but not yet to the shedding of blood. The Hebrew writer reminded them of God’s promise from the Old Testament. He told them God would not desert or forsake them. God would not give them up or leave them behind and helpless. He continued to be God and no matter the circumstances. The writer reminded them Jesus suffered to the point of giving blood and they had not. God did not abandon Jesus and He would not abandon them in the midst of Nero’s persecution of them.
God’s promise continues down through the centuries. He does not change. God is always faithful – to Himself and to His children. What do we have to do to retain this promise? Be faithful to God. Be content with what God gives knowing He will give what is needed. Remember the Lord will not forsake, desert, or fail you. His promises hold true and are everlasting for His children.
What are you going through now? Is it to the point of shedding blood like Christ? No matter if it is persecution or trials of each day, God has not and will not forsake you. Continue to follow and obey Him. Continue go with Him wherever He says go. Have faith, be strong, and be courageous. God goes before you. He will give you your inheritance – salvation now and in His kingdom.
Each of us must choose to have faith in God, be obedient children of His, and persevere and have hope knowing God brings the victory.