Most Bible readers are very familiar with the many, many sins of the northern kingdom of Israel in the Old Testament. That nation did not have a single godly king. They were constantly whoring themselves to pagan idols and to the two golden calves of Jeroboam son of Nebat. Their rulers consistently ignored the Word of Yahweh, delivered to them by such prophets as Elijah, Elisha, Amos, Hosea, Jonah, and Nahum. It was a despicable land full of rebellion, and yet God showed them mercy time and time again.
Now Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz. But Yahweh was gracious to them and had compassion on them, and He turned toward them, because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, nor has He cast them from his presence until now. (2 Kings 13:22-23)
I had to highlight the above passage in my Bible this morning. Upon reading it, I was struck with the profound magnitude of God's mercy and grace: that His patience would yet extend to this spiritually adulterous people because of a covenant made long before.
Not only that, but this passage is especially encouraging to me because I am a sinner. Just as the northern kingdom of Israel provoked God's wrath time and time again, so have I done. At times it seems to me that there can be no patience left with God toward my sin. And then I read of how God put up with these Old Testament sinners for generations upon generations because of a covenant made with some men hundreds of years before, and I remember that there is a greater covenant of which I am a part.
This New Covenant is spoken of often in both Old and New Testaments, but for the purposes of this hope that I am exploring, I want to look at just one reference:
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (John 6:37)
The covenant that God the Father has made concerning me and concerning all born again believers was not simply made with some mere human. He covenanted with His own Son - His Image, His glory, and the exact imprint of His nature (Hebrews 1:3) - to save those whom He chose and predestined to save (Ephesians 1:4-5). Our names were written in a book from before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). He has given us as a bride for His Son, and all those whom He has given will come to Him, and those who come to Him He will never cast out (John 6:37)!
And so here is hope: not in our own ability to walk perfectly before the Lord, but in His ability to keep us in spite of our sin and to present us blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy (Jude 24). He extends patience and mercy and grace and blessing not because of goodness in us, but because of His decision to save us and His covenant to do so. This is the only hope that I have - the only hope that anyone can have - that we belong to Him and that He will not let us be snatched out of His hand (John 10:28).