Swearing Upon Something Solid
13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
“I swear on my mother’s grave!” The guy told me, drunk with vodka and on his knees begging me for money on a street somewhere in Central Asia.
“Don’t bring your mother into this!” I said, “I’m not giving you any money!”
It sounds like a scene from an awesome crime movie, but it was real, my language was broken, and it tore me up. The dude was drunk and wanted to really pull in some heavy oath in his lie about why he needed money.
That’s what people do. When they really want to show how big and important their statement or commitment is, they swear on something. My wife and I had an odd moment at the Vanderburgh County Courthouse the day we got our marriage certificate. The lady told us to raise our right hands and say “I am” after she read off something in as slurred speech as that drunk guy on the street.
We walked out of the office and I said to my soon-to-be-wife, “I think we just swore an oath, but I’m not sure what we swore on.”
God wanted to make His covenant clear to Abraham. He made a promise and knew that Abraham understood the language of oaths and swearing.
12 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1–3
That promise was made and would eventually be fulfilled in Jesus. By faith in Jesus, we are all adopted into the family of Abraham because of his great faith.
God will always keep His promises. In this case of the promise to Abraham, one of the greatest promises of all time, He swore upon Himself. God is the only thing in the whole cosmos that will never change. He is faithful. We can trust Him just like Abraham did.
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