“...that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled…”--Ezra 1:1
And thus the book of Ezra starts with the strong reality of the unfailing promise of God. Decades before the events recorded in Ezra, God had prophesied through Jeremiah that though his people would be sent into a seventy-year long exile to Babylon for their unfaithfulness, he would fulfill his promise and bring his people back to Jerusalem (Jer 29:10-14). This first verse in Ezra reminds us that God never forgets his word.
If you are like me, you need these continual reminders of God’s unforgotten word. His word never fails. It never falls to the ground; never returns to him without accomplishing what he sent it out to do. God does not forget his promise. Though we might forget, God doesn’t forget. Nations (like a Babylon) can’t alter God’s word. Time (like 70 years) can’t fade it. Death (Jeremiah was in the grave) can’t bury it. God’s word lives on to fulfillment.
Around 2000 years ago God’s incarnate Promise walked the dusty streets of Palestine to visit his people for the purposes of redemption (Luke 1:68). But God’s Promise was not recognized nor generally received (Jn 1:10-11). Rather, he was rejected and exiled to a criminal’s cross outside of Jerusalem. Darkness and death covered the Promise. From the cross God’s Promise would be moved to death’s tomb and the sealed stone set. Individuals and nations, commoners and leaders had once again raised their words above God’s Word. But God’s promise would not fail: “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption” (Ps 16:10). So, on the third day, as promised (1 Cor 15:4) God raised his Promise from the dead! Therefore, in Christ “all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory” (2 Cor 1:20).
God keeps his word! Let us trust him. Let the proud doubt; we will believe. Let the scoffers scoff; we will exult! Let time roll, nations rise and fall, history march, even the gates of hell attack; let heaven and earth pass away--God’s word will not fail!
Whether our marriage is a month old or decades old, we can all use continual encouragement. So, in this post, I simply want to pass along an encouraging word for our marriages from Tim Keller’s book, The Meaning of Marriage. Listen to his answer to the question, “What do I do when my ‘feelings of love seem to dry up’?”:
“You do the acts of love, despite your lack of feeling. You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actions you must be tender, understanding, forgiving, and helpful….
“....Many people hear this and say, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t give love if I don’t feel it! I can’t fake it. That’s too mechanical for me.’ I can understand that reaction, but Paul doesn’t simply call us to a naked action; he also commands us to think as we act. ‘Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.’
“This means we must say to ourselves something like this: ‘Well, when Jesus looked down from the cross, he didn’t think, “I am giving myself to you because you are so attractive to me.” No, he was in agony, and he looked down at us---denying him, abandoning him and betraying him---and in the greatest act of love in history, he stayed. He said, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” He loved us, not because we were lovely to him, but to make us lovely. That is why I am going to love my spouse.’ Speak to your heart like that, and then fulfill the promises you made on your wedding day.” (The Meaning of Marriage; pp. 104, & 108-109)
“‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”--Eph 5:31-33
Chuck Cook is the pastor of Grace Bible Church - Rolla.