This morning as I contemplated the coming days, Yom Kippur, my morning devotional drew me back to the story of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. I can just hear your thoughts, hold on Dvora, that’s Passover! And right you are. But what I was reminded of was how, over and over again, Israel failed; and how over and over again, God remained faithful to Israel.
The thought came to my mind, “If God can give up on Israel, then I can give up on God.” Somehow, favorite Bible verses take on new meaning.
If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.2 Timothy 2:13
28Regarding the gospel, they [the Jewish people] are enemies for your advantage, but regarding election, they are loved because of the patriarchs, 29since God’s gracious gifts and calling are irrevocable.Romans 11:28-29
The Gospel Is Not Antisemetic
Now before anyone comments, please take note that Paul is not talking against the Jewish people in verses 28 and 29. He is simply explaining a sad fact… the Jewish people, in rejecting Jesus as Messiah, have become enemies of those who love the Messiah. This is of course a general statement for the nation as a whole. Individuals still have and do come to faith in Him… but sadly, this is the nation’s current status. Nevertheless, because of God’s promise to the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), God will never change his mind about bringing full redemption and salvation to the nation as a whole. While that day may not yet be here, that day is coming.
And if you and I want proof of that, then we need only consider this, that if God could or would or will break His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – both spiritual and physically (the Land of Israel) – then how can any other believer in Jesus rely on God’s promises? If God could break His promise to Israel, then He can just as easily break His promise to us.
God’s Faithfulness Gives Us Hope
This is why that verse in 2 Timothy is so important. Think about it. The previous verse says, “If we deny Him, He will also deny us.” This is absolutely terrifying. How many times have my actions denied Him, despite my words? Speaking in a loving way but acting hatefully… you get the idea. Furthermore, what about Peter. Didn’t He deny knowing Jesus? Yet Jesus never denied Peter.
The denial of 2 Timothy is something much deeper than words or even deeds. Rather it is words and deeds that are centered in a heart denial of Jesus – utter rejection of Him.
Yes, Peter denied Jesus, but his was a denial of faithlessness. He gave into fear and responded accordingly. Yet, on the evening of Peter’s denial, Jesus had made an amazing promise. After Judas had left to betray Him, Jesus told the 11 remaining disciples that they had not chosen Him, but He had chosen them (see John 15: 16). And that was a kind of promise – you are mine. You’ve all read the end of the story: Peter was indeed restored to fellowship with his Lord. You see, Peter had been faithless, but Jesus had remained faithful – because He could not “deny Himself” – He could not go back on His word.
Knowing that God is utterly and absolutely faithful and that He keeps His promises gives us tremendous hope.
Reminders of Our Assurance
Times such as the Day of Atonement serve as reminders of the assurance we have in our Savior and Messiah. In Israel, as I’ve shared before, we greet each other with “G’mar chatima tova,” (may you be inscribed in the Book of Life). When I say it to others who are not believers, it is accompanied by a prayer in my heart that they would indeed come to know their Messiah and be written in His book forever.
But think about it. You and I, despite our failures and faithlessness in so much, are inscribed in His book forever. That is what the blood of Jesus has done for us – far more than the blood of Passover and all the sacrifices made until the temple was destroyed by the Romans. A costly forgiveness on the part of God, the blood of His Son poured shed for us. On our part, free. No deed I do can earn my salvation, no kind words, and no lifetime of sacrifice. Only two things are required of us – to simply believe that His sacrifice was enough, and to accept it.
Communion – Breaking of Bread – is another reminder, when we remember Jesus and His life and death for us. When we remember the price He paid, because, you see, God really is faithful to do ALL that He has promised.
Written in His Book Forever
And so, as I enter into the Day of Atonement, it is with a heart overflowing with thanks, that God is faithful. He has forgiven me, He is changing me, He is working through me, and my name is written in His book of life – forever! May this assurance be yours – G’mar chatima tova!