By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
When you think of promises, you often think of the good things that are generally associated with them. Yet, as great as promises are, they are only as good as the person making them. If the person making the promise is true to their word, then the promise is good. If not, then it really doesn’t hold much weight (the term “hot air” seems to come to mind). When you turn to the pages of Scripture, you will discover there are lots of promises, thousands of them. Because God is good for his word these are all promises you can trust.
Among these thousands of promises, there are some that get overlooked. You might be wondering how can a promise be overlooked? Well, there are two reasons. The first is simply because you don’t know it’s there. The second is because you either don’t see it or think of it as a promise. Today I am going to share with you five of these types of overlooked promises. You will discover they are overlooked for one or both of these reasons I just mentioned. However, after today I guess they won’t be overlooked anymore because you will know them. With this in mind, here are five of the most overlooked promises in Scripture.
1. The Promise That Started it All
“And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” – Genesis 2:16-17
You have probably heard these verses or read them plenty of times in your life. However, have you ever thought of them as a promise? Well, that is what they are. From the opening stanza of the Bible, we see God make a promise that the day you eat from the tree you will certainly die. This was the promise that started us down this road of life we are now experiencing. Often people say if Adam and Eve had not eaten that fruit we wouldn’t be in this mess. While that is true chances are if you were in the same position you would have done the same thing. So cut Adam a little slack. Whether you realize it or not this is the first promise in all of Scripture. This is not one of those happy promises, but it is a promise, nonetheless. We also know that God was true to his word because after they ate the fruit, we all know what happened. What God promised would happen is exactly what happened.
2. The Promise That Changes it All
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
Now I know exactly what you are saying, how is this overlooked? I know John 3:16 like the back of my hand. In fact, I used to carry this sign to the football games so the whole world would see it. Well, the reason this is an overlooked promise is because we don’t often view our salvation in this light. The truth of your salvation in its present form is that it is a promise. The hope of salvation that you have is simply based on a promise that God has made. Don’t get me wrong this is a solid promise worthy of putting your faith and trust in, but it is still a promise, nonetheless. Right now, you walk by faith in the promise that your trust in Jesus will result in eternal life. At this precise moment, however, your eternal life is still in the promise phase. One day this will no longer be true because the promise will become a reality. Though you walk in faith now, you won’t walk in faith forever. In other words, at some point in the future, your faith will become sight. On that day the promise that you have believed by faith will come to fruition. Because of the faith and trust you have put in Jesus eternal life will be yours just as God has promised.
3. The Promise for through it All
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
I have often called this the most overlooked promise in all of Scripture. This one is often overlooked because plain and simple we just don’t like it. What you see here is that Jesus is promising that in this life you will have trouble. Who really wants to claim that? Can I ask you, was Jesus right? Absolutely! We have all faced trouble in some form or fashion in this life, but that is what makes this promise all the more beautiful. Jesus warned us ahead of time. He never made it seem that this journey with him was going to be smooth sailing. He made us aware that there would be some rough seas along the way. In my opinion, this makes me love and trust him more because he didn’t sugar coat this walk, he told us the truth. There are two aspects to this promise.
Yes, you will have trouble, but the good news is Jesus also said I have overcome the world. You need to recognize that even though trouble will come, you can still experience peace in him, which is why he told you this in the first place. So when trouble comes, remember Jesus promised it and run to him so that you can find peace through it all.
4. The Promise for in it All
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” – James 4:8 (NKJV)
The reason this promise is considered overlooked is because we often forget how much God desires to be with us. In every situation, God wants to be with you. I remember when I was a teenager and I went to an all-night prayer meeting (do they still even do those anymore…not sure). I remember sitting there and reminding God of this promise and do you know what God did? He fulfilled his promise and drew near to me. So often we get tricked into thinking that God is hiding himself or he doesn’t want to be near us. Or we think we have to jump through hurdles or do everything right before we can ever come close to God. None of this is true.
Yes, God is holy, and you can’t live in willful sin and think you can just waltz into God’s presence. That will not work or let me say it as I feel it, “that ain’t gonna work.” However, if your heart is to draw near to God you need to know that there is an even greater desire in God’s heart to draw near to you. The next time you go to pray and you desire to be close to God, remind him of this promise. I assure you he is ready and waiting to invite you in because he wants to be close to you. That is his promise.
5. The Promise That Ends it All
“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” – Revelation 22:12-14
There is a great irony in Scripture. The Bible begins with a promise surrounding a tree and the Bible ends with a promise surrounding a tree. One tree the fruit eaten from it produced death. This other tree the fruit eaten from it will produce life. Isn’t it like God to take the things that were often the cause of death and destruction in our life and use those same things to produce life? As the scriptures are closing, one of the last things Jesus promises is that he is coming soon and we will have access to the tree of life. This is amazing and this is the reason for the hope that you have. This is why you endure hardships, trials, and persecutions. This is why you keep pressing forward even when everything is telling you to give up. You press on because you know that one day soon Jesus is coming and his reward is with him. One day as he promised you will eat from the tree of life and you will be with him forever. This is God’s promise, and he will bring it to pass.
When I started, I said that a promise is only as good as the person making it. As you dwell on these and all of the thousands of promises there are in the Bible here is why you can be confident.
So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. “Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.” – Hebrews 6:18 (NLT)
Know today God can be trusted. Hold on to every promise he has made. Whether they are overlooked or not he will bring them to pass.
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.