“If you do that again, there will be consequences.” — Is this statement a promise or a threat?
Some might say, because it sounds “negative,” it is a threat. Others might say that it constitutes a promise (whether negative or positive) that a particular action will lead to a subsequent action or series of actions.
Within evangelical Christian circles, the “promises of God” always seem to be assurances of positive blessing and congregants are encouraged to “claim” them. The negatives of disobedience are often missing from these sermons. Is this “half-truth” really masking an entire lie? I believe it is.
Let’s go back to my question at the start of this essay. Doesn’t the context of the original statement have everything to do with whether we would want the outcome indicated? One would have to know what the “that” is in the statement to discern whether the result would be desired.
When you fail to look at the entire Bible as God’s revelation of His will to all men, it is easy to pick and choose from those things you prefer rather than hope to ignore. However, the Lord doesn’t waste a word anywhere in Scripture, and it is wise to pay attention all the time, lest we receive unwanted and unintended consequences.
Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 are not “feel good” passages once you go beyond the 13th verse of the former and the 14th of the latter. The rest of each of these chapters includes the promises of God, but ones few people would want to be on the receiving end of. Read them and you will know what I mean.
So, the next time you hear a sermon or read a devotional that discusses the promises of God, it would be wise to evaluate whether or not you are only getting a partial view of the mind of God, and the pleasant aspects at that.
What’s more, reading through Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 begs the question: Do we have to “claim” these promises for them to go into effect? Or, are we responsible to look to the commands of God in His law-word to recognize which consequences we will receive?
Next time you are encouraged to “claim the promises of God” remember that God’s law-word is not a potluck or smorgasbord of items you can accept or reject at your leisure. Rather than claiming them, recognize that they have a claim on you.