THIS IS A QUOTE. For he hath said.
A) Paul here is clearly quoting from the word of God. This shows us how needful it is for us to know and quote the word of God especially in distressful situations. Though he could have, Paul did not offer a new promise, but he reminds us of one already given to God's people.
There is no better things in the world than the words of God himself.
B) Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, quotes from the Old Testament to comfort, encourage and strengthen New Testament Believers. There are many today who place the New Testament over the Old. There are many who place the writings of Paul over every other writer in the word of God. There are those who place the Apostles over the Prophets of old. Here Paul quotes from the Pentateuch, from the Chronicles and from the prophet Isaiah. Clearly, Paul exalts all the Old Testament as the word of God on equal level of the New Testament. The Spirit of God places no distinction between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Certainly, the New Testament reveals things that were hidden in the Old Testament, but that does not make it any more important than the Old. There is no clearer presentation of the Gospel of Christ than Isaiah 53.
C) The Spirit of God told Paul to apply this Old Testament promise to us. In doing so, the Spirit shows us that the words spoken to the Old Testament Saints were spoken to us also. The promises given to Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua and the many other saints to deal with particular situations were promises given to the people of faith of all time. If you have faith in Christ this morning, then the promises given to the faithful of old are for you also.
WHERE DID PAUL FIND THIS PROMISE, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" ?
This promise is given to some saints of old in several places. The Spirit did not have Paul quote it verbatim, but the Spirit takes the basic thought and applies it to Believers of all time.
There are several places that contain the spirit of the words Paul used in v. 5, and by not quoting any one exactly, any of the several places can be applied.
The first place, Genesis 28:15
Jacob had left home to go to Padanaram to find a wife. He lies down to sleep, with stones for a pillow. In his dream, he sees a ladder reaching from heaven to earth. At the top of the ladder, he sees the Lord. The Lord makes several promises to him, among which is v. 15, And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.
Jacob was entering into the unknown here. Jacob was leaving his father's house under very unfavorable circumstances. He was going to a distant country where he had relatives. And one of those relatives was Laban, who treated him worse than a stranger might have treated him.
Jacob got into a lot of difficult circumstances, most of them of his own making. He reaped the results of what he did to his brother and to his father, and it cost him many years of his life. Yet despite the fact that he got himself into most of his distressing circumstances, God's promise to him held true. We can look back over Jacob's life, and at every turn, we see that the Lord never left him nor forsook him. Everything that took place was for his good, though it sure did not seem so at the time. When he died, he had been greatly blessed by God and he had been a blessing to others.
Here we see a promise to young people just starting out in life, facing an unknown situations as did Jacob. No doubt there will be many distressing circumstances ahead. Fleeing from King Saul, David told Johathan, but truly as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death. (1 Sam. 20:3.) There will be times in your lives, young people, when it will seem there is only one step between you and death, and many of those times will be of your own doing.
But this morning if you are in Christ, the promise given to Jacob as he set out into the unknown, And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. There will be many times that it will seem that there is only one step between you and the end, but when you get to the end, you will be able to look back and say that the Lord never left you nor forsook you, and that he only did you good.
The second place is Deuteronomy 31:6-8.
Moses is about to pass off the scene. He spoke to the children of Israel and says to them, Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: (that is, the Canaanites) for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Moses then called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it. And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.
In Joshua 1:5, the Lord himself repeated the promise to Joshua, I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
The Lord here was speaking to those who were about to lose their leader:
Moses had been with them for 40 years.
Moses had been the main stay of Israel. Israel had looked to Moses for everything.
Moses had cared for Israel as a father would care for his own children.
Moses had been used by God to supply food and water for Israel for 40 years.
Moses had been used to defeat their enemies and give them victory.
Moses had been used to speak God's word to them.
And now the Lord will remove Moses through death on Mount Nebo. The people were greatly troubled at the thought of losing him, but the Lord assures the people: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Moses is gone, but Moses' God is not gone.
One generation passes away, and the next generation takes its place. But the word of the Lord says,
Psalms 90:1 Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
Godly friends, loved ones and family members pass on, but their God does not pass on. We may visit the graves of loved ones whom we have looked up to as being godly people, but we do not visit their God at that grave side. We visit their God every time we utter a prayer, every time we read his word, every time we unite together in a public assembly in his name.
We might even say, "If only so and so were still alive and in their place of authority, things would be different in the world today." Well, that godly person who had such a wide impact for God and godliness may be gone, but that person's God is still alive.
The God of the Reformation is still alive.
The God of the authors of the Mayflower Compact is still alive.
The God of the fathers of the American war for Independence is still alive.
When Israel faced the loss of Moses, Israel's promise was, the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
When Joshua faced the loss of Moses' godly leadership and had to proceed in Moses' place, his promise was, And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.
You and I, when we face the loss of godly friends and loved ones, or we face the loss of those we might look up to as godly leaders, the promise is ours, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Heb. 13:5.)
The person may be gone, as was Moses, but the God of that person is still with us, as he promised to be to Israel and to Joshua.
Our hope is in the God of these people. Our hope is not in godly people doing what they should.
The third place is in 1 Chronicles 28:20.
And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.
Solomon was going to build a magnificent temple for the Lord, and David told him the Lord would not fail nor forsake him in his efforts.
Here we see the Lord's promise to be with those who are doing the Lord's work. This particularly applies to building the Lord's spiritual temple, the church. This includes evangelizing our community, reaching our family, friends and neighbours.
The Lord called a man named Gideon to do a task much larger than himself. Notice what the Lord said:
Judges 6:12 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. 13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. 14 And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? 15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house. 16 And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
Gideon is dead, but the God who sent Gideon with the promise still lives.
Do we feel afraid or unequal to the task? To the fearful and week, the Lord hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
The fourth place is in Isaiah 41:
8 But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. 9 Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. 10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. 11 Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish.
V. 10 is addressed to the seed of Abraham. They were distressed, tired and afflicted. They were tired of the fight against evil and wickedness. They were ready to give up. To those people, the Lord hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
The fifth place is our text, Hebrews 13:
5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
Here we see that this promise is our protection against being controlled by covetousness and greed. It is our protection against serving the god of this world, mammon. It is our means of being content with such things as we have.
We are inclined to say, "I have so little." The answer from God is that he will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. In other words, we have as much as the Lord has seen fit to give us.
Does this promise mean temporal things?
Do we think the Lord will let our body parish when he has promised to take care of our soul?
Is not this promise greater than all the riches of this world?
I realize that most of us cannot live by faith. We are prone to think that those things we can see and touch are much better than the promise of God. But does this not border on blasphemy. Is not God's promise better, more sure, more satisfactory and more Devine than anything we mich be able to see and hold?
Though our pockets may be empty, the promise of God is full. Our true wealth is found in the Bank of Heaven. The balance in our account in that Bank reads I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
If God sends us wealth, let us understand we are only stewards of it, and it is to be used for his glory. If he does not send it, then let us be content without it, for it can bring a heap of trouble with it:
Psalms 106:15 And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.
LET'S GO BACK TO THE VERSE, Hebrews 13:
5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. 7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. 8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
First, Paul sais, for he (the Lord God) hath said.
These words are not Paul's words, nor are they mine. If they were, they would be no good for you. These words are from the Lord God, the creator of heaven and earth. And they are directed to his people. These are God's own words, spoken to his people. He said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Second, I WILL, the Lord made the promise. The question is, what would happen to us if the Lord did not watch over us? Obviously, every one of us would be on the road straight to destruction in this life and hell in the next.
Fourth, I WILL, if this were just a man's promise, such as Paul's, he would have forsaken us long ago. Each of us have sorrowed greatly as we have seen friends and loved ones promise undying love, I will never leave you nor forsake you.
But far too often, the day comes when we look up and they are gone.
We live in an age of divorce, where very little is though of promises and commitments. We live in the age of BUFFETT style Christianity where people come and go until they find what pleases them. We live in a day of fast and lose friendships of all kinds. We live in a day of very lose family ties, where one day undying love is promised, and the next, hatred is displayed.
Here it is the Lord God who promised, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. And the one who made this promise says that Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. (Mk. 31:31.)
Close friends, loved ones and family members may move on or even turn against us, but you have not lost your God, nor the promise he made.
Death may have taken someone, but we have not lost our God, nor have we lost the promise he made to his people.
Riches may take wings and fly away and you may not even have a place to lay our head, but you have not lost your God, nor the promise he made.
Fifth, NEVER, these are not necessarily words promising deliverance out of difficulties and stresses. These are words that promise God's presence and protective care in the midst of whatever life holds for his people. No matter what comes our way, the promise is ours.
Though the quote is not exact, the thought is here:
Isaiah 46:3 Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: 4 And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.
Though the Children of Israel who wandered in the desert under God's protective presence and care are long dead and gone, their God is still here caring for his people.
Finally, it says,
Hebrews 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
It should give us boldness to continue on despite what has happened or what might happen to us. Many times the Lord allows things to come to pass so we will learn the lessons contained in Hebrews 13:5, 6. So we will press on for the Master faithfully.