I remember as an elementary kid learning about the oath of a pinky promise. You would be talking with a friend about something in your lunch box that you would trade for an item in theirs. Once you agreed, you had to seal the deal so no other kid could sneak their way into the negotiation. You would look your friend in the eye and say “promise?” They would say “yes.” But out of an abundance of caution, because you really wanted that Swiss Cake Roll, you would stretch out your hand and say “pinky promise?” Your friend knew instantly how serious this was. Whether it was making lunch trades, keeping a secret, or backdoor deals on the kickball field, the “pinky promise” phrase elevated the terms of the agreement and everyone knew you can’t break a pinky promise. Even if an entire month went by, that pinky promise is still as good as gold.
There are moments in Scripture where God makes a promise (a covenant) with someone and over the course of time, that person begins to waver as the waiting on that promise becomes too much for them. They were hoping the promise would be more like a sprint–quickly fulfilled, when in reality, seeing a promise through is more like a marathon!
Have you noticed that some promises from God have an oath attached to them? Granted, God’s word of “I promise” should be and is more than enough for us to trust and believe that He will deliver. Take Abraham for example. God makes an amazing promise to him in Genesis 15 but we often forget that same promise is also recorded in Genesis 22. In Genesis 15:5 God “…brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” That was the promise, nothing extra attached to it. How long would you last after this promise before you started questioning if God was really serious? It was 25 years later that Abraham and Sarah had their son Isaac–at the age of 90 and 100!
But in Genesis 22 God makes a second promise. It’s about 40 years later, Isaac, a young man now, is lying on the altar of sacrifice. Abraham has the knife raised when the angel of the LORD yells “stop!” Then the LORD declares “By myself I have sworn, declare the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore…”
“By myself I have sworn” is that pinky promise moment. Abraham believed the original promise, so much so, that he was willing to take his son to the altar of sacrifice and even lift the knife! So why did God swear an oath on top of His promise? To show the incredible unchanging nature of His character. Go back and read Hebrews 6:13-20. In verse 17 we read “When God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath.”
As a believer, you can have full assurance–complete confidence–in God’s unchanging character. Even if God decides to take 10 years, 15 years, or 25 years to deliver on that promise, you can trust that He is not just a maker of promises but a keeper of promises. Francis Chan wrote in Crazy Love: “True faith means holding nothing back. It means putting every hope in God’s fidelity to His Promises.”