Now Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz. But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion on them, and he turned toward them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, nor has he cast them from his presence until now. 2 Kings 13:22-23
In 2 Kings 13, King Joash tragically responded to the word of God, hence, the oppression of Hazael in verse 22. But after verse 22 comes this big “but”- But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion on them. Why was Yahweh faithful to unfaithful Israel? Because of the covenant that He made with Abraham. God is faithful to His promises, even when His people aren’t.
We know from our study in Ezra+Nehemiah that eventually the Lord did “cast” His people into exile (see 2nd Kings 24:20). He was faithful to the promise of discipline that He promised in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. But the Lord waited patiently for a very long time before He cast Israel into exile. Why? Because He is “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands…” (Exodus 34:6-7). He waits because He is faithful to the covenant, faithful to His promises. That’s how God deals with us and that’s how He wants us to view Him: faithful to His promises. Martin Luther reminds us how God deals with us and what He desires of us:
He desires not works nor has he need of them. He desires that we consider him faithful in his promises & patiently persist in this belief. God does not deal, nor has he ever dealt, with man otherwise than through a word of promise.
God doesn’t need your good works. As Luther also famously said, “God doesn’t need your good works, but your neighbor does.” What God desires is that we consider Him faithful to His promises and we patiently persist in this belief. Why? Because God does not, nor has He ever, dealt with man other than through a word of promise. I love that our God is like that!
So let me recommend to you a book that highlights how God deals with His people: The Promises of God: Discovering the One who Keeps His Word