"Better Than a Pinkie-Promise"
Do you remember that most solemn and serious of commitments one could make in elementary school? Clearly, I mean the pinkie-promise. To add a pinkie-promise to your word was to, in effect, chisel it in immovable assuredness. There was also, of course, the swears one could offer upon one’s mother’s life or grave, or the crossing of one’s heart and hoping to die, as if that somehow added to the sincerity of the promise. And if that proved not to be sufficient, perhaps some bold but unbelieved child would declare on the playground to the shock of all, “I SWEAR TO GOD!”
Jesus told us not to swear an oath at all. Instead, we are simply to let our yes be yes and our no be no. And why should we not swear? It is because we have no power to control the color of our head of hair, much less the outcomes that are to happen in this shockingly tenuous thing we call life. We are not to swear by heaven, nor earth, nor Jerusalem. We are to let our yes or no stand alone, for as Jesus taught, anything beyond this comes from the evil one. For the faithful folk where I grew up, this command is the basis for adding to their commitment to show up to any event with the caveat, “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.” We can promise, but our promises only go so far. Even our most sincere pinkie-promises.
God is not like us. When God made His promise to Abraham, God swore by God, because there was no one greater for God to swear by. We might swear on pinkies or mothers’ graves or even to God, but there is no greater authority for God to swear by than God’s self. And just as God is unchanging, so God’s promise is unchanging. God cannot lie.
This Advent season, take heart. Even when the creeks rise in our lives, we can anchor our souls, firm and secure in God’s sure, unchanging, and certain promises. We can know that just as Abraham received what had been promised to him, so, too, shall we receive what has been promised to us. Christ, our High Priest forever, has come. Christ, our High Priest forever, shall come again. Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Hebrews 6:13-20 (NIV):
13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.