The Eternal, Unfailing, Effectual Word of God
Reading: 1 Kings 16:34
In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the LORD spoken by Joshua son of Nun. (1 Kings 16:34)
Approximately once a year, as I work through my bible reading plan, I come across this verse. Each time, I am struck by the eternal, unfailing, effectual nature of God’s Word and I am reminded of another verse: Genesis 2:17. Before I go to that verse, let me explain some things about this verse that lead me to the Genesis verse.
“Ahab’s time” was approximately 5½ centuries after Joshua had spoken the word,
“Cursed before the LORD be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho. At the cost of his firstborn shall he lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest son shall he set up its gates.” (Joshua 6:26)
However, the passing of time and the seeming inertia of the words since the time they had been spoken did not make the words have any less force than the day they were spoken. After all, no one had yet died because of this word, but it wasn’t until the condition of the Lord’s Word through Joshua was met by laying the foundation of Jericho and setting up its gates, that the power of the Word showed itself. The power was there all along; the Word of the Lord was eternal, unfailing, and effectual.
How does that remind me of Genesis 2:17?
And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
This is another Word from God that had a condition and was eternal, unfailing, and effectual. It does not matter how much time has passed from that day until now, death is still the lot of the human race because Adam ate from the tree. We may object, deny it, or just wish it weren’t so, but it remains an unalterable truth of human existence. The serpent lied saying it would not be true (Genesis 3:4), but it is still true. Many question, “If God is all powerful, why is the world such a mess?” but the Bible answers, “The world is such a mess because God is all powerful.” His Word is eternal, unfailing, and effectual.
John 3:17-18 tell us that Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save it. Jesus did not have to come to condemn the world for the world was already condemned when he showed up. Anyone who does not believe in Christ, is condemned already. When was he condemned? The moment Adam ate, for that is the moment the condition of Genesis 2:17 was met. The Word of God which may have seemed inactive until he ate became very active the moment he ate.
This truth that God’s Word is eternal, unfailing, and effectual is the very reason why the cross is necessary for salvation. God cannot say, “I was just kidding.” God will not say, “Okay, time’s up; I call off the truth of Genesis 2:17.” Rather, once Adam ate from the tree, if mankind is to be saved, God had to save him (all the descendants of Adam) through death. In Jesus, we die with Him, and in Jesus we are raised to new life. We can live now in the new life he offers. And one day when we die in the flesh, we live on in the Spirit because the resurrection of Christ has begun a whole new creation. All who are in Jesus are a part of that new creation now (2 Corinthians 5:17). And our future resurrection will make this salvation complete.
Here is some great news: The Gospel that came to you that forgiveness of sins is available to all who trust in Jesus (Luke 24:47) is eternal, unfailing, and effectual. Jesus has authority on earth to forgive sins, and because He declares your sins forgiven in the Gospel, you can know they are forgiven. Now, live life in light of that glorious and great truth. For just as surely as you will die, you will surely live beyond the grave, for your sins are forgiven.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,