“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 13:23)
From the very beginning, the kingdom of Israel was evil. It started with Jeroboam, who early in his reign led his people into idolatry. After him, every single king continued to rebel against God, committing all sorts of evils and atrocities. The most infamous of these kings was Ahab, his legacy being that no one else “sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab” (1 Kings 21:25). Then there was Jehu, who started off well by destroying the priests of Baal in Israel. But even he turned to idol worship at some point, as did all his descendants. There’s simply no way around it; Israel was evil.
When we read about all these horrible kings, it’s hard not to wonder why God didn’t destroy them early on. Ahab was a terrible person, and while God did cut off his line from the throne, the kingdom still continued. After Jehu, nine more kings reigned. Why is that? How is it that God could have such incredible patience with such a rebellious people?
2 Kings 13:23 provides the answer. Over one thousand years earlier, God had made a covenant with Abraham. At this time, God promised that His covenant would extend to all of Abraham’s descendants, and He would be their God forever. It was because of this that God was not willing to destroy the kingdom of Israel. He had promised Abraham that He would be with his descendants, and He still honored that promise, even to people who didn’t care one whit about Him.
This is an incredible truth—God honors His promises. Even if someone is openly rebelling against God, He still remains true. He still does what He said He would do, even if the recipient of the blessing doesn’t care. God is true; He cannot lie. When He promises something, He keeps that promise. He will never change; we can always trust Him to keep His word, whatever it may be.
One other cool thing. According to the Apostle Paul, everyone who believes in Jesus as their Savior is a child of Abraham (Galatians 3:7-9). God promised to uphold His covenant for all of Abraham’s descendants. Since we as Christians are now considered descendants of Abraham, that includes us. The same God Who honored His covenant with the people of Israel is now doing the same thing for us. He’s promised to be with us forever—and we can absolutely, positively trust Him to do just that. If He wasn’t willing to destroy a people who rebelled against Him, how much more will He honor His promise to us who are striving to honor Him?