As I have been reading through the old testament, there have been times when I have thought to myself, "God is not being loving here", or "God is not being fair at all", but I have found this to be consistently true: God is trustworthy. He keeps his word. Even when humans screw up horribly.
A classic example of this is the story of the patriarchs. Many of you will recall how God promised Abraham a son from his wife Sarah, even though she was too old to bear children. God kept his promise despite the fulfillment seeming impossible and despite Abraham's actions that certainly did not reflect a confidence in God's promises.
A more strange and interesting example of God keeping his word comes just a bit later. A generation later, as Abraham's daughter in law, Rebekah, was pregnant with twins. God said to her
“Two nations are in your womb,"The older shall serve the younger" is a strangely arbitrary word for God to give, and it is accomplished in a strange way. First, Jacob, the younger, basically extorts his older brother, Esau, into giving him his birthright (Genesis 25:27-34). Then Rebekah and Jacob conspire together to trick Isaac (the boys' father) into blessing Jacob instead of Esau (Genesis 27). It seems to me that these actions are evil. The evil is especially poignant in Jacob's cold deception of Isaac in Genesis 27:20 and 22-24.
and two peoples from within you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the older shall serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23)
So, God's word is not compromised by our evil deeds. In fact it seems that in this case, he works out his word through grossly immoral humans. It's the same with the nation of Israel later on. If God wanted to choose the best people for himself, Israel should not have been chosen. All that He desires for them to do is trust in his word, a word that he has proven to them to be trustworthy over and over again. But they so often do not. If the fulfillment of God's word depended on our actions, good would have no chance.
As the Babylonian Empire's conquest of Israel and Judah was imminent, God gave the prophet Jeremiah these words (Jeremiah 33:19-26):
The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah:
“Thus says the LORD: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time,
then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers.
As the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the offspring of David my servant, and the Levitical priests who minister to me.”
The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah:
“Have you not observed that these people are saying, ‘The LORD has rejected the two clans that he chose’? Thus they have despised my people so that they are no longer a nation in their sight.
Thus says the LORD: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth,
then I will reject the offspring of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his offspring to rule over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.”
I think that the promises mentioned here have been fulfilled, at least in one sense, by Christ. He is the son of David who now reigns over the kingdom of believers and who will one day reign over the whole earth and heaven. We Christians, like an innumerable group of Levites, are all set aside for the glory of the LORD.
Just as those who heard this prophecy could not comprehend that the sunrise and sunset are accomplished by the spinning of the Earth, they could not comprehend that God's Old Testament promises would be fulfilled by Christ, who John would call "The Word" (John 1:1-14). Sometimes we cannot see how God's word will be accomplished, but it is totally rational to trust in it and act according to it. When we are at the precipice about to fall into sin, why should we ever decide that we are right and He is not? If we think that the sun will come up tomorrow, we should follow the precepts of the LORD with the same confidence.
If trustworthiness can be measured; if it can have a magnitude, then the magnitude of God's trustworthiness should be compared to the magnitude of the angular momentum of the Earth (that's what keeps the sun coming up). Like so many other things in the universe, it is so large that any conception our minds might have of it is too small.