Faithful to the Promise

Faithful to the Promise

One of my favorite words in the Bible is the Hebrew word chesed. It is the term for covenant faithfulness, loyalty. I always talk about chesed at weddings. A relationship is beginning that will be severely tested. I want the couple to know that God is establishing chesed between them. It means that each of them has the right to expect certain behavior from the other in light of the promises they are making on this day.

That’s what God was doing with Noah when he set the rainbow in the clouds after the Flood. He was establishing a covenant with humanity, saying,

You have the right to know something about me from this day on.
I am binding myself to you, even if you fill the earth with violence.
I am committing to participate in my creation, to enter it by means of those through whom I can savingly work.
I will never again throw in the towel.
When I am angry, my judgment will be leveraged to save.
When it rains like cats and dogs and you wonder if it’s going to keep pouring down
for 40 days and nights, just keep looking up.
At the end of the rain, you’ll see the rainbow, which is my way of saying that I remember.
You have the right to expect saving behavior from me in light of the promises I have made to you.”

God has kept chesed with us. We have not made it easy, as we see up close during the Lenten season, which begins this year on March 5.

One dark night, we arrested the God-become-flesh Jesus. He came to share in our human condition, but we viewed him as a threat. We went to a garden and arrested him. We beat him, convicted him with a stacked jury, mocked his royalty, and forced him to drag his own cross through our streets. We nailed him up and stripped him naked for the world to see. We killed the God who came to live among us and share our pain.

If ever there was a day that God wanted to renege on his promise, I think it was that day. We were at our violent best. And the sky did darken. Clouds did form a ceiling over our wicked heads. But the rain never came. God stayed faithful to the promise. God entered into our sinful suffering and died in the place where we die.

This post is an excerpt from The Dark Side of God: When God is Hard to Explain.


  1. James Elkins II says

    Hey there Dan!

    Yeah, it is also a favorite of mine too. (By the way, nice Blog page or whatever you call it! lol.)

    For a Person or Christian who embodies Charity “Chesed” is known as a “Chasid” (the Jewish Hasid) one who is “faithful to the covenant” or who goes “above and beyond that which is normally required.” Charity or Loving-Kindness” is also often used as an English translation of Chesed (or, Hesed).

    This may be understood to mean that “the entirety is characterized by Chesed (also Charity), i.e. the ideal life whose goals are behavior characterized by Charity, Mercy and Compassion. Serving others.

    The Hebrew word Chesed has also been understood as linked with the Greek word ‘AGAPE’ and its Latin equivalent, CARITAS (CHARITY). The greatest principle and central value of Christianity is LOVE. It is the Mercy Pillar (Sephira or Attribute) of Chesed (Mercy).

    A statement by Rabbi in the Talmud claims that The Torah begins with Chesed and ends with Chesed. “Chesed-to-Chesed.” In other words, the Law of God begins and ends with Love and ends with Love. The the Benignity and Majesty of Chesed. Also the Hebrew word RChM, or Rechem = Chesed or Mercy. Conveying this idea as tender love and kindness. It is a Name of God: “Yours, O HaShem, is the Greatness (or Chesed).” It is associated with the Hebrew letter “Heh” (or greater” Heh or Mercy) in YHWH.

    In other words, it is God’s conscious reality “Manifesting” as Will and Love-in-Extension to all men. Christ is embodied as Chesed (Caritas-Charis-Christ). The nature of Chesed has been described as the “Bound-Less Out-Pouring” of the divine desire to Give. Chesed, Path of Return, the Angel/Messenger of Mercy, the Turning Tide and ‘Homeward bound. This is the moment of ‘Ascension.’ In the higher-realm of the human Soul, the “Shekiah” (from the heart) or “Christ-like love” of others. It is going above and beyond which is normally required. The eidolon-image of God “embedded (endwelled or infused) in the great humanity.


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