At the end of his life Moses said to Joshua “The Lord goes with you, He will never leave you or forsake you”; later God reiterated His promise to Joshua personally (Deut 31:6,8,23; Josh 1:5,9). However, the Israelites in spite of their good intentions not to, would consistently turn from Him and He would cast them off to be disciplined and hide the consciousness of His presence from them (Deut 31:16-18; Josh 24:16,20). This was not negating God’s word but, like most promises of the Bible, God requires humans to keep their part so He can fulfill His role. If we remain faithful to God He will remain loyal to us. We, by our choice, determine our own destiny. “Lord, you haven’t forsaken those who trust in you” (Ps 9:10, 37:25).
God was not powerless or His purposes nullified when various believers were martyred in past times, or even today, as many continue to die for the sake of the gospel (Heb 11:35-40). He never forsakes those who remain true to Him. Paul said, “I was left all alone but the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…and will bring me safely to heaven” (2 Tim 4:16-18). Stephen, when he was being stoned to death saw Jesus standing to receive him into heaven (Act 7:55,56).
“My God why have you forsaken me?” were the words prophesied in the Psalms and voiced by Christ on the cross, when spiritually separated (temporarily) from His Holy Father who could not look when He was identifying with humanity’s accumulated sin (Ps 22:1; Isa 59:2; Mk 15:34). But the resurrection powerfully demonstrated that God was still in control and Christ has now been exalted to the highest place (Phil 2:9).
To fellowship with God, we must leave our sinful ways
Jesus said, “If anyone doesn’t give up everything he cannot be my disciple”, yet not one who has left all to follow Him will be disadvantaged in heaven (Mt 19:27-30; Lk 5:11, 14:33; Jn 12:25). Unfortunately some who start on the Christian path, abandon the faith, leaving the Saviour in exchange for some pleasure they are not prepared to lay on the altar of sacrifice (Mk 8:36; Jn 6:66). Hold fast to your faith and, through having a deepening relationship with Christ, you will not be pulled away by the enticement of the world’s system and values (2 Cor 6:14-18; 2 Tim 2:19; Heb 10:23; Jas 1:14; 2 Pet 2:15; 1 Jn 2:15).
When Jesus was arrested, all His disciples deserted Him and fled but He remained committed to the end (Mt 26:56; Jn 19:30). What would my response have been?
See also: abandoned, alone, altars, apostasy, backslide, eternal security, repentance.