What Does ‘I Will Never Leave you nor Forsake you’ mean?

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”(Heb. 13:56)

God never promises us financial freedom or earthly riches. He calls us to be content with the daily bread he gives and secured by the knowledge of his perpetual presence in our lives. He himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”This statement comes on the heels of the fleeting pursuit of security through riches. Riches are like the beautiful bird at the park that you set your eyes on for a moment, and then it flutters away (Prov. 23:5) God, on the other hand, doesn’t come and go. We don’t have to be afraid that he’ll be here today and forsake us tomorrow. We know he’s with us for the long haul, and that is our comfort!

Now, when did God say to you, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”? The author to the Hebrews is doing something quite remarkable here. He echoing two Old Testament passages and applying the promises given in them to the people of God today.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deut 31:6—8)

Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. (Josh. 1:3—5)

Let this settle in for a moment: The same pledge God made to Moses and to Joshua, he makes to his people today. The God who was with Moses promises to be with you! It’s a promise for you in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 1:20).  In the Greek text, it couldn’t be any more emphatic. He himself has said I will not leave you and I will not forsake you. The “you”there is singular, it’s a personal promise to you from God if you’re a part of his covenant people.

Interestingly, this promise came in the context of the conquest of Canaan. Earlier in the book of Hebrews, the writer drew lines of analogy between the people being led by Joshua, and the church today being led by Jesus. We’re not headed to the earthly Canaan, but to the new creation and heavenly Jerusalem (See Hebrews 4:8 and 12:18—24).

Just as Israel couldn’t trust in her own power and might to find security during the conquest then, today we must not rest in our earthly riches or strength in order to find security. Our security is the LORD of hosts, therefore in response to God’s word to you, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,”you can say back to him in praise, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear, what can man do to me!”

What do you find security in? Find it in Jesus, the true and greater Joshua who promises to lead us into the future, as uncertain as it may seem at times. Earthly riches may be fleeting, and others may forsake us, but Jesus never will. That’s a promise!

Photo of Adriel Sanchez

Adriel Sanchez

Adriel Sanchez is pastor of North Park Presbyterian Church, a congregation in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). In addition to his pastoral responsibilities, he also serves the broader church as a host on the Core Christianity radio program, a live, daily call-in talk show where he answers listeners' questions about the Bible and the Christian faith. He and his wife Ysabel live in San Diego with their four children.

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