Read Psalm 136.
When I was a kid, my mom and dad bought into in an up-and-coming theme park. A few years later, it would be featured on the evening news for weeks on end due to scandal. In 1986, though, Heritage USA in Fort Mill, South Carolina, was the third most popular vacation destination in the nation, only outdone by Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
For a one-time, thousand-dollar love gift to the ministry of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, donors were offered a four-night stay at the resort every year for the rest of their lives. For my dad, such an offer was too good to pass up, and so he wrote a check. But if you know anything about the story of the Bakkers, you know that those vacations didn’t last a lifetime. A few years after Heritage USA saw the peak of its popularity, it was closed for good.
There’s something about a lifetime prize, though, isn’t there? Whether it’s free Starbucks for life or lottery winnings that pay out each month till God calls you home, it sounds just too good to be true. And that’s because it is.
No one on earth can guarantee anything for a lifetime. Only God can possibly do that—though what He offers is bigger than coffee, money, or vacation stays, and a lifetime isn’t nearly long enough in His economy. Just listen to the repeated refrain of Psalm 136: “His love endures forever.”
The psalm looks back on history, from the creation of the world, to the exodus from Egypt, to the wilderness wanderings, to the conquest of Canaan. The people who sang this song had inherited much because God had chosen to act in the past and bless their ancestors, but not a single one of these events would have been anything to sing about years, decades, or centuries after the fact if God did not continue to love His people. Not even creation itself would be good news if there were no hope of rescue from the curse of sin and death.
If God’s love did not remain from generation to generation, across the wide expanse of history, our hope would vanish. The promises of God would mean nothing more than my family’s membership to Heritage USA, which is exactly that—nothing.
As believers whose lives are staked out in the twenty-first century, we need God’s love to endure forever. The Bible is a record of the past, but it must also be a message for the present, and a sure promise for the future. Because of Jesus Christ, that’s exactly what it is. Jesus “appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). His blood washes away the sins of all who believe across time and space. It’s how the cross can be good news for Old Testament saints, present-day ragamuffins, and future believers not yet born.
No matter where or when we live, the forgiveness of God is available to us, because “His love endures forever.”