I recently taught my six year old about what a pinky promise is. I’m sure you’ve made a pinky promise or two in your life. They’re pretty scary when you get down to it. Stronger than blood oaths, pinky promises have actually gone back for thousands of years. The code of Hammurabi, an ancient law document that many parts of the Old Testament laws in the Torah has similarities to, had severe penalties for breaking a pinky promise. Death by stoning was one of the worst.
In the Bible, pinky promises pop up quite a bit. God made a pinky promise to Abraham when foretelling Isaac’s birth. (Of course, God sent an angel for the pinky part.) Once they reconciled, Esau made a pinky promise to Jacob that he would shave his back. And then there’s the famous pinky promise Jesus made with Peter about not giving him a wet willy during the disciples’ daily siesta.
A pinky promise is synonymous with the idea of a covenant. This is one of those churchy words that no one uses outside of a churchy setting, unless you’re referring to the best Indiana Jones movie out of the trilogy. [What fourth movie?] A covenant is basically a pinky promise on steroids. The word is simply drenched with meaning in Scripture. It is a pretty heavy concept and is not taken lightly–no pun intended. Most people who are familiar with the word know that it means a promise two parties make. There’s so much more to it, however.
Like I said earlier, the First Testament’s laws are fashioned after the code of Hammurabi, an ancient Babylonian set of laws that had Old Testament-y sounding things. When God presents Moses with the law, or covenant, it’s basically a law document–even similar to a treaty between two parties. “You hold your end of the bargain up and I’ll keep my pinky promise to love and protect you.” This is God’s promise to Israel to be Israel’s God and use Israel as an instrument to bring salvation to the world, ultimately fulfilled in Jesus.
Other covenants, not in chronological order, include the covenant to make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. There’s the covenant to never flood the Earth and destroy life. God makes a promise to David that the King, a.k.a. the Messiah, will always come from his bloodline.
Best of all, there’s that small, teeny tiny pinky promise that Jesus will always love us, always forgive us, one day come back for us, and finalize the redemption of the entire universe because of His death and resurrection.
Over the years, I’ve experienced lots of broken pinky promises–added to them, myself. They always hurt. I’m sure you’ve had your share of promises broken to you, too. There’s one pinky promise that I’ll hold onto tighter than any others, and I hope you are up for believing in this pinky promise, too.
Jesus of Nazareth, King of Kings, pinky promises to save us, clean us up, wipe us off, and cherish us for all of eternity. He forgives us, loves us, and offers us grace.
That’s a pinky promise worth believing.
Want to sit and revel in that thought? Check out John Mark McMillan’s song “Future/Past” from his Boderland album. It’s a beautiful song; it will fill your soul. My uneducated guess is that he tried to work the phrase “pinky promise” into the song, but it didn’t pan out. Oh well.