The phrase was coined by Heraclitus Ridens, a poet in the 1600s and then made popular by writer Jonathan Swift in the early 1700s — Promises and pie crusts are made to be broken. A simple internet search gives us the origin but not the motive for such a philosophy. Pie crusts are, indeed, made to hold pie fillings and, if never cut or broken, would make eating a pie a little more difficult. Made properly, a pie crust holds the dish together and serves a practical, aesthetic and tasty purpose. We actually look forward to the breaking of a pie crust!
But a promise broken is none of those things! A promise broken is painful and not at all desirable. From disappointment to devastation, the emotional and physical implications of promises broken are almost always negative. The Hebrew language doesn’t have a word that exclusively translates “promise.” In the Old Testament, the word sometimes translated “promise” is also translated as “word,” “speak” or “say.” Literally, your word is your bond!
According to some online experts, this phrase was coined in the 1500s among merchants which allowed for legally binding agreements before the advent of written pledges. Someone may have made it official in the world of academia, but words as promises originated with the first time God spoke “Let there be light!”
When God speaks, His words can be counted on — they will never be broken. If you read again through the first words of God in Genesis 1, you will see that everything God spoke into existence still remains. The earth spins on its axis and revolves around the sun because God gave His word — and it was so.
Then John recorded the powerful message — “In the beginning was the Word (the promise) — and the promise was with God and the promise was God… and the Promise became flesh…” (John 1:1, 14).
Jesus was the promise of God in the flesh — a binding obligation God took upon Himself to provide redemption and salvation from the chaos of sin in this world. God told Noah after the flood, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22). Then He gave the message through Jeremiah that His covenant to the descendants of David could only be broken if they could figure out a way to break His covenant with the appointed movements of the day and night, seasons and planets (Jer. 33:20,25-26).
People can break promises — and they often do — but when God speaks His Word, His promise, you can have the assurance that He will always, always, always keep His promises!