God Our Father
God Our Father
In this blog I want to continue the thought that Jesus makes in the Sermon on the Mount that God is our father. And as our father He is involved in our lives He connects intimately with us, providing direction, help, and even discipline. There is also an image of Jesus as a good Shepherd that portrays our Lord’s guidance. John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. One of the principal blessings of life under the new covenant is an increase nearness to the Lord. How does this statement from Jesus make you feel?
Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Jesus is aware of all that we face and is present to shepherd and help us. Providence is also seen in Christ’s position as head of the church. Ephesians 1:22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church. Jesus is not waiting until the father sends Him back to earth. At this moment, Jesus is active in the church, supplying leadership, nourishment, and strength. Much of this provision comes through the Holy Spirit, who empowers, counsels, and provides gifts that allow us to serve.
Just a quick review of some of the points we have made in our previous blogs. What did God intend? God has demonstrated His love for humanity, He does not need humanity. Man chose to disobey God and brought sin into the world. God created the nation of Israel. The purpose of Israel was to glorify God among all nations. God desired to be their God and wanted them to be His people. God created the church. Christ came to reverse the curse that Adam brought on humanity. And God desires a people that will glorify Him in the world. God desires the church to be His people and God Himself to be their God. God is a community of love. Which is more important to trust God or to obey God? God views our distrust of Him as serious as He views our disobedience. In Psalm 78:19-22 God became very angry with the children of Israel, they did not believe in God or trust in His deliverance.
There is another question that we must ask. Does God permit evil? In Ezra 4:1-6:24 is an event in the history of the children of Israel that reveals a lot about this question.
There was a period of 10 years when the project of rebuilding the temple was stopped due to opposition from the enemy of the Jews. Some of the children of Israel had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. The enemies of Israel came and wanted to help rebuild the temple. Zerubbabel told them you will have no part in rebuilding the temple of our God. Their enemies set out to stop the rebuilding process. They wrote a letter to the King Artaxerxes King of Babylon (Artaxerxes reigned for 41 years). They succeeded in stopping the rebuilding process (Ezra 4:24). They started the rebuilding process in the second year of Darius King of Babylon. The enemies of Israel stop the rebuilding process for about 40 years. The rebuilding was completed in the six-year reign of Darius. Ezra 6:15 and this house was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king. We are not told why God allowed the enemies of His children to prevail at one time and restrain them at another time. God in His wisdom and love, intends that good ultimately come from all harmful acts.
The story of Joseph illustrates this truth. When Joseph’s brothers sold Joseph into slavery, God did not restrain them. Neither did he restrain Potiphar’s wife when she maliciously and unjustly accused Joseph. In His own time He turned the circumstances around. In God’s own time the actions of the wicked people acted just as God planned in order to accomplish his purpose through Joseph. In the end Joseph looked back on these events and stated: Genesis 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
Joseph’s brothers devised and executed their plan; aroused by jealousy they gradually committed themselves irrevocably to their chosen actions. Their evil plans were realized. These events are products of divine activity. God’s good intents followed the mischievous path of the brothers or, the brothers unwittingly followed the path that God has blazed. They worked in His service. The purpose of God will win out over evil.
Scripture reports that God sometimes moves in the hearts of people to act stubbornly. Deuteronomy 2:30 But Sihon the king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him, for the LORD your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that he might give him into your hand, as he is this day. And again in: Joshua 11:20 For it was the LORD’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses.
Once again Scripture teaches that God is able and does move upon the hearts and minds of people to accomplish His purposes. God always does this without violating or coercing their wills. God works in His mysterious way through their wills to accomplish his purposes. Sihon and the Canaanite kings wanted to do exactly what the Scripture say God caused them to do. God is never at a loss if he cannot find someone to cooperate with Him in carrying out His plan. He moves in the hearts of people either Christians or non-Christians that they willingly of their own free will carry out His plans. Do you need the good favor of your boss to get that promotion? If the promotion is in God’s plan for you, no. Are you dependent upon your boss for advancement in your career? It depends on God’s plan for you. Psalm 75:6–7 For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, 7 but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.
Your promotion or lack of it is in the hands of God. You can trust God in all the areas of your life where you are dependent upon the favor or frown of another person. God will move in that person’s heart to carry out His will for you.