God has a plan, he always has.
If asked to name off a list of terrible things that have happened in the world lately, and terrible things that continue to happen, none of us would come up short of an answer. Between earthquakes, hurricanes, unfair trade and poverty, to just the horrific ways people abuse one another, it's very hard to see God's plan. If asked to name some of things in our lives we are ashamed of, those times when we've "messed up big time" it can be hard to imagine God having a plan for our lives. However, in Ephesians, Paul talks about "the wisdom and the scope of God's plan" that overwhelms him and causes him to fall on his knees. But when we look around us, we may ask ourselves "umm what plan?? Just looks like a big mess to me!!"
In order for us to understand God's plan we have to go right back to the very beginning. All the way back to the beginning of time... when things first started to go wrong. For those of you who've grown up in church, it'll just be a refresher, but for those of you who haven't we're going to take a bit of a whirlwind tour through the old testament, starting from the very beginning, Why? Well, in order to be able to Identify with what Paul was talking about. Paul was obviously overwhelmed, so let's see why!
We'll start with Adam and Eve.. God made the world, and he made everything perfect... he made Adam and Eve, and he gave them something called free will. He did not make robots. God made people who could choose to love him and have a relationship with him. Who would want a relationship with a robot?? So Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. What did God do? He was inevitably disappointed, he could no longer have the same kind of relationship with them, but in the midst of that, he provided for them by killing an animal to cover their nakedness. In order for them to be covered, an animal had to die, BLOOD had to be shed. This was the first sacrifice.
After a while, God chose a man named Abraham to be the father of the nation of Israel. There was nothing special about Abraham, except the fact that he believed God, when God told him he wanted to make a great nation of Him. Abraham had Isaac, who had Jacob, who had 12 sons. One of them was named Judah and if you look in Genesis you will find a very dodgy story about a girl who wanted a baby so bad she deceived her father in law to impregnate her. She ended up with twins, and in order to tell which one came out first, they tied a RED chord around the baby's arm. Sounds kind of messy doesn't it? The oldest baby's name was Perez
So eventually, the people of Israel moved to Egypt, where they multiplied so fast they became a threat to the Pharaoh, and were made Slaves. Moses was chosen to deliver them, and God sent many plagues on the Egyptians so they would let the people go. They resisted and resisted until God sent the final plague, which was the Angel of death. They were told to sacrifice a lamb, and with a hyssop branch, they had to splatter it's BLOOD on their door posts, so that when the angel of death passed by they would be saved.
So then came the time when the Israelites set out to conquer the promised land. There they encountered Rahab, a prostitute. She helped hide spies in her house when they came to spy on the city. When she asked to be protected from whatever was going to happen, they instructed her to hang a RED chord out of her window, and whoever was in her house would be spared. She did that, and when the city's walls came down, her house was left standing, with the red chord hanging out of her window, and she joined the nation of Israel and actually married one of them and settled down!
When the law was given to the nation of Israel, they were instructed to sacrifice animals in order to temporarily cover their sins. Animal's BLOOD did nothing literally, but it was an act of faith on their part, faith in the promise that one would come someday to save them from death.
David, one of Israel's greatest kings, made a big mistake at one point in his life. He slept with another man's wife, she became pregnant, and he had her husband killed in battle in order to cover it up. When he realized he had sinned, he fell on his face before God confessing his sin and asking to be forgiven. It's interesting he uses the phrase "cleanse me with Hyssop" anyone recognize that from before?
So we've looked at some messy stories from the Bible, blood, prostitutes, all sorts of things, is it hard to see God at work? Take a look at the Genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 and we see some familiar names... Judah, Tamar, Perez, Rahab and David.
All through that mess, God was there, he was using imperfect people, to form the lineage of His son! So there we have it, God's Plan. You can see where Paul, who was an educated upstanding Jew, when he looked back on His history in the light of Jesus, was overwhelmed, and brought to his knees! Tamar, exploited and deserted, had no idea her situation would result in one of her son's being the great grandfather of Jesus, Rahab was a prostitute, the people of Israel were in slavery, and had no idea the significance of their actions that night as they sacrificed the lamb and used it's blood for protection. The People of Israel sacrificed animals year after year to cover their sins, tied down to a law that only showed them how desperately they needed someone to save them. Then Jesus came... THE sacrificial lamb, and destroyed sin and death once and for all, and restored man back to God!
There is a common element that these stories all have, and that is the colour of blood, or blood itself. Jesus is the scarlet thread that sews every book of the Bible together and we can look back and see the plan from the beginning of time.
So what about our lives? What about the world today? It looks messy, it doesn't look perfect, but if God can weave a plan to save the world in the way He did, he can certainly weave a plan for your life, which in the big picture is part of his plan for the world.
So when it looks messy remember, God has a plan, he always did, and you are a part of it.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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