Who ever would have guessed what God would do?
By Don Ruhl
A Beautiful World (Genesis 1, 2)
The opening chapters of the Bible show a perfect creation that we have never known. Within that perfect creation, God planted a garden. There God placed the first man and built a woman from one of the man’s ribs.
A Ruined World (Genesis 3–11)
Genesis 3 shows the man and the woman violating the one prohibition of God. Genesis 4 reveals one of their sons killing his brother. Genesis 6 tells us things only got worse. “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6.5). “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Gen 6.11).
Genesis 6 and 7 describe God destroying everything with a Flood, except those on an ark (a barge-like vessel). Genesis 8 and 9 teaches that God started over with that family and their animals. Genesis 9 gives God’s explicit command to Noah of what God wanted done, “So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth’” (Gen 9.1).
“And as for you, be fruitful and multiply;
Bring forth abundantly in the earth
And multiply in it.”
Noah’s descendants did multiply, but they did not want to scatter over the earth. Yet, as you read Genesis 10, you will find that they did spread out. After explaining the different groups of people on the earth, Moses wrote, “These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood” (Gen 10.32).
How or why did they end up scattering over the earth, even as we are today? Genesis 11 explains, “Now the whole earth had one language and one speech…And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’ But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, ‘…Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city…” (Gen 11.1–8).
God keeps trying to bless man, but man does not like God’s commandments and tries to do the opposite.
Do you know what God wanted for Adam and Eve and for all their descendants? He wanted to dwell with them. He wanted them as His people. He wanted to be their God. I call this, “The Family Promise of God,” and you can find it throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. Yet, man through rejection of his Creator frustrates that plan continually.
Genesis 3–11 narrates the sad tale of man’s ruination of the earth, the commands of God, the family of God, and of man himself. Can God fix the awful mess man has made of himself and of all things? Can God salvage man from his sin, rebellion, and destruction? Genesis 12 through Revelation 22 answers that God can, that He is, and that He will complete His work.
The Choice of Abraham
With the sad story of Genesis 1–11 in mind, how would you salvage it? God salvaged it by looking around and finding an elderly couple, he was 75 and she was 65, and promised to bless the earth through them, building a nation from their family. The only problem was, they had no children!
Who were they? At the end of Genesis 11, as Moses listed the descendants of Shem, the son of Noah, Moses introduced us to Abram, whose name was later changed to Abraham. Moses gave more attention to Abram than to any other of the descendants of Noah (11.26–32). Then the Creator issued a command to Abram and made a promise upon which the rest of the Bible is built,
Now the LORD had said to Abram:
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Literally, the rest of the Bible exists to show how God fulfilled that promise, because while the generations of Genesis 10 and 11 wanted to make a name for themselves and maintain their unity, God had another way of doing it.
He first wanted them to spread over the earth. So, He forced them to do it by creating different languages among them. Then He went about working on His plan. He chose an unlikely man with the odds of his great age and his wife’s bareness to create a family through which God would make Abram’s name great, and in Abram all the families of the earth could be blessed.
Man always thinks he knows what he is doing, that he has a better way of doing God’s things, but man always ruins it.
What we just read in Genesis 12.1–3 provides a pivot between man’s destructive ways, and God redemptive ways. Yet, along the way many apparent obstacles appear.
First, God did not give the elderly couple a son until 25 years later. Then God asked Abraham to sacrifice their son, but God stopped it. That son, Isaac and his wife also had problems having a son initially. Their son, Jacob, had countless problems. Why did God choose Abraham with so many seemingly insurmountable odds? God wants us to know whether we trust Him! Even when we can see no way for God’s will to be fulfilled, He wants us to trust Him. He wants us to know and to believe that He knows what He is doing and that His way is always right and successful.
Many More Unlikely Choices Against Insurmountable Odds
The story of the Bible continues to show the unlikely choices that God made against seemingly insurmountable odds to fulfill His plan and to salvage the human race.
God always wins! Do you believe that?
He delights to have the odds stacked against His people and against His plan that He might show the mightiness of His power, that whatever the odds are, that no matter how winless the situation appears to be, He will select the most unlikely person to fulfill His scheme.
- He chose a excuse-making shepherd to lead Israel out of Egyptian bondage.
- He chose two fearless spies to take Israel into their land when others feared.
- He chose a hesitating farmer to lead 300 men against 135,000 Midianites.
- He chose a woman-chasing judge to kill thousands of Philistines.
- He chose a giant-killing shepherd to bring glory to Israel’s kingdom.
- He chose an identity-hiding girl in Persia to save the Jews from extinction.
- He chose a carpenter to bring together all the components of God’s plan to salvage man and bring all people into the The Family of God. From the promise to Abraham and its fulfillment in Jesus Christ, God continued to make unlikely choices against insurmountable odds. How could a carpenter who became a teacher and a preacher, be the most important person ever to walk the earth?
Acts 3 answers the question, bringing the story of the Old Testament together in the story of Jesus, “Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities” (Acts 3.24–26).
You see, to be in the family of God, we need to be holy, because He is holy. To be holy we have to have our sins forgiven. By believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and by obeying Him, He will turn us away from our sins. That is how Genesis 12.1–3 finds fulfillment.
He Continues to Make Unlikely Choices Against Insurmountable Odds
How does God show that He will forgive even you of your sins? He forgave those who executed His innocent Son. He also forgave a man who tortured and imprisoned Christians, killing them when he thought it necessary. That man then became the most vocal proponent of Jesus Christ the world has perhaps ever known and that man did more to change the Roman Empire than any other single person. What he wrote to a young preacher friend of his, in First Timothy 1, shows that Paul understood why the Lord selected him, even while he was on the way to persecute more Christians, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (1Ti 1.12–16).
In other words, if Paul and the executioners of Jesus could be forgiven, so can you!
In the same way that the Lord chose Abraham, Moses, Joshua and Caleb, Gideon, Samson, David, and Esther, He chooses you. I do not know what He wants to do through you, but if you are ready for things you never dreamed of, He will take you and astound you.
If you will submit to baptism today, He will begin to work on you and through you.
Christian, have you been resisting Him as many did in the Old Testament? Change your ways today.