August 1, 2015

God’s plan requires that His people need faith

Isaiah 1:1–2:5, Luke 1:1–38, Job 1:1–12

When reading through the Bible, it would be easy to say that if it were not for men like Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David, Israel would not exist and faith in the Creator God would not be part of our lives. However, that is putting the credit in the wrong place.

Isaiah wrote: “Your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners. And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city. If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah.” (Isaiah 1:7–9)

If God had not preserved the lives of these men and all who trusted God, then the Messiah could not have been born. Those who were faithful held that quality because God had a plan.

This was also true of Job. The Bible says he was blameless and upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. (Job 1:1) Yet God knew this was not a human variety of faith that depended on everything going well. It was the faith that God gives. So when Satan showed up, the Lord said to him, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”

Satan figured the only reason Job trusted God was because the Lord had put a hedge around him and his house and all that he had, and blessed the work of his hands, and increased his possessions. This reveals that Satan has no clue about the nature and power of real faith. He said to God, “Stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” (Job 1:8–11)

Satan was wrong; Job’s faith stood the test, an extreme test. It was God who preserved him and his ability to believe. Even though he complained bitterly about what he experienced, Job knew that in the end, he would see the Lord.

The faith God gives is more powerful than anything Satan can throw at us. Yes, we sin and we seem oblivious to the will of God far too often, but our faith holds. Why? Because that faith is a gift. It comes from hearing the Word of God and those who have it cannot give it back even if we wanted to.

The NT priest named Zechariah was another one. “He had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.” (Luke 1:5–6) The Bible is clear; no one is righteous apart from faith, and no one has faith unless God grants it to them. Human beings are both incapable and unwilling to believe in God or in Jesus Christ without the Spirit of God working in our hearts.

This was true of John the Baptist also. Luke wrote that the angel said to his father Zechariah, “Your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (Luke 1:13–17)

John cooperated with God, but his character was determined by God for the Lord had a plan . . . 

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”

Mary was greatly troubled at this as she tried to figure out what this meant, so the angel continued, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:26–33)

Because God holds His people in His hand and close to His heart, His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. We may not always understand what He is doing, and we may even resist Him at times, but eventually all things will turn out just as He intends. 

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