What do you think of the young adult child who is given everything over and over by a loving parent, but the child continues to return to a wasteful lifestyle? What do you think of the husband who repeatedly cheats on his wife and comes back endlessly hoping for forgiveness and restoration? What do you think of the employee who regularly cheats on the boss, and even though the employer knows it, he is not fired?
We would shake our heads at such displays of ingratitude and disrespect. But when it comes to our relationship with God, we are the insolent young adult, the cheating spouse, the impertinent employee. Like every generation before us, we have continued to sin and rebel against God and His good law. And whereas we reap what we sow in multitudinous ways, yet God continues to offer to us a plan of forgiveness, both in terms of daily fellowship and in regard to eternal standing.
Actually, it is impossible to pen any sort of human illustration that rises to the immensity of God’s grace. God could have justly walked away from Adam and Eve and let the natural course of sin lead to the destruction of the human race. Or he could have wiped out that race in the flood without saving Noah and his family.
But God had a plan, even before the creation of the world – and here again we get into a category of inability to understand time as related to God and eternity, who exist outside of time. But Jesus is spoken of as the lamb slain before the foundation of the world. And in Ephesians 1:4,5 …
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…
The first hint of a plan of grace that is seen within the actual human timeline occurs immediately after the fall of man into sin. As God pronounces curses upon Adam and Eve and Satan, He lets the Evil One know that a final day of reckoning is coming when this mess that has been created will be reversed…
Genesis 3:15 — And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.
Looking back from our vantage point in history we know that this anticipates the death of Christ, but also the final death of Satan and evil when Christ is exalted. Of course, little of this would be understood until the work of Christ was completed.
Throughout the Old Testament, God chases down His people through a series of formal promises known as “covenants.” A covenant is a promise God makes to His people, and also serves to ask and answer the question: “How do I experience the presence of God in my life?”
After the expulsion from the Garden, the total mess that has befallen man through the entrance of sin is evident in a series of accounts that are terribly painful to read:
– The first murder of Cain killing Abel
– The spread of evil with only Noah and his family found righteous – flood
– The disobedience of man to obey God and spread throughout the earth – Babel
– In the midst of new generations of people distant from God, He chooses to work through one man and his family – Abraham, giving him specific promises (a covenant) …
Genesis 12:2-3 … “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
And the story goes on through Abraham’s offspring as promised > Isaac > Jacob > Judah, the last of these being the son/family/tribe that the kings of Israel and THE KING would come from …
Genesis 49:10 … The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
The family becomes a nation that is enslaved for several centuries in Egypt, ultimately to be led out of Egypt by Moses who receives the Law. This detailed revelation of God is filled with covenants, particularly those related to sacrificial ordinances for the redemption of sin. The most significant of these (a shadow of the true and better sacrifice yet to come in Jesus Christ) was that of the annual Day of Atonement … Leviticus 16:15,16 …
He (the high priest) shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull’s blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites
Once established in the land of Israel, the nation enters into a time of the rule of kings – the greatest being David of tribe of Judah, who it is promised will have the ultimate KING come from his lineage…
2 Samuel 7:16 – Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.
And thus the promises and covenants continued from Abraham (roughly 2000 BC), from Moses (1500 BC), from David (1000 BC), followed by the prophets in the 700-400 BC era making more specific remarks about the Messiah to come.
Over and over throughout these many centuries, in spite of God’s blessings, miracles and promises, the people rebelled and repeatedly turned away from following God. But God persisted in working His plan of grace and redemption.
We’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg in terms of God’s magnanimous grace … only mentioned a few mountain peaks of its progression and display. There is nothing more YUGE than God’s love and grace. Let that seep deeply into our souls today.