Wednesday, April 11, 2012

God Chooses the Weak Things

Maybe you are facing some insurmountable, impossibility and you wonder how you can carry out your mission in those circumstances.  Maybe you feel like your life is too insignificant and unproductive for God to use.  Let’s look at how God brought His own Son into the world in human form, and subsequently the church. Please be sure and read the conclusions and reflective questions at the end.

Genesis 25:
Now these are the records of the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham became the father of Isaac; and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived. But the children struggled together within her; and she said, "If it is so, why then am I this way?" So she went to inquire of the LORD. The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger."  (Gen 25:19-23)

Observations from reading Genesis 25:
  • Rebekkah became pregnant in answer to her husband Isaac’s prayers, even though she was barren.  There were many barren women in the Bible and God is the one who opened their wombs.  He also closes wombs, as in the case of David’s wife Michael, who never had children until the day she died. 
  • Not only did Rebekkah become pregnant, but she was carrying two nations inside of her!  That’s pretty remarkable for a woman who was barren.  These two babies inside of her would become the nation of Israel and the Arabic nation of people.  Only God could do such an amazing miracle!  They jostled each other in the womb and think of all the trouble in the world today because of the enmity between these two nations.
  • But that’s not all.  Isaac’s mother was barren also.  Sarah did not have any children until her old age by a miracle of God.  She conceived of Isaac when she was in her 90’s, which is truly a medical wonder. 
  • Jacob had both a barren mother and a barren grandmother!
  • All this so that God could have a people for Himself.
Genesis 30:
Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister; and she said to Jacob, "Give me children, or else I die."  (Gen 30:1)

Then God remembered Rachel, and God gave heed to her and opened her womb. So she conceived and bore a son and said, "God has taken away my reproach." She named him Joseph, saying, "May the LORD give me another son."  (Gen 30:22-24)

Observations from reading Genesis 30:
  • One of Jacob’s two wives, Rachel, was also barren. 
  • Rachel cried out to God for children whe she realized she was barren.
  • God opened her womb and she conceived.
  • She gave birth to Joseph.
  • Joseph grew up to be a type of Christ who saved all of his brothers, literally the entire nation of Israel, from extinction during famine.

Matthew 1:
“The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram. Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon. Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab), Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth), and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king.” (Mat 1:1-6)

Observations from reading Matthew 1:
  • We know that Rahab, a harlot from Jericho, was the mother of Boaz.  She was not a Jew.  But she put her faith in the God of Israel and acted on her faith by hiding the Israelites who came to spy out Jericho before attacking and destroying the city where she lived.  “However, Rahab the harlot and her father's household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” (Jos 6:25)
  • Of Rahab, the New Testament Scriptures teach us she was saved by faith.  “By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.” (Heb 11:31).  “In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?” (Jam 2:25)
  • Although the Israelites destroyed Jericho, they spared Rahab, because of her faith.  That was a miracle, because if it had not been for her faith, she would have been destroyed along with all the others.  But God saved her, and even blessed her by enabling her to become the mother of Boaz, the great grandfather of King David! 
  • Rahab’s life is a story of mercy, saving grace, and faith in God.  And the Lord gave her a prominent place in the family line of Jesus the Messiah.
  • Similarly, the wife of Rahab’s son, Boaz was Ruth, a Moabitess, not a Jew.  She refused to stay in her homeland of Moab with her parents, when her mother-in-law, Naomi returned to Bethlehem. She refused to return to her people and her gods, but put her faith in the God of Israel instead. She told Naomi, “Where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” (Rth 1:16). 
  • The Lord blessed this Moabitess widow for her faith.  And He gave her the honor of becoming the mother of Obed. Her child, Obed, would grow up to become the grandfather of a king – none other than Israel’s King David, a man after God’s own heart.  And she, who had suffered such misfortune in the loss of her first husband, was privileged to enter into the royal family line and give birth to a child who would become an ancestor of the Son of David, Jesus the Messiah!  It’s a miracle how the Lord took Ruth from such a fragile situation as a widow in a foreign land, and connected her in marriage with Boaz, the son of a harlot that had become a woman of God, and how the Lord brought forth from their union the child Obed in the little town of Bethlehem.

Putting it All Together
  • When we survey these wonderful things, we find that in order for the nation of Israel to come into existence as we know it today, a series of impossibilities needed to occur for a little baby named Jacob:
  1. Jacob’s barren grandmother Sarah needed to conceive and give birth in her 90’s to his father Isaac.
  2. His barren mother Rebekkah needed to conceive and give birth to him.
  3. In spite of being born second in a pair of twins, he would still need to receive the blessing of the firstborn and his brother would need to serve him.
  4. Because his brother wanted to kill him for “stealing” the birthright, he had to survive the very real threat of murder.
  • An even greater miracle had to happen for Joseph to be born, so that he could fulfill God’s purpose for his life in saving the nation of Israel:
  1. Joseph’s mother Rachel, his grandmother Rebekkah, and his great grandmother Sarah were all barren women!!!  The odds of him ever being born are astronomical.
  2. He had to survive the threat of murder from his own brothers and eventual exile as well as imprisonment.
  3. If it were not for his life, the entire nation of Israel may have perished in a 7-year famine.
  • Now when we consider that Jesus was a descendant of Jacob, we know God brought about this series of miracles not just for the sake of creating a Jewish nation that He could call His own.
  • God also wanted Gentiles to become His adopted children, too.  That could only happen through Jesus.  In fact, there were two Gentile women in the family line of Jesus – Rahab and Ruth.
  • In order for Jesus to complete His mission on the cross to bring down the dividing wall separating Jews and Gentiles from God, a number of miracles had to occur.  But one related to his conception was that Jesus needed to be born of a young virgin who had never known a man.  The Holy Spirit supernaturally caused her to conceive of him in her womb.
  • Again when we put all of this together, we realize that a number of impossibilities needed to happen in order for Jesus to redeem the lost whom He was sent to save:
  1. Sarah’s barren womb had to be opened to conceive of Isaac
  2. Rebekkah’s barren womb needed to be opened to conceive of Jacob.
  3. Rachel’s barren womb had to be opened to conceive of Joseph.
  4. The harlotrous life of Rahab, a Gentile targeted for destruction, had to be saved, so that her womb could conceive of Boaz.
  5. The childless womb of Ruth the Moabitess widow had to be redeemed by Boaz to conceive of Obed.
  6. Mary’s virgin womb needed to be fertilized by the Holy Spirit to conceive of Jesus.
  • Considering all this, it’s truly a wonder Jesus was ever born.
  • Just consider all the people in such fragile situations who were so hopeless and helpless on their own, whom the Lord used in His Master plan to bring forth Jesus the Messiah into the world.
  • God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.
  • God could have simply prearranged it so that neither Sarah, Rebekkah, nor Rachel were barren.  He could have allowed Rahab the harlot to be destroyed at Jericho, and used a Jewish woman, instead of her, in the family line of Christ.  He could have prearranged to have Boaz marry a Jewish virgin – rather than a Gentile widow -- to bear the grandfather of King David, ancestor of Christ. 
  • But he chose to work through such impossible circumstances, so that he could be glorified, just as he did when he allowed Lazarus to die, rather than heal him, so that he could raise him from the dead. 
My former profession was project management, so I like to look at things as though they were a project. If the birth of Messiah into the world were a project being conducted by a human being, here is how it would be done.  The project manager would take into consideration the final deliverable, the specifications and the deadline when the project was due.  A Jewish male, who would save the world and become king, must be born in the fullness of time by set date.

Then he would determine the tasks necessary to produce the required outcome or deliverable.  He would then select project members to perform specific tasks.  He would need many women, who would give birth to children that would become ancestors of the Messiah.  These would all need to be devout, Jewish women, who were fertile.  The project manager would certainly not select any women who were barren, childless widows, Gentiles, prostitutes, or any others he considered project risks or "under producers."  He would not select anyone he knew present a significant risk to the successful completion of the project.

Man looks at things from the perspective of probability and risk, because he doesn't know the future.  If one option available to him has a 1% chance of success and the other has a 99% chance of success, he will select the one with 99%.

However, God doesn't do that.  In fact, God prefers to work with the option that has a 1% chance of success.  Better yet, He prefers to work with the option that has a 100% probability of failing, unless a miracle happens.  It would be below His ability to do otherwise.

It's just like a professional craftsman on earth.  Take a wood worker for example.  If he is skilled with doing intricate woodwork with beautiful carvings, he would not be content to work at a sawmill, making trees into planks.  Simply cutting large pieces of wood into little ones would be below his skill level.  For God, it is below His skill level to work with situations that are easy or have a great probability for success based on their own merits.  He prefers to work with impossibilities.  The Bible is full of examples like this, many of which have been cited here in this blog.

The apostle Paul wrote: "For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." (1Co 1:26-29)

It's like people who want to recycle glass.  They are looking for bottles, jars, and anything made of glass. You bring your used bottles to them, and receive cash back.  It's not a bad deal to exchange dirty old bottles for money.  Likewise, God is looking for impossibilities.  You bring them to Him in exchange for something that's of worth.  Except that what He produces with our impossible situations is not just some small coin.  Rather He makes something lovely, rare, beautiful, precious, of great significance, and eternal value.

God is looking for your impossibility today.  Will you bring it to Him in faith that He will make something beautiful with it?

Questions for meditation and reflection:
  • What does this teach us about the ways of God?
  • What are the implications of this for your life today?
  • What impossibilities had to be made possible so that you could be born into your earthly existence?
  • What impossibilities had to be made possible so that you could be born again by the spirit?
  • Is there some impossibility you need to overcome that only God can do?
  • Does God still open wombs in answer to prayer?
  • What are the implications for your life of God using in his grand plan a Gentile harlot who was targeted for destruction?
  • What are the implications for your life of God using a childless Gentile widow in His Master plan to bring forth the Savior of the world?
  • Could God use your insignificant and unproductive little life, once yielded completely to Him in faith, in order to rescue many people from eternal death and hell?
  • Why did Rachel pray, “Give me children, or else I die!”
  • What are the implications of these marvelous ways of God with regards to your having spiritual children, people that come to Christ because of your witness?
  • Could Rachel’s prayer, “Give me children, or else I die!” be a model for intercessor’s today, praying for spiritual children?
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.
Author's note: You can also find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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