Tuesday, January 10, 2012

For Our Good and For His Glory

I'm thinking about preaching a series of sermons on the Exodus and an interesting thing caught my eye today. In Exodus 7:3 God tells Moses that he is going to "multiply signs and wonders in the land of Egypt" so that Pharaoh will be made aware that he should let the nation of Israel go. Pharaoh will not listen, Moses is told, so god declares that he will instead bring his people out of Egypt "by great acts of judgment."

What caught my attention is what comes as a result of this judgment. In 7:5 we read, "The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them."

Did you catch that? God's intention is not just that Israel would be delivered out of bondage, but also that Egypt would know that he is God. I find two things interesting about this.

First of all, God is not just some tribal deity, content to receive the homage from some small group of people. He is the God of all creation, and is rightly jealous for acclaim as such from all peoples. He wants the Egyptians to know his name.

Secondly (and I can never be reminded of this enough), while the Bible is an unfolding drama, I am not the center of the story, God is. God is indeed acting for the benefit of his people (both in Exodus and today), but his ultimate goal is far greater than them. He is concerned that his glory be made manifest in all the earth.

We would never consciously admit that we think God exists to serve us. But functionally, this is the way we often approach him. We often ask questions as to why WE are victims of injustice or how good could possibly come from the bad things that happen TO US. Our finite minds can't conceive how certain circumstances could possibly work our for our good, much less for God's glory.

In the midst of such thoughts and feelings, let us rejoice that this was not the mindset of Jesus. For however much we might feel that we have been treated unfairly, that we have been wronged, no man has ever been treated more unjustly than the man Jesus Christ. And no person has ever experienced bad things quite like the Son of God.

As he died on the cross it made no sense to his followers. And if we had been there, it would have made no sense to us either. But in the midst of God's righteous judgment of OUR sin being levied against HIM, God was indeed working out things in a way that was better than we could possibly have imagined. It was for our good and for his glory.

So let us always be "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)

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