Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Grace and the Law - Part V

     By Genesis six we read that sin had so infiltrated the earth that “The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. God saw the extensiveness of man’s sin. Once outside the garden, life quickly degenerated into immorality, depravity, wickedness and perversion. But one man, Noah, Genesis 6:8 explains “found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Genesis 6:9 reveals that Noah was righteous and blameless.

     And as God set His plan to wipe mankind from the face of the earth into motion, grace saved a remnant…one man, and his family.

     After cleansing the earth with the flood waters, rescuing Noah and his family and opening the door of the ark to begin repopulating the earth, one problem remained. The human heart had not been regenerated. There had been no heart surgery performed on Noah, his wife, his sons or his son’s wives. The flood waters had not cleansed the hearts of those saved inside the ark. Human nature remained intact.

     So once again, for century after century as man repopulated the earth, sin abounded. By Genesis chapter eleven we begin reading the account of man’s desire to build a tower to the heavens and make a name for himself. “To be like God” we might say.  But God came down, confused the language and from “There the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.” Gen 11:9. 

     Abram’s father Terah left the Ur of the Chaldeans on the way to Canaan but settled instead in Haran. By this time, sin  like the swine flu virus was infecting people everywhere. But once again, God chose to grace a sinner to further His plan of redemption.  The sinner’s name was Abram.  He was not a likely candidate with whom to begin a nation. He came from an idol worshipping pagan society, He was old, and had no children. Yet God promised that his descendants would be like the stars in the sky and the sands in the sea.

     Abram believed God. Oh, he wasn’t perfect. He lied about his wife being his sister. He tried to help God along in his plan for a son by sleeping with his wife’s handmaid, Yet God chose Abram, changed his name to Abraham and began nation building with one child—a son named Isaac and one man, Abraham who believed God.

     I equate God’s nation building plan with the difference between making a dress from scratch and remaking a dress from one that already exists. In order to remake an existing dress, you have to rip out seams…being careful not to damage the garment, take the sleeves off, move the buttons over or remove the zipper. Then you have to reassemble all the pieces into a perfect new garment. And, it is possible to complete the project and find that the old dress had a slight tear in the fabric. Now you are in a pickle. You have a new garment, but it is already scarred with a tear from the old garment.

     But to make a new garment, you lay down the new fabric, pin on the pattern, cut it out and sew—a much cleaner project.

     If God had chosen an already existing nation from which to build a nation of His own, he would have had much to undo before he could start over. But by choosing Abram, he got to start from scratch and build the way he wanted it. And by the time we get to Jacob and his twelve sons, we are standing just about 400 years away from what will be known as the nation of Israel and eventually the Judahites or the Jews.    

     Years later Isaac would become the father of Esau and Jacob, God would once again chose a sinner, Jacob, to continue the lineage which began with Noah, his son Seth, and passed through generations down to Abram, Isaac, and  then Jacob. Finally Jacob had twelve sons, the last two, Joseph and Benjamin, born to Jacob’s favorite wife Rachel.

     Eventually through a series of revealed dreams, Joseph’s brothers began to hate him and after throwing him into a pit, they sold him to a caravan of traders and he ended up in the house of the pharaoh in Egypt. God’s plan to exchange the law for grace unfolded in unexpected ways and today remains available in unexpected places.  

Thank you Father for your Indescribable Grace
God can do all things.
             Mark 10:27

     Scriptures abound that show God’s grace at work through the ages. The New Testament contains picture after picture of the grace of God at work. The Old Testament’s portrait of God’s grace is mesmerizing. God’s grace so abundantly chases after us that we cannot outrun it, outlast it or outlive it. It is forever.

     Thinking about all of that, I began making a list of words that describe the grace of my God. I am sure the list is incomplete and that you can add your own words to mine. Perfect!

        God’s Grace is:


     God’s grace gives courage to the fearful. Peace in the midst of turmoil. Joy in the midst of sorrow. Calm in the midst of anger. Hope in the midst of hopelessness. Freedom to those who are bound by sin. It is never too late and never just enough. It is abundantly overflowing and never ending.

     No amount of paper and ink can adequately describe God’s grace. Money cannot buy it and thieves cannot steal it. It is a gift and it is yours and mine for the asking.

     It is life giving, life altering and life abundant. More precious than gold yet readily available to all who ask.
©Joyce Powell

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