Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Love & A New Covenant Baby
I have sometimes thought about why I’m glad to live in the day and age I do, rather than two or three thousand years ago. I’m thankful for antiperspirant (raise your hand if you are too), braces, Nike’s, monofilament fishing line, multipacks of underwear, stereo, sunglasses, air conditioning and Starbucks. I don’t know what I would do without a weekly pumpkin spice latte at this time of year.
But, really, have you ever thought about what it would have been like to live a long, long time ago? What if God in his wisdom brought you and me out onto the stage of life years ahead of Jesus? He could have. Think how different that would have been. Isn’t it wonderful that He didn’t, and that fluke and chance had nothing to do with it?
“ . . . In love (5) He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—.” (Ephesians 1:5)
It amazes me and stretches my mind that God destined me to live under the terms of the second covenant and not the first. He could have planned for me to be born in Jeremiah’s day, when most of God’s people only flirted with Him; you know, sort of pretended to have a nice little friendship. That didn’t go too well overall.
Or, He could have brought me onto the stage during the happy days of the Judges, when the disobedient Israelites went in and out of captivity nine times at the hands of heathen. Nine times! Of course that means they were liberated from their captors nine times, and that must have been exciting—Here comes God! But I wonder at what point an Israelite or two might have thought, “You know, it has been a while since we’ve been conquered and abused by an enemy. I wonder how much longer this freedom thing will last?”
Or, God could have arranged for my birth not just in the days of Jonah, but as Jonah. I can imagine Jonah’s wife, now my wife saying, “Ralph? Honey? Are you home? Ralph, did you forget to take out the trash? What’s that fishy smell? It’s overpowering!” But, God being God, I’m sure he knew that the book of Ralph didn’t fit in very well with the books of Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Ralph, Micah, Nahum and Habakkuk. Can you imagine that heavenly timeline conversation? Okay then. Let’s put Jonah here, and let’s put Ralph, hmmm, later, a lot later. Let’s make Ralph a New Covenant baby. Yeah. That’ll work.
Before making the planet, God had already dreamed me up, chosen me and determined I would be His (Ephesians 1:4). And not just His as in the sense of a possession, but His as a much-loved son, having been given the new creation grace of royalty. He wiped out my natural birth—made it as having never even happened—gave me a second birth, and thinks of me and treats me as if I was always one of His. In a sense, I always was. It was always in the works, only a matter of time.
And He liked dreaming and choosing and determining me! It gave Him pleasure. It wasn’t just God’s will, as in moving the pieces of a puzzle toward a satisfying fit; it pleased Him to do it. That’s how it is with all of His sons and daughters. Isn’t it great to think that you give Him pleasure? I can see a smile on His face as, on the day of my second birth, He says, “Ralph, you’ve always been mine, and now you’ll know. This is so fun—I love this part! Wake up now, Ralph! It’s time to receive.”
Can you imagine the smile that lit His face on the day of your new birth? Think of it.
That’s the glory of the New Covenant. He didn’t make the agreement with you or me, determining our relationship with Him on the basis of our performance. That would have been a copy of the first covenant. Instead, He fulfilled and ended the first one, and made an entirely new covenant with Jesus, giving us all of the benefits Jesus earned.
You wanna talk about a benefits package? Goodness!
The next time you wonder if God loves you or if His love ever wavers with you, remember how determined He was at the start. Nothing’s changed.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:3-8)